If circumcision isn’t medically necessary, why do we still do it? Examining hygiene, religion, tradition, and ignorance
It’s odd to see this level of push-back and animosity.
I got some comments from friends on Facebook about some anti-circumcision posts I put up recently:
“Gary, it’s hard to believe you are still stuck on this, when there are so many important …. oh forget it, you’re stuck. I don’t agree with you. It is for either religious and/or sanitary reasons that baby boys are circumcised. As toddlers & even older, children tend not to be meticulous with hygiene .
Infection can be very painful & dangerous. I do not believe baby boys are traumatized forever because of this. Are you?!?!?”
“The female genital mitigation [sic] should be something people worry about ☹️”
Here are my posted responses to the above:
Right, boys are much lesser humans, why care about their human right to bodily integrity?
Let people, boys and girls, choose what to do with their body. You know, 100’s of boys die from complications of this. Too bad we have more protections for animals than baby boys.
All I have to ask is – why is FGM so bad and MGM OK – answer without being sexist or saying one isn’t as bad as the other. MGM also entails sexual abuse. Also, I was cut AND I’M NOT MUSLIM OR JEWISH. When you cut boys you take away their right to a normal sex life and sex organs.
Intactivists fight for the right to bodily integrity for boys AND girls – it’s the right and fair thing to do.
Some fight global warming, some fight for the environment, some fight for animal rights, some fight for men’s/women’s rights, and some fight for boys/girls genital integrity, and some fight for all of these.
Watch this and learn what we are fighting for, a must watch video for expectant parents: An Elephant in the Hospital
The response to my comments:
You are ridiculous with this!!
[My boyfriend] says that more men at war would have died because of infection due to non-circumcision because of infection that would surely be present when proper hygiene is not possible for extended lengths of time.
You have some displaced anger issues buddy. That first sentence proves that. It is women who were treated like second class citizens until the late 20th century, and are still being discriminated against in employment & salary !!
You behave as if circumcision were mandated !!! You are not ‘fighting’ for anything! !
Of course it’s “mandated,” as you are forcing the child to be circumcised, and that’s my whole point.
Why does this bother you? Are you feeling guilty, or do you need to justify your actions? Why do you care if babies aren’t forcibly circumcised? If you want to circumcise yourself – go ahead – no one’s stopping you – but how could it be right to force baby boys and girls to be circumcised, or tattooed, or have eye-rounding surgery, foot-binding, etc.
Why do some of us fight against MGM? Because it’s easy – and I don’t mean easy to defeat – I mean easy to discern as an issue worthy of fighting. Where else do we see disfiguring and potentially deadly human rights violations going on daily and literally right under our noses?
Some intactivists are men’s rights activists (MRAs), many are not. Most MRAs are also intactivists because they recognize that the apathy towards men’s and boy’s issues is most glaring when we think nothing of abusing boy infants this way while we criminalize and jail those who do the same to baby girls. Frankly, I think MRAs who don’t condemn MGM haven’t really realized the blatant misandry and human rights abuse involved.
Many MRAs think MGM is easily one of the top most important issues they could take on, easy because it is so lopsidedly sexist, illegal and unethical – and may I remind you that intactivists oppose both MGM and FGM (many also oppose intersex genital mutilation). You say there are more important issues to combat? Would you say that to animal rights activists? If not, you should really think about that: valuing the rights of a baby boy less than you would an animal’s – and you should be ashamed and embarrassed of yourself. Much of the public, not even activists, oppose inhumane procedures on animals such as ear docking, tail docking, cat declawing, and debarking, even calling into question testicle replacement and animal breast reduction. How can anyone object to actually treating a baby human boy as humanely as we do animals???
As far as men at war and their hygiene – if you’re an adult in a combat zone and somehow you have no soap and you want a circumcision, that’s your decision, stupid as it is, but what does that have to do with infant circumcision on Long Island, New York in 2017?
