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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Kim wrote:

I have to wonder (and I hate to say this[...]) if the decision to circumcise isn't due to a mother's aversion


She is wondering if ... seems pretty clear to me... but I guess we'll have to wait til she returns to confirm...

"Cleaning a circumcised boy is not so different from changing a girl's diaper.  However, I used to babysit a little boy who was not circumcised.  His mother had to teach me how to pull back the foreskin and clean inside it to prevent infection.  This task is particularly gross when the child has loose stools."

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Kim, but Ron Low is completely right: you were totally misinformed about the cleaning of intact boys. Cleaning an intact boy is no different from changing an intact girl's diaper. You just wipe down the outside. You "only clean what is seen". You never ever even *try* to retract the foreskin of an infant. ("If he's intact, don't retract!") This is totally unnecessary and can be very very damaging. You would not start probing into the internal aspect of a baby girl's genitalia in order to 'clean the vagina'. This of course would be absurd - the vagina is self-cleansing; Nature knows how to take care of itself. The same is true of boys.

This intact boy's mother was obviously misinformed by ignorant medical professionals who, being American, had no idea how to care for an intact infant. The foreskin is not a pathology and you do not need to retract it and clean under it in an infant boy any more than you need to penetrate and clean an infant girl's vagina to "prevent infection". In fact, the foreskin is fused to the glans of the penis in infants. It naturally separates of its own accord when ready (usually by or during adolescence). The boy himself should be the first and only person to retract his foreskin. By forcefully retracting the foreskin of this infant you were actually making him more likely to develop a penile infection! (In addition to probably causing him pain.)

What you and his mother were doing is called PFR (Premature Foreskin Retraction) and this is a big no no. It can lead to all sorts of penile problems and actually create a need for circumcision. I hope that this was not the case for this little boy.

There is a balance to be struck there between the word "retract" and "encourage motion". The skin should be encouraged to motility, without any force applied of course. In nature, licking from mothers I'm pretty certain goes in every direction and there is a slight amount of reverse motion throughout the process. The infant should be encouraged to move his own foreskin, that is healthy, and the bathing process is a great place to encourage that. I wonder at what point in history did women stop licking their babies... hmm

The skin should not be encouraged to move for an infant. These are things that happen during later childhood and adolescence. This can happen through self-exploration and masturbation, cleaning, or spontaneously. No help on the part of the parent is required. Just leave it alone. American's need to stop obsessing over their sons' penises and let Nature take its course. But then the USA is very sexually prudish and backward in so many ways.

You have some very strange ideas.

Well Anthony, I usually agree with pretty much everything you say on this topic.


But here I diverge:

-I am not from the USA, I'm a Québécoise

-"letting nature take its course" for all mammals, involves motherly licking, now unless you're saying that mothers in nature lick strictly in one direction...


Many instances of phimosis can be correlated to prudishness on the part of the mother resulting in lack of handling the penis and teaching the infant how to handle.


What I'm saying is a balanced behaviour, not "retracting", but not "white gloves" either.


As far as vaginas go, I can assure you that tho we do not use complete penetration, it is entirely normal to "tease" the opening a little during bathing. And girls who do not "tease" the vagina's opening are looking at disfunctional first copulations.


One should explore their body, explore its range of action and motility, and parents need to encourage such exploration.

I apologise for assuming you were American.


This idea of "lack of handling of the penis" is silly. My mother never interfered with my penis or my brother's and neither of us have had phimosis. This is also the case with every other guy I know. It is truly the case that "the uncircumcised penis of an infant requires no special care".


I am all for more liberal and mature views towards sexuality, especially when it comes to raising kids. But we must be careful not to go from one extreme (repression) to another (obsession).

Phimosis is pretty rare, but on those rare occasions... it was usually preventable.


from Wikipedia: according to Huntley et al. the foreskin is reportedly retractable in approximately 50% of cases at 1 year of age, 90% by 3 years of age, and 99% by age 17


It seems a little ridiculous to wait til the age of 17 to take care of prevention...


Finding a middle ground, that is all I am saying :)


"Silly" is not that silly. If girls spent more time exploring their vagina, from a young age, there would be significantly less "bleeding" on wedding nights, and consequently significantly less trauma. Similarly to males, vaginal opening is age dependant, 90% of infant females vaginas are opened within first year.


In some Bolivian villages it's even considered desirable that men bleed on their first copulation!!! I would not even be discussing phimosis had I not dated a young man who had a partial phimosis. He'd been raised in an extremely religious family and so I read everything I could on the topic. It is truly fascinating that in certain rare cases it does not hurt to have a little 'special care'. Parents need to keep an eye on things.

Usually boys begin masturbating before 17. A teenager should have a physical exam with a doctor at certain periods and the penis should be examined. Of course it would be nice if children could discuss these things openly and easily with their parents but that is not always the case. Most teenagers wouldn't even know what phimosis is, and many parents wouldn't either.

I believe the Wikipedia article is wrong, but I can't say for sure. I do know there have been various studies on the topic and each has unique results. My foreskin separated during adolescence, but I was probably a late developer.

Prudish and repressive religion is never helpful for a child's emotional and sexual development, or for the psychological lives of the parents for that matter.

Regard it without emotional attachment would great aid in evaluating why you're uncomfortable about the practice.  For instance due you do it out of duty, or do you do it out of sexual pleasure?  If it's the latter you're treading on dangerous ethical grounds in my opinion.  However if you're someone cleaning a diaper for a male child the child shouldn't be circumcised just because you believe the act of cleaning the penis is easier.  It should be based on logical reasoning first and foremost.  If it requires you learn a new skill set then so be it, that is the price for bringing a male child into this world, and definitely the cost for caring for one.



Kim is not talking about her experience or disdain, she's imagining how it could be an issue for some... others. I also can totally imagine how some prude could have those thoughts.
This is because of religion enforcing the notion of genitalia being sinful. That the mere existence of sexual organs is immoral in nature instead of perfectly natural. If religion could propagate itself through asexual reproduction it would.




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