I think one of the things that we far too often overlook in this country is that fact that genital mutilation of newborn boys is common practice, if not standard. Why isn't there more of a cry against this? Do the benefits of circumcision (if any, and I don't see any valid argument that there are any) outweigh the cost and mutilation of a boy?

Of course circumcision isn't the only genital mutilation in the world, but it's the only type in practice in the United States. Female genital mutilation is just as barbaric, if not more so. Americans, and Europeans in general, ban female genital mutilation of babies, but why the hypocrisy in not doing the same for males?

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"My ideas aren't sacrosanct and I'm willing to be proven wrong." - Tom Thompson

A position of intellectual honesty that's probably fairly ubiquitous in this community, which is pretty awesome I think (where else can you find that??) :)

I think that on the face of it the only point on which I could legitimately call you 'wrong' (rather than just being of a differing opinion) is where you seemed to take my attacks on the practice itself (and its motivations) as attacks on the people being cut - or the result, which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing - with paralells to other body modifications - but of course with the qualifier that the procedure must be carried out only as the result of informed consent, in the absence of undue coercion.

I hope you by now realize that my condemnation of the slicing up of the living flesh of infants (absent any medical justification) is very different from simply ragging on someone because their penis has been modified from its original state. Consider those tribes (and now a small percentage of non-ethnic persons) who engage in the (sometimes extreme) stretching of the earlobe by inserting incrementally larger and larger tubes or discs in them. They are by most peoples' definitions mutilated or disfigured, and technically that is what they are, but they do it (usually, as I understand it) because they have a culture developed in such a way as to find that attractive... same with the stretching of the neck with metal bands. Most people have no qualms using the term 'disfigurement' or 'deformation' to describe these results, because they are not commonplace and normalized in their own culture. Cutting off part of the flesh of the penis is a mutilation of the body, a deformation of the original (you are changing the form) - so are breast implants, so are several other practices which you and I probably wouldn't bat an eyelid at. The fact that male genital cutting has been normalised in our culture does not change the fact that the technical term of mutilation still applies. Believe me, I'm not about to condemn women for choosing to de-forming (or re-forming) their bodies with implants, but I sure as hell would object if someone wanted to do it to an adult (let alone a minor or an infant), without anything even resembling consent or a medical justification. I hope I've made my position clear enough now. If you think the language I'm using is too provocative, well... sometimes that's what is needed in order to cut through the apathy with which many people regard this normalised barbarism.

"I've experienced circumcision and I have never felt that I had diminished sexual pleasure or capacity. You argue that I should since I've lost functional tissue. I can only take your word for it"

Tom, it's not my word, it's the word of the medical community, of pediatricians, of andrologists, of specialists in any of the related fields of examination, study and practice... The clearest illustration I can make of this point is regarding a process called 'keratinization', which is the reduction in sensitivity of the parts of the penis normally protected by the foreskin (particularly the glans, or 'head') due to friction with clothes etc - in some cases this can be painful, but from what I gather it's usually gradual enough; if you don't know what you've lost, you don't miss it. The chemical makeup of the surface of the glans changes during this process... imagine if you underwent a procedure where your lips were removed, your tongue might eventually dry out and develop something like a 'skin'; this is roughly equivalent to what happens with penile keratinization, an internal organ (the glans) is being forced to adapt to an external environment.

Also, I am not arguing that you should FEEL that way - how can you possibly feel a loss of something you never experienced? Not knowing all that much about dermatology or neurology etc, I could still surmise that perhaps the human mind and body can adapt to an injury like a circumcision in such a way that the maximum tactile pleasure you can currently experience is equivalent (same amount of endorphins released or whatever) than if you had stayed intact, but as TNT writes below, sensitivity is not the only potentially damaged function.

"I can assure you that if I experienced any more sexual pleasure than I currently do that sex would be over before it began."

That's always seemed a curious thing to me - do most guys actually stop after one climax? That seems positively lazy to me... I mean, I realize most men can't just keep going and going, but there's a lot more you can do other than just pounding away (or popping your cork then rolling over lol)... It seems quite a defeatist attitude to be self conscious about a short first session; in my limited conversational experience - I'm a hetero male - most guys seem to only last a few minutes first time round, but after that (so long as you keep each other interested) you should be able to go for at least 2-5x as long the second time, and the third, and fourth... :) It's like those chip ads "why stop at one?" :P

"How could that possibly make me happier?"

