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 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.
on this we 3-4 agree :)
Kim is talking about her experience and disdain. And she has made it plain that she does not know how to care for an intact male infant. It is important to correct this as ignorance of such things (which seems widespread in he USA) can be detrimental.
The word "mutilation" has a strong inherently negative connotation. How does "mutilation" differ in meaning from "adjustment" or "correction". For example, most of us naturally have some degree of crooked teeth and most who have the resources get them straightened during adolescence. Is this cosmetic adjustment mutilation? How about cosmetic facelifts, nose reductions, boob enlargements, hair plugs, etc?

Hi Gary, 


The world mutilation indeed does have a strong negative connotation, that's fitting since the procedure of routine infant circumcision(RIC)  is an action that degrades the appearance and function of a living body. Therefor it is mutilation, it is not an adjustment or a correction which of course are not necessarily degrading. 


So your analogy with to compare RIC with a non-degrading cosmetic procedure makes it invalid. It does tell me however, that you do not seem to know what the foreskin is for which sort of tells me that you are most likely American and circumcised. 


If a person circumcised, then to accept that RIC is mutilation would mean that he would also have to accept the fact that A) his parents mutilated him and B) the functioning of his penis has been degraded. 


No wonder then, that whenever the subject is discussed a lot of circumcised men basically put their heads in the sand and scream "yadda yadda yadda". The consequences of accepting RIC as mutilation are harsh to say the least for the people that have been circumcised. A lot of them just seem to disregard any argument because they would not be able to accept these consequences. 


In regards to  you Gary, how can you seriously equate a cosmetic adjustment with the removal of the foreskin? What do you think the purpose is of the foreskin?


It's incomprehensible for an outsider like me to see men talking about the removal of their foreskin as if it was something completely redundant and/or useless.

Hi Rob,

   The question of if circumcision improves or degrades appearance is subjective and probably unimportant.  


The question of if it improves or degrades hygiene is more to the point and, it seems, unresolved.  If it is, as you and others seem to believe, not a significant hygienic concern and also degrades function then I agree the practice should stop.  


However, it is not clear to me that there is no hygienic benefit.  Many doctors recommend it, other feel it is unnecessary.  (A common argument that, because most American docs are circumcised, their medical opinions are biased is illogical and inconsistent. )  Further,  the claimed increased sensitivity of uncircumcised males may be detrimental in that both our population and the amount of time we're concerned with sex may be excessive.


In any case, it seems not a big deal to me.   

The question of if circumcision improves or degrades appearance is subjective and probably unimportant.


It is important, it concerns sexual experience which is an important part of being human. It's your penis, for crying out loud? How can your first concern in regards to your penis be a hygiene issue, you are removing a body part that has a function in intercourse and has many nerve endings.


It is not a significant hygienic concern at all, take a look in countries where RIC is not common, there is no such thing as a hygiene problem with being uncircumcised. If it was a hygienic concern, then you would solve this first by improving hygiene. Would you remove infant breast tissue if it proved to lower the risk of breast cancer? 


A common argument that, because most American docs are circumcised, their medical opinions are biased is illogical and inconsistent.


My point was that it is a sensitive subject to discuss. I would say that "their" medical opinions can be biased, just like uncircumcised doctors can be biased. Bias is human, and usually has an emotional basis.


Further,  the claimed increased sensitivity of uncircumcised males may be detrimental in that both our population and the amount of time we're concerned with sex may be excessive.


And you would dare make that decision for another human being based upon your opinion as to what degree one should concern himself with sex? This is not an argument that would strengthen your position to me.


Would you agree to these "facts"?

A) the foreskin holds nerve endings

B) the foreskin has a sexual function

C) circumcision has religious roots

Or do you contest these as facts?


In my opinion, parents have no right to make a decision such as circumcision except when based upon medical necessity. The hygiene argument comes basically down to a perceived advantage of convenience, not necessity and I do not see how this constitutes as an argument at all. 


In any case, it seems not a big deal to me.


It is a big deal, it is about sex. Sex is important to people, we all have opinions about it and most of us attempt to find sexual gratification. If you decide to circumcise your son, you are making a decision for him that has effects on his sexual experience. What other reason then necessity is there to make such a decision for another person?


Earlier in the discussion I mentioned as an analogy the fact that I do not have stereoscopic vision because I can only look with one eye at a time, not with both. To me this has some disadvantages as well as advantages, which of course is all about perception (pun intended). Would you allow me to alter the body of my child in such a way that it would have the same perceived advantages? I'm not arguing specifics here, just the principle. How far am I allowed to go?


