Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

I was circumcised as a child and I'm not exactly happy about it
February 3, 2011 2:41 AM   Subscribe

Mom, why did you circumcise me?
posted by twoleftfeet (508 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uh oh spaghetti o's
posted by nathancaswell at 2:48 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Uh oh spaghetti o's

I understand the sentiment... but that image!
posted by fairmettle at 2:50 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Mommy, I want Mickey Mouse ears!"
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 3:02 AM on February 3, 2011


I'm happy I was circumcised as a child because getting it done as an adult would be no end of painful.
posted by Ritchie at 3:02 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm happy I was circumcised as a child because getting it done as an adult would be no end of painful.

The thing is, it's unlikely that having it done as an adult would've been a necessary medical procedure.

That being said, whenever I watch something like this, as a circumcised male, I also tend to get hella defensive. Mostly because someone inevitably describes the circumcised penis as "dried out, scarred and calloused" as in this documentary, and I'm all, "whoa, that's my dick you're insulting there!"

Seriously? Calloused? I know callouses from hands and feet, and I'd straight-away to a doctor if anything like that EVER happened to my penis.
posted by explosion at 3:31 AM on February 3, 2011 [24 favorites]


I'm no fan of male circumcision, but - honestly - comparing it to the disfigurement of female circumcision is a bit much. It's a provocative statement to build from, I suppose, but they are entirely different procedures netting entirely different outcomes.
posted by crossoverman at 3:41 AM on February 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


I had my penis completely removed in order to frustrate the activities of these butcher circumcisionists. It was the best move I ever made, as now I PROUDLY wave my stumpy crotch in their faces and say, "you'll take no foreskin from me, you flesh-munching vivisectors!"

Subsequently, I have also been RAGING against the hair-removal industry by filling each of my follicles with superglue, thereby preventing all growth. "Nevermore shall a single strand of my man-locks be cut down for your gleeful bald-lust, you vanity-reapers!" - that's what I yell at them as I display my mucilage-drenched epidermis.

Future goals? Good question. Recently, my own face has been giving me "face," and has been getting all up in my shit and shit. If only I had a way to SPITE my face, I would choose to take firm action. Alas, I have only this pair of pliers and some bandages.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:48 AM on February 3, 2011 [43 favorites]


In before the mods come along and lop off your foreskin.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:50 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mom, why did you circumcise me?

Because we're Jewish, dear. Would you like some more kugel? Oh, and did you ever send your Aunt Irene a thank-you note for that lovely sweater?
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:52 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's every mother's dream that she'll one day be able to have a lengthy televised conversation with her son about his penis.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:53 AM on February 3, 2011 [28 favorites]


TMI ahead.

One of my partners had phimosis as a child, and while he understands the medical need for his circumcision, he bitterly regrets that it had to happen. To this day, he mentions that it bothers him. Even when necessary, I guess the operation can have a negative effect on someone. For what it's worth, no part of his penis is dried out, scarred or calloused. Well, there is a slight ring of scar tissue around the base of his glans, but it's hardly noticeable.

I guess I just don't see the point of unnecessary medical procedures.
posted by Solomon at 3:55 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I could never understand why American men need lube to masturbate until I leaned how man of them were cut as kids.

Never mind lube, I'd need half a pound of Deep Heat slathered over my knob if someone had ripped off my foreskin as a baby
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:57 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4

In the same way that we shouldn't turn threads about female circumcision (or more accurately, female genital mutilation) in to ones about male circumcision we probably shouldn't do the opposite here as they are streets apart.

Anteater and very proud of the fact, and quite relieved that the trend in the UK when I was born was for keeping me that way. Life with out my foreskin would not be as good.
posted by i_cola at 3:59 AM on February 3, 2011


I'm all for a rational questioning of the necessity of the practice, but this sudden explosion of men whining to the online world about being circumcised just makes me roll my eyes.

Also, I give the video maybe 30-40k more views before someone complains to YouTube about visible baby wiener.
posted by Avelwood at 3:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, I've got no complaints about my own circumcised schwanz, and neither has anyone else who's had opportunity to enjoy it. (Take a number; line forms on the left.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:00 AM on February 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


oh hai is this where i can talk about my genitals because i've been permabanned from chatroulette.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:13 AM on February 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


Only one tag? You really cut your post down to the bare minimum.
posted by gman at 4:14 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, I've got no complaints about my own circumcised schwanz, and neither has anyone else who's had opportunity to enjoy it.

I have a similar reaction to one particular part of the anti-circumcision debate, actually. I'm sure that there are some cases where it goes really wrong, and I don't deny that these cases would be a tragedy for those affected.

But -- one of the biggest arguments I've heard against is that it "reduces sensitivity." And -- well, only one of the (somewhere-in-the-low-double-digits) partners I've had has been uncircumcised, and let's just say that they all seemed plenty sensitive to me. (A couple were a little too sensitive for the situation, ifyouknowhatimean.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's nothing like the butchery that's done to women. My parents had me circumcised; as I recall, they told me that foreskins were "prone to infection". Being a kid, I thought they meant the kinds of infection you get in cuts and scrapes, but in looking back with adult eyes, they probably meant venereal diseases.

They may not even have been wrong. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that you have a lower chance of catching the HIV virus if you've been snipped. Seems at least possible that syphilis and gonorrhea would spread better with a relatively hospitable foreskin to live in. Pre-antibiotics, circumcision might have been a very good idea indeed. And deep cultural habits like that take a long time to die out.

Nowadays, I see little reason to do it. But even circumcised equipment still works fine. If there is a loss of function, it's not major, far from a horrible crime against nature or something.

It seems silly to be upset with your parents if they had it done. At worst, you'll buy more lube than you otherwise would. :)
posted by Malor at 4:24 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


D'oh, hit post too soon --

I'll admit that that's not the hugest of sample sets, but I imagine that if the insensitivity problem truly were as widespread as the claim states, that I would have met at least ONE guy who had a problem. But no.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 AM on February 3, 2011


does anybody know when male circumcision became the norm in the US?
posted by canned polar bear at 4:27 AM on February 3, 2011


Solomon, Malor (fellow tribesmen?) it's not a medical procedure, it's a ritual one. And it is necessary, to be Jewish, or for your sons to be. It's not necessary for anyone else. And that's the point.
posted by oneironaut at 4:31 AM on February 3, 2011


Yeah the rending of garments over this this just seems ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 4:34 AM on February 3, 2011


And it is necessary, to be Jewish

...or Muslim.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:35 AM on February 3, 2011


"The rending of garments over this just seems to be ridiculous"

It's a unnecessary medical procedure performed on children. It's perfectly acceptable to question whether it's a practice that should be continued, or at least de-normalised.

Not that it's considered that normal in the UK, Australia, or NZ. Which are the only countries I have much experience with anyway.
posted by aychedee at 5:02 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


But -- one of the biggest arguments I've heard against is that it "reduces sensitivity." And -- well, only one of the (somewhere-in-the-low-double-digits) partners I've had has been uncircumcised, and let's just say that they all seemed plenty sensitive to me. (A couple were a little too sensitive for the situation, ifyouknowhatimean.)

Yeah, as Dan Savage has pointed out, this argument is asking so many people to ignore their own first-hand experiences.

And maximal sensitivity is often not desirable!

Comparing male circumcision to female genital mutilation is pointlessly insulting the former and trivializing the latter.

Haven't we done this thread before?
posted by John Cohen at 5:03 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm happy I was circumcised as a child because getting it done as an adult would be no end of painful.
posted by Ritchie at 11:02 AM on February 3


If you'd grown to an adult with a nice foreskin that made wanking without lube an any-time delight, believe me, you wouldn't even have thought of getting circumcised. But hey, at least you'd have had the choice, right?

Trying to justify child abuse (and inflicting unnecessary, permanent surgical alteration on an infant is precisely that, and I refuse to mince words about it) on such irrational grounds perpetuates the problem.
posted by Decani at 5:05 AM on February 3, 2011 [24 favorites]


Helmet and proud.
posted by fixedgear at 5:05 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't this be in AskMe?
posted by Aizkolari at 5:06 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And it is necessary, to be Jewish

...or Muslim.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:35 PM on February 3


Then let the individual decide whether they want to be Jewish, or Muslim, with all that entails, when they are old enough to make a decision for themselves. Religion should never be allowed to claim special rights, especially when those rights involve curtailing the rights of children.
posted by Decani at 5:08 AM on February 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


I agree the comparison with female mutilation is completely out of place. But it's only relevant because in both situations we are talking about people choosing to put their children through what amounts to cosmetic surgery for nothing better than cultural reasons (obviously it's far more sinister than that for women). I have no problem with circumcision, just with the people who do it to their children.
posted by londonmark at 5:10 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you'd grown to an adult with a nice foreskin that made wanking without lube an any-time delight, believe me, you wouldn't even have thought of getting circumcised.

Are there people out there who can't produce enough saliva to spare some for a good wank?

Maybe I grew up in lower-middle class, but in my day, you left mom's Oil of Olay alone, spit on your hand and had at it, and you liked it.
posted by dflemingecon at 5:11 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


STOP THE CHOP!

I just came up with that off the top of my head!

TWOFER!

posted by orme at 5:12 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


But even circumcised equipment still works fine.

It's probably even an advantage. Any desensitizing effect is likely to extend the duration of sex -- something that many men would benefit from.

I guess I just don't see the point of unnecessary medical procedures.

I think this is the real objection to it. How doctors managed to convince the whole country that a religious ritual was actually an important medical procedure that all male children needed to be subjected to is still something I haven't seen an account of.

And while there's obviously no useful comparison with female genital mutilation, I'm pretty sure that if doctors had managed to foist this on all female babies, we'd all be justifiably outraged.

Cliffs: nobody's gonna reinstall your foreskin, you're probably not missing out on much, but other than religious reasons, the removal of foreskin, just so that Junior can look like his dad in the shower is really fucking peculiar and needs to stop.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:13 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


does anybody know when male circumcision became the norm in the US?

Other side of WWII, if I recall right. There was the idea it was cleaner, which in the sense of a slight edge over venereal diseases, is the truth. Probably helped by the euphemistic term for treating pain caused by gonorrhea as a "tight foreskin".

In Africa it gives you a statistically significant protection against AIDS and foreskins require extra cleaning attention to prevent nasty smegma and ejaculate residue from going all gross and putrid, but in the first world, with ready access to condoms and potable water you can waste on your dick, for most males foreskin removal is very much unneeded.

Patterns of the male snip in Canada follow exactly what medicare will pay for. Boy babies get it for free from the prairies onward, but Eastern and Central Canada expect a fee, which discourages anyone who doesn't feel strongly on the subject or who doesn't get the fee waved out of medical necessity.

I'm sorry explosion, at least from a heterosexual female perspective, cut and uncut are like night and day. It's not an insult, but uncut penises have rosy pink, delicate heads with soft skin very close to what a woman's inner labia skin feels like. Hand jobs have a very velvety glide, though you can yank the foreskin too hard and cause the guy to complain.

But if it makes you feel better you can call you penis butch and tough? And for what little my opinion is worth (since people who act like "I'd hit it" is the supreme compliment are boors) I wouldn't kick a cut guy out of bed and I hardly go on dates with cries of 'drop trou!" until we're in circumstances where such instruction is past the point of likely rejection.
posted by Phalene at 5:21 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Not trying to sound like a perv, but could any female Mefites opine on their preference here in terms of aesthetics (when seeking a mate)? I suspect that this may play a role in their decision as a mother.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:24 AM on February 3, 2011


Also, I could never understand why American men need lube to masturbate until I leaned how man of them were cut as kids.

Wait, what? Who the hell needs lube? This is completely bizarre.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:27 AM on February 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


People who obsess over this issue (not FGM, but surgical male circumcision) scare the fuck out of me. Get. A. Life. Your own, not someone else's.
posted by spitbull at 5:27 AM on February 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Funnily enough, my husband was the one adamant about circumcision for our son. Not having one, I concurred. The shower argument was used, which I still don't get.

I would also add, being from the United States that most of my sexual experiences have been with circumcised penises. I now have the pleasure of learning about an uncircumcised one. It requires completely different techniques and has been fun learning how to um, work with it.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 5:29 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? Who the hell needs lube? This is completely bizarre.

Yeah, it's not like there's a national shortage of raw chickens or anything.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:31 AM on February 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm curious about what the men who've had circumcisions as adults say about it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:32 AM on February 3, 2011


Jewish, Muslim, or American in the late twentieth century.

Fads come and go. This one may have more consequences than goldfish swallowing, but certainly less than FGM. Speaking of routine operations, remember when tonsillectomies were, if not routine, very commonplace? And I have some "Family Salve" in my antique drug collection - for insect bites, open wounds, etc whose main ingredient was Oleate of Lead. And a bedwetting cure which was mostly mercury. And then there was that magic Radium!

Being circumcised has never caused me to lose any sleep, nor would I fault my parents for doing what everyone did back then, but I'm glad we had a girl, not a boy. I still can't figure out what I'd do. Probably say no to the knife, I guess.
posted by kozad at 5:32 AM on February 3, 2011


It's pretty well documented that male circumcision is all part of a plan orchestrated by Big Lube.
posted by Ritchie at 5:35 AM on February 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


Helmet and proud.
posted by fixedgear at 5:05 AM on February 3 [+] [!]


Epenisterical.
posted by chavenet at 5:37 AM on February 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


If god had wanted the Mighty Hammer of the Proletariat* to look like it was wearing a turtleneck up over its head, I wouldn't have been born Jewish.**

Seriously, though, it wasn't until I was in my teens until I first saw an uncut penis (thanks, porn). It freaked me out, because I wasn't sure what was wrong with the guy, until someone explained it to me, complete with the level of disbelief you'd have when explaining to a child that they burned their hand because fire is hot.

*I think it happens to be a fine name.

**Born and raised, but no longer practicing, still happy with the hack job.

posted by Ghidorah at 5:44 AM on February 3, 2011


I'm curious about what the men who've had circumcisions as adults say about it.

Mr. Rhythm Andre Williams had a ritual circumcision in his 60s when he married a Jewish lady and converted. He's said the worst thing about it was getting (or starting to get) an erection before the wound had healed.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:44 AM on February 3, 2011


The sheer number of circumcision posts suggest a lot of you bend over too far when navel gazing. Just tuck your chin to your chest.
posted by yerfatma at 5:49 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


[tmi]Circumcised as an adult for medical reasons. Most mind-boggling painful thing I've had done to me in my life, and the doctor warned me that it would be. I don't regret it because sex was painful before, but I do miss it, both because it's different and the sensitivity is reduced.[/tmi]

And yes, it can reduce rates of HIV transmission and there are significant programs to implement it for that reason.
posted by idb at 5:51 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry explosion, at least from a heterosexual female perspective, cut and uncut are like night and day. It's not an insult, but uncut penises have rosy pink, delicate heads with soft skin very close to what a woman's inner labia skin feels like.

You know what. Fuck that. I did not need to know that.

Here I was all fine and comfortable with myself scoffing in concert with explosion at what people described as "scarred and calloused" cause you know, it would be so very obvious if it was calloused and torn up like a 1950's baseball catchers mitt (not those new fangled mitts with the supple emu oil rubs and what have you). Then you had to come along and describe what a wang head is like that hasn't been rubbing against starched and ironed underwear for three decades...

How am I supposed to live now?
posted by AndrewKemendo at 5:51 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


How am I supposed to live now?

Fuck the pain away.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 AM on February 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


WANG HEAD.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:55 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know who else wasn't exactly happy with his mother?

...that's right, John Lennon ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:01 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine is from Hong Kong, where they used to (maybe they still do, I have no idea) circumcise boys at an older age, like six or seven. Old enough to remember it, anyway. When we were sharing a house in university a group of us took some mushrooms and at one point he felt like he was going to puke, so he went upstairs to the washroom. A while later we heard him moaning "NO...NO, YOU ALREADY DID ME!" Turns out after he'd gotten sick he'd sat down in the bathroom and hallucinated that he was in the waiting room at the hospital where he'd been circumcised. So all in all it wasn't a great night for him.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:06 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm glad my (Dutch) father's response to the US hospital staff was "yeah, no. Let's not do that".
I'm also glad they asked my parents first. (that's not always the case aparently?)

On the other hand I can't imagine having missed it. It would have robbed my childhood of a couple hours of bathroom fun watching it bulge when I peed.
posted by HFSH at 6:13 AM on February 3, 2011


The thing is, it's unlikely that having it done as an adult would've been a necessary medical procedure.

Quite true. But I know someone for whom it was necessary because of persistent infections, and it was extremely traumatic and produced a lasting impact on his level of sexual sensitivity, which he would not have had to deal with if it had been done with a little anesthetic when he was a week old.

I'm not saying do one thing or the other, but there are a non-trivial number of people who have to endure circumcision later in life for medical reasons, all of whom wish their parents had just done it first thing.
posted by Dasein at 6:15 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm actually pretty damn happy my parents did when I was a little pisher. It's a lot easier to keep it clean than it would be otherwise. I honestly don't get the cut/uncut controversy at all.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:17 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The sheer number of circumcision posts suggest a lot of you bend over too far when navel gazing. Just tuck your chin to your chest.

Do not deny me this moment to sound off about my wang.
posted by Ritchie at 6:19 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, I have to ask - in places where male circumcision is common, how normal is it to buy and (or?) use lube for masturbatory purposes? How do guys find out about the idea of buying actual stuff for use specifically as lube? Sniggering comments in the playground? As part of a Talk about growing up?

I ask because a ... guy I know ... is circumcised (as a teenager, for medical reasons) but from a place where it is very much not normal, and wouldn't consider buying lube (as an adult, even in the anonymous wilds of the big city) because 'it's a bit gay' (which also seems to be a common belief among uncircumcised men of his age/background) . Turns out that if lube somehow magically appears, he prefers it to spitting on his hand, but he's still not entirely happy about buying it.
posted by Lebannen at 6:19 AM on February 3, 2011


Fuck the pain away.

What if you're not longer in school?

Anyway, you can totally think circumcising male children is a bad and wrong thing without equating it to the horror of FGM. I think it's wrong to cut up a child's genitals without a legitimate, valid medical need regardless of gender.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:21 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Circumcision threads are the metafilter equivalent of flashing.
posted by srboisvert at 6:24 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


But -- one of the biggest arguments I've heard against is that it "reduces sensitivity." And -- well, only one of the (somewhere-in-the-low-double-digits) partners I've had has been uncircumcised, and let's just say that they all seemed plenty sensitive to me. (A couple were a little too sensitive for the situation, ifyouknowhatimean.)

To EmpressCallipygos and John Cohen, I'm curious what you would say to someone who does have a problem with sensitivity? It happens that I've never had an orgasm from intercourse, and I do think my circumcision has something to do with it-- I don't think it would be considered botched or anything, but it was definitely, um, thorough. So, yes, I can have sex for literally hours, but some of my partners have been disappointed that it just wasn't going to happen for me that way.

And even in my case, the few people I've mentioned it to were quick to say that I must have a psychological hangup, or it's the way I masturbate. Maybe those things play a role. But I'm amazed at what seems like a widespread reluctance to consider that circumcision causes ANY loss.

What level of dysfunction would you agree is too much to justify circumcision?
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:25 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


While vacationing in Istanbul last fall we saw the little boys (9 or 10 y.o. I think) at a couple mosques dressed up in their fancy white sultan suits for their circumcision day ceremonies, and felt a little bad for them. They were so happy and obviously oblivious to what was about to happen. (Do other Muslim cultures have a similar custom -- the dressing up and parading around the boy on circumcision day -- or is that just Turkish custom?)

That said, I was circumcised as an infant and have never thought of it as a hardship or inconvenience. I suspect so much unpleasantness was happening to my newborn self that circumcision was just one more thing with the whole cold, loud, bright, having to breathe insanity.

Also, in reply to some earlier comments in the thread, just how soft and sensitive do you need your glans to be exactly? No complaints here, even with 40+ years "cotton abrasion." In fact, I always had the impression that being circumcised might actually make you *more* not less sensitive (the long-term abrasion on clothes aspect). In any case, the anti-circumcision rhetoric all starts to sound like "Don't touch my junk!" theatrics after a while to me. (And comparing it to female genital mutilation -- which was only called circumcision as a euphemism -- is offensive and ignorant.)

and wouldn't consider buying lube (as an adult, even in the anonymous wilds of the big city) because 'it's a bit gay'

For crying out loud, tell him to buy some unscented hand lotion. This isn't rocket science.
posted by aught at 6:26 AM on February 3, 2011


What level of dysfunction would you agree is too much to justify circumcision?

Who knows? I know that people who are paraplegics can have orgasms, which I find interesting. The euphoric component of orgasm happens in the brain - nothing to do with the sensitivity of your penis.
posted by Ritchie at 6:33 AM on February 3, 2011


Some months ago, when two (married) co-workers of mine were expecting a child, the expectant father told me that he and his wife were talking about whether to circumcise the baby should it be a boy. I said, "I know a lot of people are virulently anti-circumcision, but I think it's not all that cut and dried — oh dear."

I've actually never seen an uncut schlong in person. All the men in my dating cohort (North American men born in the sixties and seventies) were circumcised as a matter of course. Whenever this topic came up in conversation with my partners they all said they had no complaints and couldn't imagine sex feeling better than it did. So, no, not comparable to female circumcision and it's certainly not some heinous act, but yes, it does deserve thoughtful consideration going forward. Also, puns.
posted by orange swan at 6:40 AM on February 3, 2011


I'm always gobsmacked by the number of people capable of rationalizing the genital mutilation of children. Oh, but it's our culture, that makes it ok.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:47 AM on February 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Rather than argue about the barbarity, I am just going to have children I don't mutilate circumcise.
posted by Mike Mongo at 6:47 AM on February 3, 2011


foreskins require extra cleaning attention to prevent nasty smegma

I dread your cure for ear wax!
posted by fairmettle at 6:49 AM on February 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


(i)Circumcision threads are the metafilter equivalent of flashing.(/I)

Ha ha. But seriously, let me tell you about my penis
posted by From Bklyn at 6:54 AM on February 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wonder what the intersection of 'circumcised/circumcision supporter' and 'anti-religion' looks like round here?

Any desensitizing effect is likely to extend the duration of sex -- something that many men would benefit from.

I don't think chopping bits of your knob of is the way forward. It is perfectly possible to have a properly sensitive willy and be able to have sex for as long as is needed. In fact it makes it waaaay better.
posted by i_cola at 6:54 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'm also glad they asked my parents first. (that's not always the case aparently?)"

Uh, no. The giganticness of the resulting lawsuit for nonconsent to such a culturally touchy procedure would blow their insurance premiums up so far they couldn't afford them.

This is a weirdly common urban myth about elective C-sections, circumcision, epidurals, and other things related to birthing that the natural birth movement in the U.S. finds objectionable. (Which, it's fine to find objectionable. It's the urban myth that I'm after here.) I think it's a combination of scare tactics, stories from 1950, and "bad" medical consumers who sign off on things without paying attention to them or agree to things and then change their minds, and want to blame someone else. I live in a pretty medically conservative area of the U.S. where new practices are slow to penetrate (dads sleeping in mom's room after the birth is still an advertisable innovation!) and GOOD LORD do they not get near your baby with an artificial nipple unless you sign like six pages of papers. Mine had a big sign on his bassinet saying he was breastfed and KEEP AWAY TEH EBIL BOTTLES, which I thought was absurd. I signed more than 20 separate places on around 60 pages of permissions before my C-section, which was standard; there is absolutely no way you could NOT know what you were signing, or get one without consenting, unless you were LITERALLY dying and it was a crash procedure -- and even then, when you come in to labor, they have a form for "you can perform a crash c-section if I am literally dying" or "I refuse all surgical procedures even if I am literally dying." Though they're going to ask your spouse for permission once you've crashed, so you'd better make sure he's on board if you'd literally rather die.

Anyway, my point was, circumcision requires more than 5 pages of documents AND a special doctor has to come talk to you first since the floor docs don't do it where I am, someone has to come in, so you have to even specifically ask. Friend of mine had a hospital bris (no mohel available, so non-Jewish doctor overseen by a rabbi) and that required tons and tons and tons of paperwork since people would be observing. It's not remotely something that could happen without parental consent.

Now, one parent consenting behind the other's back, or parents changing their minds after the fact, that's a different kettle of fish.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:56 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Though they're going to ask your spouse for permission once you've crashed, so you'd better make sure he's on board if you'd literally rather die."

Hey, wait, as of Monday I live in a good state and I can say "they're going to ask your spouse/civil partner, so you better make sure HE OR SHE is on board." YAY for medical decision making authority for same-sex partners!

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:58 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm always gobsmacked by the number of people capable of rationalizing the genital mutilation of children.

As we've obviously learned from the Penny Arcade thread, wording is important, and bringing fighty words to the table makes people clam up and get defensive. Circumcision is very largely unnecessary in modernized countries, but comparing it to what happens to what's typically considered "genital mutilation" is unfair. Loaded words, and all that jazz. Do you really think you could convince a mother to not pierce her daughter's ears by calling it "ear mutilation"?

Let's have a rational discussion of the topic at hand without invoking strong words like "mutilation," "calloused," "scarred*," and so forth. You're not gonna convince religious people by calling them "stupid sheep," and you're not gonna convince circumcised men by calling their dicks "mutilated, calloused masses of scar tissue."

*Yes, I know there's technically scar tissue, but it hardly is a "big ugly scar" like we typically think of as "scarred."
posted by explosion at 6:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


Fifty years from now we're going to be bickering about whether or not having
a chip installed so we can dial our skin's sensitivity up and down is a good idea.
posted by kozad at 7:10 AM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm always gobsmacked by the number of people capable of rationalizing the genital mutilation of children.

I'm not seeing a whole lot of rationalizing here. I'm seeing people talk about their experiences and there's a lot of "Mine works fine, glad yours does too" sentiment. Lack of hyperbolic outrage does not actually mean everyone thinks circumcision is the best thing ever.
posted by rtha at 7:18 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm always gobsmacked by the number of people capable of rationalizing the genital mutilation of children.

Look, I understand your point of view, but people keep throwing around loaded words like genital mutilation and child abuse to describe an experience that I had happen to me that has positively affected me, I find it a little over the top.

