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Are there good arguments for male circumcision?

C0nc0rdance has made a thorough and balanced video outlining the case for and against routine circumcision. What do you folks think?



My personal opinion is that circumcising children routinely, outside of areas where condom use is practically nil and the STD risk is therefore far higher, is unethical because it is, in theory, a matter of self-determination whether a person modifies their body. Doing it as a matter of course or out of religious or other tradition wholly obviates the child’s ability to self-determine. I don’t think in the Western world, circumcision is at all necessary except where it is medically indicated, and in those cases, it should be considered a major surgery and the child should be anaesthetized. I don’t think that the benefits that can be conferred by routine circumcision overrides the question of self-determination if you’re not in one of those aforementioned high-risk areas.

The perfect solution, of course would be to re-educate people in those high-risk areas where anti-condom memetics are prevalent, to show them that condoms actually save lives. This perfect solution should also include the necessity that parents of males properly clean and maintain their children’s genitalia, which may come with its own cultural mores.

I’m also very happy that C0nc0rdance makes the point that female genital mutilation is far different from male circumcision. I’ve long held that when discussing FGM, people bringing up male circumcision are derailing because the equivalent would be the removal of the glans, not the foreskin.

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    There are occasions when circumcision is medically indicated. Other than that, circumcision is not warranted.

  2. Rod says

    Wasn’t there a study years ago that indicated that Jewish women had a far lower incidence of cervical cancer than non-Jewish women…. with all Jewish men being circumcised this indicated a link between circumcision and cervical cancer…..
    Was this the case or am I confused, or has there been any follow-up?

  3. Gregory says

    The leading current justification for male circumcision has to do with female to male transmission of STDs: the underside of the foreskin is generally well protected and so can get abraded easily, creating breaches in the skin where pathogens can enter. But unless you are having unprotected sex with women of questionable health, the answer is, “No: there is no good argument for male circumcision.”

    There are religious arguments: outside of the United States, most circumcises males are either Muslim or Jewish. But I would hardly call religiously motivated genital mutilation a good argument.

    Circumcision has never been a part of Christianity; Paul actually forbids it. It became fashionable in the Anglosphere about 150 years ago out of the pseudo-scientific belief that it would curb masturbation (speaking from experience, they were VERY wrong about that.) Most former British colonies have abandoned routine, non-medical circumcision, the main exception being the United States. Here, the excuses tend to be along the lines of, “My husband is cut; therefore my sons should be cut too.”

  4. howardpeirce says

    Well, I’m of a generation where I was circumcised at birth, and so was everyone in my age cohort. I can honestly say I’ve never missed having a foreskin, and if it weren’t for Europorn, I wouldn’t know what having one looks like.

    So, I tend to think that seriously dramatic overreactions to having been routinely circumcised are unwarranted. I mean, if I were any more sensitive, I’d be coming right now, and who wants that?

    On the other hand, I’ve had friends who declined routine circumcisions for their male kids, only to run into problems with recurrent infections despite practicing modern hygienic techniques.

    If you’re going to get a circumcision, then infancy is the time to get one, because at any other time it’s really painful and takes a long time to heal. It’s not like getting a tattoo or a piercing. You sure as hell don’t want to wait to get a therapeutic circumcision at some later date.

    I suppose if I met a beautiful woman who was turned off by my bare glans, I might feel differently, but that would be an emotional response, and not a rational one. There’s a real, qualitative difference between male circumcision and female genital mutilation, that often gets lost in these discussions.

    At 48 years old, I still have my tonsils and appendix. I don’t consider this to be a major accomplishment, and I don’t consider my lack of foreskin to be a form of mutilation.

    It’s an elective surgical procedure, and there are better and worse times to consider it. But it’s ultimately just a bit of tissue.

  5. Martin says

    Are there good arguments for male circumcision?

    In first world countries: not many and none for routine, infant circumcision.

