The implication through choice of wording, namely referring to the cutting of female genitals as Female Genital Mutilation and referring to the cutting of male genitals as Circumcision, only betrays a difference in empathy towards the victims of this procedure.
A common and frankly demeaning argument that I have far too often heard is that the circumcision of males is in no way comparable to the genital mutilation of females. Not only does it refer to the procedures with two different names but it also states the effects and outcomes are different.
However, I wish to bring forth a slightly more controversial angle: FGM and MGM share stark similarities. They are not the same, obviously, because of biological differences between men and women but they are certainly equal. They are equal in origins, they have been justified by similar arguments and the effects of the mutilations are near identical. The main difference in today’s world is male genital mutilation is widely considered socially acceptable whilst female genital mutilation is reviled by all whom hear of it (in the Western World). This is also backed by legislation.
The arguments commonly used nowadays to justify male genital mutilation are near similar to the arguments once (and in some parts of the world, still) used for female genital mutilation, these are (but not limited to):
However these arguments have been tossed aside and are easily dismissed in the West when used for female genital mutilation yet are permissible when used for male genital mutilation. Why the double standard?
When I hear people argue that these two procedures are not the same, I hear arguments such as “it’s more physically damaging to women”, “the procedure is worse on women, it’s just a bit of skin taken off men”, “the psychological harm is worse on women”, “when it’s performed on men it is done so in clean environments”. These asinine arguments show not just staggering Gynocentrism but a complete lack of understanding of both FGM and MGM.
The data supporting the argument that circumcision is cleaner for men is shady at best and outright dangerous at worst; yet it is pushed far and wide by both medical practitioners and the general public alike. The Mayo Clinic, whose nurses can’t name the structure and function of the foreskin, gives five health benefits of male circumcision:
Notice the tentative wording? “Might do this” “May do that” “Although already rare”. Hardly substantive arguments, and they rebut their own points in the descriptions given (see the first point for this in all its hilarious beauty), are they on the sly hinting they know they are wrong?
Which is odd considering they have this paper on their website which argues that male circumcision at birth does have health benefits. Why have solid evidence on your website only to display the above weak summary arguments for circumcision? In the paper it says “if male circumcision rates were to decrease [in the US] to the levels of 10% typically seen in Europe, the additional direct medical costs in infancy and later for treatment of these [UTIs and STIs] among 10 annual birth cohorts would exceed $4.4 billion, even after accounting for the cost of the procedure”. Wow, run amok with madness, rates of UTIs and STIs will fly through the roof in the US if circumcision were to fall out of fashion! Dang us Europeans with our intact penises and high prevalence of UTIs and STIs! Yet the NHS website says “[I]t’s estimated half of all women in the UK will have a UTI at least once in their life, and 1 in 2,000 healthy men will develop one each year”, which is startlingly similar to US rates of “almost half of all women will experience 1 UTI in their lifetime” and for “adult males younger than 50 years is … approximately 5-8 per year per 10,000”. It seems circumcision has little effect in prevalence of UTIs. UTIs, by the way, are infections which can easily be fought off by the body or by a short course of antibiotics, hardly dangerous stuff. The only noticeable difference is prevalence of UTIs between the two sexes is in infancy (primarily during first 3 months of life), males have a 1.5:1 ratio of UTI incidence to females, but these again can be treated very easily.
However, for STIs we see a different story. In the US there are 19.7 million new STI diagnoses every year, in a population of approximately 323.6 million (numbers correct 24/05/16), this equates to 1 in 16.4 US persons will get an STI every year. In the UK, a population of 64.5 million, we see a rate of 440,000 STI diagnoses every year. That’s 1 in 146.6 UK persons contracting an STI every year. So, controlling for population, the US has an STI prevalence 9 times as great as that in the UK. Woo, go circumcision!
As both an uncircumcised man and a previous victim of Chlamydia, I can say that STIs pose little burden on my mind. For those at the back, yes, I did just admit to once having the Clam. The symptoms were easy to notice (I shan’t go into detail), the diagnosis relatively simple (there was an incident involving a Q-Tip and my urethra, I shan’t go into detail on that one either) and a singular course of antibiotics – one tablet, taken in the clinic. Honestly, the only difficult stage of the treatment was not being allowed to have sex for a week – doctor’s orders. Would I have been better off circumcised? Fuck no.
