Have we tried that one yet?

Jafafa Hots said:

(keep searching and searching for justifications for continuing to do what you were always doing for totally unrelated reasons once people start demanding you justify your actions… lemme see. Leaving genitals intact destroys the sanctity of traditionally-altered genitals? Have we tried that one yet?)

So good I just wanted to repeat it.



  1. screechymonkey says

    I really would like to know who was the first priest/prophet/whatever to suggest chopping off foreskins. I mean, just from an academic point of view it would be interesting — was it some muckety-muck who got an infection, had to have his cut off, and then rationalized it as something Yahweh wanted? It can’t have been as simple as distinguishing one tribe from its neighbors — there are lots less scary ways of doing that.

  2. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Ritual scarification shows up in a bunch of cultures; I suppose they just worked their way, um, down to that part in some form of competion regarding how far someone was willing to go with it.

  3. Andrew B. says

    Or: How am I supposed to explain the existence of non-mutilated genitals to MY CHILDREN?!

  4. anat says

    To screechmonkey and Wowbagger: I am guessing it was viewed as a form of sympathetic magic – sacrifice a bit of one’s penis to the gods in exchange for extra-high virility/fertility. Under this reasoning I’m guessing it was a rite of puberty or thereabouts. Note that in Genesis Yahweh demands that Abraham circumcise himself just as he is promising Abraham another son.

  5. ambassadorfromverdammt says


    Scary to whom? Not to the people in power who are performing or decreeing mutilation, certainly; and not to the newborn, who has no frame of reference to contemplate the shit about to happen.

    FGM is much scarier – it ain’t newborns who are tortured thusly.

  6. peterh says

    Look at genital modification as a (nearly always) unalterable sign of (not always) voluntary acceptance of some cultural-theocratic nonsense. Then make viewing that modification (unless one is a power figure) a cultural-theocratic transgression. Theocracies always try to turn the fun bits into naughty bits.

  7. says

    Unsanctified genitals are a threat to traditional marriage! Satan is wily like that! He’ll tempt your daughters into sin through the demons that are widely known to infest unremoved foreskins!

    Or something. I don’t think the reasons are unrelated in this example. It’s pretty common to see bullies flip the narrative around and portray the actual oppressed person or persons as the ones doing the thing that they are accused of. One way of jamming a signal is to flood the communication channel with a signal of the opposite amplitude and equal wavelength.

  8. qwints says

    Since that was in response to my post, I’ll re-iterate one point which I haven’t seen addressed: this discussion is perplexing to the tens of millions of American males who, like me, were circumcised for medical reasons, and live in a country whose national medical organizations endorse circumcision as a reasonable, but not mandatory, procedure.

    In addition, here’s an article discussing the riskiness of infant circumcision:
    A trade-off analysis of routine newborn circumcision.

  9. says


    Since that was in response to my post, I’ll re-iterate one point which I haven’t seen addressed: this discussion is perplexing to the tens of millions of American males who, like me, were circumcised for medical reasons,

    The thing is, you weren’t. (Ok, it’s possible that you were, but your mention of tens of millions of American males leads me to suspect otherwise). The ‘medical’ reason for the American habit of circumcision is always given as ‘hygiene.’ The reason, in turn, for this, is that the idea of ‘social hygiene’ formerly included not masturbating. In other words, you were cut because a 19th century puritan thought it would keep you from masturbating, and that this was good for you. Dr. Kellogg was mentioned in the previous thread as well, if you were paying attention. If you still aren’t, here’s the short form: the ‘medical’ benefits are garbage, and proponents have been making them up to justify their continued child-mutilation in much the same way that forced-birthers routinely make up ‘medical’ consequences of abortion.
    ambassadorfromverdammt #5
    Actually, a number of cultures that practice male circumcision do it as an adulthood rite. Just not Jews, Muslims, or Yankees.

  10. says


    Circumcised American Male here. My parents weren’t even given a choice, I was just taken and it was done, as was routine at the time – they didn’t didn’t object, nobody ever really objected, because it wouldn’t even have occurred to them to have. I have no personal axe to grind about it, I’m not particularly using the thing anyway…

    …but I am not perplexed. Speak for yourself.

    Just because it was routinely done and done by medical professionals doesn’t mean it was “for medical reasons.”

  11. Jackie the wacky says

    I’m not making a claim that this is supported by history or anything, but I’ve always thought that male circumcision was a way of older men making younger men submit to them in a painful and humiliating way. It was not always done at birth. In the OT Abraham’s wife has to cut off his foreskin and paint his “thighs” with his own blood to prevent YHWH from killing him in their tent one night. The whole thing reads like a horror story. The moral being, “If you don’t do what he says, the god of our people will murder you in the night like a ravening animal”.

    We know that there are no gods who hunger for foreskins. We know that penises are healthy when they are intact. So, we know that when the head men of ancient tribes said the god wanted you to cut part of your genitals off, it meant they wanted you to cut part of your genitals off. I can only assume then that it was a show of power. If you want to be certain that a man will do absolutely anything you demand of him, requiring him to give up part of his penis or his sons’ penises is a pretty good test of his obedience.

  12. AnotherAnonymouse says

    Though American-born, I grew up in a European culture that doesn’t circumcise. When I had my own son, I had no intention of circumcising him–why cut off a normal, perfectly-functioning body part? Nobody at the hospital gave me trouble over it–they offered the service and I declined. The deal was always that if the boy wanted it done when he was 18, the spouse and I would pay for it. Unlike all the horror stories you hear in the USA about uncut men dropping dead in the street of mysterious infections, the boy grew up with no health issues (even though I’m sure his hygiene was sometimes questionable once he was old enough to bathe himself). When he turned 18, we had the circumcision discussion we him. He was appalled at the very thought.

    The simple fact is the most of the world does not circumcise newborn boys, and the men grow up perfectly fine. OTOH, just among acquaintances in our social circle, there have been boys who have needed surgical repair for botched or infected circumcisions.

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