Clip the Tip? Point/Counterpoint on Male Circumcision

by Brett on February 22, 2009 · 156 comments

in Fatherhood, Relationships & Family

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Whether or not to circumcise your newborn son is probably the very first big decision you’ll make for him. Several decades ago, the choice would have been easy; in the 1970′s, around 90% of American-born males were circumcised. Today that number has fallen to around 60%, and the practice is markedly less popular in many other countries. The debate over whether or not to circumcise can get quite fiery, and it remains a divisive and controversial issue. Every couple should research the pros and cons of circumcision and come to the decision about what is best for their baby. To aid men in thinking through the issue and in hopes of creating civil discussion on the matter, today we present a point/counter point on circumcision.

We’ve brought together a few of our friends who have taken a side on the issue. First, we have Ryan and Amy Lee who will be arguing against circumcision. In the pro-circumcision corner, we have Jeff Trexler.

And just to give fair warning, this article does discuss sex. So if you’re easily scandalized like a Victorian housewife, please go ahead and skip this article.

Point: Circumcision does more harm than good, carries unnecessary risks, and should not be performed routinely.

Written by Ryan and Amy Lee

Considering routine neonatal circumcision is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States, it is surprisingly often misunderstood. Despite medical doctors’ vow to uphold the Hippocratic oath, primum non nocere (above all, do no harm), circumcision seems to be the exception to their rule. Typically the burden of proof would be upon a medical intervention to prove itself worthy of possible attending risks. However, because circumcision is rooted more in tradition than medicine, many doctors and parents agree to the procedure without fully examining the logic, or lack thereof, substantiating it.

As a Canadian-born intact male, I have the unique perspective of understanding the anatomical function of the foreskin firsthand, as does my wife. Based on personal experience, as well as extensive research, we have concluded that the procedure does more harm than good, carries unnecessary risks, and should not be performed routinely. Though the literature contains far more information than can be encapsulated here, we will attempt to scratch the surface of the case against circumcision and will also encourage your further consideration and research as you make choices on behalf of your children, or discuss the matter with other parents.

Because an intact penis is the default, rather than attempting to extol what is simply natural, we will approach our argument against circumcision by elaborating on the logical fallacies in the pro-circumcision arguments. We recognize the proliferation of web-based arguments on both sides of this issue, so all arguments here come from peer-reviewed articles, professional medical associations, and our own personal experience. That said, one of the most compelling pieces of web-based information on this subject is the video footage available, so if you really want to see why circumcision is a bad idea, search “routine infant circumcision” on Google video and brace yourself.

Fallacy #1: Circumcision is desirable because it promotes cleanliness and prevents disease. As an owner of an intact penis, I can confidently say that my cleaning habits are probably identical to yours and are more than sufficient to get the apparatus clean as a whistle. If our primary goal is removing people’s folds of protective, functional skin to prevent the possible accumulation of secretions, we should be going after baby girls with the scalpel. Thankfully, this idea that would horrify most everyone in the U.S., and I think the idea of approaching baby boys similarly should be equally horrifying. Regarding disease, the notion that circumcision is a legitimate preventative measure is simply unsubstantiated and, in fact, some research indicates that the foreskin may be protective against infection. The rate of circumcision is a mere 6% in the UK, and, in fact, the U.S. may be the only developed nation to practice routine infant circumcision. Check out this global distribution map provided by the World Health Organization.

Fallacy #2: The foreskin is unnecessary and can be removed with no adverse effects. In my experience, the loudest proponents of this argument are circumcised men who, with all due respect, don’t have much basis for comparison. Admittedly, I have never had a circumcised penis myself, but accounts of men circumcised as adults compare the difference in sexual sensitivity after the procedure to seeing in black and white after once seeing in color. This seems understandable given the foreskin is significantly more highly innervated than the rest of the shaft. In my experience, the foreskin itself is the source of by far the most genital sensation and pleasure. In a circumcised adult male, the amount of skin missing is about the size of a 4X6 index card (depending on overall size)-over one third of the penile skin. The foreskin’s anatomical function is myriad. One important function is protecting the glans the way the eyelid protects the eye; in the absence of a foreskin, the glans becomes keratinized from rubbing against clothing and is much less sensitive. Another important function that the foreskin provides an erotogenic (good feeling!) gliding sheath over the shaft, reducing loss of lubrication and decreasing the friction that can decrease pleasure for both partners . In infants the foreskin is adhered to the glans, like a fingernail, and so before it is cut off, it must be separated. One can imagine this is extremely painful and leaves the glans exposed before it is mature enough for the foreskin to separate on its own, usually during early childhood. Additionally, I have both read about and personally known individuals with complications resulting from circumcision and, though very rarely, sometime even death can result from excessive blood loss or infection. It should be noted that these cases, though rare indeed, occur with similar or greater frequency than deaths from penile cancer, which is often cited as a reason to circumcise. Perhaps we should start removing infants toes at birth too, to prevent possible ingrown toenails in old age, or the dreaded toe cancer. Just sayin’.

Fallacy #3: If circumcision is going to be done, it is most ethical to do it during infancy, so the person won’t remember it. I’ve heard many circumcised men remark that they sure are glad the procedure was done when they were babies so that they don’t have to remember it. While I agree that having a piece of my penis cut off without anesthesia is a memory I would prefer to avoid, there is a better way to avoid it-leaving those kids alone! As I become more educated about circumcision and find myself discussing it with others it seems that for every man who, with bravado, claims his circumcised member is exactly to his liking, there is at least one humble fellow who admits, sometimes with great emotion, that he wishes such important decisions about his body had been left to him-he would have chosen to spare himself a traumatic experience during his first moments and live life with a complete, intact penis. I am glad that so many circumcised men are as satisfied with their penises as I am with mine. I am also glad that so many wives and partners are equally pleased. However, I know some men and women who grieve the loss of the foreskin from their relationship and wonder how things would be different. When a baby boy is born he, obviously, can’t consent to the procedure and by the time his opinion can be known, it is often too late. Parents must make many choices about their children without their consent, it’s true, but choosing a cosmetic genital surgery is, in my mind and many others’, taking that liberty way too far. If there is a chance your son wouldn’t want it done to his penis, why would you take the risk? At the end of the day, if you decline to circumcise your son, he always has the option to do so himself later in life. But if you consent to the procedure, everyone’s hands are tied. There is no way to fully restore what has been lost.

Fallacy #4: Intact penises are less cosmetically desirable. Whoa there! Again, I am relieved to know that so many men like the looks of their circumcised penises, and pleased that their partners share their appreciation, but this is a bold claim. Understandably, people with positive experiences with a penis, their own or their partner’s, will develop an affinity for that specific penis and may come to think that theirs is the “best.” Great. We want everyone to love their penis around here; taking good care of penises is really what we’re talking about anyway. But my wife emphatically prefers my penis just as it is: intact. And, I’m not gonna lie, so do I. People like the penises that they personally have good experiences with.

Fallacy #5: It is important for a boy to look like his father. Of all the fallacies, this one is the most confusing to me personally, probably because my dad is circumcised but I am not and neither are my three brothers-and nobody gives a rat’s. I understand that making a different choice for your son than your parents made for you may tacitly imply some level of dissatisfaction with your own experience, and heaven knows the idea that a man’s penis has been compromised is a bitter pill for him to swallow. However, in the spirit of this blog, I submit to you this question: is it manlier to protect your ego or your newborn? I know lots of circumcised guys who are proud as can be of their penises but leave their sons intact. In many other cases, the baby’s mother would prefer the baby be left alone and it is the father who insists on the surgery, without having done any real research on the subject. Be a man, do your homework and be rational. Emotions are important, but when protecting your pride comes before your duty to protect your family, something is out of whack.

For more information, please see:

http://www.cirp.org/

http://www.circumcision.org/

http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org

Counterpoint: Circumcision is a legitimate choice with few disadvantages and several advantages.

Written by: Jeff Trexler

I’d like to start off by saying that I’m not really pro-circumcision per se. I wouldn’t try to convince someone who wasn’t going to circumcise that they were making the wrong choice. It’s no skin off my, um, back. What I would like to argue is that circumcising is in fact a perfectly legitimate choice. This is a stance that many anti-circumcision advocates will simply not allow. Take for example the following reader’s comment made in reference to a recent article in Men’s Health on the subject (an article I highly recommend everyone read):

“Subjecting non-consenting individuals to any amputation of any of their normal, healthy, living body parts grossly violates their unalienable human rights. It constitutes crimes against humanity; torture, mutilation, human vivisection. Nazi doctors were convicted at Nuremberg after World War II of committing these crimes against humanity during the war.”

The idea that circumcision constitutes a human rights violation is positively ridiculous. I take the same stance that the American Academy of Pediatricians does: there are benefits and there are disadvantages to circumcision and everyone should do their research and come to the decision they feel is best for their child. As for me, if I have a son, I plan on circumcising him. And I don’t think I should be put on trial at Nuremberg. Here’s why.

First let me address three of the points opponents make and then I will add my positive reasons:

Traumatic for the baby? Circumcision is undoubtedly no picnic in the sun. But I don’t think it’s abject torture for the kid either. Yes there are videos that string together shots of screaming babies as they undergo the procedure, but those are cherry picked and misleading. Who knows when these pictures were taken? The videos often show the baby with its arms restrained crucifixion style-which is rarely done anymore. And babies today are also routinely anesthetized before the procedure and given a sugar covered pacifier which helps mitigate the pain. This doesn’t mean that the procedure is painless, but it’s not cruel and unusual punishment either. My sister-in-law works as a neonatal nurse and has seen tons of circumcisions done; she says that some babies sleep right through it. Yes, some babies do scream and cry, but babies scream and cry even when they’re not being touched at all.