But going back to UTIs, whilst there is some evidence linking circumcision to lower rates of UTIs, the males most at risk are the elderly and the young, adult healthy men rarely suffer them. When they do, the treatment is simple and the ailment is easily remedied. The effect of relieving discomfort of UTIs via childhood circumcision is barely worth argument, UTIs pose very little threat – nowhere near enough to justify the surgical removal of healthy tissue. Yet, the real question is, if women suffer a far higher incidence rate of UTIs than men then why is such a forceful measure of preventative care prescribed only to men? Surely the real demographic to apply preventative care to is women?
Before any angry feminists twist my words to argue that I’m implying we use female circumcision to prevent female UTIs, no, get out. What I am saying is that men don’t actually need this form of preventative health care for UTIs, if they practice good personal hygiene then circumcision is not necessary. Male circumcision is as unnecessary and as barbaric a procedure for genital cleanliness as female circumcision is, the arguments do not stack for either sex.
Let’s tackle the big STI named in that point: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The best (and that is a very tentative use of the word best) evidence I could find supporting the case for circumcision and HIV prevention was a shady study from South Africa that showed a 61% increase in protection of HIV. Whilst that 61% sounds like a lot I will point out that the actual difference was an incidence rate of 0.85 HIV infections per 100 person-years for the circumcised group and 2.1 HIV infections per 100 person-years for the uncircumcised group, a difference of 1.25 incidents per 100 person-years. Hardly substantial stuff.
Despite its mutilating effects, circumcision is justified for “childhood” ailments like phimosis. Phimosis can be “diagnosed” in nearly all new-born boys as the foreskin is fused to the glans, very much in the same way the fingernail is fused to the nail bed. The foreskin does not start to break free until the infant has grown, in some it can still be fused up into and beyond puberty. So infant circumcision as a treatment for phimosis can often be a misdiagnosis, and is quite unnecessary. Even for adults circumcision is not always needed, they can use stretching, steroid creams or even have a minor operation called a dorsal slit.
The final point in the image above is the reduction in risk of penile cancer, around 620 men in the UK will be diagnosed with penile cancer a year (1 in 104,000) and in the US around 2030 men will be diagnosed each year (1 in 159,000). Circumcision is said to prevent around 1 in 900 cases of penile cancer in the US, yet there is another factor that drastically affects penile cancer: Human Papilloma Virus. HPV is estimated to play an etiological role in 40-50% of cases worldwide, in the US it is thought to be responsible for about 63% of penile cancers and responsible for about 40% of invasive squamous cell carcinomas. Imagine the decreased risk of penile cancer if, instead of circumcising young boys, they were given the HPV vaccine!? An HPV vaccine costs around $130 a shot which, when counting the three shots in the series (three over six months) and doctor’s charge comes to around $500. This bill can be lowered through the Vaccines For Children Programme. Depending on age and insurance plan, the cost of a circumcision can range anywhere from nothing to several thousand dollars. So the HPV vaccine can have a greater effect at preventing penile cancer and is also arguably cheaper. Tell me again why circumcision is the better option?
I wonder what health benefits she will have?
But if you want to look further than financial motivators, we can compare death rates. There are approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths every year in the US, whereas penile cancer kills approximately 340 every year in the US. All of those neonatal deaths could easily have been avoided because infant circumcision is an elective procedure, so thus completely chosen. Essentially, the decision is to needlessly kill 117 to only slightly maybe prevent the deaths of 340. Because circumcision is so great (and because fuck vaccinations).
Yet, something I have deliberated over before is, why is it permissible to cut off the foreskin as a preventative form of healthcare, but as a society we do not remove other parts of the body? Why is routine excision of the appendix, or the tonsils, not performed? Are appendicitis and tonsillitis not worthy enough, yet UTIs are? The cost of an appendectomy is approximately £5,512 – is that not enough? I don’t know.
Despite the simplistic and frankly asinine nature of these BS claims of cleanliness, they are widely accepted as justification for male circumcision. So, a question to be asked is: if people are willing to accept such tenuous claims of cleanliness as evidence allowing male circumcision, will they also accept similarly weak arguments as evidence allowing female circumcision? Let’s try.
Firstly, as was prior mentioned, females have a higher rate of UTIs than males, so let’s fund research into the effects of sanitary, hospital-performed, infant-female circumcision on lifetime UTI prevalence in the female population. I suspect the ethics board are shaking in anticipation –they’re most likely shaking nonetheless.
