Interesting read. I personally see no reason to do so unless medically necessary, but also I'm not going to condemn people who do it just because I disagree - as you said, there is the ability to be supportive without agreeing.
To compare male and female circumcision isn't really fair: in the vast majority of cases, the male equivalent of what's called "female circumcision" would amount to severing the entire foreskin and glans off down to the corpora cavernosa, and then pushing what's left of the shaft into the pubis and stitching it up.
It's also worth mentioning that male circumcision is usually a scriptually-mandated religious procedure; whereas female circumcision is, to the best of my knowledge, a culturally-mandated one.
This was my thought - although I'm still not in favour of male circumcision.
I find the whole idea of ring-barking babies to be barbaric. Superstitions as an excuse to justify it? Nah, you're cutting a baby unnecessarily, without anaesthetic in a part of his body that has a lot of nerve endings. Look at a calendar, work out what century you live in and do the right fucking thing. If you're Jewish, do you still shit 200 metres outside town or have you adapted to the changes in technologies? From my point of view, circumcision is simply child abuse. It's about as necessary as an ear-piercing.
2008-08-04 06:08 am (UTC)
Re: Rant alert.
I don't disagree with you, but one of the major points of my argument against it in general is that for many people it's purely an asthetic choice, rather than a cultural/traditional one. I'm not saying that any of those choices are good ones, but I know that one that makes my skin crawl more.
If someone said "I'll circumcise my son because it's the done thing in my social group." they would be condemned...
Actually, no they wouldn't. As I mentioned, it happens all the time, and the reasons are usually down to a preferred look on the part of the parents, and no-one argues against that. Soemone saying 'it's what is done in my social circle' isn't really that different to 'they look nicer.'
As to arguments over religion, I tend to respect people's beliefs. I would rather they they be a good person because that's who they want to be, rather than their invisible friend telling them to, or doing it out of fear, or for a big reward in the next world, but at the end of the day, educating people is better than damning them.
You educate them, hopefully they'll reach the conclusions on their own, you criticise them, they stop listening.
I assume that the reason guys don't talk about decisions regarding their son's circumcision is that it means they are, in effect, talking about their own dicks. And most guys are not going to do that in a room full of strangers (ante-natal class for example). I've witnessed it too, and it's often accompanied by floor-gazing on the part of the men.
That's not the floor they're gazing at.
2008-08-04 04:56 am (UTC)
Speaking as a circumcised male, I find myself in an interesting position. Personal preference would be to not circumcise my child. However, being circumcised myself, I am utterly - utterly - ignorant of the necessary hygienic practices.
Which raises a conundrum: in the absence of good quality, reliable information on what my hypothetical son needs to do to maintain his own health and well being, it could be argued that he would be better off being circumcised. (Of course, the other approach - and the one I would pursue in this situation - would be to do whatever it took to find out. Some men would be too embarrassed to do this - I'm not saying it's right or wrong, just that it is.)
You could google "foreskin cleaning"... but probably don't do it at work.
See... for us, I figured it was pretty much Paddington's call. I wasn't keen on it, but if he'd had a strong preference, I'd probably have gone along with it.
Of all the issues facing mankind male circumcision would have to be the least important.
The upsides are trivial, the downsides are trivial. No, really, the benefits are statistically miniscule and the risks are even smaller.
To compare it in any way to female genital mutilation or foot binding is just so wrong as they cause serious damage to women whereas male circumcision changes nothing.
If you ask yourself "How would my life have been different if I was/wasn't circumcised" the answer for 99.9% of western males should be "it wouldn't be different at all". What football team you support is more likely to shape your life than whether or not you have a foreskin.
If you want to fight against barbaric practices why don't you join Amnesty International or an anti capital punishment group or even help the RSPCA fight against tail-docking of dogs. Any of those would contribute far more to making our world a better place.
Of all the issues facing mankind male circumcision would have to be the least important.
Actually, I would have said that fandom and worldcons were the least important, but that's just me ;)
But seriously, while it's not of world shattering importance, neither is it so trivial. There are lots of guys that have various physical issues due to circumcision. These include inability to get en erection without pain or even skin tears and bleeding because too much was removed, not to mention guys where the glans is severly damaged.