  6. mtw83 says

    “But it’s ultimately just a bit of tissue”

    Spoken like a man who doesn’t have one! Anyone who actually has all their parts knows it is no more “just a bit of tissue” than the tongue or eyes or ears are “just bit of tissue”. On the bright side, I guess one can’t miss what one never had, but that doesn’t make a good reason to force it on infants!

  7. howardpeirce says

    Do you have a foreskin, mtw83? Or are you one of those loony anticircumsion activists who hangs weights from your dong and tries every herbal medicine that comes along?

    I cum as hard as a bull and my dick is a like a staving chain. Can you say the same? Do you blame it all on a little piece of skin? Or are you just a sexually dysfunctional Nice Guy&tm; always ready to displace blame for your own inadequacies?

  8. Graham Martin-Royle says

    If it’s not medically required, it shouldn’t be routinely carried out on children. If adults want to do it, that’s fine.

  9. howardpeirce says

    Adding, I could eat all the raw onions and chilis I wanted to without heartburn, if I only had my appendix! I blame Big Pharma and the anti-hydrogen-ion lobby!

    Oh, wait, I have an appendix. Never mind.

    I am also a sexually functional adult, unlike the anti-circumcision weirdos that are sure to show up on this thread.

    But as long as we’re talking about circumcision, one thing’s for sure: Palestinians shouldn’t wear boxers while debating Star Trek on their Macintosh computers!

  10. VeritasKnight says

    See, I’m of the same generation where circumcision was the norm. OK. I don’t have angst or any problems with it, but I really wouldn’t impose that on my children. If they want to? Their call. If there was a medical reason (my cousin Blair had to get circumcised after an unfortunate zipper incident), sure. But as it is? I’d rather teach my male children to wear a condom (and teach my female children that any male partners they should have should wear a condom).

    Taking a knife anywhere around there, boy or girl, without a legitimate, serious, medical reason? No freaking way.

  11. howardpeirce says

    Taken down as many notches as necessary, Jason. My apologies. I guess I’ve been online too long, and I’m oversensitive.

  12. Happiestsadist says

    Howardpeirce: You sound very, very defensive. And a bit revoltingly prone to oversharing about your I’m sure-not-at-all-exaggerated prowess. No overcompensation at all there, I’m sure.

    As far as reasons for routine circumcision? In places with condom access and hygiene facilities, there’s no reason to cut up your child’s genitals for cosmetic reasons when they cannot consent. Bodily autonomy is important, and starting kids off with the knowledge that they are there for others to alter isn’t a good start.

  13. says

    Apology accepted. We all have our triggers. One of mine is the same kind of damaging meme that leads girls to hate themselves for not being super skinny with a silicone top shelf — the idea that sex appeal is entirely contained within the size of a man’s package.

    And I totally get where you’re coming from. Dunno how many times male circumcision has come up in inappropriate contexts by an intactivist and totally derailed the conversation. It’s sort of on-topic here, though. So, other than emotive arguments, and the ones already covered, anyone have any better things to offer?

  14. VeritasKnight says

    Not one I particularly agree with, but what about the concept that there’s a certain social expectation for the male to be circumcised?

  15. Happiestsadist says

    VeritasKnight: I think that might be a regional thing. Because a whole lot of places and age ranges, it’s not actually the norm.

    And I wouldn’t say it’s much of an argument anyway. Many social expectations have thankfully departed as people have realized that the thinking behind them is jacked, and a lot of social expectations for men are especially so, and justifiably getting questioned.

  16. howardpeirce says

    VeritasKnight: Again, considering my generation, is there such an expectation? I’ve not run into it (if anything, the opposite — a lot of American women my age consider foreskins gross, or at least, a smelly inconvenience) but that may be the circle I run with.

    Female genital mutilation (as practiced in some Islamic/African cultures) is something that genuinely impacts future sexual satisfaction. Yet I can certainly testify that my satisfaction is genuine satisfaction. I get an erection and climax with satisfaction when I have sex. Who can tell me I’m wrong?