Secondly, there is some straw-clutching-thin evidence from the Middle East that suggests female circumcision can prevent UTIs and other vaginal ailments. Hey, if shady studies from South Africa can be accepted as evidence for health benefits of male circumcision then shady studies from the Middle East can be accepted as evidence for health benefits of female circumcision. That’s why it’s called equality. Female gynaecologist Sitt al-Banaat Khaalid said in an article titled Khitaan al-Banaat Ru’yah Sihhiyyah (Female circumcision from a health point of view):
For us in the Muslim world female circumcision is, above all else, obedience to Islam, which means acting in accordance with the fitrah and following the Sunnah which encourages it. We all know the dimensions of Islam, and that everything in it must be good in all aspects, including health aspects. If the benefits are not apparent now, they will become known in the future, as has happened with regard to male circumcision – the world now knows its benefits and it has become widespread among all nations despite the opposition of some groups.
Then she mentioned some of the health benefits of female circumcision and said:
It takes away excessive libido from women.
It prevents unpleasant odours which result from foul secretions beneath the prepuce.
It reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections.
It reduces the incidence of infections of the reproductive system.
This “evidence” may be exceptionally thin, but why not accept it? Such low standards are set for male circumcision so let’s have the same low standards for female circumcision. Or is that the wrong sort of equality? The World Health Organisation claims that FGM provides no health benefits for girls and women, but cites not evidence. This is because no studies have been conducted in the Western world into the health benefits (or effects) of sterile-hospital, infant-female circumcision. No one wants to fund it, so no one has any evidence to conclusively prove that female circumcision, if performed in the correct environments, has no health benefits whatsoever. Yet change female to male and the ethics board will happily grant you funding. That’s equality.
If the narrative presented in this section isn’t abundantly clear, allow me to clarify: the arguments of “health benefits” for circumcision, be it male or female, are bullshit at best and mutilating at worst. They are stretched thin and lack any real substance, so health benefits cannot be used as justification for allowing male circumcision but blocking female circumcision. Both should be held to the same standard and be confined together to the violent dustbin of history.
I’ve added this bit in as an extra. I recently saw an old video of a HuffPost Live interview discussing a new anti-aging product called “HydraFacial”. It’s another one of these kooky anti-aging products that has to contain to baby foreskins or else it won’t work. But that’s not the worst part, the worst part is the way the women on the show demean the baby boys and brush aside the fact that they are exactly that … baby boys. Dare I say they would talk of the beauty treatment in the same way if it were to be made of the labia of infant girls? Would they be calling it one of the best facials they ever received? I highly doubt it. Cunts.
This really epitomises the abhorrent narcissism of some the women in the world, to them the genital integrity of young boys and men means nothing so long as they have shiny and smooth skin. HydraFacial works as a treatment for acne? So a daily face wash is too difficult? Let’s slice of parts of a baby’s penis, totally rational.
How do products like this pass the ethics board? There was a huge furore in Europe a few years back because there was horse meat in some of the beef products and it was unlabelled. This caused a huge controversy and the entire system was investigated, multiple countries were pulled into this scandal. This attains national news as a horrendous incident (I was working in a shop at the time and was at the receiving end of it from customers) and yet baby dick is in moisturiser which women rub into their faces and this is okay. Just gonna let that slide by and not cause any mind. Absolutely shocking.
The one thing that gave me some minor relief, that slightly calmed the bellowing storm brewing within me, was the comments section. Thankfully many people took to calling HuffPost out on their utter mental insanity: that removing an un-consenting child’s prepuce and using it to feed vanity is considered a topic worth discussing in a live interview. Disgraceful.
What about his life, his time, his skin? Oh wait, he’s a boy. Cunts.
Genesis 17 (NIV)
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Leviticus 12 (NIV)
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.
6“ ‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.* 7He shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.
“ ‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’ ”
*Or purification offering; also in verse 8.
The above passages have influenced many Westerners and others around the world to use religion as a justification for male circumcision. Whilst not explicitly mentioned in the Quran, there are quotes in the Hadith that refer to circumcision and its inclusion in fitrah. The act of Circumcision, Brit Milah or Khitan (or Khatna, for females) is considered acceptable in different parts of the world as it is part of a religious tradition.