Making people happy or sad is not an argument for something being true or false. Also, to use your example, the fact that you have less sensitive genital tissue than if you weren't cut, says nothing about where your level of sensitivity lies as it compares to other, uncut men. So long as your happiness or contentment with your body is not motivating you to advocate for, or engage in, the mutilation of the genitals of helpless babies, then I'm all for it (all for you being happy and content, I mean).


Sorry, dumb joke :P It's a television show that appears to be geared towards stoned toddlers.

"I still can't bring myself to see male circumcision as nearly the same level of threat as religious indoctrination or psychological trauma though."

As I mentioned, it is symptomatic and indicative of more far-reaching fallacy and depravity; the abasement of the physical in deference to the imaginary. If a cult can convince you that their words about magickal beings are more important than the bodily integrity of your infant children, well... they've got you by the balls.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire; French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist (1694 - 1778)

'Scuse my lack of brevity, I hope I didn't send too many people to sleep :P

Bye Tom,
- Matthew
That "bit of skin" is 15 sq in (100cm²) in a man, with a thin layer of muscle, ~20,000 nerves, arteries and veins. See http://www.circumstitions.com/Notjustaflap.html

Beware of Wikipedia circumcision articles. They are closely monitored by an expert Wikipedian and circumcision advocate (though he denies that) who applies the most Jesuitical standards of "encyclopaedicity" to anything that's remotely critical of circumcision, but gives anything in support a free pass. Example: there is an article on "foreskin fetishism" because someone somewhere mentioned it in a peer-reviewed article, but none on "circumcision fetishism" though they have websites, mailing lists, a name for themselves ("circumsexual", an attempt to give themselves the respectability of a sexual orientation) and hold national conventions.

Both male and female genital cutting involve a spectrum of practices, which overlap in severity. It is as a human rights issue that they are the same.

All FGC is outlawed in the US and much of the developed world, no matter how mild, hygienic and anaesthetised, and with religion and culture specifically excluded as justifications. In some jurisdictions (including mine) even the informed consent of an adult woman is not enough (presumably as a hedge against coercion). The only permitted reason is pressing medical need. Meanwhile one custodial parent's permission (two in the UK) is enough for a baby boy to be genitally cut, and the practitioner need not be a doctor, nor indeed have any qualifications whatever. Why the double standard?

For no other healthy, non-renewable part of the body is this true. Why the anomaly?

Of course you have never felt 'mutilated', any more than circumcised women in Africa feel mutilated. You grew up in a circumcising culture where circumcision was the norm and the majority of men around you were circumcised. You were told it was a quick snip of a little skin and was similar to having your tonsils out. You were told wrong.


It's not "a bit of skin". The foreskin is the natural protective covering of the glans and the only mobile aspect of the penis. The average adult male foreskin consists of one and one-half inches of outer skin and one and one-half inches of inner mucosal lining and is five inches in circumference when the penis is erect. Containing over 240 feet of nerves and around 20000 specialised nerve-endings, the foreskin is the most densely nerve-laden part of the penis and therefore its most erogenous part. Infant circumcision removes all these nerves in what would in adulthood become about fifteen square inches of erogenous tissue. That's almost a four-inch square, constituting more than a third of an adult's penile shaft skin. Half of that, the inside of the foreskin, is extremely sensitive tissue. It's all sliced away in circumcision.


If you think that this amputation is in any way similar to piercing one's ears then you are sorely mistaken. You should watch a circumcision being performed on youtube. The operation involves ripping the foreskin from the glans, like a fingernail from finger, then slicing it off. It is usually done with no anaesthetic and even when anaesthetics are used the results are variable and never totally effective. Even if there was no pain, it is a permanent amputation of healthy functional normal erogenous tissue that can never be undone. This is no pin-prick.


This barbaric practice has many analogies to female circumcision and just a little research on the subject will reveal this. Some forms of female circumcision are much less drastic than male circumcision, and even in the case of clitoridectomy there is still a greater loss of nerves and tissue in male circumcision.

As an uncircumcised man, and a virgin, I have no idea what it looks like to be circumcised. But unless it went somewhere else, there is an organ in that skin, its not just a flap of skin. And the skin is way more sensitive than the pinkish part beneath.
Male circumcision isn't so cut and dried and it really doesn't compare to female circumcision. The male foreskin has nowhere near the significant neural involvement that may be impacted by female circumcision, and in some (but not all) cases, the male foreskin can actually be more in the way than not.

That said, one may argue that infant circumcision is much in the same boat as religious education of unsophisticated children or youth, and that it should be an adult decision made by an adult. This gets balanced against the "fact" (which may not be well-verified) that MALE circumcision is better tolerated by an infant than an adult.