    Cutting the clitoris is really not comparable to cutting the foreskin while leaving the glans intact. References to old-time Blues lyrics aside, I’ve just not seen any contrary evidence w/r/t male circumcision.

    What I have seen, personally (sample size N=1), is post-adolescent traumatic male circumcision for reasons of health, and it’s not at all a pleasant experience. It’s a non-trivial surgical procedure, with significant healing time and many time-dependent limitations that don’t apply to infants. So, to suggest that adults can make this decision for themselves in more than a little dishonest. But again, I’m looking at anecdotal evidence, and extremely small sample sizes. So I’m more than happy to see evidence, and be shown wrong. If adult circumcision were as easy as some people make it out to be, I’d be all in favor of putting off the decision until the age of majority.

    What I’d like to hear is some additional testimony from someone who’s experienced post-pubertal circumcision for medical reasons.

    Let me put it this way: Infant circumcision is a relatively non-traumatic procedure, with quick healing times and little risk of infection. Post-pubertal circumcision is a major surgical procedure, with significant risk of post-surgical infection and a much longer recovery time.

    What I’m saying is that it’s not as simple as leaving it up to personal choice. There are valid surgical reasons for performing this procedure prophylactically, and there are valid surgical reasons for avoiding this procedure post-puberty.

    My final point is that this is a non-trivial question. A lot of people treat it as though it were a simple issue of cutting versus not-cutting (like a tattoo or something), but there’s a lot more to it than that, and there are no easy answers. And as we’re all (I hope) rationalists, I’d trust that people recognize there’s a difference between prepubertal and postpubertal male genitals, and not fall prey to ideology or simple dialectics.

  17. Happiestsadist says

    In that case, why not go for a prophylactic tonsillectomy or appendectomy when the child is an infant as well? The odds of needing a circumcision medically aren’t that great, and certainly not worth removing a perfectly lovely bit of enervated tissue. I understand you don’t feel as if you lost anything (though some people feel they have), but if it ain’t broke, I don’t see why one should bring out the knife.

    Circumcision hurts infants. Period. Whether or not they remember is irrelevant. And the rates of botched circumcision are higher than any parent should be comfortable with. And again, bodily autonomy is important.

  18. RW Ahrens says

    howardpeirce;

    I am such a person. I was never circumcised as an infant. I had several kidney infections as a child which resulted in the reduction of the length of my foreskin as a young child (four or so?) but not the removal of it.

    As a teen, I can tell you that having a foreskin (albeit somewhat reduced but it still covered the glans) was a very pleasurable part of masturbation. It keeps the glans lubricated and sensitive (believe me, if you get an erection while dressed and it slips off the glans, it is VERY painful!)

    At 17, I got another infection, and the doc advised circumcision. It was done as a major surgery, I was anesthetized and the recovery took weeks. It was over three before I could even tolerate underwear, much less wear them on a regular basis. It is a procedure I would never advise anyone to take unless at least three urologists agree is completely necessary. I could shoot that doc today, since from what I read, it is no longer indicated solely for infection control.

    Losing the foreskin was a major bummer from the standpoint of sex. It reduces the sensitivity of the glans and changes the entire dynamic of how your penis is manipulated during the sex act. I can tell you that if you are missing a foreskin, you are missing out on some serious and sensational pleasure!

    Male circumcision IS mutilation, no doubt about it, and should never be practiced unless it is absolutely required for medical purposes.

    When my daughter and her husband had their first child, they asked me if I would advise it, and I told them that if they mutilated any of their children, I would come after them both with a dull rusty butter knife. They wisely decided to leave their children intact.

  19. kraut says

    “Howardpeirce, please take it down a notch or three. A man is not his penis.”

    I guess he is his pecker.

    I am non-mutilated, and knowing how sensitive my glans is after intercourse I can not imagine not to have my foreskin.

