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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Ahh...yeah, they are very good videos. I'm not going to show them to my husband though. I'd rather keep him blissfully ignorant of what he has been missing. I kinda wish I didn't know too!


Parents should be required to watch those videos before they make the decision to have their babies cut.
I don't see why its touted as a bad thing if done properly.

When done on a person under the age of consent, it's a violation upon their rights. Nobody should be allowed to remove a part of the body of an infant because of any ethical or societal value. The removed part has a function and it does effect the infant during his whole life. This is a decision that should be made by the adult that has to live with the consequences, not by anybody else.

My husband has no regrets being circumcised

I have been born with a optical nerve that is not big enough to allow signals from both eyes to be transmitted to my brain. This means that although I'm able to look with both eyes, I cannot look with both at the same time, In effect I do not have stereoscopic sight. For me, this has some disadvantages as well as (perceived) advantages over people that do have stereoscopic sight.

I have no regrets being born this way.

Would you think that it should be allowed for me to cut out the eye of my infant son, or damage his optical nerve with the intention of causing him to have similar eyesight to me?

Where would you draw the line?
That's a ridiculous analogy. We're talking foreskin, not the ability to see. I will say you might be right in a small number of cases. I imagine there are one or two men on this planet that wish they had never been circumcised, but I haven't actually taken a poll. Vaccinations are done without consent. There are some things we do to our children without their consent. Where do you draw the line? I think right there. Just because one thing is ok, that doesn't mean there is a line that keeps moving farther away. Common sense is where you draw the line. And unless there is a massive decision by all Americans, for which I can only speak for, I don't know what they do in Europe or anywhere else, you are going to have your kid being the only uncircumcised kid in gym class which alone carries a stigma. My husband was prepared to make the decision to circumcise when we had kids, but then we had girls.
In Australia there are a lot less circumcisions performed now than 40 years ago. These days it's actually quite hard to find a doctor willing to do it if you don't present a medical or religious argument. Looking like Daddy doesn't really carry much weight here anymore. I think it starts with the medical profession being ready to say, "Well here is some information, I'd like you to read it and take a fresh look at it. If you really want to go ahead with it I might be able to refer you to someone, but I don't see the necessity myself."

This is from an Australian website:

Circumcision in Australia

Today the vast majority of Australian boys are not circumcised, and grow up happily with the bodies that nature gave them. Although circumcision was common from the 1920s to the 1960s, medical authorities have discouraged the practice since the 1970s, and it is now pretty much a thing of the past. Most parents want their boys to be as happy and healthy as possible, and they know that leaving their penis to develop naturally is the best way to secure these outcomes. The most recent statement (August 2009) from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians states clearly “the RACP does not recommend that routine circumcision in infancy be performed.”

Despite this, a few die-hard enthusiasts for circumcision keep popping up in the media, full of alarmist claims about the terrible risks of retaining the foreskin. This propaganda is contrary to the advice issued by responsible medical bodies such as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and is intended to confuse and mislead parents, and scare them into demanding circumcision for their boys. Most doctors are opposed to circumcision and will not perform the operation without genuine medical need (a rare situation). The fanatics have given up trying to influence responsible medical and scientific bodies; instead, they aim to use the popular media to frighten parents into putting pressure on doctors to agree to their demands.

Hopefully in 20 years this is where the US will be too.
Excellent posts by Limber, Rob and Ron!

"We're talking foreskin, not the ability to see." - Lisa

Lisa, did you actually watch the videos that Ron posted? The procedure in question demonstrably reduces the functionality of a healthy organ, to the (needless) detriment of the non-consenting victim. Rob's stereo-sight analogy is directly applicable, except for the fact that his impairment was the result of genetic mutation or neonatal conditions rather than a mohel and a knife.

The others have already done a capital job of addressing all the points you raised, averting any need for me to go on another 2-page rant (:P), but I would like to delve a little deeper into just how you are thinking about this subject, since I want to try and understand where you're coming from:

- Would you support forced circumcision of adult males? Why or why not, and if 'no', why is that different from how you view the rights of infant males?
- Would you support genital cutting of female babies? Again, why or why not, and how does this differ (in your mind) from the genital cutting of infant boys?
- Finally, would you support the removal of infant breast tissue? After all, there would then be a reduced chance of breast cancer when the kid grows up, and once the practice is commonplace they'll probably even be able to improve the procedure so that some of them can still breastfeed in adulthood. So, why not perform that unjustified surgery? :/

- Matthew
There are many men who wish they had never been circumcised, not just those who had complications after the procedure. This is, in my opinion, beside the point.

The point that I tried to make, for which I used the analogy as well, is that perceived advantages and disadvantages based upon societal or ethical values are not a valid reason for an intrusion upon the freedom of the infant.

the only uncircumcised kid in gym class which alone carries a stigma.

With that reasoning you could defend a parent who bleaches the skin of his black kid to fit in at the white school. Or the parent who allows the genitalia of their daughter to be mutilated because her future husband will not marry her without.

