The sacred and the profane »« Giles Fraser versus the liberal mindset

Simply strange ones

But Giles Fraser looks quite thoughtful compared to Ed West in the Telegraph.

…people are not naturally moral relativists, and female circumcision cannot be viewed in any way as an acceptable cultural practice, violating all Western ethical principles, scarring women for life out of sheer spiteful misogyny.

But it’s inevitable that any movement that has been proved right and principled will then push its ideology too far until it too becomes intolerant and ludicrous, and the campaign against male circumcision is just one example. In theory removing a foreskin could be seen as a violation of a child’s rights, but that’s to take a theoretical liberal argument to an absurd and illiberal position. It equates genuinely horrific and immoral alien cultural practices with simply strange ones, which almost becomes an extreme reverse cultural relativism – all cultures that aren’t mine are equally bad.

Absurd and illiberal? To tell parents they can’t snip off a bit of their baby’s penis just because it’s supposed to be a religious obligation? Come on. I can see saying there are tensions, but to blow off the issue that easily is…well, absurd and illiberal.

Of course most people are not saying that circumcision is anywhere as bad as FGM, but that it does mutilate the child and so violate individual rights…But liberalism should mean distinguishing between abusive, unacceptable cultural forms that violate individual freedom and ones you just don’t agree with (which, to some New Atheists, is going to mean pretty much all religious upbringings).

Yes but in what sense is it clear that snipping off a bit of a baby’s penis for non-medical reasons is not an abusive, unacceptable cultural form that violates individual freedom?

I would disagree with Fraser over only one thing – calling this liberalism. It’s actually statism, an ideology that causes far more child cruelty than all the religions in Europe combined.

Ah right, it’s the fault of New Atheism and statism. That’s that sorted.

Comments

  1. says

    There is no medical reason for routine circumsicion of boys. Period. If this dudebro can’t understand it from a moral point of view maybe he can from a medical one: it is wrong to administer and charge for treatment that isn’t medically indicated.

  2. says

    Fascinating is the double standards of how we regard the sexes in our culture. The term alone “FGM” does not have an equally recognized form with respect to males; not because it doesn’t exist, but because in the realm of the evolutionarily justified “disposable male” it is easily ignored.

  3. says

    Considering that men function just fine without the foreskin, and “female circumcision” typically removes most (if not all) pleasurable sensation, the comparison really IS absurd.

    It’s like equating an appendectomy to, say, removal of the entire GI tract.

  4. says

    The comparison is not absurd, the contrast is. Both “function” just fine. Both are life long choices made for person. Both are wrong on that basis. The only thing that makes one worse; is its statement against female sexual freedom of which it represents, and the insult therein.

  5. Jean says

    Let’s say we’re going to start branding our children to give them a sense of community and tradition. And then see what arguments they use to say that this is completely absurd and inhumane.

  6. patterson says

    While I guess you can claim some kinship between female and male circumcision, the two are in many ways incomparable, from the risks and the damage caused to the motivations for the respective ‘surgeries/mutilations’. While male circumcision might be a cruel and pointless affectation, female circumcision is an unimaginable horror, a complete nightmare. However that doesn’t mean that it can’t be seen as a form of physical abuse and a violation. After all you can’t justify violence by pointing out that worse violence is happening somewhere else.

    Does anyone know what “the evolutionary “disposable male”” means? Is this MRA speak?

  7. Nathair says

    Does anyone know what “the evolutionary “disposable male”” means? Is this MRA speak?

    Based on the rest of the post, yeah.

    @stevehaworth
    The term alone “FGM” does not have an equally recognized form with respect to males; because it doesn’t exist.

  8. says

    The problem with both Giles’ and West’s articles, religion, and totalitarianism of all kinds is, quoting Giles, this assertion: ‘”We” comes before “I”.’

    Bad idea!

  9. says

    While the penis can function pretty well without a foreskin, it doesn’t function identically, I’m told. It reportedly changes (and allegedly reduces) sensation. Can’t testify from personal experience, having only ever known one penis fashion style. But it certainly is no where as bad as FGM.