Women are having their sexual organs removed around the world, children are molested and physically and emotionally abused every day, and to lump my experience in with the rest of that horrific stuff cheapens it a little bit. That's why, at least personally, I think you should dial back the rhetoric a little bit, because it seems like a lot of people who have gone through it would do it again in a heartbeat, and that's not true about abuse victims.
posted by dflemingecon at 7:27 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT MY DICK

IT IS DIFFERENT THAN OTHERS, BUT ALSO SIMILAR

YOUR DICK PRACTICES ARE ALARMING AND ALIEN TO ME
posted by FatherDagon at 7:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


"Mom! Dad! Doctor! I want my foreskin back!"
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:34 AM on February 3, 2011


Considering that Jesus's foreskin floated up into space and turned into the rings of Saturn, mine was only going to be a massive disappointment. Best to be rid of the thing, really.
posted by Copronymus at 7:40 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


You call it "mutilated, calloused masses of scar tissue," I call it ribbed for her pleasure.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:44 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT MY DICK

IT IS DIFFERENT THAN OTHERS, BUT ALSO SIMILAR.


Special snowdick.
posted by The Bellman at 7:46 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You call it "mutilated, calloused masses of scar tissue," I call it YEAH WELL YOU'VE GOT A DOG DICK

DOG DICK

DOG DICK

DOG DICK

actually i have no (a-heh) dog in this fight and i would prefer not to say whether i even have a penis or not, i just feel like there's room for ridiculous loaded terms on both sides.

okay no, i just think DOG DICK is a really funny thing to base one's argument on

and to type
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:47 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm seeing people talk about their experiences and there's a lot of "Mine works fine, glad yours does too" sentiment.

I'm seeing a lot more "I don't have a dick but I knew a guy who did once and he said it was fine so that totally trumps any first-hand experience you might have to the contrary." Which is obnoxious.
posted by enn at 7:48 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't tell from the videos, but the narrator is actually a displaced Palestinian whose family runs a pet clinic specializing in cat declawing. He also calls Americans USians. And he ran over two cyclists on his way to work this morning, but they totally deserved it.
posted by Go Banana at 7:48 AM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


And just to clarify: I'm not pro-circumcision, nor am I vehemently anti-circumcision. I don't see any need for the procedure short of medical reasons, and I think it's silly to do it for religious reasons, but I also think that there are much more virulent and dangerous religious practices out there that are more deserving of our attention and opposition. Comparing male circumcision to female genital mutilation trivializes the latter. I hope I've made it clear that I'm a reasonable, liberal-minded person, and with that I'm going to step out of the thread.

Unless I think of something else funny to say.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:49 AM on February 3, 2011


I'm cut and mine does not "work fine." My glans is not particularly sensitive at all and it has been A Problem quite a few times. Most of the time, if I am honest about it. I could do with some of the missing nerve endings and additional sensitivity. And before anyone gets all Savage Love on me, death grip is not the issue.
posted by adipocere at 7:49 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blame my shorn penis
On my mother
Dad also thought it'd be alright
Sure I last longer
With my dong coarse
But consulting with me would have been nice

Tell me why [Doo doo doo-doodoodle]
Tell me WHYYYYYYY

Would it be hard to make arrangements for myself
When I was old enough to decide, but young enough to yell?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:55 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've actually never seen an uncut schlong in person. All the men in my dating cohort (North American men born in the sixties and seventies) were circumcised as a matter of course.

Yes, it used to make for some interesting double takes for me back in the day.
posted by blucevalo at 7:55 AM on February 3, 2011


Circumcision should be outlawed so that we can avoid talking about about it.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:58 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


From what I understand, a lot of the "medically necessary" reasons of decades past would be handled differently today.

For every man who wishes he had it done as a child so he didn't have to do it as an adult, there are men who had it done as a child and it was botched... or they otherwise wish the choice wasn't made for them.
posted by utsutsu at 7:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When feeling uncharitable, I sometimes wonder if my younger brother would have converted to Islam had he not been circumcised as an infant. OTOH, he has about 14" of scarification on his forearm performed by a professional with a welding rod so I suppose yes.
posted by stet at 8:02 AM on February 3, 2011


It's like, you don't realize how much you miss being able to discuss your penis on Metafilter until a chance comes to discuss your penis on Metafilter and then it's like this weight is lifted off your shoulders and you go "Yes! I have been needing to talk about my penis on Metafilter for so long and couldn't and now I can and it feels so right!" Anyway, I have a penis. It is pretty much normal. I like it and like to do stuff with it. I kinda wish it shot lasers, but it's cool.
posted by ND¢ at 8:08 AM on February 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


> But -- one of the biggest arguments I've heard against is that it "reduces sensitivity." And --
> well, only one of the (somewhere-in-the-low-double-digits) partners I've had has been
> uncircumcised, and let's just say that they all seemed plenty sensitive to me. (A couple were
> a little too sensitive for the situation, ifyouknowhatimean.)

When, for whatever reason, my foreskin is not completely covering my penis I find it difficult to walk. The end of the penis is so sensitive that any kind of friction between it and clothes *hurts* in pretty short order.

I have seen circumcised peope running around, roller skating with confidence, and all that kind of stuff. Either their ability to endure pain is magically increased by their lack of foreskin or their sensitivity is massively reduced by it.

In short, do not cut the end of your kid's penis off. It really is a disgusting thing to do to a child.
posted by vbfg at 8:09 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


♫ Hey unhappy circumcised guys, I have an idea
posted by everichon at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


SO THIS IS THE THREAD WHERE I CAN COME TO TALK ABOUT MY DICK RIGHT?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:15 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]



And it is necessary, to be Jewish

...or Muslim.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:35 PM on February 3,


That's odd. I wonder how all these parents know their kids are Jewish or Muslim when they can't speak or form coherent thoughts.
posted by odinsdream at 8:20 AM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I see a lot of people here saying that male circumcision is entirely uncomparable to female circumcision (or genital mutilation). If you watch the whole video, you can see that's not entirely true. Female circumcision comes in a lot of flavours - anything from piercing the clitoral hood, to some major mutilation. Admittedly there is the complicating factor of the subjugation of women in the cultures that practise FGM, but per se there is no major medical difference between male circumcision and the less major forms of FGM.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 8:21 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think we need to nip this thread in the bud.
posted by pracowity at 8:21 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know who else had a penis?
posted by i_cola at 8:22 AM on February 3, 2011


Let's have a rational discussion of the topic at hand without invoking strong words like "mutilation," "calloused," "scarred*," and so forth.

These aren't "strong words". They are accurate descriptions of circumcision, as you yourself point out and then quickly brush over because you want to frame this debate so that this oddly abusive cultural norm can seem less barbaric.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:22 AM on February 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


Admittedly there is the complicating factor of the subjugation of women in the cultures that practise FGM,

Yes, details, details.
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 AM on February 3, 2011



:::::::::___::::::::__:::___:::_:::::::::_::::::::__::::____:::_::::::::::_
:+:____:+:_:+:____:+:_:+:___:+:______:+:_:+:____:+:_:+:+:___:+:_:+:________
+:+____+:+_+:+____+:+__+:+_+:+______+:+__+:+____+:+_:+:+:+__+:+_+:+________
+#++:++#+__+#+____+:+___+#++:______+#+___+#+____+:+_+#+_+:+_+#+_+#++:++#___
+#+____+#+_+#+____+#+____+#+______+#+____+#+____+#+_+#+__+#+#+#_+#+________
#+#____#+#_#+#____#+#____#+#_____#+#_____#+#____#+#_#+#___#+#+#_#+#________
#########___########_____###____#########_########__###____####_##########_

posted by CynicalKnight at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


If the vast majority of men who were not circumcised as children chose to do so once they became adults, then I think circumcising infants would be a totally reasonable thing to do.

I think the main reason why many people in this thread don't find it barbaric/unfortunate/etc. is the prevalence of circumcision amongst a large portion of metafilter members (i.e., US, born in the last half of the 20th century). I think it is a) too common to seem unacceptable and b) I don't think someone who is circumcised would want to think of themselves as mutilated or abused based on something that really isn't troubling them.
posted by snofoam at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sorry, Eyebrows, but I have to tell you the counterstory. My mother explained to me, when I was old enough, that after I was born, my mother and father were going over the post-birth to-do list, and the surgeon (who was not my mom's OB/GYN, as he was in California for the holidays, and I am a Christmastime baby) came in.

"So," he said, "There's some things to go over."

"We don't want our son circumcized."

There was a brief, uncomfortable pause. "...it said you approved it on the paperwork."

It turns out that my mother's OB/GYN had checked a bunch of the 'usual stuff' on the paperwork on her listing (he had it filed at the hospital in case, as happened, mom fired up the delivery belt while he was out of town) and one of them was "circumcision". (This was northern New Jersey, late 60s.)

They couldn't sew it back on; apparently they didn't charge for it, and my mother changed doctors after telling him she no longer trusted him. (again, late 60s, malpractice was for 'killed him during surgery' and stuff like that.)

I've never had problems using mine, and limited complaints (one woman was kind of confused as she claimed that she'd never been with a circumcised man and had no idea about how to do some things), so, uh, marking it all under "mileage may vary".
posted by mephron at 8:37 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not trying to sound like a perv, but could any female Mefites opine on their preference here in terms of aesthetics (when seeking a mate)? I suspect that this may play a role in their decision as a mother.

Living in the US, I've only, ahem, had access to two uncut penises. Erect, they look pretty much the same as cut ones. Sexually, I find intercourse to be more pleasurable with an uncut penis. Did this influence my decision to leave my son intact? Only in the sense that having experienced both meant that I didn't have the "ewww, gross" reaction that many american women who haven't seen or experienced one have. My decision was influenced more by the idea of bodily integrity - it's his body, therefore the only one who has the right to make the decision to be circumcised is him. If it was causing him major pain & health problems at any point in his childhood, I'd consider it, but if he's healthy there's no reason to put him through a painful and unnecessary surgery.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:38 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a mom of an uncircumcised son, this is an interesting thread. Everyone I knew growing up was circumcised, and so is my husband. He was the one who really wanted our son circumcised, and at first I was fine with that, and felt like he knew best, as he actually had a penis. But after our son was born, my mama bear hormones kicked into overdrive something crazy, and I absolutely refused to let it happen. We fought about it, but in the end he relented. Now he says he's glad that we didn't get our son circumcised. I think that whole " look the same as dad in the shower" rationale is actually just code for "you must think there's something wrong with my dick if you don't want to get my kid cut". I can totally understand how men would feel that way, no one likes to be judged about their body, especially their genitals. But for me, it was a choice that I felt my son should have, especially because there is a not insignificant chance that things could go very wrong either during or after the (unnecessary) procedure. And after I had just gone through nine months of pregnancy and then an unmedicated birth, there was no way that anyone was going to touch my precious baby, born whole and beautiful. So if you ever read this, kiddo, I hope I did right by you.
posted by meringue at 8:42 AM on February 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


For us the decision came down to this:

The decision we would make would be one to circumcise. The default state of the penis is to have a foreskin, thus not circumcising isn't a decision --- it's just the way things are.

We took the approach that we preferred things just the way they are unless a need demonstrated itself for something to be done.

What was odd to me, though, was having to specify not circumcising (default state) as opposed to circumcising (altered state) on hospital forms and in the birth plan. And then two days post-partum having a nurse ask us "how the procedure went." Thankfully, our son had never been out of our sight so once I figured out what she was talking about, I realized she had the wrong chart --- way to go there. Good job, hospital personnel.

Makes me fear for what may have happened had we let our son stay in the nursery --- performing procedures without consent = not cool.
posted by zizzle at 8:43 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Making a baby is hard as hell, all kinds of nasty vitamins and sleeping 10+ hours a day and increased blood volume and weird dreams. Every inch of that baby was hard won and I'll be damned if I let somebody just lop part of it off like it doesn't matter.

From an ethical standpoint, you can wait until the child is grown enough to consent and have proper pain relief.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:46 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


does anybody know when male circumcision became the norm in the US?

Shortening it became part of a huge anti-masturbation scare campaign, in the late 19th century. David Friedman writes in penis history A Mind of its Own:
A best-selling book in 1896, All About Baby, told American mothers that circumcision was "advisable in most cases," and particularly recommended to prevent "the vile habit of masturbation. [p 92]
Also
At first, most circumcisions were done on boys, not infants, of the middle and upper classes. According to historian David L. Gollaher. a circumcised penis soon became a badge of status--proof of one's membership to the American elite. [p 93]
Of course, once the habit became a tradition, the original reason for doing it in the first place went out of sight, and others were found. But, in cases like this, when one country does some thing completely different than other countries, it's always best to look at the history first. And not at the reasons currently given.
posted by ijsbrand at 8:49 AM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


They are accurate descriptions of circumcision, as you yourself point out and then quickly brush over because you want to frame this debate so that this oddly abusive cultural norm can seem less barbaric.

You really content that "mutilation" is a neutral descriptor with no moralizing baggage? Do you also routinely refer to pierced ears or tattoos or nose jobs as "mutilation"?

Go ahead an describe it how you please, but you are, in fact, superimposing a moral judgment onto it. And you're welcome to your opinion, and to make the decision for your children that reflects your decision. I just ask that I be allowed to do the same.

I'm circumcised. I prefer it esthetically. I have no complains about scars or callouses. I do not require lubrication. I can't imagine a need for any more sensitivity than what I have, or that it would make the experience significantly more pleasurable. And I am glad I had it done as a baby, as, from the sound of things, it is a nightmare to have done as an adult.

That's odd. I wonder how all these parents know their kids are Jewish or Muslim when they can't speak or form coherent thoughts.

Can I ask that you familiarize yourself with just some of the very basics of Judaism or Islam before you comment? Judaism, in particular, is not just a religion, it is a cultural group with a tribal identification. Asking how the parents know their kids are Jewish is a bit like asking your parents how they knew you were American.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:50 AM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Mom? What happened to my claws? WHERE ARE MY CLAWS?
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:55 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have been done this grave injustice. To have something taken from me when so young... too young, in fact, to voice my protest at its theft. Just a little baby - when WHACK! They stole my foreskin. Most of the men I meet know exactly what it's like.
It's not like I can get a good answer from my parents. They just stare at me and shake their heads.
My dad said it was my mom's idea and my mom said that she just "wanted me to look like dad... you know.... down there."
Why? Why? So you could pick me out of a crowd? Genetics isn't strong enough? You have to steal the Captain's eyepiece as well?
Why didn't you circumcise the dog as well?
I want it back. I want the world's greatest medical scientist to fashion for me a bionic foreskin. It'll be 18 inches long. They'll call it the BioSkin9000 and make a special Lifetime television movie about me called, "The Boy Who Got His Flap Back." I want my new foreskin to be televised around the world. I want Bill Gates to stare weeping at his television when he sees my massive, bionic foreskin because Bill Gates was circumcised too.
And it will make a noise when I get a hard-on, like, SHINK, like a sword. And it will be voice activated so that when I get a hard-on at an awkward time like at the pool I can say, "BioSkin9000 initiate standby sequence" and it will shut itself down.
I'd say to my parents, "Mom, Dad, I love you, but I don't understand why you had to send Mr. Winky under the knife. I've made things better."
And on that magic day, when I hold Baby_Balrog 2.0 in my loving arms - and the doctors come with the surgical paring knife to go to work on my kid, they better watch out.
They might lose more than their composure.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:55 AM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


There are many reasons I don't want to have children. One of them is that I don't want to be saddled with making fundamental life decisions for another person. Should kids be circumcised? I dunno. Should kids be raised speaking Spanish or Mandarin? I dunno. How should kids be exposed to religious beliefs? I dunno. Should kids be pushed to excel in school, or be allowed to progress at their own speed and cultivate their own interests? I dunno.

Besides, I'm busy raising myself, which involves answering a separate set of important questions. Things like, "Should I brush my teeth?" and "Should I put on pants today?" Questions which I can almost always answer. Almost.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:11 AM on February 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I remember the first uncircumsized guy I ever fooled around with. I was the first circumsized guy he'd ever fooled around with. We might as well have had "Yakety Sax" playing in the background.
posted by Zozo at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2011 [27 favorites]


14" of scarification on his forearm

Dear Jesus, please tell me you aren't using "forearm" as a euphemism.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:17 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am curious if people who take issue with circumcising a child also take issue with braces. I had them. They were not medically necessary. It involved the extraction of four healthy adult teeth -- total extraction, not just the removal of part of them. It took years and ranged from quite painful to moderately irritating the entire time. The sides of my cheek are scarred and calloused permanently. And I was not consulted -- it was a decision my parents made for me. And there are real medical risks involved with braces.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I prefer my teeth the way they are. If I were to make a list of decisions my parents made for me without consulting me, that were medically unnecessary and scarring, and that permanently altered my life for the worse, moving to the suburbs would be at the top, and braces and circumcision wouldn't even chart.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:17 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Okay, here goes:

Snipped. Sensitivity is plenty good. Enjoy sex just fine. Never need to use any sort of lubrication for masturbation. Don't have a problem with having been snipped. Lots of other things to be mad at mom & dad about. The dick is in perfect working order and always has been, thank you very much.

whew. got through that okay.
posted by grubi at 9:18 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"(This was northern New Jersey, late 60s.)"

Sure, in the 60s. Such practices got less and less prevalent and I haven't been able to verify a claim of "they did it when I didn't agree to it" dating to after 1975 or so (it relates to a class I teach, but I haven't done a super-thorough review of ALL available material, but I feel confident saying it's a very unusual situation over the past 20-30 years, though I'm sure it still happened and happens), but the myth persists that hospitals in the year 2011 in the US with sky-high ob/gyn malpractice insurance costs are just DYING to do controversial surgical procedures without parental permission.

(Although in the 70s and 80s, plenty of "Oh, this [circumcision] is the normal thing to do, we don't really need to think/talk about it.")

I actually had a friend, who is a nice person but has drunk a little deeply of the Kool-Aid, tell me to avoid a particular local hospital because they gave her a C-section "against her will" and "without my consent" and I said, "My husband actually drafts a lot of their consent papers and I'm familiar with their procedure, and that is just categorically not true. If it is true, you need to call the hospital CEO -- I will give you his number -- and report it to the state medical board, right after you get a lawyer." And I pressed her on it and she said, well, actually, she HAD knowingly signed the papers giving permission but she hadn't WANTED a C-section so it was against her will. And I said, then why did you agree to it? And she said, "Well, my baby was dying, and an emergency C-section was the only way to save him. But I didn't WANT a C-section, I didn't WANT him to have problems, I wanted to be able to have a vaginal birth, so it was against my will and I never would have consented if my baby weren't dying." I was like, ARE YOU HIGH? She and the group she's a part of also talk a lot about how this hospital circumcises against the parents' will and without asking. I asked if that had happened to any of them, since they nearly all delivered at this hospital. Well, no, all their sons are uncircumcised, and the hospital had asked them first. "But they do it ALL THE TIME without asking, EVERYONE knows that." Uh, okay. There's a lot of emotional, fear-based misinformation out there; it's sadly resistant to dying out even though patient consent has come a long way. Hospitals -- and more to the point, insurance companies -- can be pretty paternalistic towards pregnant women, but not THAT paternalistic!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:19 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


When, for whatever reason, my foreskin is not completely covering my penis I find it difficult to walk. The end of the penis is so sensitive that any kind of friction between it and clothes *hurts* in pretty short order.

I have seen circumcised peope running around, roller skating with confidence, and all that kind of stuff. Either their ability to endure pain is magically increased by their lack of foreskin or their sensitivity is massively reduced by it.

In short, do not cut the end of your kid's penis off.


I am noticing an inconsistency here: it hurts on an uncut, cut seems to be less prone to hurting, so don't cut?

ARE YOU TRYING TO HURT BABIES? YOU BABY-HURTER!
posted by grubi at 9:20 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are accurate descriptions of circumcision

"Callous" and "scarred"? Are you calling my penis callous and scarred? Do I need to whip it out?

HUH DO I
posted by grubi at 9:22 AM on February 3, 2011


This thread just got so exciting.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:25 AM on February 3, 2011


and wouldn't consider buying lube (as an adult, even in the anonymous wilds of the big city) because 'it's a bit gay'

For crying out loud, tell him to buy some unscented hand lotion. This isn't rocket science.


Without getting too specific, I could add a few dozen other non-specific lubricants to the mix, some of which can be found in pretty much every kitchen. Just don't use soap. I figured that out the hard way when I was about twelve.
posted by philip-random at 9:27 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


For you, Eyebrows McGee.


2010.

Hospital even admitted it was their bad.
posted by zizzle at 9:31 AM on February 3, 2011


Well, there you go. As I said, I'm sure it still happens, but it is unusual -- unusual enough that this made news, and she is properly filing a huge lawsuit. And it does appear to be a mistake, not a doctor saying, "I'm just going to do this regardless of what the parents want." Mistakes at hospitals do happen, it's foolish to claim otherwise.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:35 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am a male (cut) and I am glad it was done to me, and if I ever get the chance I would thank the doctor who did it because he or she did a great job.

Annecdotally I don't think I was aware of uncircumcised penises until I was in high school, and the idea still weirds me out.

If I ever have a son he will also be circumcised.

That is all.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:41 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The unmarried mom says even her baby daddy, who is of Cuban descent and helping to raise Mario, does not support the child circumcision.

(From the article from zizzle above.) Baby daddy? WTF?
posted by artychoke at 9:59 AM on February 3, 2011


It happens that I've never had an orgasm from intercourse, and I do think my circumcision has something to do with it-- I don't think it would be considered botched or anything, but it was definitely, um, thorough. So, yes, I can have sex for literally hours, but some of my partners have been disappointed that it just wasn't going to happen for me that way.

I am relieved to see a man admitting this -- though quite saddened by it.

My experience with circumcised men would make me agree with this assessment: yes, delayed ejaculation is definitely related to circumcision. I have had as much experience with non-circumcised men as with the other, but have never experienced this problem with the 'uncut' men. There is nothing 'glorious' about having a partner who cannot orgasm after *extended* intercourse. It is tragic.

There are so many ways to handle (no pun intended) premature ejaculation -- not much to be done for someone who has lost part of their body. The couple needs to work with the problem as a 'disability' -- one given to the man by his parents.

(BTW, anyone who hasn't watched all four parts of that documentary is a TOTAL WUSS ... just can't handle the infants screaming, eh?!)

/my contribution to the annual 'Don't Mutilate Your Babies' campaign.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:05 AM on February 3, 2011


Who knows? I know that people who are paraplegics can have orgasms, which I find interesting. The euphoric component of orgasm happens in the brain - nothing to do with the sensitivity of your penis.

Yes, I've read that some people with paralysis develop erogenous sensitivity in a new spot just above the level of their spinal injury, which is very interesting. And while I agree that our conscious experience of orgasm happens in the brain, it seems clear that genital nerve signals play a huge role in triggering orgasm. I mean, could you easily or quickly have an orgasm without touching your penis, if you wanted to? And what about the corresponding argument for women? Shouldn't most women be able to have orgasms without clitoral stimulation, if sensitivity has nothing to do with it? It seems that most women today would reject that idea for themselves.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 10:05 AM on February 3, 2011


anyone who hasn't watched all four parts of that documentary is a TOTAL WUSS

Or finds the whole thing boring. But that's okay. You can question my manhood if you'd like.

So to speak.
posted by grubi at 10:15 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every time a circumcision thread comes up I truly boggle. It's probably because I'm British, but really, all I can think is "you people are weird".

Phimosis ain't fun, but not exactly common (something to be careful with when catheterising men, but slide the foreskin back and it's all good). Do you seriously think that the entirety of (non-Jewish, non-Muslim) European manhood is going round crippled with some bizarre crotch-rot? Do you routinely amputate toes because ingrowing toenails are nasty?

Honestly, I find the Tea Party more explicable than this. They at least are grounded in something I understand (political agitation), rather than something I don't (random removal of healthy parts of children).
posted by Coobeastie at 10:18 AM on February 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


(From the article from zizzle above.) Baby daddy? WTF?

Google was too hard?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:23 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


MY penis is callous but I'm in therapy and working on these issues so please stop pressuring me.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:23 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surfurrus: anyone who hasn't watched all four parts of that documentary is a TOTAL WUSS ... just can't handle the infants screaming, eh?!

Really? That's a really shitty tone to take and it doesn't contribute anything positive to the discussion. I say this as an anti-circ person and mother of an intact boy.

I've watched all 4 episodes and I had to look away because it was too gruesome for me. I feel the same way about watching ing open heart surgery and skin grafts on burn victims. Appealing to people's emotions and viceral reactions might be satisfying but it cheapens the discussion.

It's simple: it's a body part that serves a beneficial purpose to it's owner, most medical and hygiene issues cited as a reason for it's removal are easily addressed with proper self-care and consistent condom use and it is morally objectionable to remove a healthy part of someone's body when they are unable to give informed consent.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


MY penis is callous but I'm in therapy and working on these issues so please stop pressuring me.

Callous? Your penis is so callous, he's a real dickhead.
posted by grubi at 10:34 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


They at least are grounded in something I understand (political agitation), rather than something I don't (random removal of healthy parts of children).

How is a surgical procedure or mutilation (take your pick) that's almost universal the same thing as being "random"? It may be morally questionable, but it's not random at all.
posted by blucevalo at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really? That's a really shitty tone to take and it doesn't contribute anything positive to the discussion.

Point taken. I was leaping to the conclusion that the (very good) facts offered in that documentary would be dismissed because of the graphic scenes. I just let the 'near hysteria' around this topic affect my response. Apologies.

And, I think the best quote from the film is, "Human rights begins at the skin." Parent's who damage a child with unnecessary surgery are committing a crime - are violating human rights.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2011


To counter what others have said earlier, you don't necessarily need a circumcision to fix phimosis - I had something like this (NSFW) done, and kept my foreskin.
posted by ymgve at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2011


it is morally objectionable to remove a healthy part of someone's body when they are unable to give informed consent.
This is really all there is to it. Don't cut up an infant's body unless you have a really good reason, people.

(and no, "I am glad I was circumcised" is not a really good reason.)
posted by cdward at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


almost universal ???


WHO Global Map of Male Circumcision Prevalence at Country Level

(Note problem on map key: there is a BIG difference between +-20% - most of Europe and -80% - parts of the US)

Less than 6% of men in the world are circumcised.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2011


Parent's who damage a child with unnecessary surgery are committing a crime - are violating human rights.

Seriously? My parents "violated my human rights"?
posted by grubi at 10:48 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only contribution I have to this discussion is that, due to changing trends and also WTF-were-you-thinking-talking-about-this-with-your-daughter-present, I am aware that one of my brothers is circumcised, and the other isn't.