For me the fact is, that in all these examples circumcision included, the basic human rights of the infant are being violated. This is the reason why I do not approve of the practice of infant circumcision. Not because some of the victims have regrets, even those without regrets are in my opinion still victims (of an intrusion upon their basic human rights) because:
- the victim has no say in the matter
- the procedure is permanent
- it degrades the appearance of the body
- it degrades the function of the body

No matter how bad the mutilation, I'm sure you can find a victim who is supportive of the practice. In Somalia for instance, mothers who are mutilated themselves wish for their daughters to undergo the same procedure.

I draw the line right there where the rights of the individual begin.

I have yet to hear a proper argument why the removal of the foreskin is not mutilation, as well as why infant circumcision is not in conflict with basic human rights.

I'm appalled by the fact that this subject is not controversial in some of the countries where it's practiced and that parents think that this is their decision to make.
^^ We're talking foreskin, not the ability to see. ^^

We're talking about sexual pleasure, which - last I checked - motivates a hell of a lot in this society. And we're talking about normal unscathed apearance. I dare you to Google "circumcision damage" and tell somebody they should just get over looking like one of the COMMON horrid cosmetic outcomes you see pictured there.

^^ I imagine there are one or two men on this planet that wish they had never been circumcised ^^

There are HUNDEDS OF THOUSANDS of men enduring a tedious multi-year process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo some of the damage. I start about 10 men per day down the road to partial recovery.

^^ some things we do to our children without their consent.

Amputate healthy normal body parts? Only male penises qualify for that treatment even though NOT ONE national medical association on earth (not even Israel's) endorses routine infant genital cutting.

^^ Common sense is where you draw the line ^^

Common sense tells me to let a male decide for himself how much of his perfectly evolved pleasure receptor he gets to keep.

^^ you are going to have your kid being the only uncircumcised kid in gym class ^^

I'd be honored to alert my child that he may occasionally have to say "quit staring at my PENIS, Pervert!" but in fact, the rate of infant cutting is down to about 50/50 in the US now, so there will be some kids swinging both ways no matter what you do.
I know this is probably TMI, but I'm a nurse, as I said. It's really really hard, near impossible to catheterize somebody with a foreskin. Older men come in with nasty infections because they can't clean themselves properly or they've had phimosis. I suppose I'm seeing it from a very slanted point of view, but I have seen the problem first hand it can be nasty at times. Still, its possible the benefits outweigh the risks and not being a male, I suppose I'm not the best judge.

Interesting topic and interesting points you all bring to the subject. Not sure I'm ready to change my mind, but you've all given me something to think about.
^^ impossible to catheterize somebody with a foreskin. ^^

80% of the world is intact. It's just a matter of technique and training.
Lisa, I'm sure there are some old people who have trouble wiping their bum too, should infants therefore have their buttocks amputated to make it somewhat easier?

Also, I refer you back to the 'medical benefit' rebuttal that's been covered several times; since removal of breast tissue can demonstrably lead to a reduction in the rate of breast cancer in adulthood, should this procedure thus be performed on infants? This is the same justification you're trying to use for permanent, non-consensual, male genital reduction surgery in babies.

As a nurse, have you sworn to a (supposedly modernized version of) the Hippocratic Oath, or do you at least in some way adhere to the principle of Primum nil nocere? Because I doubt that as a medical professional you can honestly claim that routine, non-consensual amputation of healthy infant genital tissue is the best way to guard against potential conditions such as phimosis in adults. You would surely know that even in adults with this class of affliction circucision is not, and should not be the first port of call. At any rate, I must again refer you back to the point on breast cancer.

- Matthew
"It's really really hard, near impossible to catheterize somebody with a foreskin."

I can tell you first hand that it's absolutely possible, and with a pretty monstrous (three-tube) catheter, too (following a TURP, which must also have taken some heroic catheting).

The notion that all babies should have part of their penis cut off because some old men have trouble keeping it clean is quite bizarre. What are you going to cut off baby girls to help them when (if) they become incompetent old women?

It's not impossible at all. I was cathertised very quickly and easily in an American hospital once. You simply roll the foreskin back; takes all of two seconds. Older men come in with infections because of poor hygeine? So what about older women? Should we circumcise girls at birth in order to make your job more convenient?

Maybe more effort should be spent on preventative health-care and education, rather than the ignorant and commercial way the US treats its patients. You live in one of the most unhealthy cultures on the planet and then you blame nature for your problems.

An older man should not have phimosis. This is a relatively easily treated condition and should be addressed in youth. Unfortunately many (if not most) doctors in the USA have no idea how to treat phimosis without circumcision, because there is a large deficiency of knowledge about penile anatomy and treatment in circumcising countries such as the USA.

Let us not forget that older men (and women) have been around for thousands of years, just like the operation we call circumcision. Why hasn't this procedure ever been advocated for health reasons prior to 20th century USA?



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