Male Genital Mutilation: Some thoughts on Circumcision

Do you understand that this elementary point only needs to be made because of wickedness enjoined by religion. The rabbi here’s a fairly humane guy. He wouldn’t – if he didn’t think God was involved – ever consider mutilating the genitals of a child, but because it’s a covenant with God, anything can be done. Now don’t you see – you laugh, but you should be crying. I said crying!  Okay, suit yourself.”
-Christopher Hitchens

If you want to saw off the end of your penis, you’re welcome.  You’re not to do it to a child who hasn’t asked for it. Same with the genitals of a little girl. If she thinks later on she’d be better off without them, let her take, or have taken to her, a sharp instrument.”-Christopher Hitchens

Years ago, a rather bold, if not tactful, college professor made it known to the class that his wife would soon be giving birth to a baby boy. He just had one concern that he wanted to share with us, and that was what to do about, what he termed “the snake-muzzle”. The class was confused until, he explained that this means circumcision and whether or not he should have a doctor remove part of his new born son’s penis. He decided that, this was an appropriate issue to put up for vote among our class (and presumable his other classes). The response form the class, was generally in favor of going through with the procedure, with one male student shouting out “Cut it!!!” It was only myself and a few others who contributed to the no votes, and yes, this was often a rather unorthodox classes.  Needless to say, I was never informed about how other classes voted, or the fate of my professor’s son’s genitals.

I would still have voted against it to this day. There seems to be something terribly unethical about removing body parts from people without their consent.  Especially, when the individual, in question, has no way of expressing approval or disapproval. In the United States, the Circumcision of newborn males was has been above sixty or even seventy percent for much of the twentieth century, the number has dropped down over last decade and to roughly 54.7 percent in 2010. The prevalence of circumcision of newborns, in this country, seems largely to be an exercise of thoughtless conformity, as well an just another thing that medical professionals can charge for. My Google search of the “cost of circumcision” revealed that the procedure tends to cost somewhere in the ball park of $150.00 to $300.00 for newborns. In other words the practice is very profitable for medical professionals, despite it being completely unnecessary, for any tangible health benefits in this country.

There are, of course, some medical conditions, for which circumcisions is helpful, and this is termed therapeutic circumcision.  These, though are not particularly common, and as such the medical associations of the developed world do not recommend infant circumcision as a preventative measure. The American Medical Association points out that:  “policy statements issued by professional societies representing Australian, Canadian, and American pediatricians do not recommend routine circumcision of male newborns.” The American Academy of pediatrics states:   “In the case of circumcision, in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child.”

That is to say, that American medical organizations tend to neither recommend the practice nor argue against it.  The Dutch go further, as the Royal Dutch Medical Association states infant circumcision conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity.” The Royal Australian College of Physicians, on the other hand states: “After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand.

In other words, there is no good medical reason for parents doctors in the developed world to be routinely cutting the genitals of male newborns.  This is especially true knowing what is lost.  Namely, the child’s right to make life long decisions about his body, and some of the more sensitive tissue of his sexual organs.  There is also a good deal of evidence that sexual intercourse is more enjoyable for both sexes if the male is uncircumcised.  Though a lot of this tends to be anecdotal, I would not want to rob this of child without, a great deal of thought and good reason. Unfortunately thoughtfulness and good reason are things lacking in the decisions of many Americans who cut parts of the male genitals off.

Many do it, because it is simply part of our culture.  This is so horribly conformist it is disgusting.  Besides, is it not the challenging of cultural norms that cause societies to evolve. Furthermore, Jews, Christians and Muslims tend to have a religious component to their decisions to take part in this practice.  One  does not have to read too far into the Old testament, to see that it’s God had a bizarre foreskin obsession.  The very idea, that a benevolent creator would create all male children with a part that needs to be painfully cut off, is too absurd to comment on.  Apparently this God passed on his foreskin obsession to his followers.  In 1st Samuel we find: “Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.”

I am not going to get into the related phenomenon of female circumcision (female genital mutilation), which is truly a morally repulsive practice, other than to say, no culture cut’s on women that does not cut on men.  Also, I will acknowledge that it has been shown that circumcision, does reduce the risk of getting HIV in AIDS ridden Africa, and should probably be encouraged there, but here in the developed world, I do not see any medical benefits that are out weighed by the cost of altering a child’s body without their consent.  As such, I am inclined to dismiss the century old trend in the United States as a cynical way for medical professionals to make more money on a worthless service, and an example of shallow band wagoning and mindless conformity among thoughtless parents.

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3 Responses to Male Genital Mutilation: Some thoughts on Circumcision

  1. truthblade says:

    You must be pro life then.

    • Mr. Wilson says:

      I do not believe I have said anything here that necessitates my taking a certain issue on the abortion debate. My position on abortion is summed up in these three post:

      Simply put I think one should be free to terminate a pregnancy since I view doing so as a matter of self defense. Simply put if someone is occupying your body without your consent you should be free to defend your bodily autonomy and expel that individual, though you are not free to use lethal force to do so if that individual can be removed without it.

      That said, while I definitely believe abortion is something that we should have less of prohibitionism is not the answer (as it rarely is). Prohibitionism fails to address the underlying causes of a social ill, and tends to create black markets for that thing which is prohibited, and black markets tend to bring out the worst aspects of everything.

      I think pro-life types should reject their current prohibitionist stances and focus their energies on tackling the root causes of abortion such as ignorance of how to prevent prevent pregnancy, lack of availability of contraception, the high cost of bring children into this world, the lack of people willing to adopt, lack of inexpensive child care for available to working class people, poverty ect. I am not saying force should be used to tackle such issues, but I think these are the sort of issues that contribute to abortion and the pro-life movement tends to show little or no concern about them. It is as though the pro-life movement is hell bent at protecting the individual up until the moment of birth, but then are unwilling to give a rats ass afterwards, and it is the issues of what happen after the birth that lead people to getting abortions in the first place.

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