Let’s get something straight. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but that opinion ends where someone else’s body begins. You have the right to circumcise your own body and no one else’s. And why do you care if a baby boy has an intact penis, even if it’s your own son, ESPECIALLY IF IT’S YOUR OWN SON! Why does it bother anyone that a baby boy may not get circumcised, or that many people advocate to prevent those unneeded circumcisions? It’s not your penis, your body, or your decision.
You must have compelling and overwhelming reasons to do this to unconsenting babies – and it’s just not there.
Here’s a quote that explains some of the irrational comments we sometimes hear:
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
So, you say it’s not an “important” issue.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
Aside from the ethics and danger of routinely circumcising infant boys without their consent, it is the most common surgery done in America and over a million baby boys are strapped down, mutilated, traumatized, bloodied and disfigured at the hands of parents and doctors who are supposed to love and protect them. That’s thousands of infants screaming out in pain – and some dying – every day!
I recently attended an event hosted by Intaction featuring a Mobile Education Unit (see video below) that elicited some comments, both positive and negative.
Like some of the FB comments above meant to deflect from the issue, one man asked “Why don’t you fight against global warming?” I’ll tell you why.
As I said above, “some fight global warming, some fight for the environment, some fight for animal rights, some fight for men’s/women’s rights, and some fight for boys/girls genital integrity, and some fight for all of these.”
My point is – and this relates to men’s rights activism – that global warming and all these other issues are widely recognized and are being debated in the MSM, the workplace, and at the dinner table, and many people and groups are already doing that work. Neither men’s rights issues or the genital integrity of infant boys are being addressed on those levels.
And this issue differs critically in another way from all those others.
There are many current issues that are controversial and are fiercely debated as to what is ethical, equal and legal. Abortion, racism, transgender-ism, sexism, gay and lesbian rights, religion, and atheism are just a few. But thankfully most of the world recognizes these differences of lifestyle and opinion and allow each of us to choose our own paths in life. You may choose one religion and I another; you may abhor abortion, but some others might choose that option if able to. You may be gay and I may be straight; you may be Republican, I a Democrat. The point is, you can choose any of these options and no one can force you to be an atheist, let’s say, or a Muslim, or a Democrat, or to get a tattoo, pierced ears, or an abortion. Circumcision of babies is different in that the baby is without choice. Parent’s and doctor’s ‘rights’ should stop at the point where they infringe on other’s rights – like mutilating their genitals.
Global warming? Like a strapped down baby gives a shit about global warming with a Gomco clamp on his penis and a scalpel coming to tear up his genitals.
Please, I’d love to move on to other causes, but this literally screams out every day! Just leave your baby alone and I’ll move on.
Although I’ve failed to save two family members from circumcision, I figure if I go to intactivist events like these I may be able to help other boys whose parents are on the fence and question this push to circumcise. Why the great push? Hatred and ignorance of normal male genitals? Profits? Blind obedience to out-of-control medical intervention?
Actually, stopping or preventing something harmful is something you can actually achieve directly. It’s profound and personal, having immediate, tangible, compassionate and lifelong results for your family and loved ones. You can make a lasting, direct and loving difference in a child’s life. It’s almost as good as saving (maybe literally) his life – where else can you make such a difference for merely stopping an ignorant medical procedure?
Let’s make a deal – if you don’t like intact penises, don’t have one, don’t look at them, don’t suck them and don’t fuck them, just leave other people’s alone (read: newborn babies) and I won’t stop you from enjoying your own circumcised vagina or penis, capisce?
How is it OK in some people’s minds that anyone has the right to force another to get genitally mutilated and permanently disfigured? If you like pierced ears, or tattoos, or circumcision, go ahead and do it, but leave everyone else alone to choose for themselves! You may think your son a Jew because he was born to your Jewish family, and no harm done as he can later choose to stay or leave that faith, but doesn’t it seem stupid – and it is – to say he’s a Republican because you are? Then how can you decide for him that his foreskin and normal penis isn’t needed or wanted?