I am quite uncomfortable knowing such personal details about my brothers' penises.
posted by galadriel at 10:50 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are accurate descriptions of circumcision

May I see the photographs you've taken of my penis? I don't think you're interpreting them correctly.

This is really all there is to it. Don't cut up an infant's body unless you have a really good reason, people.

But this is the point: at various times it has seemed like there were legitimate benefits to circumcision beyond handwavey "aesthetics and hygiene" arguments. Circumcision virtually eliminates penis cancer, for one thing.

The last time we had a male circumcision thread, I dug up a few medical papers that did a pretty good job demonstrating that circumcision does not affect sexual sensitivity at all--which is different from general sensitivity. Penises and sexual response are complex. It's not as simple as "less skin = less sensitive = worse sex". Sensitivity to normal touch and time-to-ejaculate ("Hey Bob, how's your TTE these days?") are not linearly related.

That said, someone responded to me with a link to rates of botched procedures and the consequences thereof, and given the totally marginal benefits and detriments of circumcision, that tipped me over into "I wouldn't bother with my son". The needle's only a milimeter on the other side of zero now, but that's all I'd need for the decision.
posted by fatbird at 10:52 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


almost universal ???

I meant: universal in the United States, which is the place that "you people are weird" was presumably referring to. I apologize for the US-centrism.
posted by blucevalo at 10:54 AM on February 3, 2011


Seriously? My parents "violated my human rights"?
Yes. It was about as minor as such a violation can be (the tendency of some people to get hysterical about the subject is silly), but the principle still applies.
posted by cdward at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2011


uncut penises have rosy pink, delicate heads

So if you're uncircumcised, you have a white man's penis? That must be weird for the other 80% of the world's population.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Calling circumcision a violation of human rights is 1) inaccurate and 2) trivializing to real violations of human rights.

My mother is a nurse. At the time I was born, it was a common procedure for medically articulable reasons. My parents made a decision about a medical procedure for their son, as they're supposed to do.
posted by fatbird at 10:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


My penis is so callous it watched a bus full of orphans die.

DAMN YOU CIRCUMCISION!
posted by klangklangston at 11:00 AM on February 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


My penis is so callous it watched a bus full of orphans die.

Mine is so callous it shops at Wal-Mart, knowing full well how poorly they treat small towns.
posted by grubi at 11:01 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


the principle still applies.

Yeah, um. My penis just facepalmed itself.
posted by grubi at 11:02 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, screw the sensitivity part. My other argument for not chopping the end of your kids dick off is how high he'll be able to pee. Pinch the end of the foreskin, let it inflate with urine and then gently squeeze the base of the inflated part. With practice we're talking 18' in the air here, and you can hide the entire operation inside the palm of the hand. There was a point in my life where I could win serious money with this.

So, again, do not cut the end of your kid's dick off.
posted by vbfg at 11:02 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


(and no, "I am glad I was circumcised" is not a really good reason.)

Sure it is. And I am curious as to why nobody is responding to my question about braces. Every complaint you are leveling about circumcision is equally true of braces.

My penis is so callous it watched a bus full of orphans die.

My penis is so callous it was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:02 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pinch the end of the foreskin, let it inflate with urine and then gently squeeze the base of the inflated part.

Sounds painful.
posted by blucevalo at 11:03 AM on February 3, 2011


Every complaint you are leveling about circumcision is equally true of braces.
If people are putting braces on their infants, they should stop.

If you've discussed circumcision with your child and they've decided that they want it, I'm ok with that. I suspect that most people wouldn't bother if it was something they had to think about beyond ticking a box at the time of birth.
posted by cdward at 11:08 AM on February 3, 2011


My experience with circumcised men would make me agree with this assessment: yes, delayed ejaculation is definitely related to circumcision.

May I ask, somewhat seriously, if you are suggesting you have had sex with a statistically-significant number of men chosen at random from the population?

We'll have to just assume you are trained to make medical diagnoses during coitus.
posted by yerfatma at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2011


And, I think the best quote from the film is, "Human rights begins at the skin."

This.

And as a weird aside, I remember sitting in my Developmental Psychology class in college (circa 1993) and the male profession declared rather smugly, "... the only people who get upset about circumcising newborn babies are neurotic housewives. Doesn't hurt the them - they have about as much perception of pain as a fish does."

Aside from the appalling misogyny involved in that statement, I was shocked that someone who was a supposed expert in child development could believe something so obviously untrue - all you have to do is watch a newborn being circumcised to know that.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am saddened to see so many people on here talk so trivially of male circumcision. I guess it's been discussed to death here and each time it makes another round there's a lot of eye rolling.

For what it's worth I was cut as a baby.

Erections are painful. Sex is very painful. Lubrication is minimally helpful. It takes over an hour to orgasm (and that is if it even happens). If I don't orgasm then it's a serious case of blueballs. Then I have to explain to partners that I can't orgasm and hope they understand that it's not their fault.

It really sucks.

So when I hear the word mutilation I think yep, that's pretty accurate. I just don't understand why anyone would want to gamble with their kid's ability to enjoy sex. I guess from the looks of it I'm in the minority.
posted by grizzly at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


If people are putting braces on their infants, they should stop.

I don't know if you read my piece above. Please read it before you respond, unless your point is that unrequested medical procedures are only damaging or unethical when done to an infant. In which case, I am curious about your logic.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on February 3, 2011


And I am curious as to why nobody is responding to my question about braces.

I was waiting for someone to say circumcision ... was a common procedure for medically articulable reasons ... See? That makes it okay. Tattooing a baby could have been justifiable if the medical experts had said so.

In not-to-ancient history parents OWNED their children and could do anything they wanted to them. [insert tangential point: In the US, animal protection societies were organized way before any child protection agencies or laws were in effect.]

Yes, you can give your kid braces against their will; kids are still not well protected from their parents in the US (the only nation in the world - other than Somalia - which would NOT sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child]
posted by Surfurrus at 11:15 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie, it was wrong of them to not consult you. It may be a very small wrong, a wrong that doesn't chart for you, but they shouldn't have done it.
posted by cdward at 11:16 AM on February 3, 2011


I guess from the looks of it I'm in the minority.

I'm sorry to read about your difficulties, but statistically, you apparently are in the small minority. Circumcision generally does not correlate with higher rates of sexual dysfunction. It's an obvious line to draw, but I don't think it's particularly accurate or common.
posted by fatbird at 11:17 AM on February 3, 2011


all you have to do is watch a newborn being circumcised to know that.

This was the other thing --- if I wasn't capable of being in the room when such a procedure was being done, then I couldn't put my son through it.
posted by zizzle at 11:18 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie, it was wrong of them to not consult you. It may be a very small wrong, a wrong that doesn't chart for you, but they shouldn't have done it.

Just how many choices about my life did my parents have to consult me about? I was not aware that parenting had become a democracy.

Parents make decisions for their children constantly, until they reach the age of majority. And they do it because children are very, very bad decision makers. I respect people's decision not to circumcise their children, and am flummoxed by just how ungenerous the other side is, tossing around moralizing phrases and condemnation of a decision that is not their goddamn business.

I would say that, in general, it is an astonishing bad idea to superimpose your morality onto another person's parenting. They have access to the same information you do, they have made a choice that you may disagree with, but you are not in a position to assume it is a less informed or well-reasoned choice, and it's insulting to do otherwise.

You don't like circumcision, don't circumcise your child. You don't like when others do? You're entitled to your opinion, but there is a very good chance that you do something as a parent that I think is egregious.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:22 AM on February 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


I'm sorry to read about your difficulties, but statistically, you apparently are in the small minority.

No problem bro! It's actually kind of a blessing. I probably would have never discovered anal otherwise.
posted by grizzly at 11:24 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If people are putting braces on their infants, they should stop."

Look, motherfucker, I live off that pageant money and no kid with crooked baby teeth is buying daddy a new pair of shoes.
posted by klangklangston at 11:26 AM on February 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


To me this is a non-issue. A non-issue that I get to make dick-jokes about.

Also, I love these threads.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:27 AM on February 3, 2011


May I ask, somewhat seriously, if you are suggesting you have had sex with a statistically-significant number of men chosen at random from the population?

You may ask, and you may jeer.

I have had ample experience (I am 60 years old and been with a number of partners - pretty much equally balanced cut and uncut). I was giving my impression of my experience with the male penis. (I can't flash one, so I can't talk about them?)

I far prefer the intact male penis. I now know how to help men with the cut penis, but the psychological issues related to 'retarded/delayed ejaculation' dysfunction are complex. It is horrible that these men are accused of all sorts of 'personality disorders' instead of being validated for their very real physical problems. I have great sympathy for the men who speak out about this problem. It is a difficult topic and I am sure they get horribly teased ('... staying hard is a problem?!"). It is probably one of the biggest under-reported medical conditions among American men.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:27 AM on February 3, 2011


My penis is so callous, it had my cat declawed.

My penis is so callous, it faked evidence in a study linking autism to vaccines.

Seriously though, I get a lot of the arguments against circumcision. It's a medically unnecessary procedure (in most cases), it is done without the consent of the child, religion, etc. My problem with the debate, like others here, is the language used to describe circumcised penises. The fact that my "High-handed Enemy" is circumcised has never really affected my quality of life (unlike other things my parents did to me), so the use of the language of mutilation to describe an otherwise perfectly functional organ rubs me the wrong way. Especially when that language is used by people who don't have one (to be fair, in this case I'm thinking mostly of my best friend's slightly crazy wife).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is probably one of the biggest under-reported medical conditions among American men.

I believe your personal experiences are valid, but personal experiences don't reflect good sampling techniques. I would have to see some sort of additional confirmation before I believed that there were hordes of men out there desperate to orgasm and unable to do so because of their circumcision.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on February 3, 2011


oneironaut said: "it's not a medical procedure, it's a ritual one."

In my partner's case, ritual had nothing to do with it. It was done for entirely medical reasons.
posted by Solomon at 11:33 AM on February 3, 2011


If I have trouble achieving orgasm, it's usually because I'm drunk.

Thanks Mom & Dad
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:34 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can I ask that you familiarize yourself with just some of the very basics of Judaism or Islam before you comment? Judaism, in particular, is not just a religion, it is a cultural group with a tribal identification. Asking how the parents know their kids are Jewish is a bit like asking your parents how they knew you were American.

A person's legal citizenship is determined by reviewing a set of laws and their associated geography. As any immigrant family would tell you, wanting your kid to be American doesn't quite matter.

I am familiar enough with religions to know that you can be both born into a Jewish family and come to a different religious understanding yourself later in life.

The notion that children are one religion or another at birth is a very pernicious piece of cultural baggage responsible for a great many wrongs done in the name of religion.
posted by odinsdream at 11:36 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I respect people's decision not to circumcise their children, and am flummoxed by just how ungenerous the other side is, tossing around moralizing phrases and condemnation of a decision that is not their goddamn business.

I would say that, in general, it is an astonishing bad idea to superimpose your morality onto another person's parenting.


How do you think America got to 80% circumcision rates in the first place? Circumcision-as-the-norm came from moralizing, and is still supported with moralizing (and it's worth noting that that's exactly what "it's not your goddamn business" is, by the way -- I agree that ordering a specific person not to have their child circumcised is pretty damned rude, but that's not what's going on when one argues against circumcision as a practice. Yes, parents have the right to decide, but they do not have the right to shut down the argument simply because they don't like what others have to say).

Why should pro-circumcision people be able to use moral argument to support their decision and to support circumcision as a widespread practice, if anti-circumcision people can't do the same?
posted by vorfeed at 11:39 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am curious if people who take issue with circumcising a child also take issue with braces. I had them.

Hell yes I do. I had braces, and it was fucking torture. The doctors were madmen making out like fucking bandits, too. I remember the final session when everything was removed and my retainer was crafted. They said "Now, just wear this for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE so your bottom teeth will remain straight."

That thing went in the fucking trash immediately.
posted by odinsdream at 11:41 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Where do you draw the line, Astro Zombie? Can I say "don't remove your child's toes if you don't want to. you're entitled to your opinion but I'm not going to deal with ingrown toenails"?

Or is that not legitimate (because toe-removal isn't normalised in your culture)?
posted by cdward at 11:41 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The notion that children are one religion or another at birth is a very pernicious piece of cultural baggage responsible for a great many wrongs done in the name of religion.

I think you missed my point. Circumcision is a cultural marker. It doesn't exclusively mark you as being religiously Jewish, it marks you as being part of the Tribes of Israel, which is a cultural heritage Jews can claim whatever their eventual religion is. (Although, to religious Jews, converting out of Judaism makes someone sort of a bad Jew.)

Why should pro-circumcision people be able to use moral argument to support their decision and to support circumcision as a widespread practice, if anti-circumcision people can't do the same?

I am not clear on what you mean. You might be referring to the early years of the circumcision movement, where it was primarily supported by opposition to masturbation. But its primarily practiced now because of health reasons.

But, if pro-circumcision people are pushing something based on moral condemnation, then they are equally in the wrong. The information should be put out there, and parents should make up their own minds.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:44 AM on February 3, 2011


And by the way: stuff like I believe your personal experiences are valid, but personal experiences don't reflect good sampling techniques. I would have to see some sort of additional confirmation before I believed that there were hordes of men out there desperate to orgasm and unable to do so because of their circumcision. is pretty callous (see what I did there?) when several mefites have said that this is actually a major problem for them.

Good sampling techniques cease to matter when you're the one smack dab in the middle of being "desperate to orgasm and unable to do so". Why should this have to happen to "hordes of men" before it starts to matter?
posted by vorfeed at 11:44 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can I say "don't remove your child's toes if you don't want to. you're entitled to your opinion but I'm not going to deal with ingrown toenails"?

When that happens, I will respond to it, but I'd rather not argue a serious topic with pretend and deliberately absurd scenarios.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am curious if people who take issue with circumcising a child also take issue with braces.

I'll bite.

I was lucky that my teeth grew in straight without braces, so I didn't know that entire teeth could be removed, or that it could be really painful. But I buy the argument that braces (like circumcision in the US) are a largely cosmetic procedure done for social reasons, often installed without the patient's consent, and with some medical risk involved.

Look, I think a kid should be able to refuse braces if he really doesn't want them. I mean, why shouldn't he have that right?

If some minority of all kids with braces went on to suffer a permanent, life-long loss of enjoyment as a result (such as only being able to eat very soft foods, for example), all for the sake of fitting in, then I think a controversy would exist, and I think I would support the rights of those kids.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:45 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why should this have to happen to "hordes of men" before it starts to matter?

I didn't say it didn't matter. I was responding to the claim that it is some sort of massive unreported crisis.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:46 AM on February 3, 2011


Look, I think a kid should be able to refuse braces if he really doesn't want them. I mean, why shouldn't he have that right?

Fair enough. I look forward to the organization you start to address this, and the use of "mutilation," "scarring," and "callouses" in future discussions about braces.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on February 3, 2011


Circumcision does have the benefit of reducing HIV and HPV spread. So there's not "no" reason for it. And I have yet to see any study documenting widespread harm. Individual cases may vary, etc.

(for the, er, record I'm circumcised and have no issues, certainly not any lack of sensitivity (or at least I would have no interest in being even more sensitive)).

Yes, some people have horrible results. Thats true of almost any medical procedure, cosmetic or medical (and this one is arguably both).

As for children being able to opt out of medical decisions by their parents, that strikes me as crazy. Parents make decisions for their children that affect their whole lives all the time, which is how it's supposed to work. I've seen parents of "disfigured" (for example, burn victim) kids choose plastic surgery to fix things, and personally I'm fine with that. Under a certain age a child has no ability to make meaningful medical decisions.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:51 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you missed my point. Circumcision is a cultural marker. It doesn't exclusively mark you as being religiously Jewish, it marks you as being part of the Tribes of Israel

I think that point was very clear, and it's fucking crazy. Normalized, but crazy.
posted by odinsdream at 11:53 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes. Well, so is wearing a tie, but I don't see you in hysterics about that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not clear on what you mean. You might be referring to the early years of the circumcision movement, where it was primarily supported by opposition to masturbation. But its primarily practiced now because of health reasons.

No, it is not. It is primarily practiced now because of tradition, a tradition which you yourself admit exists primarily due to opposition to masturbation. The idea that "health reasons" have anything to do with circumcision-as-a-default (other than as a post-hoc rationalization) is pretty ridiculous -- if so, why hasn't this practice become the norm everywhere?
posted by vorfeed at 11:54 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes. Well, so is wearing a tie, but I don't see you in hysterics about that.

I... dont.. what?

People cutting off parts of penises to mark their child as part of a tribe = wearing ties.
posted by odinsdream at 11:56 AM on February 3, 2011


a tradition which you yourself admit exists primarily due to opposition to masturbation

I hardly admitted to that, and I disagree with your position. Nonetheless, you appear to be saying "You remember the thing those awful people did a half-century ago that was so unfair and bullied us into doing something we don't want to -- well, now it's our turn to use the exact same unfair, bullying tactics!"
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on February 3, 2011


This confused me so much when I was a kid because I knew what circumcision was -- the removal of the foreskin -- but I thought only Jewish people were circumcised. I didn't know I had been snipped. I couldn't for the life of me figure out where exactly was my foreskin. Somehow I got it twisted around thinking that they must trim off the base of the "helmet", which, you know, owwww!
posted by puny human at 11:56 AM on February 3, 2011


People cutting off parts of penises to mark their child as part of a tribe = wearing ties.

You're right. Perhaps I shouldn't have responded to you at all, as you have no real interest in discussion, but instead simply vomiting out your contempt, based on your dead certainty that a cultural tradition that you don't share isn't worth anything other than cursing about and mocking. I won't make that mistake again.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:57 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fair enough. I look forward to the organization you start to address this, and the use of "mutilation," "scarring," and "callouses" in future discussions about braces.

For the sake of civility, please note that I haven't used any words like those, okay?
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:59 AM on February 3, 2011


For the sake of civility, please note that I haven't used any words like those, okay?

You're right, I apologize. I am pleased to know that the anti-braces movement of the future will be more cautious in their language choice.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:00 PM on February 3, 2011


Why should this have to happen to "hordes of men" before it starts to matter?

Because we're discussing what should be a general policy, so numbers matter. We have mandatory vaccination despite sometimes horrific vaccine reactions because the number of reactions is vastly lower than the number who would suffer and die from the disease we vaccinate against.
posted by fatbird at 12:01 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


rubbing against starched and ironed underwear for three decades

Dr. Stu may have just diagnosed the problem.

And WRT personal experience: I've occasionally had performance problems, but that had more to do with my psychological state in general and the relationship that I had with my partner in particular; I was completely capable of performing on my own. Speaking of which, no, lube isn't necessary for the one-hand shake of the trouser snake; I use it more for variety's sake.

And, yes, occasionally I wonder if things would be more pleasurable if I had a turtleneck for the little head; I also wonder what it would be like to have a clitoris, and to be able to transform into the World's Mightiest Mortal with a magic word. I tend not to obsess about these things, though.
posted by Deja Stu at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


as you have no real interest in discussion, but instead simply vomiting out your contempt, based on your dead certainty that a cultural tradition that you don't share isn't worth anything other than cursing about and mocking.

Give me a fucking break. Cultural sensitivity has nothing to do with remaining silent in the face of outright mutilation. Wearing funny hats and ties is not even remotely similar to medical procedures involving the removal of skin.

It's absurd to equate them. I have no idea why you did so, or what reasoning you have for doing so.
posted by odinsdream at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because it is likewise a ludicrous social thing that we oh whatever I said I'm done.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:04 PM on February 3, 2011


I am intact down there. (in your pants, etc.)

My parents gave me a choice about braces too. I chose no. I am glad for both choices made by myself and on my behalf.

I am sure my parents made many choices for me, but I don't believe any of them were about things that would physically alter me from my default configuration without a medically necessary reason.
posted by utsutsu at 12:05 PM on February 3, 2011


We have mandatory vaccination despite sometimes horrific vaccine reactions because the number of reactions is vastly lower than the number who would suffer and die from the disease we vaccinate against.

I think maybe that's not the best example. You could cut the skin off of every baby dick in the world and it's not gonna get rid of aids.
posted by grizzly at 12:06 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am pleased to know that the anti-braces movement of the future will be more cautious in their language choice.

Someone else is gonna have to lead that crusade, sorry.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 12:09 PM on February 3, 2011


You could cut the skin off of every baby dick in the world and it's not gonna get rid of aids.

I wasn't making the medical argument for circumcision. I just wanted to observe that the numbers matter when you're talking about sexual disfunction as a result of circumcision. It doesn't invalidate personal experiences to observe that the numbers may argue against what those who suffer would do.
posted by fatbird at 12:10 PM on February 3, 2011


"You might be referring to the early years of the circumcision movement, where it was primarily supported by opposition to masturbation."

Trust me, that didn't work.
posted by puny human at 12:12 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is simple. Some people don't like it. Some people don't care.

It's an issue for individuals. Not the gender as a whole. Let's stop making it a bigger issue. I was not mutilated. I had a useless piece of skin snipped. maybe I'm the Luckiest Boy on Earth, but I am not calloused, scarred, or without sensitivity in That Area. I have had no trouble orgasming either with another human being or without lubrication. I get normal and regular erections and have ever since those heady hormonal days of early puberty. From what i understand and have read and heard from various people, this is perfectly normal. For most people. The talk of trauma and broke-dick syndromes... these are the minority and, yes, deserve to be addressed. Individually, not as an indicator of a larger and more horrible wave of awfulness.

So why not stop with the talk of YOU'VE BEEN VIOLATED and HUMAN RIGHTS FOREVER and DAMN YOU MOM AND DAD unless -- and only if -- that person has had a difficulty as a result of the procedure. Most of us who had it turned out to have penises in fine working order.

And for the record, because it seemed to generally be a matter of preference, my son is uncut. I didn't impose my preference on him since, generally speaking, it doesn't really matter since, for the most part, it's a matter of preference.
posted by grubi at 12:12 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am sure my parents made many choices for me, but I don't believe any of them were about things that would physically alter me from my default configuration without a medically necessary reason.

Given the other myriad abusive choices that my parents forced on me that mutilated and scarred my mind for life, I'd much prefer that they'd have just circumcised me.
posted by blucevalo at 12:13 PM on February 3, 2011


Nonetheless, you appear to be saying "You remember the thing those awful people did a half-century ago that was so unfair and bullied us into doing something we don't want to -- well, now it's our turn to use the exact same unfair, bullying tactics!"

Well, how else are things to change? You just described exactly what tradition is, and the idea that one shouldn't speak out about it "because then we'd be just like the bullies" simply perpetuates it forever. Sometimes it takes fire to fight fire -- the idea that both are bad "because they're fire" only makes sense when you choose to ignore context.

I don't buy the idea that open argument is "unfair and bullying", either. Others are free to insist that circumcision is generally harmful, just as you are free to insist that it is generally harmless.
posted by vorfeed at 12:14 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Others are free to insist that circumcision is generally harmful,

Sure, if they are backing this up with facts. It becomes bullying when, instead of a reasonable discussion, it becomes "You monsters you are mutilating your children how dare you its crippling them for life."

That sort of talk is bullying, no matter how much the speaker might really, really believe it to be true. we can disagree as reasonable people, and argue facts. But if your case is that you should now get your shot as propagandists because the other side did a long time ago, well, that's not really how it works.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on February 3, 2011


How many people who are okay with circumcising infants are also okay with "snipping" cocker spaniels' tails? I mean, that's tradition, right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:21 PM on February 3, 2011


Yay moral equivalency!
posted by grubi at 12:29 PM on February 3, 2011


How many people who are okay with circumcising infants are also okay with "snipping" cocker spaniels' tails? I mean, that's tradition, right?

Even though this really, really isn't relevant... I'll go ahead and put my vote in, just as I did with the braces derail, as "yep, against that too".
posted by odinsdream at 12:29 PM on February 3, 2011


I think there's a big gulf between being "okay" with something and not believing that it rises to the level of a collective calamity.
posted by blucevalo at 12:29 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there's a big gulf between being "okay" with something and not believing that it rises to the level of a collective calamity.

How much of a child's body needs to be severed before it's important enough for you to care?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:31 PM on February 3, 2011


How much of a child's body needs to be severed before it's important enough for you to care?

Me personally?

Probably like at least a quarter or so.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:32 PM on February 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


"You monsters you are mutilating your children how dare you its crippling them for life." That sort of talk is bullying, no matter how much the speaker might really, really believe it to be true.

Nonsense. It is not "bullying" to use moralistic language to describe a problem the speaker believes is a matter of morality. People do not generally discuss moral issues as if they were cut-and-dried collections of "fact", and your insistence that others do so is an obvious attempt to re-frame the argument.

If you want to call others "propagandists" and "bullies" and "hysterical", you'd better expect equally shaming language from them about your ideas. You're being no less insulting and moralistic than anyone here, you're just leaning on tradition to make it acceptable.
posted by vorfeed at 12:32 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


How much of a child's body needs to be severed before it's important enough for you to care?

HOLY FUCKING CHRIST STOP IT
posted by grubi at 12:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


HOLY FUCKING CHRIST STOP IT
It didn't work the last 3 times you tried it, maybe you should try a different approach.
posted by cdward at 12:35 PM on February 3, 2011


HOLY FUCKING CHRIST STOP IT

Do you have anything to add to this thread beyond "WORKS FINE FOR ME STOP TALKING"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:36 PM on February 3, 2011


Do you have anything to add to this thread beyond "YOU ALL HATE BABIES"?
posted by grubi at 12:37 PM on February 3, 2011


HOLY FUCKING CHRIST STOP IT

He's not going to stop it. He was almost certainly circumcised.
posted by The Bellman at 12:37 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


How much of a child's body needs to be severed before it's important enough for you to care?

Gee whiz, I don't know. I'll get back to you on that after I'm done slaughtering baskets of mewling kittens for sport.
posted by blucevalo at 12:38 PM on February 3, 2011


You're being no less insulting and moralistic than anyone here, you're just leaning on tradition to make it acceptable.

I know. My viewpoint -- that the medical information should be present neutrally, and each parent should make up their own mind, with an understanding that other parents might disagree and do the opposite -- is a oppressive moral position that I am forcing on others. And my stance, that pushing people one way or the other through using loaded language is propagandizing and bullying, is just another form of bullying.

You've got me fucking nailed down there. Well played. I tip my king.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:38 PM on February 3, 2011


Do you have anything to add to this thread beyond "YOU ALL HATE BABIES"?