If you can explain which body parts and sensory data you're allowed to remove from an infant and for what perceived advantage, please do. I remain convinced that it is not the decision that the parents should be allowed to make unless forced by necessity.


   I do agree with you that:

A) the foreskin holds nerve endings

B) the foreskin has a sexual function

C) circumcision has religious roots


These facts do not either suggest or deny a hygienic effect.  Successful reproduction of circumcised men suggests to me that the foreskin is not a requirement for sexual motivation.  


As to excess body parts, I also agree that there are few or perhaps even none. The tonsils are of questionable utility, as is the appendix, but in both of these examples the small risk involved with removing the small risk of removing them outweighs the value of doing so prophetically - except in situations where the even smaller risk of infection has unusually serious repercussions.   Circumcision is relatively much simpler and safer.


However, I would not wish to force anyone to be circumcised unless I was responsible for them  (i.e. only my sons need apply).  In that situation it is a moral imperative for me to act as I believe is best.    I do agree that were I to have more children now, I would reconsider, based on believing that any health risk is small and that they retain the opportunity to decide on circumcision themselves as adults.  Most likely, I'd follow the advice of the obstetrician, given that she/he is "expert". 


My tonsils were removed when I was 7. It was the 2nd worst decision my parents ever made regarding my health.


The first worst decision on my health was they each smoked 3 packs a day in the 60s-70s-80s. I have nicotine intolerance and spent 6 months a year sick and coughing til age 17. Removing my tonsils was thought to help reduce my coughing. It didn't.


Another example of stupid "medical" interventions with no scientific justification.

These facts do not either suggest or deny a hygienic effect.


A perceived advantage of hygiene is an advantage of convenience at best, it is not a necessity.


Successful reproduction of circumcised men suggests to me that the foreskin is not a requirement for sexual motivation.


It is not, it is a part of the body that has a very useful function in intercourse and that directly influences the pleasure of intercourse as well as masturbation.


I heard from a guy that walked the marathon without legs so I guess we don't need legs to move around. No point in keeping those legs, after all, feet smell so it is hygienic to remove them. 


It is foolish to say: "oh, but circumcised males can still have orgasms so all is fine" because it is not about whether or not it is possible, but whether or not it is more pleasurable. And the gist of the argument is that it's not your decision to make. You do not own your sons and it is not your duty to make such decisions for your children based upon your own morals.


It is not just a little flap of skin, as an intact male I can tell you that you simply do not know what you are missing in the same sense as that I don't know what 3D vision is.

You seem to me like a man who is simultaneously trying to be objective and yet also trying to justify your own circumcision.

You're wrong about circumcision being simpler and safer than appendectomy and tonsilectomy. Few people die from those surgeries, but many babies die from circumcision. And in a sense they are the lucky ones, as many 'survivors' have to live with botched jobs which impact their lives to varying degrees. It's just not something that most men talk about (just as death-by-circumcision is not something that most doctors talk about), but the internet is full of the laments of such men who have been damaged for life in one way or another (just as some records of infant circumcision deaths are available online).

All these scenarios aside, it is not uncommon for baby boys to have to return to the hospital/clinic for post-operative complications which need to be fixed.

Regarding hygiene, anyone who claims that the removal of healthy functional tissue somehow contributes to health and hygiene is a fool. If the penis is so 'dirty' then what does that say about the vagina? Where are all the studies on female circumcision and hygiene, or would such things be 'inappropriate' in the USA?

Even if the penis was somehow 'dirty' then there would still be no reason to amputate the foreskin of an infant. This is because the foreskin at birth is attached to the glans, like skin to muscle or fingernails to the nail-bed. It must literally be torn off the glans. A foreskin does not usually even begin to separate from the glans until childhood, and smegma does not start to develop until adolescence (not that there is actually anything dirty about smegma, which is shared by both men and women).

In fact, removing the foreskin from the glans - an internal organ - is actually unhygenic as it the body is cut open leaving a wound to heal (usually in a dirty diaper) and exposing an organ that was not supposed to see the light of day for years and years. What's more, the urethral opening is permanently exposed too, which was meant to be protected by the one-way-opening of the acroposthion (which lets urine out and nothing in).

As far as following the advice of an obstetrition, different obstetritions give different advice, especially regarding circumcision in the USA. What is not up for debate, though, is that no medical organisation in the world recommends routine infant circumcision, so if you do have an obstetrician in favour of the procedure then they would need to explain to you why they are going against the vast majority of doctors and medical organisations in the world. What I think that you won't find is an obstetrician who is intact (or married to an intact man) advocating for circumcision. Something to think about.



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