Ladies, moms-to-be, you may not like the intact penis, it may be different to you, but the world’s penises are intact and beautiful. You’re not having sex with it anyway, it’s your son’s to enjoy, so don’t force your prejudices on an innocent, intact baby boy; it’s a new world, one that respects the human rights of all persons, big and small, boy or girl.
And dads, get over yourself and your denial that you weren’t harmed and you’re just fine. Well, you were violated sexually, mentally, and physically, so admit it and don’t do that same thing to your son. After all, it’s not your penis; you won’t be using it for sex, and you won’t use it to procreate, orgasm, or please a sexual partner with. It’s not your sex life to ruin, and not your choice to make.
Consider the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm,” to which I add this layman’s saying, “To each his own.”
If you don’t have a penis, or it’s not YOUR penis, you have no say in the matter. You don’t have the right to mutilate it.
Circumcision is the personification of “guilty until proven innocent;” is your baby’s penis guilty until someone proves its innocence?
And pregnant women, does this make any sense – you don’t drink alcohol, you eat right, you take prenatal vitamins, you don’t take harmful drugs or painkillers…but soon after your baby is born you cut, crush, and amputate with excruciating pain and trauma part of your baby’s genitals?
And don’t forget to put those little mittens on his hands to protect from scratches, just before you let people tear and cut off part of his genitals?
Leaving him intact is so much easier, safer, cheaper, humane, logical, ethical, and better for his future sex life and health. And, after all, he can choose circumcision for himself at some point – although you’ll say he probably won’t – and I say, EXACTLY.
Your beautiful baby boy needs no surgical correction, no need to touch, retract, or remove the foreskin, just normal soap and water as you do with vaginas and rear ends. Do not allow anyone to try retracting it, as it will retract on its own. It couldn’t be more simple or maintenance-free.
Parents and parents-to-be, this is part of what your job entails:
- protect them from harmful things, people, animals, and disease (with vaccinations)
- wash them and keep them clean ( and teach them to how to clean themselves)
- brush their teeth (and teach them how to brush themselves)
- teach them to respect, protect and love their body, and never abuse it
What crazy thing are we teaching boys and girls when on one hand we say love your body as it is, yet we show how we despise male anatomy? I, and many others, wish I had a foreskin to keep clean, but I never had the chance. I would cherish the beauty and wonder of my male human body, and I’d have the cleanest package on the planet. It’s your job to teach them to clean themselves – how hard is that? – we do it everyday with females. You have no right to literally take away his manhood and a chance at a normal sex life.
Teach both boys and girls to clean ‘down there,’ and when puberty hits, both boys and girls will want to attract each other, making it a self-correcting non-problem.
Speaking of sex, circumcision was promoted by John Harvey Kellogg (of Corn Flakes fame) to prevent masturbation, as he thought it lessened the pleasure and thought it a good idea to punish the male psyche by associating his penis with pain. Well, he got it right that men who are circumcised have vastly diminished capacity for pleasure, as the foreskin has thousands of sensitive nerve endings built for pleasure. Many people masturbate, and circumcised men, me included, will never know the full pleasure we were meant to have. Don’t take that away from your son.
You know, we love vaginas and accept them as they are, (except for those who don’t and mutilate infants’ vaginas) loose skin and all, and that’s because we’re used to the natural, intact vagina. NEED I SAY MORE? Those who think an uncircumcised penis isn’t normal isn’t used to a normal penis, and is just plain wrong. If you think a foreskin is gross, what about all that vaginal skin?
Listen to someone who’s been there and been mutilated. Evolution has perfected the two sex’s genitals to be matched perfectly. The normal functioning vagina gets lubricated and the intact penis glides smoothly out from under its foreskin, making for pain-free and effortless intercourse. The glans – or head of the penis – is normally an internal organ and not meant to be external and exposed. A circumcised penis is dry and rough, without any lubrication, many times needing a lubricant to help things along. To say nothing of the lost sensation in that penis and foreskin, something circumcised men will never experience. I’ve even heard of intact men being multi-orgasmic.