MGM is practiced for religious purposes, backed-up by quotes such as those above, but there also exists religious backing for FGM. A Jewish minority group living in Ethiopia, the Falashas or Beta Israel, practice ritual female circumcision. Whilst they practice an archaic form of Judaism, strictly referring to the five books of Moses (Pentateuch) and do not know the other important religious scriptures of Judaism, they were acknowledged by the Israeli Government in 1975 as they are descendants of the tribe of “Dan” – one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. This means they are entitled to the right of settling in Israel (so you can’t pull the No True Scotsman here). It is worth noting the practice of FGM in Jewish circles is only seen here.
Christianity also has no literature backing FGM, yet in countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Tanzania and Kenya, there exists Christian groups who practice FGM. This could be argued as more of a cultural act than a religious act.
In Islamic scripture and teachings there are references to female circumcision, Abu al- Malih ibn `Usama’s father relates that the Prophet said: “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.” (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75; Abu Dawud, Adab 167.) There is also in the Hadith, Book 41, Number 5251, Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: “Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.” However, there is much contention over the practice in Islam, different schools of Islamic jurisprudence hold different views on female circumcision.
Yet, whilst these three big religions have schools, writings, teachings or members within that support circumcision, either for males or for females, it is also true that they also have those who oppose it.
In 2006 there was a conference of Muslim scholars from around the world who declared FGM to be un-Islamic. Quran 004:119 says that the body is Allah’s creation and must not be altered and Quran 095:004 states that the body was created in the best form. Many scholars have said that Allah created all life in perfect form and “to consider human beings less perfect … and in need of being perfected by circumcision is an insult to God”
In Judaism and Christianity (Bible NIV) we see:
Leviticus 19:28 – “ ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
Deuteronomy 14:1 – You are the children of the Lord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead,
1 Corinthians 6 – 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Similar rhetoric at play here, God created the body in perfect form, to alter it is an affront to God.
There are also groups here in the West who are religious and stand against these practices, for example Jews Against Circumcision, whose leaflets about Brit Shalom (a non-circumcision naming ceremony) were handed out at the recent Golders Green protest in London.
So, if there exists teachings on both sides of the argument, how can we take religion as a justification for MGM? It certainly isn’t used as justification for FGM here in the West, so why is it used for MGM? Odd double standards.
Before I close this section there is one tit-bit I wish to pick up from earlier, the Leviticus 12 passage, note how the term “clean” is used, namely how he (the born son) is “ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period [emphasis mine].” The mother then has to be purified from her bleeding and has to make a sin/purification offering. What is the meaning of the term “clean” in this instance?
It is not because of sanitary or medical reasons why they are un-clean, but religious and spiritual. This stems from the blood, as is seen in the above quote, and that anyone or anything involved with menstrual (or vaginal) blood becomes unclean. Leviticus 15 19-30 says that when a woman has her menstrual cycle she is unclean, she is impure, and for the seven days of her cycle anything she touches shall also be unclean. In Leviticus 20:18 any man and woman who has intercourse during her blood must be cut off from their people. In Luke 8:43-46, a woman who had been menstruating for 12 years was only cured when she surreptitiously touched Jesus’ garment. She is then informed by Jesus that her faith made her well. She was cured not by medicine but by faith, so she was sick not medically by spiritually.
None of these passages cite hygienic or medical reasons of cleanliness (yet cite hygienic ways of cleaning, such as washing in a river) but spiritual reasons: the (vaginal) blood is not holy. This uncleanliness is passed to the son at birth and is only remedied through circumcision. So when the argument of “it is cleaner” is cited by those whom are religious, what they oft wrongfully assume is that it means medically cleaner, yet the books from which this argument originates actually mean spiritually cleaner. So thus the argument of “circumcision is cleaner” is false both medically and religiously.
In the US circumcision has atypically become a cultural norm, with rates much higher than those seen in other Western developed countries. There is a long yet rather simple history behind this which can easily be summed up as sexual puritanism.
Yep, the historical cause behind the US circumcising over half its infant boys in the 21st Century is because of sexual puritanism – to stop men from enjoying sexual pleasure.
Whilst the tired “it’s cleaner” and other garbage arguments are used nowadays as modern justification for the practice, one reason for the huge popularity originates from a common household name: Dr John Harvey Kellogg. But before I get into all of that, have you ever wondered why cornflakes taste so bland? It is because Dr Kellogg believed the tastelessness of the cereals would prevent sexual excitement and in turn prevent masturbation.