You're projecting.


He's not going to stop it. He was almost certainly circumcised.

I was! I'm not angry about it, and I don't really think about it unless it's brought up, but I do believe that it's wrong and a violation of human rights.


My viewpoint -- that the medical information should be present neutrally, and each parent should make up their own mind, with an understanding that other parents might disagree and do the opposite -- is a oppressive moral position that I am forcing on others.

As long as you are defending the idea that parents have the right to have unnecessary surgery to unnecessarily remove parts of a child's body without the consent of the child, then yes, that is in fact an oppressive moral position. Perhaps you could try caring for the children as much as you care for the parents.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:40 PM on February 3, 2011


Perhaps you could try caring for the children as much as you care for the parents.

This is over the line, even for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on February 3, 2011


Does all this vigilant anti-mutilationism mean that we should also not cut children's hair, or trim their toe and fingernails?
posted by philip-random at 12:42 PM on February 3, 2011


You're projecting.

then

Perhaps you could try caring for the children as much as you care for the parents.

WTF? Who's projecting?
posted by grubi at 12:42 PM on February 3, 2011


I'm cut and don't even give it a second thought. It's never affected me sexually and I don't have any hangups about it. I certainly don't feel any resentment towards my parents about it. I'd even give them the benefit of the doubt as they were young at the time and most likely were overwhelmed at having a newborn to contend with (I certainely was when my sons were born). I'm sure they took what the doctor said at face value when their decision was made. Plus it's not like they had access to the internet to help them make their decision.

That said, my two boys are not circumsized and that was a concious decision my wife and I took when they were born. The whole "it won't look like Daddy's" was never a consideration.
posted by smcniven at 12:43 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is over the line, even for you.

Are you okay with Herbert and Catherine Schaible? Why or why not?


Does all this vigilant anti-mutilationism mean that we should also not cut children's hair, or trim their toe and fingernails?

You cannot possibly in good faith believe that there is any equivalency between mutilating a child's genitals- cutting away living flesh- and removing dead keratin.


I certainly don't feel any resentment towards my parents about it. I'd even give them the benefit of the doubt as they were young at the time and most likely were overwhelmed at having a newborn to contend with (I certainely was when my sons were born). I'm sure they took what the doctor said at face value when their decision was made.

And this is how I feel. I'm noat angry at my folks for having done it- I believe they were acting on bad information in a bad environment- but I would like to prevent it from happening to other people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:44 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's an issue for individuals. Not the gender as a whole. Let's stop making it a bigger issue. I was not mutilated.

I'm glad you weren't mutilated. I'm sorry you feel like people are pressuring you to see yourself that way.

So why not stop with the talk of YOU'VE BEEN VIOLATED and HUMAN RIGHTS FOREVER and DAMN YOU MOM AND DAD unless -- and only if -- that person has had a difficulty as a result of the procedure. Most of us who had it turned out to have penises in fine working order.

I've had some difficulties and yes, I would like to talk about it. Is that okay with you? I'll do my best to avoid getting ranty about it.

And for the record, because it seemed to generally be a matter of preference, my son is uncut. I didn't impose my preference on him since, generally speaking, it doesn't really matter since, for the most part, it's a matter of preference.

I think it's great you didn't impose your preference on your son. I wish my father had done the same for me. I wish every man had that choice. Would you object if I asked you to support giving every man that choice?
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 12:44 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's an issue for individuals.

Yes, and it should be an individual's choice. Babies can't choose.

AND ... for all of those who insist that parents have the right to make the choice, I offer that that argument sounds dangerously close to the argument for corporal punishment in the home. "They are MY kids; I can do what I want with them."

Humans are not objects. Humans are not owned by others. Parents cannot violate basic human rights for their tradition, culture or any other reason. It is simply wrong.

(And, Astro Zombie, if belonging to a tribe or culture is so important, isn't it important enough to be done with full understanding and willingness? Cut your kids' penis when he is 21 and can agree - or not - to the procedure.)
posted by Surfurrus at 12:46 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


My viewpoint -- that the medical information should be present neutrally, and each parent should make up their own mind, with an understanding that other parents might disagree and do the opposite -- is a oppressive moral position that I am forcing on others.

Yes, actually, it is. You are telling people that an issue they believe to be moral -- powerfully moral -- must be presented "neutrally", and that their failure to present their argument in this way makes them morally bad. I doubt you'd accept this argument with regards to issues you consider to be moral, so why are you asking others to put up with it?

And by the way: funny how nobody in the spanking thread suggested that people stop "bullying" and "being unfair" by speaking in strongly moral terms about spanking -- a practice which is both traditional and does not, seemingly, cause widespread serious harm. No one suggested that those traumatized by spanking were "the minority and, yes, deserve to be addressed. Individually, not as an indicator of a larger and more horrible wave of awfulness." No, people pretty much operated on the assumption that spanking can reasonably be considered a large and horrible wave of awfulness, even if one might not buy into that idea personally and/or with one's own child.

The difference here seems to be in the spot we're in on the social-acceptability curve, not in the actual arguments given.
posted by vorfeed at 12:50 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


My parents had me circumcised because there was always the nagging doubt that we might be Jewish.
posted by beelzbubba at 12:51 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


outright mutilation

Okay, I get that some people think, you know, that parents shouldn't make this sort of decision for kids (as opposed to every other decision, health-related or otherwise, in a kid's life that parents do make for them), in spite of the fact that by the time kids can make the decision for themselves, it's too late for it to result in anything but agony for them. But try - just try - to understand that some parents, who've seen friends or family put through traumatic surgery later in life might see it as a harmless insurance policy for their kids' health.

Maybe you still don't think the risk of later necessity is worth the risk of potential complications or the inevitable non-traumatic effects. Fair enough.

What is not fair is to describe this as mutilation. How many circumcised men would describe themselves as mutilated? (I would grant that if the doctor has screwed up and actually mutilated the penis, things are different, but that's not what we're talking about.) I would venture that it's less than 1%.

There is something quite wrong about appropriating the language used to describe a procedure - female genital mutilation - that is performed in order to deny women sexual pleasure, and which results in horrendous, life-threatening complications to thousands of women (infections; tearing and hemorraghing during childbirth, potentially leading to fistulas and the loss of bowel and bladder control - urine and feces dripping uncontrollably down womens' legs, rendering them social pariahs). That's mutilation. It ruins people's lives. The majority of North American men wander around circumcised, their lives, sexual and otherwise, not ruined at all. You diminish the experience of too many women, and show yourself to have a very tenuous grasp of both facts and proportion, when you call cicumcision mutilation.
posted by Dasein at 12:52 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cut your kids' penis when he is 21 and can agree - or not - to the procedure.

And it becomes a far more radical and dangerous surgery. It's really not cut and dried, if you'll excuse the expression.

I understand that people disapprove. They think it is mutilating a child. They think it's the sort of thing somebody should have a say in. And that's fine -- it's a valid opinion, and I respect it.

But there is another position that says that we make a lot of choices for our children that affect them, often in ways that are far more profound than the removal of a foreskin. Unarguably, the financial situation a child is born into and the part of the world a child lives in impact them in profound, permanent ways. But parents are given a lot of free reign in making these choices, and we rarely intrude, unless there is an evident long-term harm. I know some of you think that this is absolutely the case with circumcision, but that's not supported by medicine or by law or by consensus. And so some choose to make that decision to circumcise for their child, for medical or cultural or religious reasons.

Go ahead and disagree. It's fine for you to raise your child the way you see fit, with the respect you see fit. But I ask that you have the same respect for other parents.

and that their failure to present their argument in this way makes them morally bad.

You will never convince me of an argument that is essentially a variation of "antiracists are intolerant because they don't tolerate racists!" I don't become a bully or a propagandist because I don't like bullying or propaganda.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:55 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cut your kids' penis when he is 21 and can agree - or not - to the procedure.

A Jewish boy needs to be circumcised before he can have a bar mitzvah.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:57 PM on February 3, 2011


How many people who are okay with circumcising infants are also okay with "snipping" cocker spaniels' tails? I mean, that's tradition, right?

Both procedures can, and should, be done with local anaesthetic. I think most people would agree that causing unnecessary pain is, in both instances, wrong, and a product of a very outdated understanding of pain - that is, people used to believe that babies and animals didn't really feel pain.
posted by Dasein at 12:58 PM on February 3, 2011


Surfurrus, check your memail.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 12:59 PM on February 3, 2011


Both procedures can, and should, be done with local anaesthetic. I think most people would agree that causing unnecessary pain is, in both instances, wrong, and a product of a very outdated understanding of pain - that is, people used to believe that babies and animals didn't really feel pain.

I'm less concerned with the pain and more concerned with HOLY SHIT LET'S CUT OFF BITS OF A PERSON WHEN WE HAVEN'T GOT ANY PRESSING NEED TO, you know?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:01 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know some of you think that this is absolutely the case with circumcision, but that's not supported by medicine or by law or by consensus.

Do you disagree with the assessment that, barring special circumstances, there's no medical benefit to circumcision?
posted by odinsdream at 1:01 PM on February 3, 2011



And it becomes a far more radical and dangerous surgery. It's really not cut and dried, if you'll excuse the expression.


Where did you get that idea? Adults at least will have anesthesia -- it is only 'recommended' for infants (and that has only been the case since 1993).

Go ahead and disagree. It's fine for you to raise your child the way you see fit, with the respect you see fit. But I ask that you have the same respect for other parents.

No, I can't respect parents that don't respect the rights of their children.

In our society (the US), parents who cannot provide financially, physically or emotionally for their children risk having them removed from the home. Call it the 'nanny state' if you want. I am proud that we care enough about children as individuals to guarantee their rights over the rights of parents who want to treat them as property.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:02 PM on February 3, 2011


people used to believe that babies and animals didn't really feel pain.

Babies get called that for a reason. They cry about everything.
posted by philip-random at 1:03 PM on February 3, 2011


Absolutely.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:03 PM on February 3, 2011


AND ... for all of those who insist that parents have the right to make the choice, I offer that that argument sounds dangerously close to the argument for corporal punishment in the home.

Funny, I've been thinking, the arguments that circumcision should be banned sound dangerously close to the arguments of people who want to throw loving parents in jail for spanking their children.

Maybe we could analogize this to getting our cats declawed - then we'd really be sure not to derail the thread.
posted by Dasein at 1:04 PM on February 3, 2011


I see. These items have been covered to death. Suffice to say that none of those "risk factors" rise to the "ok let's cut it off" in my mind. One of them is categorically a "special circumstance" that you'd of course deal with through whatever procedures are recommended in your personal case.
posted by odinsdream at 1:05 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Absolutely.

Well, what do you expect from the Mayo clinic?
posted by philip-random at 1:05 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could analogize this to getting our cats declawed - then we'd really be sure not to derail the thread.

DOOOOO IT.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:06 PM on February 3, 2011


You are telling people that an issue they believe to be moral -- powerfully moral -- must be presented "neutrally", and that their failure to present their argument in this way makes them morally bad. I doubt you'd accept this argument with regards to issues you consider to be moral, so why are you asking others to put up with it?

Yes, I'm sure you're positively accommodating of aggressive moralizers when they declare homosexuality a sin, or abortion murder, or go on about any other other ethical stance they strongly disagree with.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:06 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, I can't respect parents that don't respect the rights of their children.

You know, I have heard exactly this same comment made when I discuss a woman's right to abortion with them, and ask that they respect that some people may not share their definition of the world.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:06 PM on February 3, 2011


From antichoice activists, that is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:07 PM on February 3, 2011


From antichoice activists, that is.

The pro-life and pro-choice don't always agree about whether a fetus is a child. That is not the disagreement here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:10 PM on February 3, 2011


Quick question:

If I have a child, should I be allowed to clip part of their earlobes off?

If not, why not?
posted by Grimgrin at 1:10 PM on February 3, 2011


That is not the disagreement here.

No. The disagreement is about whether or not a parent has a right to make a medical decision for their child.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:11 PM on February 3, 2011


And it becomes a far more radical and dangerous surgery. It's really not cut and dried, if you'll excuse the expression.

Where did you get that idea? Adults at least will have anesthesia


Babies are born with the foreskin not attached, and it’s relatively easy and bloodless to cut it off, and the pain subsides quickly. Wait even a few months and it involves surgery that produces far more trauma to the tissues, and much more post-operative bleeding and pain. Not good if you discover your toddler is getting persistent foreskin infections that can only be cured by circumcision.

I know a guy, we’ll call him Jack, who had to get circumcised when he was a teenager – again, owing to cure chronic, persistent infections of the foreskin. It was awful. Resulted in a lot of pain, a lot of bleeding, took a while to fully heal, and, because he’d already gone through puberty, it affected his sexual sensitivity. He didn’t enjoy it. He would have preferred, no doubt, that his parents had just given him a bris, but they were too secular for that. In any event, he’s never spoken about being mutilated. Probably would more likely say he’d been cured.
posted by Dasein at 1:12 PM on February 3, 2011


If I have a child, should I be allowed to clip part of their earlobes off?

well, I suppose this game is only going to be played as an escalating war of reductio ad absurdum arguments. So let me retort:

A child raised in a religious environment is going to have as much, or more, of an effect on that child, as being circumcised. It's going to frame their entire worldview, and many are being raised in an environment we find objectionable -- one that preaches, for instance, that homosexuality is a sin. And this is all done without the child's consent.

Should we have the right to prevent that child from being raised in that faith? Isn't it a violation of a child's right to choose? And, if we think we can make that decision for another parent, what decisions do we keep out of? Can we decide not to let the poor have children, as poverty is positively and demonstrably terrible for children? Can we decide not to let people in certain parts of the country have children, because there are health risks associated with that region?

Of course, this is bad analogy. Almost all arguments from analogy are. But this seems to be the only way some people want to argue.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


chronic, persistent infections of the foreskin

I'm sure plenty of people here, myself included, would agree that this kind of condition would be a case where circumcision should be explored.

This anecdote is not, however, a case for circumcision by default.
posted by odinsdream at 1:18 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This anecdote is not, however, a case for circumcision by default.

If you read the comment, it wasn't intended as that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:18 PM on February 3, 2011


Babies are born with the foreskin not attached

I thought it was the exact opposite, actually. My understanding was that the foreskin is usually firmly attached to the glans for at least the first several years of life, and that it has to be forcefully separated in newborns.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:18 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I have a child, should I be allowed to clip part of their earlobes off? If not, why not?

Depends: Are there demonstrable medical benefits that a reasonable person might choose for themselves or their child, for whom they're responsible for making decisions?
posted by fatbird at 1:19 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you read the comment, it wasn't intended as that.

I'll let Dasein speak to that.
posted by odinsdream at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2011


No. The disagreement is about whether or not a parent has a right to make a medical decision for their child.

And I ask again whether you believe that parents who deny their children medical care have the right to do so, and what the difference is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2011


My understanding was that the foreskin is usually firmly attached to the glans for at least the first several years of life, and that it has to be forcefully separated in newborns.

Not generally. Some children have an issue with the opening of the foreskin being too small for the glans to pass through comfortably. This is usually addressed with gradual stretching, but can be addressed surgically. Google "torn foreskin", if you dare.
posted by fatbird at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2011


If I have a child, should I be allowed to clip part of their earlobes off?

Actually, eyelids would be a better example -- similar function, similar tissues, similar nerve cells.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:21 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I ask again whether you believe that parents who deny their children medical care have the right to do so, and what the difference is.

You can ask all you like. I don't enjoy your rhetorical games, however, and won't play them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:21 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie, you called my comparison a "deliberately absurd scenario" - you do realise that from this side of the Atlantic general US practice is deliberately absurd?

I also love the discussion about it being cultural; leaving aside the religion aspect, it seems to me like the USA is all "Our men have slightly less penis than they were born with! HA! Take that world!"
posted by Coobeastie at 1:21 PM on February 3, 2011


Actually, eyelids would be a better example -- similar function, similar tissues, similar nerve cells.

Thank god people are here for a reasonable discussion.

*eyeroll*
posted by grubi at 1:22 PM on February 3, 2011


you do realise that from this side of the Atlantic general US practice is deliberately absurd?

I bed your pardon. I was under the mistaken impression that there were Jews and Muslims in Europe.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:23 PM on February 3, 2011


it seems to me like the USA is all "Our men have slightly less penis than they were born with!

If you think a little bit of skin hanging off of a penis is actual penis, you might have an educational problem. That's like saying if I remove the racing stripe from a car, there will be "less car".
posted by grubi at 1:23 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can ask all you like. I don't enjoy your rhetorical games, however, and won't play them.

You said that parents have the right to make medical decisions for their children. I want to know whether or not you really mean that, or if you're just using it as rhetoric to defend non-consensual circumcision.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:24 PM on February 3, 2011


As I said, you can keep asking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:24 PM on February 3, 2011


Actually, eyelids would be a better example -- similar function, similar tissues, similar nerve cells.

Right, because a lifetime without eyelids is very similar to a lifetime without a foreskin.
posted by fatbird at 1:24 PM on February 3, 2011


And I ask again whether you believe that parents who deny their children medical care have the right to do so, and what the difference is.

Because by denying medical care you are willfully endangering the welfare of the child, as opposed to a procedure with debatable benefits and less risk. That's an easy one!
posted by Leth at 1:24 PM on February 3, 2011


If I have a child, should I be allowed to clip part of their earlobes off? If not, why not?

No, because the world couldn't handle all of the awesomesauce. Order would break down. Earless children would run sobbing through the streets. There would be old men standing atop their soapboxes proclaiming "WOE UNTO US, TRULY, THIS IS THE END OF DAYS."

And then the world would be rent by my laughter.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:25 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My understanding was that the foreskin is usually firmly attached to the glans for at least the first several years of life, and that it has to be forcefully separated in newborns.

Not generally. Some children have an issue with the opening of the foreskin being too small for the glans to pass through comfortably. This is usually addressed with gradual stretching, but can be addressed surgically. Google "torn foreskin", if you dare.


Sigh. In the US parents now have to re-learn what generations before knew ...

Caring For Your Uncircumcised Boy
It's important not to ever force the foreskin back. In infants, the foreskin covers the area completely, but over time it will retract. The body does this naturally, so to force it back early can tear the skin and cause pain and infection.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll let Dasein speak to that.

I'm not arguing for default circumcision. But I'm consistently stunned by the vehemence of anti-circumcision zealotry (can I just note how clever I'm being, since the Zealots were Jewish fanatics?) that seems to assume that only retrograde religious beliefs and an indifference to human suffering lie behind a desire to circumcise your child.

I think every parent has to weigh the potential costs and benefits (one not yet discussed: in countries where there has not been great success in getting men to be responsible and use condoms, widespread circumcision could prevent millions of cases of HIV infection; I acknowledge not particularly relevant to any parent reading this thread and trying to decide, but still), and I don't think it's really clear that one way or the other is necessarily better. I think people should chill out on judging parents who make a choice either way.
posted by Dasein at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


General US practice = that of circumcision being the norm, not for religious reasons. I apologise for not being clearer.

I do think that circumcision for religious reasons is odd, mind, that your deity cares so much about the end of your wang, but it's that bit more explicable somehow.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2011


So those monstrous baby-mutilating ghouls at the Mayo Clinic have essentially illustrated there a handful of context-sensitive reasons in favor of circumcision, but we're still seeing the Crusaders of Truth nobly fighting the Good Fight against it because it "just seems wrong", as near as I can see. No scientific data, just analogy, anecdotes, and emotional posturing.

Why do you think those of us who disagree are going to see your position as right?
posted by grubi at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2011


you do realise that from this side of the Atlantic general US practice is deliberately absurd?

I bed your pardon. I was under the mistaken impression that there were Jews and Muslims in Europe.


And, at the risk of Godwining things, lack of foreskin was one method used to identify Jews back Nazi-infested times. In fact, this featured quite significantly in the film Europa Europa.
posted by philip-random at 1:28 PM on February 3, 2011


No joke, as I'm reading this thread, Detachable Penis comes on the radio stream. Spooky.
posted by sharpener at 1:29 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


widespread circumcision could prevent millions of cases of HIV infection

and ... uh ... how's that working for the US with their millions of cut men?
posted by Surfurrus at 1:30 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My understanding was that the foreskin is usually firmly attached to the glans for at least the first several years of life, and that it has to be forcefully separated in newborns.

Not generally. Some children have an issue with the opening of the foreskin being too small for the glans to pass through comfortably. This is usually addressed with gradual stretching, but can be addressed surgically. Google "torn foreskin", if you dare.


From http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/uncircumcised-penis/AN02045:
As your son gets older, the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis will begin to separate from the tip of the penis. This allows the foreskin to be pulled back or retracted. Some boys can retract their foreskins by age 5, while others can't do so until puberty. As soon as the foreskin can be retracted, it's important to clean beneath it regularly.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:30 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The disagreement is about whether or not a parent has a right to make a medical decision for their child.

But what is the medical decision here? Or, rather, what is the medical reason? I'm gonna cut off a part of my son's penis here, because why? Because he might be embarrassed when an American woman (or man) reacts with surprise at his cap? Or because he'll be twenty and think: "Damn, I wish I had had my foreskin removed?"

As far as braces are concerned: The teeth in my lower jaw are slightly crooked. In hindsight, I kind of wish my parents had forced me to wear braces, but then again: I'm glad that my parents said 'no, if my son doesn't want them right now, he can choose to have them later, or choose not to have them at all.'
posted by Dumsnill at 1:32 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


widespread circumcision could prevent millions of cases of HIV infection

and ... uh ... how's that working for the US with their millions of cut men?


Yep, "could prevent" does indeed mean the exact same thing as "will prevent." Sure.
posted by grubi at 1:32 PM on February 3, 2011


I'm gonna cut off a part of my son's penis here, because why?

Deja fuckin' vu.
posted by grubi at 1:33 PM on February 3, 2011


and ... uh ... how's that working for the US with their millions of cut men?
I didn't say it was a substitute for condoms. But check out the research in sub-Sarahan Africa.
posted by Dasein at 1:34 PM on February 3, 2011


But check out the research in sub-Sarahan Africa.

Yes, the WHO has found it easier to convince Africans to cut their children than to wear condoms. (ah, the condom hatred!) ...

ahh .. but note that the research has been debunked ... as has the cancer and circumcision myth
posted by Surfurrus at 1:42 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, I get that a lot of people don't subscribe to the idea that you should use neutral language when talking about something you feel this passionate about. I'm inclined to agree a lot of the time. Like, no need to wear kid gloves when calling out violent racists. Fine by me.

But your own logic makes this a little trickier with circumcision, because for the majority of dudes, they are circumcised against their will, regardless of how they feel about it now. So, when you cling to terms like "mutilate", you're starting off the discussion by calling the dicks of all dudes who've had it done "mutilated."

And, as it happens, I don't agree with you at all, but would love to discuss more if you didn't start the conversation off with the comment that my penis is all jacked up. Because you did, I just want to spend the day looking at my penis and assuring it how beautiful it is, and that you're just a bad man with a sad heart.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:49 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok, the point here isn't, "your dick is wrong and you should feel bad." The point is, "why are we cutting babies without a second thought?"
posted by giraffe at 1:50 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which is a point you can absolutely make without calling the result mutilation, thereby insulting everyone who went through it.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:52 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


note that the research has been debunked

That's kind of an overstatement, isn't it? The article you linked shows that a statistically insignificant study with a bunch of shitty non-controls which omitted a ton of important factors gave unexpected results and they stopped it. That's not debunking, as much as it is exposing a crappy study.
posted by dflemingecon at 1:52 PM on February 3, 2011


dflemingecon, and you have no comment about condoms? Proven effective, proven cheap, proven non-invasive.

BTW, if you look closely at the research, there is no evidence that circumcision protects WOMEN ... just the men. And, yes, that research is still disputed.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:57 PM on February 3, 2011


You will never convince me of an argument that is essentially a variation of "antiracists are intolerant because they don't tolerate racists!" I don't become a bully or a propagandist because I don't like bullying or propaganda.

And others don't become bullies or propagandists because they disagree that circumcision is "neutral". That's my point. It has nothing to do with "antiracists are intolerant because they don't tolerate racists!", and everything to do with the fact that you clearly want yours to be The Only Way to talk about this issue without "bullying".

Everyone agrees on what racism is. Everyone does not agree that using moral terms to call circumcision harmful is "bullying", and trying to force your particular framing of the argument on everyone else isn't helping.

Yes, I'm sure you're positively accommodating of aggressive moralizers when they declare homosexuality a sin, or abortion murder, or go on about any other other ethical stance they strongly disagree with.

Yeah, actually, I am. When I have facts on my side and I'm quite sure that my stance is not morally problematic, I generally welcome these kinds of arguments -- they make the opposition look foolish, and they are trivially easy to refute simply by staying calm and sticking to a more reasonable message. Advancing the idea that aggressive moralizers shouldn't be making their arguments is a self-defeating tactic.
posted by vorfeed at 2:02 PM on February 3, 2011


My husband was given a choice about braces - he refused them. He wasn't given a choice about being circumcised as a newborn - but he wishes he was, because he'd have refused that too. Now, as an adult, he still has the option of choosing braces for himself, but he can't do anything about his foreskin having been removed without his consent. And that's the crux of my opposition to routine infant circumcision - consent and the opportunity to make a choice about permanent alteration of one's own body.

Both of our sons are whole - nope, they don't look like Daddy, and Daddy is very happy about that.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:03 PM on February 3, 2011


Everyone agrees on what racism is.

They really, really don't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:03 PM on February 3, 2011


Both of our sons are whole

I am circumcised, and I am whole. That's an awfully loaded term there.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:04 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


They have all the parts they were born having. Nothing has been removed.

I prefer "whole" to "uncut" or "uncircumcised" because both of those words, to me, set the circumcised penis as the standard, when, TO ME, the standard should default to, well, leaving the penis as it was at birth, with all the parts, thus "whole".
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:09 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's probably even an advantage. Any desensitizing effect is likely to extend the duration of sex -- something that many men would benefit from.

Never mind the quality, feel the width? That's really your optimum approach to sex? "The food was pretty ordinary, but such big portions!"

Should we have the right to prevent that child from being raised in that faith? Isn't it a violation of a child's right to choose? And, if we think we can make that decision for another parent, what decisions do we keep out of?

Yes, if being raised in that faith requires cutting bits off their bodies; no, because children don't have a right to choose to cut pieces off their genitals anymore than they can choose to enter a sexual relationship with an adult; and decisions that don't involve letting people cut bits off kids' bodies. That was hard, wasn't it?