Here’s a video of a normal dog penis where an ignorant woman thinks “there’s something wrong” with a normal dog’s penis that has a sheath (foreskin) hiding it till it gets erect – just like the normal human penis. You can see some more normal dog penis here, here, and here.
If we aren’t cutting off dog foreskin, does it mean we don’t love them as much as baby boys…or is it the other way around?
Here’s a video that tells all you need to know about the human foreskin and the amazing intact penis that some think requires surgery (NSFW).
Most doctors will only circumcise newborns and infants, I guess because the foreskin is so small it’s perceived as ‘just a snip’ to all involved, whereas later on there is more cutting needed, more pain and nerve endings, more autonomy and more chance of the boy fighting back. Infants are also easily strapped down into a medieval device called a Circumstraint like animals, and they can’t fight back or sue!
I wrote an article where I called the CEO of Dublin’s Temple hospital two-faced because what they say doesn’t jibe with what they do. One face says they put the care and welfare of the child front and center, the other face ignores their own Statement of Strategic Intent and forces many of those children to be sexually abused and mutilated. Temple knowingly ignores these facts:
- no medical organization recommends routine circumcision
- there are many risks involved, including a lifetime of pain, disfigurement, and death
- 100% of these babies lose normal sexual function and pleasure
- 100% of these babies have bleeding and scarring
- unequal protection of female babies vs. male babies
- violates your Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm” (maybe they have this confused with hypocrisy)
- studies have shown this traumatizes the infant and damages his immature nervous system
- permanent elective surgery requires informed consent by the actual patient, especially an amputation of a normal body part (this is not “the repair of a hernia, hydrocele, correction of undescended testis, … or excision of minor lump” see below)
- infant genital mutilation is a human rights violation as outlined by the United Nations, and is most likely illegal in most countries
- Germany and Norway’s recent attempts (among others) to ban MGM for many of the reasons outlined above
- the worldwide intactivist movement to ban all forms of infant genital mutilation
This is one of the items under “Pediatric Surgery” at their website:
• General pediatric surgery – this refers to the surgery of relatively common conditions that do not usually require a specialist unit. These conditions can either be elective e.g. the repair of a hernia, hydrocele, correction of undescended testis, circumcision, or excision of minor lumps. Alternatively, the operations may be emergency procedures e.g. appendicectomy, or torsion of testis
Notice that ALL of the above procedures seek to correct or treat a disease or condition EXCEPT circumcision. Imagine this amended listing for “general pediatric surgery” above:
…These conditions can either be elective e.g. the repair of a hernia, hydrocele, correction of undescended testis, circumcision, or excision of minor lumps. You may also chose to excise your daughter’s labia from her vagina here at the centre.
There are many groups who recognize how wrong this is. Breast feeding advocates see the absurdity of advocating for natural childbirth and breast-feeding, only to disrupt the mother-child bond by what amounts to abuse and torture of the infant involved. Anti-FGM activists as well as men’s rights activists also see the hypocrisy of advocating for the human and natural rights of babies while tearing off part of their genitals for no reason and without their consent.
This is SURGERY ON A NEWBORN INFANT, with all it’s attendant risks: any loss of blood is risky to a baby whom has very little to spare; many of the hundreds who have died were the result of blood-loss due to careless procedures as well as undiagnosed cases of hemophilia.
While some boys have died from this surgery, many more are disfigured. Look up the name David Reimer, a boy who had a twin brother and was left without a penis after it was burned off during circumcision. Dr. John Money had a theory that David could be raised as a girl, and that is what they did to David, trying unsuccessfully for many years to convince him and the world he was a girl named Brenda. It ended when he reclaimed his true sexual identity and became David again, only to end in suicide at the age of 38. It goes without saying his twin brother was never circumcised.
As seen here on the consent form, circumcision is worded as the “treatment” of a “diagnosis” of “penile foreskin, cosmetic.” Foreskin is normal tissue and nothing to be “diagnosed.” Notice that the “benefits” listed are “cosmetic” and the risks are “infection, bleeding, need for blood transfusion, damage to surrounding organs (urethra, scrotum), unpleasing cosmetic outcome, need for revision in the future,” while the “alternatives” to circumcision are “no circumcision” and the “risks related to not having the procedure” are “no risk with proper hygiene.”