Dr Kellogg was not a fan of sexual pleasure – he never had any kids, would you believe!?
Dr Kellogg was a bit of a religious fanatic, the quote in the above image comes from his book Plain Facts for Old and Young – 1910 edition. It comes from the “Cure of the Habit” section which discusses, as the title suggests, how to cure the “Habit”, otherwise known as masturbation. A cure that can be applied to children is to “admonish them of its sinfulness” (notice the argument of sin), or for younger children, “with whom moral considerations will have no particular weight, other devices may be used”. Yes, that is an actual quote, morality should have no effect in the extent to which you punish children, so just go for it! Read the full section, he goes on to argue that using silver sutures to sew up the prepuce (foreskin) will prevent erections (the male form of infibulation) and that bandaging children to prevent masturbation is okay.
The obvious question is what does this kooky religious fanaticism of Dr Kellogg have to do with the circumcision issue in the US? Kellogg, alongside other physicians such as Dr Lewis Sayre and Dr Peter Charles Remondino, whose puritanical views of the dangers and impurities of sex and masturbation coupled with their influential positions in medicine guided the US on a path of anti-pleasure circumcision. In 19th Century UK, Dr Isaac Baker Brown would perform clitorectomies (excision of the clitoris) to prevent women from masturbating.
Pleasure derived from sex or worse, masturbation, was their bogey-man. To fight against this sinful blight that was plaguing their society, circumcision was proposed and enforced as a solution. It was also argued that it provided health-benefits (yep, that argument again), claiming to defend against syphilis, leprosy and tuberculosis. These ideas were influenced by John Hutchinson and his paper “On the Influence of Circumcision in Preventing Syphilis” which was based on his research of the massive immigration in the 1850s of Jews from the ghettos of Eastern Europe. He noted that these Jews sought medical treatment for syphilis in far fewer numbers than did the local population so the reason for this must be their circumcised penises. Obviously this does not stand under scrutiny, he was unaware of statistical analysis, epidemiology, the effects of living in ghettos, the early marriages practiced by the immigrants, etc. The reason, in his mind, was definitely the fact they were circumcised.
As such, alongside other factors, the rates of circumcision in the US began to climb. Whilst it is difficult to find definite rates Edward Wallerstein, in his book Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy, argues that in 1900 around 18% of males were circumcised and the new-born circumcision rate was 30%. This would go on to increase, in the 1960s the circumcision rate was at its highest as 83% of males were being circumcised at birth, but this has since been steadily declining (albeit not quickly) to 77% in 2010.
This success was unmatched, the female equivalent (clitorectomies) was massively denounced by the wider medical community. Dr Brown, whom was mentioned earlier, was banished from the medical community and died a pauper because of his penchant for performing this operation. Dr Kellogg’s views of treatments for female masturbation did not catch on either – and to think, if this bizarre thinking did have more traction then today not only would the US circumcise most of its new-born boys because it’s cleaner but they would probably also perform something similar to girls for an equally stupid reason.
But no, that would an abuse of human rights, we’ll just stick with male circumcision, shall we? No abuses of human rights there.
Circumcised penises look better, apparently, if you ignore the huge scar and the keratinised glans. If you’ve never seen an adult circumcised penis (although you probably have, but in case if you haven’t) pop on over to any porn site and watch something from America, you’ll see one pretty sharpish.
A year ago Milo Yiannopoulos published what has become a somewhat infamous article about his views on circumcision, titled “No one wants to live in a world of uncircumcised penises”. His article plays to the same old arguments about cleanliness and other such nonsense but what separates his view from some of the wider arguments is that circumcised penises are better than uncircumcised penises for oral sex. Whilst this is untrue, as will be discussed later (see sexual performance in Justifications & Differences), he argues that it is because of visual (and for the performers) pleasure. Circumcised penises look better.
This is simply a subjective argument based on emotive reasoning and does not justify routine infant circumcision. As such, yours truly took it upon himself to call him out on said views when Milo was at the University of Bristol debating Rebecca Reid. Posing the question as though directed to both members of the panel, it was actually for Milo, sorry fam. He somewhat retracted his position claiming his article was “semi-satirical” but that he still has to suck them (penis). No-one’s forcing you to Milo, just saying. Obviously I am not the only to have confronted him on this topic, Joe Rogan held him to account and I think here Milo understood that his arguments hold no water.