    But what is far better is earlobe removal. The ear functions perfectly well without them.

    I’m not a father, but if I ever am, those useless earlobes are getting cut right off. Maybe not a tradition yet, but every tradition has to start somewhere!

    Cut the useless earlobes off, suck the blood out.
    Nobody could possibly object to that.

    Everyone knows kids never wash behind their ears. My idea will encourage better hygiene.

  10. alnitak says

    Male circumcision produces at least a 5-fold reduction in sensation (check the Pubmed database for the science). Circumcised men thrust strongly into their partner in order to overcome the limitation, altering the dynamic of lovemaking. Circumcision also makes masturbation much less facile. It is not a harmless procedure, but one that influences how the male experiences sex for the rest of his life.

    This is not to say that it is equivalent to female mutilation, but it is neither useful nor harmless. For those who need verification, find the numbers of adult males who ask to be circumcised.

  11. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    WMDKitty—not funny. Not funny at all. And if you didn’t mean it to be funny, then even worse.

  12. callistacat says

    @skeptifem

    My nephew was circumsized in a hospital in the U.S. The doctor told the parents it was necessary for hygienic purposes. Mom didn’t want it done, but Dad talked her into it.

    Does that still go on in the U.S.? This was over ten years ago.

  13. Dave says

    I think we’re on the territory of winnable and unwinnable battles here. We might succeed in stopping FGM, which is a variable cultural practice not formally endorsed by any major religion, and is a horrific act of intrusion on basic bodily function. It seems far less likely that circumcision, which is central to the tenets of a major world faith not noted for its appreciation of outside interventions, and which in itself cannot plausibly be said to be a harmful act, will be wiped out by campaigning.

    Being the sort of person who equates these things is rather like being the sort of person who thinks that, for example, there should be unlimited international migration, and a right to tax-funded welfare for all residents. It makes sense to you, it may even make sense as a abstract proposition, but everyone else looks at you as if you’re mad. You may be right, but that doesn’t matter – politically – if most people think you’re nuts.

  14. dirigible says

    “What, because I think actual intercourse should last for more than five thrusts?”

    The way to get more than five thrusts (if you want thrusts) is to educate and communicate, not mutilate.

  15. says

    WMDKitty – even if it were the case that circumcision reduces premature ejaculation (which is isn’t: http://www.circumstitions.com/Docs/tang-PE.pdf) then pre-emptive non-consensual surgery would still be a bizarre response. The highest estimate for premature ejaculation is that it effects 30% of males. Why should all males be cut, with numerous and unstudied effects upon their sexual responses, because some of them might experience premature ejaculation at some point in their lives? Surely premature ejaculation is a problem to address via multiple therapies when it arises (ahem), and not something to be considered in relation to the body of a child.

  16. jose says

    Summary:

    My critics say thing A is bad.
    My critics say thing B is bad.

    OMG my critics are saying A and B are exactly the same! Clearly they’re wrong and since they’re against me, that means I’m right.

  17. B-Lar says

    “…nobody wants a guy who gets off in three strokes.”

    sniff… If only I were born to Jewish parents…

  18. Kevin Anthoney says

    Thus speaks the circumcized male.

    West says in his article that he’s not circumcised, which makes him the first non-circumcised person I’ve seen to support the practice.

    I think West’s problem is that he’s a died-in-the-wool traditionalist, and it doesn’t really matter what the tradition is – if it’s under attack from those pesky libruls, he’ll support it. He’d probably support witch burning if we were still doing that.

  19. Dave Allen says

    WMDKitty

    The reason it’s offensive is that you presume an infant will grow up to wish to adopt your standards of good sex, and that the only way to ensure that is to denude him of part of his genitals. Presumably if said infant grows up to be the sort of man who wishes to avoid sex that lasts for three thrusts the best way to do so would be to study technique, rather than mutilate himself, but if he wants a surgical reduction of penile sensation then he can do so as a consenting adult.

    This then allows for him to grow up celibate and whole, or even a pathetic lover and whole, if that’s what he wishes.