And sucks to be you, with a deity so fucking petty and/or so fucking stupid that he won't accept or can't identify his own unless they cut off the ends of their dicks. In the immortal words of the Doug Anthony All Stars: a nothing god, a mealy-mouthed god, a weak-assed god.

As for 'this is nothing like female genital mutilation' - it's times like this I'm glad I'm a deontologist, so I don't have to shape a world view around consequences and make absurd statements like 'cutting pieces off your child's genitals is actually perfectly fine if you only cut off certain bits; those people cut off more bits than me, so they're monsters'. How about you try not cutting off any bits at all, dumbasses? I'm sure if your sky fairy is angry enough he'll send a burning rhododendron to warn you. Well, one of you, anyway - you'll just have to take his word for it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:10 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


They have all the parts they were born having.

I don't. Had an appendectomy and later a tonsillectomy. Guess I'm an incomplete man.
posted by grubi at 2:10 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


They have all the parts they were born having.

So they've never had a haircut or lost any teeth.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:11 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is a point you can absolutely make without calling the result mutilation, thereby insulting everyone who went through it.

I'm not insulting you. You're the victim. I'm insulting your parents. OK, and you, if you think it's a grand idea and plan to do the same to your kids.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:12 PM on February 3, 2011


They really, really don't.

Way to address any of my points, none of which depended on whether or not everyone actually, literally agrees on what racism is.
posted by vorfeed at 2:12 PM on February 3, 2011


Yes, if being raised in that faith requires cutting bits off their bodies;

Wow. Well, so much for Islam and Judaism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:12 PM on February 3, 2011


Had an appendectomy and later a tonsillectomy.
So they've never had a haircut or lost any teeth.


Hair grows back, teeth fall out by themselves, appendectomies and tonillectomies are life-saving procedures. Call me when your kid will die if you don't cut off his foreskin, or when it grows a dotted line and falls off by itself, or when it spontaenously regenerates.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:14 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Circumcision is a cultural marker. It doesn't exclusively mark you as being religiously Jewish, it marks you as being part of the Tribes of Israel ...

This is a hard one for me. I like to respect cultures and traditions. And I do believe children profit from strong cultural/tradition ties.

However, it occurred to me that this "cultural marker" argument is the same one used for female mutilation. The cultural imperative is so strong, in fact, that even educated, westernized mothers from this tradition will ask for a 'symbolic nick' on their child's clitoris to fulfill the covenant.

It is difficult to push cultures to change without ripping them apart. But change is going to happen. Eventually, these rituals against children will be as arcane as the barbaric ones we read about in anthropology texts.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:14 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Way to address any of my points, none of which depended on whether or not everyone actually, literally agrees on what racism is.

I've already made it clear I disagree with your points and your premise. I don't wish to go round that mulberry bush any more. The argument about racism is not a side-argument to a side-argument, and I'm a little afraid of where this maze is taking us, as I just passed Jack Nicholson's frozen corpse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:15 PM on February 3, 2011


Hair grows back, teeth fall out by themselves, appendectomies and tonillectomies are life-saving procedures.

That's not exceptionally relevant to the issue of whether or not "whole" is a good word choice.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:15 PM on February 3, 2011


appendectomies and tonillectomies are life-saving procedures

My tonsillectomy was elective. To prevent further infection.

I blame my doctor for mutilating me.
posted by grubi at 2:16 PM on February 3, 2011


Grubi, I expect you had those things removed to treat/cure an illness - tonsillitis and appendicitis? There was no medical indication of any similar illness requiring the removal of my sons' foreskins at birth. So their penises are still whole. Maybe, someday, they'll choose to change that, or circumstance or illness will require that it change, just as circumstance required the removal of your tonsils and appendix.

So, to clarify and head off any other "well, I don't have [this that or the other thing] so I'm not whole", I am using the word whole only in reference to the penis. Not to any other part of the body.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:18 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


tonillectomies are life-saving procedures

Yeah, no.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:18 PM on February 3, 2011


Not to any other part of the body.

Well, that does clarify things. In the future, may I ask that you say "My children's penises are whole," rather than "my children are whole"? The former sends a different message, and, from what you said, the one you intended.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:19 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a tooth removed too, as an adult. It won't grow back. I am...

unclean.
posted by grubi at 2:20 PM on February 3, 2011


dflemingecon, and you have no comment about condoms? Proven effective, proven cheap, proven non-invasive.

I don't disagree with condom use, and I'm not sure how being pro-circumcision has anything to do with that.

As my child ages, however, they may take a few risks that I wouldn't, and if solid research comes out in favor of HIV rates being lower in men without a cap on, I think that's a solid enough reason to do it. I don't think the research is solid, don't get me wrong, but I don't think that debunked is the right word you're looking for yet.

BTW, if you look closely at the research, there is no evidence that circumcision protects WOMEN ... just the men. And, yes, that research is still disputed.

That's unfortunate, but if I'm making decisions about my actually existing male child, I'm not going to concern myself with his fictitious female (or male, assuming that we're talking carrier/recipient and not just genders here) partner from the future in that decision. I'm going to decide based on his future health only.
posted by dflemingecon at 2:22 PM on February 3, 2011


Interesting aside: I read somewhere that jewish circumcision used to be less drastic but that one of the great rabbis, fearing the pressure on jews from Greek/Roman culture to assimilate, advocated for the more drastic form on the basis that it would force jews to adhere more closely to their religion. True?
posted by echolalia67 at 2:22 PM on February 3, 2011


I'm not insulting you. You're the victim.

Insisting I'm a victim when I don't believe I am is insulting to me.
posted by fatbird at 2:22 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Whole" seems to imply the default state of the penis as not being circumcised. "Uncut" seems to imply that circumcised is the default/natural state (hence the un- prefix).

It's not surprising to me that most men would like to think of the way their penis looks as the "norm". This semantic point therefore doesn't much seem like something worth arguing about.

I don't think children ought to be circumcised at birth for non-religious or non-medical (that is, medically necessary AT THAT POINT) reasons. But religious tolerance means accepting that this cultural practice will continue, and it's not worth getting all riled up about. It's clearly nothing on the level of FGM, and it's silly to compare them.
posted by modernnomad at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Whole" seems to imply the default state of the penis as not being circumcised. "Uncut" seems to imply that circumcised is the default/natural state (hence the un- prefix).

"Whole" implies a cut penis is abnormal.
posted by grubi at 2:26 PM on February 3, 2011


"Whole" implies a cut penis is abnormal.

Yes, well, in evolutionary, historic, and absolute-world-prevalence terms, it is.
posted by vorfeed at 2:27 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


In those terms, spoken language is abnormal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:29 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sure. Please read "my sons' penises are whole" anywhere I wrote "my sons are whole".

Though neither one of them has lost a tooth yet, and the new one hasn't even had a haircut ... But his umbilical stump *did* just fall off, so I guess he isn't whole like he was at birth after all ...
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:30 PM on February 3, 2011


"Whole" implies a cut penis is abnormal.

Well if by abnormal you mean, "not the norm", then statistically on a global level circumcision is abnormal. But as I said, that's not a reason to not allow a religious practice continue that clearly has meaning for significant numbers of people.
posted by modernnomad at 2:30 PM on February 3, 2011


Or, if you take issue with that (despite the fact that most creatures have no language), ties are abnormal, although I have already had somebody get weird about the tie issue before.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on February 3, 2011


It's just like any cultural or religious practice Astro Zombie -- wearing a religious piece of clothing is likely to be abnormal on a global level, whilst still being the norm within that community. That context matters is hardly surprising. And yes, if you were 10 years old going to your local public school, wearing a tie might be abnormal. If you were a 30 year old businessman, not so much.
posted by modernnomad at 2:33 PM on February 3, 2011


f you were 10 years old going to your local public school, wearing a tie might be abnormal.

I went to school in England, and so was be-tied. But I take your point.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2011


I wish we’d discuss what should be done going forward, rather than rehashing old arguments about whether our parents did the right thing given the tradition and information at the time.

My view is that circumcision should be available only on request, unless there are exceptional medical circumstances. Since current science does not warrant it in this country, routine circumcision should be discontinued in the US - ie. it shouldn't be as simple as checking off a box in a form full of other boxes.

On a personal level, I’d like to hear if you would have your kid circumcised, rather than if you were circumcised yourself. I’d also like to hear how many people today view this decision as nothing more than a coin toss (recently the case with an educated couple I know).

My son, who was born here four years ago, is uncircumcised. Circumcision is not common where my husband and I come from.
posted by Dragonness at 2:36 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


My view is that circumcision should be available only on request, unless there are exceptional medical circumstances. Since current science does not warrant it in this country, routine circumcision should be discontinued in the US - ie. it shouldn't be as simple as checking off a box in a form full of other boxes.

I agree. But let's not demonize the practice and pity those who've had it done as "mutilated."

I’d also like to hear how many people today view this decision as nothing more than a coin toss

Generally, that's my feeling. There's nothing medically either way to compel a decision for sure, so it's a matter of heads or tails. My son's got extra skin on his schmeckl; it doesn't bother me one way or the other.
posted by grubi at 2:46 PM on February 3, 2011


Insisting I'm a victim when I don't believe I am is insulting to me.

QFT. "You have a mutilated penis" is a ridiculous way to frame a point when you're trying to convince someone of something. Your stated course of action is to win me over to your camp by telling me my junk is ruined.

And again: Not going to have kids, no dog (or god!) in this fight, but I cannot believe people don't seem to understand or care how this makes them sound.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:48 PM on February 3, 2011


ahh .. but note that the research has been debunked ... as has the cancer and circumcision myth.

Good thing HuffPo doesn't have a history of posting completely unscientific bunk all for the sake of a political trend. Who wouldn't trust them over the WHO and CDC?
posted by Amanojaku at 3:00 PM on February 3, 2011


Ties are abnormal. And frankly, it would be pretty goddamned bizarre if people were to get seriously upset because someone else refused to refer to themselves or their children as, say, "un-tied" rather than "normal" or "casual" or what have you.

Words like "whole", "intact", "natural", etc. make perfect sense when applied to penises with foreskins, and are no more or less "loaded terms" than things like "uncircumcised" or "uncut".
posted by vorfeed at 3:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should add: these words make perfect sense when applied to penises with foreskins and their owners, just as with "uncut men" and the like.
posted by vorfeed at 3:04 PM on February 3, 2011


At the end of the day, for most men I don't think having the tip cut off is going to be the worst thing happen to them in their life, but it's still an unscientific cultural practice of cutting new born babies dick skin off for no real medical gain. Seems kind of cruel and pointless to me, but whatever.
posted by nola at 3:08 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grubi, if you took my personal experience about the sensitivity of the glans to be advocacy for the hurting of children by leaving their penises intact Im not sure you get to claim the moral highground on the quality of the debate.

Our own dicks are cool things and I'm glad you're happy with yours. Yay for dicks. Here's to having them and not being them.
posted by vbfg at 3:27 PM on February 3, 2011


(From the article from zizzle above.) Baby daddy? WTF?

Google was too hard?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:23 AM on February 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


I know my response to this is about 400 comments too late, but I know what a baby daddy is. I was commenting on the article making the point - more than once - that the parents are unmarried. I didn't know news stories generally referred to people as "Baby Daddies." They also point out that the mother is Latino and the father Cuban which seems pretty unrelated to the fact that they are parents who are suing the hospital for performing surgery on their newborn without their consent. Sorry that was unclear.
posted by artychoke at 3:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every night I am circumcised to sleep by Rabbiwolves.
posted by notmydesk at 3:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm curious what you would say to someone who does have a problem with sensitivity?

As I said in my original comment, for those who do indeed have a problem with sensitivity, I am honestly sympathetic.

I was only questioning the NUMBER of people thus affected. I never denied their existance altogether.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:36 PM on February 3, 2011


Oh, and someone else asked the het women what we thought of the look of each -- honestly, I don't have a preference. Penises are nifty things to play with no matter how they look.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:37 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what other religious beliefs that require you to inflict violence on people without their consent are we okay with?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2011


The trolling is strong in this thread.
posted by dersins at 3:40 PM on February 3, 2011


Pope Guilty, I'm a fully paid up member of the atheist's club. I find religion and all its practices generally bizarre and baffling. I've no intent of getting any of my spawn circumcised and don't think it should be routinely done.

Yet I'm not nearly so arrogant as to think that I have a right to dictate to members of a religious or cultural grouping that they must end a practice that they've been doing for thousands of years, a practice that 99% of them all seem to be happy continuing. If there were hundreds of thousands or millions of circumcised Jews or Muslims crying over their mutilation, or if said procedure made sex physically painful or impossible (like FGM), I'd be looking to stop it. But until that's the case, religious tolerance means I'm going to try and dictate to them what they can and cannot do when they see it as a critical part of their religious belief.
posted by modernnomad at 3:48 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Surfurrus' link --
A recent study looking at sensitivity of the penis in the circumcised and uncircumcised male found that the five most sensitive areas on the penis are removed at circumcision, and that the keratinized glans on the circumcised penis is less sensitive than the foreskin-protected, mucosa-lined glans on the uncircumcised penis. The skin removed from the penis at circumcision makes up close to 50% of the total penile skin, amounting to 15 square inches in an adult.
posted by psyche7 at 3:50 PM on February 3, 2011


ahh .. but note that the research has been debunked ... as has the cancer and circumcision myth
posted by Surfurrus at 4:42 P
M

Not true at all. Your link is over two years old. The newest study (this link is from LAST MONTH) indicates that male circumcision may help reduce the spread of HPV.

Full disclosure: My sons are circumcised. As I don't have the y chromosome, I deferred to my husband on this decision. I feel that he, rather than strangers on the internet, has a more vested interest in our sons' health and well-being. We naturally insisted that appropriate anesthesia be used, as we would for any surgical procedure.

Parents do the best they can for their kids. Using words like "mutilation" for circumcision and "intact" for uncircumcised males, even after men who have themselves undergone the surgical procedure have repeatedly asked you to stop in this thread, is insensitive and offensive.

And suggesting that parents of circumcised males are abusive, as some in this thread have, because "human rights begin at the skin," completely ignores vaccinations and surgical procedures done on infants, so it is an inconsistent argument that, again, serves merely to offend those who disagree with you.

When it was feared that my youngest son had a hole in his heart and might need surgery, I did not think for a minute, "Well, I will have to wait until he is 18 or let him die because, you know, human rights begin at the skin!" I also had both sons vaccinated, though I cried along with them when they had their shots, because I, as their Mother, felt it was in their best interest. Had I left that up to them, of course they would not want the shots at 2 years old, either.

For those of you who say, "Well, but those were medically necessary, and circumcision might not be," well, but we don't KNOW whether circumcision will or not be necessary when our kids are little. Some men have problems that require circumcision later in life, some don't. I personally have a friend, from Colombia, whose son had to be circumcised at 12 because they had gambled that he wouldn't have problems, and they gambled wrong. I certainly don't think they are child abusers. Again, I think they did the best they could with the knowledge they had.

I know of parents who don't get their kids vaccinated. That could constitute a health risk *for others*, like those undergoing chemo or radiation treatment for cancer, that are exposed to their children. Circumcision is not harmful to anyone not undergoing the procedure himself.

Okay, but is circumcision harmful to the man undergoing it? What about the sensitivity issue? The most extensive statistical analysis on studies I found indicated that men who were circumcised as adults (and so had prior sexual experience to compare sensitivity) experienced no statistical significant change. Just look at this thread and you can see widely disparate views on that issue. I can understand anyone who does have issues being upset. Anecdotally, husband, my sons are all glad they had the procedure.

This is not a black and white issue, and it is not an easy decision for any parent to make. I would humbly contribute this to the argument: if you have to resort to name-calling and hyperbole to make your point, you might want to step away from the thread now.
posted by misha at 3:52 PM on February 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Every night I am circumcised to sleep by Rabbiwolves.
posted by notmydesk at 6:33 PM


I think the term you're looking for is "mohelwolves".
posted by catwash at 3:56 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Religious tolerance ends the second your beliefs entitle you to infringe on others. There simply is no other sane standard. "Tradition" is not a strong enough reason to do a thing when there are reasons not to.

If your argument is "my religion obligates/entitles me to cut pieces off my children", and you expect that to have any persuasive force whatsoever, you are batshit fucking crazy, and that it is apparently quite persuasive to quite a lot of people is simply further evidence that we live in a horror show world full of batshit crazy people. The number of people making excuses for cutting off pieces of children's genitals is bad enough without the number of people insisting that nothing can possibly be compared to it, that apparently cutting off foreskins is so goddamned special and unique that comparing it to anything is unreasonable and crazy and assholish. I've been told in this thread that no other instance of cutting off pieces of living things which do not consent to being cut on is comparable, people are arguing that comparing it to other incidences of cutting on childrens' genitals is comparable- basically we have to consider circumcision solely in the context that a couple of religious groups believe that they are entitled and obligated by their belief to do it, and that nothing else must be considered.

It doesn't matter whether or not you believe it's harmful or harmless. It is wrong to needlessly cut pieces off of people if they have not given their informed consent to the procedure. I find it shocking and horrifying that this is a controversial assertion.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:01 PM on February 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


Yeah, actually, I am. When I have facts on my side and I'm quite sure that my stance is not morally problematic, I generally welcome these kinds of arguments -- they make the opposition look foolish, and they are trivially easy to refute simply by staying calm and sticking to a more reasonable message. Advancing the idea that aggressive moralizers shouldn't be making their arguments is a self-defeating tactic.

Well, kudos for consistency, but that's kind of the point. When I have things like WHO and CDC studies suggesting there is at least some small benefit to the procedure, I don't have to resort to loaded terms like terms like "barbaric" and "dumbasses" and "mutilation" -- reason holds the greater weight than emotionally-loaded rhetoric. So why, then, would you expect Astro Zombie or anyone else to refrain from suggesting that if you want people to actually take your argument seriously, more neutral language might be beneficial?
posted by Amanojaku at 4:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and for the record, I would just like to say that, a long time ago, I mentioned on Metafilter that I liked circumcised penises. I really had no idea at the time that circumcision was not routinely performed in other parts of the world as it is in the U.S., and so what I said might be sincerely offensive to not only a subset, but even a majority of men around the world.

That's on me, and my ignorance, and I apologize for not better educating myself before replying. For what it's worth, I think EmpressCallipygos has it right when she says that all penises are cool and, you know, hey, thanks guys for sharing them!
posted by misha at 4:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


So what misha said. Exactly.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:04 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh. It seems that all mammals, including marine mammals, possess foreskins.

Except monotremes (platypus, echnida, &c).
posted by porpoise at 4:09 PM on February 3, 2011


So I guess the proper way to phrase the question is, "Are you an anteater or a platypus?"
posted by porpoise at 4:13 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Huh. It seems that all mammals, including marine mammals, possess foreskins.

posted by porpoise at 7:09 PM on February 3 [+] [!]


Heh.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:13 PM on February 3, 2011


Surfurrus: " Less than 6% of men in the world are circumcised."

I think you read that wrong. The page says: If 5% of men in other countries are assumed to be circumcised for non-religious reasons, the global prevalence of circumcision is 33%.

which makes sense, with 455 Muslim men and up to 80% of NA.
posted by psyche7 at 4:21 PM on February 3, 2011


Also, circumcision is not just one of those Jewish customs, like mezzuzahs and bagel and lox. It 's half of the fundamental basis of being a Jewish man, the other half being the Torah. This is the dual covenant of the Word and the flesh that YHWH made with the Jewish people, for better or for worse.
posted by psyche7 at 4:30 PM on February 3, 2011


Yes, it's quite important, you're also supposed to circumcise your slaves.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:46 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"When it was feared that my youngest son had a hole in his heart and might need surgery, I did not think for a minute, "Well, I will have to wait until he is 18 or let him die because, you know, human rights begin at the skin!""

Talk about hyperbole. No one here who is anti-circumcision thinks you should have let your son die.

"For those of you who say, "Well, but those were medically necessary, and circumcision might not be," well, but we don't KNOW whether circumcision will or not be necessary when our kids are little. "

If you don't know if it'll be neccessary, then why do it? To continue your analogy, would you have put your son through heart surgery before you knew if it were necessary?
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:48 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's quite important, you're also supposed to circumcise your slaves.

Oh man, and this thread was going so well.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:49 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are many people who have deeply held religious, medical, aesthetic, and sexual prejudices against the foreskin. These prejudices are borne out of fear and ignorance, as is the case around prejudices against the female vulva in communities that cut their daughters.

I believe science can be used to help demonstrate the sexual harm that these procedures entail. There is plently of strong anecdotal evidence, as well as prima facie reasons that shed light on the harm, but there has not been one single study that has actually investigated the issue properly. Self report and sensitivity thresholds are poor proxies for sexual function/satisfaction.

It is also rarely acknowledged that not all circumcisions are created equal. The initiatives in Africa largely involve cuts that spare the entire frenular region, including the frenulum. In these cases, little to no sexually sensitive tissue is lost. The case is tragically different in infants, where the tissue is not fully differentiated, and often the entire frenular area is ablated, leaving the glans (the bulbous head of the penis) as the sole or primary seat of sexual pleasure. The glans has a significantly sparser distribution of erogenous nerve endings compared to the frenular region. For anyone who doubts this, have the courage to go and ask an intact acquaintance some incisive questions about the sensory topography of his penis. You may well be shocked. The frenulum is absolutely integral to male sexuality - it houses the highest concentration of nerve endings in the male body, and they are sexual nerve endings, which means that sexual pleasure and orgasm is derived from their stimulation.


It is worth noting that not a single national medical organization, as far as I have been able to determine, supports the procedure on medical grounds. In fact over the last couple decades there has been an increasingly hostile reaction from these organizations towards the practice, despite the fact that many individual doctors (who are often unaware of the literature around the subject) are in favour of the procedure.

It is also encouraging to see initiatives in europe and australia where medical and political bodies are taking firmer stances on the issue.

It is fundamentally horrifying to remove sexual tissue from a non consenting human, male OR female. The only time it should ever be done is if it is absolutely medically necessary. I have no problems with adults who wish to trim their vulvas and foreskins as they see fit, but it is absolutely heinous to do this to a child.
posted by spacediver at 5:04 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I believe science can be used to help demonstrate the sexual harm that these procedures entail.

It hasn't so far, but I do appreciate that you are using your undemonstrated faith to denounce somebody else's.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:06 PM on February 3, 2011


I don't have a dick in this fight, but no foreskin = no docking. Sounds like a bummer.
posted by giraffe at 5:12 PM on February 3, 2011


This came up when when we had our son.

DH: If we're having a boy, I'd like him circumcised.
me: Why? We're atheists.
DH: It's hygienic, and prevents disease.
me: That's been debunked.
DH: A different looking penis could lead to locker room bullying.
me: the prevalence of circumcision in Canadian boys is hovering at around 30%, so if he's not circ-ed, he'd be in the majority.
DH: Ok...then he'll have a penis that look just like mine!
me: Is that a good reason to chop a part of your child's genitals off without his consent?
DH: Uh...maybe?
me; We're so NOT having this conversation.

FWIW, the OB/GYN who saw us before the birth took place told us that circumcision is an unnecessary procedure and that we would need to go to a specialist to get it done after we're released from the hospital. It'll cost around $100 and he's not offering a referral.

He never got the circumcision. Should a medical emergency ever comes up that he'll need to get it removed, we'll have it done, but I'm glad I stood my ground.
posted by Sallysings at 5:15 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


It hasn't so far, but I do appreciate that you are using your undemonstrated faith to denounce somebody else's.

Too weak to even warrant a reply.
posted by spacediver at 5:23 PM on February 3, 2011


Oh well. I suppose I could have responded with a mass of pseudoscientific and pseudohistorical gibberish without any supporting links and claimed that some day science will prove I was right, but you seem to have a lock on that. I don't dare step on that ground, as you're playing from such a position of strength.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:26 PM on February 3, 2011


If your argument is "my religion obligates/entitles me to cut pieces off my children", and you expect that to have any persuasive force whatsoever, you are batshit fucking crazy

Between this and the comics thread I get the sense you are a deeply angry man on a hair trigger for whatever reason, but... to clarify, my argument is absolutely NOT "my religion entitles me xyz". As I said, I have no religion. My argument is that I do not believe it is within my rights to tell a particular cultural group which of their beliefs are valid and which are not. To the extent that male circumcision is a relatively harmless procedure (even one I find bizarre and would not inflict on my own children), I do not feel within my rights to tell a cultural group how to live their lives. If it were a matter of permanently harming the children in some identifiable way, to the point where the majority of those who had undergone the procedure called for its banning, my opinion would change. I see a big difference between male circumcision and foot binding, for example.

Now, maybe you are a neo-con type who wants to go around the world and spread "Western values" as you see them, I'm not sure. But I for one am not willing to go down that road. One of the challenges of living in a pluralistic society is living and accepting values that are not your own. I'm sorry this is hard for you to deal with; maybe you come from a very homogenous cultural background or something.

tl;dr -- do not personally like the idea of circumcision, like even less the idea of the 'moral majority' telling people how to lead their lives.. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree as to whether being circumcised is a 'permanent disfiguration' that ought to be banned by the state (I'm not cut, so I can't really comment).
posted by modernnomad at 5:34 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


What claims do you want backed up? The fact that the african trials use a method that spares the entire frenulum? (I've actually published this fact in BMJ). The fact that the frenulum comprises highly erogenous tissue? (you seriously think the glans is the only source of sexual pleasure?) The fact that not a single national medical organization recommends the procedure on medical grounds? (find me one that says otherwise)

Do you even realize that the original jewish circumcision was far, far less harmful than the one that is practiced today? Do you understand that prominent jewish scholars actually promoted the procedure to weaken the male's sexual response?
posted by spacediver at 5:39 PM on February 3, 2011


If it were a matter of permanently harming the children in some identifiable way, to the point where the majority of those who had undergone the procedure called for its banning, my opinion would change.

Understand that the vast majority of women who have been circumcised do not consider this a bad thing. It is the women who circumcise their daughters and grand daughters - they consider it an extremely important part of their identity.

Yes, telling them to stop doing it is pretty pointless, but I am completely comfortable making the judgment that this is a WRONG practice.
posted by spacediver at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do not believe it is within my rights to tell a particular cultural group which of their beliefs are valid and which are not.
Are you OK with fundamentalist Mormons taking child brides, Jehovah's Witnesses refusing blood transfusions for their children, and Christian Scientists refusing medical treatment?
posted by cdward at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you even realize that the original jewish circumcision was far, far less harmful than the one that is practiced today? Do you understand that prominent jewish scholars actually promoted the procedure to weaken the male's sexual response?