But this narrative is wider than Milo, adult men are able to opt in for circumcision as an aesthetic choice, which of course is fine, so long as the patient is an adult, is consenting to the surgery and is of sound mind. In effect, the usual prerequisites for any non-therapeutic surgery. However these prerequisites are oft thrown out the window when it comes to infants, especially in terms of consent. Infant children cannot consent to this surgery so instead parental consent is required, yet that should only apply to medically necessary surgeries, not surgeries performed for cosmetic reasons.
But it happens, children in the US are circumcised for cosmetic reasons given by the parent such as “make him look like his father” and “women prefer circumcised penises”. Yep, let’s cut off parts of a baby’s genitals penis because it’ll look nicer.
Let’s start with following in dad’s footsteps, a totally rational argument for slicing of part of a young son’s body. Whilst this argument is well-heard (I have heard it often, albeit only ever from campaigners arguing against it) I have never heard it from the horse’s mouth nor found any supporting literature. All I could find was rebuttals to this statement and how people will not be following this line of reasoning. I’m assuming it’s an unspoken rule. I thusly cannot comment on how pervasive or how popular this argument is as all of seen of it is responses, but should this be an actual argument employed by parents, may I point out that of course children do not look entirely like their parents, that’s how reproduction works. Genes are mixed, children are amalgamations of their parent’s genetics and features. Also, to surgically remove a part of a child’s body because it was done to a parent is unnecessary and unfair, if a parent had had their tonsils removed as an infant would it be fair to remove the tonsils of their child to be like mummy or daddy? C’mon, there’s health benefits for it as well!
How far are you willing to go?
Do women prefer circumcised penises? Apparently they do! Well, they do in the US, a staggering 54% of women surveyed prefer circumcised members! The study, conducted by sex-toy shop Adam & Eve, surveyed over 1000 women aged 18+. 33% said they had no preference, 10% refused to answer and a marginal 3% preferred uncut. This can be argued down to exposure and how they have been culturally raised to perceive circumcised as the norm.
But because of the widespread normality and acceptance of circumcision in the US uncut penises, being different, are viewed by a lot women as repulsive. But hey, it’s not their fault, they’re American (actual words from the article). Thankfully, the rest of the women interviewed in that linked article stood up for uncircumcised men, arguing how the sex is better and visuals come as a shock only because they lack experience of uncut men.
Yet these arguments do not justify infant circumcision, if a healthy consenting adult wishes to undergo the surgery that is their business, but to use this to justify infant circumcision is false. Would it be tolerated if the same reasoning was used for female circumcision? Of course not, no, it isn’t. The cutting of young girls in Eastern Africa justified by “cosmetics” is vilified here in Western cultures. Yet not for young boys.
To cosmetically alter or improve adult genitalia is a fairly common practice, as an adult male you can book yourself in for an appointment with the click of a button – and you can do the same if you are a woman. In fact, buttock augmentation and labiaplasty took the top spots for most significant increases in numbers of procedures performed over the course of a one-year period. More places to book yourself in for a labiaplasty (US & Canada) can be found here.
As can be seen, labiaplasty is a growing trend in the US and Canada, many adults are now opting for the procedure, so why not circumcise young girls as that will be cosmetically better? Enact some good ol’ preventative health care!? Simple, because to do so would be fucking barbaric. But to do it to young boys appears to be permissible. Odd that. Would it be okay to circumcise a girl so she doesn’t feel weird when in the locker room? No. Would it be okay to circumcise a girl because vaginas look weird with a hood? No. But these are readily accepted arguments for young boys. Let these kids grow up and make these cosmetic decisions for themselves when they grow up.
Justifications & Differences
Many people fallaciously hold male genital cutting to a different standard than that of female genital cutting, often misrepresenting the two and making false equivalences. Harking back to my appearance in Bristol Uni asking about circumcision and society’s double standards, Rebecca Reid argued that “male circumcision does tend to take place in sterile environments by medically trained professionals whereas … female circumcision generally tends to take place in less sterile environments with less medically trained professionals”. Whilst this is partly correct, this response ignores all the boys in Africa that are subject to circumcision in the same less sterile environments with less medically trained professionals (who are in turn, left with botched circumcisions for life). But this argument only finger-wags at the difference in application, not the objective issues of human genital mutilation, because if we are to argue that the method employed is what at fault rather than the act itself, then the issue of FGM can be remedied simply by providing better medical care when introducing the knife to the young girls lady-parts. In other words, you can solve FGM by medicalising it, which is what is happening in parts of Africa. Does that justify it? No, so it shouldn’t justify MGM here by claiming that it has been medicalised.