  20. says

    I’m the proud owner of an intact foreskin and lived to 58 to enjoy it. I shiver at the thought of disposing of it, as anyone would do. The default position of parents toward their children’s bodies should always be to keep them whole.
    FGM is much worse, I agree, but FGM and circumcision are both wrong.
    When my daughter was a baby, people were preparing to puncture her earlobes to wear rings, as is the custom im my culture. I forbade it. Later as a teen she did it, but it was her decision. Now as an adult she let the holes close. Her decision, again.

  21. Lyanna says

    Kevin Anthoney, I don’t think that’s fair–he opposes FGM, after all.

    He’s correct to say that FGM and male circumcision aren’t equivalent. And there ARE people whose rhetoric implies that those two things are equivalent, so he’s not attacking a straw man there.

    He’s also correct to say that we don’t and shouldn’t fully apply the liberal ideology to parent-child relations where there is no risk of serious and/or permanent damage–basically, where whatever’s at stake is pretty minor.

    Where he goes wrong is, IMO, assuming that male circumcision is so minor. It’s not the same as FGM, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally A-OK or trivial. If he wants to say that an alteration of a child’s body by the parents before the child can give informed consent is harmless and shouldn’t be banned, he needs to support that argument with evidence and reasons. He doesn’t do that here.

  22. resident_alien says

    WMDkitty,there was actually a sexual health study in Turkey,where nearly 100% of the male population is circumcised,that came to the conclusion that the most common form of sexual disfunction in circumcised males IS premature ejaculation…Apparently,it’s not as simple as it seems at first sight…

  23. patterson says

    Besides Kitty, now the MRA’s are going to claim that male circumcision was dreamed up by our female overlords to increase their sexual satisfaction at the expense of the “evolutionarily disposable males”.

    Who am I kidding, I bet they already do.

  24. Godless Heathen says

    @resident_alien,

    Were the circumcised men compared to non-circumcised men in that study in Turkey?

  25. says

    @WMDKitty:

    You are aware there are other types of sex than PIV, right? What’s with the assumed primacy of one sexual act over all others?

  26. LeftSidePositive says

    WMDKitty,

    As an official humorless feminist who’s been accused of man-hating on these boards more times than I can count, I have to say that your statement is just plain not okay–not even to joke about.

    People’s bodies are their own, and they deserve to stay that way.

    (In my experience, though, the only people who explicitly *equate* FGM and circumcision are MRAs who are trying to derail conversations about women’s rights. Feminists, at least the ones that I read, say something along the lines of: “Thing A is bad, for reasons X, Y, and Z, and Thing B shares all those reasons but to a lesser degree, so while Thing B is not as bad, it’s probably bad enough to stop doing.”)

  27. says

    It’s like equating an appendectomy to, say, removal of the entire GI tract.

    As someone who had an unnecessary appendectomy, I’d say you’re correct, but still wrong. There’s such a thing as having a difference of degree but not of kind.

  28. steve oberski says

    Any action performed on a child for motives not based on evidence and reason, be it baptism, confirmation, religious indoctrination, sexual mutilation, bar mitzvah, faith healing, etc. should be treated as child abuse.

    I’m sure that there is lots of non-religious motivated child abuse but as usual religion get to play the we’re immune to criticism card in this area as well. It’s time this stopped.

  29. Gregory in Seattle says

    The question: Is the surgical alteration of a child’s genitals, absent any medical necessity and purely for the purpose of appeasing cultural expectations, acceptable?

    Yes or no, we should not be allowed to make exceptions based on gender alone.

  30. says

    You’re kidding, right? What WE want should determine whether infant boys get to keep their penises intact?

    Hey, what if men decided what THEY want is for all infant girls to have their vaginas surgically tightened. Would that be a good reason to do so?

  31. says

    Is this MRA speak?

    Yep. And a perusal of Steve’s FB indicates he’s a Thunderf00l partisan.

    No, Steve, both don’t “function just fine.” FGM is not analogous to removing the foreskin but to removing the entire glans penis.

    WMDKitty, here’s a free clue: If a guy is a “three-pump chump,” the problem isn’t penile sensitivity. The problem may not even be premature ejaculation. The problem may be that the guy is a selfish asshole. Perhaps you should improve your standards.