Furthermore, there’s no evidence to show that it permanently damages kids’ psyches or causes any kind of psychological trauma when they grow up. If that were true, you would think that babies who had true medical emergencies as newborns, the ones that were being stuck with needles, incubated, and cut open, would grow up to be insane. The baby doesn’t know why you’re cutting him after all. But alas, this simply isn’t the case. So a little snip is not going to leave them emotionally scarred; either way they don’t remember it.

The baby doesn’t have a choice! So true! And the baby sadly doesn’t have a choice in who its parents are, where it’s going to live, what it’s going to be fed, what religion it will be raised in, where it will go to school, and on and on and on. Parents make hundreds of choices for their children, many of which will have far greater effects on their life than circumcision will. That’s a parents job-to make decisions for their kids that they feel are in their best interest. I understand that men can choose to be circumcised later in life, but it would be more traumatic then, a fully remembered event. Best to snip it in the bud right away.

The sensitivity issue. Perhaps the most fear-inducing argument the anti-circumcision people employ is the idea that a circumcised penis is not as sexually sensitive as its circumcised counterpart. Yet no study has conclusively proven that to be true. The American Academy of Pediatricians reports that in a self-reporting study, circumcised men enjoyed “more varied sexual practice and less sexual dysfunction” than their uncircumcised brothers. And the APA calls reports of loss of sensitivity in circumcised men merely “anecdotal.”

Meanwhile a real study has shown the idea to be a myth. The LA Times reports:

“A recent controlled study published in the January issue of BJU International, the British Journal of Urology, looked at nearly 4,500 Ugandan men, ages 15 to 49, who were all sexually experienced. Researchers randomly selected half to undergo circumcision, and half to have a circumcision in 24 months. They compared the two groups at six, 12 and 24 months to measure sexual satisfaction and performance.

The circumcised group’s rate of sexual satisfaction remained constant, with 98.5% reporting sexual satisfaction before circumcision, and 98.4% reporting so two years after the procedure.”

Men who are circumcised later in life do sometimes say that it takes more friction to get things going, but find their orgasms equally or sometimes even more intense. And if you can keep the great orgasms while also lasting longer and pleasing your woman, isn’t that a good thing? I doubt a lot of women are wishing their men were more sensitive than they already are.

Anti-circumcision advocates also say that sex is less pleasurable for the women because the foreskin provides natural lubrication. But again, such a theory is based on anecdotal evidence. For every story you can find online of women preferring sex with an uncircumcised penis, you can find ones which favor the alternative. (Warning! This link contains graphic language and pictures). Many women prefer the feeling of an circumcised penis; women have said that having sex with a uncircumcised man feels as though he is having sex inside his own foreskin instead of inside of her.

And now for the pros:

Like Father, Like Son. I’m circumcised, and my son will be circumcised too. My son should look like me in that way. Some people, especially women it seems to me, dismiss this reason as baloney. While it’s true that my son will not see my member very often, if he does, I want them to look alike. I can’t even explain why; I just do.

Hygienic. The inner layer of the foreskin has glands that create a substance called smegma, which the dictionary describes as a “cheese-like substance.” Uncircumcised men must regularly lift and cleanse under their foreskin to prevent this build-up. Sure, doing that is no big deal for adult men (although knowing the cleanliness habits of my male friends, I’m not sure it would always get done). But for little boys and old men who don’t realize the importance of hygiene or can no longer clean themselves respectively, the foreskin can be problematic. It’s not just a myth; my grandfather, who lives in a nursing home, developed an infection in his nether regions because he did not clean under his kangaroo pocket. And his is not an isolated case. In fact, the reason that circumcision became the norm in this country can be traced to the experiences of our GI’s during World War II. 145,000 soldiers who took part in the North African campaign were beset with foreskin related ailments, including “balanoposthitis (inflammation of the foreskin and glans), phimosis (a foreskin that’s too tight to retract over the glans), and paraphimosis (a foreskin stuck in the retracted position).” (MH) Whether or not you’ll ever find yourself in the trenches, circumcision keeps a man’s member nice and clean. Which brings me to my next point:

The Ladies Love It. I’ve known a handful of women who have been with both uncircumcised and circumcised men, and they all preferred the latter, especially when it came the act of oral sex. There’s nothing erotic about anything that can be described as “cheese-like.” Women like how a circumcised penis looks and they perceive it as cleaner. My evidence for this claim is of course anecdotal, but scientific studies back it up as well.

Circumcision helps reduce disease. Anti-circumcision advocates would have you believe that there are no bonafide medical reasons for being circumcised. But such is not the case. Lise Johnson M.D. the director of healthy-newborn nurseries at Boston’s Brigham Women’s Hospital said recently, “The weight of scientific evidence might be shifting in favor or circumcision.” Here are the reasons backing up such a statement:

  • A study carried up by the National Institute of Health reports that circumcision can prevent a man’s acquiring of HIV by up to 64%. (NIH)
  • Circumcised men have a reduced risk of contracting syphilis. (APA)
  • Uncircumcised male infants have as much as a 10 times greater risk of getting a urinary tract infection than their snipped brethren do. (APA)
  • Uncircumcised men have a 3 times greater risk of developing penile cancer. (APA)
  • Circumcised penises reduce the rate of cervical cancer in women. (BMC)

In conclusion, I truly believe that circumcision is a perfectly legitimate choice. But I encourage you to do your own research and make the choice you feel is best. As you do so, be careful when simply googling the subject. Many of the sites that come up such as circumcision.org and cirp.org look to be straightforward information sites but are in fact heavily biased on the anti-side. It’s best to stick with looking at scientific studies and sources which do not have a preset agenda and bias.

Thanks Lee family and Jeff! Alright, now it’s time for you all to weigh in. Vote in our poll. Afterwards, drop a line in the comment box and voice your opinion, but please keep it civil.

I’ve closed the comments on this post. The discussion isn’t going anywhere and people were starting to thread jack.

1 Julie February 22, 2009 at 8:10 pm

I find it interesting that an important reason people are circumcised (people I know, anyway) wasn’t mentioned in either article: religion. For Jews, circumcision is required for their men to be considered Jewish, and that’s the end of the story.

People often return to their childhood religion when it comes to making big life changes, which is why non-practising Christians will get married in a church, give their baby a baptism, and ask for a priest at their funeral, even if they do nothing else religious in their lives. In the same way, Jews turning back to religion during these important life changes will have their sons circumcised.

If you’re having your son circumcised for religious reasons, none of the other points above really matter.

2 Phil February 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm

“”so if you really want to see why circumcision is a bad idea, search “routine infant circumcision” on Google video and brace yourself”" I thought this author was going to use “logic” and “peer reviewed studies” to back his point. But then he goes on to say if you really want to see why it is a bad idea, watch this video. Sounds like more of appeal to emotion than logic…

3 Bernie Franks February 22, 2009 at 9:02 pm

The Point article came across as very defensive and, as Phil pointed out, more of an appeal to emotion than sound reasoning.

4 Bob K February 22, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Being born with a foreskin is not a birth defect. Next question.

5 Christopher February 22, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Really interesting read. I don’t necessarily have an opinion on circumcision yet, but it’s not an issue quite yet (no sons! no plans to have any soon). I can see the argument both ways. Well written on both ends; the the “pro circumcision” half seems much more passionate, which I appreciate.

-CD

6 Josh February 22, 2009 at 9:23 pm

The fundamental issue isn’t whether there are possible benefits to circumcision, but rather that it is an irreversible process, and by circumcising your infant, you’ve forced the choice upon your child. Performing any other sort of optional body-modification surgery on an infant would be considered extremely immoral – why should this be any different? If parents can choose to ‘snip’ their sons, then why can’t they choose to circumcise their daughters, too? If a man lost his arm in an accident, shouldn’t he be able to remove his son’s arm for the sake of looking similar? Shouldn’t blind or deaf parents be allowed to blind or deafen their child? Parents have no right to force what is essentially a cosmetic surgery on their children.

7 Phil February 22, 2009 at 9:42 pm

What if I, as a father (which I am not yet) believe it to be a hygiene issue. Is it not my duty as a father to make decisions for my child’s health. If I did feel this way and I neglected to mitigate the possible health repercussions, aren’t I failing as a father?

8 Amy Lee February 22, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Hi Julie,

We didn’t talk too much about the religious history/implications of circumcision due to the word limit- it would have been impossible to cover everything! However I thought this link might be of interest to you.

http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/

Cheers!

9 Briana February 22, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I am in agreement with all comments so far. People who circumcise for religious reasons must consider a whole other set of factors in addition to the ones discussed above. The emotional aspect of circumcision (as with any custom, or intimate body part) must be acknowledged as a component of the decision making process. I agree with Christopher that the pro-circumcision argument is appropriately passionate, what a shame to be blase about something so important to one’s future sons, their partners and our own partners. As for the APA’s ‘thoughts’ on circumcision, they are entirely unscientific. There is not one medical school in America which employs the use of a textbook explaining the normal anatomy and physiology. Those schools who choose to teach doctors the function of the foreskin must hire an outside scientist to supplement the curriculum. I have a hard time trusting any ‘authority’ who is merely an authority figure without any knowledge or experience with normal attached foreskins.

10 Briana February 22, 2009 at 9:59 pm

*the normal anatomy and physiology of the intact penis* that is

11 John February 22, 2009 at 10:02 pm

I have had conversations about circumcision with men from all different parts of the world. Most (since the majority of the world does not circumcise) are floored when they learn that the practice is routine in the US. The dogma that surrounds circumcision in the US is mind-boggling, and I am floored that our jingoism extends to the tip. The argument that we do it, so EVERYONE else in the world must be wrong is laughable. I mean, do you really think that the entire nation of Brazil (UK, Germany, Canada…) is one of men with rampant penile infections & diseases?