Cite.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:48 PM on February 3, 2011


(I'm not saying that circumcision is of the same severity as those things, just that I doubt your blanket statement, and I suspect that there are lots of things you are willing to tell a cultural group they can't do.)
posted by cdward at 5:49 PM on February 3, 2011


"The frenulum is absolutely integral to male sexuality - it houses the highest concentration of nerve endings in the male body, and they are sexual nerve endings, which means that sexual pleasure and orgasm is derived from their stimulation."

Yeah… Knowing that nerve receptors don't differentiate between erogenous and non-erogenous (unless you've discovered a whole new nerve mechanism), I'm going to say that maybe making up pseudoscience to back your emotional commitment isn't the best tactic for serious arguing. This shit may convince your friends, but we're on the internet and can just look shit up.
posted by klangklangston at 5:49 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, I forgot. This is totally Spacediver's hobbyhorse and has been for years. Nevermind. All your crazypants aquatic ape circumcision science is totally above board. Lemme step back slowly, over my tremendous penis, and find the door.
posted by klangklangston at 5:53 PM on February 3, 2011


I LOVE CIRCUMCISION THREADS.

The mods never delete them, and everyone hates each other. If metafilter was a utopian commune, circumcision threads would be our gulag.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:04 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Circvmspice, my fascist bashing friend, Circvmspice
posted by clavdivs at 6:23 PM on February 3, 2011


The fact that not a single national medical organization recommends the procedure on medical grounds?

The official policy statement of the American Association of Pediatrics says that the decision should be left to the parents: "In circumstances 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. To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. If a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided."
posted by misha at 6:26 PM on February 3, 2011


klangklangston, go ask any intact male (or any circumcised male who has even a shred of frenular tissue left) about the sexual sensitivity of these nerve endings. You may learn something.
posted by spacediver at 6:27 PM on February 3, 2011


misha, where in that statement does the AAP recommend it?
posted by spacediver at 6:27 PM on February 3, 2011


Do you even realize that the original jewish circumcision was far, far less harmful than the one that is practiced today? Do you understand that prominent jewish scholars actually promoted the procedure to weaken the male's sexual response?

Cite.


Many Hellenistic Jews, particularly those who participated in athletics at the gymnasium, had an operation performed to conceal the fact of their circumcision (1 Maccabees 1.15). Similar action was taken during the Hadrianic persecution, in which period a prohibition against circumcision was issued. It was probably in order to prevent the possibility of obliterating the traces of circumcision that the rabbis added to the requirement of cutting the foreskin that of peri'ah (laying bare the glans).
(The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, ed. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky and G. Wigoder. Oxford University Press, 1997, page 161.)

2) Maimonides, Moses; Pines, Schlomo (trans.) (1963). The Guide of the Perplexed. Part III. Chapter XLIX.. The University of Chicago Press
posted by Sparx at 6:28 PM on February 3, 2011


klangklangston, go ask any intact male (or any circumcised male who has even a shred of frenular tissue left) about the sexual sensitivity of these nerve endings. You may learn something.

Like the 4,456 Ugandan men who were circumcised as adults, 98.5 percent of whom reported no change in sensitivity?

And Sparx, your cite proves that the amount that was circumcised was expanded, but actually disproves spacedivers assertion that it was done to weaken the male's sexual response.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:33 PM on February 3, 2011


It is also rarely acknowledged that not all circumcisions are created equal.... The frenulum is absolutely integral to male sexuality - it houses the highest concentration of nerve endings in the male body, and they are sexual nerve endings, which means that sexual pleasure and orgasm is derived from their stimulation.

I'd like to highlight this, because I think it's a likely reason that some circumcised men have problems while others don't. My frenulum was 100% removed and the scar outlining where it used to be is quite evident. I was puzzled once when a college friend said that all a woman had to do was put her tongue right underneath the tip of his head and he would go crazy. That spot on my penis is one of the *least* sensitive for me, like touching my elbow, and it was only after I got to see pictures of foreskins online that I knew I was missing a quite noticeable structure.

klangklangston, I'm not sure why you're so skeptical about this. This spot on the penis (the underside of the head, just below the tip) has been mentioned in virtually every sex guide I've ever seen as one of the most sensitive, if not *the* most sensitive, parts of the penis.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:34 PM on February 3, 2011


When I have things like WHO and CDC studies suggesting there is at least some small benefit to the procedure, I don't have to resort to loaded terms like terms like "barbaric" and "dumbasses" and "mutilation" -- reason holds the greater weight than emotionally-loaded rhetoric. So why, then, would you expect Astro Zombie or anyone else to refrain from suggesting that if you want people to actually take your argument seriously, more neutral language might be beneficial?

Because reason also suggests that you need more than "some small benefit to the procedure" to justify routine genital surgery in infants, especially when the "small benefit" is a post-hoc rationalization for something that's primarily being done for reasons of tradition. Again, the worldwide medical community does not support routine circumcision. Even the AMA, the primary medical group in a country where circumcision is considered routine, does not support routine circumcision. ("Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.") So which should I believe? Your personal interpretation of "things like WHO and CDC studies suggesting there is at least some small benefit to the procedure", or medical groups around the world which do accept that this benefit exists, but continue to assert that it is not enough to justify routine circumcision?

Besides, I understand that you would like this to be a cut-and-dried discussion of the facts, but that's not how morality works. One can find some small benefit to nearly any social practice or medical procedure; that does not make nearly any social practice or medical procedure moral. The use of "more neutral language" simply allows you and others to frame the argument as an emotionless trade-off between Some Small Benefit and having some skin which Doesn't Matter Anyway, despite the fact that many others really do see that trade-off as being morally barbaric, and really do see that skin as mattering very much. It is neither fair nor reasonable to expect your opponents to discuss this your way, especially when doing so implies that circumcision must either be neutral or positive. You are clearly not willing to discuss this solely in moral terms, yet you're demanding that others discuss it solely in medical terms -- why?

In short: I expect people to refrain from harping on "neutral language" because it's the equivalent of waving an enormous red flag with I HAVE NO STRONG ARGUMENT written on it. If "reason holds the greater weight than emotionally-loaded rhetoric", then it should be obvious that the greater response to emotionally-loaded rhetoric is reason, not appeals to emotion... and complaining about others' failure to play nice is the latter, not the former.
posted by vorfeed at 6:41 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


The fuck is a frenulum?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:41 PM on February 3, 2011


NVM just googled. Wish I hadn't, but I did. Why would circumcision necessitate the removal of a dudes frenulum? Mine didn't.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:44 PM on February 3, 2011


And Sparx, your cite proves that the amount that was circumcised was expanded, but actually disproves spacedivers assertion that it was done to weaken the male's sexual response.

I didn't read spacediver's assertion as being that peri'ah was the procedure being promoted, just jewish circumcision in general (seeing as Maimonides was a middle ages dude - he would presumably be advocating whatever the practise was at the time and not generating a response to reports in 1 Maccabees).

I actually think spacediver is arguing in good faith here - the nerve endings gaffe being an oversimplification, but not fundamentally wrong, seeing as the prepuce has both the greatest/densest number and the greatest number of types of nerve ending - including ones that are only found in similar densitities in other erogonous zones. I'm not a nervologist though so I may be incorrectly describing the situation.

Threads like this can generate a lot of grar, so I try to take a breath and read charitably.
posted by Sparx at 6:49 PM on February 3, 2011


Why would circumcision necessitate the removal of a dudes frenulum? Mine didn't.

Well, that would be the "not all circumcisions are created equal" part. There are several brands of clamps and other devices designed to make the cut cleaner or neater, and they can remove different amounts of tissue. A surgeon can also freehand it with a scalpel.

So, removing the frenulum isn't necessary (I mean, none of this is necessary, right?), but I suspect my doctor did it so that it would look nicer.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:55 PM on February 3, 2011


So, removing the frenulum isn't necessary (I mean, none of this is necessary, right?), but I suspect my doctor did it so that it would look nicer.

Oh shit. I didn't even know that this was a thing. That seems like a pretty impt bit of flesh to cut, I can't believe that that happens. it's like the flesh underneath your tongue or b/t your fingers.

Sorry dude. Bummer. If I ever end up with kids, they're not getting circumcised. Not because of this thread or anything, but because it seems like a dickish practice to continue into the 21st century.

I'm still going to make fun of this thread though. Because these always go the same.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:00 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I thought I'd do is ask a biologist.
posted by ambulocetus at 7:06 PM on February 3, 2011


What I thought I'd do is ask a biologist.

That's pretty weak sauce. There are like 5 answers with 3 source links. This thread is more informative than that.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:10 PM on February 3, 2011


Pope Guilty wrote: It doesn't matter whether or not you believe it's harmful or harmless. It is wrong to needlessly cut pieces off of people if they have not given their informed consent to the procedure. I find it shocking and horrifying that this is a controversial assertion.

Your argument seems to be very distinct from the circumcision-is-mutilation argument. I'll try to restate your argument and you can tell me if I've got it right:

It is only justifiable to modify the body of infants and people who cannot consent when this is (medically) necessary. It is only justifiable to modify the body of adults when they have given their informed consent to the procedure."
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:11 PM on February 3, 2011


I'm getting woozy
posted by clavdivs at 7:23 PM on February 3, 2011


The mods never delete them

Yes we do. We didn't delete this one. "How bad could it be?" we said...
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes we do. We didn't delete this one. "How bad could it be?" we said...

Well after we brought in baby torture and infant mutilation, we moved on to religious hatred and kind of used that as a jumping off point.

So not too terrible, all things considered.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:31 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


In short: I expect people to refrain from harping on "neutral language" because it's the equivalent of waving an enormous red flag with I HAVE NO STRONG ARGUMENT written on it.

Or, howabout maybe using loaded words like 'barbaric' and 'mutilation' is not appropriate in this instance? Pointing out that loaded words are loaded, and that they're not justifed in describing this surgery, is absolutely reasonable.

Using extreme terms doesn't strengthen arguments either.
posted by Malor at 7:35 PM on February 3, 2011


Argh, "justified".
posted by Malor at 7:35 PM on February 3, 2011


Like the 4,456 Ugandan men who were circumcised as adults, 98.5 percent of whom reported no change in sensitivity?

The technique used in this study spared the entire frenulum. Virtually no erogenous tissue was removed.

I have source if you like.
posted by spacediver at 7:37 PM on February 3, 2011


btw for people who are interested in a jewish perspective on this practice, I recommend www.jewishcircumcision.org
posted by spacediver at 7:48 PM on February 3, 2011


www.jewishcircumcision.org

Huh. That's a high-volume domain name.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:50 PM on February 3, 2011


A surgeon can also freehand it with a scalpel.

Or someone who's not even a medical professional can just take a flying whack at it like he's playing golf, as directly shown in the FPP video, part 3 I think. This is one of the parts of the "cultural" aspect that drives me crazy - even if you warrant this is necessary, surely you'd want a professional to do it, but the "cultural" thing allows people license to do the oddest things with respect to lack of credentials.
posted by odinsdream at 7:51 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm. So after all these comments, and the cornucopia of circumcision posts I've witnessed, plus the fact that I just RTFA, I have come to a conclusion.

I still don't give two flying fucks about children. Chop their dicks off or not, this really isn't an issue. At all.

Some people wanna snip their kids, some don't. Let it go. Don't get all fucking confrontational about it. It's a non-issue.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:01 PM on February 3, 2011


I have source if you like.

I don't, as you have not actually demonstrated your woo science of magic nerves, or bothered responding to Klang.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:10 PM on February 3, 2011


surely you'd want a professional to do it,

A mohel is a professional, and requires surgical training before they can be licensed. Have you researched this at all?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:13 PM on February 3, 2011


Or, howabout maybe using loaded words like 'barbaric' and 'mutilation' is not appropriate in this instance? Pointing out that loaded words are loaded, and that they're not justifed in describing this surgery, is absolutely reasonable.

Sure, if you believe that they're not justified and/or reasonable. Then others will point out that they believe they are justified/reasonable. Then you can both continue to argue solely over which words people should be allowed to use to describe this surgery, rather than anything to do with the surgery itself.

Or you could take other people's arguments at face value, and maybe go somewhere other than directly from Start to Outrage. Seriously, the fact that so much of the argument in here (on both sides, to be fair) is over framing and "extreme terms" really says something.
posted by vorfeed at 8:16 PM on February 3, 2011


The funny thing is that this argument is nothing new, it is at least 2000 years old, and it was just as heated then as it is now. The apostle Paul, in a fit of pique, even went so far as to say he wished those preaching circumcision would just finish the job and cut their cocks off (Gal. 5:12)
posted by puny human at 8:18 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


and maybe go somewhere other than directly from Start to Outrage

And yet you feel perfectly comfortable with the anticircumcision camp using the language of moral outrage from jump. Funny how that works.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:20 PM on February 3, 2011


The funny thing is that this argument is nothing new, it is at least 2000 years old, and it was just as heated then as it is now.

BUT COULD THEY CHECK THEIR FAVORITES?!?!!?!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:20 PM on February 3, 2011


For us, the tiny chance of aids resistance wasn't enough to overcome the ethical issues we had with making such a huge decision for another human. I don't have to live in my son's body for the rest of his life; he does...and while I feel like I absolutely have the responsibility to provide the best I can for him, I don't "own" him, and I don't have rights that supersede his when it comes to permanently modifying his body.

That said; if he chooses, at some later age, to choose to look more like his American cousins than his European cousins, I will support his decision.
posted by dejah420 at 8:22 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because reason also suggests that you need more than "some small benefit to the procedure" to justify routine genital surgery in infants

Does it? Because, rationally, you'd need to demonstrate that there's harm that outweighs those benefits, and I haven't seen anybody here do so, although they've tossed around plenty of anecdotes and pejoratives. If there's no particular harm, then why not the benefit, however small?

especially when the "small benefit" is a post-hoc rationalization for something that's primarily being done for reasons of tradition.

The "small benefits" include reduced vulnerability to HIV, STDs, and penis cancer. You can use your telepathic talents to reassure yourself that anyone who finds those benefits valuable is secretly clinging to tradition no matter what they may outwardly say, but then why even bother to discuss the matter?

Again, the worldwide medical community does not support routine circumcision. Even the AMA, the primary medical group in a country where circumcision is considered routine, does not support routine circumcision. ("Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.") So which should I believe? Your personal interpretation of "things like WHO and CDC studies suggesting there is at least some small benefit to the procedure", or medical groups around the world which do accept that this benefit exists, but continue to assert that it is not enough to justify routine circumcision?

I could have saved you quite a few words there. I never said anything about "routine" or that it was "recommended." The AMA essentially shares the position of the WHO and the CDC -- that those benefits you're so quick to gloss over are real, but minor, which is why the ultimate decision is left to the individual parents. Note that this also highlights the inverse: that any hypothetical harm is neither so ubiquitous or great that they recommend against it. So the choice between believing me or worldwide medical groups is a false one -- I agree with those medical groups. It's up to the parents, and it's not a particularly big deal either way. It's neither vital nor a "barbaric mutilation and violation of human rights."

Besides, I understand that you would like this to be a cut-and-dried discussion of the facts, but that's not how morality works. It is neither fair nor reasonable to expect your opponents to discuss this your way, especially when doing so implies that circumcision must either be neutral or positive. You are clearly not willing to discuss this solely in moral terms, yet you're demanding that others discuss it solely in medical terms -- why?

Because there is no argument solely in moral terms. Some people find eating meat immoral. Some people find abortion immoral. Some people find giving children vaccines immoral. Some people find circumcision immoral. That's fine -- those people are free to feel however they wish and to act accordingly. But we live in pluralistic enough societies that if they expect others to care about those things, they'll need pretty good reasons -- like actual medical information, for example -- why they should do so.

And nobody said anything about having to speak about it in positive terms; neutral terms are just that. If I had come out and repeatedly referred to everyone who is against circumcision as a sanctimonious hippy bullshit woo peddler who's willing to increase the risk of their children one day contracting a potentially life-threatening disease in order to play empathy poker with strangers for their own selfish sense of superiority, that would have obscured my point and wasted time (which is instead being wasted now, by having to explain why we don't just go around and call each other names when we're trying to have a discussion).

In short: I expect people to refrain from harping on "neutral language" because it's the equivalent of waving an enormous red flag with I HAVE NO STRONG ARGUMENT written on it. If "reason holds the greater weight than emotionally-loaded rhetoric", then it should be obvious that the greater response to emotionally-loaded rhetoric is reason, not appeals to emotion... and complaining about others' failure to play nice is the latter, not the former.

"Complaining about others' failure to play nice," as you put it, is simply a matter of efficiency. As demonstrated above, it would certainly be easy to resort to cheap dramatics, but it doesn't help anything.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:30 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


And yet you feel perfectly comfortable with the anticircumcision camp using the language of moral outrage from jump. Funny how that works.

Again, I don't feel that the "language of moral outrage" is the problem. My entire point is that this is not just about words.
posted by vorfeed at 8:33 PM on February 3, 2011


My entire point is that this is not just about words.

Well, I'm not quite clear on what you're saying. Perhaps you can restate it. Because it sounds like you're saying the issue is that those who argue that the decision to circumcise or not is up to the parents are the ones who are not letting the discussion progress, because they won't take for granted that the anticircumcision sides' arguments from anecdote, moral outrage, and psuedoscience are justifiable and reasonable.

I must be mistaken, now that I think on it. So, if you wouldn't mind, could you clarify?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:42 PM on February 3, 2011


Does it? Because, rationally, you'd need to demonstrate that there's harm that outweighs those benefits, and I haven't seen anybody here do so, although they've tossed around plenty of anecdotes and pejoratives. If there's no particular harm, then why not the benefit, however small?

While rare, this surgery can have major negative consequences. The idea that there's "no particular harm" is not supported by the medical evidence, even discounting anecdotes and pejoratives. There is particular harm, and we know exactly what it is, how serious it is, and roughly how often it occurs (anywhere from .2 to 2 percent of the time). That's "why not the benefit, however small" -- because this is surgery, and it can go wrong. A lack of evidence of routine harm isn't an argument for surgery. Like it or not, one of the major pillars of medical morality is inaction over action... or, in other words, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

It's worth pointing out that the harm many people are claiming is subjective, anyway, and is thus rather difficult to prove. I can't prove that I have chronic pain, for instance, but it most certainly does me harm. The insistence that personal experience doesn't matter is somewhat bizarre, given that we're talking about sexual pleasure and function, not objective outcomes.

I could have saved you quite a few words there. I never said anything about "routine" or that it was "recommended." The AMA essentially shares the position of the WHO and the CDC -- that those benefits you're so quick to gloss over are real, but minor, which is why the ultimate decision is left to the individual parents.

Yes, of course it's left to the parents. I'm not arguing for the Circumcision Inquisition; chances are that this is a practice that will only die out once parents and doctors themselves come to see it as negative and unnecessary. That said, the question would seem to be whether circumcision's benefits generally outweigh its risks, and the AMA's response would seem to be: no, they do not. If this were a clear-cut case of "if there's no particular harm, then why not the benefit, however small?", then the AMA would surely recommend that this perfectly harmless procedure be done routinely, no?
posted by vorfeed at 8:57 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The insistence that personal experience doesn't matter is somewhat bizarre, given that we're talking about sexual pleasure and function, not objective outcomes.

Nobody has said it doesn't matter. We have said that, beyond individual experiences, we must ask if the harm in general outweighs they benefits in general. Actual harm does happen, once in a while. Actual benefits do as well. And it seems like the mainstream medical establishment, having considered all the evidence, considers it a wash.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:05 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because it sounds like you're saying the issue is that those who argue that the decision to circumcise or not is up to the parents are the ones who are not letting the discussion progress, because they won't take for granted that the anticircumcision sides' arguments from anecdote, moral outrage, and psuedoscience are justifiable and reasonable.

Yes, that's very much what I'm saying. "All your arguments are totally worthless and you're not allowed to make them anymore because I have special dismissive words for them, I-win-the-end" generally does not let the discussion progress.

Neither does "lol ur child molestar", of course, but at least that's not pretending to the high seat of reason. If these arguments are so very ludicrous, that should make them easy to refute them at face value.
posted by vorfeed at 9:08 PM on February 3, 2011


Do you people really think that financial incentives, various moral, cultural and religious prejudicies of the AMA members have no influences on recommendations the put out? Seriously?

Or do you really think that the new mommy and daddy get on PubMed and UpToDate and evaluate relative risks of HPV or HIV in cicumsized vs uncircumsized males before checking the box on some form? Same mommy and daddy that feed their kids sodas, chips and hamburgers?
posted by c13 at 9:13 PM on February 3, 2011


Ahem... THEY put out..


Stupid ipad..
posted by c13 at 9:15 PM on February 3, 2011


If these arguments are so very ludicrous, that should make them easy to refute them at face value.

It's virtually impossible to refute a moral argument. People who consider snipping the foreskin to be a moral evil aren't so much concerned with the medicine of it -- that's a sort of side discussion -- as they are with their sense that it is, in a variety of ways, an unconscionable violation. And I'm not out to convince them otherwise. I feel the same way about it as I do anything else that is understood in moral terms: That if somebody believes it to be an evil, they should not do it.

My concern is when those people try to enact their specific moral viewpoint on those that don't share them. I am also concerned when they try to bully others into sharing their opinion, because, truthfully, that's not entering a discussion as an honest player. This is my concern for the language used -- shaming techniques and language of moral reprobation aren't an argument that can be intellectually refuted.

Do you people really think that financial incentives, various moral, cultural and religious prejudicies of the AMA members have no influences on recommendations the put out? Seriously?

Unless you can actually prove the harm outweighs the good, from a medical standpoint nothing you mentioned matters. I am not here to discuss a conspiracy of medical professionals -- it's the same argument anti-vaccers use when it is pointed out that there is no evidence vaccines cause autism. I am only here to argue the facts, as we can mutually establish them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:19 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ask a gay about foreskins.

From what I can see, sexual response (time to orgasm, how much they enjoy it, can they come with a given sex act) are very individual, and cut/not cut seems to be only a small part of it. Certain uncut guys will brag about how getting cut produces such a loss of sensation, yet they are hard to get off. More uncut goes will complain their glans is TOO sensitive and to not touch it; sometimes cut guys have the same complaint, but more often they can get pleasure from lots of glans stimulation which many uncut guys can't. I've seen more uncut guys have difficulty getting/keeping erections and getting off. Orgasm and sexual pleasure is experienced in the brain, so whatever nerves got stimulated to create it, it seems to feel roughly the same. Guys I've spoken with who had adult circumcision didn't seem to have any major complaints, although they said it felt 'different'. I think things like alcohol/drug use (esp. SSRIs), how into the guy you are, and how long it's been since you masturbated or had sex, and how good the guy is at figuring out what you really like contribute more to a good time than a foreskin/last of foreskin. Preference in dicks seems to be roughly equally divided, and the average gay guy doesn't care than much (as, I gather, is the case with many females).

We shouldn't do it, but if it's done, do not despair, your dick is still fine.

*disclosure: Big Lube funded this comment
posted by kevinsp8 at 9:26 PM on February 3, 2011


Unless you can actually prove the harm outweighs the good, from a medical standpoint nothing you mentioned matters.

You do realize this was the exact argument for corporal punishment of children? That wasn't even ancient history, either. Yes, medical doctors did not stand up for the kids.

Things change as we get more information.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:30 PM on February 3, 2011


Yes. When you provide new information that demonstrates overwhelming harm, I will certainly reconsider my opinion. That moment is not upon us yet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:32 PM on February 3, 2011


"klangklangston, go ask any intact male (or any circumcised male who has even a shred of frenular tissue left) about the sexual sensitivity of these nerve endings. You may learn something."

Man, this is going to be the best bus ride ever!
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes. When you provide new information that demonstrates overwhelming harm, I will certainly reconsider my opinion. That moment is not upon us yet.

LOL. Good luck explaining THAT to your circumcised son.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:38 PM on February 3, 2011


Yes. LOL. Just as my mother has trouble explaining to me why she smoked when I was a boy, which has lead to chronic throat problems on my part.

Oh, wait. I don't challenge her on that, because the effects of second-hand smoke were not known when I was a boy, and she did, in fact, quit the moment there was a hint it might harm me, and I don't call my parents into account for making the very best decisions based on the information they had at the time.

But since we're in a fantasy future in which the harm or benefit of circumcision is absolutely established, I'm going to pick the future of benefit, and LOL you as you try to explain to your son why he must endure penile cancer. Because that's what we do to other parents who made decisions we do not agree with. We LOL at them when their child is in pain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:42 PM on February 3, 2011


I wish we had an Aboriginal Australian version of Astro Zombie in here defending penile sub-incision, since the arguments would be exactly the same.

BTW, do not go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penile_subincision if you are not prepared to see an image of a subincised penis on the top right corner of your screen.
posted by Dr. Curare at 9:42 PM on February 3, 2011


I wonder if it would be possible to stick to the topic at hand, rather than endlessly compare it to things that make pushing our own particular agenda especially easy to argue? I will try to do the same.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:44 PM on February 3, 2011


Unless you can actually prove the harm outweighs the good, from a medical standpoint nothing you mentioned matters

Really? I need to meet your arbitrarily chosen standard of proof, and yet you get to just mouth off whatever the fuck you want?
Ok, the AMA states that they can't state for sure that there is any significant benefit of the procedure, so they are leaving the decision up to the parents with their cultural and religious hangups. Is that enough for you?
I don't know whether you've been to the med school, but there they teach you that the FIRST thing you do is no harm. Not something that may have some benefit. Note that "no harm" is an absolute. That's why normally the benefit has to be significantly higher than the risk before you do anything. Otherwise you stay the fuck away from the patient.
posted by c13 at 9:45 PM on February 3, 2011


You know, giving a kid aspirin can do harm. It can kill a child. Can we call the AMA and see why they haven't come out against that?

Almost every single thing that is done medically has potential risks. "Do no harm" doesn't mean "do nothing." There's a more complex risk assessment than you have just detailed.