Remember, this is surgery, with its attendant risks, which mandate (see consent form below) someone’s consent to:
- approve that surgery is “not an exact science” and are not “given any guarantees about the results of this procedure”
- “if something unexpected happens” … “agree to any treatment which is necessary” (for surgery that’s unnecessary)
- “agree to have transfusions of blood and other blood products”
- “agree to allow this facility to keep, use, or properly dispose of tissue and parts of organs that are removed during this procedure” (your baby’s normal sex life and his penis’ protective sheath tossed in the garbage can or sold to make face cream)
And of course “If the patient cannot consent for himself/herself,” the signature of the patient’s “legal guardian” must be obtained, understandable and ethical without question to cure or treat a disease or condition, NOT ethical for permanent and risky elective surgery.
An intactivist who works at a hospital brought to the Intaction event above brought a small tube of lidocaine which she said they use to numb the baby’s genitals prior to circumcision, yet the warning label states that it’s not for use on children less than 6 months old. Although I haven’t found that warning, I did find many other warnings and reasons not to use for infants undergoing circumcision. Read some of those warnings below and wonder why anyone would risk using these drugs on newborn babies to perform major and risky surgery on an infant that doesn’t need it. Studies of these drug’s effects on newborns are incomplete due to the unethical nature of testing on highly vulnerable infants. The small amounts used are large in comparison to the baby and the methods of testing those amounts in the blood are harmful to the baby in and of itself, as newborns have very little blood to lose or to absorb any drug safely. This is why many circumcisors use no anesthetic – just look at the warnings for lidocaine usage:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in lidocaine cream or to similar medications (eg, amide-type local anesthetics)
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
- if you have had a severe allergic reaction (eg, severe rash, hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness) to any anesthetic medicine
- if you have heart, liver, or kidney problems
How would we know any of this about a newborn? Further warnings:
Lidocaine Cream is for external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. If contact occurs, wash out the eye at once with water or saline and protect it until the numbness is gone.
Do not bandage or wrap the affected area, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if Lidocaine Cream can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Lidocaine Cream while you are pregnant. It is not known if this medicine is found in breast milk after topical use. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use Lidocaine Cream, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.
Of course the penis gets wrapped, along with the lidocaine that possibly gets into the bloodstream.
So, you’re putting a strong, numbing drug on a baby’s genitals, and then cutting into those genitals, risking fatal blood-loss, harmful drug effects, and infection, scarring, and possible penile amputation – all this for no medical reason.
See this doctor tell a story about a circumcision that went really bad, probably almost killed the baby, due to ignorance about foreskins all being different, and the terrible risk of blood-loss involved in performing surgery on infants due to their already low volume of blood.
From the same video, see the same doctor tell another horror story about circumcision – it makes you wonder if it really is ‘rare’ to have these complications when one doctor is seeing all this. Watch the full video here – if this doesn’t piss you off, I don’t know what will. What gives me hope is that some of these doctors realized the horror and stopped circumcising.
Watch this classic anti-MGM video that stars Penn & Teller, the respected Dr. Dean Edell, and nocirc.org founder and nurse Marilyn Milos.
Here’s another hard-hitting video about circumcision, and like the others above, it seems there was a time when society and doctors talked candidly about circumcision, now it seems the circumcision camp (doctors and hospitals) will call security before talking to you.
Just like penises, vaginas come in all shapes and sizes, (NSFW) and hopefully men and women are embracing the normal intact bodies of each other and themselves.
It seems that all the aforementioned reasons to circumcise infant boys have some overlap and are reinforced by the others. Ignorance of the foreskin allows you to think it particularly malodorous and expendable, allowing the hygienic, religious, and traditional reasons to trump any thought of a breach of ethics or human rights violation.