This logic is what perpetuates the practice of FGM in some parts of the world & is disgusting.

12 Chris February 22, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I chose to circumcise my first son, and will do so with my second in a month or so. I cannot articulate exactly why I chose to do so, but strong sense of tradition is definitely part of it.

I watched my first son have the procedure off of the nursery in the hospital – it was an intense experience as a new father, one of those experiences like serving as a pall bearer for a relative, or getting your first tattoo. I can also say it was very different from the very dated depiction in the “routine infant circumcision” cited above. My son received plenty of local anesthetic and was given a pacifier with a dextrose solution. They used specialized disposable tools to minimize the chance of error. Everything was very quick and very hygienic. The only crying I remember is when he was strapped in to the board to prevent him from moving during the procedure. After it was done, there was no further crying and the incision healed within a few days.

I’ve heard anecdotes from friends who are very opposed to the practice saying that the procedure is emotionally traumatic and damages the child in some way. If that’s true, wouldn’t the incredibly more traumatic experience of birth, where your head is squeezed like a vise for hours ending in a very bright, cold, and terrifying environment?

13 Jami February 22, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Reading both view points as well as the comments, left me feeling surprised and saddened. Apparently many American men have absolutely no idea what their penises would be like if left intact. The idea that intact penises are covered in ‘cheese-like substances’ is absurd and untrue. I can’t speak for the penises of uncared for old men, but I do know that if anyone should be worried about excretions during oral sex, it is the woman and not the man.

Oh, and I also want to point out that most infants are not anesthetized during routine infant circumcision.

14 Adam February 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm

For anyone interested in the religious aspect of this issue I recommend http://www.cutthefilm.com especially any one interested in a Jewish perspective.
Cut is a documentary film by Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, a Jew, who examines the subject of male circumcision from a religious, scientific and ethical perspective. Cut challenges the viewer to confront their biases by asking difficult questions about this long-standing practice. Check it out.

15 Darrell February 22, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Anti-circumcisionists deride the point of doing circumcision out of tradition, but I honestly think that’s a fine reason to do so. I think about tribes in Africa that have necklaces that stretch their neck, and earrings that create enormous earlobes, and weird piercings, ect, and they do it because of tradition and because it’s cosmetically appealing to them. I circumcised my sons because I was circumcised and so was my dad. It’s about being part of our tribe.

And anyone who says that infants aren’t routinely anesthetized during the procedure clearly haven’t been in a hospital in a long time.

16 Joe B February 22, 2009 at 10:58 pm

I was circumcised as an infant, and let me tell you… it does hurt. I couldn’t walk for a year!

17 Jacki February 22, 2009 at 10:59 pm

“Uncircumcised men have a 3 times greater risk of developing penile cancer. (APA)”

The American Medical Association as well as the American Cancer Society say infant circumcision should not be used to prevent penile cancer in adulthood. The American Cancer Society also says that studies showing that circumcision reduces penile cancer were flawed. Penile cancer is extremely rare in the United States and highly curable. I wouldn’t remove part of my son’s penis in hopes of preventing penile cancer later in life, just as I would not remove my daughter’s breast tissue in hopes of later preventing breast cancer.

18 Colin February 22, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I believe Jeff accidentally swapped “circumcised” and “uncircumcised” in the following sentence: “Many women prefer the feeling of an uncircumcised penis; women have said that having sex with a circumcised man feels as though he is having sex inside his own foreskin instead of inside of her.”

19 Hugh7 February 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm

“The idea that circumcision constitutes a human rights violation is positively ridiculous.” – Jeff Trexler.
How so? As a human rights issue, how does it differ from cutting off a baby’s earlobe or little toe? As a human rights issue, under sterile, surgical conditions with anaesthetic, how does it differ from cutting off a baby girl’s clitoral hood? (This was widely done in the US as late as the 1970s, but is now illegal.) As a human rights issue, how does it differ from cutting off a non-consenting adult man’s foreskin? This is NOT like any other of the “hundreds of choices” that “parents make … for their children”, involving as it does the permanent removal of a healthy non-renewable body part.

Religion does not inevitably trump human rights, and circumcision is not “required for their men to be considered Jewish, and that’s the end of the story” – babies excused circumcision on health grounds are still considered Jewish. Here is a contact list for celebrants (including some rabbis) of non-surgical Jewish baby-naming ceremonies: http://shalom.notlong.com

Jeff Trexler lists the prevention of various diseases as reasons for circumcising, but if you go back to the sources, they say, for example; “Studies *suggest* that circumcised males *may* be less at risk for syphilis than are uncircumcised males.” (My emphasis) Other studies suggest that they may not. And if they are, how much less is the risk, how great is the risk if they are not circumcised, and can each disease be prevented or treated by less drastic means? Some of the studies making these claims are simply bogus. For example the Ugandan study of sexual satisfaction, with almost all men reporting virtually perfect sex both before and after circumcision, was obviously too insensitive to measure any effect, since every other study shows much lower levels of satisfaction at baseline. (Other studies, directly measuring sensitivity, ignored the foreskin.) The great majority of the women in the Williamsons’ study of women’s preference had no experience of intact men with which to compare. And so on.

20 Jeff February 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Hugh: “As a human rights issue, how does it differ from cutting off a baby’s earlobe or little toe?”

Toes are necessary for walking and running to the best of one’s ability. The foreskin serves no purpose. Perhaps it did when we were cavemen wandering in tall grass and needing protection, but now it offers no real advantage.

Hugh: “As a human rights issue, under sterile, surgical conditions with anaesthetic, how does it differ from cutting off a baby girl’s clitoral hood?”

The clitoris is central to a woman’s ability to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm, the foreskin is not. And while you dismiss the Uganda study, and say, “every other study shows much lower levels of satisfaction at baseline,” you do not link to any of these studies. Please point to recent scientific studies that prove this point.

21 Kate February 22, 2009 at 11:25 pm

I am assuming that Mr. Texler is relying on the experience of “a handful of women” he has known because he himself has never performed oral sex on a penis… but, being male he should be able to concede that there are plenty of unsavory secretions coming from penises, both cirCUMcised and uncirCUMsized, that a woman undertaking such an act is willing to subject herself to. Even were his totally absurd “cheese” theory true, I don’t imagine that it would be the primary concern of women considering oral sex.

22 Hugh7 February 22, 2009 at 11:29 pm

“I circumcised my sons because I was circumcised and so was my dad. It’s about being part of our tribe.” – Darrell

Unless you are Muslim or Jewish, your grandfather was probably not circumcised, nor any of their forefathers. Non-religious circumcision is a relatively new “tradition”. And what “tribe” is this except the “tribe” of circumcised men? Why should anyone want to belong to that “tribe”? And what will you say if/when he says “Nobody asked me whether I want to belong to your **** tribe!”?

This has been added to the more than 370 reasons given for circumcising at http://www.circumstitions.com/Stitions&refs.html .

23 Brett February 22, 2009 at 11:41 pm

@Kate/Adam/John-

Please know that we can tell when a single commenter is commenting under various names. Pretending to be multiple people to increase the perception that there are many who agree with you is not manly or acceptable. Please cease and desist.

24 Jonboy February 23, 2009 at 12:03 am

I think it’s funny how people are essentially arguing something that is trivial beyond reason. Come on MEN, didn’t we leave the “my dick is better than yours” BS in highschool? A study I would personally love to see would be the study of uncircumcised and circumcised men rating there penis. I would be shocked if either group rated there own penis as sub-par in some way.

@ the religion answer—> Infant circumcision was started during the time of the Roman persecution of Jews. A newborn would be circumcised on the third day of his life so that he would forever know where he came from, regardless of where he ended up.

@ circumcision=cliterectomy comment—> It isn’t the same, you can’t even pretend it is. The same would be true if the penis was cut off at the base of the glans and could only secret semen for reproductive purposes.

@hygene—> This no longer applies in the modern world. Back when people bathed once a year at best….yeah, the word “dick cheese” doesn’t just exist from random association. In the past, yes, this would be a problem. Now? not so much. Anyone rockin’ a Stormin’ Norman: don’t clean your boy for a month and tell me what interesting crud builds up under that guy, I dare you. (WARNING: GRAPHIC LINK CONTAINS MALE NUDITY) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smegma

@ Child rights/ traumatic event—> we do not form cognitive thought or memory until around age 3. Look up Piaget’s cognitive development theories.

Come on people! If you can’t support your statement in a thought out and rational manner, just zip it!

25 Jonboy February 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

*rating THEIR own penis……too many papers to write, too late at night. Thank goodness for interesting reads on the internets!

26 Hugh7 February 23, 2009 at 12:19 am

Jeff, I specified the little toe because it is so small, but the fourth toe would serve equally well, and it is hard to make a case that we need that one for walking or running. What function do you claim for the earlobe?

The foreskin has many functions. See http://www.circumstitions.com/Functions.html . (See also this video: http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/prepuce.html )
Your conjecture about cavemen was first concocted out of thin air by a California respiratory specialist in 1900. You can see it in his own florid (and racist) language at http://www.circumstitions.com/remondino.html .

I specificed the clitoral hood, not the clitoris, because it is the anatomical analogue of the foreskin (although it may not be as well innervated). It is actually illegal to so much as prick the clitoral hood in the absence of pressing medical need; religion and culture are specifically excluded as reasons; and in some jurisdictions even an adult woman’s informed consent is not sufficient to have the surgery performed on herself.