    Also, despite the difference in societal privilege, mutilating a man’s body for a woman’s pleasure is no more morally supportable than is mutilating a woman’s body for a man’s pleasure.

    Steve Oberski, thanks for trivializing the issue of mutilation by comparing it to bar mitzvah and confirmation.

  32. says

    OMG, it’s just as much “mutilation” as piercing a baby’s ears!

    If you wanna outlaw circumcision, you need to be consistent, and outlaw ANY procedure, medical or cosmetic, that alters a child’s body, because it’s “mutilation” and the child cannot consent.

  33. says

    Er, there’s an ethical difference between having a child undergo a procedure that is medically necessary and having a child undergo a procedure that is purely cosmetic. (And, even in the latter category, I’d say that certain kinds of cosmetic surgeries are medically necessary, such as for facial deformities.)

  34. says

    Er… NO. No, there isn’t.

    BY YOUR OWN LOGIC, a parent should be prohibited from making decisions about elective procedures of ANY kind (whether it’s ear piercing or circumcision or what-have-you) for their child. (You did argue that the child has a right to an intact body, no?)

  35. says

    It’s like equating an appendectomy to, say, removal of the entire GI tract.

    A surgeon who performs an unnecessary appendectomy is still guilty of maiming his patient.

    You don’t need your pinky toe either, would you be ok with removing it?

    OMG, it’s just as much “mutilation” as piercing a baby’s ears!

    No it’s as much as fully cutting off dangling ear lobes.

    Oh, right. I forgot that women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex — we’re supposed to just lie back and let him rut away for three to five strokes and pretend it was “good for us, too”.

    Never mind what WE enjoy or want…

    You are factually wrong. And frankly you’re engaged in a bizarre bit of “they’re only good if they can pleasure” dehumanizing of males.

  36. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Ophelia, you took the words right out of my mouth. Or fingers. Whatever.

  37. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Er, I was trying to quote:

    Hey, what if men decided what THEY want is for all infant girls to have their vaginas surgically tightened. Would that be a good reason to do so?

  38. Tony aka The Psychic Octopus [safe and welcome at FtB] says

    It equates genuinely horrific and immoral alien cultural practices with simply strange ones,

    Emphasis mine.
    So Ed, the genital chopping is done to both women and men. Correct?
    The vast majority of the time, genital chopping is done without the consent of the individual involved. Correct?
    There is no medical reason for routine circumcision of boys or girls. Correct?
    So they’re quite similar in those regards, but somehow they change to the point that one becomes a horrific, immoral, alien cultural practice, and the other becomes strange alien cultural practices. Correct?
    How does that work?
    Why are they different?
    This *strange* cultural practice must be rooted in something. Something profound enough to persuade many, many, many people that male circumcision is desirable. Could the root of this *strange* cultural practice be…religion?
    God tells you to chop off bits of a boy’s penis aka genital mutilation=Thumbs Up
    Humans decide to chop off bits of a girls vagina aka genital mutilation=Thumbs Down

    It’s not morally relativistic to find FGM barbaric, and MGM a socially acceptable cultural practice?

  39. Tony aka The Psychic Octopus [safe and welcome at FtB] says

    WMDKitty:

    Mutilation or maiming is an act of physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of any living body, sometimes causing death.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutilation

    Just so we’re clear on the meaning of the word mutilation.

    Now that we are, what’s the difference between chopping off bits of a girls vagina and bits of a boy’s penis?
    I’d also like to know if you would have an issue with your neighbor, father, mother, uncle or aunt telling you that you’re going to get a piece of you penis chopped off as an adult (notice the lack of consent)?
    I don’t know many people that would like that. I think many people would express extreme displeasure at the idea.
    Why is it wrong to do that to an adult, but ok to do it to a child?
    Why does the stupid religious practice of circumcision get to trump the supremely unnecessary anguish and pain faced by a young boy?

  40. David Marjanović says

    men function just fine without the foreskin

    I definitely wouldn’t without mine.

    Circumcision also makes masturbation much less facile.