To say that male circumcision changes nothing is incorrect. Can you imagine what it would be like for you if you were one of the unlucky ones? Where an erection meant pain, and intercourse was agonising? And all because of a procedure that you had no say in?
There are many men for whom it has changed everything. Apart from the above mentioned physical issues, there are issues of self-esteem, thoughts of parental betrayal, feelings of inadequacy compared to 'complete' males, depression issues, etc. As mentioned in my previous post, there are men trying to regrow or recreate their foreskins - these aren't the actions of men unaffected by what has been done. I don't just talk out my bum, I actively research these things.
So in that light, I think the comparisons to some of the more horrific practices visited upon women is fair. Just because the numbers of seriously affected people may be significantly lower, it doesn't make it any less barbaric.
Not all female genital mutilation is the extreme kind. In some cultures the girl loses a small enough section of labia that the difference to her genitals and her ability to enjoy sex is minimal. But the fact that those women are relatively unaffected doesn't make it okay. I still find it a terrible practice, and I'd rather it didn't happen at all, to either gender.
Suppose for a moment you're on the mark in saying that if asked 99.9% of Western males would say their lives would be no different one way or the other. In Australia that leaves you with, very approximately, 10,000 males for whom it would be an issue. Even if only a quarter of them are circumcised, that's 2,500 guys who are affected by something that they had no control over.
Let's remember another factor, too. On the whole, western males tend not to talk about their emotional, medical, or physical issues. A hell of a lot of guys die from various curable ailments because they don't tell anyone, don't want to see a doctor, and leave it far too late to be helped. So, it may well be a far bigger issue than either you or I are aware of. Many guys are unhappy with their penis size, or have erection issues, but how many men do you know who told you that they have these problems? During my short time working in the sex shop, I sold a lot of penis enlargers.
As to making the world a better place, I agree, all those things you mentioned are worthy. As are better education for all socio-economic groups, better solutions to the problems of child labour, stopping whaling, etc. I, like everyone else, looks to the issues that speak to them. In my case the issues that speak to me are environmental, educating farmers so they don't fuck up the land, educating city folks into the real needs of the country areas, the eradication of introduced pests, that sort of thing. I may not be hugely active, but those are the things I work towards, when I can.
This rant was me venting and expressing an opinion, I wasn't saying it was of world importance. That you disagree with it is fine, I expected some folks to disagree with it, to have counter-arguments, to say I was wrong about this or that. That's good, because it forces myself and others to rethink what we know, to question our arguments and stances. In fact, I made such a lengthy reply to your comment because you brought up a bunch of really good issues and arguments.
I have two boys - one is circumcised, the other isn't.
When I was pregnant, we discussed long and hard about whether we would choose to do it and after weighing up the relevant factors for our life at the time we chose to have our baby circumcised.
There were a number of reasons, but the biggest one for us was that we lived in hot, humid and dusty place, and we personally knew of a number of boys who had to be done because of infections when they were older (5-15) and each of them then had issues with pain and scarring.
Our second son isn't circumcised, because the doctor I had when he was born refused to perform the procedure despite our requests.
See, whether I agree with it or not, I can fully respect the decision. You thought about this, you had personal experience of other uncircumcised people having difficulties, you made an informed choice to have it done.
Where were you living?
While we're on the subject of mutilating babies, I find ear piercing on infants to be obscene. I want to slap the parents whenever I see it. Piercing (or any form of mutilation) should be made by informed consent, not because the parent has a preference.
As for the argument "because I want him to look like his father" argument: my husband has a split in his ear lobe due to a birth deformity. Should I then have Connor's ear surgically split so he'll look like his Dad? Answer: see beginning of my rant.
You echoed one of my ranty replies above with your second paragraph.
And yes, I don't think infants should have their ears pierced. I think if a child is going to have their ears pierced, it should be considered as an option only when the child has requested it.
And that doesn't include mum or aunty asking the child "So do you want you ears pierced?" Let the child decide they want it done, rather than placing the idea in their mind because you want it done.