Laumann, Edward O., PhD; Anthony Paik, MA; Raymond C. Rosen, PhD
Sexual Dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and Predictors
JAMA Vol. 281 No. 6, February 10, 1999
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/gca?allch=&SEARCHID=1&FULLTEXT=laumann&FIRSTINDEX=0&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&gca=jama%3B281%2F6%2F537&allchb=
found “Sexual dysfunction is more prevalent for women (43%) than men (31%)…”

31 per cent …

27 Hugh7 February 23, 2009 at 12:37 am
28 Ric February 23, 2009 at 1:50 am

If circumcision had a significant health benefit due to purported improved hygiene, then natural selection would almost certainly have resulted in the genes for the presence of the foreskin being selected against.

As the foreskin is still present in humans, I’d suggest removing it doesn’t improve hygiene significantly.

29 Rich February 23, 2009 at 2:38 am

This article made my pee pee hurt.

30 matthew February 23, 2009 at 2:39 am

“Like Father, Like Son. I’m circumcised, and my son will be circumcised too. My son should look like me in that way.”

holy shit, there’s something terribly freudian about this

31 Edin February 23, 2009 at 4:48 am

I am circumcised. I guess because I am a Muslim. But as someone who extremely loves and respects Jesus, I am so proud to be circumcised like Jesus. God ordered circumcision to all males. Jesus obviously accepted that since he said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” 5,17 Matthew He’s never said anything against circumcision. Paul has. Why? Ask Paul. The Christians should follow Jesus, not Paul. Paul departed in many things from teachings of Jesus, but this is not a place for such discussions.

32 McTester February 23, 2009 at 4:50 am

What I find striking is how the uncircumcised crowd tries to make such an emotional argument. Human rights violation?! I can see it coming now — federal regulations against circumcision. Why? – because some uncircumcised guys feel self conscious about how their thang looks. Isn’t that what is driving the emotion here? – guys who didn’t get cut and deep down wish they did? If you “grieve the loss of your foreskin” then you need to buck-up and get a life. Geez! For all of the other strife in the world today, this is not a credible crusade. Yet, there will be regulations; wait and see.

33 SueDoc February 23, 2009 at 5:10 am

I’m a gal and therefore don’t have much invested in the argument, but I have to say the counterpoint article actually swung me in the opposite direction than intended. I’ve dating both circumcised and uncircumcised men and I’ve never seen anything cheese-like. As for “the ladies love it”, that made me giggle — a lot of ladies think all penises are a little funny-looking, foreskin or no (even though we’re very fond of them).

34 Nit Picker February 23, 2009 at 5:28 am

If you look at that map of Global Male Circumcisions, Australia is rated with having the same range that the US is give, albeit a very large range, but it is there nonetheless. Furthermore, if we look at the developed countries and notice most of them are in Europe, we can start to understand why they do not partake in male circumcision to such a great extent. Remember only 60 years ago, one of the largest mass killings of innocent individuals took place. Yes, the Holocaust. And one sure way to define people as being Jewish was to ask them to drop their pants. As a result, people who were not Jewish and didn’t want to be confused as a Jewish individual stopped having circumcisions. Amazing how one event can change a nation’s behavior.

35 melissa February 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

I’m a bit surprised that the hygiene argument continues to endure. Uncircumcised penises got a reputation for being “unhygienic” back in the 1960s and 1970s, when doctors instructed the parents of uncircumcised boys to retract their foreskins and clean underneath. We now know (and have known for some time) that retracting the foreskin opens a sphincter and allows unfamiliar objects (like dirty bathwater, for instance) to enter, thus causing infections. In other words, doctors’ instructions to parents were actually causing the infections, and the myth of the unhygienic foreskin lingers on.

36 Julian February 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

I’m uncircumcised, and speaking from the UK.

My (former) wife was dead set on our first son being circumcised; I let her know in a very gentle and loving way that I’d see her in court before I allowed it to happen. As I’m generally fairly easy-going she was so taken aback that she let the matter drop. As things turned out, baby came out as a girl so the matter never actually arose in the real world…

To my mind, the uncircumcised crowd don’t need to make any argument at all. Those who are in favour of cutting need to explain why a bit of an animal with which it has evolved is actually detrimental to its health and needs to be removed. None of the arguments in favour stand up.

To respond to one or two who’ve gone before…

@Jonboy: “we do not form cognitive thought or memory until around age 3″. Formation of cognitive thought isn’t the point at which human rights begin.

As to the idea that ‘having sex with an uncircumcised male feels like he’s having sex with his own foreskin’; speaking personally – and not wanting to get too graphic here – the expansion of an erect penis more or less makes the foreskin tissue tighten around the shaft until it’s no longer an issue. At least in my case. Or am I just lucky enough to have the right combination to give me the best of both worlds…?

37 Adam February 23, 2009 at 6:02 am

I am an intact male living in the US. My father is circumcised. The reason I am not revolves around some complications with my birth.

Even though my father is circumcised, I would not say knowing this caused me any sort of emotional stress. However, being an intact male adolescent in a time when almost every other boy I knew was cut did cause some locker room insecurities and a couple of incidents I would rather not have had to deal with. I used to hate the fact that I was intact because of this.

Another issue that I faced was the fact that, being cut, my father did not really know how to adequately relay some useful information as I was growing up. Mainly, that it really is important to pull the foreskin back during urination. Otherwise, you may grow up into adult hood never understanding that it is supposed to retract fully over the glans. Not knowing this caused some tearing and bleeding during an intimate moment that quickly turned otherwise. So if you have an intact son, make sure he freaking knows how his junk works.

My wife and I are happy that I am intact. If we ever have a son, he will remain intact. However, I would never tell a circumcised man that he has to keep his own son intact. It’s not my place to say.

38 Nesagwa February 23, 2009 at 6:15 am

I remember being pretty shocked when I realized that the scar on my penis wasn’t supposed to be there and figured out what they did to me.

It’s cosmetic mutilation plain and simple. There are no health or hygiene risks with being left the way you were supposed to be.

A better analogy than an earlobe or a toe would be your eye lids. All they do is trap gunk and make getting things caught in your eye uncomfortable, might as well cut them off. I mean sure it would leave the organ exposed but it looks better doesnt it?

“we do not form cognitive thought or memory until around age 3″

It doesnt really matter if you can remember it or not. What you DO remember is figuring out that someone cut off part of your penis when you were born for no real reason. There wouldnt be so many men or groups out there for restoration of the foreskin if it was such a non-issue that the pro group seems to think it is.

39 Wes February 23, 2009 at 6:45 am

“I’ve heard anecdotes from friends who are very opposed to the practice saying that the procedure is emotionally traumatic and damages the child in some way. If that’s true, wouldn’t the incredibly more traumatic experience of birth, where your head is squeezed like a vise for hours ending in a very bright, cold, and terrifying environment?”

Let me get this straight. Since birth is a ‘traumatic’ experience, it’s perfectly okay to follow it up with another traumatic experience, provided the second one is deemed less traumatic?

—–

“@ Child rights/ traumatic event—> we do not form cognitive thought or memory until around age 3. Look up Piaget’s cognitive development theories.”

In that case, if your 18 month old son is disobedient, punch him in the face. Hell, he won’t remember it, and it’ll make him stop disobeying.

—–

“What I find striking is how the uncircumcised crowd tries to make such an emotional argument. ”

And the argument from much of the circumcised crowd is “I am, so my son will be too.” How logical.

“because some uncircumcised guys feel self conscious about how their thang looks. Isn’t that what is driving the emotion here? – guys who didn’t get cut and deep down wish they did?”

Those guys who aren’t circumcised can choose to be if they wish, so why would they be worked up over it? Circumcised men, on the other hand, can do nothing. Their decision was made for them.

—–

This isn’t really even a debate on whether or not your boy should be circumcised. It’s a debate on whether or not you should be choosing elective surgery for your son. If you want your son to look like you, because you think it’ll help him out somehow, why not wait until he’s old enough to see the difference and allow him to go through the procedure if he wants to?

40 morydd February 23, 2009 at 6:51 am

I am circumcised, and my 8 month old son is not. What it came down to, for us was simply, that the benefits and risks seemed to be about equal from a health perspective, so in the absence of a convincing argument in either direction, we went with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

41 John February 23, 2009 at 6:57 am

ANTEATERS ARE DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

42 Nick February 23, 2009 at 7:29 am

Those saying why not cut off the earlobe… Isn’t it really more analogous with getting ears pierced?

43 Nick February 23, 2009 at 7:31 am

I also meant to say … this is probably the best article I’ve seen on The Art of Manliness.

44 Adam February 23, 2009 at 7:42 am

Regarding ear piercing babies. I take issue with that. Our daughter got her ears pierced when she was 18 months old but only after we explained to her repeatedly that it would hurt. We even pinched her ears to show her. We took her to the mall and she did very well.

45 Daddy-O February 23, 2009 at 7:44 am

“A better analogy than an earlobe or a toe would be your eye lids. All they do is trap gunk and make getting things caught in your eye uncomfortable, might as well cut them off. I mean sure it would leave the organ exposed but it looks better doesnt it?”

Wow… that is a bad argument. Seems foolish to even have to say, but eyelids actually PROTECT your eyes, which are among the most vulnerable and sensitive parts of your body. Man, this is NO WAY even close to being analogous.

Plus, if you think a lidless eye “looks better”, well, then, I’d look into some kind of therapy.

46 Mark Lyndon February 23, 2009 at 7:44 am

You might also want to check out the following:

Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/fn/fn96-01.htm
“Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”

http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/pregnancy&babies/circumcision.htm
“Circumcision is a ‘non-therapeutic’ procedure, which means it is not medically necessary.”
“After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.”

Royal Australasian College of Physicians
http://www.racp.edu.au/download.cfm?DownloadFile=A453CFA1-2A57-5487-DF36DF59A1BAF527
“After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision.”
(those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

British Medical Association
http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/malecircumcision2006?OpenDocument&Highlight=2,circumcision#Circumcisionformedicalpurposes
“to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.”