Me? I'm cut, and I'm okay with it. I will also admit to being 1) bisexual and 2) having a fascination with uncut men (who are relatively rare in the US). So, should male infants be uncut and discover later whether it works for them or not? Good question. Should women be UTTERLY UNCUT and unmolested as regards the clitoris and hood? HELL, YES!!!
The primary nerve that enervates both the penis and the clitoris is known as the dorsal nerve which branches off the pudendal nerve (in both sexes). It is presumed that the number of nerve endings is roughly identical in males and females, with females having a much higher density of nerve endings in a smaller region.

Indeed, the fact that the child can't protest such a procedure, violates the right of the child to be free from physical intrusion.

Why parents are so obsessed with the genitals of their children that they choose to remove a part of it, is beyond me.
Except a child cannot protest any procedure done on him as an infant, regardless of the benefits received. It is not up to the child until age eighteen for a reason, but up to the parents who are deemed to know better.

And it is not an obsession with the baby's genitals that leads to a choice in circumcision, but what background you bring into raising the child. Thanks, though, for making pro-circum parents sound creepy.
Creepiness is always only relevant to each generation. Circumcision in past generations was not creepy at all. But times they are a changing and creepiness is an appropriate adjective for circumcision in Western cultures in the 21st century. Sorry... But that's just where things are at.
^^ a child cannot protest any procedure done on him as an infant, regardless of the benefits received. It is not up to the child until age eighteen for a reason, but up to the parents who are deemed to know better.

But we protect children from ALL other non-therapeutic harms. No tattoos, piercings, or lip-stretching plates, no withholding blood transfusions or antibiotics, with no religious exemption. Even genital cutting is prohibited but only if you're female. A PIN-PRICK to draw one drop of blood is illegal if done to a girl.

Every male and female mammal has a prepuce (foreskin). There is just no rational reason why this one healthy normal body part of this one species of mammal of this one gender may be amputated at the whim of some adult whose body it isn't. Not one national medical association on earth (not even Israel's or Egypt's) endorses routine genital cutting.


Any background that involves the routine genital cutting of children is a creepy background in my book. 'Creepy' would be putting it lightly. A more apt description is sadistic, perverted, twisted, and sexually backward.

"should male infants be uncut and discover later whether it works for them or not? Good question." - Loren Miller

EDIT: Oopsy, I misread LOL

For some reason I thought you said something along the lines of 'why not perform circumcisions? hmm not sure' o.O

I'll leave my (misdirected but relevant) response intact since it might help provide language for people to use when discussing this issue elsewhere, or clarify an idea for another reader. ;)

Apologies for misconstruing your words! (though I don't see your need to be wishy-washy about it :P)

Original reply:

Erm.. forgive me if I don't share your ambiguity on this matter. Would you be so ambivalent if the subject was the surgical removal (lets assume involvement of qualified medical practicioners here, instead of some idiot mohel with a blade and his teeth) of whatever the precursor to breast tissue is in infants? A pre-emptive mastectomy, if you will. It could be easily shown that this results in a much lower rate of breast cancer in "mastectomees", and this would be a verifiable, unquestionable 'health benefit'. Would you 'umm and ahh' about this hypothetical practice, or condemn it outright, as lacking any reasonable medical justification, and as being especially egregious when performed on individuals too young to consent?

To relate directly to what you wrote in your post, I suspect that infants would recover better from mastectomies as well, as they do from pretty much any surgical procedure compared to an adult, since they have yet to go through all their growth spurts, develop coordination and motor skills and all those other things which can be short-circuited by major surgery in (adolescence or) adulthood.

How about if they were bisecting the penis instead? Probably less loss of tissue and sensitivity with such a procedure, would you favour this over 'standard' circumcision? Would you favour bisection over just LEAVING the genitals of non-consenting individuals ALONE?

Having a healthy body image, being comfortable with who you are, this has very little to do with the notion of performing practically useless and unjustified, potentially life-threatening, and universally disfiguring procedures on non-consenting individuals.

What if we weren't talking about babies? How about grown men, pulled off the street into a church, laid over the alter and held in place by a group while a priest or rabbi or some random person chops away at their willy? Why do you think that doing this to a baby is any less grotesque? Surely that image I just described to you appalls you? Why can you (likely) instantly conclude that a grown man has a right to his bodily integrity, but if the body of an infant is threatened you have to think about it?? :/



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