    Also, having your glans unprotected to the vagaries of the environment makes me just shudder.
    OTOH – my Dad had fimosis when he was 80, and had to have his foreskin removed. But it was a medical necessity, and I don’t see that necessary in most cases.

  20. says

    Girls are protected from even a pin-poke which draws one ceremonial drop of blood, while boys can be hacked at (by anyone, even with no training in most jurisdictions) and of course without the boy’s permission. It’s an utter outrage and tragic disrespect for human rights.

    NOT ONE national medical association on earth (not even Israel’s) endorses routine circumcision. Protect boys too.

  21. gwen says

    After caring for an infant who nearly died after a circumcision, and seeing at least one other who had a disfigured penis because of an circumcision related infection, I am totally against circumcision, except when medically necessary. There have also been documented cases where there was a screwup and the infant’s penis had to be removed. Not worth it.

  22. Fred Rhodes says

    All the benefits from infant circumcision can also be obtained from the benefits of an education. Parents have the choice, education in hygiene,function and proper use of the male and female prepuce, or ritual, religious, and routine sacrificial surgical excision.
    Langerhan’s cells produce langerin proteins that kill HIV and other virus and are falsely blamed as causing HIV infections by fanatic proponents of prepuce excision surgery. Smegma has anti bacterial components and prepuceexcision fanatics ignore this also. Smegma smells like fish in women and like cheese in guys and should be washed off at the same time we wash our anus that smells like digested foods, and arm pits and tits and smelly breath and dirty teeth should be brushed away. Performing surgery in place of hygiene is caused from lack of education.
    Before the discovery of micro-organisms and the delirious effects from infections, it was believed that the audio and visual hallucinations caused from untreated UTI’s and STI’s were caused from a god talking in the heads of these victims. Now we know that HIV and STD’s were originally caused from bestiality and treating women like animals.
    It is also dangerous to perform prepuce excision surgery before puberty is finished because it often removes too much flesh, muscles, and nerves contained in the shaft skin and prepuce. This caused my glans to split open and my testicles to get forced up in to my groin and painful tight erections that lead me to attempt suicide in puberty, and 2 of my brothers to grow up and commit suicide, and 2 of my other brothers to grow up and develop delayed PTSD’s from the surgical sexual trauma as my parents and I were uneducated in the functions, care, and proper use of the male and female prepuce.
    Having a nice healthy working foreskin is a joy to behold and a pleasure to regard, as is a nice healthy set of teeth, and should be the goal of parents rather than unnecessary preventable surgical extractions and excisions.

  23. Zinc Avenger says

    This debate has one serious flaw when men discuss it: To have an honest discussion about circumcision requires a man to entertain the concept that his penis is not perfect. This is something I have trouble with too…

  24. Roland Day says

    There are NO good arguments for non-therapeutic infant circumcision, which is simply sexual mutilation.

    There are more than 450 absurd excuses for male circumcision, which have been collected here:

    http://www.circumstitions.com/Stitions&refs.html

    In adults, there are a very few, very rare indications for male circumcision:

    1. frostbite of the foreskin.
    2. irreparable physical trauma.
    3. gangrene of the foreskin.
    4. malignant tumour on the foreskin.
    5. In diabetic males, circumcision may help with yeast infection of the penis.

  25. Roland Day says

    There are several errors in this video.

    1. The rate of circumcision in the United States has declined to 54 percent. Non-circumcised boys are in the majority in 10 states.

    2. There are NO ROUTINE circumcisions. Circumcisions ceased to be routine when courts required doctors to obtain consent for a circumcision about 50 years ago. Infant circumcisions are ELECTIVE medically-unnecessary non-therapeutic operations. Routine and elective are mutually exclusive.

  26. Vicki says

    Routine and elective are not mutually exclusive, unless you are seriously going to argue that my regular tooth-cleanings at the dentist’s office aren’t routine.

    In a medical context, elective surgery is surgery that can be scheduled in advance, for the convenience of patient and/or doctor. Many gall bladder removals are elective. Not all: mine was emergency. (And some people choose to live on extremely low-fat diets indefinitely rather than have surgery.)