National Health Service (UK)
http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=649
“Many people have strong views about whether circumcision should be carried out or not. It is not routinely performed in the UK because there is no clear clinical evidence to suggest it has any medical benefit.”

Canadian Children’s Rights Council
http://www.canadiancrc.com/Circumcision_Genital_Mutilation_Male-Female_Children.aspx
“It is the position of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council that ‘circumcision’ of male or female children is genital mutilation of children.”

drops in male circumcision:
USA: from 90% to 57%
Canada: from 47% to 14%
UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
South America and Europe: never above 5%

It’s worth remembering that we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if it weren’t for the fact that 19th century doctors thought that :
a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tuberculosis etc), and
b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but if you don’t believe me, then check out this link:
http://www.noharmm.org/docswords.htm

Over a hundred years later, circumcised men keep looking for new ways to defend the practice.

The record payout for a botched circumcision is $22.8 million. It was said at the time that the victim “will never be able to function sexually as a normal male and will require extensive reconstructive surgery and psychological counseling as well as lifelong urological care and treatment by infectious disease specialists.”

47 Nesagwa February 23, 2009 at 7:51 am

Daddy-O:

Maybe you missed the desert like dryness of my sarcasm. Of course its a bad argument. The foreskin protects the glans just like your eyelids protect your eyes. The only reason people get rid of it is for cosmetic reasons – the hygienic and health related “issues” are bunk.

48 grang February 23, 2009 at 7:52 am

Thank you for interesting post. Women, shut up, please.

49 Paul2 February 23, 2009 at 8:04 am

The vast majority of American men up to WWII were intact/not circumcised. All our nation’s heroes from George Washington to Abe Lincoln were not circumcised. It started to become routine in hospitals the 1900s. So, to say it is an American tradition is complete bullshit. After WWII in America babies would be taken away and cut with out the parents knowing. Some “tradition”. Stop making excuses to mutilate your son. Don’t violate his human rights. You should be protecting him, not allowing some one with a knife to cut his penis!

50 Santa February 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

I’m actually both. Long story, but it’s true. The upper part isn’t but the bottom is. I prefermy part with no skin.

51 Pat February 23, 2009 at 8:19 am

I think this was a waste of time! It is kind of stupid having people with no credentials arguing this subject.

52 David February 23, 2009 at 8:21 am

If it’s such a wonderful surgery, then let the kid grow up and do it himself. Not one man in ten would subject himself to the surgery. The arrogance of making that decision for someone else is astounding. Skin that has to be pried loose from an infant’s penis in order for it to be cut off, wasn’t meant to be cut off in the first place. Even ritual circumcision in the Old Testament did not involve prying anything loose. The concept of preventing infection by causing an open wound in a poopy diaper is mind-boggling. As for any unproven links to cancer and STD’s — just how much sex do most toddlers have?
My Dad wasn’t cut. My Mom thought she knew best.
Missing my skin.
His Body. His Choice.

53 Carrien February 23, 2009 at 8:28 am

My son is not circumcised and when people ask, “why not?” I ask, “why would I circumcise my son?” My husband and I made the decision based on the research we did and found no logical reason to have the surgery performed. The research says, (and as my pediatrician confirmed) that there is no medical reason to circumcise. We don’t consider it to be more manly or less manly to circumcise. Our religion does not encourage circumcision. So if there is no medical reason to do so, why would you?

That’s all.

54 David February 23, 2009 at 8:37 am

No one else has mentioned the fact that Circumcision became an option in this country and in europe at the turn of the century because a handful of “Doctors” proposed that it would cure a boy from masturbating. An entire assortment of ills from epilepsy to insanity were directly attributed to the loss of sexual energy through masturbation. It was viewed as such an evil practice that mothers would do anything to prevent it.
Sorry Mom, it didn’t work.

55 Nesagwa February 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

“I think this was a waste of time! It is kind of stupid having people with no credentials arguing this subject.”

The only credential we need to argue this subject is hanging between our legs.

56 Roger Imhada February 23, 2009 at 9:06 am

I think that this matter is a personal family matter and I really can’t see the benefit of discussing this on this website. I’m happily circumcised as is my son. It was a decision for our family and our family alone. To the uncircumcised among us, no one is making you do it, you have freedom of choice. PEACE OUT!!

57 Daddy-O February 23, 2009 at 9:25 am

Nesagwa,

“The only reason people get rid of it is for cosmetic reasons – the hygienic and health related “issues” are bunk.”

I re-read you first post, and being a big fan of sarcasm I must say that I still don’t see it. Be that as it may…

The reasons people do it also include cultural traditions, and religious observance. The “cosmetic” issue is little concern to the many, many family and friends I have- secular, Christian, Jewish, or other- who have their boys circumcised. Many religious Jews and Christians do it because it is expressly commanded in the Jewish scriptures- what Christians would call the Old Testament. …All those who are not religious, that I know, do it because it is a cultural norm.

Cosmetics, hygiene, and health are not factors.

58 Nesagwa February 23, 2009 at 9:50 am

I don’t really take religious factors into account since they are a separate and wholly different set of circumstances. Although I have heard arguments from Jews against the practice for similar reasons as mine. That said, there is a difference between a religious ritual performed in the presence of family and a trusted religious official and the process that takes place for no reason in hospitals.

There is no reason at all for Christians to circumcise either way though. The rules and laws laid down in the Torah no longer apply to them. You won’t see many abstaining from pork or shellfish or a cheeseburger or not masturbating or many of the other things laid down in those books as the absolute law. Paul put all of this down in his letters, there is no obligation to circumcise in Christianity as a tenet of faith.

Finally, just because it is a cultural norm (and that includes religion, they are part of our culture after all) does not make them right or any less horrific.

59 zac February 23, 2009 at 10:03 am

i like facts.

the overly-”let’s blind them with emotion so they don’t see our lack of research” approach of the first argument makes argument number two read as more credible. that’s a comment on the writing/reasoning and less about the actual subject.

one question i have, where does the gold bond go on an au naturale member?

60 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

There is so much misinformation in the articles and posts above and in the minds of people about human sex organs. No wonder. It wasn’t until the 1990s that scientists finally trained the 400 year old microscope on human foreskin tissue (from cadavers. No one was hurt doing this research.) What did they find? The highest density of nerve endings yet discovered in the penis encircles the inner foreskin, in a complex, specialized human sense organ like an eye, an ear, a tongue. This sense organ is cut off and destroyed by circumcision. Would you cut your baby’s eyes out to prevent cancer of the eye? Would you cut off the end of her tongue to make her “pretty” and talk funny like her mother? In a few years people will be educated enough about the truth about human sex organs to know that cutting them off of babies and children is a result of this very tragic ignorance which has been with us even longer than circumcision has. But we don’t have to be so ignorant about sex organs any more. We should all educate ourselves about the reality of them, think for ourselves and be guided based on the facts, and not go by the stupid cultural myths we inherited from the ignorant past. Read the science on the neuroanatomy of the foreskin here:

http://research.cirp.org
http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/taylor/
http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/cold-taylor/

61 Kate/Adam/John February 23, 2009 at 10:09 am

Being punished for sharing a single computer in one house in this digital age, is about as arbitrary as being punished for an existing, functional body part.

62 Patrick February 23, 2009 at 10:11 am

The problem with this debate is that it’s absolutely crammed with misinformation as are most debates about topics in which “our country does it the right way!” Nearly all information provided is anecdotal or of a flawed study:

* Provided a boy bathes more than once a week and spends as much time cleaning their crotch as most men do, circumcision won’t make them any more hygienic.

* The women-like-it-circumcised argument is skewed by the fact that a woman will like the penis of the man she’s currently dating more often than not, making these types of studies more of a popularity contest than a legitimate study.

* Arguing that men who have been circumcised won’t enjoy sex as much is hilarious, as that enjoyment is relative to your own experiences. Until we can produce a sex-enjoyment measurement system this point is moot.

Basically, you as a parent have the right to circumcise your child knowing that it doesn’t provide any real benefit. It’s been done for decades in the US as a normal practice and it has little affect on a child, if any. Arguing, however, that you’re circumcising your child for anything besides traditional, religious, or cosmetic reasons is disingenuous.

This site is about manliness, yet I find much of the people from both sides trying to find excuses for their views rather than simply being honest and to the point. Make your own decision, be it based on logic, tradition, or emotion, and live with it. Don’t try to justify it with an article you had emailed to you or that you cherry picked from a website: own it and be prepared to explain it in honest terms with your son. If legitimate studies that show that either way causes significant harm pop up and you ended up being wrong, be a man and own that as well. Adults can be circumcised and if that’s not an option, a child isn’t going to hate you because you tried to do right by him when he was born.

63 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 10:14 am

Jeff Trexler asserts; “The idea that circumcision constitutes a human rights violation is positively ridiculous” Actually, the idea that circumcising an infant or other child (or a non-consenting adult for that matter) does NOT constitute a human rights violation is what is positively ridiculous.

64 Brett February 23, 2009 at 10:18 am

Kate/Adam/John-

So Kate, Adam, and John all live together and took turns on the computer reading the post and then posting a comment within a half an hour of each other? Very interesting.

Even this is true, you are required to enter a legitimate email address when you comment, john@hotmail.com, adam@hotmail.com, and specialsauce@hotmail.com, isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid.

65 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 10:22 am

Patrick says,” …a child isn’t going to hate you because you tried to do right by him when he was born.” Patrick is not your son and doesn’t know how your son is going to feel about you having the most sexually pleasurable part of his body cut off when he was an infant, if he survives the operation and grows up to be a man with only part of his penis left. It’s HIS penis, not yours. HIS choice, not yours. Keep your hands to yourself.

66 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 10:37 am

Daddy-O says, “Plus, if you think a lidless eye “looks better”, well, then, I’d look into some kind of therapy.” Nesagwa’s comment was a facetious one. Mine is not: If you think a foreskinless penis “looks better”, well, then, I’d look into some kind of therapy.