Another common argument is that the level of harm caused by the two procedures is different. This is also false, harm is caused in equally vile measures to both and manifests in many ways, including: physical damage, psychological harm and sexual performance & stimulation.
The physical damage caused to men in the West is perceived as low (ironic considering they’re unnecessarily removing healthy tissue) because the surgery is *ahem* more refined. What some do is compare the routine, hospital circumcision of infant males to the barbaric infibulation and full genital excision of girls. These misleading comparisons are not uncommon. Yet this argument only serves to betray a staggering ignorance on the practices of human genital mutilation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies four different types of FGM:
- Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
- Type 2: Often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).
- Type 3: Often referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).
- Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
What proponents of the aforementioned argument falsely do is equivocate the hospital circumcision of infant males with extreme Type 2 and Type 3 FGM, often failing to recognise that around 90% of FGM are Types 1 & 2 and only around 10% of FGM is Type 3 (it is found mainly in East Africa). In other words, what they are doing is comparing the commonly-practiced, medicalised circumcision of boys in the West to the vastly uncommon castration (and/or sewing up) of girl’s genitals in Africa, all the while ignoring all the boys in Africa who undergo similar barbaric practices. Unbelievable.
Even the “normal” form of circumcision causes horrendous damage and pain to those afflicted with the procedure. A study in Kenya of 1007 young males found that 35.2% of males circumcised traditionally (at home) suffered an adverse effect compared to 17.7% of those circumcised clinically. To quote: “[B]leeding and infection were the most common adverse effects, with excessive pain, lacerations, torsion and erectile dysfunction also observed.” Hardly the quick and painless experience it is purported to be, but don’t worry, boys in Africa having their genitals cut means nothing because it’s happening to girls and they’re more important.
But the comparison trips up again because it appears to imply that the procedure when performed here in the West is without complications nor causes the child any pain. If you were to listen to Rabbi Harold Kushner your son would cry more at his first haircut than he would at his Bris (circumcision). Because yeah, hair has the same nerve endings in as a foreskin (hint: it doesn’t). Here is a video of a hospital circumcision in the West, listen to the child scream, if you can stomach it. Here is a video of a haircut tutorial, notice the lack of crying? In a study about different forms of anaesthetic to use in circumcision, the control group reacted so negatively –some began choking and one even had a seizure– that they decided it was unethical to continue. Another study found that circumcised boys had a stronger pain response following circumcision. Pain brands itself on the brain. Anyone who has ever studied psychology knows: early childhood trauma (emotional or physical) has a long-lasting impact on the child’s life. Does it really need saying?
We also hear how FGM causes lifelong emotional harm to women, which I do not doubt for a second, but to argue the same is not done to men is wrong. Whilst many men in the West have been socialised to accept their hospital circumcision there are many who do not, who live with the effects of the surgery every day. As such Intact Activist groups (known as Intactivists) have started forming in both the US and UK, these are:
15 Square (The size of an adult male foreskin is around 15 Square Centimetres)
There are other, wider men’s issues groups who also fight against this practice:
Many of these groups were either started, or heavily influenced by male circumcision (or another male issue) as they or another they know may have been afflicted by it. Yet for some the impact of this procedure has taken too great of a toll. Jonathon Conte, a leading intactivist from America who has written before about the effects his infant circumcision has had on him, sadly recently lost his battle with depression and took his own life. Whilst you can argue that there are few surgical risks of Western medicalised circumcision, the impact of harm from this procedure reverberates for the rest of the young boy’s life, as was seen with Jonathon.
Many men feel incomplete knowing what was done to them, feeling like something was taken away from them, something they can never get back. A study of 546 men found that all the men reported feeling emotional suffering after realising they had been dispossessed of an irreplaceable part of their body. Respondents reported profound shifts in how they perceived their genitals, themselves, and the society that imposed such a loss. Some revealed violent attitudes toward their circumciser and/or suicidal/homicidal feelings. Another study followed a young boy who was circumcised aged three and grew up to develop great feelings of anxiety, self-loathing and depression. In therapy, he would roughly handle the felt pens then assess the tips for damage. Many of his issues were related to his circumcision although many were also affected by the neglect at the hands of his mother and the superior parental treatment (and thus cognitive development) of his younger brother. Another study from the Philippines found that of 1577 boys assessed (who were circumcised) a staggering 51% of those medically circumcised met the DSM-IV requirements of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Are we still to believe that the harm caused to women from FGM is any less than the harm caused to boys from MGM?