    Also, “it requires consent” isn’t an argument that there are no good reasons to do it; it’s orthogonal. My flu shots need consent.

  27. says

    I was partially circumcised as an infant, myself, and while it doesn’t bother me in the least, it seems like a waste of time, money, and needless pain for an infant to do it when there’s no pressing need.

  28. says

    It is ethically that male and female genital cutting are completely comparable. There is not female and male slavery, though the sufferings may be very different. The FGC of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore is surgical and may be quite minor (http://aandes.blogspot.com/2010/04/circumcision.html). All is evil, all should end. It is often FGC opponents themselves who derail the discussion by making trivialising comparisions to defend MGC.

    Vicki: One baby is not circumcised every six months, like your tooth-cleanings. Completely different use of “routine”. And when we say consent for unnecessary, elective surgery, the proxy consent of parents doesn’t, um, cut it.

    In fact, “routine” is used weaselly, to mean “without parental consent” in one context and “without medical indication” in another.

    howardpierce: the women you refer to have been conditioned to think foreskins are gross. (Many such women have an epiphany – in every sense – when they actualy encounter an intact man.) The women of the 2/3 of the world where men are not circumcised have no such problem.

    I looked up “staving chain” and you wouldn’t want a penis like one – unless you want to use it making barrels.

    “if I were any more sensitive, I’d be coming right now, and who wants that?”
    There is a collection of comments like this at http://www.circumstitions.com/Sexuality.html#more A foreskin does not make you “more sensitive” it confers what’s been called “a symphony of sensation”. Getting circumcised in adulthood has been compared to going colourblind. More nerves mean more feedback and hence more control, not less. Statements like yours suggest that circumcised men are on the brink of too much sensitivity of the wrong kind.

    “Yet I can certainly testify that my satisfaction is genuine satisfaction. I get an erection and climax with satisfaction when I have sex. Who can tell me I’m wrong?”

    There is a collection of those, too (http://www.circumstitions.com/Sexuality.html#still). Intact men, like (intact) women, find there is a lot more to sex than “getting an erection and climaxing with satisfaction”. There are all the pleasures of the journey. Circumcision is like ripping out the accelerator pedal and leaving an on-off switch. You can still get there (so not “wrong”), but you don’t enjoy the ride as much.

    The >20,000 specialised nerves of the foreskin are concentrated in a ridged band running around the inside of the tip (and hence always removed by even partial circumcision), beginning and ending with the frenulum. What circumcised men call “the male G-spot” is just the remnant of that. Intact men have a “G-area”.

  29. says

    I only had time to dip into Concordance’s video but quickly found some oddities. Beside the list of complications at 13:24 (lifted from http://www.circumstitions.com/Complic.html) he has one of the many US medical textbook illustrations showing a penis without a foreskin. He quotes the wishy-washy AAP statement on circumcision, but not, for example the forthright Dutch:

    “There is no convincing evidence that circumcision is useful or necessary in terms of prevention or hygiene. Partly in the light of the complications which can arise during or after circumcision, circumcision is not justifiable except on medical/therapeutic grounds. Insofar as there are medical benefits, such as a possibly reduced risk of HIV infection, it is reasonable to put off circumcision until the age at which such a risk is relevant and the boy himself can decide about the intervention, or can opt for any available alternatives.”

    What is his evidence for the claim that the risks of adult circumcision are much higher? Any mistakes on a baby are magnified when he grows up. An adult can readily report any problems, as a baby cannot (Maybe that is why they may seem higher).