67 Mick February 23, 2009 at 10:40 am

What ever happened to common sense? There isn’t any common sense in Hygiene, Religous or Traditional reasons to cut the foreskin off a penis. I’m helmeted my son’s not, it’s a outdated unnecessary medical procedure.

68 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 11:05 am

Patrick says, “Basically, you as a parent have the right to circumcise your child knowing that it doesn’t provide any real benefit.”

Not if your child happens to be born female, you don’t, and all children have equal rights before the law. So where is equal protection of the law for boys? Show me any legal document that says a parent has a right to circumcise a child. I’ve never seen one. There is no such right. What we have instead is a badly mistaken cultural practice of violating babies’ and children’s sex organs and human rights. No one has any right to violate anyone else’s sex organs or rights.

Patrick again: “It’s been done for decades in the US as a normal practice and it has little affect on a child, if any”
It kills some children. See http://peacefulbeginnings.org/Death_By_Circumcision
I don’t know about you but I regard killing a child as having a major effect on him or her. Some boys lose their entire glans, or part of it, and all circumcised boys lose the majority of nerve endings yet discovered in the penis. I consider that a major effect and a negative one.

69 Lee February 23, 2009 at 11:06 am

Brett;

I’m honestly a bit surprised I’m the first to voice this directly, but I feel I have to man up and say it: I’m disappointed in you for allowing such a flame-bait article to be written on your site.

Having read both sides of the argument, I find logical, philosophical, and factual fallacies in both arguments, particularly when reading through the comments being left.

This type of an article does not foster better understanding; not when it is written in such a biased manner by two different parties so clearly invested in their points of view. I am disappointed that you did not do the actual research and present a fact-based analysis, rooted in the honest, straight-spoken style that endeared me to your site in the first place. You didn’t write an article that gave a manly look at the practice of circumcision; you allowed an argument to be voiced on your site.

I am a circumcised male. There’s no need for me to hide or be ashamed of this fact. I do not consider myself “damaged” or “mutilated” in any way. I do not consider my father less of a man for being circumcised either, and I do not feel “violated” that my father and mother made this choice for me when I was an infant. While I admittedly do not have a basis for comparison, I do not believe my sexual function or satisfaction could possibly be any better than it already is. While I am a *BIG* supporter of an individual’s Right to Choose, I also am a *BIGGER* supporter of a relatively foreign concept in the “modern” world; Parental Responsibility. It is the parent’s duty to take actions that they believe will benefit their children. For hundreds of years, this has included the practice of neonatal infant circumcision. Regardless of the initial basis for this, parents worldwide have deemed it beneficial for their male progeny to be circumcised. If a parent makes the choice that they believe being circumcised will benefit the child, then so be it. And the arguments being made against this citing that it is no different than chopping off a toe or an eyelid or an earlobe are patently ridiculous.

Also, those of you who are claiming that the highest concentration of nerves is in the foreskin; Prove it. Where are your scientific studies that display a nerve sensitivity graphing?

To those of you citing articles on cleanliness/health issues; Citations are good, but one article does not conclusive proof make. Take it from someone who is in a field that requires many iterations of peer-reviewed treatises to come to a consensus on ANYTHING. Engineering requires sometimes dozens (or even hundreds!) of papers to change an established point of view.

In conclusion; If you cannot write a comment that makes a concise, logical point, with well-researched sources to back up your claims; PLEASE shut the hell up. The internet is too full of flame bait as it is. I come to this site to get away from those arguments. Apparently I should just man up and go outside instead, since we can’t all be gentlemen (or ladies…) in discussing a point of contention.

70 Jonboy February 23, 2009 at 11:09 am

I wonder what would happen if the frequent bickering about something that is of very little consequence (come on, who hates there penis? I mean honestly…) where directed at, perhaps, real world problems? Given the number of things that humans do that are “against” nature, circumcision has some interesting company: cooking food, eating anything that has to be prepared to consume (rice, beans), marriage, intentionally imbibing artificial substances (alcohol, medicine, soda, etc). How about poverty? If every person in this forum (including the scientists who waste their time arguing both points) spent the amount of time DEALING with REAL problems, their own insecure worries would seem more trivial. To defenders on both sides: get lives. If you have it, and it works, then who really cares?

71 Jonboy February 23, 2009 at 11:11 am

@ Lee—-> Bravo!

72 Daddy-O February 23, 2009 at 11:12 am

Van Lewis,

“If you think a foreskinless penis “looks better”, well, then, I’d look into some kind of therapy.”

Heh. Tell that to the ladies, my friend.

73 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 11:37 am

Lee says, “I’m disappointed in you for allowing such a flame-bait article to be written on your site.” I’m grateful to this site for taking up this vitally important man-hood issue so courageously when so much of today’s media avoids it so carefully. They are cowards, you are not.

Lee again: “It is the parent’s duty to take actions that they believe will benefit their children.” But if those actions violate the body, the person or the rights of the child, WHATEVER the parent BELIEVES (some parents believe falsehoods, believe it or not), the parent should be held accountable by the law for the violation. It is NOT ANY parents’ right to abuse ANY child. Child abuse is illegal, and circumcising a girl child is illegal child abuse and boys and intersex children have equal rights under the law.

Lee: “Regardless of the initial basis for this, parents worldwide have deemed it beneficial for their male progeny to be circumcised.” Parents make mistakes, in this case a very big one. The United States of America is the ONLY country in the entire WORLD where the medical profession circumcises the majority of male infants, and our rate has dropped from 90% or so in the 80s to about 55% now, about half-and-half. Parents are learning. Progress is being made. Infant circumcision is almost not practiced at all in most of the rest of the world, except for Israel.

Lee: “Also, those of you who are claiming that the highest concentration of nerves is in the foreskin; Prove it. Where are your scientific studies that display a nerve sensitivity graphing?”
I am the one who claimed that and I already gave you two primary scientific references and a third that explains them. The articles were published in the British Journal of Urology in 1996 and 1999 and remain uncontroverted by other studies in the scientific literature today. Here they are again. Study them:

http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/taylor/
http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/cold-taylor/
http://research.cirp.org

What the above research proved objectively in the 1990s was proved on the subjective level in 2007: See “Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis” http://www.nocirc.org/touch-test/bju_6685.pdf

Lee: “If you cannot write a comment that makes a concise, logical point, with well-researched sources to back up your claims; …”
Have my points been concise, logical, and well-researched enough for your tastes, Brett?

Lee: “PLEASE shut the hell up.”
Is swearing considered manly on this site ?

74 Brett February 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

@Lee-

I don’t think many people view this post as flame bait, which is likely the reason you are the first to voice such a concern. It was certainly never my intention to simply post an article simply to stir up controversy. I felt both points presented were well-written and cited scientific and rational arguments to back up their points. Yet this is also an issue in which it is impossible to write in a completely straightforward style-there are two deeply felt sides to the issue. You might as well ask for a straightforward piece on abortion or the death penalty. It’s an issue in which there is a case to be made for both sides, and in which some amount of emotion and philosophy is appropriate. While you may feel it is a waste of time, I know a lot of couples who had a tough time deciding how to make this choice, and it is my hope that the article clearly presents both sides of the issue and will help people make an informed decision.

75 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

Daddy-O said, “Heh. Tell that to the ladies, my friend.”
I just did.

76 Brett February 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

@Mr. Van Lewis-

All the above quotes in your comment which you originally attributed to me were made by Lee, not me. He was addressing me in his comments. I have edited your comment to reflect this.

77 Lee February 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

@ Brett –

My point was not to raise issue with you broaching the topic at all, far from it. I concur that the only way to foster true understanding is through discussion of differing points of view.

My issue was with the way you raised it. By posting an article that was not solely of your own making, with consideration given by you to both sides of the issue, as you have done with other topics that could be considered controversial, and instead posting two chunks written by individuals who were clearly invested in their own dogma’s, you (in my opinion) fostered an environment where the line must be drawn and sides chosen up for an “I’m-Right-You’re-Wrong” argument war, which was what I was seeing develop in the comments section. This is contrary to what I believe your intention for this site was, which was to foster discussion of issues in a manly, straightforward, and intelligent way.

I also have to respectfully disagree with your response in that I do not feel there is a place for emotion of philosophy in a matter which people are claiming directly influences the physical health of an individual. If, as people are claiming, circumcision has direct and measurable physical consequences, then this issue should be addressed with clinical detachment, and calculating evaluation of data and medical studies.

If, however, this issue is more accurately one of aesthetics only, and/or religious/socio-economic issues, THEN and ONLY then do I believe that emotional and/or philosophical arguments have weight and merit.

Using one to argue the other is the biggest debate fallacy that can be committed, and (again, in my opinion) the quickest route to hypocrisy.

Thank you for addressing my comments and sharing your thoughts and opinions with me.

78 Hugh7 February 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

“And the arguments being made against this citing that it is no different than chopping off a toe or an eyelid or an earlobe are patently ridiculous.”
Why? I chose parts of the body that are of comparable size and have no obvious function. It would be ridiculous to cut them off – that’s my whole point. (Oops!)

All the “get a life” “there are more important things” people – why don’t you just go away and get lives and save the universe yourselves instead of wasting your own time trying to stop people from resolving an issue that is not the most important in the world, but not the least either. Babies die of circumcision, and lose their penises, and suffer reduced sex lives when they grow up, and have results that just look bad. That’s reason enough to raise it above the threshhold of consideration. Why is circumcision an important decision parents must make “for” their children, but the moment anyone considers NOT doing it, it’s too trivial to think about?