I apologize for mouthing off about whatever the fuck I want. From my perspective, I was simply making my case. I am, in fact, a bit surprised that I was doing otherwise, but I don't imagine I would have brought about such a hostile response if I wasn't mouthing off.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 PM on February 3, 2011


Why are you comparing aspirin to circumcision? You literally just said:

I wonder if it would be possible to stick to the topic at hand, rather than endlessly compare it to things that make pushing our own particular agenda especially easy to argue?
posted by ODiV at 9:54 PM on February 3, 2011


I don't know whether you've been to the med school

Since this seems to matter to you, no I haven't. I am, however, the child of two medical professionals and work in a dental school, where I am expected to be conversant in medical ethics. But perhaps this is not enough to have an opinion about whether the AMA is somehow violating its Hippocratic oath in leaving the decision up to parents.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:54 PM on February 3, 2011


Why are you comparing aspirin to circumcision?

I'm not. I didn't say "circumcision is like aspirin." I said "medical decisions have risks."
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:55 PM on February 3, 2011


Because that's what we do to other parents who made decisions we do not agree with. We LOL at them when their child is in pain.

Whoa. You know, maybe you need to take a break. The very reason for ALL the arguments against your 'case for circumcision' is to prevent pain for your child. Sorry, you see it as attacks.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:00 PM on February 3, 2011


I don't have a case for circumcision. I have a case for letting reasoned adults make their own decision about something where there is no consensus on morality and no absoulte medical position.

I was responding to your LOL. Perhaps you do not see it as uncharitable to imagine a future in which my child is suffering for a decision I made and you are responding with an internet shorthand of mirth. I do not presume you meant any especial harm by it. But I was pointing out that it might not have been the kindest gesture.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, giving a kid aspirin can do harm. It can kill a child. Can we call the AMA and see why they haven't come out against that?

This is a good point, but highlights the difficulties inherent in such arguments. Circumcision can also kill a male baby - it's super rare, but it happens. Aspirin would presumably be used to combat a present problem; circumcision, medically, would presumably be to prevent later ones. There's a difference in category there.

On preview: yes, medical decision have risks. Unnecesary medical intervention, it would seem to me, should therefore be avoided.
posted by Sparx at 10:05 PM on February 3, 2011


I thought you were implying that aspirin, like circumcision, has not been condemned by the AMA even though it has the potential to do harm and that if asked about it, the AMA would give a similar response for each. If you didn't mean that, then forget I brought it up.
posted by ODiV at 10:06 PM on February 3, 2011


Unnecesary medical intervention, it would seem to me, should therefore be avoided.

That's perfectly valid. But perhaps reasonable adults can come to a different conclusion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:06 PM on February 3, 2011


You know, I think I have made my point, and it's around the mulberry bush again. I can see no benefit in me reiterating it any more. Thank you all for what has mostly been a reasonable discussion, and apologies if my occasional intemperateness got me off track or made me unclear at any point. It can be hard to talk about something that gets the blood het up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:09 PM on February 3, 2011


I accept the point that there's still (obviously) a lot of disagreement on the relative balance of benefit versus harm. So I think Dragonness' suggestion is the one I like best in this thread: take circumcision off the consent form check lists. Instead of being a routine procedure, let it be a non-routine one that's available if a parent specifically requests it.

Astro Zombie, would you have any objection to that? I think it sets aside the moralizing issue for any parent who decides it's right for their son, and preserves the options of those children whose parents haven't given it any particular thought. I would love to know how this is not a win-win solution.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 10:12 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not presume you meant any especial harm by it. But I was pointing out that it might not have been the kindest gesture.

Yes, that is fair to say. I didn't mean to be unkind. I think my lol was more sad than happy (is there an emoticom for ironic grimace?).

Parents are always burdened by the possibility of hurting their children with their decisions -- and always besieged by others around them reminding them of that. No wonder there is such emotion around this argument.

There is a fine line between standing up for one's values in the face of pressure from others and just being obstinate because it is "your right to do what you want". No one but you can judge where you are now. I just find it odd that you admit there could be a chance of your being wrong and that your child's future could be painful because of that. (Especially when all of the 'benefits' - preventing aids/cancer - could be attained in so many other ways and even, if desired, with a late in life circumcision.)
posted by Surfurrus at 10:21 PM on February 3, 2011


Right, because a lifetime without eyelids is very similar to a lifetime without a foreskin.

They don't call it the one-eyed snake for nothing...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:22 PM on February 3, 2011


Astro Zombie, would you have any objection to that?

As long as people are award of the option, I have no complaint.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:23 PM on February 3, 2011


To those who continue to deny the sexual importance of the frenulum, and demand proof of these "magic nerves", do you adopt the same attitude to the proposition that the clitoris is sexually important?

If not, why not? Probably because it's blindingly obvious - you've interacted with women who have a clitoris and seen first hand what its stimulation does for the owner.

Or how about the glans? Do you really need scientific proof that these structures play a role in sexual pleasure?

Use the resources around you. 75% of males on this planet have intact penises. There are many of these who are comfortable sharing their observations about the importance of the tissues in question. Just go ask a few, or look up some accounts online where there are intelligent, lucid, and thoughtful descriptions that give great qualitative insight.

As for the "it's all in the brain anyway argument", that just displays a fundamental ignorance of neurophysiology.

re citation for the fact that the entire frenular region was spared in that kenyan study, here it is:

also read the editor's letter in the front page of that journal, where he discusses this exact fact.

(email me if you would like a copy of the full text)


Remember what people are trying to justify here: taking a knife, and removing sexual tissue from a baby's penis, when it's completely medically unnecessary. Just think about it, really about it. Consider your reaction to the idea of removing sexual tissue from a baby's vulva. Suppose it had a protective effect against stds, utis, and facilitated easier hygienic maintenance. Suppose you didn't remove all of the clitoris and labia, but only part of it. Do you now think it's ok, and should be a personal choice left up to the parents of the helpless girl?

I hope not. Consider why you do not have this same moral intuition about male sexuality.

I also recommend this video, which is a good primer on the anatomy and physiology of the male prepuce. It draws upon peer reviewed literature up to the mid 90's.
posted by spacediver at 10:34 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can have my foreskin when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
posted by jcworth at 10:48 PM on February 3, 2011


As long as people are award of the option, I have no complaint.

Works for me.

jessamyn, thanks for keeping this post, i think it's been a good one. well, for here, anyway.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:04 PM on February 3, 2011


This thread made me feel much better about having part of my body removed against my will.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:22 AM on February 4, 2011


Consider why you do not have this same moral intuition about male sexuality

Because I'm a male, I'm circumcised, and don't particularly think I was mutilated?

I think I'm speaking from real authority here when I say it's no big deal. I have the equipment personally. It has been cut. It still works fine. The only better source would be an adult who has been circumcised after having a fair bit of sexual experience au naturel.

So far, the only comments I've seen on this score seem to hold that the circumcisees don't think it makes that much difference.
posted by Malor at 12:27 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try getting dog's ears docked, but surgically removing a part of an infant's body is a-ok.

Actually it's no big deal since I never got a chance to miss the extra bits. I used to know a guy that moved to the US from Trinidad in his mid 20s. He found found that being uncut decreased his likelihood of finding a partner, so he went and got circumcised. He said he was in excruciating pain for a week or so and then it was so incredibly sensitive he couldn't even take a shower for a while. Shoulda asked him more questions but it's kind of an odd subject to just shoot the breeze about plus he was in his 40s and I was a kid, don't know how the subject even came up.

Oh I remember how it came up,he said that when he was in Trinidad he would go to the beach wearing some sort of speedo with an elephant trunk kinda thing, he met so many American tourists that he decided to move to the US.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:45 AM on February 4, 2011


WTF I just looked up frenulum and I don't have one of those either! I've changed my mind, this thread sucks.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:58 AM on February 4, 2011


Because I'm a male, I'm circumcised, and don't particularly think I was mutilated?

Mutilation is a strange word. The fact is that most humans, males and females, who have had their genital tissue forcibly removed do not consider themselves mutilated.

So again, why the double standard? Why do we consider it horrifying to remove sexual tissue from a nonconsenting female (even if it is done using the latest in surgical and anaesthetic technology) but trite in the case of the male?

as for those who have experienced it both ways, there are many reports of men who have been circumcised as adults and consider it one of the worst decisions of their life.

Rocco Siffredi (adult film star) one of them. If you like, I can dig up some more examples, particularly where adults describe the differences in orgasm duration and intensity after being circumcised.
posted by spacediver at 1:34 AM on February 4, 2011


So again, why the double standard? Why do we consider it horrifying to remove sexual tissue from a nonconsenting female (even if it is done using the latest in surgical and anaesthetic technology) but trite in the case of the male?

Because, on females, it is designed to totally destroy their ability to enjoy sex, or to ever have an orgasm. That's mutilation, absolutely.

On males, that doesn't happen. We enjoy sex just fine after circumcision, thank you very much.
posted by Malor at 1:39 AM on February 4, 2011


You know, giving a kid aspirin can do harm. It can kill a child. Can we call the AMA and see why they haven't come out against that?

A spectacularly bad argument - the FDA and the Surgeon General warn that you should never give aspirin to children under 12; the UK authorities say never give it to people under 16. I don't know if the AMA has made a particular position statement, but I'd assume they'd go with the world medical consensus.

You can make a list of things that you can remove from babies that will reduce their risk of disease in that bit. Most obviously toenails - you don't really need them, I'm living happily without one, they are prone to infection. For anything that you don't have some massive cultural investment in, it's obvious that the default position is to not slice something off unless there is a very good reason. The medical benefits of circumcision are equivocal; therefore, the default should be non-removal.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:45 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because, on females, it is designed to totally destroy their ability to enjoy sex, or to ever have an orgasm. That's mutilation, absolutely.

On males, that doesn't happen. We enjoy sex just fine after circumcision, thank you very much.


Actually, the practice of female circumcision is extremely varied, both in the techniques and styles used, and in the rationales behind it (just as male circumcision is, especially when you examine the practice over time). For many women, circumcision is about removing an ugly, unhygienic, disease prone, spiritually impure part of their body. The rationale for keeping them chaste is more of a spiritual one. Some women consider it a sexual advantage to have most of their clitoris removed. One report I read quoted a female proponent of the practice as claiming that circumcised women orgasm easier as their is less rubbing needed. (this actually makes sense from a neurophysiological standpoint - with less neural modulators involved in the buildup to orgasm, threshold may be reached faster (this is informed speculation on my part).

If you actually study the literature on female genital cutting carefully, it quickly becomes apparent that our mainstream western views of the practice are extremely inaccurate. Furthermore, the literature that examines the ability of women who are mutilated to reach orgasm shows a surprising picture. In one study, I believe 90% of women reported an ability to reach orgasm.

That said, anyone who pays any sort of attention to sexuality should understand that quality trumps quantity.

I'd also like to pose a question to those who support male circumcision (or don't consider it a terrible offense):

"What would constitute a terrible thing to do to a male's penis? If not removing the frenulum, what about the glans? Suppose you could remove half the nerve endings on the glans without affecting the morphology of the tissue, so that the structural function remains intact, but the sensory function is severely compromised? Suppose the male is still able to achieve orgasm. Would you consider this a choice that parents should be allowed to make?
posted by spacediver at 1:57 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This topic skews depressingly reductive.
posted by Ritchie at 2:06 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


So again, why the double standard? Why do we consider it horrifying to remove sexual tissue from a nonconsenting female (even if it is done using the latest in surgical and anaesthetic technology) but trite in the case of the male?

Because of the amount of tissue removed.

If we were to proportionally increase the size of tissue excised in female circumcision, and remove that amount of tissue from males at circumcision, we would be talking about removing 50-100% of the penis itself.

Look, draw your own conclusions about the practice of male circumcision, but do not compare it to female circumcision because the two operations are not equitable.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


On males, that doesn't happen. We enjoy sex just fine after circumcision, thank you very much.

Not all of us. Please don't speak for all men-- you have no more authority to do so that someone who claims you were in fact mutilated.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 5:15 AM on February 4, 2011


As I said in my original comment, for those who do indeed have a problem with sensitivity, I am honestly sympathetic.

EmpressCallipygos, I missed your reply earlier. Thanks for your sympathy. What do you wish had happened in my case? Because I wish I hadn't been circumcised at all-- my family isn't religious, and I personally think the medical benefits are negligible, so for me this was basically a senseless act, and I really feel I lost something. Even if most guys feel okay about it, I would have liked a say in the matter, and that's what I *really* wish you had sympathy for. Thanks.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 5:39 AM on February 4, 2011


Not all of us. Please don't speak for all men-- you have no more authority to do so that someone who claims you were in fact mutilated.

No, but the "mutilation" (by which I mean it ends up severely affecting sensation, causes scarring, etc etc etc) occurs in the minority of circumcised men, from what any of us can honestly tell.
posted by grubi at 6:17 AM on February 4, 2011


No, but the "mutilation" (by which I mean it ends up severely affecting sensation, causes scarring, etc etc etc) occurs in the minority of circumcised men, from what any of us can honestly tell.

I guess I don't understand how this still makes it okay.
posted by zizzle at 6:34 AM on February 4, 2011


I guess I don't understand how this still makes it okay.

It doesn't necessarily make it "okay" (which is an opinion, not a fact), but it should illustrate that Broke-Dick Syndrome isn't some horrible crisis that needs to be averted at all costs.
posted by grubi at 6:41 AM on February 4, 2011


Broke-Dick Syndrome isn't some horrible crisis that needs to be averted at all costs

Most certainly also an opinion, not a fact.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 7:07 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is there so much resistance to the fact that some people might not be cool with having had part of their bodies surgically removed. Is it that many men do not consider themselves mutilated, or even out of the ordinary after circumcision. I can certainly understand that some people would consider themselves mutilated or genuinely harmed by circumcision. Would this conversation be different if most of us here were not from a country where circumcision is so common?
posted by Ad hominem at 7:16 AM on February 4, 2011


Why is there so much resistance to the fact that some people might not be cool with having had part of their bodies surgically removed.

From all I can tell, the real driving factor is the cultural baggage associated with the procedure. It's a very, very important part of religious and cultural identity for specific groups. The remaining justifications have cropped up to support this, not in spite of it.
posted by odinsdream at 7:21 AM on February 4, 2011


If a traditionally matriarchal or (actually) egalitarian society had a practice of infant genital cutting on girls that seemed as problematic/unproblematic as Jewish infant circumcision, I wouldn't have a problem with it. As others have said, there's a wide range of genital cutting practices, both on male and female bodies, and as unfair as it is to compare male circumcision as practiced in the States to the kind of FGM that, eg, takes off the whole clitoris, is as unfair as it is to compare cutting off the whole clitoris to a symbolic nick (someone mentioned this upthread) done in hygienic conditions.

I'm sympathetic to the point about body modification and choice, but I actually think that in the context of this procedure that's practiced by a religious and social minority (because the places that are seriously talking about circumcision as mutilation and banning it are places where Jews and Muslims live as minorities), with a history of persecution perpetrated against them and of being considered less human, more barbaric, etc, there really does need to be a strong secular reason for banning such a culturally important practice. Much stronger, for example, than banning infant ear piercing (afaik, this is still practiced? My ears were pierced as an infant).

Even if such secular reasons existed, it would be worthwhile to be very careful about the discourse on limiting and banning practice. Whatever our opinions are about 'extreme' forms of FGM, experience has shown that actually Westerners, however well intentioned, calling those who practice it barbaric and their bodies mutilated is not effective at changing cultural practices. Shocking, I know.

In my personal opinion, we're nowhere near there yet, in any case, and I agree with Astro Zombie and others that this is one of many decisions that parents make for their children about which there can be reasonable disagreement *and* reasonable conversations.

Re some of the Jewish questions:
Bar mitzvah and circumcision are not connected. The religious obligation is on the father to circumcise his son. When the son becomes a bar mitzvah (which happens automatically whether or not it's marked by a ceremony), he becomes responsible for his own religious observance and if he's not already circumcised, for his circumcision.

I have also heard that Jewish circumcision practices used to be slightly different, and I keep meaning to follow up on it but haven't yet.

The Rambam did argue that circumcision was good because it made men less sexually driven. That was considered the hallmark of a good man in his cultural context, less like an animal, more like an angel, etc. You can also find texts of rabbis talking about how better scholars have bigger desires in a way that sounds almost like locker room talk. Considering the masses of Jewish text produced over the millenia, you can find quite a lot of things, many of them very much culturally reflective of the context in which they were written, and it's complicated to take a single quote or era as definitive of anything.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:29 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I'm neither Jewish nor Muslim, this isn't a decision I'll have to make as a parent. The thought just wouldn't even even enter my mind, to be honest - why would it?
posted by goo at 7:33 AM on February 4, 2011


You can have my foreskin when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

You can have my cold dead hands when you pry them from my frenulum.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:43 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Infant ear piercing is a tradition among Mexican-Americans where I'm from, yes.

I wouldn't do it to my baby, nor would I ban it. Generally my position about circumcision, with an extra dose of sadness for people with sexual dysfunction or injury as a result of the procedure.

I really dislike many of the pro-circumcision arguments, though, especially "if they have to get it later, it hurts"! Well, it hurts babies too, it's just easier to ignore it or brush it off as normal. I wish our culture were kinder and gentler towards babies and small children.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:26 AM on February 4, 2011


The thing about ear piercing that is different is if the person later on does not want to have pierced ears, the holes can close up. Even years later. I've had pierced ears since I was nine --- by my choice --- and I haven't worn earrings regularly since my son was born. Two years after not wearing earrings and their starting to close a bit in the center.

Sure, there will be a tiny scar on the ears should a person allow the holes to close. But it is completely different from removing a piece of skin that cannot be replaced or regrown.

I would argue that even if parents choose to pierce their babies ears, those babies later grown up have the choice to keep the ears pierced. Babies who grow up with a circumcised penis do not have the option of having an uncircumcised penis later on.

These are different by the fact that in one case, the perceived or real damage can be somewhat undone. The other can't be.
posted by zizzle at 8:56 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really dislike many of the pro-circumcision arguments

Well, since how you feel is what dictates policy, we'll get right on that.
posted by grubi at 9:06 AM on February 4, 2011


After finally watching the first part of the video (video? there was a video?) the most interesting thing to me is that the guy's mother wrote her infant son a letter.
Son: "The circumcision, which, due to your grandmother's strong influence was hesitated for so long about, has finally taken place. We're happy about it, and we hope you won't hold it against us."

Son: My first question is: why did you express that hope?

Mother: There was probably a little voice at the back of my mind... to use that awful expression... It probably crossed my mind that there was a possibility, although I don't really remember, that you wouldn't be happy about it. For us, it was a cut and dry decision. If it's a boy, he'll be circumcised.

Son: You'd discussed it beforehand.

Mother: Of course. But not at great length. It just went without saying. Why? There's no reasonable explanation for it. I can't say: It was more hygienic. That would be nonsense. Because I knew I'd raise you in such a way that that wouldn't be an issue. There's no reason you could come up with now... The only reason was emotional. For Otto and me, it was clear. Boys are circumcised. End of story.
Although I find it a bit appalling that she admits to having "no reasonable explanation," at least she thought about it and had the backbone to be honest with her son. My parents have never whispered a word about it to me, and I've never mentioned to them that I'm unhappy about it. I'm afraid to raise the issue because I expect my mother to say, "I'm sorry, son, we didn't know any better. We didn't know it could cause a problem." The idea that they passively allowed a doctor to do this, whether out of ignorance or in the belief it was more hygienic or whatever, and then made it my responsibility to learn from books that I'd even had a surgery performed on me, is somehow more disappointing than the mother in the video. I feel a bit as though they've somehow let it be *my* fault for hurting *their* feelings if I ever do bring it up.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I didn't circumcise my (now three month old) son. I didn't have a reason not to, I just didn't have a reason TO. If there had been some medical situation that required or encouraged it, or if we belonged to a religion where it was important? Well, those are reasons. But there wasn't, and we don't, so we didn't.

Broke-Dick Syndrome (to use a flip name for a genuinely distressing and real set of circumstances) might be rare enough for some parents to choose to circumcise anyway, if they have affirmative reasons to. Certainly all the guys I've been intimate with have been super into their penises regardless of condition. But for me, with literally ZERO reasoning on the pro side, it wasn't worth it. Hell, even if BDS was completely unknown, it wouldn't have been worth finding someone to do the circ after the fact.

Equating male circumcision to FGM is kind of shitty, though. Yes, the two procedures are similar in type, but not in scope.. I'm not super thrilled with routine infant circumcision, but it's not the same thing.
posted by KathrynT at 10:53 AM on February 4, 2011


Hey, grubi, I specifically said that I don't support banning circumcision.

I do support more compassion and thoughtfulness towards babies and young children (and their parents, who deserve more support). I would be happy if that were policy, vague though it may be. If that bothers you because we disagree on a personal level about circumcision, then I don't know what to say.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:15 PM on February 4, 2011


I'm 35 weeks pregnant with a boy and have hit the stage of my life where I'm filling out "birth plans" and whatnot and answering the same six questions over and over again, one of which is "If your child is a boy, do you plan on having him circumcised?"

Nope, can't say that I am. And maybe this is a regional thing? (New England) but... it's actually kind of shocked me that the response I've gotten from my health care provider has been "Ok, GREAT!" I didn't have to defend myself. I didn't have to explain. Just "Nope, not doing it." And I'm hoping that this is just sensitivity to the parents' choice and she'd be just as happy to discuss care and such to parents who do want to circumcise their sons - because really, the enthusiasm kinda took me by surprise. Yeah, I'm glad to not have to defend myself, but I'm hoping the parents on the other side of the coin are getting the same support.
posted by sonika at 2:14 PM on February 4, 2011


Because of the amount of tissue removed.

If we were to proportionally increase the size of tissue excised in female circumcision, and remove that amount of tissue from males at circumcision, we would be talking about removing 50-100% of the penis itself.

Look, draw your own conclusions about the practice of male circumcision, but do not compare it to female circumcision because the two operations are not equitable.


I have painstakingly outlined why this is not true. I'll re-iterate:

1) Not all circumcisions are created equal. On the drastic end of things in the male case, every bit of frenular tissue is removed, leaving the glans as the sole source of sexual pleasure. On the other end of things, virtually all the frenular tissue is left. In the case of females, we have the worst case scenarios where the entire clitoris is removed (and in some cases they dig beneath to remove the "hidden" part of the clitoris) and the labia minora and majora. Infibulation (stitching closed the vaginal entrance) also occurs in some practices. In many cases, only part of the clitoris is removed. In other cases, the area is just pricked for a drop of blood.

2) It is a misconception to equate the glans clitoris with the glans penis. While they are morphologically analagous, they are not neurophysiologically. As far as we understand (and there isn't much good histological data on this as far as I have been able to find), the glans clitoris contains the highest density of nerve endings. However, in the case of the male penis, the frenular area (ridged band, frenular delta, frenulum) contains the highest concentration of nerve endings. The glans pales in comparison.

With the above two pieces of information in mind, I invite you to reconsider your statements.
posted by spacediver at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


With the above two pieces of information in mind, I invite you to reconsider your statements.

Are the frequencies of the "drastic end of things" in the male and female cases equitable? If so, can you cite these statistics?

....And if not, is it not also inaccurate to claim the operations themselves are thus equitable?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 PM on February 4, 2011


It's hard to compile precise statistics on this. What we do know is that the milder forms of male circumcision practiced in ancient judaism was replaced (I think 400 AD) with the more harmful one, and that is the style that modern practice (both for cultural and religious) has adopted. That said, many males are left with some frenular tissue - a lot of it depends on the technique, equipment, and style involved in the surgery. I'm not aware of any study that has actually looked at this and taken a sample of men and examined them.

Among the males I've spoken to, quite a few don't even know what the frenular tissue feels like. They have absolutely none left, and don't even know what a frenular orgasm (which is quite different from an orgasm derived from glans stimulation) feels like. Some have remnants of it along the scarline, and derive significant pleasure from its stimulation (either through stretching the tissue or rubbing it). The lucky ones have the entire frenulum spared. In fact, many males who get circumcised as adults specifically request that this tissue is spared.

As for the female case, there may be some better data out there - the classification schemes is type I-IV and the prevalance of each would be interesting to examine.

But my whole point is that it makes as much sense to equate female genital cutting to male genital cutting as it does to equate one male circumcision to another.

They are not homogenous practices so one cannot lump and compare.

It may actually be the case that on average, male's who are circumcised experience a greater sexual loss than women. The opposite may also well be true.

I would never make the claim that those who experienced full clitoridectomy and excision of labia and infibulation are better off than males. However, that drastic form of female genital cutting is not universal, and our moral intuitons against the practice aren't reserved for only this extreme form.

The one thing that female and male genital cutting do share in common is this:

They both involve the forcible removal of sexual tissue from human beings. This practice alone is significantly well defined to found as a basis for moral equivalence. Yes, certain forms are worse than others (both within and between the sexes), but human genital cutting on babies is not a practice that our species should be proud of.
posted by spacediver at 6:19 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just found this from the wiki:

A five-year study of 300 women and 100 men in Sudan found that "sexual desire, pleasure, and orgasm are experienced by the majority ["nearly 90%"] of women who have been subjected to this extreme sexual mutilation, in spite of their being culturally bound to hide these experiences."[34]


(this was in reference to full clitoridectomy and infibulation)
posted by spacediver at 6:23 PM on February 4, 2011


spacediver, check your memail.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 10:24 PM on February 4, 2011


... in spite of their being culturally bound to hide these experiences."

Not to go too far off topic, but this phrase made me wonder about our own 'culturally bound' inhibitions. In effect, I am surprised that more circumcised men don't talk about the difficulty of having orgasms after prolonged 'thrusting'. But, then "staying hard" is so much a part of the humor/myth of sex, that a complaint about it might be odd?

My experience (as a woman coming of age in the 'sexual revolution' of the 60's) made me very aware of sexuality. Then having a non-circumcised partner for the next decade probably also formed my expectations (multiple orgasms all the time, being one). With some of my later partners -- the circumcised ones -- I was confused by the need for the prolonged thrusting they needed in order to orgasm. I was 'faster' than them. It was uncomfortable and often disappointing. They often tried to assure me that it was just the way their body worked - it wasn't me.

Of course these men had no way to compare their experience to another way of reaching orgasm (other than masturbation?), but their partners might have. I wonder if women who have only had the experience of prolonged thrusting also think that it is the only way males can orgasm (although the topic pops up in humor often enough).