    He cites the African studies claiming circumcision may improve sexual pleasure (a claim so counterintuitive it needs very powerful proof indeed) carried out by circumcision advocates on adult volunteers for circumcision in the course of studies about HIV, where they didn’t WANT to find anything to discourage circumcision. These have been examined by Danish researcher Morten Frisch:

    “a strong study design, such as a randomized controlled trial, does not offset the need for high-quality questionnaires. Having obtained the questionnaires from the authors (RH Gray and RC Bailey, personal communication), I am not surprised that these studies provided little evidence of a link between circumcision and various sexual difficulties. Several questions were too vague to capture possible differences between circumcised and not-yet circumcised participants (e.g. lack of a clear distinction between intercourse and masturbation-related sexual problems and no distinction between premature ejaculation and trouble or inability to reach orgasm). Thus, non-differential misclassification of sexual outcomes in these African trials probably favoured the null hypothesis of no difference, whether an association was truly present or not.”

    The more I see of the video, the more it seems to play up the case for circumcising. He shroud-waves about cervical cancer, for example, yet no effect of circumcision is evident in the real world. (Yes, Rod, there was follow-up: when they compared the wives of circumcised gentiles with non-circumcised gentiles, the correlation vanished. A genetic link has since been found.)

    I am suspicious of claims to seek “balanc” in discussing male genital cutting. (Nobody seeks such “balance” about FGC.) The default position should be to leave babies’ genitals alone and not to modify men’s unless there is pressing medical need. Or they want and will pay for it, of course.

  30. Salmo says

    See, this is why I avoid these conversations, because assholes like Hugh7 show up and tell me that I’m a miserable wreck who can never enjoy sex or please a woman. Fuck you, pal.

  31. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Really, Salmo? Looked to me like Hugh was presenting a bunch of evidence. Appropriate for a FreeThought blog, dontcha think? I didn’t see where he acted like an asshole, nor accused you of being a miserable wreck, nor said that you could never enjoy sex or please a woman. I do believe he said that you may enjoy sex less and be capable of pleasing women less, but that’s a rather different thing from “never”.

    If I were a sexist dood and you were all discussing an issue specific to women, I’d accuse Salmo of being stereotypically feminine by letting his emotions get in the way of rationality. But I’m not a dood, and I’m also not an asshole, so I’ll just note that it must be a very unpleasant feeling to contemplate the possibility that one’s penis has been irrevocably altered, perhaps for the worse, without your say-so, and that no doubt contributes to Salmo’s understandable overreaction.

  32. says

    SallyStrange, I see in Hugh7 a diminishing of female genital cutting, reducing it to removal of the clitoral hood, which is indeed analogous to removal of the foreskin.

    But that’s not what FGM is, generally. Female genital mutilation — a much more accurate acronym — is about removal of the clitoris. Clitoridectomy. Done primarily for the same reasons that some women have their vaginas sewn shut, to make sex unpleasurable and impossible to enjoy, thus preserving their virginity. So these women — who are effectively chattel in their societies — do not lose their value for their owners (their parents).

    I also see in Hugh7 the conflation of “routine” with “without parental consent”, and the denigration of the idea that parents might have to consent to medically indicated procedures. In a perfect world, circumcision wouldn’t be offered except where it directly addressed an actual and immediate problem. I don’t like circumcision offered out of tradition, religious or otherwise. I don’t like circumcision offered when there’s no immediate medical reason. But I will not say that routine means “without parental consent” because it’s not being done by evil cackling doctors who present the horrified parents with a mangled baby. It means parents will consent without proper information.

    And I will not, under any circumstances, call a person who has been circumcised sexually dysfunctional. It’s not like we’ve had our glans removed (like having a woman’s clitoris removed in FGM), so there’s still some sensation, even if the glans has keratinized and is therefore less sensitive. And we circumcized folks damn well know that we can’t compare between one type of sexual pleasure and the other. These experiential words about “symphony of sensation” are bluster and convey no actual meaning to people who are circumcized except to tell us that we’re inadequate.

    I thank you for all the studies and facts and such Hugh, but stop attacking the victims please. And stop conflating clitoridectomies with clitoral hood removal when you talk about foreskin removal as being equivalent to clitoridectomies. They are not equivalent at all. Continue educating the parents and providing the real information, but stay away from the misinformation around the edges.