79 Brett February 23, 2009 at 12:07 pm

@Lee-

In truth, we haven’t really posted many article on topics that could be seen as controversial-this is probably the most controversial topic we have touched. On other articles that were a bit controversial, say on chastity or marriage, I generally presented one side of things, because I felt strongly for that side. On this issue, I honestly don’t have a strong feeling either way, and so I decided to bring in two people who did feel strongly about it, because they have done research on it and had something to present. This is not a post I felt would have been best treated with a “on the one hand,” and “on the other hand” approach. To me it was best to present the strongest cases for each side and let people draw their own conclusions.

I don’t have a problem with the fact that on this topic sides must be drawn up one way or the other. Because people will have to choose a side, and will have to make a decision on the issue. There can’t really be halfway with the issue of circumcision.

The reason I feel that a bit of emotion and philosophy is appropriate is because it is not simply a medical issue, it is also a social/cultural/religious issue. It’s both. To come back to my point about abortion or the death penalty, such issues have very rational components, but they are impossible to discuss without bringing in social/cultural/religious factors.

If the responses to the post are polarized, it is not the problem of the post, but of the commenters who may not choose to respond responsibly. This post is a classic debate-each sides presents a passionate stance, and people may decide which is more convincing.

80 amy lee February 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm

@zac,

While I acknowledge that there is emotion in the Point article, as I would submit there should be given I see this issue as primarily a moral one, I would mention that it contained several links to peer-reviewed journal articles which I would invite you to read carefully. Especially before you have a son.

81 Becky February 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I’m sure I’m opening up a can of worms right now, but why can’t this be one of those issues where we just allow parents to do what they think is best, regardless of whether they believe that to be the best choice as a result of religion, tradition, or health? We let parents decide how to dress their kids, pierce their kids’ ears, and decide on how long their kids’ hair should be. I just feel like this is one issue where it has to be about parental comfort and desires and what they genuinely feel is the best choice for their kids.

Once grown, your son won’t know what it’s like to be uncircumcised if you have him cut and vice versa. If he does get mad–and honestly, I’d be curious to know how frequently that actually happens–you just explain that you did your best and chose for him what you would have chosen for yourself. He is then free to make the same–or the other–choice for his kids.

It’s a stretch, but I can help but see a parallel between this issue and abortion (and I know this is really opening a can of worms now!). You say, “it’s the man’s choice, don’t subject him to anything while he’s a baby. It’s his body and therefore his choice.” Isn’t that the same argument about abortion? It’s a woman’s body, let her choose. In my mind, that’s an even better argument because it’s a grown woman you’d be talking about, not a newborn.

Anyway, just my $02. I should add that I am a woman and thus I don’t speak from experience, but I feel like not many of you speak from direct experience, either (what kind could there be?) I’m Jewish and my dad was cut; my son will be too.

82 amy lee February 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm

@ Daddy-o,

Please do not be so convinced that circumcised penises are universally more desirable to women. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

83 Dr. Stephanie Buehler February 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I am a psychologist and sex therapist, and I have never, ever had a single man in my office complain about being circumcised or uncircumcised. It seems kind of like a moot “point” to me.

84 Kyle February 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

My dad wanted me circumcised at birth, but my doctor outright refused to perform the surgery. I love my doctor. :D

As for the hygiene issue, why not cut off the baby’s nose while you’re at it? It’s not really necessary, but it’ll make it so much easier to clean, and hey, maybe some people find it more cosmetically appealing if your baby looks like Michael Jackson. Makes about as much sense as cutting off other body parts for cleanliness and cosmetics.

“Women have said that having sex with a uncircumcised man feels as though he is having sex inside his own foreskin instead of inside of her.”

That’s a load. The foreskin retracts and ends up looking very much like a circumcised penis during sex. Otherwise, if I could have sex with my own foreskin, I’d never leave the house!

85 Angus February 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Circumcision is 100%. To counter some of the arguments the pro-circ man said:

It’s not important to look like your father in that respect. If it was, why did this man have an intact grandfather and a circumcised father? Obviously it wasn’t important to the grandfather. Also, what happens if the marriage doesn’t last and the boy ends up being raised by an intact male? Who should the boy identify with: the father or the man who raises him? Sure, it’s nice to think that you’ll have a happy family, but the truth is that most marriages end in divorce in modern day America.

Second, not every women prefers it. It’s absurd to think that you can generalize that so simply. Throughout the world, most men are uncircumcised and the women have no problem with that.

Thrid: hygiene and sensitivity. One of the foreskins main functions is to keep the penis clean. It prevents dirt and air and other substances from coming into contact with the glans. Removing the foreskin exposes the glans to these outside elements. Smegma is natural and not a problem. Women get smegma too, but everybody seems to overlook that. And there are plenty of studies showing that the most sensitive part of a circ’d penis is less sensitive than the least sensitive part of an intact penis. It also provides a rollover function during sexual intercourse that massages the glans. The glans itself remains more sensitive. When circ’d he builds up extra layers of skin after being exposed much like a callous on your hands or feet.

Circumcision doesn’t do a very good job of preventing disease either. More men will get an infection on their penis as a result of the circumcision wound than intact men will get. Also, today infections can be easily cured by antibiotics. The AIDS studies are hotly debated because of the poor manner they were conducted in and some studies have complete opposite results. Think of this: America has a high circ rate and a high number of AIDS victims. In Europe circumcision is almost non-existant and they have much less AIDS victims. According to the study it should be reversed. Also, babies aren’t having sex.

How can you claim that it’s not important for your baby to have a choice or that the trauma is insignificant. Just because he won’t remember the procedure doesn’t mean he won’t scream any softer. And most of those “sleeping” babies aren’t really sleeping, they passed out from the pain because it was so unbearable. The foreskin has useful functions. Not everybody finds it ugly. It should be the boy’s decision to make if it wants to keep it or not. What happens if he grows up and is unhappy with the procedure?

Clearly foreskin isn’t a problem. Most of the world’s men have it. Our ancestors had them. Foreskin didn’t stop the human race from getting this far. So keep it. It’s not broken, it’s not wrong or unhealthy so why get rid of it?

86 Paul2 February 23, 2009 at 1:10 pm

How do Australian fathers (the majority of whom are cut) raise their majority uncut sons? Maybe they are more MANLY over there and can admit that when it was done to them it wasn’t needed. Are Australian men more manly? Why don’t they have the “look like daddy” complex? Are American men really that fucked up?

87 Daddy-O February 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I have to say, thanks to this discussion I have had my annual fill of the word “foreskin” which worries me a bit because it is only February.

88 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Becky said: “I’m sure I’m opening up a can of worms right now, but why can’t this be one of those issues where we just allow parents to do what they think is best, regardless of whether they believe that to be the best choice as a result of religion, tradition, or health?”

Why can’t we just allow parents to circumcise their daughters, Becky? Because mutilating their daughters’ sex organs violates their daughters’ human rights, that’s why. Their sons, also being human, have the same human rights.

Becky: “I just feel like this is one issue where it has to be about parental comfort and desires and what they genuinely feel is the best choice for their kids.”

Just as your vulva and vagina aren’t about your parents’ “comfort and desires”, my penis is not about my parent’s comfort and desires. No one’s sex organs are about their parents’ “comfort and desires”. They are private property, belonging to the person him or herself. Why do you think we call them “privates”? Some parents “genuinely feel” that it is the “best choice” to circumcise their daughters. Doing so is a federal felony, however. Boys have equal rights.

“Once grown, your son won’t know what it’s like to be uncircumcised if you have him cut and vice versa.”

Wrong. If you cut him he can’t ever know the whole side of life, but if you don’t, he can know BOTH sides, uncut, and, if HE chooses, cut. It’s HIS body. Let HIM choose for himself. Cutting your daughter would deprive her of the right to find out what it’s like to be a whole woman, too. That fact doesn’t make it right to cut her. Same with boys.

“If he does get mad–and honestly, I’d be curious to know how frequently that actually happens– …”

More and more frequently as the functions and the neuroanatomy of the foreskin and penis become more and more broadly known in society.

“… you just explain that you did your best and chose for him what you would have chosen for yourself.”

Did you choose circumcision for yourself? Is your vulva mutilated? Is your clitoral hood missing, by your own choice?

“He is then free to make the same–or the other–choice for his kids.”

He can’t for his daughters already and probably won’t be able to for his son. Equal protection of the law is a fundamental principle of justice:

“…the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It’s a stretch, but I can help but see a parallel between this issue and abortion (and I know this is really opening a can of worms now!). You say, “it’s the man’s choice, don’t subject him to anything while he’s a baby. It’s his body and therefore his choice.” Isn’t that the same argument about abortion? It’s a woman’s body, let her choose. In my mind, that’s an even better argument because it’s a grown woman you’d be talking about, not a newborn.”

Newborns don’t have less human rights than grown women. All children have all the human rights that adults do plus special rights that adults don’t have, due to children’s dependent status.

“Anyway, just my $02. I should add that I am a woman and thus I don’t speak from experience, but I feel like not many of you speak from direct experience, either (what kind could there be?)”

I speak from about nine months experience of being genitally intact and 65 years of experience with genital mutilation. It’s a terrible tragedy for all involved, whether they know it yet or not.

“I’m Jewish and my dad was cut; my son will be too.”

One of the greatest men I ever knew was a Jewish Nobel laureate Harvard biology professor, George Wald. Before you mutilate your son for life just because your father was – your father obviously survived the operation; your son may not; read names of children and others killed by and because of circumcision at

http://peacefulbeginnings.org/Death_By_Circumcision

- please read some of what George Wald had to say on the subject at

http://StopInfantCircumcision.org/crick-wald.htm

And read what Jewish pediatrician and pediatrics professor, Paul Fleiss, MD, has to say about it at

http://www.mothersagainstcirc.org/fleiss.html

And read what Jewish psychologist Ronald Goldman has to say about it at

http://circumcision.org and
http://JewishCircumcision.org

and read what Jewish people have to say about it at

http://JewsAgainstCircumcision.org

There is an email list serve there that you can join and discuss it in detail with fellow Jews.

