I am absolutely against circumcision of males, except where medically necessary or where it has a net-positive effect in curtailing sexually transmitted diseases in high-risk populations. But when I see some “intactivists” — activists protesting circumcision of males — making the case in such a hyperbolic and emotive manner, I can’t help but shake my head.
In a “colorful protest” by Brother K and his “bloodstained men”, men in white jumpsuits protest with large red spots on their crotches.
“The destruction to the male genitals is absolute,” says Brother K. “Total. You’re left with a fraction of what God and nature intended. It’s appalling.”
One could argue that since you do still have a penis afterward, the destruction is anything but “absolute” or “total”. In volume, percentage-wise, I would be surprised if the largest most voluminous foreskin on the smallest of micropenises would amount to 10%. There’s no way that’s anything like “total”.
With respect to God’s “intent”, an argument could be made that if you believe in God, you should believe in all the ancillary parts of the foundational text that serves as proof of that God — many of which suggest that God really despises foreskins and removing foreskins directly pleases him. But let’s assume for the moment that this guy isn’t trying to appeal to the naturalistic fallacy by invoking God’s name, and look at the rest of the argument.
“This is meant to shock the conscience of Americans,” says Brother K, referring to his attire and accompanying signs like, “CIRCUMCISION HORROR BLOODSTAINED MEN.” He pauses frequently to pose for passing cars. “They don’t understand that a man is carrying around a bloody wound for the rest of his life. It doesn’t repair. It doesn’t self heal. It’s as devastating as if they’ve done the same thing to a woman and removed her entire clitoral hood.”
I am circumcised, to my chagrin. But it is not a bloody wound. It has never been a seeping, unhealing blood-dripping part of my body. As long as I can remember, from my very earliest days, my penis has never bled. Not once.
People who are circumcised almost certainly do lose some sensitivity, where the glans is no longer protected by the prepuce and has a tendency of drying out. They also lose some not insignificant fraction of the surface area of the skin of their penis, and therefore have had some amount of nerves removed.
But to say that they are carrying an unhealing bloody wound is pure hyperbole, wrong on its surface, and will undercut these intactivists’ efforts. You could say it’s a PSYCHOLOGICAL wound, because I’m sure for some people it certainly is. But such hyperbole is unnecessary when the actual act is barbaric.
Additionally, trying to compare the act of circumcising a penis — done most often for atavistic religious reasons, rather than legitimate medical ones — with female “circumcision” requires great care with your language. Religious “circumcision” of women involves removing the clitoris, generally. It can involve the removal of the hood, but the clitoris is usually the target of this practice. The equivalent would be removing the glans entirely. That would almost certainly remove significantly more sensitivity ultimately.
I really do like the idea of protesting circumcision, because it is a backward and barbaric practice that has gone on too long unchecked. I am on board generally with changing the culture that suggests that circumcision is a normal and “standard” thing, when it’s really a ritual to appease a non-existent sky-god whose lust for blood is slaked, in the Bible, by removing the foreskin. I just wish the people acting as standard-bearers could do so without using emotive arguments that are unevidenced and hyperbolic.