  33. says

    Jason, you won’t find “in me” any “diminishing” of female (or any) genital cutting. I say unequivocally that it is all evil, all a human rights violation, and all must end.

    But I (and the UN) say it is not just one thing, but a range of things, and what they do in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore (and perhaps what they do in Pakistan) is much milder and more nearly comparable to male genital cutting. Numerically, that’s probably the majority. It is in sub-Saharan Africa that they remove the clitoris (and in sub-Saharan Africa that untold young men die of tribal circumcision).

    I avoid the word “mutilation” because it is ill-defined (as do those working in Africa with those who practise it, because it creates a backlash).

    You will find a list of reasons for FGC – sourced from those who do it – at http://www.circumstitions.com/FGC-stitions.html and they are just as varied and irrational as the reasons for MGC.

    It is not me who is confused about the meaning of “routine” – another word I avoid. In fact it is I who pointed out this ambiguity and weaseling. Of course I don’t denigrate “the idea that parents might have to consent to medically indicated procedures”! What a perfectly ridiculous suggestion! What I object to is the passing off of genitally cutting healthy babies as if it were such a procedure. This “important decision” is pushed on parents when there is no need for any decision at all. In most of the developed world it is not offered and not asked for. You might say the developed world outside the USA is “perfect” in this regard (except that parents can still get it done for the asking – and the paying – if they shop around).

    “it’s not being done by evil cackling doctors who present the horrified parents with a mangled baby.” No? See
    http://www.circumstitions.com/coerce.html#contrary
    This 1941 article indicates that it used to be done at the doctor’s whim: http://www.circumstitions.com/1941.html (And that has a lot to do with it now being customary.)

    “And I will not, under any circumstances, call a person who has been circumcised sexually dysfunctional.” Neither will I. (In particular I didn’t of Salmo, whom I’d never heard of till his complaint.) But many make that complaint themselves and I won’t contradict them.

    “These experiential words about “symphony of sensation” are bluster and convey no actual meaning to people who are circumcized except to tell us that we’re inadequate.”

    The expression “symphony of sensation” refers specifically to the sensations conferred by the foreskin itself. Far from bluster, we’re trying to tell you that the foreskin itself, both by its touch and its rolling action, creates sensations that are subtle and exquisite, enabling intact men to, as Marilyn Milos puts it, “ride the wave to orgasm”. (http://consciouswoman.org/tag/marilyn-milos/) We have to use anoalogies because to explain what having a foreskin is like, is like trying to explain 3D vision to someone who is blind in one eye.

    “Errol Morris, the filmmaker, was born with strabismus and subsequently lost almost all the vision in one eye, but feels he gets along perfectly well. “I see things in 3-D,” he said. “I move my head when I need to – parallax is enough. I don’t see the world as a plane.” He joked that he considered stereopsis [3D vision] no more than a “gimmick” and found my interest in it “bizarre.”

    I tried to argue with him, to expatiate on the special character and beauty of stereopsis. But one cannot con­vey to the stereo-blind what stereopsis is like; the sub­jective quality, the quale, of stereopsis is unique and no less remarkable than that of color. However brilliantly a person with monocular vision may function, he or she is, in this one sense, totally lacking.” – Oliver Sacks, The Mind’s Eye

    Circumcised men’s perception of any attack on circumcising babies and its outcome as an attack on them is part of the problem. What are you asking of us? To say that intact is better but being circumcised is not worse?

    “And stop conflating clitoridectomies with clitoral hood removal when you talk about foreskin removal as being equivalent to clitoridectomies.” How could I do that when I never mentioned clitoridectomies?

  34. Dianne says

    Of course there are good arguments for male circumcision: infection, tumor, HIV prevention if you’re in a situation where you don’t have anything better and no hope of getting better protection anytime soon. But routine circumcision on infants in first world countries with low HIV rates and plenty of condoms? I don’t see the argument.

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