    …which is the historical reason for why there are circumcised Americans who aren’t Muslims or Jews.

    This is not to say that it is equivalent to female mutilation

    Well, it is equivalent to the mildest form of FGM; but that form isn’t actually common. The others are much, much worse.

    What, because I think actual intercourse should last for more than five thrusts?

    I don’t see how that’s “offensive”, especially because it’s true that nobody wants a guy who gets off in three strokes.

    Erm… are men somehow obligated to pull out and go to sleep as soon as they’ve gotten off once?

    ~:-|

    My nephew was circumsized in a hospital in the U.S. The doctor told the parents it was necessary for hygienic purposes.

    …which is completely and utterly wrong. I’m just saying.

    I think West’s problem is that he’s a died-in-the-wool traditionalist

    Outside certain religions, circumcision only became a tradition in the 19th century, and it never caught on in, say, Europe. I was deeply disturbed when I found out a few years ago that most male Americans are circumcised.

    OMG, it’s just as much “mutilation” as piercing a baby’s ears!

    No, much more so. Piercing an ear doesn’t amputate anything.

    (Not that I think piercing a baby’s ears is at all a good idea ever. I’m with comment 25 on that.)

    You don’t need your pinky toe either, would you be ok with removing it?

    I actually do use mine. It’s sometimes very practical to be able to apply pressure at that corner of the foot during walking or running.

    No it’s as much as fully cutting off dangling ear lobes.

    No, it’s much worse than that.

    I simply disagree that male circumcision is “mutilation”.

    You don’t actually disagree, because you lack the knowledge necessary to even form an opinion.

    Besides, a cut penis is a CLEAN penis.

    Hah. Nothing ever gets under my foreskin. I don’t even seem to produce smegma.

    Tell me this: if circumcision is a hygienic necessity, why 1) do practically only Jews, Muslims and Americans do it, and 2) why hasn’t there been natural selection for a smaller or absent foreskin???

  41. Beatrice says

    Besides, a cut penis is a CLEAN penis.

    A washed penis is a clean penis.
    If you met men who didn’t clean under their foreskin the problem that needs addressing is not the existence of the foreskin but their lacking hygiene habits.

  42. says

    The point is, I DISAGREE.

    First:

    Nobody has provided evidence that circumcision is harmful or dangerous or somehow “bad”. Just anecdotes of very, very rare surgical errors.

    And as we know, anecdotes are NOT data.

    So, show me the evidence.
    ====

    Second:

    The main argument against circumcision is, as I understand it, one of bodily autonomy, no? You’re saying that it’s immoral/wrong to perform a cosmetic procedure on a child without that child’s consent.

    Now, logically, if one is opposed to circumcision, one must also be opposed to all cosmetic procedures performed on a child under the age of 18, regardless of parental consent. (This includes ear piercing.)
    ====

    Third:

    Legally, parents ARE allowed to decide on these things, including whether or not to circumcise their sons, and that’s the way it SHOULD be. The law should NEVER get involved in medical decisions (see the ongoing debate over abortion, birth control, and women’s health), because that would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

  43. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You are a self-centered fucking asshole, WMDKitty, and your position on this is morally monstrous. Who gives one FLYING FUCK what you want in bed? That has nothing to do with whether baby boys get their dicks chopped.

    What a disgusting, egotistical, inhumane, heterosexist bag of shit you dropped here. Don’t tell anyone you “disagree”. You don’t get to “disagree” about someone else’s bodily integrity, and you don’t get to “disagree” about what is and is not mutilation unless it’s YOUR OWN BODY.

    Gack, you’re putrid.

  44. MelissaF says

    WMDKitty – Jesus fucking Christ on a popsicle stick! WTF? You do realise that all the ‘arguments’ you’ve made are the exact same arguments people use to defend the lesser forms of FGM, right? What in the hell is wrong with you?

    Anecdata: I’ve never been with a circumcised man, & of the many men I’ve been with, only the teenagers (when I was a teenager) had problems with lasting long enough & being not so considerate bed partners (mostly ’cause they didn’t have experience).