89 Drew February 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

What is a circumcision going for? I think I heard like $4000.
Now-a-days, it’s done for the money (and sometimes the free skin to test drugs/chemicalss/dyes on).

90 Shaun February 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Interesting article – looks like it has stirred the pot a bit too :) I’m imminently going to be a father, and the thought of taking a scalpel to a perfectly healthy baby is abhorrent to me. I have nothing against circumcision per se, but I feel strongly that it is a decision that should be made by the individual when he sees fit. Afterall, since the “benefits” mainly seem to affect post-pubescent life, I think it can wait.

I also wanted to add that with regards to the personal hygiene debate, that in normal life, there’s absolutely nothing stopping a man from keeping himself clean, and I’m actually a little bit surprised that uncircumsised men don’t need/want to keep it clean. I do supposed, however, that if you’re planing to go on an extended military campaign, where dodging bullets is a more pressing matter than cleaning your unit, then perhaps before you go, you might want to get the snip.

91 Gregor February 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

The fact that anybody would consider cutting up a baby is disgusting. No parent in this day of access to information can claim that they never heard that circumcision is unnecessary and barbaric. If I were a boy today and my parents cut me, I would disown them as soon as I found out what they had done to me.

92 Michael Glass February 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Of all the parts of the human body, the humble foreskin is the one regarded as most dispensable. And as Muslims, the Jews and many Americans are keen on lopping it off, circumcision is a practice is not going to go away soon. Nor is the controversy going to die off.

The first thing that makes it controversial is that it has to do with sex. Of course, people say that their concern is religious and medical and such. However, it’s the sex that gets a lot of people going. And that’s why you get websites like Circlist, which makes it clear that a fair number of people get off on getting the foreskin off. Or it comes out more subtly, when people start saying how much more ‘handsome’ or whatever the penis looks without its foreskin. And this also involves members of the medical profession. See Circumcision’s Seamy Underside: http://jme.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/30/3/248

The second thing is that people are so passionately for or against circumcision that truth is supplanted by spin. People on both sides of the argument will make valid points, but they are almost always selective in their references to science, religion and so on, and significant facts are likely to be passed over, because they do not fit into the standard arguments.

Take forced circumcision. In many part of the world, men are forcibly circumcised against their will. It’s happened in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, a number of predominantly Muslim countries and there was even one case in Australia. The problem is reported in local papers, but why haven’t human rights organizations noticed that this problem is widespread? See Circumcised by force http://jme.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/33/6/357#1698

Then there’s the question of what you do if parents disagree about circumcision. Just about every year in the United States there’s a case where parents can’t agree, and the courts are asked to adjudicate. Commonsense suggests that the best one to decide is the owner of the foreskin when he grows up, but don’t hold your breath.

Sometimes circumcisions go horribly wrong. Bleeding, infection and surgical errors are the three great dangers. Why do errors happen? Because people are human, and make mistakes. How many mistakes? We’ll never know. What we know is when it happens, people express surprise. What doesn’t seem to happen is that doctors announce that they will change procedures so that errors are less likely to happen.

Also, I urge people find out what the Bible actually reveals about circumcision and sexual violence: http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/glass3/ or what the New Testament says about circumcision http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/glass1/ There is not just one way to read what the Bible says.

93 Van Lewis February 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Dr. Stephanie Buehler said, “I am a psychologist and sex therapist, and I have never, ever had a single man in my office complain about being circumcised or uncircumcised.”

Only a small percentage of women in female genital mutilating cultures complained about it either, until recent times when the public campaigns against it started. Because most women haven’t complained doesn’t mean they aren’t damaged, however. Same with men.

“It seems kind of like a moot “point” to me.”

Try to convince these dead babies, children, and their parents of that:

http://peacefulbeginnings.org/Death_By_Circumcision

It takes a very skilled therapist to be able to help anyone with iatrogenic or mohel-generated post-traumatic genital mutilation stress disorder. I myself would never even THINK of consulting ANY kind of therapist for whom my or anyone’s genital mutilation was a “moot point”.

94 Eric February 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm

I’m an intact American male, and I strongly disagree with infant circumcision. For me, the most important reason is human rights – I believe everyone has a right to their own body, and that should be the end of the story. My belief is that it is unethical to remove a part of someone’s body without their consent, which is exactly what is done in an infant circumcision. What makes matters worse is that they won’t remember it and will never know what it’s like to have an intact penis, thereby increasing the chance that they will think infant circumcision is acceptable. I disagree with the point that says it will be more traumatic later in life. I think as long as someone is old enough to understand what is going on and to understand the choice, then any trauma can be minimized.

Besides, the foreskin does have its functions, and I see no reason to remove a normal body part from a healthy person. This practice is ludicrous and should be stopped.

95 James Cassell February 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Becky said: “It’s a stretch, but I can help but see a parallel between this issue and abortion (and I know this is really opening a can of worms now!). You say, “it’s the man’s choice, don’t subject him to anything while he’s a baby. It’s his body and therefore his choice.” Isn’t that the same argument about abortion? It’s a woman’s body, let her choose. In my mind, that’s an even better argument because it’s a grown woman you’d be talking about, not a newborn.”

It’s not /her/ body, it’s /her child’s/ body, not to mention, her child’s /life/. (I bet you can guess where I stand on that can of worms.)

More on topic, I have yet to form an opinion, and don’t expect to have kids for at least several years.

96 Michael February 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Really, what purpose does it serve? This was something the Jews started and I think it spread with Christianity in the West but has lost practice over the years. So the only reason to continue is the original reason for why it began. Because of personal beliefs. I am circumcised and my sons will be too. Because it’s a symbol of God’s covenant to man. That’s my reason. If you don’t believe that, then there is no reason for it.

97 Joel February 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I remember being circumcised. I was seven years old. The surgeon must’ve been offering bulk discounts on procedures, because I was initially going in for a tonsillectomy. Then they added an adenoidectomy (I snored a lot). Then, as my dad colorfully put it, they decided to have my “pencil sharpened” at the same time. That phrase still makes me laugh. And wince.
I remember being uncomfortable in the aftermath, and that it got a little infected, but quickly cleared up. (I’m now 30, and that’s the only infection I’ve ever had in the region.) I can’t compare the experience before and after, because I wasn’t sexually active at age six, though I think my urinating aim may have improved slightly.
My wife and I recently had a son, and I vacillated about the decision. The hospital offered to do it before we went home, but we wanted to think about it. Actually, my initial, gut reaction was to clutch my son and think, “Like hell you are.” It was strangely visceral.
My wife’s mother is Japanese, where circumcision is not routine, and her parents were against it. Both her brothers are intact, and I asked one of them about his experience. He said he did have some “point-and-laugh” experiences in the locker room in junior high, but that overall he didn’t feel like an outcast or a freak. Boys can and will be jerks about everything.
I have five brothers myself–all circumcised–two of whom had sons of their own. One of them was circumcised the same day I was, at age nine. (Our pediatrician was against the procedure when we were born, so my parents let it slide, for awhile. Neither of us are sure why they changed their minds when they did.) I assumed he would be firmly against the procedure, since he remembered it more clearly than I. But he was firmly for it, because he had no objections to circumcision itself, and he didn’t want his son to have to remember the experience. “If you’re going to do it, get it over with.”
My son was a few days old at this point, and I knew that if we were going to do it, it must be sooner rather than later. My parents-in-law were leaning on me to refrain, but I wasn’t sure if that was the best decision for him. My wife and I had read the study findings and statistics, but they weren’t very clear cut either.
I was changing his diaper, and that visceral reaction from the hospital hit me, stronger than before. My mind raged at the thought him being hurt. I can’t explain it. At that moment, I would have stood down a grizzly bear without hesitation. It frightened me a little. I have never felt that way since, but it was enough to tip the scale.
So our decision at least was informed by cultural, emotional, and scientific reasons, and we feel good about it. As to the future, if another boy in the locker room makes a comment about my son’s penis, I’ll teach him to say, “And why are you looking at my penis?” Done and done.

98 Hugh7 February 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Becky: “why can’t this be one of those issues where we just allow parents to do what they think is best, regardless of whether they believe that to be the best choice as a result of religion, tradition, or health? We let parents decide how to dress their kids, pierce their kids’ ears, and decide on how long their kids’ hair should be. I just feel like this is one issue where it has to be about parental comfort and desires and what they genuinely feel is the best choice for their kids.”

Because
* adults dress themselves differently from kids (and don’t you encourage kids to take part in the clothes decisions as soon as they can? “What would you like to wear today? No, that’s not clean.”)
* piercings close themselves if you decide not to put anything in them. (I for one think kids should not get piercings at least till they’re old enough to ask for them – and even then you wouldn’t let them pierce just anywhere, or put those big tribal spools in their ears)
* hair is dead tissue, and it grows back when you cut it.

whereas

* the foreskin is sexual tissue, and the adult owner has an adult sexual interest in whether it should be there or not.

That’s why.

As for abortion, that whole debate has always been badly framed because pregnancy is a process, very different from its beginning to its end. To say one is “for” or “against” means very different things depending on just when in the pregnancy you are talking about. So please don’t import the manifold confusions from that debate into this one.

99 Gemini February 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm

I disagree with circumcising children,but if a man or woman wants to be circumcised then go for it.I think for women these days it is called labiaplasty or unhooding.These articles say male circumcision is harmful to women.

http://www.vaginismus-awareness-network.org/circumcision.html

http://www.healthcentral.com/drdean/408/60750.html

100 Luke Wade February 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm

That has to be the worst picture possible to put with this article.

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