But FGM is used to control a woman’s sexuality, right? And male circumcision has no influence on his ability to perform! The former has evidence and credibility whereas the latter … not so much. Believe it or not but lopping off parts of a person’s genitals does have an effect on their sexual performance – Milo, take note! A 5,552 participant study in Denmark found that circumcised men were three times more likely to report difficulties reaching orgasm, the wives of the circumcised men reported more incomplete sexual fulfilment, notable orgasm difficulties and dyspareunia (painful sex).
There’s more studies to back this up. One study found circumcision worsens erectile dysfunction. Another found circumcision lowers the sensitivity of the glans. This study found circumcision can cause premature ejaculation. This one said the most sensitive location on circumcised penis is the scar, it has higher pressure threshold than five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed. It also said the glans of the uncircumcised penis are more sensitive to fine touch than that of circumcised penis.
Continuing from that last study, if you’ve ever watched porn featuring a circumcised male, you may have noticed that when the “money shot” takes place he either furiously masturbates the head or he softly massages the shaft (where the scar is). The head is furiously stimulated due to its lack of sensitivity, so physical stimulation needs to be increased in order to provide release. The scar is massaged due to it having higher sensitivity and thus requiring less touch than the head. The more you know.
There’s more. Online reports and discussions (yes, as part of my research for this I did have to trawl through forum boards reading about people’s sexual experiences with both circumcised and intact men) have said that circumcised men, when performing, have sex motion “like a jackhammer”. Their words, not mine, I have no experience in that field. The reason for this behaviour is because they lack sensation, so require this extra force and speed to increase stimulation. Intact men are slower because they can enjoy the motions and thrusts more. Another woman reported that sex with a circumcised penis “feels like being banged with a broom handle, and occasionally the long strokes dried me out so much I bled”. Read the full thread, you’ll find some interesting narratives. I certainly did.
The staggering ignorance to the functions of the foreskin only adds to the hysteria of circumcision and the worsening of sex – for both partners! Some of the functions were highlighted above, namely lubrication of the penis, sexual stimulation and physical protection for the penis. Others include, but are not limited to: maintaining moisture around the glans, self-cleaning, immunological protection, antibacterial protection, preventing dyspareunia, preventing the glans from becoming keratinised and coverage during erection. There have been other uses for it, such as stuffing 42 gummy bears in there or hiding drugs in there. I’m fairly certain these aren’t evolutionarily intended functions of the foreskin, but hey, whatever floats your boat! But these functions show that what is being removed is not just “a bit of flesh” but an active part of the male body. The eyelids are just a bit of flesh, even less so than the foreskin, yet we all recognise the need for eyelids and why removing them would be incredibly stupid.
Circumcision, as was discussed in section marked Culture, was used as a way of controlling sexual behaviours. This view may have died out (I cannot be sure how many parents have their children’s best interests at heart) but the practice lives on. Like how women in Africa are deprived of full sexual capacity because of infant genital cutting, so too are men in the West deprived of full sexual capacity because of infant genital cutting. Stop this barbaric act.
There are many arguments used all around the globe to defend infant genital cutting, yet these arguments are not held to the same standard of scrutiny based purely on identity politics. Any defence of Female Genital Mutilation used in Africa is blown out the water by progressive Westerners who are vilified by such a barbaric act, yet like Jekyll and Hyde, they turn their faces and brazenly use the same depraved defences to support Male Genital Mutilation.
Whether this is popular opinion or not but boys and girls are born equal and are deserving of equal rights. I oft think back to that Thomas Sowell quote: “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labelled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.” This is as relevant for sex-based equality as it is for race-based equality. How radical an idea it is to believe that boys and girls should both be given the same equal treatment and be given fair, equal standards to be judged by.
The vile act of Female Genital Mutilation is being wiped out because we as a people have come together to stand against it, yet in doing so we have forgotten about those on our doorstep. It’s time to look to our young boys and tell them that they too have the same rights, freedoms and liberties. They too are deserving of genital integrity.
Come on, it’s not that hard.