Humans are quite adept at fulfilling needs in multiple creative ways, so this I am not saying anyone is 'deficient' or 'damaged' -- just that I do believe that the circumcised penis is very different in sexual response than the non-circumcised one. I also believe everyone can adapt and most are fine. BUT ... there are some men who may be 'culturally inhibited' from even considering that they have a problem -- and so may have more difficulty finding solutions.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:17 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


For myself personally, I find the most satisfying lovemaking to that which involves a slow rhythm and buildup. I feel almost nothing from my glans during intercourse - everything I feel is from my remaining frenular remnants.

I cannot imagine sex with only a glans - the idea is horrifying to me. The orgasms I experience through frenular stimulation provide a real sense of release and lasting satisfaction, and are much more powerful compared to the glans orgasms which usually feel like a localized sneeze.

There is the possibility, however, that men who don't have any frenular tissue somehow have compensation - perhaps the remaining nerve endings in the glans innervate similar pathways - although in this case, the resolution of sexual sensation would be decidedly courser, akin to reducing the pixel count of a visual image.

That said, during foreplay, I am able to experience some sublime sensations from glans stimulation alone, although this takes a patient partner who is willing to experiment.

I'm hoping that once I achieve full erect coverage through my restoration, I'll be able to experience these sensations during sex (not to mention the inceased sensitivity of the frenular area and possible new erogenous tissue). The best sex occurs when the glans and frenular regions are stimulated in tandem. They seem to serve as mutual buffers - when the frenular tissue is close to orgasm threshold, glans stimulation buffers this effect without lowering the overall arousal profile. Restoring glans sensitivity can thus help restore this natural equilibrium.

I have a feeling that those who deny the importance of the frenulum simply do not have any tissue left (or have not spent time making careful observations of their own sexuality). Those who do have remnants left are exquisitely aware of the tissue's integral role in male sexuality.
posted by spacediver at 2:31 AM on February 5, 2011


sorry should have previewed my post:

above should read:

"For myself personally, I find the most satisfying lovemaking is that which involves a slow rhythm and buildup."
posted by spacediver at 2:32 AM on February 5, 2011


They have absolutely none left, and don't even know what a frenular orgasm (which is quite different from an orgasm derived from glans stimulation) feels like.

WTF is a frenular orgasm? If you mean an orgasm that's produced primarily by stimulation of the frenulum, as opposed to some other area of the penis, then no, there's really no discernable difference whatsoever.

And I speak as somebody who is banjo-string intactus.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 AM on February 5, 2011


When I mentioned this discussion had become reductive I wasn't making a lame pun. You can't make a direct correlation between number of nerve endings and the quality of an orgasm. In fact I'd go as far as saying that physical stimulation is unnecessary to achieving orgasm.

I mentioned earlier that people with spinal cord injuries of varying degrees of severity can achieve orgasm. The converse is also true: some people who suffer from mood disorders but are otherwise physically healthy are either unable to achieve orgasm or do not experience any pleasure from orgasm. This doesn't fit with theories that nerve endings are the primary driver of sexual stimulation. It isn't that simple.
posted by Ritchie at 4:57 AM on February 5, 2011


This doesn't fit with theories that nerve endings are the primary driver of sexual stimulation.

Theories? Is this idea seriously questioned? I take your point that an orgasm is possible without physical stimulation, but that's usually *only* possible after quite a bit of mental effort, no? It seems clear that most people, most of the time, use physical stimulation to get off because it's the easiest, most effective way to do so. It's probably your turn to produce citations if you are seriously advancing this argument.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 7:21 AM on February 5, 2011


WTF is a frenular orgasm? If you mean an orgasm that's produced primarily by stimulation of the frenulum, as opposed to some other area of the penis, then no, there's really no discernable difference whatsoever

Have you ever achieved orgasm through glans stimulation alone? I mean, fully retract your foreskin, and don't touch any part except for the glans/coronal ridge.

I've corroborated my own personal experiences with other men (both intact and circumcised), but there is certainly room for individual differences.

One thing I notice in particular is that it's much easier to edge with frenular stimulation. The sensations seem to have a longer sustained period after each stimulation (kinda like putting your foot on the pedal of a piano so you don't have to keep your finger on the note) and this allows the energy to exist in a state where it can be moulded, and surfing the edge of orgasm can be done with more skill and delicacy. I find glans stimulation to be quite different in a few ways - the sensations themselves feel different, and the sensations die off faster after each stimulation (not quite stacatto but not nearly as sustained as those arising from frenular stimulation).

It's good to get confirmation on this thread from an intact male that frenular stimulation alone can lead to orgasm.
posted by spacediver at 10:27 AM on February 5, 2011


You can't make a direct correlation between number of nerve endings and the quality of an orgasm. In fact I'd go as far as saying that physical stimulation is unnecessary to achieving orgasm.

If you like, I can reply more comprehensively later, but if you are seriously downgrading the importance of sexual tissue (as opposed to the brain) then why do we consider female genital cutting sexually harmful?
posted by spacediver at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2011


Dixon Ticonderoga It seems clear that most people, most of the time, use physical stimulation to get off because it's the easiest, most effective way to do so.

Yes, of course it is. But answer me this: who in your opinion is likely to have a 'better' orgasm? A circumcised man without foreskin or frenulum who is happy with his body and believes himself to be whole, complete. and fully-functioning? Or an uncircumcised man who frets about his perceived imperfections, and doubts his ability to fully partake in the pleasure of sex?

spacediver ... then why do we consider female genital cutting sexually harmful?

There are many reasons to oppose FGC/M. The medical reasons alone are enough to give anyone pause. e.g. danger of infection, danger of death during the procedure, increased danger of death during childbirth.

This is still a male-dominated world. The fact that male circumcision is still widely practiced and carries no stigma should tell you everything you need to know about it. Because if it were true that circumcision really did inhibit men's ability to ejaculate into or onto anything they damned well felt like, it would have been stamped out without mercy or relent thousands of years ago.
posted by Ritchie at 4:16 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But answer me this: who in your opinion is likely to have a 'better' orgasm? A circumcised man without foreskin or frenulum who is happy with his body and believes himself to be whole, complete. and fully-functioning? Or an uncircumcised man who frets about his perceived imperfections, and doubts his ability to fully partake in the pleasure of sex?

Ritchie, suppose I said the uncircumcised man? That would mean it's time for you to present your evidence showing me wrong, yes?

Look, you apparently really believe that any sexual difficulties a man has-- any difficulties at all, no matter what was done to his body, up to and including paralysis, for goodness' sake-- are all in his head. Do I understand you correctly?

Do I also understand correctly that you believe MY sexual difficulties-- despite the fact that you've never met me or examined what was done to my body-- are all in my head, as well? If so, how dare you? Trust me, sir, you have NO idea what you are talking about.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 7:10 PM on February 5, 2011


I'm arguing that circumcision is too pat an explanation for sexual difficulties. I use the example of paralysis as a way of showing that it's much more complicated. You can have an orgasm in your sleep, for crying out loud ('you' being men in general and maybe not you specifically).
posted by Ritchie at 9:39 PM on February 5, 2011


I'm arguing that circumcision is too pat an explanation for sexual difficulties.

If you're arguing it's too pat an explanation for ANY sexual difficulties, then I think you go too far.

You can have an orgasm in your sleep, for crying out loud ('you' being men in general and maybe not you specifically).

Thank you for qualifying that statement, because I specifically have never had an orgasm in my sleep. And I don't know if my circumcision is a reason for that, but I absolutely think it could be.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:53 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are many reasons to oppose FGC/M. The medical reasons alone are enough to give anyone pause. e.g. danger of infection, danger of death during the procedure, increased danger of death during childbirth.

Are you suggesting that it is fine to forcible remove sexual tissue from a female child providing that the latest in anaesthetic and surgical technology is used, and infibulation doesn't occur? So removing thousands of erogenous nerve endings is fine so long as there is no risk of infection etc?

Think carefully on this.



This is still a male-dominated world. The fact that male circumcision is still widely practiced and carries no stigma should tell you everything you need to know about it. Because if it were true that circumcision really did inhibit men's ability to ejaculate into or onto anything they damned well felt like, it would have been stamped out without mercy or relent thousands of years ago.


First off, only 25% of the male population is circumcised - it is not the norm globally. Secondly, it rarely prevents a man from being able to reach orgasm. What it most certainly does is change the quality of the sexual experience of the man, including orgasm. Thirdly, the biggest predictor of whether a girl or boy undergoes circumcision is the circumcision status of the mother and father. In other words, it has less to do with rational considerations, and more to do with propagating a norm. In order for a mother or father to leave their daughter or son intact, the parent implicitly is acknowledging that the procedure is unnecessary or even harmful. But to do this, they need to acknowledge that was was done to them was unnecessary or harmful.


Very few men and women are able or willing to acknowledge this.


I'm arguing that circumcision is too pat an explanation for sexual difficulties. I use the example of paralysis as a way of showing that it's much more complicated. You can have an orgasm in your sleep, for crying out loud ('you' being men in general and maybe not you specifically).

If a woman who had half of her clitoris removed complained that her orgasms are unsatisfactory, and that she feels as if she is sexually compromised as a direct result of having half her clitoris removed, would you then tell her that it's too pat an explanation?

There are MANY MANY men who have been circumcised as adults who regret the decision and consider it one one of the worst decisions of their lives.
posted by spacediver at 7:17 PM on February 6, 2011


here's just one example of a man describing the importance of his frenulum, and his circumcision:


"As a man who has been intact most of his life but circumcised four years ago, I can offer some comments as to sensitivity of the frenulum. It is by far the most pleasurably sensitive piece of skin on a man's body - period. Nothing else come anywhere close. As to an unpleasant ultra-sensitivity of which some comment, that is normally only evident for a short time after an intact man has retracted his foreskin and exposed his glans for the first few times. For most men that is when they are very young. The glans soon gets accustomed to being uncovered and the frenulum provides nothing but pleasure. Unfortunately circed men never experience what I would consider true sex. They often say "but it could not be any better", etc., but they are terribly wrong. The glans sensitivity is like a piece of wood as compared to the frenum. Sadly circumcision removes part or all of the exquisite sensitivity that the frenum provides. In my own case I requested that a significant part of my frenum be retained but was disappointed that within several months the saved portion became as dull as the glans itself. So if you're cut you may never know the true feelings of what nature has provided with the frenulum. Nevertheless enjoy what sensitivity you have. It is still significant and serves you well. Remember to let your son decide for himself whether or not he wants to be circumcised. It should be his choice alone."
posted by spacediver at 8:54 PM on February 6, 2011


Think carefully on this.

What I think is that you are trying to make the case against male circumcision off the back of the case against female circumcision, and I refuse to be drawn. What I think is that on this matter you pick and choose evidence based on what you believe to be true, and see only what you wish to see, and it's pointless making an honest effort to change your mind. What I think is that telling men that they should be unhappy about their bodies is thoughtless, tactless, and blinkered.
posted by Ritchie at 9:30 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ideally one shouldn't need to make the case off the back of the case against FGC. Ideally, people should immediately recognize that the forcible removal of sexual tissue from a human being is fundamentally wrong.

For very interesting cultural/psychological reasons (many of which have been addressed in this thread), people often only (correctly) recognize this act as wrong when it comes to the case of females.

They literally have a moral blind spot when it comes to the male case.

Thus, what is required is a debugging of these intuitions.

What I have repeatedly tried to do is to show that if we examine the set of conditions that are minimally sufficient to render female genital cutting abhorrent, they map on perfectly onto male genital cutting. Therefore, we should find male genital cutting abhorrent.

Your "refusal to be drawn" is obvious, but you have not yet successfully justified it. I am not telling men that they should be unhappy about their bodies. I'm telling people that circumcision often removes significant quantities of sexually valuable tissue.

If you think that you should be unhappy about this fact, then that is your decision.
posted by spacediver at 10:10 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and just found this study from 2009, where intact men rated various parts of their penis for sexual pleasure.

Frenular area was the most pleasurable spot.
posted by spacediver at 12:48 AM on February 7, 2011


I am not telling men that they should be unhappy about their bodies. I'm telling people that circumcision often removes significant quantities of sexually valuable tissue.

HOW often? And HOW significant are those quantities? Do you have a square-centimeter measurement?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:59 AM on February 7, 2011


Significance is not measured in square centimetres. The P-value is what's important.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:10 AM on February 7, 2011


HOW often? And HOW significant are those quantities? Do you have a square-centimeter measurement?

If you just want to consider surface area, the most common figure I've seen is that roughly 50% of the total surface area of an uncircumcised penis is removed. You can work out for yourself what that would be in square centimeters for a hypothetical penis of any given size. As for how often, that would appear to be a typical result, as in, possibly a majority of all circumcisions.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 5:47 AM on February 7, 2011


I am not telling men that they should be unhappy about their bodies. I'm telling people that circumcision often removes significant quantities of sexually valuable tissue.

Frankly, I think some men may be relieved to read this.

As I noted earlier, I have known (a number of) circumcised men who DO have difficulty achieving orgasm via intercourse. It is tragic that most of the *medical* information online regarding 'delayed/retarded ejaculation seems to blame the men themselves for this problem. There are numerous sites that explain away the problem as psychological -- even a *personality disorder*! How can that make an otherwise healthy man feel?!

These men deserve better medical answers - they should not have to feel like freaks for something that may very well be a physiological problem due to a surgical error (one that could have been avoided).
posted by Surfurrus at 6:15 AM on February 7, 2011


Reading this thread makes me suspect my extremely delayed ejaculations are in some small part due to circumcision. I'm pretty sure it hasn't impacted my quality of life too much, but I wouldn't choose it for my children if I had any.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:30 AM on February 7, 2011


have you considered foreskin restoration?
posted by spacediver at 9:35 AM on February 7, 2011


for what it's worth, the anecdotal evidence suggests that circumcision can cause both premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation, depending on the style of circumcision.

At this point, things become extremely speculative, but one idea is that those who are left with no frenular tissue seem to exhibit the following problem:

"If I don't achieve orgasm within the first few minutes of intercourse, it takes forever"

those who are left with enough frenular tissue to achieve orgasm through frenular stimulation but not enough tissue to allow a bigger amount of energy to be built up may find themselves ejaculating too fast (also the reduced glans sensitivity means less buffering of the frenular build up - see my earlier post on buffering).

Of course, there are many many other factors at play, but the sexual hardware is an important one.
posted by spacediver at 10:10 AM on February 7, 2011


have you considered foreskin restoration?

No.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:24 AM on February 7, 2011


Why not? Give them a good French polish & they normally come up well.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2011


for what it's worth, the anecdotal evidence suggests that circumcision can cause both premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation, depending on the style of circumcision.

Emphasis mine.

You can find anecdotal evidence for anything. That's what people in here are saying - that they are skeptical of the anecdotal evidence you're referring to because their own personal anecdotal evidence is different.

I don't think anyone in here is denying that there are individuals who have been adversely affected by the practice. The reason why I am arguing is because it looks like you are saying that "because I have found anecdotal evidence that Sid over there lost sensation because of his circumcision, you should feel cheated that you did too. Just ignore the fact that you're perfectly fine with your current level of sexual response right now."

It comes a little too close to sounding like "disregard your own opinions and feelings on the issue and confine yourself solely to using my own evidence." And since I don't like it when some women try to do that to me regarding personal issues like body hair (I once had someone tell me that the reason I preferred to shave my legs was because I had been brainwashed by the patriarchy, as opposed to it being my own personal sense of aesthetics), I would imagine men also don't like being told that they should disregard their own personal anecdotal evidence when it comes to deciding on a given matter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


And to circumvent what I fear may be a comment -- no, I'm not comparing circumcision to leg-shaving. I am aware they are two different issues. I only used the analogy because it is, fortunately, the only choice I have made over which someone chose to lay a certain flavor of Feminist Theory on me, and thus it is the only anecdote I have about this particular type of "forget your own experience, look at my evidence" arguments.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:28 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was responding to posters here who are complaining of delayed ejaculation. I wanted to add the idea that circumcision doesn't always have to delay ejaculation.
posted by spacediver at 8:12 PM on February 7, 2011


...So....it sounds like sometimes circumcision doesn't affect sexual response at all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:22 AM on February 8, 2011


Read my posts in this thread. The issue you raise in your latest post has been addressed in great depth. In a nutshell, not all circumcisions are created equal. In both females and males, the sexual damage largely depends on the quality and quantity of tissue removed.
posted by spacediver at 3:00 AM on February 8, 2011


If they're removing tissue from the nutshell, they're doing it wrong.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:22 AM on February 8, 2011


The issue you raise in your latest post has been addressed in great depth. In a nutshell, not all circumcisions are created equal. In both females and males, the sexual damage largely depends on the quality and quantity of tissue removed.

So sometimes there is a sufficiently small quantity of tissue removed that sexual response is not affected. Or -- in other words -- "sometimes circumcision doesn't affect sexual response at all."

....That's what I said.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on February 8, 2011


There is the issue of the gradual loss of sensitivity due to keratinization and exposure of the tissue, even if all the sexually sensitive tissue is spared.

There's also the loss of the mechanical sliding function.

Finally, in all but the loosest of circumcisions, the meissner corpuscles (the sexual nerve endings in the frenular tissue) are stretched during erection which habituates them and renders them less sensitive to stimulation.

All the above points are completely reversible during standard foreskin restoration.

Restoration of erogenous tissue may also be possible through, though this requires targeted stretching of the inner skin.

See this thread for discussion
posted by spacediver at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2011


How am I supposed to live now?
I hate to be the one to rub salt in the wound but there is something else that you are undoubtedly not aware of.
We all know the camaraderie of standing side by side with our brothers (and some adept sisters) and pointing percy at the porcelain to try and dissolve the deodorant block or writing our name in the snow etc., an act that requires a great deal of attention to aim.
We can also all sit down and relieve ourselves of the necessity to worry about sprinkling our boots and surrounding floor space.
BUT, in common with our female brethren, men that still retain their prepuce have no need to draw it back and forgo the unadulterated joyful sensation of warm urine jetting its way from the meatus and cascading through the wrinkles and folds of the foreskin to gently dribble away, and if we're really lucky and the stream has the correct pressure and the skin has shaped itself just so, also replicate the tinkling, whispering, burble that our gentlewomen invariably produce.
posted by unliteral at 4:00 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spacediver, I'm sorry you feel personally disappointed with your lot. I would not dare to go so far as to say whether or not you have cause to -- it is clearly making you unhappy, which is good enough for me.

But when it comes to joining your crusade to convince others that they should ALSO be unhappy with their lot, I'm afraid I can't get behind that, because I've spoken to too many other men whose opinion boils down to, "actually, I'm doing pretty damn awesome with that, thanks." So I leave you to it, and hope you can find resolution for your own self someday.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empress - my posts here are less about how I feel, but more about the biological facts of the matter.

It is a fact that male circumcision often removes valuable sexual tissue from the male genitals, just as it is a fact that female circumcision often removes valuable sexual tissue from the female genitals.

It is also a fact that the overwhelming majority of circumcised females do not consider it a harmful practice, and do not consider themselves victims.

My point is a moral one. It is wrong to forcibly remove sexual tissue from a human being, male or female.

That's it - that's all I'm saying.

Not once here have I told anyone they should feel terrible about their genitals. I've just been making a case that the tissue in question is sexually valuable.
posted by spacediver at 12:36 PM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's interesting to me that all of the studies on this seem to be about orgasmic function, and ignore some of the mechanics of sex. Does foreskin removal change the way men have sex?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:41 PM on February 13, 2011


I had heard a lot about this thread, but I hadn't read it until now. I had no idea about the frenulum also being removed. There's a lot of ways to chop up a penis. Australian Aborigines have a form of tribal-penis-modification that involves cutting the skin on the bottom, lengthwise, opening up the ___________ (whatever it's called) the length of the penis.
posted by fuq at 3:36 PM on February 13, 2011


To EmpressCallipygos and John Cohen, I'm curious what you would say to someone who does have a problem with sensitivity? It happens that I've never had an orgasm from intercourse, and I do think my circumcision has something to do with it-- I don't think it would be considered botched or anything, but it was definitely, um, thorough. So, yes, I can have sex for literally hours, but some of my partners have been disappointed that it just wasn't going to happen for me that way.

I know I'm ridiculously late responding to this, but since my name was mentioned, I'll go ahead and respond anyway. If you're literally asking what I "would say" to someone with a problem with sensitivity, well, I wouldn't say much of anything, since I'm not a doctor and don't have a valid opinion. I'm sorry you're dissatisfied with your level of sensitivity, and I wasn't saying that male circumcision never causes anyone any problems.

When I make a comment on this site that might seem like I'm taking a strong stand on an issue (e.g. pro-circumcision), I'm often not really doing that. I'm just trying to add to the discussion somehow. I'll post a comment if, and only if, I feel that I have something to add.

For instance, if the question is what percentage of circumcised men experience sexual problems as a result, I won't express about that, because I'm not qualified to do so. But if I see an anti-circumcision argument (from a link or a Mefite) about how circumcision leads to reduced sensitivity, I'm going to critique that argument, because I've noticed that some people hear it and simply think, "Oh, reduced sensitivity — that's bad!" Look, I don't even know whether circumcision causes reduced sensitivity at all. Though I'm male, I can't find out the answer first-hand, since I have no basis for comparison. I just wanted to say: hey, let's stop and think about whether reducing "sensitivity" is necessarily a bad thing. Again, I'm sorry to hear that you wish you had heightened sensitivity. But many men have very often wished they had less sensitivity than they had. You yourself point out an advantage of that: you can have sex for hours on end. Many people would consider yours to be a pretty good problem to have. To be clear, though, I'm not strongly for or against circumcision. I'm just strongly in favor of critical thinking.
posted by John Cohen at 4:09 PM on February 13, 2011


It's interesting to me that all of the studies on this seem to be about orgasmic function, and ignore some of the mechanics of sex. Does foreskin removal change the way men have sex?

Absolutely. The gliding action of the foreskin over the glans provides a completely unique dynamic, although the degree to which this occurs depends on the particular penis in question, the snugness of the vagina in question, and the style of intercourse.

But having the prepuce bunch up and roll over the glans allows the frenular tissue to be gradually stimulated through the stretching and unstretching of the tissue, while also bringing the coronal ridge and glans into play. This feels rather different than having the area rubbed directly.

hey, let's stop and think about whether reducing "sensitivity" is necessarily a bad thing. Again, I'm sorry to hear that you wish you had heightened sensitivity.

The reduced sensitivity argument is a bit of a red herring. It's the richness and quality of sensation that is compromised due to thousands of missing nerve endings, not the reduced sensitivity of the already remaining tissue that is most disturbing.

That said, as someone who has recently regained significant amounts of sensitivity due to wearing a restoration cone, I can personally vouch for the dramatic impact that simply restoring sensitivity has already had on my sex life. It actually provides for a qualitatively different experience.
posted by spacediver at 7:24 PM on February 13, 2011


To be clear, though, I'm not strongly for or against circumcision. I'm just strongly in favor of critical thinking.

I'm all in favor of critical thinking, too.

And in the spirit of critical thinking, I notice you argued earlier that the first-hand experiences of circumcised men should serve to dismiss the argument that it reduces sensitivity, while you now argue that your own first-hand experience being circumcised is not reliable evidence, since you have no basis for comparison.

Do you see the contradiction here?

I think the confusion might be that when circumcised men in this thread say they are “plenty sensitive,” we don’t know how sensitive that is-- all we really know is that they’re able to stimulate themselves to orgasm. But this in no way refutes the argument that circumcised men have reduced sensitivity. To do that, we would have to look at the amount and intensity of stimulation these men require, compared to uncircumcised men. This would be an easy thing to do if we weren’t so squeamish about it! Instead of pointing to the lack of conclusive research, penis owners could do their own investigations-- again, if we weren’t so squeamish.

And it’s an odd argument that first-hand experience with and without a foreskin is our only way of settling the question. For example, we have hearing tests that can tell us precisely how one’s ears function compared to other people’s-- we don’t throw up our hands and say that only someone who’s experienced both good and bad hearing can know for sure if there’s a difference. But I think hearing is a sense we use all the time around other people so it’s easy to talk about and compare, while penises only get used in private, so most men are ignorant about any other than their own. (Has it occurred to you that most women have played with more penises than a typical man has? Of the women in this thread who’ve experienced both kinds of penises, almost all of them seem to say uncircumcised is more sensitive.)

Someone with 50% hearing loss might be “sensitive” enough to enjoy music, even if they need to turn the volume up to a level that would hurt most people’s ears. And maybe they’re perfectly happy with that. But saying I have an advantage because I can have sex for hours (which I don’t consider an advantage unless I can also choose to finish quickly), is a bit like saying that being half-deaf is an advantage because you don’t need earplugs at a rock concert. I believe that circumcised men generally need “louder” stimulation to feel what an uncircumcised man feels. And perhaps circumcised men are usually happy with their functioning because they can make that stimulation “loud” enough by thrusting more vigorously or what have you. But to continue the hearing metaphor, if one loses so much sensitivity that he struggles to enjoy ordinary conversation, I consider that to be a great loss.

I find it interesting that among those who acknowledge in this thread that at least some men have difficulties, no one has yet suggested it would be a good idea to see if circumcisions can be made less likely to cause problems.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


btw, for anyone who wants to quickly regain sensitivity in their glans and remaining tissue, try out manhood (both this and link below are NSFW). You should notice a rapid change in sensitivity after a few days of wearing this.

If you have enough loose skin, you can achieve the same effect with a your skin cone.

I've been using the skin cone for a week or two now with dramatic results. I'm gonna order a manhood to use during sports and biking as the skin cone isn't secure enough for that sort of activity.
posted by spacediver at 10:36 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I could never let my wife see the Manhood. I'm sure it's effective at increasing sensitivity, but it looks like part one of a penis costume to dress one's genitalia up to look like an executioner (part two being tiny fake arms and a 4" tall axe). Sorry, not trying to increase the self consciousness of those using it. I'm glad it's working out for you, and I wonder if silk boxers alone would increase sensitivity a bit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:21 PM on February 15, 2011


I've just ordered my manhood (hehe love the sound of that phrase). I don't know why you wouldn't feel comfortable letting your wife see it. My girlfriend fully supports my restoration efforts and has no problem seeing my restoration cone (which is rather unsightly compared to the manhood).

Besides, the only time she'd see it is when it's meant to be off, right?
posted by spacediver at 4:15 PM on February 15, 2011


Oh, she'd be fine with it, but we'd both be giggling for hours.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:21 PM on February 15, 2011


« Older Watch the 93 minute documentary on the making of T...   |   A gang fight takes an unexpect... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments