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Oct 19 2011

Ritualized child abuse: circumcision

Want to spend an hour cringing and twitching? This is the abridged version of “Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision“, and you will suffer if you watch it. It is a wasteful, terrible thing to do to a child.

One rabbi interviewed is at least honest about circumcision: “It’s painful, it’s abusive, it’s traumatic, and if anybody does it who isn’t in a covenant ought to be put in prison…I do abusive things because I’m in covenant with god.” What nonsense. What a wretched excuse for abusing children.

(Warning: lots of shots of babies getting chopped, as well as closeups of adult penises.)

The arguments for circumcision are pathetic and awful.

  • “You either believe [in the covenant of circumcision] or else nothing is true”. I’ve heard that before: it’s the argument creationists use to defend the absolute literal truth of the book of Genesis, because if that’s not true, the story of Jesus falls apart, and therefore the whole of Christianity is false. Yeah, so? Then it’s false.

  • “The mystery of circumcision is profound”. Ignorance should not inspire the kind of awe that motivates one to mutilate another person’s body.

  • The health benefits. Total bullshit. As one of the speakers in the movie explains, there have been progressive excuses: from it prevents masturbation to it prevents cancer to it prevents AIDS. The benefits all vanish with further studies and are all promoted by pro-circumcision organizations. It doesn’t even make sense: let’s not pretend people have been hacking at penises for millennia because there was a clinical study. Hey, let’s chop off our pinkie toes and then go looking for medical correlations!

  • It’s tradition. Grandpa and great-grandpa and great-great-grandpa did it, so I’ll perpetuate the cycle of abuse to my children. I have to reject that: it reduces a decision to do irreparable damage to a child to repetitive, superstitious, mindless behavior.

There is no reason, other than certain rare and specific medical conditions, for maiming anyone’s genitalia. Don’t do it to your children.

(Also on Sb)

367 comments

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  1. 1
    Glen Davidson

    At least he’s honest that being “in a covenant with God” causes him to be abusive.

    But, um, how does it actually excuse anything, though?

    Glen Davidson

  2. 2
    Marianne

    Thank you for posting this, PZ.

    I and some others have been trying to kickstart better campaigns against circumcision.

    It’s good to see more people taking notice – the rates are declining rapidly in the US but unfortunately some pressures are leading to NHS trusts here offering the surgery, often on a semi-private paid basis, but still – with ‘religious right’ as an accepted excuse.

    Education about this practice, and male genital anatomy in general, needs to improve drastically. This will benefit so many people, not least the defenseless infants who are subjected to this.

  3. 3
    Mikey

    My wife is from Germany, where circumcision is generally not practiced, so I didn’t get any argument when I said we’d be leaving our son intact. But I was pleasantly surprised by how many other American parents with sons born around the same time as ours also did not circumcise them. As a practice it is getting less and less common in the United States, and this will continue as our uncircumcised sons have sons of their own and the whole “grandpa did it, dad did it, etc.” excuse goes out the window.

  4. 4
    Travis

    Can someone tell me what the theory is about circumcision somehow stopping masturbation? I had a foreskin and I masturbated. I had it removed for a medical reason and it has not stopped me one bit, except for those weeks of healing. Is it just supposedly supposed to make it feel less stimulating and therefore you do not do it?

  5. 5
    Ben

    The studies I’ve seen that show a benefit in a decreased risk of AIDS transmission show such a small effect size that you’d really have to have unprotected sex thousands of times with HIV-positive people to even have a chance of realizing this “benefit.” It’s ridiculous.

  6. 6
    you_monster

    But how else am I supposed to brand my children that I have indoctrinated into my myth? Give them a funny hat? magic underwear? Those marks aren’t permanent enough to display my ownership of my child.

  7. 7
    Peptron

    I like to keep my moral standards simple.

    One of them is BABY + GENITALS + SHARP OBJECT = BAD IDEA.
    Though it could be shortened to BABY + SHARP OBJECT = BAD IDEA.

    However, I’m still trying to work out BABY + ? + CEPHALOPODS = PROFIT

  8. 8
    Tulse

    The benefits all vanish with further studies and are all promoted by pro-circumcision organizations.

    Like the World Health Organization?

    I am very sympathetic to the view that infant circumcision is problematic at best. But at the same time I think it is bordering on conspiracy theory to argue that the peer-reviewed studies of the protective effects from AIDs for circumcised adults just comes from the cabal of “Big Circum”. One can argue whether there aren’t other prophylactic strategies that would be more appropriate, but I think the empirical work is sound.

  9. 9
    TX_secular

    My three year old grandson is uncircumcised and at the time my daughter and her husband were discussing this decision I remember being worried that he might be teased in locker rooms at school. His parents did a great deal of research on leaving boys uncircumcised and they made the right choice to leave him intact.

  10. 10
    mb

    As a non-jewish, circumcised male, I cannot imagine a sillier issue to get exercised over than male circumcision. I can’t identify any deficit I’ve suffered as a result of being circumcised at birth. I certainly have no PTSD from the procedure.

    As a young man, I spent about 15 years working in nursing homes and hospitals providing personal care to literally hundreds of old men, some circumcised but most not. Uncircumcised men have hygiene issues that, if they are unable to care for themselves, often don’t get addressed adequately and can lead to very unpleasant situations. And I had one 80+ year old patient who had to be partially circumcised due to strictures in his foreskin that made it impossible to expose the head of his penis for cleaning.

    This is a dumb issue. The entire post should be in comic sans.

  11. 11
    Bellerophon

    Agree with Travis. How is it supposed to stop masturbation? And why would you want to?

  12. 12
    crowssong

    Can someone tell me what the theory is about circumcision somehow stopping masturbation? I had a foreskin and I masturbated. I had it removed for a medical reason and it has not stopped me one bit, except for those weeks of healing. Is it just supposedly supposed to make it feel less stimulating and therefore you do not do it?

    I believe that was the rationale, but keep in mind it was thought up by the geniuses that thought that graham crackers and corn flakes would have the same effect.

  13. 13
    Ben

    @mb Brilliant reasoning there. Let me try and sum up your points:

    1. It’s fine because nothing ever happened to you.

    2. You should mutilate your children’s genitalia as infants because when they’re 80+ years old, they may have hygiene issues.

  14. 14
    Carlie

    Hellooooooo…. MRAs who always gripe that we don’t talk about circumcision and try to derail the FGM threads to talk about circumcision instead, and who always manage to do it within the first five comments? Here’s your big chance! Talk away! Let’s discuss the problems and the solutions and the personal anecdotes and everything! Right here!

    Where are you guys?

  15. 15
    Travis

    crowssong,
    Hmm, I guess that is true. Part of that school of thought that says “I came up with this idea therefore it must be true” and does not require any empirical evidence.

  16. 16
    Alverant

    It’s painful, it’s abusive, it’s traumatic, and if anybody does it who isn’t in a covenant ought to be put in prison…I do abusive things because I’m in covenant with god.

    This is why I don’t worship any god. Once you accept the premise that your god can, by definition, do no evil then anything done through a pack with such a god cannot be evil either. That leads to “It’s only OK if I do it.” attitude which is a poor substitution for morality.

  17. 17
    Deen

    @Tulse:

    But at the same time I think it is bordering on conspiracy theory to argue that the peer-reviewed studies of the protective effects from AIDs for circumcised adults just comes from the cabal of “Big Circum”.

    And yet there is almost no western country other than the US where such studies are used to promote circumcision at birth as a common practice.

  18. 18
    you_monster

    Hellooooooo…. MRAs who always gripe that we don’t talk about circumcision and try to derail the FGM threads to talk about circumcision instead, and who always manage to do it within the first five comments? Here’s your big chance! Talk away! Let’s discuss the problems and the solutions and the personal anecdotes and everything! Right here!

    Where are you guys?

    They are resting from last night’s feces flinging on the Your Name is Tucker thread. And everyone knows they care more about using MGM to silence women than actual MGM itself.

  19. 19
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    I think the arguments involving the protection against STDs are ridiculous when they relate to routine infant circumcision (which is what we’re really talking about). If a man decides he wants to have unprotected sex with people who might be infected(i.e. he’s an idiot), he can then make the informed decision to have an operation which might marginally reduce the risks of infection. There’s no evidence that circumcision affects the (already small) risks of infection if he wears a condom. In either case, there’s no reason not to delay the decision until the owner of the penis is old enough to make it himself. Furthermore, if infections are becoming a problem (at any age), the man can decide to have the operation for himself. There are medical reasons for circumcising a child, but they are excessively rare. In the absence of these reasons, I don’t see how the benefit of not remembering the operation outweighs the harm of having an irreversible choice forced upon an unsuspecting child.

  20. 20
    Anat

    To Glen Davidson (#1):

    We are talking about the religion of Abraham, the guy who is praised for being willing to sacrifice his own son to his deity. Classical, Orthodox Judaism is about obedience to what is believed to be god’s law above all. Every moral consideration must be put aside to such obedience. The only way out is for the majority of the rabbis of the generation to interpret the law in a way that does away the morally questionable behavior, as was done, for example with the law regarding the rebellious son. But the reinterpretation can only be done from within the law – there has to be textual justification within Torah for it to happen. (The law about stoning a rebellious son to death stands, it’s just that the definition of whom it applies to and what he needs to do to be judged ‘rebellious’ was narrowed to make a judgement extremely unlikely.)

  21. 21
    Glodson

    This is one reason why I was grateful my first(and only) child was a girl. I didn’t have to personally fight this fight with my family over this issue.

    I mean, if I have a son and he really wants to do this has he gets older, that’s his call. Until then, I don’t see the need at all.

  22. 22
    Rob

    I had my son circumcised 13 years ago and I’ve regretted it since. I was young and uninformed, and we decided to do it only because we were under the impression that it was normal. All the men in my family have been circumcised for at least 4 generations, and likely more.

    The best I can do now is educate my son, and stop the cycle when/if my grandson is conceived.

  23. 23
    Matt Penfold

    As a non-jewish, circumcised male, I cannot imagine a sillier issue to get exercised over than male circumcision.

    Why should we be interested in the failure of your imagination ? Please, we are not interested in your failings. They seem rather boring.

  24. 24
    Deen

    @mb: nobody is advocating that an adult can’t get a circumcision when they want one (or need one). None of the examples you give requires circumcision to happen at birth.

  25. 25
    you_monster

    Matt, that was exactly the response I was going to give this comment from his post,

    I can’t identify any deficit I’ve suffered as a result of being circumcised at birth.

  26. 26
    Matt Penfold

    @mb: nobody is advocating that an adult can’t get a circumcision when they want one (or need one). None of the examples you give requires circumcision to happen at birth.

    Yes. Preventative medicine is an excellent thing, but not when it is applied to possible complications that may not happen in some 80 years time.

  27. 27
    Crommunist

    The one justification for circumcision that always baffled me was fears that little Johnny’s pee-pee “won’t look like daddy’s”. Maybe I’m weird, but I didn’t grow up comparing parts of my anatomy to my father’s. It was in fact an exception, not a general practice, that my father was naked in my presence (and a most unwelcome exception, at that). Who are these cock-comparing dads? Shouldn’t the utterance of such a statement be grounds to investigate for some kind of child abuse?

  28. 28
    Carlie

    Rob – we did the same, also regret it, and agree that the best thing to do now is to try and stop the cycle from continuing (and apologize for our own actions to our children).

  29. 29
    qwertyuiop

    Any imaginable body part may get diseased in some way in the future. Better chop them all off just to make sure.

  30. 30
    Lagerbaer

    RE Masturbation: If you have a foreskin, you don’t (necessarily) need lube.

    RE “I had it and I’m fine”. So? People are also mostly fine after getting a lip piercing. Should we therefore allow parents to have their newborn baby’s lips pierced? It’s elective surgery for non-medical reasons and as such should require the consent of whoever is subject to it.

    Here’s the thing: Someone else made a choice that irreversibly changed a part of your body. You happen to agree with that choice, and therefore you tell those who don’t agree with that choice they are making an issue out of nothing? Let’s apply that logic to arranged marriage. I’m sure some couples from arranged marriages are happy with the spouses their parents selected for them. Should we therefore not ban forced marriages?

  31. 31
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    but I think the empirical work is sound.

    Unless there’s been some new work lately, it really isn’t.

    The studies I know of were cut short, financed and done by groups who might have a stake in the outcome (pro-circ, anti-contraception) and the women partners had an increased rate of infection.

    And besides, even if there was an effect that would in no way translate into a good reason for doing the procedure on neonatal or small boys.

    While I find it very hard to advocate for an outright ban (and find the ban on some type IVs for women very hard to support in the light of no ban on the male equivalent), the procedure is barbaric. The only reason I have against a ban is the issues with condemning the customs of a minority*.

    *This is from my euro-centric POV of course.

  32. 32
    Deen

    “It’s painful, it’s abusive, it’s traumatic, and if anybody does it who isn’t in a covenant ought to be put in prison…I do abusive things because I’m in covenant with god.”

    Also note that this Rabbi is explicitly advocating for special laws for religious people, or even for priests. Isn’t that just a wonderful concept?

  33. 33
    Torugu

    But PZ, scientific studies have found a 50% decrease in broken pinkie toes amongst males aged 30 to 45 who had their left pinkie toe chopped of!

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Travis

    When I hear arguments for routine circumcision of children dealing with supposed benefits protecting against STDs and the occasional medical problem later in life I really start to wonder why people so desperately need to hold onto this tradition. Why bother making these weak arguments? What is so important about this to so many people?

  36. 36
    Travis

    Lagerbaer,
    You need lube to masturbate without a foreskin? Maybe people do it in a different manner than I do but I can function quite fine with or without.

  37. 37
    Heather Dalgleish

    Thanks for posting this PZ. Nice to see an unequivocal post composed by you against this particular form of genital mutilation, for once unsullied by all the politics surrounding feminist topics on Pharyngula being hi-jacked by monomaniacal activists against circumcision.

    As a twenty-something from the UK, I had the privilege of growing up completely and utterly culturally removed from this practice – which means that I see it how it looks viewed in full light from the outside looking in – which is simply bizarre, and barbaric. The same way that even the least heinous kinds of slitting or pricking of female genitals would seem to an American.

    (Male circumcision was once sort-of popular in the UK, particularly amongst the upper crusts (plenty of the male Royals are circumcised) – but it nose-dived around 1950 and never recovered – because, generally, males left intact stay intact and don’t even think of fiddling with their son’s bits when the time comes. The cycle is broken. Indeed the cultural shift was so quick that most young people today have no fucking idea that it ever was in vogue here, or that some of their male relatives were circumcised as a matter of course.)

    As to being abusive on the merits that you’re in a covenant with your invisible friend? Well, your invisible friend is a bastard, and you are in an abusive relationship if those are the terms of your friendship. Same as when that same friend asked you to stone adulterers, unruly kids, and people working on the Sabbath – which you see fit to ignore. And I’m of the view that cutting is worse than fondling when it comes to kids’ genitals – and so by default more reprehensible, and more demanding of a real rationale beyond your invisible friend telling you so, or even a real friend telling you so.

    And as Penn Jillette said: “Cut off part of your dick and become god’s friend? I’d hate to see how he treats his enemies… Oh yeah…”

  38. 38
    qwertyuiop

    I can’t identify any deficit I’ve suffered as a result of being circumcised at birth.

    Maybe that’s because you’ve never personally experienced the alternative.

    That choice/opportunity was taken from you.

  39. 39
    Christian

    When I hear arguments for routine circumcision of children dealing with supposed benefits protecting against STDs and the occasional medical problem later in life I really start to wonder why people so desperately need to hold onto this tradition. Why bother making these weak arguments? What is so important about this to so many people?

    It would also be interesting to find out how many of those who use this arguments are opposed to HPV vaccination for girls.

  40. 40
    Carlie

    So? People are also mostly fine after getting a lip piercing. Should we therefore allow parents to have their newborn baby’s lips pierced?

    Sadly, infant ear piercing is very common. In fact, that’s what the doctor who did the circ. compared it to when I expressed a bit of nascent reservation about the procedure. (this was, needless to say, before I had formed any ideas regarding bodily autonomy and consent through life)

  41. 41
    Deen

    @pb: is this link meant as a pro- or anti-circumcision argument? I remember that post as one of the worst SBM posts ever, especially by the rather biased way the author tried to defend her views in the comments. She left SBM shortly after.

  42. 42
    macallan

    repetitive, superstitious, mindless behavior.

    In other words, religion.

  43. 43
    Heather Dalgleish

    Can someone tell me what the theory is about circumcision somehow stopping masturbation? I had a foreskin and I masturbated. I had it removed for a medical reason and it has not stopped me one bit

    Well, what was the ‘medical reason’, and how tight was the circumcision?

    Because as a female growing up in an area where virtually all non-Muslim males are intact, I can tell you that I noticed the difference when it came to using my hands the first time I encountered a circumcised male. It’s… it’s static, it’s dry – my entire (naive) technique was pretty much built around the movement of the foreskin… what was I to do with this thing here?

    To this day, I can’t give a circumcised male a ‘dry’ wank. It feels odd. I’m scared of hurting them. The idea that penises could get friction burns from masturbation would have sounded outlandish to me before I met these dry, static specimens.

  44. 44
    freemage

    Travis: It has to do with the implicit horror of the situation. If circumcision is abuse, then the doctors who perform it are abusers. Given how prevalent it’s been in the USA for so long, that means a huge swathe of doctors are being confronted with the notion that they’ve been abusing their patients. Cognitive dissonance sets in HARD in cases like that.

    Similarly, if you’re generally happy with how your parents raised you, then having to get your mind around the fact that they authorized this procedure that should be regarded as abusive is also pretty damned difficult. Again, cognitive dissonance.

    As for the STI issue, it’s really a non-starter in the US. It MIGHT argue for infant circumcision in the Third World, since the Catholic and evangelical churches have been so successful (and evil) in suppressing condom use there. But in modern, Western nations, there’s just no reason for it at all.

    There is one other point. I’m sure everyone’s familiar with the aphorism that “a stopped clock is right twice a day”. On male neo-natal circumcision, you wind up with not one, but TWO “stopped clocks”. In addition to the MRAs, you also have your classical anti-Semites (who regard infant circumcision as a Jewish plot–seriously).

    Even being aligned with one of those vile groups momentarily is unsettling. Finding yourself even tangentially associated with both of them at once? It’s enough to make me want to shower with bleach and steel wool.

  45. 45
    Sili

    Area you gonna piss off the homeschoolers next for the full trifecta?

  46. 46
    Gregory in Seattle

    Male circumcision is anatomically identical to the removal of the clitoral hood in women… a practice that is almost universally denounced as one abhorrent example of female genital mutilation.

  47. 47
    Brian

    Penn and Teller’s Bullshit! season 3 episode 1 covered this topic back in 2005. If anyone wants to see more painful images, misinformed people, and god-related excuses… the episode is view-able on youtube (with some censorship here and here — still nsfw) or other places.

    They mention near the end that it is naturally (without surgery) reversible.

  48. 48
    NJK

    Hi PZ,

    I didn’t get a chance to watch this 62 min. clip but I wanted to mention something:

    I am a 2nd year medical student in Philadelphia and, during a recent microbiology lecture on HIV epidemiology, I was informed by an MD infectious disease professor that retaining the penile foreskin increases a man’s risk of acquiring HIV from an HIV-positive women by 30%. He elaborated that circumcision does NOTHING to decrease transmission rates of HIV to women, nor does it protect against transmission in MSM community either, but that the benefits are strictly for heterosexual contact with HIV-positive women.

    Unfortunately the exact source was never cited, and I’ve been meaning to email him and ask specifically where this information was obtained, so I can’t say if it truly holds water. I certainly do not condone the act of circumcision — having seen plenty of circumcision procedures while shadowing in OB and pediatrics, where the poor kids are just wailing and writhing in pain, it is unequivocally an act of genital mutilation — so in posting this I don’t mean to provide support for it. I just wanted to share an interesting piece of information (which might be blatantly wrong) that’s costing me 50K a year to learn. :P

  49. 49
    Travis

    Heather Dalgleish,

    Well, what was the ‘medical reason’, and how tight was the circumcision?

    Phimosis is the reason, had it from birth and much like a military haircut, it is high and tight. I tried the cortisone cream, stretching, exercises to improve it but in the end these did not work. So snip, snip. I am happier now because before this I was pretty unhappy with it. There is nothing like someone giving it the old college try during a hand job or a blow job only to find it does not go back. Sort of ruins the moment.

  50. 50
    Jenn K

    Male circumcision is a human rights issue. The ritual practice should be banned and advocated against with as much fervor in this country as female genital mutilation.

  51. 51
    Gregory in Seattle

    The issue with circumcision as an AIDS prevention is simple: The glans and the inside of the foreskin is some of the thinnest, most delicate skin that is exposed to the environment. During intercourse, this skin tends to abrade. These abrasions permit entry into tissue and blood for any number of pathogens, including HIV. By eliminating the foreskin, you eliminate much of this delicate, easy to abrade skin; the glans, now more exposed, “toughens up” and becomes almost as durable as other skin, minimizing abrasions and thereby minimizing the risk of contracting a pathogen during sex.

    BUT… the regular use of a condom will do much more to avoid abrasions of an uncircumcized penis, while adding the benefit of an effective barrier as well. In most countries, condoms are inexpensive and easy to obtain. Therefore, the “circumcision reduces the risk of AIDS” is true and, for most people, entirely irrelevant.

  52. 52
    Brian

    Wow, the freethoughtblogs mobile site is total dog shit. The regular site isn’t that bad. Can’t you guys get a designer? The whole experience is bad (minus the good content).

  53. 53
    Heather Dalgleish

    Male circumcision is anatomically identical to the removal of the clitoral hood in women… a practice that is almost universally denounced as one abhorrent example of female genital mutilation.

    It’s not identical – it’s not even all that analogous, even though the anatomy as you know comes from the same source in utero. They diverge from the same blueprint, but diverge they do. The female prepuce just isn’t anatomically equivalent to the male prepuce, in the same way that testes aren’t equivalent to ovaries, and scrotums aren’t equivalent to labia.

    The anatomical differences between foreskins and clitoral hoods are quite obvious – and also then the differences between cutting either off. I’d venture that male circumcision is more serious than cutting the clitoral hood off.

  54. 54
    Michael Zeora

    @Peptron:#7 -

    However, I’m still trying to work out BABY + ? + CEPHALOPODS = PROFIT

    Have you tried “Cute Hat (maybe in the shape of)” ?

    On the subject at hand…

    I was a neonatal curcumcision; I’ve been told it was my Father’s idea. Personally I haven’t had any issues with it. HELL, I didn’t even know I was suppose to have a foreskin until I was teenage! I felt a little betrayed since that was a choice taken away from me, but I generally don’t have any complaints past that one.

    I doubt I would inflict such an event on my children – they’d have to take that leap if they wished for themselves.

  55. 55
    Gregory in Seattle

    @NJK #48 – I am a community advisory board member with the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit in Seattle. I cannot provide a source for your 30% statistic, but it is one that I have heard frequently. In fact, evidence is strong enough that several of the newer HIV vaccine studies are recruiting only circumcised men in order to control this as a testing variable.

    It is also correct that circumcision provides protection only in F to M vaginal transmission of HIV. And as I said above in #51, regular use of a condom is far more effective and provides a large number of other benefits. In other circumstances, the difference in contracting HIV between circumcised and uncircumsized is negligible.

  56. 56
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Heather Dalgleish #53

    The anatomical differences between foreskins and clitoral hoods are quite obvious – and also then the differences between cutting either off. I’d venture that male circumcision is more serious than cutting the clitoral hood off.

    As a gay man, I don’t have much experience with the clitoral hood. :-b You are right, I should have said “anatomically equivalent.”

    Which does not take away from my point: Removal of the clitoral hood in women is denounced as barbaric and unnecessary. It seems very hypocritical to treat removal of the foreskin in men as civilized and necessary.

  57. 57
    Ewan R

    I was very tempted, when we were asked if we wanted to have our son circumcised (a decision which was marginally harder to consider than whether to eat cereal or arsenic for breakfast), to instruct them to also please not remove finger nails, toe nails, ear lobes, not to pierce any part of his body etc etc – y’know, just to cover my bases, seems such a fucking stupid question to be required by hospital policy to ask (perhaps by law, I dunno) – although I equally don’t understand why they proudly display the placenta to the new parents either… maybe that’s a whole here’s something utterly hideous to take the edge off of the greatest moment in your life.

    I’m not wholly opposed to small children and sharp objects coming in close proximity – 3 days later we consented with equal consideration to having his tongue released from its state of tongue tied-ness – but that one was suggested by the doctor for the good of the child, wasn’t done for shit and giggles.

    And just to stoop to the gutter…

    The idea that penises could get friction burns from masturbation would have sounded outlandish to me before I met these dry, static specimens.

    Given my sample size of 1 I predict that a number of over enthusiastic uncut males have suffered friction burns, particularly during the teenage years, it is, I guess, why many eventually resort to hand creams and the like… once bitten twice shy could be an advertising slogan for Aveeno.

  58. 58
    opposablethumbs

    Heather Dalgleish said

    I had the privilege of growing up completely and utterly culturally removed from this practice – which means that I see it how it looks viewed in full light from the outside looking in – which is simply bizarre, and barbaric.

    +1

    Of all the penises whose owners I have known and liked, not one was circumcised. I think I would be worried about hurting an uncircumcised bloke initially, if doing anything “dry”. And besides, nerve-endings! More elements to play with!

    I was incredulous when I first realised that – quite apart from the religious bullshit – there were so many people who agreed to have their sons’ genitals cut for no medical reason. I still can’t get my head round it.

    I also think it’s barbarous – though less harmful – to have babies pierced anywhere. If a person decides, uncoerced, to have piercings or other modifications when they’re an adult, that’s their decision. How anyone can even consider having a child’s body modified for no medical reason just beggars belief.

  59. 59
    Gregory Greenwood

    But what about teh me… Oh, wait…

    ;-)

    Carlie @ 14;

    Hellooooooo…. MRAs who always gripe that we don’t talk about circumcision and try to derail the FGM threads to talk about circumcision instead, and who always manage to do it within the first five comments? Here’s your big chance! Talk away! Let’s discuss the problems and the solutions and the personal anecdotes and everything! Right here!

    You can’t expect the poor little MRA dears to actually comment on a thread like this. Their thinking (if one dares use such a grandiose term when discussing the mental diarrohea of MRAs) hasn’t actually gone beyond ZOMG-feminazis-don’t-want-to-talk-about-male-circumcision-because-they-are-all-man-hating-castration-fantasists. If they arrived at this thread they would actually have to discuss male circumcision in a context other that an attempt to silence those who oppose FGM, and delegitimise the experiences of women. They would actually have to come up with something approaching a logical argument. Just think what the strain would do to the poor special snowflakes. How could anyone be so cruel as to ask the delicate MRAs to be consistent? Its monstrous, monstrous I say*!

    * And naturally far worse than anything that has happened to any woman, anywhere, ever. What’s a little rape/domestic violence/mutilation/stoning/murder when set against an MRA’s precious feelings, afterall?

    /snark.

  60. 60
    Anthony K

    By eliminating the foreskin, you eliminate much of this delicate, easy to abrade skin; the glans, now more exposed, “toughens up” and becomes almost as durable as other skin, minimizing abrasions and thereby minimizing the risk of contracting a pathogen during sex.

    Ah. The origin of the esoteric martial art training method known as Iron Glans, no doubt.

  61. 61
    Anthony K

    How anyone can even consider having a child’s body modified for no medical reason just beggars belief.

    Um, totally.

    [Calls Lumber Town, cancels order.]

  62. 62
    Kevin Alexander

    The gods are sitting around heaven playing cards and shooting the breeze when the conversation turns to which one has the stupidest believers.

    Quetzalcoatl puts in a claim.
    “My guys cut out peoples hearts to make the sun come up”
    The others shake their heads laughing.

    “That’s nothing” says Odin, spotting Yahweh leaning against the bar with a glass of Jack. He calls Him over.
    “Tell us what your guys do.”

    “I can’t” says Yahweh, looking embarrassed.

    Odin fills it in. “When they have a baby,…” He starts to laugh, gets control and goes on. “When they have a baby, they cut the end of his dick off.”

    There’s silence at the table for a second then

    “….Fuck Off…”

    “No, really”

    “Yahweh, what the fu…?”

    “I was in a mood, it was supposed to be a kind of a test, asking them that. I never dreamed they’d actually do it”

  63. 63
    Spamamander, the Good Kind of Spam

    @ Rob 22

    My son is 12, and I regret it at well. At the time my thinking was to leave it to my (now-ex) husband on the theory that he had a penis and I don’t, he would have a better grasp on the subject. (OK, that sounded wrong.) Fortunately my son seemed pretty unfazed by it, they brought him back to me a very short time later sound asleep, and he never even cried the first couple of times he urinated afterwards, which I had been warned could happen.

    Still, though, looking back I am a bit horrified that I allowed societal norms dictate me doing that to my infant. Maybe he wasn’t terribly hurt, maybe he won’t care as he grows up, but I still took that away from him for no good reason. He had to have pyloric stenosis surgery at 6 weeks, a necessary thing. Why did I allow him to be cut up for a cosmetic thing??

    Hopefully as more people choose not to here in the US it won’t be done just so boys “look like the others”. Honestly, I’ve never seen an uncircumcised penis “in the wild” as it were, and many people my age probably haven’t either.

  64. 64
    Heather Dalgleish

    Phimosis is the reason, had it from birth and much like a military haircut, it is high and tight. I tried the cortisone cream, stretching, exercises to improve it but in the end these did not work. So snip, snip. I am happier now because before this I was pretty unhappy with it. There is nothing like someone giving it the old college try during a hand job or a blow job only to find it does not go back. Sort of ruins the moment.

    Well, I obviously don’t have a specimen of your cock pre-cut to hand, so to speak, so I can’t look at it or what you’d been doing or failing to do with it, and offer any real alternative insight or opinion now. What I would say though is that it’s silly to say you had phimosis ‘since birth’, since that is the natural state of the foreskin at that time – and also that, well, you obviously never got the full use of your foreskin while it was there.

    I’d also say that you might have had frenulum breve – a short ‘banjo string’, and maybe that was what was causing the problem – and which could have been remedied with surgery just to that area. Or you could have tried preputioplasty – which is when they make one cut lengthwise down the foreskin, pull the foreskin back, and leave it to loosen while pulled back (difficult to visualise – you can Google it). At any rate, a partial circumcision would have cut it (pardon the pun).

    It’s all academic now, of course – but I’d just add as a further comment that I have handled many penises, and come across many guys with foreskins that are resistant to go all the way back, as well as a number of circumcised guys by now. For me it’s gone well past the mood-killer into the realm of the sorta banal. I don’t even bother bringing my medical/anatomical knowledge with them anymore – I just get on with it, and try to avoid hurting them physically.

    And when it’s come to the sexual pleasure they can each experience (whatever the state of their willy) – for me it’s become less of a dwelling on the fact that X must necessarily impede sexual pleasure, and more of a recognition that you’d really have to maul the genitals to make someone feel neutral about sexual stimulation. Even clitoridectomised women (particularly Ayaan Hirsi Ali) claim they experience sexual pleasure and gratification – and I believe them. I’m also pretty certain they’re missing out on something, though.

  65. 65
    opposablethumbs

    @Brownian #61, I clicked on the link. Agh, still shuddering. My dog but people do/have done some fucked-up shit to babies for the sake of tradition. And now after the laugh I got from Kevin Alexander #62, I think I have whiplash.

  66. 66
    B.

    I am a circumcisized Turkish atheist. I had my son having the same operation while I was well aware of the discussions. I decided for it just because doing so would enable him to be with any girl he wants to be with. No girl would make an issue out of being circumcised while millions of them make issue in my culture. Also there is locker room teasings which are usually unbearable. So why put him at risk socially while he can have an operation he would hardly remember. I don’t remember the pain and I was 8 and there was no painkillers. So I find this argument as a futile one. Eventually practice will die.

  67. 67
    Mikey

    @27 Crommunist

    The one justification for circumcision that always baffled me was fears that little Johnny’s pee-pee “won’t look like daddy’s”.

    I’m circumcised, my father is not. So mine never “looked like daddy’s.” I suppose my mother wanted it done to me and my father just went along.

    If my son eventually marries and he and his wife have children, I certainly hope she doesn’t push him into circumcising my grandson. Although the way things are going these days, it might not even be an issue by then.

  68. 68
    Marius Rowell

    My Dad told me he wanted me circumcised , but the doctor refused to do so because there was medicla necessity to do so, and we we’re Jewish so he had no religious reason – thank you Doctor!
    Since then, in the ensuing 54 years, I’ve heard and read numerous jusitifcations ofr circumcision but none of them holds water. If it supposedly reduces risk of STDs it isn’t half as effective as a condom (odds are more babies get infected by dirty rabbis than avoid an STD later in life), and if it supposedly reduces sensitivity I’d probably collapse from exhaustion before I could finish – what good is another 5 minutes at the end of a vigorous 45 minutes of sex?Prevents masturbation? You could do that better (and also reduce incidents of STD’s more effectively) by cutting the whole thing off. I also know a few circumcised gay men who masturbate several times a day, so it doesn’t seem to work very well if that is even a justification.
    Anatomically the foreskin seems to do a decent job of removing any other semen present during sex, so the only justification for forced circumcision seems to be to ensure that the rabbi/priest is the daddy instead of the husband – hmmmmm.

  69. 69
    Tulse

    This historical documentary covers the religious origin of the practice — at least according to Mitchell and Webb.

  70. 70
    Anthony K

    My dog but people do/have done some fucked-up shit to babies for the sake of tradition.

    As someone with a desk job in a cubicle, I am very aware of the fucked-up shit we do to adults for the sake of tradition, so I’m a bit more relativistic about it all.

    Of course, the difference is that as an adult, I kinda sorta consent to destroying my body for the sake of making marginally more money than, say, a bricklayer (who would suffer a different set of occupationally related morbidities.)

    But I honestly don’t mean to derail this thread, so I won’t go on to say more about it.

  71. 71
    Travis

    Heather Dalgleish,
    Perhaps I should have said it differently, as I did know it was the natural state at birth. It just never really got better, no real partial movement at all. Not one of these cases where it is a little bit tight. As for other options, I had read about them and brought them up with my urologist but it was his opinion that this was the best option. I went with it, though as you say, any other options are kind of moot at this point. Anyway, I am happier and more functional without pain. I think I can live with the decision.

  72. 72
    Heather Dalgleish

    Given my sample size of 1 I predict that a number of over enthusiastic uncut males have suffered friction burns, particularly during the teenage years…

    *shudder*

    Glad lube helped!

  73. 73
    SallyStrange

    My brother’s partner had my niece’s ears pierced at 2 months old. Her ears got infected, and she had to take them out.

    I oppose circumcision on the same grounds I oppose ear piercing and FGM. It’s wrong to perform unnecessary surgery on infants, cause them unnecessary pain, and take unnecessary risks with their health, for any reason. Cosmetic, religious, whatever. I do not care. It is unnecessary.

    I can’t stand it when people treat their infants like possessions, or like mini-mes.

  74. 74
    Zeno

    In the older generations of my family it was very common to pierce the ears of infant daughters. I never quite understood why. It was not the case the boys had their penises clipped. This practice never caught on among Azorean-Americans. Then my sister married an Anglo guy who was circumcised. They ended up having both of their sons circumcised. It seemed foolish, but I heard the “be like daddy argument,” which to me is cringe-worthy. My nephews are grown up and married. One has two young sons. Yep, both clipped. Why? Beats the hell out of me! To add to the fun, their mom is scared of vaccines and proudly delays them because of her superior knowledge relative to that of her pediatrician — but at least the boys eventually get their shots. Vaccinations? Scary! Cutting off penis tips? Okay!

  75. 75
    Heather Dalgleish

    It just never really got better, no real partial movement at all. Not one of these cases where it is a little bit tight.

    Yeah, I’ve seen that, too, perhaps three or four times. It’s fairly rare for it to be that tight – and usually it’s the ring around the end of the foreskin that’s really tight, which means you can hardly get a finger in to do some of the stretching stuff properly – as you probably discovered.

    As for other options, I had read about them and brought them up with my urologist but it was his opinion that this was the best option. I went with it, though as you say, any other options are kind of moot at this point. Anyway, I am happier and more functional without pain. I think I can live with the decision.

    At any rate it was a decision you made as an adult, in response to a real issue that was bothering you – and one that you weighed up with a professional yourself, and feel better for, even if anyone wants to argue the toss about what was the absolute best choice. And your happy and enjoying sex, so caryy on. :)

  76. 76
    mb

    This entire thread should be in Comic Sans.

  77. 77
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    This entire thread should be in Comic Sans.

    Care to elaborate?

  78. 78
    Zerple

    The argument that you should go through with circumcision, because it might help stop the spread of disease, is similar to claiming that it is a good idea to cut off your fingertips, to help stop hangnails.

  79. 79
    Amphiox

    Hellooooooo…. MRAs who always gripe that we don’t talk about circumcision and try to derail the FGM threads to talk about circumcision instead, and who always manage to do it within the first five comments? Here’s your big chance! Talk away! Let’s discuss the problems and the solutions and the personal anecdotes and everything! Right here!

    Where are you guys?

    The conspicuous absence is easy enough to explain.

    You see, these MRAs only complain about circumsized men.

    But this thread is about circumsizing babies.

    And babies, naturally, are woman’s work. So they’re not interested.

  80. 80
    Rey Fox

    Care to elaborate?

    Foreskins are icky and should be cut off babies. I think I hit all the salient points.

  81. 81
    Amphiox

    One can argue whether there aren’t other prophylactic strategies that would be more appropriate, but I think the empirical work is sound.

    But this really is the key point. Even if we take the data at full face value, condoms are still better.

    The WHO recommendation for Africa is basically a big “we surrender to the unopposable reality of religious interference, so here’s our second-best compromise position.”

  82. 82
    Rey Fox

    The WHO recommendation for Africa is basically a big “we surrender to the unopposable reality of religious interference, so here’s our second-best compromise position.”

    We can’t get them to wear condoms, so we’re encouraging them to put the knife to their genitals.

    <farnsworth>I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  83. 83
    barbarienne

    What slim/possible/maybe benefits come of circumcision are generally related to cleanliness, no?

    We teach our children how to properly wash their hands and brush their teeth. (Or we should.) How hard is it to add “wash under your foreskin” to the list?

  84. 84
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    The WHO recommendation for Africa is basically a big “we surrender to the unopposable reality of religious interference, so here’s our second-best compromise position.”

    With a side order of “this goes down good with our largest donor” methinks.

    Actual effective preventative measures (ie good sex ed with condoms) would anger Republicans methinks…

  85. 85
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    How hard is it to add “wash under your foreskin” to the list?

    That would mean they would have to talk about things “down there”. I’m guessing some people are far more troubled by that possibility than by allowing for their child’s foreskin to be chopped off.

  86. 86
    cameron

    There was a recent episodes of the Godless Bitches podcast where they discussed genital mutilation. Well worth the download (as are all the episodes of Godless Bitches… a feminist atheist podcast? yes please).

  87. 87
    Tulse

    Even if we take the data at full face value, condoms are still better.

    And complete abstinence is best. But we don’t live in an ideal world — we live in one where, for example, the Catholic Church fights against the distribution of condoms, and has far more influence on the ground in Africa than the WHO does.

    The WHO recommendation for Africa is basically a big “we surrender to the unopposable reality of religious interference, so here’s our second-best compromise position.”

    And in public health, one often has to be pragmatic like that. Yes, it’s lousy that religion has that kind of power, but if you’re trying to prevent people from dying of AIDS, you might be wiling to compromise and save lives.

    (And just to be clear, I agree that the issue of HIV prevention involves adults, and thus is not identical to the question of whether infants should be circumcised.)

  88. 88
    Zinc Avenger

    Upon finding out that I am uncircumcised*, Mrs Avenger’s friend’s immediate response was to say “aren’t you afraid of getting an STD from him?”.

    *Yeah. Weird conversation.

  89. 89
    Species8472

    @75 mb

    This entire thread should be in Comic Sans.

    You’re just cranky no one agreed with your shitty post.

  90. 90
    Peggy T

    Folks used to view circumcision like baptism: http://imgur.com/ZLw0e

  91. 91
    hotdog

    According to the CDC circumcision cuts HIV transmission significantly:
    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm

    This is very important in Africa.

  92. 92
    Ed Seedhouse

    I think I am living proof that it certainly doesn’t reduce masturbation, along no doubt with ever similarly mutilated male that has ever lived. I was mutilated at an age so young I can’t remember it fortunately, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and by Christians who really did love me and think it was for the best.

    But when I was 13 my parents gave me a book telling me to save my virginity for marriage and a bunch of other weird Anglican beliefs which, oddly, admitted openly that masturbation doesn’t do any harm, so I was off to the races without the burden of guilt I would otherwise no doubt had to bear.

    Alas, living a long time does reduce masturbation, apparently. Now it’s just weekly whereas I think my teenage record was something like seven times in a day. I do not imagine that is anything like the record for male humans so I am not boasting. And although I now do it less I feel I enjoy it all the more because of it’s rarity.

    Nature’s antidepressant.

  93. 93
    itzac

    Not sure if anyone’s already addressed this since I haven’t read all 78 comments thus far, but it bears repeating:

    The studies I know of were cut short, financed and done by groups who might have a stake in the outcome (pro-circ, anti-contraception) and the women partners had an increased rate of infection.

    And besides, even if there was an effect that would in no way translate into a good reason for doing the procedure on neonatal or small boys.

    The fact the studies were cut short does not itself constitute a fair criticism. This is standard practice in studies when preliminary data show a significant effect, because it then becomes unethical to continue to randomize people into the non-treatment group. The question to address is whether or not the preliminary data in fact justified cutting off the study.

    It’s also not inconceivable that circumcision would have an indirect protective effect for women. If you decrease the rate of transmission to men, you necessarily reduce the rate at which women are exposed. The question then, to which I don’t know the answer, is how easily is HIV transmitted from men to women. Maybe someone here knows the answer to this question.

    I’m also interested to find out who here is advocating neo-natal circumcision based on these studies.

  94. 94
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    I’m also interested to find out who here is advocating neo-natal circumcision based on these studies.

    There’s not a single person here who’ve advocating men lopping off their own foreskin, or having it done in an informed manner.

  95. 95
    Robotocracy

    I don’t think it’s right to circumcise children, because they aren’t capable of giving consent. But other than that, it’s just another cosmetic procedure. Some people poke holes through their ears, some people inject poison into their foreheads, some people get circumcised. It doesn’t seem very important to me.

  96. 96
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    err . Writing – I suck at it.

    There’s not a single person here who’ve advocating men lopping off their own foreskin, or having it done in an informed manner.

    should be:

    There’s not a single person here who’ve advocating banning men from lopping off their own foreskin, or having it done in an informed manner.

  97. 97
    Igor

    There is such a thing as a psychological health. We live in this imperfect society. If an uncircumcised penis causes the child to be treated as an outsider by his peers, a circumcision during the first 8 days of life is definitely a lesser evil.

  98. 98
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    There is such a thing as a psychological health. We live in this imperfect society. If an uncircumcised penis causes the child to be treated as an outsider by his peers, a circumcision during the first 8 days of life is definitely a lesser evil.

    You know, this looks awfully like the “arguments” for type II-III FGM.

    In other words: Please roll your porcupine in some sewage before inserting it in the appropriate orifice.

  99. 99
    Crissa

    There is no evidence it’s traumatic, either. Nor that it’s maiming. So why use words like that have no meaning here?

  100. 100
    Don1

    So it probably discouraged masturbation before the invention of lube?

    Saved by science. I had no idea that was a problem in the first place.

  101. 101
    Anonymoose

    Who are these clowns with children who are APOLOGIZING for circumcising their kids, as though they’ve been molesting them, or abandoned them starving in a war zone?

    What terrible life-altering mental trauma has 10 minutes of scissor work done to them? Are these the sort of parents who refuse to ever spank a misbehaving child, and think they can negotiate rationally with a screaming toddler in a store while dozens of innocent bystanders have to listen to them?

  102. 102
    Anonymoose

    >>I don’t think it’s right to circumcise children, because they aren’t capable of giving consent.

    FUCK YOUR CONSENT. That’s what a parent’s decision is.

    This entire argument is specious bullshit by the simpering ‘foreskin-apologists’, the mental defectives who seem to think their lives have been permanently scarred (lol) and traumatized by the removal of a tiny flap of skin, that they’d be rich, famous or well-liked IF ONLY THEY HADN’T LOST THAT FORESKIN.

    If your sex life, or daily interactions with society have been that adversely affected by a 5-minute cosmetic surgery 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, then you need to see a psychiatrist.

  103. 103
    hotdog

    According to the CDC site cited above the decrease in relative risk of HIV transmission is as high as 71%. Good reason to encourage adults. If the effect were similar with neonatal children would this be a good enough reason to circumcise them?

  104. 104
    RichardAustin

    Anonymoose:

    Parents are not the owners of their children, they’re guardians. Guardianship does not include permanent body modification for specious reasons.

    … Oh, right, sorry. You’re just trolling. Carry on, then.

  105. 105
    pelamun

    Anonymoose,

    you might be surprised, but there have been parents successfully raising kids without hitting them at all. And not just recently, even 20-30 years ago. You know, you can show kids boundaries and punish them without ever laying hands on them.

  106. 106
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    My son is uncircumcised (that feels weird to write because back when I learned about circumcision I discussed it with people who used the term “intact” and frankly I prefer that one).

    It was almost completely luck that he is, which makes me shudder in retrospect. I was under the impression that it *was* pretty much like ear piercing — a little quick snip. But at the time the AAP was saying that there was no real medical reason to perform it; and I thought well, poor baby will have a bunch of blood tests and things already, it would be kind of a shame to make him have an additional minor ouch if he doesn’t really *need* it. So I didn’t.

    And later when I found out that the procedure is actually more of a crushing, peeling horror than a little snip, I felt positively queasy that if the AAP had seemed to advocate for it I probably would have inflicted that on him.

    How hard is it to add “wash under your foreskin” to the list?

    Pft. In my experience, once you put them in the shower and their penis (foreskin and all) is right there in front of them, you’d need to enforce some pretty creeptastic rules to get them NOT to wash it ;)

  107. 107
    The very model of a modern armchair general

    Excellent documentary, but very, VERY difficult to watch. As another person from a far distant land beyond the sea, where circumcision is all but unheard of, it’s weird to see people defending it. What the hell is WRONG with these people?

  108. 108
    crowssong

    According to the CDC site cited above the decrease in relative risk of HIV transmission is as high as 71%. Good reason to encourage adults. If the effect were similar with neonatal children would this be a good enough reason to circumcise them?”

    Only if you believe that neonatal children are highly at risk for HIV infection from unprotected sex. If not, why not wait until proper informed consent can be given

  109. 109
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    I think, by the way, that the idea in anti-masturbation eras was that you lopped off a kid’s foreskin sort of as punishment for masturbating. The associated pain and trauma was supposed to put them off ever wanting to touch their shame pole again. Still didn’t work, of course.

  110. 110
    itzac

    Gnumann, I’ve often seen folks who defend these studies on Pharyngula accused of advocating for neo-natal circumcision when none of them actually do. At least never on the basis of these studies alone. Sorry if I was getting my wires crossed when I read your comment.

    More generally, I wonder if, because some people do incorrectly use these studies to justify circumcising babies, the research isn’t inappropriately discounted in broader discussions. There is a habit, even among skeptics, of treating red herrings as false statements rather than false arguments. That is, people will treat the fact upon which the red herring is based as false, even though it may actually be true, instead of explaining why the fact doesn’t support the argument being made.

  111. 111
    itzac

    And then I read hotdog’s comment… fuck.

  112. 112
    Amphiox

    With a side order of “this goes down good with our largest donor” methinks.

    Actual effective preventative measures (ie good sex ed with condoms) would anger Republicans methinks…

    This may be a possibility. However, it seems rather unlikely that the UN-based, WHO will be looking towards republicans for much donor funding.

  113. 113
    Amphiox

    And in public health, one often has to be pragmatic like that. Yes, it’s lousy that religion has that kind of power, but if you’re trying to prevent people from dying of AIDS, you might be wiling to compromise and save lives.

    I never said it was wrong, just that it was surrender.

    Sometimes waving the white flag really is the best course of action.

    Sometimes not.

    Sometimes it’s not easy to tell which is which.

  114. 114
    Kagehi

    Can someone tell me what the theory is about circumcision somehow stopping masturbation? I had a foreskin and I masturbated. I had it removed for a medical reason and it has not stopped me one bit, except for those weeks of healing. Is it just supposedly supposed to make it feel less stimulating and therefore you do not do it?

    Strictly speaking it does two things:

    1. Removes a certain amount of tissue, and scares some that remains, that has a fair level of sensitivity, thus partly reducing the level of pleasure a man might have from sex in general, never mind “manual” stimulation.

    2. The foreskin actually tends to make it easier to slide the penis, without the need to lubes, in both manual stimulation, and sex. This even, according to some women, has an effect on how much “they” get out of the experience, not just the guy.

    In any case, the theory was to reduce the pleasure one got from sex, so as to reduce the likelihood someone would want it. The thing not accounted for is, that might work for someone that is intact, and has already had it, but if you never had one, you would hardly know what you missed (save via description from others of the difference), so its hardly going to *reduce* your interest in feeling what you can feel from masturbation. A net failure.

  115. 115
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Itzac:

    This is a tread about neonatal cutting. Whatever context these studies have been discussed in before on Pharyngula I’m not privy to, but there’s no possible rational motive to bring them up here other than defending the practice or derailment.

  116. 116
    Amphiox

    What terrible life-altering mental trauma has 10 minutes of scissor work done to them? Are these the sort of parents who refuse to ever spank a misbehaving child, and think they can negotiate rationally with a screaming toddler in a store while dozens of innocent bystanders have to listen to them?

    Missing The Point 101.

    That’s what a parent’s decision is.

    And that’s why no one is actually advocating the banning of the procedure. What we are trying to do is to persuade parents to not consent on behalf of their infancts to this procedure.

    This entire argument is specious bullshit by the simpering ‘foreskin-apologists’, the mental defectives who seem to think their lives have been permanently scarred (lol) and traumatized by the removal of a tiny flap of skin, that they’d be rich, famous or well-liked IF ONLY THEY HADN’T LOST THAT FORESKIN.

    Missing The Point 201.

    If your sex life, or daily interactions with society have been that adversely affected by a 5-minute cosmetic surgery 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, then you need to see a psychiatrist.

    Missing The Point 301.

    Almost ready to graduate Magna Cum Laude.

  117. 117
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    This may be a possibility. However, it seems rather unlikely that the UN-based, WHO will be looking towards republicans for much donor funding.

    You don’t know much about UN funding – do you?

  118. 118
    Amphiox

    If the effect were similar with neonatal children would this be a good enough reason to circumcise them?

    If the effect multiplied by the prevalence of HIV in neonatal children together outweighs the risk of the procedure, then it would be good enough reason to offer the procedure to parents and infants.

    It would not be reason to compel the procedure with legal or social pressure.

  119. 119
    Kagehi

    There is no evidence it’s traumatic, either.

    As *another* documentary on the subject once pointed out, babies don’t simply fall asleep after, its called ***shock***.

  120. 120
    Matt Penfold

    There’s not a single person here who’ve advocating banning men from lopping off their own foreskin, or having it done in an informed manner.

    I agree it men should be banned from hacking their penises about, but DIY circumcision is something that should be strongly discouraged.

    Are there men who can actually do that to themselves ?

  121. 121
    Matt Penfold

    Err,

    That should be “I agree men should NOT be banned ……”

  122. 122
    Carlie

    Still no sign of the vehement “what about the menz” posters we’ve had before – interesting. Instead, we have different trolls who are arguing that it’s no big deal. Even more interesting. Almost like they only want to be contrary to whatever the prevailing opinion is. Hmmmm.

    If an uncircumcised penis causes the child to be treated as an outsider by his peers,

    I fail to see any reason why the child will be comparing his penis with those of his peers.

    Are these the sort of parents who refuse to ever spank a misbehaving child, and think they can negotiate rationally with a screaming toddler in a store while dozens of innocent bystanders have to listen to them?

    As one of those parents you are griping about, I never spanked except when they were too little to really understand directions regarding imminent danger (about to run out in traffic after being told NO). Never negotiated with the screaming toddler, but removed him from the situation and tried to ease the meltdown in any way possible. Oooo, what a horrible parent I am.

  123. 123
    hughintactive

    Like the World Health Organization?

    I am very sympathetic to the view that infant circumcision is problematic at best. But at the same time I think it is bordering on conspiracy theory to argue that the peer-reviewed studies of the protective effects from AIDs for circumcised adults just comes from the cabal of “Big Circum”. One can argue whether there aren’t other prophylactic strategies that would be more appropriate, but I think the empirical work is sound.

    The three trials were carried out on the basis of a highly selective list of between-country comparisons (very subject to demographic effects, sexual customs, etc.) claiming to show that circumcision might be protective. (In 10 out of 18 countries for which USAID has figures, between-men comparisons show that circumcised men are more likely to be HIV+ than non-circumcised.)

    Only the second two were peer-reviwed, the first, by Auvert in South Africa was published in PLoS Medicine, an open source journal, after being rejected by the Lancet.

    Though they were randomised controlled trials, they were not double-blinded (or placebo controlled, or even balanced for risks and precautions by a token operation on the controls) but everyone involved had an investment in circumcision being protective, so it’s hardly surprising they found what they were looking for. The experimental group was told to abstain from sex for six weeks after the operation, and to use a condom if they could not abstain. They would hardly be told to stop using condoms after six weeks! There was no contact tracing so it’s not even known how many infections were in fact heterosexually transmitted (and in Uganda at least a man risks death by admitting to sex with a man). Non-sexual transmission, by contaminated instruments and amateur injections, is rife in Africa.

    The “60% reduction” factoid (the lower 95% convidence interval is 30%) is everywhere, but the numerical result is less impressive. Less than two years after 5,400 paid volunteers were circumcised and an equal number made to wait. 64 of the circumcised men had HIV and 137 of the controls. The difference, 73 circumcised men who didn’t get HIV is the whole basis of the “60%” claim, yet they have no hesitation extrapolating that to the whole of Africa and saying “millions will be saved.” 273 circumcised men dropped out, their HIV status unknown.

    I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy so much as an alignment of like minds. The same few researchers have been driving the push to circumcise all boys everywhere for years. It’s hard to find a pro-circumcision paper that does not have the name of Robert Bailey, Stefan Bailis, Ronald Gray, Daniel Halperin, Godfrey Kigozi, Jeffrey Klausner, Brian Morris, Stephen Moses, Malcolm Potts, Thomas Quinn, Edgar Schoen, Maria Wawer, Helen Weiss, and/or Thomas Wiswell on it. (Halperin has said he’s “destined” to promote it by his descent from a ritual circumciser. Morris has co-authored a paper with the editor of circumcision-fetish website, and thinks infant circumcision should be “mandatory” in Australia. Schoen has written poems in praise of circumcision.)

    The WHO’s policy on circumcision emerged (in a degree of detail that suggests a rubberstamp) from an invitation-only meeting in Montreux, Switzerland in April 2007 whose membership remains unknown – but I would hazard a guess that the movers and shakers there were more than a few of the names above.

    Wawer et al (Lancet, 374:9685, 229-37, 2009) studied transmission from HIV+ men to their female partners in a subgroup of the Uganda study. There were 92 circumcised men and 67 non-circumcised. 17 (18%) women with circumcised husbands and eight (12%) women with intact husbands acquired HIV during follow-up (p=0·36).

    The study was cut short “for futility” (it had failed to find circumcision was protective) not for any ethical reason. There was no ethical reason not to continue and find out for sure whether circumcision actually increased the risk, since leaving the control group intact would not increase the women’s risk and might even decrease it. They could not un-circumcise the intervention group.

    The issue of masturbation is readily resoloved: the kids (J H Kellogg recommended circumcision for boys, carbolic acid for girls) didn’t stop masturbating, they just made damn sure they weren’t caught again lest worse befall, so the adults thought they had stopped. One doctor asked his Jewish patients, who solemnly told him they never masturbated….

  124. 124
    Ichthyic

    @34, pb:

    from the direct spot you linked to:

    It has been hypothesized that viral infections may enter the mucosa through microtears in the preputial mucosa. The moist subpreputial cavity may also provide a favorable environment for viral survival.

    supposed, hypothesized, may…

    yeah, that’s the issue here. Lots of pro-circumcision people like to make up plausible stories, but the actual EVIDENCE in support is pretty fucking weak.

  125. 125
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Are there men who can actually do that to themselves ?

    You might put that one down to my love for hyperbole. Though nothing ceases to amaze me anymore. And if they do, I’m not going to stop them in any other way than telling them it might not be a very good idea.

  126. 126
    Ichthyic

    Are there men who can actually do that to themselves ?

    IIRC, attempts at self-circumcision are a fairly common issue in many hospital emergency rooms.

    This all being anecdotal from cousins who are nurses or EMTs though.

  127. 127
    Matt Penfold

    If your sex life, or daily interactions with society have been that adversely affected by a 5-minute cosmetic surgery 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, then you need to see a psychiatrist.

    If the procedure is cosmetic then it should not, ethically, be carried out in infants unless 1) there is significant disfigurement and 2) delaying the procedure will produce a worse outcome.

    Having a foreskin is not a disfigurement so there is no ethical justification for the procedure.

  128. 128
    Matt Penfold

    IIRC, attempts at self-circumcision are a fairly common issue in many hospital emergency rooms.

    This all being anecdotal from cousins who are nurses or EMTs though.

    My legs go wobbly just thinking about it.

  129. 129
    Ichthyic

    though there ARE plenty of documented cases:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7813947

  130. 130
    hughintactive

    it would be good enough reason to offer the procedure to parents and infants.

    When circumcision is offered to infants, they invariably refuse as best they can.

  131. 131
    Ichthyic

    This entire argument is specious bullshit by the simpering ‘foreskin-apologists’, the mental defectives who seem to think their lives have been permanently scarred (lol) and traumatized by the removal of a tiny flap of skin, that they’d be rich, famous or well-liked IF ONLY THEY HADN’T LOST THAT FORESKIN.

    reverse hyperbole as stinky cheese bait.

    whee!

  132. 132
    Ichthyic

    When circumcision is offered to infants, they invariably refuse as best they can.

    yup, it takes an adult to be that stupid.

    ;)

  133. 133
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Uncircumcised men have hygiene issues that, if they are unable to care for themselves, often don’t get addressed adequately and can lead to very unpleasant situations.

    So, basically because your standard of care sucks and you obviously think yourselves too good to do the job you’re paid for which is to care for the needs of people who can’t help themselves anymore babies should have their foreskins removed.
    How about just giving them the proper hygene?

    HIV
    I totally fail to understand how HIV in Africa is relevant to the discussion about the USA.

    Culture
    Being of the European persuasion, the practise makes me shudder. Yes, the exact same shudder folks get when hearing about other barbaric practises in less enlightened parts of the world.
    One of my friend’s sons has a medical indication that might make circumcision necesary, and they’re dreading the day this might be the case. Nobody thinks it to be a non-issue you do for fun.

    Crommunist
    I disagree partially with your statement about “inappropriate”. Sure, a penis-comparison is crossing the line, but except for that I don’t see anything wrong with children seeing their parents naked. They should get a positive image about the human body and they won’t get it if mum and dad treat it as something you have to hide. They see it, they can ask questions, they can get real accurate information.

  134. 134
    DLC

    “I can’t afford to pay you for the circumcision, Rabbi, but you can keep the tip.”

  135. 135
    Ichthyic

    There is no evidence it’s traumatic, either.

    so, the screaming babies when anesthetic isn’t used doesn’t convince you?

    try taking a razor to your dick then?

    Nor that it’s maiming.

    actually, it’s removal of tissue, so by definition it’s maiming.

    whether or not someone considers the word maiming to have good or bad connotations is subjective.

  136. 136
    Chris Lawson

    PZ, as someone who is (i) strongly against infant circumcision, and (ii) very interested in epidemiology, I must reluctantly say that your statement about preventing HIV infection is wrong. There have been several very good studies which showed a significant reduction in HIV transmission in circumcised men. As such, it is quite reasonable, from a medical perspective, to offer circumcision.

    However…what the pro-circumcision brigade tend to forget is (1) you can wait until the person is able to make their own decision, and the best way to prevent infants from catching HIV is to prevent/treat infections in their mothers, not to slice off parts of their genitals, (2) there are other simple, cheap, effective methods such as condoms which prevent other STIs and unwanted pregnancy as well, (3) the benefits of circumcision depend very strongly on the local prevalence of HIV — in sub-Saharan Africa (prevalence up to 25% in some countries) it makes a lot more sense than in, say, Australia or Saudi Arabia (prevalence <=0.1%).

    So, yeah, the pro-circumcision brigade have finally found a meaningful health benefit to circumcision; they just forget to mention that it still doesn't justify inflicting it on infants.

  137. 137
    Ichthyic

    There have been several very good studies which showed a significant reduction in HIV transmission in circumcised men.

    considering that, actually looking at most of the studies, which were cited earlier in the comments, that many of them were NOT actually well done at all…

    you should cite exactly which studies you speak of when you say this.

    seriously.

  138. 138
    madknitter

    I attended a bris (Jewish ceremony of circumcision) oncet. Unfortunately, the only seat open when I got to the living room was front row and centre. I had a terrific view of the act, and vowed that if I ever had a son, he would stay intact. It was pretty traumatic to even see it, and I’ve decided that if I’m invited to any future brises, I’m staying in the kitchen to get the kugel ready. Good eatin’, kugel.

    My brother had my nephew cut because he said, “I want him to look like me.” Um, we never saw our father naked. I have no idea if my dad was cut or uncut, nor do I want to know. I think that’s a bloody stupid reason to circumcise a boy.

  139. 139
    Ichthyic

    …Chris, see post 123 for a discussion of several related studies.

  140. 140
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    So, basically because your standard of care sucks and you obviously think yourselves too good to do the job you’re paid for which is to care for the needs of people who can’t help themselves anymore babies should have their foreskins removed.
    How about just giving them the proper hygene?

    THANK YOU. This is enraging. Not only does xe advocate for unnecessary cosmetic surgery on infants but xe does it to excuse xieself from providing adequate care for xe’s charges. Nauseating.

    How about we just make sure that when old people can’t clean themselves their caretakers fucking clean them properly. Or, you know, we could start removing babies’ teeth at birth so no one has to worry about them getting gum disease when they’re old and neglected in a shitty nursing home.

  141. 141
    Patrick

    I’m uncircumcised myself (and glad of it), and I did have a case of phimosis (may have been different from the other one listed, my foreskin wouldn’t retract but it was not itself too small). I finally sucked up my embarrassment and went to a urologist at the age of 18. He asked me if I wanted to be circumcised, and I said no. He then performed a slightly more elaborate procedure that fixed it and left the foreskin intact.

    So, there are other options at times. Have a conversation with your urologist to decide what is best, as I have heard that some are a little quick to suggest circumcision.

    My parents did tell me to wash underneath it. Yes, it is embarrassing as a child, and in my case painful (how I discovered my problem) but it seems a little less…irrevocable, than the alternative.

    For the US pro-circers…please try to understand how objectively *strange* infant circumcision is. It’s a bloody, traumatic procedure that sometimes goes wrong, and it is defended on such flimsy grounds as a minor protection against STIs (when vastly superior alternatives are readily available at every corner store), some sort of anti-bullying measure (which apparently presumes that parents let vast gangs of boys run around naked together, and that peer pressure is best dealt with by non-elective surgery rather than bolstering a child’s self-confidence), and as a substitute for basic hygiene.

  142. 142
    carolw

    The strongest argument I know of against infant circumcision is the story of David Reimer. His penis was burnt off in a botched circumcision, so his parents were urged to raise him as a girl. He later transitioned back to his original gender, but ended up committing suicide. The book As Nature Made Him tells his story. It’s a sad, horrific story.

  143. 143
    Ichthyic

    the benefits of circumcision depend very strongly on the local prevalence of HIV — in sub-Saharan Africa (prevalence up to 25% in some countries) it makes a lot more sense than in, say, Australia or Saudi Arabia (prevalence <=0.1%).

    perfect case of evidence not in support of contention, again, from 123:

    Wawer et al (Lancet, 374:9685, 229-37, 2009) studied transmission from HIV+ men to their female partners in a subgroup of the Uganda study. There were 92 circumcised men and 67 non-circumcised. 17 (18%) women with circumcised husbands and eight (12%) women with intact husbands acquired HIV during follow-up (p=0·36).

    so, there is subsaharan Africa.

    probability that circumcision affects transmission rates:

    .36

    unless I failed statistics… and I didn’t, that ain’t even CLOSE to significance. It’s damn near perfectly random.

  144. 144
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    My parents did tell me to wash underneath it. Yes, it is embarrassing as a child

    This is strange to me. My son is 12 now and doesn’t want to talk about his bits with his parents, sure — but we started discussing hygiene with him WAY before he was an embarrassed adolescent. Like, you know, when we started potty training him. When they have NO shame. When if you let them, they will happily run around in the front yard tugging at the damn thing, and they won’t keep their hands *off* it in the bathtub.

  145. 145
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    It’s tradition. Grandpa and great-grandpa and great-great-grandpa did it, so I’ll perpetuate the cycle of abuse to my children.

    All I have to say is:

    GAHFLARGLABLARGLEFFF!!

    I hate hate hate this argument and it’s the one I hear all the fucking time.

  146. 146
    SallyStrange
    It’s tradition. Grandpa and great-grandpa and great-great-grandpa did it, so I’ll perpetuate the cycle of abuse to my children.

    All I have to say is:

    GAHFLARGLABLARGLEFFF!!

    I hate hate hate this argument and it’s the one I hear all the fucking time.

    I know. It reminds me of that old chestnut that comes up whenever people talk about spanking children.

    “I was spanked and look at me, I’m fine!”

    My response: No, you’re not fine. You’re here trying to convince us that it’s okay to hit small children. Something’s wrong with you.

  147. 147
    Ichthyic

    “I was spanked and look at me, I’m fine!”

    this is nothing more than an argument from ignorance.

    Hey, I got hit on the head with a 60 pound barbell when I was a kid, and I’m fine too.

    strangely though, I don’t think I then would recommend it as standard practice.

  148. 148
    Anthony K

    If your sex life, or daily interactions with society have been that adversely affected by a 5-minute cosmetic surgery 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, then you need to see a psychiatrist.

    Actually, having had a father whose attitude was much like Anonymoose’s is why I need to see a psychiatrist.

    To Anonymoose’s kids: don’t be like the Menendez brothers. Cut off all contact with the asshole and let him drink his lonely self to death. Though I will say from experience that dropping the piece of shit with one good punch is terribly cathartic. Try to provoke him into smacking you first (with witnesses around) because he will call the cops.

  149. 149
    Scott

    Wow, very powerful.
    I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian, and was born in Australia in the 70′s when the supposed medical reasons for circumcision convinced many women including my mother, to have their male children circumcised. After watching this video, and hearing about the loss of sexual sensation, I feel as though I have been robbed of something.

    Now as an athiest, I would never subject any child of mine to that, but I guess it gives me more reason to loathe organised religious structures, and to be very careful about supposed “research” that has a dubious agenda.

  150. 150
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I’m going to share something a bit personal here. Hope it doesn’t turn around and bite me in the metaphorical dick, but here goes.

    Hypospadius. I had to be circumcised, if I ever wanted to pee out of the end I’m supposed to pee out of. But ironically, the foreskin is still there (they needed something to build a new urethra with).

    How many people here can remember being a baby?

    Because I have a memory of waking up in a little hospital bed with a fish balloon floating above (important detail, because my mother remembers that balloon too) and the worst pain ever in my junk.

    So yeah, I’m glad I got it done and all, but it was definitely ‘traumatic’ enough for me to remember it. OTOH though, a hypospadius procedure involves a fair bit more cutting than a mere circumcision.

  151. 151
    Anon

    Two things I want to say. First I have managed to trap my foreskin in my zip fly, and that was pretty eye wateringly painful.

    Second I have inadvertantly left my foreskin rolled back after going to the toilet and then suffered quite a bit off pain as the glans started drying out. It went from being quite soft to feeling and looking a bit like a hazelnut.

    Here’s a link to a video from Ryan McAllister of NotJustSkin.Org which show how much skin you actually lose in a circumcision.

    YouTube Link

    And from the same video some of his objections to the studies cited for circucision as protection against HIV.

    YouTube Link 2

  152. 152
    Heather Dalgleish

    Who are these clowns with children who are APOLOGIZING for circumcising their kids, as though they’ve been molesting them…

    I know, fuck’s sake – it’s not like they let their sons be molested – they just let them be strapped down to have someone take a knife and some clamps to their penises, to crush and slice away a small but significant piece of functional erogenous tissue that they decided they didn’t like on the penis – while the son in question may have been under insufficient or no anaesthesia…

    And to the person who claims that circumcision could be “up to 70%” effective at reducing HIV infection – well, I’m sorry, but it could also be “down to” somewhere in the region of 1% effective, for all we can gather. Many studies coming out of Africa are spurious for various reasons, not just down to flawed or corrupt methodology, and numerous studies have found no significant correlation between circumcision status and HIV infection rate. I’m willing to accept that there may be some tangible effect of circumcision on HIV infection – but I’m dubious about how efficacious it really is, at bottom – and particularly how it applies to America, and American parents who really do appeal to these sorts of news pieces to justify their decision to cut kids’ genitals. 

    Also, it doesn’t even have to be a ‘conspiracy’. All you have to do is factor that people have biases and vested interests – and some people are willing to pay, or lobby, or go out of their way to confirm their biases either way. It happens across all manner of research topics in science – and it’s why budding scientists are encouraged to rip other people’s research apart, and to enjoy being subject to that treatment – but problems with integrity still sneak in, and pass through the net, and papers get published to respected journals. Haekel (foolishly) forged some drawings of embryos to flatter his theory all the more, and the Lancet took well over a decade to retract Andrew Wakefield’s paper – long after Wakefield had been thoroughly skewered by the scientific community, to name two rather small examples. It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy. It’s just human nature. Many people are just eager to hear that slicing the genitals of minors can be in some small way justified, or proven godly. 

  153. 153
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Sally:

    “I was spanked and look at me, I’m fine!”

    My response: No, you’re not fine. You’re here trying to convince us that it’s okay to hit small children. Something’s wrong with you.

    THIS! Exactly!

    I’ve had this argument with Mr Darkheart and first it was “What if he wants to join a synagogue?”* then it morphed to, “But my grandfather, dad, and brothers are all circumcised! Tradition!”

    It’s kind of disturbing to think that my sweet, loving husband would be willing to harm a baby for no fucking reason at all. *headshake* I blame the religious upbringing.

    *My response: “What, they do penis checks at the door?”

  154. 154
    Mr Eeeks

    Although I had some trepidation, my son was circumcised. Being Jewish, I felt somewhat obliged, although I’m not sure why, since I’m not religious, and in many respects am anti-religious (although perhaps in a less focused way then – 12 years ago).

    I have to say that, if you’re going to do it, eight days (or earlier if you’re not doing the ritual), is a good time to do it. The mohel (ritual circumcizer, who was a doctor in this case) administered a local anesthetic (which produced more crying than the procedure). After that, it was pretty much a non-event for my son. At that age, many things are painful or cause upset. It healed up quickly, and caused no problems AFAIK.

    At any rate, I think the rabbi mentioned was being hyperbolic, based on the above experience.

    I’m curious why those who had it done for their sons and now regret it feel that way.

  155. 155
    Ichthyic

    And to the person who claims that circumcision could be “up to 70%” effective at reducing HIV infection

    wow, who claimed that?

    I’d like to point and laugh.

    I can’t seem to find it in the comments?

  156. 156
  157. 157
    Inaji

    Audley:

    *My response: “What, they do penis checks at the door?”

    Good response. I remember this coming up on the last circumcision thread – Mr. Darkheart needs to figure out that if any son you have ends up wanting to join a synagogue, he can make the decision to be circumcised himself. There’s no excuse to mutilate an infant because of ‘what ifs’, FFS.

  158. 158
    SallyStrange

    At that age, many things are painful or cause upset.

    So why add one more thing to the list, unnecessarily?

  159. 159
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    I will say I have some sympathy for B’s position. Turkey is a very different place to the Anglophone world. Circumcision there is not done to infants in private, but as part of a big ceremony/party that every boy has somewhere around the age of 8-11. It’s a really big deal, with fancy dress and horses and feasting and presents. If you asked the kids they’d probably say yes, because of fitting in, and parties, and y’know, PRESENTS!

    So yeah, for the majority of us here, all it takes is just not doing it. For other people it’d be a major act of courage and resistance, and could get you and your kids socially pilloried.

  160. 160
    Ichthyic

    Ichthyic: hotdog at #103

    well, considering the source, I’d say there was likely some mischaracterization there.

    *runs off to check CDC site*

    sure enough, that figure was specifically for a correlation of high risk patients at an STD clinic. He just looked for the biggest number he could find there, and reposted it without any consideration at all of what it means.

    for the general, earlier studies, they quote 44% (not 71%), but as explained in the comment at 123, there are several qualifications to that figure, and it makes little sense to generalize a statistical percentage like that over dozens of studies that have no comparison to one another in method or results.

    This is a big problem I have with statistical reviews of medical literature: there is often a single number given that is supposed to “summarize” many different studies over many years, but on examination, most of the studies are actually NOT replicating the methods used, so it is disingenuous at best to come up with a figure that implies they do.

    saying “44%” of 30 odd completely different studies showed ANYTHING is ridiculous. If they WERE replicating the methods used, exactly, THEN it might mean something.

    Other studies of the same type as one I emphasized above, are also cited there, under the section:

    “Male Circumcision and Male-to-Female Transmission of HIV”

    and these find NO significant correlation between circumcision and transmission of HIV.

    but I note the data from those studies was not worked into the “44%” number.

    yeah.

    this is why we have to review each study on its own merits, not lump them all together as if it means anything.

  161. 161
    hotdog

    It was 71% and I didn’t claim it, simply cited a CDC site which reported it. subsequent comments cast a lot of doubt on the validity of such high numbers.
    BTW, I was simply raising a question about whether neonatal circ. would be advisable from a public health standpoint, not advocating. some of the commenters are awfully quick to attribute motivation where there is only curiosity. I do wish people were more civil.

  162. 162
    Dianne

    HIV prevention: Use a condom, take your meds if you’re unfortunate enough to have HIV, don’t sleep with people you don’t trust to follow the above rules. Circumcision, even if it does work, is VERY ineffective and not to be used if there are ANY alternatives. (Like, say, abstinence or safer sex practices.)

    I haven’t necessarily read the thread in detail, but I don’t remember seeing any “what about the womenz” posts that demand that PZ address FGM in this post. Odd, that. Almost as though women don’t feel that they are entitled to always be the center of attention.

  163. 163
    quantheory

    While I applaud the content of this post, I cringed just thinking about some of the potential reactions. PZ is probably braver than I.

    Simple tip: You’re already missing the point if your defense of circumcision starts with some variant of “Well, I was circumcised, and I’m OK.”

    Firstly, any time someone starts out a discussion like this with an anecdote about themselves (or their own kids), not only are they not presenting very good evidence, but they are also declaring that their opinion is based on the one case that they are most biased and least objective regarding.

    Secondly, even if circumcision is more-or-less harmless, that doesn’t mean that it should be practiced without anesthetic (even if it doesn’t cause psychological trauma, it hurts!), and it doesn’t mean that it should be performed on infants that can’t give consent (parents are the caretakers, not the owners, of their children’s bodies). What benefit is there to performing this procedure on a healthy infant, rather than waiting for a child to grow up and make the decision himself, which is so strong that it outweighs a person’s interest in choosing which body parts they get to keep? It sure as hell ain’t hygiene, any disease that can be treated after-the-fact with circumcision, a tiny change in risk profile for STDs before reaching adulthood, or the very rare (and usually preventable) penile cancer.

    Thirdly, if your reaction is “It doesn’t matter, who cares?” or “This is a stupid thing to get worked up about.” that’s your prerogative, but why bother telling off people who do care? Has apathy suddenly become a virtue?

    Besides all that:

    The freedom-of-religion angle doesn’t fly. We don’t approve of any other genital cosmetic surgery just because some religion demands it, so why would we do so in the case of male circumcision?

    Also, “We want him to look like his father”, a surprisingly common justification for parents considering circumcision, seems pretty sick. Your child is not a possession with an appearance you get to customize to produce a matching set. He’s another human being who has to live, permanently, with whatever cosmetic surgery you perform on him. If you’re not correcting a pre-existing disorder or disfigurement, and especially when your kid can elect to have the surgery himself when he’s older with near-identical results, just fucking leave his body the way it is.

    Finally, yes it is a cosmetic surgery. It really is a cosmetic surgery being performed on a child’s sexual organs. It’s one that’s common enough to not draw stares, one that rarely leads to sexual dysfunction, and one which rarely has serious complications, so probably he’ll be fine. But it has extremely mild medical benefits, and most people don’t really do it with an understanding of the medical situation, so it’s based much more on cultural and aesthetic preferences. So I don’t think it’s any more reasonable than your kid a Prince Albert piercing, or offering your 8 year old daughter breast implants. It’s sexual cosmetic surgery performed on a child. It’s pointless at best, and creepy at worst.

  164. 164
    Ichthyic

    I would also note, that regardless of the numbers the writers of that CDC article toss around in there, if you look at their penultimate conclusion, it states:

    It is possible, but not yet adequately assessed, that male circumcision could reduce male-to-female transmission of HIV

    so if that 44% number actually really meant something, instead of just space filler, do you think they would say “not yet adequately assessed”?

    not hardly.

    overall, I find that the only use that CDC page has, is as a bibliography.

  165. 165
    Ichthyic

    It was 71% and I didn’t claim it, simply cited a CDC site which reported it.

    again, for the benefit of our current idiot in residence, note my previous response:

    He just looked for the biggest number he could find there, and reposted it without any consideration at all of what it means.

    strangely, I note you did not actually READ the conclusions of the CDC on the matter.

  166. 166
    hotdog

    Anyone read THE JOY OF UNCIRCUMCISING? Advocates stretching of the foreskin thus covering the glans and making it once more a mucus membrane, no longer calloused, 12 or so cells thick instead of 1 or 2, as I recall. The result was supposed to be marked increase in sexual pleasure. 20 years ago at age 50 after hearing about this on the Dr Dean Edell radio show and buying the book I tried it. It worked! In about six weeks sex was much more pleasurable. Never knew what I was missing.

  167. 167
    Ichthyic

    brw, I want to apologize to hotdog.

    I was confusing you with the previous poster; anonymouse, who was just trying to troll the site.

  168. 168
    Anthony K

    “What if he wants to join a synagogue?”

    How come it’s never “What if he wants to be the next Amazing Mr. Lifto?”

  169. 169
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    It’s amazing to me that PZ can note in his original post “there are studies that claim XYZ, but they are seriously flawed” and get multiple responses going “PZ you are wrong about XYZ. There are STUDIES saying it.” Jeebus, assclams, read the original post.

  170. 170
    quantheory

    On somewhat of a different note, my understanding is that the highest risk group for HIV in the US are MSM, and that circumcision has not been shown to reduce HIV risk in this group at all (I’d be interested by any good studies to the contrary). Some other populations have a high risk of HIV here (for example, African-Americans are at an increased risk in several cities), but not most.

    In any case, is there any reason to believe that neo-natal circumcision has any noticeable effect on the HIV transmission rate in most of the U.S.? Sub-Saharan Africa is a different story, of course, although I’m not particularly convinced of the effect there either.

  171. 171
    hotdog

    Ichthyic. Thanks so much for examining the evidence so carefully and reporting back to use. I was hoping someone would do that as I didn’t want to take the time to do it myself. Not so strange. What is interesting is your need to derogate people. If I weren’t so polite I would say “Fuck you” for calling me the resident idiot.

  172. 172
    quantheory

    That CDC link does give some conflicting studies talking about MSM, but it also states:

    “Also, studies to date have demonstrated efficacy only for penile-vaginal sex, the predominant mode of HIV transmission in Africa, whereas the predominant mode of sexual HIV transmission in the United States is by penile-anal sex among MSM. There are as yet no convincing data to help determine whether male circumcision will have any effect on HIV risk for men who engage in anal sex with either a female or male partner, as either the insertive or receptive partner.Receptive anal sex is associated with a substantially greater risk of HIV acquisition than is insertive anal sex. It is more biologically plausible that male circumcision would reduce HIV acquisition risk for the insertive partner rather than for the receptive partner, but few MSM engage solely in insertive anal sex.”

    And then later:

    “Lastly, whether the effect of male circumcision differs by HIV-1 subtype, predominately subtype B in the United States and subtypes A, C, and D in circulation at the three clinical trial sites in Africa, is also unknown.”

    I guess that is a rough answer to my questions.

  173. 173
    Ichthyic

    If I weren’t so polite I would say “Fuck you” for calling me the resident idiot.

    yes, I already apologized for taking that tone; I had originally confused your first post with the troll right above yours.

    yours was likely an honest mistake about what the numbers meant.

  174. 174
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    J H Kellogg

    I grew up in Battle Creek. The Kellogg brothers (JH and WK) were a pair of lunatics, but since they ran the Sanitarium, they weren’t inmatespatients, but should have been.

  175. 175
    hotdog

    Ichthyic. Apology noted. forget previous post. still wish people would be more civil. do insults change people minds. contribute to the discussion. drive them away. well, that’s a good thing sometimes.

  176. 176
    Crissa

    2. The foreskin actually tends to make it easier to slide the penis, without the need to lubes, in both manual stimulation, and sex. This even, according to some women, has an effect on how much “they” get out of the experience, not just the guy.

    Is there another animal that does this? I’m hardly an expert, I’ve just never heard of one. With most mammals I know, the outer skin (or sheath) is just there to stop sticks and teeth from poking the more elastic skin. And you have to wash under it if you want to keep a domesticated animal healthy.

  177. 177
    Crissa

    The freedom-of-religion angle doesn’t fly. We don’t approve of any other genital cosmetic surgery just because some religion demands it, so why would we do so in the case of male circumcision?

    That’s a pretty narrow band. You limited it to surgery (using a knife) and genital. In fact, the only other widely known one would be lopping off the structure that would have formed the penis, and still contains the same nerves.

    If you want to be honest, why are you limiting your complaints to genitals? That seems spurious. And why limit it to knives? That also seems unreasonable.

    Maiming, mutilation, etc, etc. You keep using these words, but you don’t seem to stick to their meaning. Is someone mutilated when they get acne? Are they maimed when they skin their knee?

  178. 178
    Crissa

    …And babies fall asleep from ‘shock’ when they have many other medical and non-medical procedures. They scream themselves to sleep when they’re teething, if you’re lucky, and if you’re not, they don’t. That doesn’t make it traumatic. And there’s no evidence that men with or without circumcision are more or less circumspect with regards to doctors, knives, and their penises.

    Hence, no evidence it’s traumatic.

  179. 179
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Caine:

    Mr. Darkheart needs to figure out that if any son you have ends up wanting to join a synagogue, he can make the decision to be circumcised himself. There’s no excuse to mutilate an infant because of ‘what ifs’, FFS.

    Yeah… sorry, it’s still a sore spot with me.

    But thankfully, he’s becoming much more rational about the faith he was raised in– he no longer believes in God* or sees any point in the ritual. So, I think he’ll grow out of his fondness for circumcision on his own (especially since he knows exactly how I feel).

    *The best way I can describe his beliefs is deist-y.

  180. 180
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    And you have to wash under it if you want to keep a domesticated animal healthy

    The fuck? I have 4 male cats right now and I’ve never washed under their penile sheaths. Never washed a dog’s dick. Never washed a rabbit’s or guinea pig’s or rat’s dick, and I’m pretty damn sure people don’t tenderly bathe cow or sheep or horse dicks either. Maybe you just have a strange fetish.

  181. 181
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    I’ve come to the conclusion that blockquotes just hate me and I give up on them, at least for the day.

  182. 182
    Inaji

    Audley:

    But thankfully, he’s becoming much more rational about the faith he was raised in– he no longer believes in God* or sees any point in the ritual. So, I think he’ll grow out of his fondness for circumcision on his own (especially since he knows exactly how I feel).

    Phew, that’s a relief! Sounds like he’s come a long way since the last thread.

    Kristinc:

    The fuck? I have 4 male cats right now and I’ve never washed under their penile sheaths. Never washed a dog’s dick.

    Um, yeah. I’ve never washed my dog’s penis, he takes care of that himself. Same with the male cats. If someone is doing that, they really need to think about why they’re doing it.

  183. 183
    hotdog

    see #166
    I see this book is back in print
    The Joy of Uncircumcising
    .http://www.norm.org/joy.html
    highly recommended. His method of stretching
    requires tape at first and then weights, but I found that I was able to get tight bikini briefs, tuck myself in with the skin covering the glans and eventually I had a foreskin again. Try it, you’ll like it.

  184. 184
    Ripples

    The arguments by those in favour of circumcising babies suggest that it is needed to prevent disease, meet hygiene issues and reduce masturbatory activity.

    As such this would mean that the appendage in question is flawed in its design as a properly designed appendage would have not had the offending part which needs to be removed.

    Thus the designer was not intelligent or perhaps just a bit rushed in the work since there was only one day out of the six to knock up the beasties and lets be honest the appendage is only a small part* of the whole.

    So this means our all powerful sky fairy is a crap designer and not that intelligent as it then had to come up with a covenant with his followers where they lopped off the offending design flaw.

    An argument in favour of circumcision from religion is an argument against creation and ipso facto an argument against the omnipotence of a sky fairy: Discuss

    I know it’s a slightly fallacious argument but then why should the believers get all to play with all the fallacies.

    *I am not referring to any particular person and if your appendage is not a small part of the whole then I hope you are very happy together and if you don’t have the appendage as a result of gender then feel free to snicker at fact something so small in the greater scheme generates such a fixation and industry i

  185. 185
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I’m pretty damn sure people don’t tenderly bathe cow or sheep or horse dicks either.

    You’re quite right about sheep and cattle, but um, I used to have dealings with horses and horse owners, and some actually did that. Part of that is because horses are more ‘pets’ than livestock these days, as opposed to sheep and cattle, and thus naturally receive better care. No one’s brushing down each member of their 100 head dairy farm either, or putting a blanket on each one when it gets cold, etc etc.

    I should add that the horses who didn’t have their dongs cleaned regularly fared no better or worse than the horses who did.

  186. 186
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    TLC: noted. I kind of had a feeling as I wrote it that specimens like show horses, valuable breeding bulls and so on might be different. But then they’re hardly representative.

  187. 187
    SallyStrange

    But thankfully, he’s becoming much more rational about the faith he was raised in– he no longer believes in God* or sees any point in the ritual. So, I think he’ll grow out of his fondness for circumcision on his own (especially since he knows exactly how I feel).

    Ah, I’m envious. StrangeBoyfriend is still of the opinion that I am overly skeptical about psychic woo and auras, and will come around someday.

  188. 188
    frustum

    This is perhaps TMI, but where else can I raise this point?

    I was circumcised shortly after birth. In my early 20s, while doing some bedroom experiments with my girlfriend, I found out that my glans is 100% insensitive to cold. Every other bit of my body registers cold, but even touching an ice cube, in this case, to my glans does not feel at all cold. Warm registers fine. The skin immediately adjacent to the glans registers the full range of temperatures just fine.

    I wondered (a) if this was the result of being circumcised and having a subsequent loss of feeling, (b) if this is actually common but most people just aren’t aware of it, as I had previously been unaware of it, or (c) it’s just me, and this is the superpower I have been granted.

    Does anybody else know whether this is common at all? If I’m the oddball, does anyone know to what use I should be applying my superpower?

  189. 189
    latsot

    There was a sort of craze for male circumcision of non-jews in the UK for a while in and around the 40s, for alleged health reasons. I know this because my dad decided to describe his penis and the circumstances leading to it’s appearance at my sister’s wedding.

    It’s not only religion that poisons everything: my dad is pretty good at it too.

  190. 190
    jose

    All those amazing health benefits seem to be only relevant when the lad is going to start having sex. Why not chop off the thing then? That way at least he knows what’s going on and maybe you could even ask him his opinion, since it’s, you know, his body, not yours.

  191. 191
    Ichthyic

    With most mammals I know, the outer skin (or sheath) is just there to stop sticks and teeth from poking the more elastic skin.

    well, considering the anatomy of the prepuce in all mammals that have one, I’d have to conclude it does far more than that.

    otherwise, you’d be better off with just a retractable keratinized sheath.

    prepuce anatomy, 101

  192. 192
    Ichthyic

    …and by all mammals that have one, I’m being conservative; I can’t recall any that don’t.

  193. 193
    Ichthyic

    They scream themselves to sleep when they’re teething, if you’re lucky, and if you’re not, they don’t. That doesn’t make it traumatic.

    actually, it of course DOES mean it’s traumatic, it’s just unavoidable trauma.

    unlike circumcision, which is entirely avoidable trauma.

    do you just enjoy being wrong and an ass constantly, everywhere you go, or is it just here?

  194. 194
    Alan Millar

    While I totally agree that it is *wrong to circumcise unconsenting minors*, I can’t see how PZ can say the health claims are bullshit.

    There’s no evidence I’ve seen offered that the HIV trials conducted in three Sub-Saharan African trials were put in place by a pro-circumcision lobby.

    The trials were pragmatic, so naturally they are not as perfect as controlled, in-hospital type trials. However, as many have pointed out, if a pragmatic trial with similar loss-to-follow-up showed such effects for a vaccine, the world would be howling at any delay to its roll-out.

    The arguments you make, PZ, are certainly fuelling further research, but to call the results bullshit is disappointing. This is a field in which lab science is frequently impossible because of the peculiar but essential ethics of working with living humans. Epidemiology does great benefit to humankind – frequently on this kind of pragmatic evidence.

    It may be that something was seriously biasing or confounding those trials, but it’s a bit much to write off an entire, productive field of science without evidence, because the results happen to favour some religious nuts.

  195. 195
    Ichthyic

    There’s no evidence I’ve seen offered that the HIV trials conducted in three Sub-Saharan African trials were put in place by a pro-circumcision lobby.

    and what about trials in the same area, that show no significant effect at all, which were cited in the comments here?

    have you ever looked at the actual studies cited?

    It may be that something was seriously biasing or confounding those trials, but it’s a bit much to write off an entire, productive field of science without evidence, because the results happen to favour some religious nuts.

    productive field of science?

    even the CDC, on its review page, concluded that the results of those studies was not conclusive.

    I even quoted it just a few posts above yours.

    amazing.

    here, just for you, is their conclusion after processing the dozens of relevant studies, both good and bad:

    It is possible, but not yet adequately assessed, that male circumcision could reduce male-to-female transmission of HIV

    so, if this really were a “productive field of science”, why do you think the conclusion was that it hasn’t been adequately assessed?

  196. 196
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    if a pragmatic trial with similar loss-to-follow-up showed such effects for a vaccine, the world would be howling at any delay to its roll-out.

    Its roll-out. Meaning it being offered, right? Well then. Hurry! Get circumcision offered in all those places where no one has ever heard of it and there is no one who knows how to perform it!

    … oh wait.

  197. 197
    Therrin

    Ichthyic,

    so, the screaming babies when anesthetic isn’t used doesn’t convince you?

    I believe the traditional opiate of choice is Manischewitz.

  198. 198
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Sally:

    Ah, I’m envious. StrangeBoyfriend is still of the opinion that I am overly skeptical about psychic woo and auras, and will come around someday.

    I don’t know how long you’ve known StrangeBoyfriend, but I can tell you that with Mr. Darkheart, the transition has taken close to a decade. It’s not something I pushed or asked for, he’s just kind of come about it naturally.

    Alan Millar:
    Okay, let’s say that the studies aren’t flawed. I’m not sure what this has to do with 1) neonatal circumcision and 2) circumcisions being performed in the US.

  199. 199
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    According to the CDC circumcision cuts HIV transmission significantly:
    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm

    This is very important in Africa.

    Wow, I see someone didn’t read the thread…

  200. 200
    Paul

    Count me as one who is glad my parents had me circumcised. I find it more aesthetically pleasing personally.

  201. 201
    Ichthyic

    since random people keep popping in thinking there is clear evidence that circumcision lowers the rate of HIV transmission during intercourse, let me run down what happened on that CDC page one more time:

    Initially, they cite a review article from 2000 that after looking at over 24 different studies “the relative risk for HIV infection was 44% lower in circumcised men”.

    but what does that even mean?

    the studies use widely varying methods, often ask slightly different questions, and have extremely variable results.

    they ARE NOT related to each other.

    if one study, using method “A” sees no correlation, one study using method “B” sees 70% correlation, and another using method “C” sees 8% correlation (all real numbers from those studies, btw), I CANNOT STATISTICALLY AVERAGE THOSE NUMBERS TO ANYTHING MEANINGFUL. Saying those 3 studies used as examples mean there is a “26%” correlation is entirely meaningless.

    I’m not sure how to even put it as a simpler analogy.

    I can’t stress enough how incorrect it is to come up with a single number like that; an average over vastly different study methods.

    again, for studies that use the same exact method, and repeat the same experiment with the same populations, THEN you can get a meaningful average.

    that is not what happened here, and the review paper cited by the CDC should have been vetted better.

  202. 202
    Ichthyic

    …It makes me think Orac, if he already hasn’t done so, should address this in a post.

  203. 203
    Ichthyic

    Wow, I see someone didn’t read the thread…

    or even the full CDC post, given that they also cite several studies that show no significant correlation, and since their conclusion itself belies what might be read into the numbers posted.

    this is why it’s always best to go straight to the primary literature, and see for yourself what is going on.

    I realize most people are either too lazy, or don’t have access, or what have you, but still, even google scholar can turn up abstracts to read that hint at methods and results at least.

    I’m quite disappointed overall with that CDC page.

    makes me wonder where else that have fucked up consensus issues on things.

  204. 204
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    >>I don’t think it’s right to circumcise children, because they aren’t capable of giving consent.

    FUCK YOUR CONSENT. That’s what a parent’s decision is.

    Just out of curiosity, do you apply the same reasoning to other forms of sexual assault?

  205. 205
    Tethys

    otherwise, you’d be better off with just a retractable keratinized sheath

    I doubt the female would agree. Ouch!

  206. 206
    Ichthyic

    I doubt the female would agree. Ouch!

    I blame my male-centric response on being raised in a patriarchal society.

    ;)

  207. 207
    Inaji

    Tethys:

    I doubt the female would agree. Ouch!

    Well, feline penises are barbed and there’s no shortage of little felines running around. ;)

  208. 208
    Oenotrian

    I opted out on the issue for both of our sons: I let my (circumcised) husband make the call. I figured that, between his own experience and his training as a physician, he was better “equipped” to make that call.

    He chose circumcision for our boys.

  209. 209
    Ichthyic

    Well, feline penises are barbed and there’s no shortage of little felines running around. ;)

    huh, I actually was thinking about the fact that clitorises have prepuces too.

    and a keratanized clitoral sheath might indeed be… uncomfortable.

    I totally missed the implications for sex in that the first response.

    Not a good sign.

    :P

  210. 210
    Amphiox

    Hence, no evidence it’s traumatic.

    The question of traumatic or not is actually irrelevant.

    The ethical issue is subjection to risk without justifiable reason.

    Even if there is absolutely no trauma whatsoever, when things go well, even if the risk of things not going well is infinitesimally small (which it is not), if there is no good medical reason to subject an infant to the procedure, it isn’t ethical to perform it.

  211. 211
    Amphiox

    And there’s no evidence that men with or without circumcision are more or less circumspect with regards to doctors, knives, and their penises.

    This is just evidence that they don’t remember the trauma, or that they are resilient enough to get over trauma.

    It doesn’t show that there is no trauma.

  212. 212
    Ichthyic

    all in favor of using crissakentavr as a penile trauma test subject?

    we could try a variety of implements…

    …and see if there is any resulting trauma.

  213. 213
    Jason

    @mb I’m with you man. Looks good, the risks with proper medical facilities are negligible and it makes hygiene easier. Naturally, I don’t remember a thing. I think most people tend to forget about postnatal brain development and what ‘pain’ even means or does at the stage when circumcision is performed. There is certainly a moral line to look out for if we are talking about parental desire for body modification of their young but this is really doesn’t cross that line.

  214. 214
    BrianX

    I’ve said this before, but I’m pretty indifferent on the male circumcision issue. I don’t consider it a gross human rights violation, but I would shed no tears if it disappeared tomorrow.

  215. 215
    As A Woman

    Question to all of you who are anti-(male) circumcision: I agree with you in theory that it sounds like barbaric mutilation of a baby for no good reason. But what am I supposed to say to my husband, who was circumcised and is happy with it? He’s the one with a penis and he says he’s happy he was circumcised. I have no problem with the way he is now – it certainly seems to work fine and doesn’t cause him any pain or problems*. Who am I to tell him he’s wrong about his own body? And what am I supposed to say to him if we have a son someday? He says he’s happy it was done to him as a baby, because he likes it better this way but would not want to be put in the position of having it done as an adult, when he’d remember how painful it was. (Plus, does it heal better if done to an infant? Seems like in general scars do heal better if you’re really young.)

    I’m also curious if anyone has thought about how this whole argument relates to orthodontia on children. Getting braces to straighten your teeth is not required from a functional point of view – its usually strictly cosmetic, and its pretty painful. Do we approve of doing that to 12 year olds? Nearly everyone in the US does, if they can afford it.

    * (unlike female “circumcision” which is in a whole different category because it does cause long term pain and medical problems)

  216. 216
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    And what am I supposed to say to him if we have a son someday?

    That his son’s body is not his body.

  217. 217
    Spamamander, the Good Kind of Spam

    For some domestic animals sheath/ penile cleaning is a must, particularly horses. They can develop urinary blockage if it’s not done.

    Sheath Cleaning For the Stallion or Gelding

    Just throwing that out there. ;)

  218. 218
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Quick one before bed:

    But what am I supposed to say to my husband, who was circumcised and is happy with it? He’s the one with a penis and he says he’s happy he was circumcised.

    This doesn’t follow. If your husband is happy, wonderful. However that does not mean that he (or you) should make that decision for your (theoretical) son.

    Look, no one here is saying, “eeeewwww! Icky cut penises!”.

    Getting braces to straighten your teeth is not required from a functional point of view – its usually strictly cosmetic, and its pretty painful.

    Uh, no, it’s not always purely cosmetic. Oral health is important to overall health. And, believe it or not, having impacted teeth (for example) can lead to poor oral health.

    I had braces for many, many years of my life. Here’s a difference: I was 11 when I first started having my teeth straightened/jaw widened*. When I was 11, I was old enough to understand what the doctor was doing to my teeth/jaw, why it was important, and how much the procedure was going to hurt.

    I also had surgery for non-life threatening medical problems in my early teens– do you think this is wrong, too?

    *Yes, it’s every bit as horrible as it sounds.

  219. 219
    hughintactive

    I finally sucked up my embarrassment and went to a urologist at the age of 18. He asked me if I wanted to be circumcised, and I said no. He then performed a slightly more elaborate procedure that fixed it and left the foreskin intact.

    How lucky Patrick was compared to this man!

  220. 220
    andrsib

    I propose neonatal routine appendectomy. Reasons:

    1. It will prevent appendicitis later in life. As everybody knows, appendicitis may turn real ugly, even deadly, especially if not treated real fast.

    2. Unlike foreskin, for which I can find a good use, the vermiform appendix is completely useless.

    3. The surgery is best performed on babies because the scars heal better in real young children. Besides, the babies are too young to remember how painful it is.

    4. I had appendicitis myself, and it was surgically removed. I was happy I had the surgery. I never had any problems due to the lack of my vermiform appendix afterwards. I wish my parents did it to me when I was a baby, this way saving me a lot of pain and a month of post-surgical recovery.

  221. 221
    John Morales

    [I note all mentions of FGM here are ironic and meta; not my experience with the converse.

    (Observation: The Menz are far, far bigger whiners than feminists)]

  222. 222
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    What kristinc said. While it was a-okay with your hubby and most men that have it done, there’s a small and growing number of men who had it done and are not okay that they didn’t have a choice. Since there’s little point in doing it and it causes such discomfort afterwards to what should be a happy moment in a baby’s new life. People talk about the actual cutting, but think about it afterwards. I remember having to be extra careful while changing my little brother’s diapers when he was born, because the mere accidental brush would make them scream like banshees – and don’t get me started on just the pain of wearing a piss wet diaper against a fresh wound that has to heal over. A kid’s first days shouldn’t have to have “risk of infection, so handle with care” worries if it can at all be helped.

    I recall that particular scream every time this subject comes up. If I ever change my mind about the kid thing, and it’s a son, I’m taking home an intact boy. Once he’s old enough to even think about it, then it’ll be like any other body mod – and his choice, and at that time, the state of his penis will be the last thing on my mind.

  223. 223
    hughintactive

    crissakentavr says:

    The freedom-of-religion angle doesn’t fly. We don’t approve of any other genital cosmetic surgery just because some religion demands it, so why would we do so in the case of male circumcision?

    That’s a pretty narrow band. You limited it to surgery (using a knife) and genital. In fact, the only other widely known one would be lopping off the structure that would have formed the penis, and still contains the same nerves.

    If you mean female genital cutting, ALL such is illegal in most of the developed world, regardless of severity (and we don’t need to be reminded how severe it is in sub-Saharan Africa), and with no religious exemption. In some jurisdictions including mine, an adult woman can’t even consent to her own ritual cutting (presumably as a hedge against coercion). No other normal, healthy, functional, non-regrowing tissue may be cut off a baby without pressing medical need.

    If you want to be honest, why are you limiting your complaints to genitals? That seems spurious. And why limit it to knives? That also seems unreasonable.

    Because in every other case, permanent bodily modification of a non-consenting person is alrady illegal. Satanist parents may not slit their daughter’s tongue, though that would be less invasive and irreversible than circumcision – just more public. A Frenso man is doing time for putting a small gang tattoo on his (allegedly willing) 9-year-old’s side.

  224. 224
    hughintactive

    Katrina says:

    I opted out on the issue for both of our sons: I let my (circumcised) husband make the call. I figured that, between his own experience and his training as a physician, he was better “equipped” to make that call.

    He chose circumcision for our boys.

    Actually, with almost certainly intact genitalia yourself, you are better equipped. Would you give any of them up? Or be happy to have had any of them removed as a child because your mother had?

    (The last time I used this argument I was accused of insensitivity for comparing circumcision to the horrors of FGC in sub-Saharan Africa, when I was doing no such thing. Damned if you do…)

    Count me as one who is glad my parents had me circumcised. I find it more aesthetically pleasing personally.

    Does it not occur to you that if they had not, you would also find what you then had to be be aesthetically more pleasing personally? A minority prefer what they haven’t got, but most of those are circumcised; the few others are readily able to achieve what they want. (Oddly, they then sometimes campaign for the choice they enjoyed to be taken away from others.)

    …my dad decided to describe his penis and the circumstances leading to it’s appearance at my sister’s wedding.

    I trust this was at the reception, not during the vows?

    I believe the traditional opiate of choice is Manischewitz.

    Simultaneously introducing the baby to sex, violence and drugs!

    feline penises are barbed and there’s no shortage of little felines running around.

    Could that explain the noises cats make during courtship?

  225. 225
    Patrick

    @kristinc

    I was a very self-conscious child. I’d also been berated a couple times for playing with the thing in public. I picked up some sort of vibe from my parents, society at large, or somewhere that made me very uncomfortable to talk about the genitals. That’s why my problem went untreated for so long.

    @hughintactive

    Indeed!

  226. 226
    hotdog

    wondering why no one has commented on the joy of uncircumcising. aesthetics my ass. it really is much more pleasurable to be uncircumcised-having been both ways.

  227. 227
    Arcanyn

    But what am I supposed to say to my husband, who was circumcised and is happy with it? He’s the one with a penis and he says he’s happy he was circumcised.

    Why exactly? Did he notice, say, an improvement in the quality of sex as a result of it, compared to when he was an infant?

  228. 228
    John Morales

    As A Woman:

    But what am I supposed to say to my husband, who was circumcised and is happy with it?

    Body dysmorphia.

    He’s the one with a penis and he says he’s happy he was circumcised.
    [...]
    He says he’s happy it was done to him as a baby, because he likes it better this way but would not want to be put in the position of having it done as an adult, when he’d remember how painful it was.

    Yeah. You don’t see why it’s self-defense to claim this, or upon what a spurious basis he opines it’s “better this way”.

    (‘Cos he knows all about the alternative, right)

  229. 229
    hotdog

    Arcanyn
    if your husband reads the website he might change his mind, I had noo idea things could be so much better till I read about it and tried it.

  230. 230
    Buffybot

    So … how much overlap is there between the people advocating circumcision in childhood in order to prevent stds in future, and the ones flailing around in a moral panic over HPV vaccination in childhood to prevent stds in future? Strikes me as a vast gulf of cognitive dissonance and inconsistency. Unless of course circumcision has fuck-all to do with std prevention and it’s just a way of justifying an irrational action after the fact.

  231. 231
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I’m curious why those who had it done for their sons and now regret it feel that way.

    Well, probably because they’re sorry they violated their right to self-determination in such a totally unnecessary way. What part of “don’t have any permanent non-necessary potentially dangerous surgery performed on an unconsenting kid” is so hard to understand?

    As a Woman

    But what am I supposed to say to my husband, who was circumcised and is happy with it? He’s the one with a penis and he says he’s happy he was circumcised. I have no problem with the way he is now – it certainly seems to work fine and doesn’t cause him any pain or problems*. Who am I to tell him he’s wrong about his own body?

    Well, nothing. It’s good he’s happy. None of us wants to see unhappy men because of their circumcision. But they are out there, they’re speaking their harm.

    And what am I supposed to say to him if we have a son someday? He says he’s happy it was done to him as a baby, because he likes it better this way but would not want to be put in the position of having it done as an adult, when he’d remember how painful it was.

    Well, that penis isn’t his. So he acknowledges that it’s painful and he wants to inflict that on his child?
    Ask yourself, what would your reaction be if he talked about a tatoo or a Prince Albert? Is “because I’m happy with it but I wished I’d had it have done when I was wee so I wouldn’t remember the pain” really a good argument?

    Getting braces to straighten your teeth is not required from a functional point of view – its usually strictly cosmetic, and its pretty painful.

    No, as others have said before, oral health can have a big impact on overall heath, especially when your bite doesn’t “fit”. Constant headaches, backpain etc are only some possible consequences.
    But to argue that point a bit further:
    I didn’t have braces. Not because my teeth are perfectly straight, they’re far from that, but because the profesionals evaluated that, since I’m not having problems with the bite, and since my teeth are poor quality, it would do more harm than good.
    But at age 12, my voice was heard and had some impact on the overall decision.
    Can you see the difference?

  232. 232
    Deen

    @Igor, way up in #97:

    If an uncircumcised penis causes the child to be treated as an outsider by his peers, a circumcision during the first 8 days of life is definitely a lesser evil.

    No, the lesser evil would be to make sure the circumcised kids are the exceptions. And using bullying as an argument to do anything, let alone unnecessary surgery? This is such a crappy argument that I’m amazed it’s brought up here. It’s the exact same argument used by anti-gay bigots, when they say that you shouldn’t say homosexuality is OK because it will expose kids to anti-gay bullying. Do you really not see what’s wrong with that argument?

  233. 233
    Sneak

    My dad was done, I was done, I fully intended to have my children done.

    Then I actually watched a video of it being performed under clinical conditions at some exhibit in Ohio a few years ago. And I literally vomited my lunch onto the museum floor. Not a fucken chance. Stone-age abuse fetish, nothing more.

  234. 234
    opposablethumbs

    Carlie #14 said

    Hellooooooo…. MRAs who always gripe that we don’t talk about circumcision and try to derail the FGM threads to talk about circumcision instead, and who always manage to do it within the first five comments? Here’s your big chance! Talk away! Let’s discuss the problems and the solutions and the personal anecdotes and everything! Right here!

    Where are you guys?

    and at 122 Carlie noted

    Still no sign of the vehement “what about the menz” posters we’ve had before – interesting. Instead, we have different trolls who are arguing that it’s no big deal. Even more interesting. Almost like they only want to be contrary to whatever the prevailing opinion is. Hmmmm.

    … and what do you know, over 232 already and they still haven’t shown up. Anyone would think they don’t really care …
    Is it wrong of me that as I read this thread a tiny part of me is thinking, next time there’s a thread about FGM or any remotely related issue and the usual influx of MRAs barge in and start vomiting everywhere, it will be quite … apposite to link back to this one and say where the fuck were you?

  235. 235
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    I’m saddened, but not surprised, by the people who think that “my (circumcised) partner has a penis, and therefore knows more about it than me” or “I like the way my (circumcised) penis looks” are valid arguments for performing an unnecessary amputation of a healthy body part on an infant with no ability to form or voice his opinion. Even on a practical level, can’t these people see that waiting until the boy is at least old enough to stay still voluntarily, rather than being strapped down, and to actually report when the area of the surgery has been sufficiently anesthetised would reduce the risk of complications caused by the writhing of an agonised infant at a crucial moment as well as making the procedure less traumatic?

  236. 236
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    As for the MRAs: I suppose that us feminists saying: “Don’t do that, don’t chop off healthy parts of little boys’ peepees” shows again that we’Re truely anti-man because women (male feminists don’t count, they’re just our lapdogs) want to tell men what to do with their sons’ dicks.
    Something along the line…
    Jason Thimbeault had a post up about the disadvantages of men and they failed to show up there, too.

  237. 237
    John Morales

    [opposablethumbs, cf. my #221]

  238. 238
    rorschach

    Did he notice, say, an improvement in the quality of sex as a result of it, compared to when he was an infant?

    Huh ?

    2. Unlike foreskin, for which I can find a good use, the vermiform appendix is completely useless.

    What’s the good use of a foreskin again ? And you are very likely not correct, in that the appendix has been implemented in the accelerated re-colonisation of human guts after severe diarrhoeal illnesses like Cholera.

    I’m at least a little torn on this. I find skinned shafts sexier than unskinned ones, and women seem to anecdotally agree with that. OTOH, the ritual foreskin slaughter for religious reasons is nonsense, and carries a significant risk of infection and bleeding. So when adding it all up, foreskin snipping is just not medically indicated or justifiable, and needs to stop.

  239. 239
    Inaji

    Marcus Hill:

    I’m saddened, but not surprised, by the people who think that “my (circumcised) partner has a penis, and therefore knows more about it than me” or “I like the way my (circumcised) penis looks” are valid arguments

    So am I. In the previous thread about male circumcision, I was shocked by the amount of people who used such vacuous excuses to justify circumcising their sons. One man wrote that he didn’t want to be taking a shower/bath with his future son and have to explain why his penis looked different. Other people brought up the whole “what about the locker room in HS!?” crap. It’s astonishing, the lengths people will go to in order to justify a completely unnecessary procedure.

  240. 240
    hughintactive

    @235 opposablethumbs: You’ve lost me. Are you complaining that MRAs haven’t shown up to derail this thread into FGC? Isn’t that a job for man-hating feminists?

    My experience is that men don’t show up on an FGC thread until someone gratuitously defends MGC in passing – which usually happens in the OP.

    The bottom line is that both both are human rights violations, both are evil, both have degrees of severity (check out the male circumcison of the Yemen) – and yes, sub-Saharan FGC is horrific, but that doesn’t make surgical MGC one whit more defensible – both must end.

  241. 241
    hughintactive

    @239 Rorschach: “What’s the good use of a foreskin again ?”

  242. 242
    Inaji

    hughintactive:

    You’ve lost me. Are you complaining that MRAs haven’t shown up to derail this thread into FGC? Isn’t that a job for man-hating feminists?

    Feminists aren’t man-hating, and no it isn’t. It’s a reference to a bit of history on Pharyngula. We have never once been able to have a post and thread on FGM without men showing up (usually well before 20 comments are in) whining about why we aren’t paying attention to the male circumcision holocaust.

    It’s a marked contrast, when there is a thread about male circumcision, that you don’t see women breaking in and derailing with “what about the women! what about FGM? You can’t talk about male circumcision until you address FGM!”

    As usual, when we are talking about a mens’ issue, the MRAs are nowhere in sight, even though they manage to claim that we never, ever address mens’ issues. Ever.

  243. 243
    John Morales

    hughintactive:

    My experience is that men don’t show up on an FGC thread until someone gratuitously defends MGC in passing – which usually happens in the OP.

    Care to attempt to adduce evidence for that falsehood?

  244. 244
    rorschach

    @ 242,

    thanks for that link, a great laugh, and may I say, most of the points made there are complete and utter garbage. Such as this one :

    Prevents dyspareunia (painful intercourse)

    Dyspareunia has fuckall nothing to do with the male genital, unless you’re having sex with a horse.

    Provides a seal against the vaginal wall to contain semen

    This makes no sense whatsoever.

    Protects the nerves of the glans, retaining their erotic function

    So we skinned men have a defective glans that won’t perform it’s “erotic function” ?

    In infancy, protects the urethra against contamination, meatal stenosis, (and UTIs?

    [Citation needed]

    Pigmented, it protects the unpigmented glans against sunburn

    30+ sunscreen might do that too.

    Supplies skin to cover the shaft in erection and prevent tightness

    I don’t seem to be afflicted with that, thankfully, despite my skinless condition. Maybe that’s because this theory is a load of horseshit, like the 19 others you just linked to.

  245. 245
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    hughintactive

    My experience is that men don’t show up on an FGC thread until someone gratuitously defends MGC in passing – which usually happens in the OP.

    You don’t seem to have made your experience on Pharyngula

  246. 246
    Carlie

    You’ve lost me. Are you complaining that MRAs haven’t shown up to derail this thread into FGC? Isn’t that a job for man-hating feminists?

    No, the complaint is that they seem to think it’s the most important thing in the world to discuss circumcision when FGM is the topic on the table, but never seem to think it’s important to discuss at any other time…like when it’s the main topic of conversation. That’s what makes it so clear that they are only interested in using it as a derailment tactic to stop talking about women. Although the point is a very good one that there hasn’t been a single woman (or man) trying to derail this thread over into FGM. Also, it’s the very same people who the MRAs complain are too focused on women in the FGM threads who are, here, defending the anti-circumcision position from other dissenters, without any help at ALL from those MRAs. It will be quite satisfying to point them here the next time they show up in a women’s issue thread and ask them where the hell they were. It can’t be that they just didn’t happen to notice; they have some kind of sixth sense about the FGM threads and show up every single time, usually within minutes of the OP.

    My experience is that men don’t show up on an FGC thread until someone gratuitously defends MGC in passing – which usually happens in the OP.

    First comment. It’s happened here in the very first comment after the OP goes up. And I would ask that you search and look through the posts here about FGM; circumcision has never been gratuitiously defended. There have been posts in which PZ warns the MRAs not to bring it into the conversation, simply based on the history of how they’d previously stomped all over the discussion, and mentions that it’s more minor than most FGM, but that’s it.

  247. 247
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    Rorschach: What’s the use of an earlobe again? None? Well, I find lobeless ears more aesthetically pleasing, so when my kid is born in a couple of months, I’ll have his or her earlobes surgically removed.

  248. 248
    rorschach

    What’s the use of an earlobe again? None? Well, I find lobeless ears more aesthetically pleasing, so when my kid is born in a couple of months, I’ll have his or her earlobes surgically removed.

    Go play at the Muppets website or something, if you can’t follow the discussion here.

  249. 249
    Species8472

    A few weeks ago the Norwegian Humanist Association took a stand on the issue of circumcision and decided to work for a law banning it being done to children.

    Naturally a bunch of people got angry when this hit media. Especially the Muslims and Jews got upset.

    So called human rights experts said this law would violate human rights as it was against freedom of religion. I find that very strange as any guy/boy who is old enough to choose his own religion (legally at the age of 15 in Norway) is old enough to have their dick mutilated if they so choose. I’d suggest having a circumcision as an infant and thus branding you as Jew or Muslim (circumcision is not customary in the rest of the public) is actually taking away some of their religious freedom. This as well as there is no good medical reason to do it that isn’t bloated self-justifying bullshit.

  250. 250
    Gregory Greenwood

    hughintactive @ 241;

    My experience is that men don’t show up on an FGC thread until someone gratuitously defends MGC in passing – which usually happens in the OP.

    You do know that many of the people objecting to the horrific abuse that is FGM on those threads are actually men, right?

    In any case, just look back over the FGM threads that have been on the site. MRAs turn up within a few posts in most cases and pretty much complain that people are discussing FGM at all when the horror of male circumcision supposedly gets no attention. They then spend the remainder of the thread (often several hundred posts) doing all they can to disrupt discussion of FGM and women’s issues in general by trying to derail the thread by any means possible, often descending into offensive misogyny and ranting about ‘man hating feminazis’ in the process. It is odd that, despite their great professed interest in tackling the issue of male circumcision, none of them seem to have taken the time to post on this thread.

    The bottom line is that both both are human rights violations, both are evil, both have degrees of severity (check out the male circumcison of the Yemen) – and yes, sub-Saharan FGC is horrific, but that doesn’t make surgical MGC one whit more defensible – both must end.

    Ther are a great many people here – most of them the self-same people that the MRAs like to dismiss as ‘radfems’ – who are adamantly against male circumcision and take on its apologists when they appear on the thread. You are right that male circumcision is abusive. It is harmful to children, it does impair sexual sensation in later life, and its supposed health benefits are largely unevidenced and superior protection is offered by condoms in any case. It should be stopped, but that is no reason for people to try to brush the issue of FGM under the carpet. It is also fair to observe, as Carlie mentions @ 247, that in most instances most forms of female genital mutilation are more severe in terms of traumatic injury, longer term health complications and loss of sexual senation then most forms of male circumcision. There is also a difference in terms of cultural significance. FGM is often performed as a statement of the status of women as property, first that of their male relatives and later that of their husband. This plays into other cultural expressions of the subjugation of women, an element that male circumcision does not share.

    This is a thread about male circumcision. It is not the place to discuss FGM at length, but Carlie’s point is still valid. Where are the legions of people who were so outraged that male circumcision is supposedly ignored? Here is the type of thread they claimed they wanted, with the majority of regular posters stating their unambiguous opposition to this barbarous and (in most cases) medically unnecessary procedure, and yet they are strangely silent. It seems likely that their professed interest in the topic was not genuine, and their true motive was not to tackle the problem of male circumcision at all, but rather to try to silence any discussion of FGM or any other topic where the voices of women are particularly likley to be heard.

  251. 251
    Britatheist

    I’m one of the rare ones. I had BXO.

  252. 252
    Species8472

    On the FGM issue: I remember Rebecca Watson saying, when I heard her speak last year, that she has not been able to bring up that subject once without at least one of the questions after the talk has been about male circumcision … from a guy. Not once.

    I’m opposed to any form of genital mutilation. So I can see the initial connection between the male and female variety. However the connection is only superficial. The nature and background of FGM is a significant women’s rights issue that is not even remotely paralleled in male circumcision. Not to mention the orders of magnitude difference in level of actual mutilation.

    There is a small degree of validity in bringing up FGM in the context of male circumcision in that if we do not allow any form of mutilation of female genitalia, no matter how minor (I don’t know how minor it can get, the gory details of FGM is a bit more than I can stomach), why is it then ok on males? But bringing up male circumcision in the context of FGM is just meaningless.

  253. 253
    Deen

    @Caine in #240:

    One man wrote that he didn’t want to be taking a shower/bath with his future son and have to explain why his penis looked different.

    Yeah, that’s a crappy argument – and again, oddly similar to the arguments anti-gay bigots use, when they want to prevent people from even mentioning homosexuality, because they don’t want to have to explain it to their children. But if you’re not prepared to explain how the world works to your children – including sex – you really shouldn’t be having any.

    And besides, I’m sure most children will understand it just fine. Kids are generally quite accepting of the things their parents tell them. I think it’s much more likely that this man doesn’t understand it himself.

  254. 254
    Don Quijote

    @248 “What’s the use of an ear lobe again?”

    I thought everybody knew that ear lobes are essential to the thought process and crucial for good sex.

  255. 255
    opposablethumbs

    John Morales,

    [opposablethumbs, cf. my #221]

    yes indeed. I should have mentioned that too.
    .
    @hughinactive #241
    Caine, Fleur du Mal عنتر, John Morales, Carlie, Giliell, the woman who said Good-bye to Kitty and Gregory Greenwood have way, way more than answered you. It’s impossible for you not to have got the point at this point, right?
    .
    I regret that I was away from the computer earlier and unable to respond at the time, or I suppose I might have clarified that the MRAs are nothing but a bunch of shit-stirrers with no interest in even a sub-set of human rights. They don’t want the genuine betterment of men (unlike those voicing concerns on this thread) – they just want to rail against the nasssty wimmenz.
    .
    I find it very heartening that a good many folks on this thread who either own a circumcised penis, or love an owner of a circumcised penis, or both, would still never inflict circumcision on their own sons despite having a potentially (only potentially) strong motive to feel committed to the practice.

  256. 256
    matt

    We decided not to circumcise our son because the idea of a group of giants standing around him and needlessly chopping off a piece of his tiny little tweeter for reasons of conformity seemed abhorrent to us. It’s not even a religions thing in hospitals. They ask you and most people say yes because most men have been circumcised, again, not even for religious reasons, but because everyone else is. Amazing how conditioned we are as a species to accept without question things that are religious in origin. No wonder religion has a privilege. Our society is conditioned to allow it.

  257. 257
    Dianne

    There is a small degree of validity in bringing up FGM in the context of male circumcision in that if we do not allow any form of mutilation of female genitalia, no matter how minor (I don’t know how minor it can get, the gory details of FGM is a bit more than I can stomach), why is it then ok on males?

    FGM varies between something that, if done correctly, is not much more extreme than male circumcision to the equivalent of taking the entire penis and doing some other things that there just isn’t a male analogy for (removing the clitoris and sewing the vagina nearly shut.) So if we were really limited to ending just one, FGM would “win”. Fortunately, as these things go, it is within the bounds of possibility to condemn and work against both, so there is no conflict, unless people demand that there be one.

  258. 258
    andrsib

    @Rorschach #239:

    What’s the good use of a foreskin again ?

    Example:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17155977

    And you are very likely not correct, in that the appendix has been implemented in the accelerated re-colonisation of human guts after severe diarrhoeal illnesses like Cholera.

    Evidence?

  259. 259
    Deen

    They ask you and most people say yes because most men have been circumcised, again, not even for religious reasons, but because everyone else is.

    Not knowing, of course, how much of an exception the US is in that.

  260. 260
    Species8472

    @259 andrsib

    Not surprising that cutting away an erogenous zone is going to affect the sexual experience. That would seems to be one of the original reasons for genital mutilation in the first place.

    Of course consenting adults are allowed to do whatever they want to their genitalia. Cutting, piercings, removing them altogether or swapping them for the other kind. However we’re talking about infants here. No one has the right to make such a choice on behalf of anyone.

  261. 261
    andrsib

    @Species8472 #261:

    That’s correct. And this is why PZ is right saying that health benefits are total bullshit. Especially the ones talking about STD prevention. Even if these studies are 100% correct (and I seriously doubt so), they are totally irrelevant to the issue of neonatal circumcision, since the babies don’t have sex.

    My point about appendectomy is rather sarcastic: obviously, neonatal routine appendectomy would have a lot more health benefits than circumcision, yet nobody would consider it seriously.

  262. 262
    Species8472

    @262 andrsib

    Indeed. The STD arguments were used a lot in the recent debate over here too. Why is that relevant for infants? The whole point here is that after 15 you can choose yourself to get circumcised. So STDs is a non-issue regardless.

    Also the silly cleanliness argument. Why is foreskin a cleanliness problem? You just pull it back and wash. It’s not fucking rocketsurgery. I was born with an opening that was too small so I couldn’t clean properly. But they cut it a little larger and problem solved. No point removing the whole thing.

  263. 263
    Anri

    If I like the way my tattoo looks, and I’m happy I have one, can I put a similar one on my infant child?

    You know, so they won’t have to wonder why we look different if ever we bathe together…

  264. 264
    Dianne

    Combining this post with your last one, maybe the whole circumcision thing is a big misunderstanding. It’s not the foreskin that’s supposed to be removed, it’s the magic appendix organ.

  265. 265
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    Rorshcach @249: Projecting much?

  266. 266
    julian

    So we skinned men have a defective glans that won’t perform it’s “erotic function” ?

    I dunno but after seeing handjobs performed on uncircumsized men, I really wish my mother hadn’t let the doc lop off my foreskin. And I’m being entirely serious.

  267. 267
    Kristen

    My son is five years old and I did not have him circumcised. His father isn’t circumcised, so it wasn’t really an issue, neither of us thought it was necessary. However, the children’s hospital where I gave birth to him made me feel terrible about the decision. I stayed in the hospital for three days. For each of those days at least five people came and asked me, ‘to circumcise him’, ‘did i know he hadn’t been circumcised yet?’, ‘was I planning on circumcising him?’. They took what was a very simple decision for me (i never had any intention to do that to him) and scared me. I second guessed my decision because all these medical professionals were pressuring me to change my decision. I’m thankful I didn’t change my decision.

  268. 268
    fifilamour

    Thank you so much for addressing this issue on a skeptic’s blog. Being a woman without male children it doesn’t directly effect me but I’ve been pretty appalled by some of the posts and opinions I’ve seen over the years from some people who claim to be skeptics and proponents of Science Based Medicine. One in particular stands out, Harriet Hall’s post and follow up on Science Based Medicine (which resorted to some rather pathetic macho attempts to demean men commenting) regarding male circumcision. Alongside SBM’s short-term promotion of another female pseudo-skeptic that was big on hyperbole and trolling tactics but short on actual skepticism and honest science (she was thankfully dropped quite quickly), Hall’s attitude and lack of ability to be skeptical – and the general uncritical acceptance and outright promotion of unnecessary surgery on babies – turned me off Science Based Medicine as a good source of information or any sort of standard of skepticism.

    Perhaps I’m extra critical about this type of ideological abuse of science in medicine because both my parents are doctors and I grew up surrounded by medicine (and research) and being taught medicine’s history. I believe it’s incredibly important for anyone promoting Science-based Medicine to be actually doing that and be willing to admit when a medical practice that still occurs isn’t science-based – not trying to use science to promote an ideological agenda (though Hall had done this in another area too, which other SBM bloggers actually called her on…which was heartening).

  269. 269
    fifilamour

    Freemage – “It has to do with the implicit horror of the situation. If circumcision is abuse, then the doctors who perform it are abusers. Given how prevalent it’s been in the USA for so long, that means a huge swathe of doctors are being confronted with the notion that they’ve been abusing their patients. Cognitive dissonance sets in HARD in cases like that.

    Similarly, if you’re generally happy with how your parents raised you, then having to get your mind around the fact that they authorized this procedure that should be regarded as abusive is also pretty damned difficult. Again, cognitive dissonance.”

    I agree entirely, and while this is an understandable human response (particularly if one performed circumcisions), I found it highly disappointing to find this kind of very personal bias being promoted on a site like SBM that sets itself up as being a defender of, well, science-based medicine and skepticism about unscientific practices.

  270. 270
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Audley -

    I’m glad Mr. Darkheart is coming around in so many ways. If he doesn’t get all the way there on the circumcision thing, he needs to understand that your refusal to cut your son’s penis is the default position. Not negotiable. He doesn’t have an equally valid position to argue, it’s not a matter of “differing opinions,” and his personal preferences don’t get consideration when you’re talking about your son’s right not to have his penis cut. Goddamn this makes me angry, sorry.

  271. 271
    fifilamour

    Rorschach – “I’m at least a little torn on this. I find skinned shafts sexier than unskinned ones, and women seem to anecdotally agree with that.”

    Depends what women one talks too… There have already been posts from other women who prefer uncut penises – I suspect part of that is what one is used to from both experience and the media. Me, I’m more invested in the person who the penis is attached to and what they’ve learned how to do with it.

    We’ve reached this weird point in our culture where it’s not uncommon to be exposed to idealized penises (and vulvas) that bear little resemblance to the vast diversity and individuality of genitals (particularly natural, unmodified genitals). It’s ultimately a porn aesthetic that has led to a boom in some very dubious cosmetic surgeries marketed at women (that prey upon insecurities about aging and not looking “normal” as defined by porn). In the vast majority of porn, penises in porn are generally circumcised and big and straight – they’re purely about optics and not about functionality or female pleasure (keep in mind most porn is made for men, even if women increasingly watch porn and learn genital aesthetics from it). I wonder how many women, who don’t have sex with other women, have an accurate idea of what vulvas look like outside of porn? I also wonder how freaked out by real vulvas some men who grew up on porn end up being when, um, faced with one? (Anecdotally, some are – hence why so many younger women shave their’s to confirm to the expected aesthetic.)

    There are a number of (non-pornographic though graphic) sites on the web that are attempting to give women real images of vulvas (though some are a bit anatomically challenged due to our culture’s common use of “vagina” when “vulva” is meant). Some are photos sent in by women, some are photographs taken by professional photographers. I suspect a site that does the same for men might be useful (though I guess it’s easier for guys to compare during gym so they may have a more accurate view of the wide world of penises than women do vis a vis vulvas). On the plus side, it would also give men who like sending pictures of their penises into the world at large because they think that’s a sexy thing to do somewhere to send them.

  272. 272
    Ichthyic

    yeah, about that whole “appendix functions to repopulate” hypothesis…

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/evolution_of_the_appendix.php

    and this is the really important issue for evolution:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/darwin_and_the_vermiform_appen.php

    the appendix is still vestigial, regardless of whether it still has any function or not.

  273. 273
    fifilamour

    I know this sounds like a silly question but it just occurred to me, is there money to be made in circumcising baby boys in the US? Do hospitals/doctors charge to do it? It seems that the US policy regarding circumcision is very different than in Europe, Canada and Australia (as are official recommendations by pediatrict societies). The US is really the exception here and it seems relevant to wonder whether the for-profit nature of medicine in the US may be a contributing factor (or not, I’m just curious as to where the money trail leads if there is one).

  274. 274
    pelamun

    Josh,

    I agree. I do think it’s similar to the corporal punishment debate. People say that it didn’t harm them that they were beaten by their parents, so they continue doing it in the next generation. That’s just an argument from tradition (argumentum ad traditionem? if there is such a thing), not really scientifically valid…

  275. 275
    Ichthyic

    That’s just an argument from tradition (argumentum ad traditionem? if there is such a thing)

    yup, but it’s officially labeled “the appeal to tradition”:

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-tradition.html

  276. 276
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    hughintactive:
    My experience is that men don’t show up on an FGC thread until someone gratuitously defends MGC in passing – which usually happens in the OP.

    Care to attempt to adduce evidence for that falsehood?

    I also recall that, in at least a couple cases, the topic of male genital mutilation was introduced at all by some offhandedly dismissive comment about it, which some people (probably including me) took exception to…and the MRAs then pounced on. I don’t have specifics, however.

  277. 277
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)
    What’s the use of an earlobe again? None? Well, I find lobeless ears more aesthetically pleasing, so when my kid is born in a couple of months, I’ll have his or her earlobes surgically removed.

    Go play at the Muppets website or something, if you can’t follow the discussion here.

    You know, it’s always jarring to see people who I can’t recall ever posting here dismissively telling regulars I recognize to get lost in a fashion that clearly conveys the impression that the newcomer is much more familiar with and integrated into the community than the regular.

    (Almost as jarring as when people talk to me like I’m a newcomer, in fact. >.>)

  278. 278
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    (Anecdotally, some are – hence why so many younger women shave their’s to confirm to the expected aesthetic.)

    You’re not seriously asserting that’s the only reason, are you?

    I know this sounds like a silly question but it just occurred to me, is there money to be made in circumcising baby boys in the US? Do hospitals/doctors charge to do it?

    Yes; I’ve read that doctors/hospitals can make $300-600 for what’s usually a pretty simple 5 minute operation, but I don’t remember the source.

  279. 279
    fifilamour

    Um, I did say “some” and indicated that it was anecdotal. But, yes, I have heard these anecdotes so I’ll stand by the “some” and “anecdotal” but clarify that I never made any claims about “all”. My main point was just that quite a few people seem to have very little idea of what genitals look like naturally, when they’re not being marketed for profit, and that the circumcised penis is much more prevalent in porn aesthetics (so much so that non-circumcised penises tend to get put into the fetish category).

  280. 280
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Err, what you said was that anecdotally, some people have this feeling, and that this is the reason why pubic shaving occurs. Which is contrary to my own anecdotal evidence and makes me extremely uncomfortable because it denies the reality and validity of women making choices for their own reasons, on a straightforward reading.

    But okay. Good.

  281. 281
    Eurasian magpie

    I recall that a few years ago the suddenly increased prevalence of pubic shaving among Swedish teenage girls was a talking point in the media. Reason being that as the consequence the medical professionals were seeing a surge of skin infections in the groin area. Ingrown hair down there is a beast. They were attributing this changing esthetic standard to influence of porn films. But if there was only the girls’ own testimony then of course that should be suspect…

    And Matt Cale of Ruthless Reviews – usually so reasonable – has always been almost shocked when a European film blasts him with full frontal hairy female nudity. So damn you ‘merkins and your porn industry.

  282. 282
    John Morales

    [OT]

    yup, but it’s officially labeled “the appeal to tradition”

    AKA argumentum ad antiquitatem.

  283. 283
    Antonov An-225

    To be completely frank: I am a woman, and while this issue doesn’t affect my own body, I’m dead-set against it. Of all the cut guys I’ve been intimate with, one didn’t care that he was circumcised, two were vaguely miffed about it, and one was profoundly psychologically damaged, to the point where it affected his self-esteem and sex life. Yeah, a lot of guys don’t care, and some people think uncut penises are “weird-looking” (which is stupid and offensive IMO), but seeing how unhappy my partner was about what he had been subjected to as an infant was enough to convince me that circumcising babies is wrong. I would be happy to see the practice die out entirely.

  284. 284
    PunkinheadDelux

    Fifilamour,

    Not only do doctors make money from performing it, hospitals make money from selling the foreskins to biotech companies.

    http://www.sdcitybeat.com/sandiego/article-7356-the-$140-million-foreskin.html

  285. 285
    Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom

    This radfem pronounceth thus:

    ROUTINE INFANT CIRCUMCISION IS ABHORRENT.

    It is an affront to the basic human dignity of men and boys, their right to privacy and control over one’s own body. As another lurker from across the pond, the prevalence of this custom (and the rationalizations! Dear Maude, the stupid BURRRNSSS US PRECIOUSSSSS) in the US absolutely *astounds* me.

    We do have some form of it here, mostly mixed up into toxic notions of masculinity and rites of passage to “prove” you are a man (by having a circumcition in the veldt, not done by a trained medical doctor and in sometimes unsanitary conditions) and thus not bring shame upon your family, which sometimes go horribly wrong, but there’s a HUGE difference between choosing about practicing cultural norms at an age where you consent to it (15+ is the norm here, I think, usually early 20s?) and having these life-altering, physically altering, unnecessary procedures thrust upon one.

  286. 286
    Joe

    Someone brought up the African studies (cited on the CDC link) and asked the question how would that relate to the issue of neonatal circumcision. I would answer that they have no applicability to neonates at all. Particularly where it relates to those in most first world countries. Even if the cited risk reduction was accurate, F->M heterosexual HIV transmission in the US is a very small portion, in most of those cases it occurs in high-risk individuals, and the vast majority of those people aren’t actual infected until at least their mid-20s. The overall lifetime risk reduction that a male in the US (or any other first world country) would achieve with this strategy is a small fraction of a percent.

    To perform circumcision on infants or children in the US based on this information is beyond ridiculous. You could suggest it to an adult but most would not benefit in any meaningful way. If the numbers are presented fairly I doubt anyone would jump on it. In spite of this, there does seem to be some effort to use, in part, this data to justify the practice in the US.

  287. 287
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I shall offer a series of mostly-unrelated anecdotes and somehow turn this into my point (this seems to be the pattern that most of my comments take):
    Firstly, I don’t have a horse in this race, as I’m a lesbian. Penises are not for me. In fact, I’ve only seen 3 adult penises in my entire life. One of those was my father’s, when I accidentally walked in on him changing once. We were both very embarrassed. The other two belonged to my ex-boyfriends before I came out. FWIW, all were circumcised. Other than medical-type images, I have never seen an intact penis. Not that I care, seeing as how I’m a lesbian. Neither cut nor uncut does anything for me. I am skeptical of the purported medical benefits, except in cases of conditions like phimosis or similar.
    Secondly, I can confirm Punkinhead’s comment re: biotech companies using foreskins. Yep. I’m a grad student, and my lab buys foreskins by the kilo from a local hospital. We pay essentially shipping and handling. Not sure about other places, but that’s what we do. The hospital gets to not dispose of them, we extract the fibroblasts and culture them. I’d guess that if circumcision rates fell, we’d find a different source of fresh human fibroblasts. Foreskins are used as a fibroblast source simply because they’re cheap and plentiful.
    Thirdly, I feel strongly that circumcision is a mutilation that really can’t be justified, except in narrow (medical necessity) cases. If I were to ever have a son, I would not have it done.
    Fourthly, I am uncomfortable by the palpable undercurrent of anti-Semitism that comes from some anti-circumcision activists. Not all people opposed to circumcision are anti-Semites (I’d say most are not), but some are, and some of the rhetoric crosses the line from being about protecting the body integrity of children to bashing Jewish or Muslim people. As much as I disagree with circumcision, it is something that until relatively recently (in the US and elswehere) it was something practiced more or less exclusively by those communities and was seen as a hallmark of membership in those communities. That history, IMO, cannot be ignored.

    So, uh, my point: circumcision is not something that I like. I would not have my son circumcised. That said, I’m uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric and imagery of a largely non-Jewish and non-Muslim movement opposing something that is strongly associated with Judaism and Islam, especially as – in the US and Europe – it can very easily turn into anti-Semitism.

  288. 288
    Joe

    Esteleth I’d like to point out that many of those involved in fighting circumcision are in fact Jewish. Take for example the director of the film that started this post. I agree that somethings I’ve seen have crossed the line but I don’t think it’s any worse than any other movement in percentage of extremest.

  289. 289
    hughintactive

    Oh dear, I seem to have single-handedly diverted to the topic to FGC – well, to what MRA’s do with FGC (divert it to MGC).

    @#243 Caine, Fleur du mal. I know most feminists are not man-hating, I was referring to the man-hating subset, and I do not assume it >~0 beyond MRAs’ fevered imaginations, but the way some women trivialise men’s real concerns about what circumcision has done to them does feed those imaginations. Men do too, of course, but they don’t notice that.

    @#256 opposable thumbs. I appreciate that the discussion here has been different in several ways from elsewhere. PZ is against MGC and wanted to discuss FGC without being sidetracked, even opening another thread for the sidetrack.

    Elsewhere – on women’s issues and mothering blogs – FGC is often raised out of the blue as a purely isolated, feminist issue, something wicked men do to women (when the practitioners are usually women) in order to destroy women’s sexuality. In fact the reasons are as varied and irrational as for MGC, and the victims (as for MGC) are the keenest proponents. It is on those blogs (I don’t file them so I can’t produce any immediately, but I have seen it more than a few times) that a defence of MGC as trivial and healthful is usually embedded.

    I still can’t quite see what you were hoping for – lots of messages from MRAs saying “I agree”? Perhaps we should be grateful they’re not here blaming it all on the “FemiNazis”….

    My own anti-FGC credentials: I think it was I who first spotted that the AAP’s revised policy on FGC in April last year proposed to permit a token ritual nick to girls, “much less extensive than male genital cutting”. This was tucked into the body of the text, not in the abstract or the press release.

    “1. Opposes all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM).”
    had been replaced by
    “1. Opposes all forms of FGC that pose risks of physical or psychological harm.”
    and a new weak recommendation that members “become informed about FGC” had been added to replace the strong
    “4. Recommends that its members decline to perform any medically unnecessary procedure that alters the genitalia of female infants, girls, and adolescents.”

    I alerted Intactivists, including Intact America, which alerted anti-FGC groups, leading to the AAP withdrawing the policy and issuing a statement opposing all FGC.

    I seriously consider that the “bioethics committee”, chaired by Dr Douglas Diekema, may have tried to put this past the board without it noticing, because the chair, Dr Judith Palfrey, at first tried to deny that that these changes had been made. Douglas Diekema is chair of the present Taskforce on Circumcision.

  290. 290
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Not disagreeing with you about the existence of Jewish anti-circumcision activists, Joe, or in the relatively low numbers of anti-Semites in the movement.
    I was just noting that (1) it’s there and (2) given the fact that circumcision is a practice traditionally belonging to a group that in the US and Europe is a minority (a frequently oppressed and discriminated-against minority), anti-Semitic anti-circumsion activists are especially problematic.

    The last thing I want to see is the practice of circumcision get driven underground, which tends to ramp up lack of hygiene, serious injuries, etc. See, for example, what has happened in some parts of Africa in response to anti-FGM campaigns. In fact, in some areas, families that are otherwise neutral (or even opposed to) FGM get their daughters cut as an ‘anti-colonial’ gesture.
    As a result, more girls are being subjected to a less hygienic mutilation – and frequently it’s more “thorough” – type II instead of I, type III instead of II – by less skilled practitioners and suffering horrible consequences including death as a result. It’s depressing as fuck and it is what needs to not happen with male cutting.

  291. 291
    arguably MRA

    @14 Carlie: I can only imagine what sort of bile crawls in you rhetorically vapid, impotent, malformed misandrists–and that is a statement, not an invitation to dialogue.

    But in general, PZ Myers talking about the harm of male circumcision? It is like listening to Rebecca Watson talk about abstinence from alcohol, or Richard Dawkin’s talk about the harm of atheism.

    The presentation could only appear incongruous, and disingenuous. Insult to injury–further equivocation.

    And no one here ever seems to get the main point of the ritual aspect of this maiming of young boys: beyond all the science, the health issues, etc.–where is the really important discourse about how the ritual “embodies” males?

    How the toleration of that ritual is and has always been the centerpiece of the issue of male subjugation to biblical foreathers, and the virtual admission that we feed men to society as tools of war? Circumcision is the requisite’proof’–affirmation of submission.

    It sure is nice to look at rape as symptomatic, and rape culture as the disease itself, but in fact they are symptoms of the bigger picture–how men are culled, separated, and engendered to begin with.

    The religious lunacy of circ that has been allowed and tolerated for so long was a useful construct for a select group of religious Jews–the Kohanim that directly benefited from the subjugation of this societies males.

    The simple fact is that Myers equivocating rhetoric in this issue served them quite well, for quite a long time to continue to obfuscate that reality.

    A strange hypocrisy indeed.

  292. 292
    hughintactive

    @245 Rorschach: Argument from incredulity, argument from ignorance.

    Dyspareunia has fuckall nothing to do with the male genital, unless you’re having sex with a horse.

    I wouldn’t know, but dyspareunia is not confined to women.

    Provides a seal against the vaginal wall to contain semen

    This makes no sense whatsoever.

    Perhaps Rorschach is unfamiilar with the normal male anatomy?

    Protects the nerves of the glans, retaining their erotic function

    So we skinned men have a defective glans that won’t perform it’s “erotic function” ?

    Since you insist on taking it personally, not as well, no. (Why the scare quotes? Are you denying the glans has an erotic function?)

    In infancy, protects the urethra against contamination, meatal stenosis, (and UTIs?

    [Citation needed]

    M. Machmouchi, A. Alkhotani
    Is Neonatal Circumcision Judicious?
    Eur J Pediatr Surg 2007; 17: 266-269
    “…Complications including meatal deformities, meatal stenosis, adhesions and infection were more frequent and more significant in the neonatal circumcision group” [than a group circumicsed at five months]

    Patel H.
    The problem of routine infant circumcision,
    Can Med Assoc J 1996;95:576-581
    Patel found a high incidence of complications, mainly minor, (35 haemorrhages, 31 meatal ulcers, 8 infections, 8 meatal stenoses, 1 phimosis) among 100 babies circumcised at one hospital in Kingston, Ontario.

    Rafael V. Pieretti, Allan M. Goldstein and Rafael Pieretti-Vanmarcke
    Late complications of newborn circumcision: a common and avoidable problem,
    Ped. Surg. Int. DOI 10.1007/s00383-010-2566-9

    “A total of 8,967 children were operated during the study period, of which 424 (4.7%) were for complications resulting from previous neonatal circumcision. Penile adhesions, skin bridges, meatal stenosis, redundant foreskin (incomplete circumcision with uncircumcised appearance), recurrent phimosis, buried penis and penile rotation were the most frequent complications.”

    Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision.
    Br. J. Surg 1993, Vol 80, Oct, 1231-1236
    Estimates the rate of complication at 2-10%, but that of meatal stenosis at 8-20%.

    Pigmented, it protects the unpigmented glans against sunburn

    30+ sunscreen might do that too.

    No doubt it might. So?

    Supplies skin to cover the shaft in erection and prevent tightness

    I don’t seem to be afflicted with that, thankfully, despite my skinless condition. Maybe that’s because this theory is a load of horseshit, like the 19 others you just linked to.

    Or maybe it’s because N=1.

  293. 293
    hughintactive

    @292. Thank you, arguably. “Ritualized child abuse” = equivocating rhetoric? Now I see what Carlie et al. were getting at.

  294. 294
    hughintactive

    @291 Esteleth: Equally, ritual circumcision may cause anti-semitism. Jewish anthropologist Leonard Glick discusses how it would have done so historically here (10:24), but even today, when the only thing you know about Judaism (apart from Fagin and Shylock) is that it involves cutting baby boys’ genitals and that is not part of your own culture, it does tend to colour your view of the whole thing.

  295. 295
    interrobang

    The most compelling anti-circumcision argument for me is definitely the bodily autonomy one. I agree that there is a big issue there.

    Speaking as an end user however, give me a circumcised penis over an uncircumcised penis any day. IME, guys with foreskins seem to have difficulty having orgasms; guys without, no problem. Also, you have to wash that friggin’ foreskin thing a lot; you can’t, you know, have fun sexytimes, sleep for a while, and then go right back at it, unless you want smelly foreskin cheese all up in your lady business. And forget about oral unless that thing is clean, clean, clean. (Granted, washing one’s partner is fun, but smelly dick-cheese isn’t.)

    A circumcised man will also never, ever tear his frenulum while either having partnered sex (as happened to a couple of friends of mine) or masturbating, which results in a horrifying, bloody (and somewhat painful) mess.

    I really can’t get on board with people who are calling circumcision “mutilation,” nor with people who equate it with FGM, particularly since that kind of implies that a circumcised cock doesn’t work right or something, and that’s bullshit. Am I practicing “self-mutilation” when I trim my cuticles, for squid’s sake?!

  296. 296
    Easterngal

    In fact, in some areas, families that are otherwise neutral (or even opposed to) FGM get their daughters cut as an ‘anti-colonial’ gesture.

    As a person from a country that has been subjected to colonist invasions, similar arguments are some of the stupidest arguments I have seen my people spout. It is basically cutting off your own nose to spite your enemy. Why are people so stupid.

  297. 297
    Ichthyic

    Am I practicing “self-mutilation” when I trim my cuticles, for squid’s sake?!

    one, you’re not removing your cuticles.

    two, there is a lot more function to a prepuce than there is to a cuticle.

    You do know YOU have one too, right?

  298. 298
    Timaahy

    three, your cuticles grow back rather easily.

  299. 299
    Timaahy

    IME, guys with foreskins seem to have difficulty having orgasms; guys without, no problem.

    What’s your sample size? :-)

    But seriously.

    Also, you have to wash that friggin’ foreskin thing a lot; you can’t, you know, have fun sexytimes, sleep for a while, and then go right back at it, unless you want smelly foreskin cheese all up in your lady business.

    That’s just silly. Once a day is more than sufficient.

  300. 300
    julian

    I really can’t get on board with people who are calling circumcision “mutilation,”

    Why not? Suppose it was something else like cutting off their pinkie toe or just the tip of their big toe. Would that qualify as “mutilation?”

  301. 301
    John Morales

    [TMI?]

    As I’ve noted earlier, my prepuce is innervated and vascularised, not to mention rather sensitive. It protects my glans from casual contact with clothing or other dry and painful stimuli.

    My glans is more sensitive, yet — thus I am grateful for this protection.

    (In short: it ain’t skin!)

  302. 302
    KevinS

    Why not? Suppose it was something else like cutting off their pinkie toe or just the tip of their big toe. Would that qualify as “mutilation?”

    Does ear piercing, tattooing, plastic surgery, or gender reassignment surgery qualify as “mutilation” if performed on a consenting adult? I think we usually term those things body modification now. Interrobang was pretty clear that the bodily autonomy issue was very serious for her, so I think you should assume she’s questioning if adult circumcision is “mutilation”. I’ll go on the record as against neonatal circumcision for the same reason.

    In the interests of a more balanced view on the subject of ADULT circumcision and sexual function, I present two relevant Wikipedia pages:
    Sexual effects of circumcision
    Foreskin

    On brief perusal, it sounds like evidence is pretty mixed and inconclusive at the moment on what effects circumcision might have on sex and what sexual functions the foreskin may have.

  303. 303
    John Morales

    KevinS, that the body adjusts to damage is no excuse for damaging it needlessly.

    (Since you use Wikipedia, so shall I: Mutilation)

  304. 304
    John Morales

    KevinS:

    On brief perusal, it sounds like evidence is pretty mixed and inconclusive at the moment on what effects circumcision might have on sex and what sexual functions the foreskin may have.

    So, hardly a compelling argument for maintaining the practice, is it?

    (On brief perusal, I assure you that unless medically necessary, attempting to circumcise me will be bet with the most strenuous opposition I can muster)

  305. 305
    julian

    Does ear piercing, tattooing, plastic surgery, or gender reassignment surgery qualify as “mutilation” if performed on a consenting adult?

    My mistake. I thought we were still discussing circumcision on a new born. My bad. Of course I agree an adult is free to perform whatever body modifications on his or herself they deem appropriate or worthwhile.

    But I do not believe you should or should be allowed to cut off any part of a child, especially a new born who can in no way give consent or even understand what’s being done to them, because you find it more pleasing to look at or don’t think it’s that big a deal. It’s as wrong as binding their feet to make them look ‘nicer’ even if when they grow to be older they appreciate the new look you’ve given them.

  306. 306
    hughintactive

    @303 Kevin S:

    In the interests of a more balanced view on the subject of ADULT circumcision and sexual function, I present two relevant Wikipedia pages:
    Sexual effects of circumcision
    Foreskin

    Sorry, but Wikipedia is more than usually unreliable on this subject, because all circumcision topics are rigorously vetted by an expert Wikipedian (he has made 10,000 edits) who had himself circumcised as an adult after a whole childhood wanting it, who claims he is “not pro-circumcision”, just anti the excesses of Intactivists. He has also co-authored papers with several of those I name at #123 including Morris and Halperin.

    For years he prevented the admission of any mention of circumcision fetishism because it was “not encyclopedic” (though circum-fetisists, or “circumsexuals” as they call themselves, have webpages, mailing lists and conferences) but allowed one on “foreskin fetishism” because someone had mentioned it in a peer-reviewed paper. (Now both are subsumed into “paraphilia”.)

  307. 307
    hughintactive

    @#296 Interrobang:

    A circumcised man will also never, ever tear his frenulum while either having partnered sex (as happened to a couple of friends of mine) or masturbating, which results in a horrifying, bloody (and somewhat painful) mess.

    Never say never, it depends how much frenulum he was left, and that depends on his luck and the doctor’s whim and skill. The frenulum, the so-called “male G-spot” is the last remnant of the highly innervated ridged band that ran round the inside of the tip of his foreskin. Variations in the removal of this are inordinately capricious at changing his sexual experience – sometimes to none at all (Bill, Jon).

  308. 308
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    . IME, guys with foreskins seem to have difficulty having orgasms;

    My sample size of one says it ain’t true.
    I also don’t see any historical evidence that mankind was at the brink of extinction from intact men not being able to orgasm before they found that the solution to the problem is cutting off a bit of the penis.

    Also, you have to wash that friggin’ foreskin thing a lot; you can’t, you know, have fun sexytimes, sleep for a while, and then go right back at it, unless you want smelly foreskin cheese all up in your lady business. And forget about oral unless that thing is clean, clean, clean. (Granted, washing one’s partner is fun, but smelly dick-cheese isn’t.)

    Now I’m seriously disgusted of your sexual habits.
    To this day I always thought that it was common practise for any man who respects his partner that before he engages in an activity that might lead to a blow job to wash off the urin and the sweat and the dust of the day.
    And from my experience, if you have sex, just go to sleep and neither of you washes a bit you have the “smelly dick cheese” everywhere, not only up your “lady business”.
    Short version: If those where issues with your intact partner it only serves as evidence that your partner was lacking in general hygene.
    Is this the result of abstinence-only education?

  309. 309
    Matthew

    For those claiming that a circumcised penis is as functional as an uncircumcised penis, I offer the following experiment as disproof.

    After reading this thread, I went and fantasised (about erotic things, not this subject) until I was semi-erect. I then masturbated by holding my foreskin and rubbing it back and forth horizontally across my glans. I successfully reached climax and ejaculated while doing this.

    REPORT
    ——

    Hypothesis: Circumcision costs no sexual function.
    Test of hypothesis: Find a form of sexual function impossible without a foreskin.

    Experimental test: The form of sexual function described above.

    Result: Sexual function successful on uncircumcised individual.

    Conclusion: Hypothesis disproved. Circumcision does cost sexual function.

    For those about to say that the plural of anecdote isn’t data, don’t forget that that’s true for confirming something, not necessarily disproving it.

  310. 310
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Matthew, your sacrifice for science is duly noted.

  311. 311
    Matthew

    Matthew, your sacrifice for science is duly noted.

    We do what we must because we can.

  312. 312
    Lyzard

    WTF?
    So it looks like Daddy’s? This is such an idiotic argument. It completely misses that his penis is a different size, shape and colour, there is no hair, the scrotum looks different, and the surrounding skin has a different texture? Why should anyone assume that a child will see the foreskin as the only noticeable or important feature of the pubic region, and furthermore, why are differences a bad thing?

  313. 313
    opposablethumbs

    @hughintactive #290, well it’s not that I was hoping for anything – it was just a muttered aside (or it would have been muttered, had we been communicating in audio rather than visual :) ), commenting on the MRAs being (until that point, at least!) conspicuous by their absence in marked contrast to their very noisy MO when the topic is FGM. They usually turn out in force within the first dozen-or-so comments.
    .
    I remember the AAP policy coming up – had no idea you were a whistle-blower. Now I get your nym!
    .
    Matthew, here’s to the spirit of scientific enquiry.

  314. 314
    fifilamour

    Azkeyroth – “Which is contrary to my own anecdotal evidence and makes me extremely uncomfortable because it denies the reality and validity of women making choices for their own reasons, on a straightforward reading.”

    Well the whole thing about anecdotal evidence is that it’s often contradictory (or rather it’s often pretty diverse and influenced by who we talk to, which tends to be like minded people if we don’t make a conscious effort to discuss these things with people who are different than us). I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable that some girls and women are influenced by advertising/media, peer pressure and what guys might think of them – that’s not a denying the reality and validity of women making choices for their own reasons, it’s just acknowledging that as females many of us are subject to the same biological and social realities as other humans, including a lot of manipulation by advertising vis a vis idealized body image (the fact that cosmetic genital surgery is so popular and being pushed so hard tends to indicate that vulvas have become territory for exploiting and creating body anxiety). I’m not sure if you’re a woman Azkeyroth but I am and I consider equality as being seen as a human being and not being an ideological object to be used for someone else’s purposes (please don’t try to deny my perspective/agency because it doesn’t conform to an ideology regarding women that denies the reality that we are human beings). Both men and women are manipulated/influenced by peer pressure, advertising (a form of peer pressure), desire to be attractive or impress someone they’re sexually/romantically interested in, etc – that’s called being human and a social animal. We could, of course, get into a discussion about whether free will really exists and how neurobiology functions, humans as a social animal, and the role and influence of media in society and our culture, but obviously that would be even more totally OT for this thread. So, I apologize for starting the thread drift but my initial post was an attempt to discuss/respond to the comment upthread about anecdotal claims that more women like circumcised penises. The point was, that there are women that prefer both and many that don’t consider it a deciding factor as to whether they’re interested in someone sexually and/or emotionally. As you and I have shown, we can all provide anecdotes but anecdotes aren’t evidence and, particularly if we don’t make efforts to talk with people unlike ourselves, they usually contribute to a confirmation bias and are no substitute for real evidence and a scientific study.

  315. 315
    Leon

    Travis, I was circumcised as an infant, and I can speak from experience that it does nothing to prevent masturbation. Thank goodness!

    FWIW, I’m circumcised and my son is not. I insisted on it.

  316. 316
    NelC

    I just saw on Stephen Fry’s QI that around the time of Galileo, the Pope’s astronomer wrote a treatise putting forward that Saturn’s rings were Jesus’ foreskin. Apparently, he left it there while ascending to heaven.

    Hopefully, the clip will be showing up in Youtube soon.

  317. 317
    hughintactive

    @315 fifilamour: “anecdotal claims that more women like circumcised penises”

    There are three scientific studies, one is flawed, two rigged.

    O’Hara and O’Hara‘s sample is self-selected and finds that women prefer intact (much is made of the fact that their recruiting included Intactivist grous, but they claim the result is unaffected by removing those). The O’Hara subjects do, however go into detail about why they prefer intact, and since those details involve the action of the foreskin there is no way they can be matched by circumcised men,

    Williamson & Williamson surveyed 145 Iowa new mothers, most of whom had never encountered any other kind than circumcised. At least one wasn’t asked to take part until she’d said she would circumcise a son.

    The third study, by Kizogi et al. (including Wawer and Gray from the list at #123 above) was of the partners of volunteers for circumcision as part of an HIV trial. I haven’t seen the before-and-after figures, but the same researchers’ found no loss of male satisfaction – because satisfaction was greater than 98% before and after on all measures. We should all move to that sexual paradise, Uganda!

    Where circumcision is uncommon – most of the world – women don’t prefer it.

  318. 318
    arguably MRA

    @294 hughintactive: Maybe you’re new here? But PZ has mocked, minimized, shamed, and outright laughed at the issue–and not at all unlike identical hypocrisy of his stance on Dawkins Muslima comments- equivocating.

    Read the rest of the comment–I was pointing to the larger issue of engendering a dysfunctional social narrative.

    Here’s a taste of schmuck for you to savor “It is a wasteful, terrible thing to do to a child.”

    Wasteful? Um. Maybe another adjective would serve better here–after all, we’re not just talking about leftover calamari on a plate.

    But overall, a step in the right direction–some seven years and counting.

  319. 319
    hughintactive

    @#318 NelC: “around the time of Galileo, the Pope’s astronomer wrote a treatise putting forward that Saturn’s rings were Jesus’ foreskin.”
    It would have to be later than Gallileo. He only identified Saturn as “composed of three” or having “ears”, in 1610.

    “In 1655, Christiaan Huygens became the first person to suggest that Saturn was surrounded by a ring.” (Wikipedia) Galileo was 15 years dead.

    The originator of the theory was a Greek theologian Leo Allatius, 1586-1669, in De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba (“Discussion concerning the Prepuce of our Lord Jesus Christ”) presumably written soon after Huygens’ observation. He was later custodian of the Vatican library, but apparently not an astroner himself.

    “Apparently, he left it there while ascending to heaven.”
    No, it flew under its own power. He didn’t have it with him, remember – though Anastasios the Sinaite and other easterners had it that Mary (the Theotokos [giver of birth to God]) had been keeping it for him all his life, and (on Easter Monday morning?), he asked for it back and put it on….

    There is NOTHING about the foreskin so silly that someone, somewhere, will not believe it.

  320. 320
    hughintactive

    @#320 arguably: “Maybe you’re new here?” More like an infrequent visitor. I know PZ got very shirty with anti-MGCers when he wanted to focus on FGC.

    “I was pointing to the larger issue of engendering a dysfunctional social narrative.”

    Sorry, when someone writes PoMo, I just wait for them to to finish, or say something about reality.

    “Here’s a taste of schmuck for you to savor”
    Schmuck? Um. Maybe another noun would serve better here–after all, metzitzah is real. I don’t quibble with “wasteful”. It certainly is that.

    “But overall, a step in the right direction–some seven years and counting.”
    Let us rejoice more for the lamb that has found the fold more than for the 99 that never strayed.

  321. 321
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    @ArguablyMRA
    What’s your point? You’re upset that PZ hasn’t been as vocal in his opposition to circumcision as you’d like?

    I’m sorry, for all that I agree that it’s a barbaric practice that needs to end yesterday, your posturing on this is frankly absurd. All the people in this thread who’ve posted in defense of cutting have been more-or-less uniformly slammed. So what’s your problem?

    ______

    As an aside, I’m going to shake my head over the idea of Christian theologians pondering the fate of the foreskin of a man who even the most batshit of them acknowledge was raised Jewish.

    I mean, really.

  322. 322
    Ichthyic

    But PZ has mocked, minimized, shamed, and outright laughed at the issue

    no, he hasn’t.

    He’s mocked people who complain about it in threads focusing on something different.

    In fact, this is not even the first post he has made condemning the practice of male circumcision.

    but, you know WHO he condemns?

    whinging assholes like yourself that don’t really care about the issue, so much as you care about YOUR TAKE ON THE ISSUE.

    guess what?

    You’ve made me not give a flying fuck what you think.

  323. 323
    bernarda

    There are several organizations opposing circumcision. Here are two.

    Cirp http://www.cirp.org/
    Doctors Opposing Circumcision http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/

    Years ago I wrote to ask Amnesty International why they are active against female sexual mutilation but not male sexual mutilation. They wrote back that no international organization like the UN, etc. had made regulations against it.

    Since when, I asked, did AI have to have the approval of other international organizations to carry out their own policies? They didn’t reply. What is AI afraid of?

  324. 324
    arguably MRA

    hughintactive: You are no moyel, lad. You try to split the schmuck.

    Well, points for the humor–and I am only guessing that you actually know what joke is that you made up there,and the ritual itself, in response to my attempt to ‘bring the point home’?

    But you are wrong in the larger sense.

    Schmuck is what me granpappy told me it was, and I am sticking to it. Meziza, Metzitzah’peh, is just semantics, and sectarian preference; and in the case of circumcision in general (see argument above for reference, Metzitzah DOES NOT APPLY in most cases, particularly amongst goyim.

    My commentary is not postmod, it’s just fact, unless you are going to tell me that removing nerves, and dulling a boys nerve endings–in his penis!–is somehow NOT indicative of the genesis of a general social expectation of blunted male emotion?

    In which case, take your dulled head, and stick it where the PoMo don’t shine, cuz yer clueless.

    Ichthyic: You sound every bit as bitter and angry as your wife, your mother, or whoever else it is that condones, or encourages you to dump your shitty, angry word choices on people you don’t know.

    Was I talking to you? Let’s keep it that way. I have seen you elsewhere, and you know what? The internet isn’t your personal vomitorium, or your own dirty diaper.

    Esteleth: You’re not wrong.”All the people in this thread who’ve posted in defense of cutting have been more-or-less uniformly slammed.”

    I disagree with you that conceiving of the issue as one of ‘slamming’ can be a productive way to view positive social change. “Slammed”?

    So, that’s your objective? Then you give even MRA’s a bad name. Are you one of their counterparts–the radfem? But I would think ‘educated’ would be a more positive choice. At least, if this were my living room.

    Hmmmm…did I fall into the passive aggressive word pit today, or does something smell like repression around here? Everyone is always so angry here.

  325. 325
    hughintactive

    @#325 bernada:

    There are several organizations opposing circumcision. Here are two.

    Cirp http://www.cirp.org/
    Doctors Opposing Circumcision http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/

    CIRP, the Circumcision Information and Resource Pages, is just a reference library. DOC, as its name implies, is for doctors and medical professionals.
    The most international organisations are Genital Autonomy and the International Coalition for Genital Integrity.
    In the US, Intact America
    NOCIRC
    NORM (the National Organisation of Restoring Men) has many branches. (The UK one is one of the main Intactivist organisations there.)
    Here are more links.
    Many groups also have Facebook pages.

    “What is AI afraid of?”

    Circumcision is probably the only issue that unites Muslims and Jews.

  326. 326
    hughintactive

    @@326 arguably: PoMo doesn’t shine anywhere.

    unless you are going to tell me that removing nerves, and dulling a boys nerve endings–in his penis!–is somehow NOT indicative of the genesis of a general social expectation of blunted male emotion?

    No, nor that it is. The reasons given for circumcising are so wildly varied and irrational that it’s very hard to pin them down to just one. (The beginnings of a general – PoMo and MRA free – theory is here.) I strongly suspect that it has a lot to do with power and control, but does the emotion being shown in Tripoli these days look “blunted” to you? (Sorry if you’re not used to people actually talking about the real world.)

  327. 327
    arguably MRA

    hughintactly: ” but does the emotion being shown in Tripoli these days look “blunted” to you?”

    Oh. I didn’t know you were corresponding from Tripoli.

    Had I known that you are deeply embedded in the ‘real’ world–Tripoli! Oh, my! How very real! I would have responded to you differently.Front lines and all? Wow.

    So, how’s the weather there in Tripoli anyways? I hear it’s hot…or did I get some facts mixed up? I mean–that’s where you are at right now, yes?

    Well, anyways, yes, those emotions look quite blunt indeed. Imagine celebrating death! Imagine the creation of cultures that celebrate death! And with all the technology–the toolsin our hands to do better…

    Part 2 of your statement “I strongly suspect that it has a lot to do with power and control,”

    Really? In your world too?

    Imagine that. Imagine power and control leaping outside of the PoMo dialectic long enough to affect your world TOO!

    Wow. I should really venture out more often; if I could just get my companions Barthes and Derrida to come too…but they refuse to be dis-embodied from the disjointing ether!

    THEY think reality is just another aphorism.

  328. 328
    Carlie

    Oh dear, I seem to have single-handedly diverted to the topic to FGC – well, to what MRA’s do with FGC (divert it to MGC).

    Don’t flatter yourself – it was addressed and everyone moved back to the main topic. And then you were the only one who brought it back up again.

    I still can’t quite see what you were hoping for – lots of messages from MRAs saying “I agree”? Perhaps we should be grateful they’re not here blaming it all on the “FemiNazis”….

    Perhaps discussing the causes of it, the reasons it’s still so difficult to erase from its cultural entrenchment, ways to try and encourage people not to – you know, what people who are actually here are doing?
    I don’t know, I’m not the one who is always interrupting FGM threads to say we should be talking about male circumcision instead, so I’m not sure what it is they think is so important. Interestingly, even when they interrupt those other threads they never quite get around to saying what it is they want to talk about, other than yelling that FGM is what we shouldn’t be talking about.

    I can only imagine what sort of bile crawls in you rhetorically vapid, impotent, malformed misandrists–and that is a statement, not an invitation to dialogue.

    I don’t even understand what that means. Do you even notice that I’ve been arguing against circumcision as well?

    It sure is nice to look at rape as symptomatic, and rape culture as the disease itself, but in fact they are symptoms of the bigger picture–how men are culled, separated, and engendered to begin with.

    Interesting. The biggest problem with women being hurt is that the men are somehow “made” to do it becuase they are “culled” and “separated”? Citation fucking needed.

  329. 329
    arguably MRA

    Carlie: “I don’t even understand what that means.”

    Big surprise there.

    I have noticed you are slow, or incapable at times of the ability to discern meaning. Your desire to perpetrate against men intrudes upon conversation, or productive dialogue.

    But since you addressed my comments above, and for clarity, in case anyone else is peeking in the window:

    First of all, your first two statements have nothing to do with anything I said. You are arguing against two different people.

    Not that I could expect you to notice that because your general tone, political stance, and consistent attitude toward men, or people who don’t hate men, indicates the worst forms of misandry–rhetorical violence and verbal aggression– and often, simple glaring misanthropy on your part.

    Your use of the MRA meme confirms a dehumanizing intention on your part, and it’s subsequent result of not being able to see a difference–because that would challenge, threaten or destabilize your own militant purpose.

    Second, if you look up there @14 or so, it WAS YOU who mockingly seeded the discussion with FGM, which then gained a following of derogatory responses. You are no better, but measurably worse than an MRA in any other thread( because you know better, but didn’t act responsibly.)

    As I said, I am not here to discuss anything with you, per se, nor am I here to educate you, or re-write the history of feminist whining 101 in regards to ‘the engendering of the body’ blablabla.

    It would be safe to say that I am hesitant to even help you understand the issue, because you are not a likely ally, because your entire argument is from a sexist, irresponsible, post Catholic type of female victim stance.

    You either get it or you don’t; you dialogue, or you don’t.

    But you ask for proof of “symptoms of the bigger picture–how men are culled, separated, and engendered to begin with.”

    Ask your own body, Carlie.

    Or–pick up a book sometime! But that circular rhetoric is just derailing, and not constructive at all. I have an idea: instead of reading a book, why don’t you parse yourself sometime, and take special notice of all the victim stances you, personally, take.

    Your question–demand?–that I provide a citation is to me at least, just another typically feminist demand for male labor to be invested in a dialogue that will be mocked, co-opted, ravenously devoured, or minimized anyways.

    Or, go read your feminist perspectives on the topic of arming and disarming militant culture,that militancy which is the baggage that men are saddled with from the first slice forwards because women do not stand beside men in battles that challenge us all:

    http://ipb.org/i/disarmament-and-development/III-K-06-DADP-engendered-disarmament-and-development.html

    Then, weigh that against your own assertions about rape and rape culture–all those meme’s that you dispense like candy. Do you see the contradiction that I do?

    “Men this and Men that and MenMenMen,” with very little discussion about those helpless Virgin Mary’s that feed children to the war based society, the women who raise them, and seed their minds with genderizing* meme’s.

    Your arguments, Carlie, are always from a victim stance, not a female-as-accountable one. You want to see men bleed, and that is problematic, because my sense of you is that this is all that you want.

    Anecdata are everywhere, so why ask me for proof?

    *I chose genderizing because it is a combination of tenderizing–like meat, and also engendering.

  330. 330
    arguably MRA

    Oh shit! Massive tag fail

  331. 331
    hughintactive

    Perhaps we should be grateful they’re not here blaming it all on the “FemiNazis”….

    I spoke too soon.

    Don’t flatter yourself – it was addressed and everyone moved back to the main topic.

    But you continue to feed the troll you conjured up.

    And then you were the only one who brought it back up again.

    Not quite the only one – but I’ve stopped feeding him.

    Perhaps discussing the causes of it, the reasons it’s still so difficult to erase from its cultural entrenchment, ways to try and encourage people not to – you know, what people who are actually here are doing?

    What do you think I’m doing when I’m not “actually here”? (Last week I alterted Amazon.com that the Mogen clamp they were selling was dangerous, and now it’s no longer available there.)

    Did you visit the links I gave: circumstitions or circumcision as a memeplex?

  332. 332
    opposablethumbs

    You want to see men bleed

    - this in a thread where everybody, with the scant exception of a few circumcised men, is vehemently opposed to circumcision being imposed on anybody.

    arguably MRA (no arguably about it) is delusional. Also a total wanker (with or without benefit of foreskin).

    This thread is about actual harm done to actual babies/infants/children, you tosser, not about your mephitic fantasy life.

  333. 333
    opposablethumbs

    I’ve stopped feeding him

    .
    Come to think of it, hughintactive, you’re right – I shouldn’t feed it either. Also, thank you for the links and for bringing a lot of good info to the thread.

  334. 334
    arguably MRA

    What a bunch of hystrionic, hyenic dick munchers.

    hugh: your misandry is showing. You didn’t give me anything I didn’t have already in some form.

    And “Perhaps discussing the causes of it, the reasons it’s still so difficult to erase from its cultural entrenchment”

    See directly above for the way either of you responded. Both of you use othering language, and dehumanizing rhetorical derailment tactics. And YOU are an activist?

    Been there done that, did my time on the foreskin front-lines back in the 90′s, you wanker; moved on to other topics.

    Your turn now, and keep up the good work! Two gold stars for the links! [*hand slap!*]

    But you need to work on presentation–especially for the “insulting, degrading, self effacing” approaches to dialogue that do more to inhibit discussion than to encourage it. You failed on all three.

    See how the Pharwrongula “tone” is a self fulfilling prophecy?

    What am I supposed to do now? Wear a foreskin pin? Would you like a particular response, fearless leader( how’s things in Libya?)

    But controlled opposition like you always minimizes the frustration, and the work of the activists that came before you, and frankly, it co-opts the rightfully indignant tone–in order to prevent actual cohesive movements.

    opposablethumbs: “I shouldn’t feed it either”

    Yup. There’s the misandry; the dehumanization. How predictably feminist–or is that feminazi? Or just the angry words of a total shit of a person? Of you.

    Pull your head out of your smegma-crusted Bartholin glands would you? Or not–frankly, because anything you have to say sounds better moderated through your assflaps.

  335. 335
    hughintactive

    @#334 Opposable:

    - this in a thread where everybody, with the scant exception of a few circumcised men, is vehemently opposed to circumcision being imposed on anybody.

    That is quite remarkable. What are we doing right, here? What is it about this audience? (PZ is in the USA, is he not? So this is a largely US following?) Is it just rationality being brought to bear, or is there something more or something else? Or is the zeitgeist really shifting?

  336. 336
    arguably MRA

    hughintact: ooops.

    It looks like I responded to you as if you were talking to me in your entire post.

    I am always thrown off by the vernom, bile, and santorum that comes out of the mouth of these posters here.

    In this case, I read opposablethumbs, first, and was thrown off by the anger, insults, and intentional derailing. That is what I mean about misandry.

    So I apologize.Your response to me was genuine, and appropriate. And your links are good too–more extensive than I would have expected.

    And your link, below, to the rabbi in ‘circumstitions the full list’ is broken, and labeled “private” now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqVztQVkRZo&feature=player_embedded

  337. 337
    Ichthyic

    There’s the misandry; the dehumanization. How predictably feminist–or is that feminazi? Or just the angry words of a total shit of a person? Of you.

    project much?

  338. 338
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    Ichthyc: I’d say “I am always thrown off by the vernom, bile, and santorum that comes out of the mouth of these posters here.” is the better example of projection.

  339. 339
    opposablethumbs

    @ 337 hughintactive – PZ is indeed based in the US, but the US-based posters among the Pharyngulites are (just my impression) only a modest majority; the horde is very international, including lots of people for whom English is a second (or third, etc.) language. And that’s just the ones who tend to post; if they’re any indication, the lurkers are probably even more so. I guess it’s mainly that PZ tends to attract people who are that much more likely to be rational and opposed to damaging others gratuitously. Of course on this particular topic, it means that a lot of people here are from countries where circumcision is vanishingly rare outside of religious groups so many of us see it as simply weird that it’s still so common in the US.

    Of course the site also attracts plenty of raving lunatics who come to rail against a) the eebil atheists, b) the feminazis, c) the eebil homosexualagendaists d) all of the above. Oh, and to rail against the lefties too, of course ;-D

    Fortunately there’s this handy facility known as the killfile; once it’s become apparent that a poster is just frothing at the mouth without ever saying anything of substance, then if they’re boring you, you can click on the button to killfile them and their screed no longer shows on your screen. It’s refreshing to be able to read what sane and interesting people are posting without having to wade through screenfuls of rabid gibbering.

    #339, 340 Ichthyic and Marcus Hill have hit the nail on the head there all right.

  340. 340
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Not that I could expect you to notice that because your general tone, political stance, and consistent attitude toward men, or people who don’t hate men, indicates the worst forms of misandry–rhetorical violence and verbal aggression– and often, simple glaring misanthropy on your part.

    Wow, so a self-proclaimed MRA claims that the worst for of misandry is rhetorical violence and verbal agression. Now somebody alert the NATO to that. They’ve finished in Libya, so they should have some resources now…

  341. 341
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    It seems that the worst forms of misandry are to misogyny as militant atheism is to militant fundamentalism…

  342. 342
    arguably MRA

    From Episode CCLXIV, and aboveopposablethumbs, both-in-nose:

    “There is a highly toxic MRA called “arguably MRA” still wanking and spewing venom all over the circumcision thread”

    First, you are a cowardly, low-balling example of what happens when anyone attempts to discuss such issues–derailment ad-hom. Oh–and you ARE misandrist, and misanthropic.

    Second, there you go again–derailing the topic–on two different threads nonetheless. You really are a piece of work. In fact most of you are.

    Yeah. O.k., if you want to make this an other threads about me, have at it. But back it up.

    Here’s the floor! it’s waiting for you_________:

    What’s you’re definition of toxic? Anyone who takes a male perspective? Anyone who takes up issue with the presentation, or the sincerity of such? Anyone who disagrees with the genuineness of concern expressed on the topic of male circumcision?

    Talk about silencing. But certainly, ‘toxic’ isn’t all of your off-topic ad hom, right? I’m sure you have more–but I haven’t heard you mention the topic yet.

    Go get your asshat, and wear it as you must.

    Gilliel: If I had asked you for a better object lesson in the language in rhetorical violence, or escalation, I couldn’t have done a better job than your own comment:

    “claims that the worst for[m] of misandry is rhetorical violence and verbal agression. Now somebody alert the NATO to that.”

    Let’s put that another way: “claims that the worst forms of sexism are sexist comments towards women and patriarchal verbal aggression.”

    Does that work for you? And you are welcome to dismiss the connection between attitudes, beliefs, and words that write those attitudes and beliefs into law, but I am not that naive, and I don’t expect you are either.

    Have you heard–or listened to–any of the messages that are directed at boys, post-circumcision (i.e. throughout their lives)? I am certain your own complaints against men could be verified by an examination of your own beliefs about words.

    @343 Marcus: you are off topic. That discussion belongs ANYWHERE else on Pharyngula.

    Ichthyic: Anything to say about circumcision? Attitudes, beliefs, or other that affect men or boys in a circ society? Then shut up–you are just confirming the fallacy of team bias, and appeals to authority, sans substance.

  343. 343
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    arguably MRA
    Well, to be honest, I’m not sure whether I have ever met a circumcised man other than my cousin’s muslim husband. Since I haven’t taken large samples at comparing cocks, I have to go by statistical probability. Given that I live in a society where it is frowned upon to chop bits off newborns, that means the probability is low. It also means that people usually show sympathy for those men who needed a circumcision for medical reasons.
    I’m unable to decipher the meaning of the rest of your post.

  344. 344
    arguably MRA

    Giliell: Don’t worry about it–the stuff you don’t understand above wasn’t written for you, it was for the anti-male trolls.

    But you responded to what was written for you, which is what normal people do. Your comment is informative. What society are you from, if you don’t mind my asking?

    I am American, and my mother staunchly opposed circumcision of all kinds before it was feminist or fashionable–bless her heart!

    She and my father were on the *ahem* cutting edge in her day of anti-circ movement, for which I have always been grateful. Not merely grateful for my extended capacities, and sensitivity, but also for her activism.

    “people usually show sympathy for those men who needed a circumcision for medical reasons.”

    You are indeed from a different country. Just above is a classic example–an object lesson in rhetorical violence.

    As you can see above, most Americans of the leftern slant believe in hurting, shaming, harming, or otherwise humiliating males, regardless of what the issue is. It really is a social phenomenon worth studying.

    It is this that I reference above in regards to verbal aggression, violence, and why males are ‘engendered’ a certain way, and then, throughout our lives, assaulted in every manner of offensive rhetoric, by both women and men. These people engender, exacerbate, and encourage violence.

    Oddly, the people who wish to change that are responsible for it as well.

  345. 345
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    Like Giliell, I don’t have a wide experience of penises; I would assume my muslim brother-in-law is circumcised (although I’d never ask, and, before this thread, no thought of it had crossed my mind), my husband and all of my previous boyfriends were intact, and the only immediate family that I know to have been circumcised are two of my sons, for medical reasons (phimosis and hypospadias).

    The first operation was done when the lad was four, some eighteen years later his brother was circumcised when he was eight. In both cases there were other options tried first. Of course I felt bad about it anyway, but someone will always try to make a mother feel worse; someone told me that I should have had my sons circumcised at birth, so that they wouldn’t have had to go through the trauma of ‘late’ circumcision.

    Quite apart from the fact that they would have had at least as much post-operative pain as infants as they did as older boys (probably more, given what nappies can do), I discovered that they would have gone through horrific agony during the procedure itself, un-anæsthetised! As it was, I could prepare them to some degree for the operation, they had a general anæsthetic, and were old enough that they could discuss with me ways of keeping the pain to a minimum (I made little ‘boxes’ (as are worn by cricketers) for them to wear in their underpants, which protected their wounds from abrasion).

    Plus, of course, their two brothers would have had the procedure wholly unnecessarily.

    This was in England, where (as far as I know) infant circumcision is pretty rare (and I was never actually offered it; perhaps people keen for it to happen are expected to request it?)

    (P.S. What is arguably MRA so angry about? Here is a thread condemning MGM, giving sound reasons against it, and yet it isn’t enough?)

  346. 346
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    arguably MRA, what’s your point?
    The culture is European, the country Germany. You know, in the rest of the western world, non-religious circumcision never became that popular.
    I guess that antisemitism played a role, you didn’t want to look like a jew, but it saved millions of boys from an unnecessary and cruel procedure.
    Indeed, medically indicated circumcission before the age of two is only recommended in extreme cases in Germany.

    But please stop your strawman about feminists being in support of circumcision. They’re not, they’ve argued against it all over this thread, they jumped at everybody who supported it with passion and arguments.

    Also, nobody ignores rhetoric violence or the damage it does. But if your argument is that verbal agression is the worst form of misandry while actual physical agression is the worst form of misogyny and that the two of them are absolutely comparable, then your argument sucks.
    Of course, you’re still owing people any support for your claim that there were unchallenged agressive arguments made here directed against men.

  347. 347
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    Giliell,

    Also, nobody ignores rhetoric violence or the damage it does. But if your argument is that verbal agression is the worst form of misandry while actual physical agression is the worst form of misogyny and that the two of them are absolutely comparable, then your argument sucks.

    QFT.

    I re-read everything arguably MRA had to say, and that does, indeed, seem to be the point.

    If all we women were only to stop being verbally aggressive towards all those poor men*, then there would be no physical violence perpetrated on women in retaliation because, you know, they are forced to react with physical violence to rhetorical violence because… um… because…

    Anyway, it’s all the fault of the womenz because the menz are totally not responsible for their own actions.

    Sorry, even you feminist men are only acting as if you feel responsible for your behaviour because you are under the thumbs of the feminazis, you know.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    *Except we can’t. Because first we’d have to start, and I, for one, don’t want to.

  348. 348
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    @Giliell: I should have realised that I needed to be more direct in supporting your argument. Comparing the relative severities of MRA’s “worst” misandry and misogyny to another mismatch well known to the audience here seems to have flown way above his head. Or maybe similes are intrinsically anti-male.

  349. 349
    arguably MRA

    Gilliel, again, you get most of the facts right, and you also seem to understand, and have compassion for the issue.

    But: “unchallenged agressive arguments made here directed against men.”

    Um. yeah, right. There is a huge difference between loaded insult, and aggressive arguments(I will demonstrate both below)

    But for other examples, see any post above from one of these man-hating, passive-aggressives. The object lessons are everywhere, starting with Carlie’s initial baiting, insulting commentary, and the affirmation of that as a valid, preferred rhetorical technique of this in-group.

    Did you go to the links about disarmament? And if you have any resources on connections, I will look at them. There are very clear connections between circumcised societies and violence, not least of which is the last decade of U.S. dominance in the world–and over your country as well.

    After 20 years or so of being involved in these issues, my references blur. If you want a serious dialogue, I can do some of the homework–but blogs are chock full of petty scum that ask for ‘citations’ and then flounce when they are provided.

    Time-wasters are another prominent form of rhetorical violence.

    Tigger: If I have any concession to make, it would be to re-position my statement that instead of saying that rhetorical violence and bullying is the worst form of violence that boys endure, it is rather, the secondary form, with circumcision and attitudes towards males as social property that lead to circumcision being primary.

    Now, I read your post(s), and was ready to reply to you as a person, a human being, who was putting forth valid contributions here, and then I stepped in piles and piles of your smelly, gooey, female sexist bullshit. Your rhetorical choice is to embody yourself female, not as a merely human, because there is power for you in your victim posture.

    And I got to the crux of your message–your type just need to perpetuate and perpetrate the stereotypes– “What is arguably MRA so angry about”

    Passive-aggressive gender bait much? Frame arguments from the basis of dehumanizing sexist stereotypes much? But the ‘angry man’ straw man serves your purpose far better in this dialogue than does actual concern, or actual on topic contribution.

    Well,how does this souind to you:don’t get hysterical over that ebul, ‘angry man’, Tigger. I understand how your type are hyenically and genetically pre-disposed to howl and whine, and drip out at the asses over teh angry MRA’s

    My oh my! Gender-baiting is fun isn’t it Tigger? You silly old cow! Oh my! That felt good…

    “all those poor men*, then there would be no physical violence perpetrated on women in retaliation”

    There it is again! Da po’ menz…Derailing for dummies! Do the stereotypes work here Tigger?

    And do we really need to divert the issue to that? Most studies show a basic 50/50 on DV and dating violence, with many studies noting that women are often the initial aggressors.

    Now, while for you, it is easy to dehumanize, objectify, and villify what You think is male, or an “MRA” I can only imagine(at this time) the effects of your type of rhetoric could be on a child. A male child who one day becomes a man.

    Oh, wait–I don’t need to imagine the effects that your type of rhetoric has on boys–society reflects that almost daily! They become impotent, angry, violent men, seeking targets, just like their mothers!(and don’t mistake me for a ‘feminist man’ as you posit up there–I have never been able to forego my sense of skeptical reason or social justice long enough to be called a feminist)

    In part, your rhetoric engenders violence because the angry people who ‘nurture’ boys set really bad examples, of a hypocritical, coercive and controlling nature. And you adopt negative gender beliefs about yourselves for the sake of convenience, profit, or security. Hence you argue from a female perspective, not a humanist one.

    And you can’t help yourselves but to kick boys around in reality, or in rhetoric, and in part you set the tone, and the pace of the development of ‘proper’ aggression in your children–without a two way boundary.

    Women like you no doubt verbally abuse young males too–because you can get away with it–look at the way you approach what you envision as a big scawy gwown menz in dialogue!; boys are your property–to the point where you perpetuate in them, and through them, further social violence.

    Objectification and villification tends to do that, as all research shows.

    Marcus: wtfgaaaarbllle, and bad comedy You: “to another mismatch well known to the audience here.”

    Oh! What MIGHT THAT BE?

    Yup. I took the baggage of female circ out of the room already.
    It ain’t about that here, and your inference of it is indeed somewhat innapropriate.

    However, if one can say about female circ that it embodies women as submissives, or as ‘property’ the same is also true in the male case, eith the main difference being that men are engendered to dominate, and wage war. You get what you pay for when the moyel comes around.

    Do you agree or disagree that circumcision of boys contributes to social, dialectic, or rhetorical violence? Do you find it odd, like me that it took two world wars, and all the subsidiary wars in between and after before Americans even talked about male circ?

    And then, only–and just before!–we toppled Islamic governments in more wars? And then again–only then–it’s o.k. to talk about male circ on PZ’s blog? Something about that smells awful, and fishy to me…

    So, are you making an argument somewhere that is directed at me, or male circumcision in general? I guess I missed it, because this thread seems more involved in male bashing than anything productive beyond confirmation biases about what you concieve of and engender as MRA’s.

  350. 350
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    ArguablyMRA, I’ve got a question. Genuinely, no snarking.

    Who do you see here whose advocating male circumcision that has not been dismissed? Who?

    This is not a place where pro-circumcision people hang out. And we tend to be leftist and feminist. Rather explicitly so. I identify as both a leftist and a feminist. I’m a lesbian as well! And yet – I – like most people here – am opposed to circumcision.

    As far as I can tell, ArguablyMRA, the mistake you’re making is assuming that pro-woman = anti-man. It is not so. Feminism is about equality of the sexes. Equal. Feminists acknowledge the ways that the system (patriarchy) oppresses men. Why? Because the overwhelming majority of us have, at one point in our lives, seen a man we love (romantically or otherwise) be hurt by the patriarchy. If there is ever a time when feminism has won, has received an unalloyed, true victory, then the lives of men will be better, too. Not because society will be transformed into a matriarchy, but because men and women will both be free to live their own lives, free of the strictures that say that men MUST fit into this box over here and women MUST fit into that box over there.

    The reason why people are angry with you here is not because you’re an activist against circumcision – it’s because you’re being an ass. You are minimizing the pain of others and dismissing the work of activists who have gone before you. You’re assuming that the people here are your enemy, and we aren’t. We’re feminists and leftists who are as such opposed to surgically altering the bodies of infants with no medical reason. Because believing that fits naturally with feminist and leftist thinking.

    The reason why we’re so snippy is because we have to deal, all the friggin’ time, with people (mostly men) who come into threads where we’re talking about a way that the patriarchy, in an unambiguous, unvarnished manner, hurts women and start complaining that we’re being unfair and that we need to talk about how x hurts men in y manner. And we’re SICK AND TIRED OF IT. Some of the rhetoric you’re using (your very ‘nym, in fact) remind us of them. Maybe you’re not like that. Great! Unfortunately, you’re doing a shitty job of demonstrating that. Many MRAs seem to think that the best way to advocate for men is to shove women down, to minimize women’s pain and contributions, and to ignore it when women protest.

    So please. Take a step back. Reconsider some of your word choices. Maybe offer apologies to people you’ve insulted, and try again.

    In short: We aren’t your enemy here. If you want us to view you as the enemy, though, you’re doing a great job. If that’s not your goal, try different tactics.

  351. 351
    hughintactive

    @#347 Tigger: “the only immediate family that I know to have been circumcised are two of my sons, for medical reasons (phimosis and hypospadias).

    The first operation was done when the lad was four, some eighteen years later his brother was circumcised when he was eight. In both cases there were other options tried first.”

    Four is too young to diagnose phimosis, since the foreskin is commonly still fused to the glans. It may not separate even until puberty. (One friend’s first sight of his glans coincided with his first adolescent erection – a double whammy.) A possible justification is if he was not able to urinate freely.

    The foreskin my be used to repair hypospadias. (Hypospadias is an absolute contraindicaiton for non-therapeutic circumcision.) But hypospadias may be repaired without circumcision:

    Dewan PA. Distal Hypospadias Repair with Preputial Reconstruction. J Paediatr Child Health. 1993; 29:183-184.

    Persson-Junemann C, Seemann O, Kohrmann KU, Potempa D, Junemann KP, Alken P. Correction of Distal Hypospadias: Ventral Adaptation of the Prepuce and Meatal Advancement. Urol Int. 1993; 51:216-219.

    Hoebeke PB, De Kuyper P, Van Laecke E. ‘Batman Excision’ of ventral skin in hypospadias repair, clue to aesthetic repair (point of technique). Eur Urol. 2002; 42(5):520-2.

    Gray J, Boston VE. Glanular reconstruction and preputioplasty repair for distal hypospadias: a unique day-case method to avoid urethral stenting and preserve the prepuce. BJU Int. 2003; 91(3):568-70.

    Van Dorpe EJ. Correction of distal hypospadias with reconstruction of the preputium. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1987; 80(2):290-3.

    Terzioglu A, Gokrem S, Aslan G. A modification of the pyramid procedure: the correction of subcoronal hypospadias with complete prepuce (letter). Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003; 112(3):922-3.

    Leclair MD, Camby C, Battisti S, Renaud G, Plattner V, Heloury Y. Unstented tubularized incised plate urethroplasty combined with foreskin reconstruction for distal hypospadias. Eur Urol. 2004; 46(4):526-30.

    Sadly, even in non-circumcising cultures, circumcision may be used as a first, rather than last resort.

  352. 352
    arguably MRA

    Esteleth That was the first measured response I have encountered on the thread. Good job–you put your baggage, and your anger, and your baiting off to the side. You applied RATIONAL thought, and you made sense.

    See? It’s really not that hard ppl.

    Esteleth–I have encountered you elsewhere, and you are consistently rational, or at least, readable most of the time. You often make clear arguments without the invectives and bile.

    Others, as noted above, are consistent douches, sexists, or pardoies of compassion, or acted like that here. I addressed them appropriate to their method or their response. I apologized to Hugh already.

    Yes, I chose the nym because I am well aware that it brings out the scarecrow bashers, the boogieman chasers, and the people with torches in their hands. See how well the nym works? Just look up above. It is an object lesson. Some of the weaker bloggers censor, quote mine and publish,or kick me off right away, because thinking and emoting makes their heads hurt. They claim I am obscurantist…

    Now, on substance: The video had a rabbi noting ” it wasn’t just dealing with circumcision, it was dealing with peoples lives.”

    This is the point I am addressing about language and social expectations directed at males. That isn’t the patriarchy up there–that is a bunch of man haters, or angry, confused persons.

    You said “the mistake you’re making is assuming that pro-woman = anti-man”

    That would be an assumption on your part that is just not true. Some folks here are clearly anti-man, whereas others, like yourself, are active, and angry about similar oppression. But only then after completely–and for years!–ignoring the primacy of violence against male bodies.

    The tolerance for rhetoric around male circ is relatively new. That women have allowed it to go on for generations without lifting a finger–and only when it was in the ‘national interests’ to go to war in the ME, do we hear, first about fgm, and then, and only then? about male circ. See how that works? That isn’t patriarchy, that is skittish herd mentality and women getting caught in hypocrisy.

    “The reason why we’re so snippy is because we have to deal, all the friggin’ time”

    My word choices, Esteleth? Snippy. Hmmm. I wish you would cut off and sew up your impulses to minimize the pain of circumcision.

    I can only imagine how snippy men whose dicks have been cut can be. And then, for another object lesson, look at how that ‘little fact’ was routinely overlooked here for nearly a decade. Is that pushing women down, or was that burning potential allies? Or look at the disdain displayed in word choices there.

    All you guys and gals are generally focused on putting men down as well. I am well aware of the SUV-driving PUA/MRA’s out there–they are just like 90% of the feminists I know–inwardly weak and ugly, middle to upper class, white, and angry that their privilege is challenged. I get that.

    But I have watched for years as this board has harangued, humiliated and harassed men who have lost their children; men who have suffered American penal codes and prisons; men who have actually been abused or raped; and men who bear scars and wounds that are much deeper than the dehumanizing projections that these same people, here, put upon them again.

    I am not a fan of pillories and gallows, because it is never the 1% in them, nor is it the other 39% who uphold that 1%. And it is almost never women.

    It IS almost ALWAYS lower income males dangling in the public square with more shit, egg and tomatoes rolling down their faces, and dripping off of their eyes: that is not projection, that is historical fact. This board and it’s misandry is generally aimed at them, in lieu of the real targets.

    I understand language, and language choices quite well indeed. Which is why I chose the words above–I hope it made the point to those who approached the issue, or myself as yet another ‘straw’ MAN, instead of approaching the issue as one that deals with REAL men, and real men’s painful experiences on this planet.

    There was a phrase from one woman in that video up there that really sticks out: “Before a man knows he has a penis to protect, a woman knows she has a bay to protect.”

    That sounds nice doesn’t it? It sounds like a world I could live in. IT sounds comfy, and cozy, and healthy. It sounds anti-patriarchal, and pro-male, except for one *minor* detail.

    The fact that their is no father in the picture; the fact that such ideological posturing always has historically, always led to other patriarchs coming in to the home at the invite of those mothers; and other wars for capital that boys must fight.

    Patriarchs at an international ‘distance’ aren’t muchg better than patriarchs next door down.

    And it sounds to me like the patriarchy as such is a flawed anthropological concept; matriarchy is gynocratic fantasy–but kyriarchy is very real, and a far more fluid concept.

    But I would even suggest that there might be something better–but what? You tell me.

  353. 353
    arguably MRA

    Esteleth: “Feminism is about equality of the sexes. Equal. Feminists acknowledge the ways that the system (patriarchy) oppresses men.”

    Really? I hadn’t noticed, and I am a man–and an equalist as well! What am I missing? It wouldn’t happen to be the fact that there are ten men in prison for every woman in prison would it?

    Or that the patriarchal penal codes delineate criminal acts according to the circumscribing criminal-scientce formula of “haz penis/ don’t haz penis”?

  354. 354
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    ArguablyMRA,
    I’m going to say four things. Firstly, do you feel like answering the question I posed to you @352? Y’know, this one:

    Who do you see here whose advocating male circumcision that has not been dismissed?

    Have you not answered it because you can’t? I was serious in asking my question. I have not seen ONE person here speak up in favor of circumcision (male or female) and not get derided for it. Maybe I’m missing it, but I don’t see it.
    Like I said @352, you seem to think we’re your enemies, and we aren’t. If we’re offended, it is because much of your rhetoric is offensive.
    Secondly, you say this:

    Some folks here are clearly anti-man, whereas others, like yourself, are active, and angry about similar oppression.

    Well, thanks for acknowledging that I’m not anti-man. I’m not. I am (for all my proud feminism and enthusiastic lesbianism) quite pro-man and pro-woman.
    The thing is that I don’t see the anti-man stuff you’re railing against. I just don’t. It is not anti-man to acknowledge and work against the ways that the patriarchy hurts women. It is not anti-man to point out the ways that we all – you, me, all the commenters here – have internalized the patriarchy’s messages and thus act in ways that perpetuate harm. It is also not anti-man to acknowledge that the term ‘patriarchy’ has the word ‘patriarch’ in it – a word that denotes someone male.
    This brings me to my third point.
    You say this:

    It IS almost ALWAYS lower income males dangling in the public square with more shit, egg and tomatoes rolling down their faces, and dripping off of their eyes: that is not projection, that is historical fact.

    Yep. Not disagreeing with you there. This very fact is the driving force behind the movement to describe the real enemy as not the patriarchy qua patriarchy, but the patriarchy, as an expression of the kyriarchy.
    I see that you used the word kyriarchy to describe the real problem. Exactly correct! The oppressor is the kyriarch, not the patriarch. The kyriarch is not just male, he’s also straight, cisgendered, not disabled, wealthy, upper-class, and of the most powerful (not necessarily majority) religion and ethnicity. He’s the 1% (he’s probably more accurately the 1% of the 1%). He outranks all other men, all women, all LGBT people, all disabled people, and all people of lesser wealth, class status, race and religion. Everyone else in the kyriarchy must scramble for status relative to his and to each other (i.e. the poor straight man who’s mostly not-disabled and is of the “right” race and religion outranks his wife, his disabled brother, and his neighbor who is of a similar economic status but is of the “wrong” religion; but is outranked by the kyriarch’s wife).

    Here’s the thing. I’m not going to deny that there are people who dismiss this framework in favor of out-and-out male bashing. But those people are a minority. The overwhelming majority of feminists and leftists oppose the kyriarchy, even if they don’t use that exact term. Because the kyriarchy is what says that men (other than this small number over here) are things to be used and discarded if not useful, that women exist to serve the kyriarch or his chosen ones, that class, racial, sexual, and religious minorities/”lessers” are to be tolerated at best, used, and discarded. It all fits together. This is why a person who wades into a thread on FGM and makes a strong, moving statement against the practice is tossed out on their ass when they conclude their statement by ranting about those damned [racist slur]. Until we can all advance, none of us can. Not because we’re petty jerks and are greedily demanding ours before you get yours, but because the only way we’ll all be free is if the kyriarchy is dismantled. We can’t allow part of it to remain.

    Finally, I’ll reiterate what I said @532: Many here react very negatively to the term ‘MRA’ because of the epically misogynistic shit spewed by self-described MRAs. Fact. Complain all you want that those MRAs are doing it wrong all you like, but that’s the truth. Many people here have had too many encounters with self-described MRAs for it to be a neutral, descriptive term. The term has been poisoned. Please, acknowledge this fact.

  355. 355
    arguably MRA

    Esteleth: First, what kind of animal are you talking about? MRA’s are more annoying than feminists?

    Then, “please acknowledge this fact” or another.

    I am merely one human, and these facts you ask for would require an encyclopedic knowledge, and a much more extended dialogue.And I don’t have the time to re-read the thread.

    But, since you ask nicely: I never made the claim that these posters here are for male circ. However there is a line between for and against which is neither, or otherwise stalled/stalling of the dialogue.

    Grey area is where discussion takes place; here, and elsewhere on the left it is and always will be a demonizing, polarizing political witch hunt.

    As far as I can tell, most of the people here say they are against it, with a caveat: they are against it begrudgingly,or in a manner in which it is secondary/submissive to other agendas, and other ideologies–male circ is subordinate in their platform. Does that answer your question?

    “but is outranked by the kyriarch’s wife”

    Well, now your talking. Even the kyriarch is out ranked by it’s wife ( and because we don’t know who that guy–or girl is; Oprah? or Khodorovsky?) Yes, we agree then that “no man will do or say in public what his wife does not agree to in private.”

    It has always been, and always will be one or another form of that equation.

    So, as in the patriarchy, no kyriarch is any less betrothed to women, or the implicit power that women have–patriarchy is, like matriarchy, just an odd, semi-informative, convenient social/anthropological construction.

    In my mind at least, there has been no greater kyriarch than the Ba’al Shem Tov and his allies in power in the last 500 years–and history tells us he was not a rich man.

    Now, about MRA’s: talk about forgetting the activists who came before! Bacon and Shay’s; the Wobblies and the draft card burners–certainly they were angry; and certainly in this platform above, irrational; they should be locked up or isolated and marginalized out of existence–they were all men after all, and angry claimants of absurd doctrines, and even more absurd, unorthodox, noise making practices.

    And the feminisms forget that all too often. Perhaps it is because the white, American male was the mule of the last several centuries of progress; or perhaps it is because the comfort of the middle class is too enticing; or that womenare currently shopping for new mules (middle eastern ones?)–but I don’t see or hear any rhetoric acknowledging that, except from MRA’s.

    Capitalism always trumps democracy when it comes to truth telling. And the truth is, these guys aren’t whining any more than they are rebelling against not being heard in their complaint against being used, and tossed in the gutter when their backs are broke, or their asses saddle sore.

    They truly are the angry, first world ear tweaking, whinging feminist of the 1970′s. Some of them are Dworkins, some are Solanas, with lots of bizarre Suzy Brights, and dick-heavy Califia’s–but not many of them are MacKinnon any more. And as far as I can tell, none of them is yet on the CIA payroll, like Steinem was.

    So “because the only way we’ll all be free is if the kyriarchy is dismantled. We can’t allow part of it to remain.”

    I ask you then: are American, middle class European descended women ready to give up their absurd posturing against their ‘lack’ of privilege and parachute into the abyss as well? I doubt it–after all, the tools of power are more and more in the hands of them and their others. And the preferred tool of all the powerful is dismissive silencing, and harsh imprisonment; lynchings by the angry middle class mobs–of the tyrannical, under-privileged masses.

    MRA’s are among those masses right now, and yet that does not minimize their actual suffering, or merit the silencing that is going on. They ARE NOT ALL ALIKE.

    And none of these feminisms are speaking up about the prisons,or active in creating criminal offenses that take a long hard look at real equality: the right to go to jail, or be scrutinized as criminal by the authorities.

    Why it is that the marginalization or mobilization of men is and has always been so easy in this culture–if it is war that you want them for; but anything else–blindly trust the skirts? I think the skirts let us all down.

    As far as I can tell, all those who should know better are cutting men off one way or another. The great irony there is that these men themselves endure much the same that you or any woman has or will, but they are still expected to just shut up about it, and trust those who move forwards, while such dialogues herd them off into the abyss alone.

    I’m certain Abraham and Moses would commend you for that type of activism, but I sure can’t.

  356. 356
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    ArguablyMRA:
    *blink blink*

    First, what kind of animal are you talking about? MRA’s are more annoying than feminists?

    Negatory. I was asking you to acknolwedge that – due to the reprehensible actions of some self-described MRAs – it is widely perceived (here and elsewhere) that “MRA” is synonymous with “self-absorbed woman hating asshole.” It is not a neutral term here.

    I never made the claim that these posters here are for male circ….As far as I can tell, most of the people here say they are against it, with a caveat: they are against it begrudgingly,or in a manner in which it is secondary/submissive to other agendas, and other ideologies–male circ is subordinate in their platform. Does that answer your question?

    Okay then. So far as I can tell, your problem is that people here, while opposed to circumcision, are not actively protesting it, or see it as emblematic of the greater issue: the kyriarchy. Is that so? Well, if that’s your problem, I really can’t help you. Everyone here – you included – has to pick their battles. We can’t fight everything bad all the time.

    “but is outranked by the kyriarch’s wife” Well, now your talking. Even the kyriarch is out ranked by it’s wife (and because we don’t know who that guy–or girl is; Oprah? or Khodorovsky?)

    You are either misunderstanding or misrepresenting what I said about kyriarchy. I said,

    The kyriarch is not just male, he’s also straight, cisgendered, not disabled, wealthy, upper-class, and of the most powerful (not necessarily majority) religion and ethnicity. He’s the 1% (he’s probably more accurately the 1% of the 1%). He outranks all other men, all women, all LGBT people, all disabled people, and all people of lesser wealth, class status, race and religion.

    The kyriarch is not outranked by his wife. She may outrank some men, but not the kyriarch. the kyriarch outranks everyone else.

    Yes, we agree then that “no man will do or say in public what his wife does not agree to in private.” It has always been, and always will be one or another form of that equation.

    Is that a quote? I’ve never heard it before, and Google was not helpful. Oh, and the claim that a man is always ruled by his wife is bullshit. Have some men been so ruled? Yes, no doubt. Do some men listen to their wives and take their advice seriously. Yes indeed. Are those tendencies universal? Fuck no. You should know better than to assert that.

    So, as in the patriarchy, no kyriarch is any less betrothed to women, or the implicit power that women have–patriarchy is, like matriarchy, just an odd, semi-informative, convenient social/anthropological construction.

    Well, a kyriarch cannot be a kyriarch if he has no one to rule, yes. Any power a woman (or other non-kyriarch) has within the kyriarchy is either power that she has by proxy of the kyriarch (by virtue of being directly connected to him) or is by virtue of her rank relative to another, lower, person, male or female. A non-kyriarch’s power can be stripped from them if they displease the kyriarch, the kyriarch retains his power so long as he lives, barring revolution or defeat by another (replacement) kyriarch.

    In my mind at least, there has been no greater kyriarch than the Ba’al Shem Tov and his allies in power in the last 500 years–and history tells us he was not a rich man.

    I have to admit, I had to look up who he was. I’m frankly flabbergasted that you would assert that he was the greatest kyriarch in the last 5 centuries. Was he a kyriarch, holding power over a specific group of people (in this case, Ukrainian Hasidic Jews of the 17th and 18th centuries)? Yes, no doubt. But he was not the most powerful kyriarch of his day. There were MANY people in his own time who outranked him. He was an Ashkenazi Jew born in 1698 in the Ukraine, meaning he was lower-ranked than the local Christian lord and all of his superiors. He was not the greatest kyriarch of his day. Was he influential? Does his influence live on to today? Yes, no question. But I don’t think he was the greatest of kyriarchs since 1500.

    Now, about MRA’s: talk about forgetting the activists who came before! Bacon and Shay’s; the Wobblies and the draft card burners–certainly they were angry; and certainly in this platform above, irrational; they should be locked up or isolated and marginalized out of existence–they were all men after all, and angry claimants of absurd doctrines, and even more absurd, unorthodox, noise making practices.

    Wait, what? While legitimate criticisms can – and have – been made of Bacon et al, I have never once seen them dismissed out of hand on the grounds that they were men. Are you asserting that they have been? They were certainly dismissed in their own times for failing to submit to the kyriarchy, certainly. Some of that dismissal did contain language about how they were failing to be “proper” (obedient to the powers-that-be) men of their time.
    Are you asserting that they were MRAs? If so, then we are using different definitions of the term. I’ve been assuming that the MRA movement, largely defined, is a movement, largely arising post-1970 in the US, based around advocating for the rights of men and opposition to feminism. Are you instead saying that the MRA movement is instead a much older movement dedicated to dismantling the kyriarchy? If so, then that may be part of the problem – we’ve been talking past each other, armed with different definitions!

    And the feminisms forget that all too often. Perhaps it is because the white, American male was the mule of the last several centuries of progress; or perhaps it is because the comfort of the middle class is too enticing; or that women are currently shopping for new mules (middle eastern ones?)–but I don’t see or hear any rhetoric acknowledging that, except from MRA’s.

    Uh. Racism, abuse of poor people, and nationalism are all part of the kyriarchy. Is the middle-class life comfy? Yes. Not going to deny that. Are you arguing that the kyriarchy is created and propped up by women for the benefit of women? I’ll argue vehemently against that if you are – it is not so. The number of women who benefit under the kyriarchy are dwarfed by those who are hurt by it.

    Capitalism always trumps democracy when it comes to truth telling. And the truth is, these guys aren’t whining any more than they are rebelling against not being heard in their complaint against being used, and tossed in the gutter when their backs are broke, or their asses saddle sore.

    Yep. Sucks to not be the kyriarch! If only all the non-kyriarchs could actually band together, maybe we’d get somewhere. Of course, the system is great at pitting the peons against each other. It is a lot easier to endure abuse if you’ve got someone else to abuse.

    They truly are the angry, first world ear tweaking, whinging feminist of the 1970′s. Some of them are Dworkins, some are Solanas, with lots of bizarre Suzy Brights, and dick-heavy Califia’s–but not many of them are MacKinnon any more. And as far as I can tell, none of them is yet on the CIA payroll, like Steinem was.

    Who are? Commenters here? Feminists? MRAs?

    So “because the only way we’ll all be free is if the kyriarchy is dismantled. We can’t allow part of it to remain.” I ask you then: are American, middle class European descended women ready to give up their absurd posturing against their ‘lack’ of privilege and parachute into the abyss as well? I doubt it–after all, the tools of power are more and more in the hands of them and their others. And the preferred tool of all the powerful is dismissive silencing, and harsh imprisonment; lynchings by the angry middle class mobs–of the tyrannical, under-privileged masses.

    Alrighty then. Let me ask you a question in response: Are you actually alleging that American, middle-class European descended women are at the top of the kyriarchical heap? They AREN’T. They are, at the LEAST, outranked by upper-class women, who in turn are outranked by upper-class men. As I said above – the ultimate kyriarch is a man. An individual woman may outrank a specific man, but she is herself outranked.

    MRA’s are among those masses right now, and yet that does not minimize their actual suffering, or merit the silencing that is going on. They ARE NOT ALL ALIKE. And none of these feminisms are speaking up about the prisons,or active in creating criminal offenses that take a long hard look at real equality: the right to go to jail, or be scrutinized as criminal by the authorities.
    Why it is that the marginalization or mobilization of men is and has always been so easy in this culture–if it is war that you want them for; but anything else–blindly trust the skirts? I think the skirts let us all down. As far as I can tell, all those who should know better are cutting men off one way or another. The great irony there is that these men themselves endure much the same that you or any woman has or will, but they are still expected to just shut up about it, and trust those who move forwards, while such dialogues herd them off into the abyss alone.

    Ah, I see. You really do think that the ultimate kyriarch is a woman, that our society is female-dominated. It isn’t. The things you are complaining of, the sufferings of lower-ranking men, are perpetrated by the kyriarchy, which is headed by men. Any power a woman has within the kyriarchy is inherently fragile, granted to her as a reward for and contingent upon her continued her good behavior by the (male) kyriarch. She can outrank men, yes, but she is always outranked.
    As it happens – feminists do speak up about the prison-industrial complex, about how men are assumed to be violent criminals while women are assumed to be either pure, innocent things or depraved sex things, and about the ways in which every day, men and women who are not the kyriarch are ground down. Because that’s what it means to be a feminist. A feminist is a person – male or female – who opposes the kyriarchy. QED.

    I’m certain Abraham and Moses would commend you for that type of activism, but I sure can’t.

    I’m not going to claim to be following Abraham’s lead, he strikes me as an asshole. But Moses? Yeah, he had his flaws, but who doesn’t? If you’re going to compare feminism to a guy who risked a lot to stand up to the powers-that-be and lead his people out of slavery, then, uh, thanks?

  357. 357
    arguably MRA

    Esteleth: Wheew.

    That looks like a huge discussion that I will get back to tomorrow, o.k.? It’s worth the time and I don’t have that time right now.

    But, first: Moses was a common criminal in the least, and a great con-man at best. And I am on the side of the people who suggest he was likely high as a kite when he wrote the big ten.

    re: your paradigm of ‘the kyriarch’ is theoretical, and part of the problem here. You envision that kyriarch as male, and you diffuse the influence, the potential influence, and the ultimate power of a theoretical woman, and even yourself to be that kyriarch–and, if a HIM, imagine that women as a rule would rebel and kill him if did niot di their will–not least of which is HIS mother–imagine a man holding power that his mother did not groom him for, or would not allow him to hold, and encourage him wield.

    That’s a funny idea…a real funny, strange idea.

    Suffice it to say that these are not the dark ages, nor is it one unified world; intersectionality comes into play at every level, and I do dispute your adherence to theory at that point. We simply do not know her or him at the tip top, and even if we did? He could do nothing that his mother did not permit.

    Also “Are you actually alleging that American, middle-class European descended women are at the top of the kyriarchical heap?”

    Yes, actually, I am, but not in the literal sense of one unified bank account, or a monolithic pencil writingall the checks–and not literally at the very tippy toppy, as if that matters, but yes, they are the largest most privileged, advantaged and vocal group with the power to create change–and they do! The entire dialectic space is over run with Euro-women. Americans control 80% of the wealth and blankety blank amount of the resources, and…etc; but no one subscribes to a newspaper, or a blog, a public policy, or a war that doesn’t cater to them.

    That group, as individuals, obviously no, not ‘the kyriarch’, but as pertains to the control of wealth and power, and those who hold it, yes–they all get the password into the mystical kyriarchal pyramid before anyone else. Men are just tools, with women and women’s agendas written all over them.

    But I will have to get back to you with all the details and so forth to address your commentary above, if you are still in a talking mood.

  358. 358
    arguably MRA

    Esteleth: O.K. [aside: watch this]*wink, wink*
    You started your post from yesterday with this well known trope

    *blink blink*

    This was unfair. Any thinking man would reply: What a doll; You little cutie! Women are so predictable…!

    So, first, if you read through that thread up there, you will note that nearly any input that any man could have here has been undermined by a careful groundwork of mockery, inside jokes, and in-group confirmation biases that are prohibitive of actual discussion.

    In short–this is not a male friendly space, despite the appearance here of several who are men. Very much like there is this idea of “feminist spaces” there is also this idea of safe spaces, and this isn’t one of them. But I am a mangy bull indeed, so I will plod on regardless.

    And really, this discussion would be better had over a *cup of coffee*, or on a thread about religion, and artificial constructions of gender, so I won’t address the substance above, at risk of derailment.

    Second, one of the anti-male commenters up there made a remark that MRA’s are somehow obsessive, long winded jerks that apparently just love to hear themselves talk or write long diatribes, so I am hesitant to respond to you completely.

    But thankfully, you too, are a friend of the long diatribe as demonstrated by your work above, so I will continue; because what those types miss is the importance of conversations beyond the sound-byte–their minds are conditioned for stunted, pituitary or libidinal responses.

    Now, you made comment at some point that all of the comments above that were pro-circ had been addressed, and that is simply not true.

    What you have above, for the most part, is worse than even slacktivism. What you have is a semi–favorable opinion that male circ is bad, layered with ten thousand shades of who fucking *really* cares. And all of that spliced into a disingenuous presentation. Take any of those mocking comments above and insert them into a post about female circ, and then ask yourself if that shit would fly.

    So, what you really have are feminists who are every bit as bad as the MRA’s that they bemoan, and every bit as disengenuous. Not anti circ as much as just baiting males.

    In style, and intent, the above is like reading some MRA treatise on how they can help housewives, starting with doing the dishes every now and again. Or how they can help prostitutes, by tipping better(pun intended).

    The only person in this whole thread who gets it without reservation, hesitation, or baggage attached is Heather Dalgleish. She is the only one–in the whole thread. The rest are just obligatory commentary layered with male shaming, and confirmation bias in regards to MRA’s that will go nowhere but here–on this thread, and devolve from there into some self righteous posturing on the part of most of you(them) to continue to do nothing at all about the real issue.Another inside joke for you all.

    That said, that Greenwood character is a troll, and went unchecked, and anyone who was baiting for MRA’s should have been confronted as well for your assertion that everyone is against circ to have been true.

    And on your main claim:

    Complain all you want that those MRAs are doing it wrong all you want but that’s the truth. Many people here have had too many encounters with self-described MRAs for it to be a neutral, descriptive term. The term has been poisoned. Please, acknowledge this fact.

    No matter how hard you guys try to poison the term Esteleth? It doesn’t make it so. You lend it power–censorship of words and ideas works like that. And I wasn’t complaining–MRA’s are doing what I did when I was a young feminist-like/civil rights like/ mercenary creature: they are rude, annoying, in your face, and they sound really under-informed, biased and kind of nutty or just mean spirited. Worst of all the ‘haven’t learned their place’. They defy context! speak out of turn! They break the rules! and they are unsympathetic to those who are not like themselves–they sleep with the enemy! Those PUA/sluts…

    Yes, they are doing some things wrong, mostly, because they are following the mercenary feminist model–and that model, insomuch as it complains about the patriarchy, merely seeks to eradicate the local patriarchs, and shop it’s way up through the kyriarchy–stretching from national, to international patriarchs, while selling out,using or slaving the local boys.

    This model cannot work for most MRA’s because they haven’t learned the fine art of swapping ‘up,’ or slaving, which many feminists are all too glad to do. But they’re learning. And it definitely cannot work because the laws of their nations do not favor their rights–yet.

    Now, lastly, I will address the substance of your post, but I warn all

    onlookers it will be awhile before you see the bottom of this thread…

    You said “Negatory.” and “self-absorbed woman hating asshole[s].”in regards to my position that MRA’s are every bit as annoying as feminists.

    They are no more or less assholes, or reprehensible at all, in fact, I have good faith the boys will figure it out for themselves, and move on to better lives for the most part–especially the PUA’s and the GTOW guys, because this society does not favor men at all. So I guess we fundamentally disagree, and we can leave it at that.

    “I really can’t help you. Everyone here – you included – has to pick their battles.”

    Well, if that doesn’t embody the epitome of the entirety of female responses, what does? Because, after all, I spent a good bunch of years fighting for women’s rights, and here, you, a woman ONCE AGAIN make it very clear that you have “your own battles.” But did it occur to you that for every woman who abandons the cause of men, there is a world full of women who will stand as allies? MRA’s are learning that indeed.

    I’m glad I wised up, and jumped of the feminist circus parade wagon full of frustrated, angry ticket selling carnival clowns. And I am literally richer and happier for it.

    My quote about men and wives comes from the WW2 era, one of those windy world leaders. I forget which one though, sorry. But you said

    “Do some men listen to their wives and take their advice seriously. Yes indeed. Are those tendencies universal? Fuck no.You should know better than to assert that.”

    I should know better, or I should know my place? How would you know? And why should Iknow better? My body is my politic, and I have more than just a brushing acquaintance with the laws, and how they affect my body, and the bodies of many other men–not just white, homogenous, Norwegians, Lutherans, European descended whites, and recovering Catholics that comprise the middle classes.

    Do you have a wife? But no offense and all, but even if you did, the entire arrangement would be different regardless. Sadly, the law is a weapon that is aimed at the penis, and those who have them, but especially aimed at out-group members opf society–that society constructed by in-group patriarchs AND matriarchs.

    All of that society is such that the penis=socially negotiated space, wealth, power, and social control that can benefit some men, but directly disempowers more than it empowers-statistically, historically, and economically–indeed by any index you wish to use.

    I know that flies in the face of what you have been taught, but this is one place where MRA’s are spot on–and sadly, a discussion longer than this thread could ever be.You would have to actually read the MRA’s to understand.

    Finally, the talk about the Besht and Bacon is a much longer dialogue, so I will leave it here, unless you would like to discuss them. But I was specifically talking about American democracy and Nathaniel Bacon; The Baal Shem Tov could be said to be in this very discussion we are having right now, and indeed in one way or another, he is in Madonna the songstress as well, with her Kabbalah. And of the two men–both of whom took on the patriarchs, only one of them finally won. But it took some 300 plus years.

    But both of them were clearly MRA’s to the right wing.

    Your entire argument is materialistic, gauging kyriarchy and power from a strictly here and now sense of power–and I must say, is a very American, very feminist, and female argument. But not one of human rights, or liberation at all.

  359. 359
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    hughintactive,

    Thank you for those references. And for trying to make me feel guilty about the decision my husband and I were guided by the medical profession to make on behalf of our sons (with as much consent as they were able to give themselves).

    We didn’t exactly go singing and dancing into surgery, you know. Any more than we did for the surgery one of our sons had on his ears at four months of age in order to give him some hearing.

    Unfortunately for you, not one of those seven papers was published early enough to be of any help in our first decision, and only three before the second. In any case, both boys had difficulty in urinating (the second slightly less than the first, hence the relative delay) and recurrent unavoidable infections (because of the impossibility of cleaning below a foreskin with a microscopic opening).

    They were suffering before the surgery, within days of the operation they were happier than they had been in ages, they are now both adults and neither has ever criticised our decisions, nor have their intact brothers. I have full confidence that the doctors operated with a view to the best outcome for each boy, not from some snip-happiness or for the money (NHS operating lists are always full; the surgeons get a salary regardless of the operations they perform).

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    arguably MRA, you mention my ‘nym in one of your posts, so I thought there might be a reply to what I posted. Unfortunately, having wilfully mistaken my puzzlement for ‘passive aggression’, there just seems to be another substanceless diffuse rant, with overt misogyny, too. At least you showed your true colours, there. There is obviously no point in attempting to engage your arguments as you have none; and engaging you as a person is equally pointless as you refuse to extend that courtesy to others.

    I still don’t know what you are angry about as it pertains to this blog post and/or the comments.

  360. 360
    arguably MRA

    Tigger: “it seems to be another substanceless diffuse rant, with overt misogyny, too.”

    Really? Please, show me where my comments are ‘all women’–at least any further than your comments, tropes, and stereotypes are ‘all men.’

    You addressed me first as you might recall, or aren’t man-haters equipped with long term memory?

    And are you incapable of noticing who I was addressing? You specifically, and some others generally, but all of them specimens drawn from the same culture–here, Or are you all part of the same monolitic woman? I forgot–feminists are not individuals who are accountable for their individual idiocy.

    Um, kaayy. Rrrrright.

    Yup sure you got me there! Just me, hatin’ on all those responsible, accountable women ( who don’t spend their life and time here on this board baiting men), especially real, non-man hating women like Heather Dalgleish (the only one on the thread who fully gets it)and all the downtrodden women who are NOT white Europeans.

    Yup. Prolly I do that because they are not so *lovably full of full of circular, cyclical arguments*, and Pharworngulite logic, as you are showing yourself to be.

    Have you prolapsed, or just thick–can I help you over this hump of misunderstanding?

    But I do not hate women as a rule– I generally am put off by jaded passive aggressive idiots with circular, man hating sexist logic, and ‘angry man’ tropes as you once again demonstrated.

  361. 361
    Hugh Young

    @#361 Tigger:

    And for trying to make me feel guilty

    I was?? Not consciously. Please try reading my post again without that presupposition, as a detached (perhaps too detached, for which I am sorry) message to someone I thought had been badly advised, but largely addressed to the wider audience. Bear in mind too, that you didn’t say how long ago the operations were. The treatment might be different today.

    Unfortunately for you, not one of those seven papers was published early enough to be of any help in our first decision, and only three before the second.

    For me? No. for your sons. I did mention difficulty with urinating, and I didn’t know you were under the NHS, not the US “If in doubt, circumcise!” culture.

    Thank you for bringing the thread back on topic.

  362. 362
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Sorry for the derail.
    I should have known better than to attempt to reason with a troll.

    Wow. That was epic! Glad to know that middle-class American women control 80% of the wealth of the US! :D :D I guess that means all my debt just evaporated. I’m going to call my bank and all my lenders and tell them the good news!

  363. 363
    arguably MRA

    Esteleth: “Sorry for the derail.”

    This above should be written in stone. An accountable apology from a Euro descended white female? Unheard of! You must be a lesbian…;-)

    As for your debt–why did you go in debt to begin with? That was silly. But the ability to borrow at all, certainly is a privilege tat many do not have.

    Lastly “middle-class American women control 80% of the wealth of the US!”

    I believe I said that women control their own wealth ( and debt) and the men who are tools who also have wealth.

    Does that baffle you?

  364. 364
    hotshoe

    MRA
    Give it a break. You’re boring.

  365. 365
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    ArguablyMRA, I’m pretty sure I’ve described myself as a lesbian about 10 times on this thread alone. Did you just figure this out?

    Middle-class women don’t control 80% of the wealth in the country – directly or indirectly – because the middle class doesn’t control 80% of the wealth in the country.

    You fail at math. Badly.

    In answer to your question, I’m in debt with student loans – approximately $30,000. But then, that’s unfortunately what happens when a middle-class kid (my parents are a factory worker and a public-school teacher, as it happens) goes to college in modern America – it costs serious bucks! And yes, I AM aware of just how much privilege I have in being able to get those loans in the first place Now, if only I could get a job to enable me to pay them off!

    Sorry you think me going to college (and now graduate school) is “silly.”

  366. 366
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    hughyoung, you changed your ‘nym?

    Sorry for taking your post the wrong way – if you wished to put out general advice and alternatives for those considering therapeutic circumcision perhaps you should have better addressed it as such, rather than directing your comment at someone for whom the advice is too late; the latter smacks of criticism and will often (usually?) be taken as such. I have grandsons who are older than my sons were when they had their operations. When you do not have all the information about someone’s circmstances, it is better to ask before offering advice. It is probably also unwise to assume any commenter here is in the USA!

    hotshoe, seconded. Watching someone burn a whole field of strawpeople is tedious.

    Esteleth, of course he didn’t notice – he hasn’t responded to anything in any comments here, only to what he imagines to be in them. Anyway, I have enjoyed your comments and congratulations on completing college! I hope you get a decently-paying and satisfying job very soon. =^_^=

  367. 367
    arguably MRA

    hotshoe: Your nym rhymes with “out of the blue.”

    Anything on substance? O.k. then. Come back when you have something to say.

    But while your here hotshoe: Someone up there mentioned a blogger who posted about ‘men’s issues’ and got no response from the ebul MRA’s. Does it occur to you, or anyone that men do not want or need mediated discussions from anti-male bloggers, or anti-male pundits? Or waste their time in the honey-trap of disingenuous, purportedly ‘pro-male issues’ posts?

    Sheep/wolf, wolf/sheep. It’s incongruous, and it doesn’t work well for the feminists either.

    Tigger: See? I responded exactly as requested to a comment directed at me–counter to your assumption? And, I am not even sure you watched the video above, you know, the one about circumcision?

    But it repeatedly mentioned everything I attempted to dialogue about.
    1)How men are ‘embodied’ as the property of society.
    2) How circumcision has chemical effects in the infant brain; 3)how pain itself is viewed as the social ‘burden and responsibility’ of males.
    4)How men are created, and once created, shamed, mocked, and derided continuously, and in subtle ways (stereotypes), as well as extremes(used as cannon fodder).
    5)How men are deliberately hurt by people of their own society as an act of mind-boggling “kindness.”
    6)In the literature, the idea that women actually hurt their boys via circumcision, as pre-emptive payback for them being born male.
    7) and even then, ‘men’s issues’ come second to women’s issues–which are ironically all the fault of men!

    Did you miss those attempts at dialogue, or were you too busy genderizing, and “snipping” at your own straw men? Or me?

    Lastly–for the sake of argument, suppose I was angry, as you assume (as opposed to indignant, passionate, excitable, or eager, vehemently obstinate, or intense).

    Is it possible in your paradigm that such “anger” and hence, the “angry man” stereotype that you insisted on perpetuating, could indeed be related to the fact that you are not as passionate as I, nor as indignant that the cutting of an infants penis arouses such derogatory responses?

    Or that you are possibly willing to engage at every opportunity in male bashing ( men are all rapists!) rather than acknowledge that this engendering of males could well be part of the cause of a rapist/ or a rape society?

    Maybe you can’t see your own position of privilege in the discussion, or perhaps you are not aware of how your words–no matter how simple–can also be interpreted?

    So, if anger, then righteous anger in such a case, and directed at people who might need to think about their position in the matter more seriously? So, if rape society, then those in society who willfully allow such engendering?

    Esteleth: Once again you prove the stereotypes!

    You posit, again?-that you are a lesbian. You ask: “Did you just figure this out?”

    Now Esteleth, *blink, blink*–do I have to remind you that I said that with a smiley face next to it? You know the trope–humorless feminists and lesbians…geeesh. AGAIN…where hath all the humor gone?

    Well, on the topic of finding work: I am certain that MRA’s–and even David Byron– are correct in some regards there: men as a rule who must work to pay child support at risk of imprisonment; men who are otherwise caught up in the throes of being what society has created (the dysfunctional aspects of male embodiment),and men who are not encouraged into higher education; they certainly take what work they can find–especially dangerous construction jobs, temporary labor, off shore oil drilling, catching crabs( Alaskan Crabs, not the kind the PUA’s get), pan-handling and so forth.

    Or boring, repetitive motion injury causing jobs like folding boxes all day in a plant, or splitting chicken wings off the bones of carcases, or as many Latin migrants(both women and men) do–they wash dishes.

    I hear that Alabama just deported its entire low wage work force, and jobs are everywhere. Work is everywhere in this country–but some of us are too jaded perhaps? in our expectations to ‘do’ that work–like all those icky MRA’s have to.

    Just a thought.

    But all of the stats on the wealth that women control, and all of the stats about women’s work choices, work injuries, and so forth you can get from actual MRA’s, because they have that information handy, I don’t.

    And they have a very interesting, often valid argument that I personally cannot dismiss outright, or ignore, because I do not have the privilege to do so–no one is co-signing my loans through life, or doing the day to day work of creating work for me.

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