    Circumcision has NOTHING to do with how satisfying a man is at sex, & even if it did, that would be no reason for me to have had my son’s foreskin lopped off causing pain, risk of infection, or having a botched job done.

    Regarding your ‘the sex is better’ argument – besides that being a hideous reason to cut off part of a baby’s penis, it’s also plain wrong. Not only does circumcision not alter how long the average man lasts, but that’s not even how one should define good sex. If a man employs oral & manual sex, toys etc, I couldn’t give a flying fuck how long he can ‘thrust’ for.

    Whether a person is good at satisfying their partner/s depends on how considerate & attentive they are, not whether they have bits lopped off their genitals. (plus I imagine it’d be easier to orally/manually stimulate an uncircumcised male – I am at a loss as to how you’d do it with only tight immoveable skin to work with. If it’s not too TMI, might anyone enlighten me as to the technique one uses?)

  45. MelissaF says

    On reflection, the question at the end of my previous comment is kind of a derail & probably rather inappropriate for me to ask in this thread. Please ignore it. Sorry.

  46. carlie says

    Just chiming in to say what the fuck, WMDKitty? You are seriously, totally in the wrong here. Look, I had my two boys circumcised. It was right at the cusp of when it was just starting to be talked about as an issue rather than being completely normal, my spouse was for it, and the doctor compared it to, yes, ear piercing in equivalency. I didn’t know enough, and neither did my spouse, to make the correct decision. I admit I did something heinous and wish I hadn’t done it, and I argue against it every time it comes up now. What I DON’T do is try and make bizarre justifications for it so that I don’t feel so bad about myself. You’re coming off as someone who is trying to do that.

  47. carlie says

    I’m asking for evidence of actual, physical harm done to circumcised men due to the lack of a foreskin.

    The physical harm is that they no longer have a foreskin. What on earth is your definition of “physical harm” that excludes “a healthy portion of one’s body removed”?

  48. says

    @ 56 – But that’s not the criterion. Adults don’t get to slice off bits of infants – even very small bits – merely because the harm is (according to them) minor or insignificant. (We know it’s not zero. There’s bleeding.) That’s not the default. The default is the other way around – don’t slice bits off infants for no real reason.

    If men want to get circumcised at 18 or 21, that’s up to them.

    And by the way I certainly don’t approve of adults piercing the ears of children.

  49. says

    Hey, sat down, had a think, y’all might be right in part.

    Thank you, Ophelia, for at least being consistent.

    I see this move to ban circumcision as nearly identical to the moves to ban abortion and birth control and the War on (Some) Drugs — it all comes down to the government telling us what we can do with our bodies, and that ain’t cool.

    In short, the decision of whether or not to circumcise — just like an abortion — ought to be between patient (or patient’s caregiver) and physician.

  50. says

    Kitty – but it isn’t the government telling us what we can do with our bodies – it’s the gov’t (or in this case the court, which is slightly different) telling people what they can do to their children’s bodies. Granted that implies that children can’t “decide” to get circumcised at age ten – but they can when their brains are developed enough.

  51. carlie says

    it all comes down to the government telling us what we can do with our bodies, and that ain’t cool.

    But that’s just it – it’s not at all the government telling you what you can do with your body. Your child does not belong to you. It is not part of you. It is its own person with its own body, and this is the government telling you what you can’t do to someone else’s body.

    I can see one instance of ear piercing of babies being an ok idea, and that’s in the case of identical multiples. And only because I’d be so scared I’d mix them up. (The first day I dropped my son off at daycare, my biggest, and I know irrational, but biggest fear was that I wouldn’t recognize which one was mine when I went to pick him up, since he hadn’t been out of my sight until that point and all babies kind of look alike. I actually wrote down what outfit he was wearing and what outfit I had taken for an emergency change just in case.)

  52. says

    Er, yes, it is. It’s the government sticking it’s nose into the doctor-patient relationship.

    It is, simply, a decision best left to the patient (or caregiver, if the patient is underage or otherwise incapable of making such a decision) and the doctor.

  53. says

    Kitty – no. The patient doesn’t get to include her child as part of herself once it’s born. The doctor-patient relationship doesn’t extend to people the “patient” wants to do things to. That makes no sense.

    And the infant isn’t a patient because there’s nothing wrong with it.

    Oh and the mohel isn’t a doctor.

  54. says

    But anti-abortion people are talking about a fetus, not a baby. Once it’s born, it is its own person. It’s helpless, so it needs care, but it has rights. (Dave will remind us that rights are nonsense on stilts. But it’s shorthand for saying the parents can’t just do whatever they like to it.)

  55. says

    Ophelia, legally, parents are supposed to make medical decisions for their children. The child may be the patient, but it is incapable of understanding and consenting to anything, especially as an infant, and therefore REQUIRES the parent to make those decisions. So, while the parent is most certainly NOT the patient, the parent IS “the decider” FOR the patient.

    [snark]Or… you know, we could just let infants and toddlers make their own medical decisions and see how that goes.[/snark]

  56. says

    Medical decisions, yes – but the court exempted circumcision for medical reasons.

    The state intervenes (though not always readily enough, at least in the US) when people deny their children medical care for religious reasons. That’s to protect the children. Yes it’s intrusive, but the alternative is worse.

  57. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    WMD:

    1. I haven’t failed to notice that you’re changing your rationale. Don’t think anyone’s forgotten the monstrous thing you said about boys being circumcised being awesome because it makes for better sexy timez for you. I’m not dropping that or going away.

    2. Parents are prevented from “making medical decisions” that harm their children for no good reason ALL THE TIME. What is wrong with you?

  58. carlie says

    WMDKitty, do you think it would be ok for parents to get a full-face tattoo on their baby?

    Do you think it would be ok for parents to put earlobe plugs on their baby?

    Do you think it would be ok for parents to use brass rings to stretch their baby’s neck?

    Do you think it would be ok for parents to bind their baby’s feet?

    There are all sorts of things that don’t fall under the category of appropriate medical decisions, and we don’t allow them to be done to people without their consent.

    And your point about pro-life groups is stupid. It’s an autonomous person as soon as it’s no longer dependent on its host.

  59. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Fuck you, WMDKitty. You are loathsome, and it’s shocking. I can’t believe I’m seeing you, a known non-crazy commenter, go on like this. What happened to you? How did you get so downright cruel and lacking empathy on this issue?

    Maybe you’re just going into defensiveness mode; I hope so. But it’s vicious and ugly to shut down your ethical lobe and go on about “a bit of skin” just to preserve your ego.

  60. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Do you have a son you circumcised and now you’re heavily invested in making sure you don’t have to question it? Is that it?

    No, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and no, it’s not infibulation. But it’s not zero-bad either. Deal.

  61. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Why do you think it’s OK to be glib about circumcision because you think it makes for better sex for you?

  62. carlie says

    I’m not the one going into hysterics over a bit of skin.

    Please think about that and decide that’s not where you want to go. Because labia are just a bit of skin, too.

  63. callistacat says

    “I see this move to ban circumcision as nearly identical to the moves to ban abortion and birth control and the War on (Some) Drugs — it all comes down to the government telling us what we can do with our bodies, and that ain’t cool.”

    Seriously?? Mutilating a baby’s genitals isn’t *anything* like banning birth control/abortion/drugs.

    dirigible says:
    “The way to get more than five thrusts (if you want thrusts) is to educate and communicate, not mutilate.”

    This should be a bumper sticker.

  64. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Please answer the question. Why do you think justifying circumcision based on your sexual preferences is ethically acceptable?

  65. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Why are you pretending not to understand that a patient’s proxy is not permitted to order/authorize just any medical procedure with no justification and with a potential for diminished or altered capacity later?

  66. thunk, safe behind a toasty heat shield says

    Yes. WMDKitty, parents do not have a right to perform unnecessary medical procedures on children. Appendicitis, yes. Full-face tattoos (as someone said), No.

    Circumcision falls into the latter category.

  67. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    It would be good of you to take responsibility for what you said and explain it.

  68. canadianchick says

    WMDKitty – I understand what you’re saying because not too long ago I felt the same way, to a degree. I preferred the look of a circumsized penis, and the best lover I’ve ever had was circ’d. But my uncirc’d DH is pretty damn good too, and I like the look of his penis just fine.

    so, I waffled and said stuff about how I didn’t need to have an opinion because I’d never have to make that decision, etc.

    then I realized how wrong I was.

    Issues of bodily autonomy aside, it is a completely unnecessary procedure, not done for any valid medical purpose, that can and does result in harm to the patient. Not every circ ends up with a bad outcome, but why subject a child to that completely unnecessary risk? I’m not being hysterical or alarmist when I say that boys have lost their entire penis due to surgical error. Boys have wound up with STDs from circ’s (very recently a bunch of orthodox jewish babies wound up with HPV from an infected mohel).

    there’s no justification for the risk. Especially for the reasons you give.

    FWIW I also consider piercing babies’ ears to be unnecessary and barbaric. If an older child wants her ears pierced, fine, if he is mature enough to understand that even that comes with potential risks – you don’t even have to meet someone who had their ear torn by a snagged earring as a child to recognize that.

    there are times when circ is medically necessary – and THAT should be a discussion between the patient (and guardian if necessary) and the physician. But not on a child.

  69. canadianchick says

    oops – last line should read – but not on a child for non-medical reasons.

  70. says

    Thank you, canadianchick, for explaining that concisely and without getting angry. I appreciate that.

    Ummm…. yeah. I’m willing to admit that I’m wrong, you know, when I’m wrong. And, um, I was wrong on this issue.

    Josh, dude, I was in the wrong, I apologize.

  71. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Thank you, WMDKitty. That’s great of you to say.

    At the risk of seeming to rub salt in the wound (which I’m really not trying to do!) my getting angry has nothing to do with whether you or I were right or wrong. People get passionate and angry about things that matter to them. I do, and you do too. There was nothing inappropriate or a-contextual about how angry I got. It was justified.

    It’s easy to get pissy and say “You’re being meaaaaan and so I’m gonna disagree,” but it’s cheap and wrong. I’ve done it; hell, everyone’s done it. But it’s still wrong.

  72. Siverly says

    The religious privilege to cut children’s genitals is finally being seriously challenged in the courts, and that’s progress. Most of us get it.
    When it comes to understanding how male circumcision affects male sexual experience- and how it can affect his partner’s- it has to be looked at from an understanding of the most up to date anatomical and histological research on the penis. ‘A little piece of skin’ isn’t accurate, either. We know so much more now about how important the male foreskin is to natural sexual functioning. We are learning just how much damage is done with surgical interference and to downplay it flies in the face of evidence. A good place to start:

    YOU Tube: ‘Anatomy of the Penis: Penile and Foreskin Neurology’

    Harming male sexuality in this way too often ends up ‘in the laps of women’ both figuratively(emotionally) and literally. This most certainly is a women’s issue as well as a children’s rights issue.

  73. says

    WMDKitty thus aligns herself behind the “parents’ rights” crowd, the fundie wingnuts who are the reason the U.S. won’t ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child because they want the “right” to beat their kids senseless as recommended by James Dobson or the Pearls.

    What, what do you mean, “But that’s harmful”? They see it as loving discipline and correction!

    Also, fuck you for the use of the word “hysterics” in reference to a gay man, and telling him to “calm the fuck down,” and accusing him of “whining.” Also, the passive-aggressive remark to CanadianChick thanking her for not “getting angry,” as if people don’t have a right to be angry over violations of bodily integrity.

    You are such a pile of ignorant, selfish fail, it’s mind-blowing.

    Josh:

    I can’t believe I’m seeing you, a known non-crazy commenter, go on like this.

    I’ve seen her say profoundly stupid things before. Two examples: Here, she insists that even people living in very rural areas don’t need to own guns for hunting, because animal control exists (has she ever lived way out in the boondocks? She sounds like what a country friend of mine calls a “citiot”), and because “you can go to a STORE and BUY your meat.” And here, she proudly declares herself “colorblind” in racial issues.

    She’s said other dumb things, but enough of them that no search terms come to mind.

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