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A Whole New Meaning to 'Forefathers.'
August 25, 2009 5:58 PM   Subscribe


 
Circumcision, health care coverage, and Birthers in one post. Seriously? Have you no shame sir?
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:03 PM on August 25, 2009 [38 favorites]


One of these days, some alert citizen is going to stand up in a public photo op with the President, flashes popping everywhere, and demand to see his penis.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:04 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or we could just teach our boys to use condoms...
posted by sunshinesky at 6:04 PM on August 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


Here's something, among sexually active males, castration reduces sexually-transmitted HIV transmission by 100%. Let's just lop 'em all off.
posted by mistersquid at 6:04 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or we could just teach our boys to use condoms...

Didn't you hear? Condoms actually SPREAD AIDS in Africa according to the Pope
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:06 PM on August 25, 2009


Safe sexual practices and good sex education prevent HIV and STDs, not circumcision.
posted by too bad you're not me at 6:07 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Safe sexual practices and good sex education prevent HIV and STDs, not circumcision.

I'm pretty sure there's no rule that if one thing helps prevent AIDS than others automatically do not.
posted by kylej at 6:10 PM on August 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


Obviously they should be declawed.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:10 PM on August 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


Rush Limbaugh apparently weighed in on the subject today. It's such a weird story that Alternet felt the need to put up a disclaimer above their blog post coverage: "All the things mentioned in this blog post really happened. Seriously. They really did."
posted by zarq at 6:12 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama's citizenship can be proven by his penis.

My skull literally exploded with the possibilities for humorous rejoinders to this, and now all we're left with is a shower of steamy wonderchicken brains. I hope you're happy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:13 PM on August 25, 2009


Here's something, among sexually active males, castration reduces sexually-transmitted HIV transmission by 100%. Let's just lop 'em all off.

Oh, hell no. You can have my penis when you pry it from my....

OK, that just sounds WRONG.
posted by zarq at 6:14 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


...it appears that there is a modicum of the so-called 'Birthers' who believe Obama's citizenship can be proven by his penis.

Obama's press secretary says there is already a great deal of circumspection in the White House on this matter.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:15 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


From zarq's link: Seriously, Limbaugh basically tries to stir up listener concern that Obama will cut off their dicks.

I am truly living in the greatest period of human history.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:15 PM on August 25, 2009 [15 favorites]


Basically, the birthers all want to see Obama's cock.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:15 PM on August 25, 2009


I wonder what Glenn Beck has to say about all of this?
posted by blucevalo at 6:16 PM on August 25, 2009


Typical conservative quasi-racist mindset -- always thinking about the black man's penis.

It's a joke. Back off with your lighter fluid and matches.
posted by hippybear at 6:17 PM on August 25, 2009


It's true. Obama says he's got lots of great new ideas, but all I'm wondering is, "where's the beef?"
posted by notswedish at 6:17 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama's citizenship can be proven by his penis.

Apparently bent a little to the left. From the vantage point of the right, it looks a dowsing rod towards socialism.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]



I'm pretty sure there's no rule that if one thing helps prevent AIDS than others automatically do not.


It's pretty clear that using condoms, not sharing needles, etc prevents the spread of HIV/AIDS. The studies linked in these articles seem dicey at best; there doesn't seem to be strong evidence that circumcision actually prevents the spread of HIV.
posted by too bad you're not me at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2009


The worst part is Obama's penis is going to lead the death panel!
posted by orme at 6:19 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nice effort, but would have killed you to work in some papercraft Pepsi merchandise?
posted by Benjy at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of these days, some alert citizen is going to stand up in a public photo op with the President, flashes popping everywhere, and demand to see his penis.

"Excuse me while I whip this out."
posted by zarq at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm getting my signals crossed, but if we're advocating cutting off Obama's dick, his new slogan will be: Sex change we can believe in.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 6:23 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


...it appears that there is a modicum of the so-called 'Birthers' who believe Obama's citizenship can be proven by his penis.

Because he can write his country's national anthem in a snowbank?
posted by orange swan at 6:23 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure there's no rule that if one thing helps prevent AIDS than others automatically do not.

It's pretty clear that using condoms, not sharing needles, etc prevents the spread of HIV/AIDS. The studies linked in these articles seem dicey at best; there doesn't seem to be strong evidence that circumcision actually prevents the spread of HIV.


I'm just saying that it's not prudent to discount something completely just because the findings aren't completely verified yet.

And the CDC thinks that there is some benefit to it, and they (probably) have more knowledge than you in the matter.

I don't think we can afford to discount any findings that may be affective in preventing AIDS.
posted by kylej at 6:24 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bill Hicks is going off in my head: "I NEED to SEE the PENIS!!!! *BLAM*"
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:25 PM on August 25, 2009


Republicans are really, really interested in Democratic Presidential penii.
posted by DU at 6:25 PM on August 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


I don't think we can afford to discount any findings that may be affective in preventing AIDS.

Truth.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:26 PM on August 25, 2009


Can Republicans be declawed?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:26 PM on August 25, 2009


It's a joke. Back off with your lighter fluid and matches.

Somehow I read this as "Back off with your lighter fluid and mustache" and got even more confused.
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:26 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm just saying that it's not prudent to discount something completely just because the findings aren't completely verified yet."
Arguably, it is - if the findings aren't completely verified we can still make a reasonable guess about the range of effectiveness that circumcision might fall under, and we can weigh the best of those against the relative severity of intervention of condoms and cost and effectiveness and throw the idea out because it just won't come remotely close enough to bother spending more money determining the effectiveness of circumcision to greater precision.
The prudent decision would then definitely be to reach a conclusion sooner rather than later.
posted by edd at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Considering the whole "existence of condoms," thing, painful mutilation of an infant's genitals seems like a strange direction to go with public health measures. I also find it interesting that the article mentions American Academy of Pediatrics is considering adopting language like "circumcision has health benefits even beyond H.I.V. prevention, like reducing urinary tract infections for baby boys". A cursory google of the relevant terms turned up this discussion of UTIs and circumcision. An organization whose stated purpose is to combat circumcision is, of course, biased, but they link to real studies that cast real doubt on the whole UTI thing.

The other funny thing is that the study by the CDC is explicitly about straight men, and not only that, but straight men in Africa. Why do the conclusions which may be true about a population which very often does not have access to condoms be used to advocate for, again, painful genital mutilation in the States?
posted by kavasa at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Excuse me while I whip this out."

Best State of the Union Address ever.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2009 [10 favorites]


"I'm just saying that it's not prudent to discount something completely just because the findings aren't completely verified yet."
Arguably, it is - if the findings aren't completely verified we can still make a reasonable guess about the range of effectiveness that circumcision might fall under, and we can weigh the best of those against the relative severity of intervention of condoms and cost and effectiveness and throw the idea out because it just won't come remotely close enough to bother spending more money determining the effectiveness of circumcision to greater precision.
The prudent decision would then definitely be to reach a conclusion sooner rather than later.


And obviously the CDC thinks that there is something worth being pursued in researching the effect of circumcision on the prevention of AIDS. Unless you have additional knowledge that you're not sharing with us (and if you do, please share) I think the prudent (Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense) is to research further.
posted by kylej at 6:36 PM on August 25, 2009


The thrust of this FPP is in the last link.
posted by nosila at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2009


posted by Countess Elena One of these days, some alert citizen is going to stand up in a public photo op with the President, flashes popping everywhere, and demand to see his penis.

Ah yes. The Girthers.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2009 [44 favorites]


....but they link to real studies that cast real doubt on the whole UTI thing.

The vast majority of studies conducted in this area over the past 30 years have indicated that uncircumcised males have an increased risk of urinary tract infections. Study after study have concluded that circumcision decreases the risk of symptomatic UTI's and the protective effect is independent of age. Studies have even shown that the protective effect of circumcision is independent of the protective effect given by breastfeeding

Personally, I don't think that the health benefit justifies promoting circumcision. That seems to me like a pretty drastic step to take for a minor benefit. But then, I'm not a doctor.
posted by zarq at 6:44 PM on August 25, 2009


It was two years before the wingnuts were obsessed with Clinton's penis, and 7 months before they started to talk about Obama's.
Whoever the next liberal President is, I feel like the Republican talking points on inauguration day are going to begin with, "Well, his penis..."
posted by god hates math at 6:44 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm talking more hypothetically, to point out that the logic that research is incomplete means that conclusions cannot be drawn is not correct. If the situation doesn't match that and more research is needed to determine the best course of action then obviously that doesn't apply.
posted by edd at 6:45 PM on August 25, 2009


I have to say though that this was badly worded - my italics:
“We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”
posted by edd at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2009


I'm talking more hypothetically, to point out that the logic that research is incomplete means that conclusions cannot be drawn is not correct. If the situation doesn't match that and more research is needed to determine the best course of action then obviously that doesn't apply.

But in this case, it does. If we agree on that then that's great =].
posted by kylej at 6:47 PM on August 25, 2009


Let's face it. We all wanna see Obama's penis.

Everybody want's a peek at the First Unit. Statistically, a healthy percentage have already seen Clinton's. And Dubya's? Well he would have to take it out of collective ass's long enough for us to get a look at it.
posted by tkchrist at 6:53 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clearly, only democratic presidents have penises anyone wants to think about, let alone see. Does anyone want to see Bush's dick? Hell no. And certainly no one wants to see his dad's dick. Someone ought to do a horror movie about it -- look what that thing made.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:56 PM on August 25, 2009


And the CDC thinks that there is some benefit to it, and they (probably) have more knowledge than you in the matter.

Except, of course, that this might be a matter where there are some ethical considerations that should be made, which the CDC might not be making. If circumcision helps that much? That's great; when you're old enough to consent to this sort of thing, you can be encouraged to get circumcised and do your part to reduce HIV transmission rates. But... you know, few children are out there having sex and passing along HIV; if the only reason this scheme works is because it's performed on a population who can't defend themselves, and who won't see the benefit for well over a decade, then... that seems a bit iffy! Especially when there are other, less drastic measures that could be done, and especially when it would mostly affect non-white populations.
posted by Casuistry at 6:57 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This CDC is part of the same federal govt that won't fund needle exchanges -- an HIV prevention intervention with far more evidence of effectiveness -- right?
posted by docgonzo at 6:57 PM on August 25, 2009 [9 favorites]


The American Association of Pediatricians: “not essential to the child’s current well-being,”

The majority of news commentary linked seems to be conflating that with "not all that helpful". For something to be essential, it has to be saving hundreds of thousands of lives (a wild-assed guess, here) or at least drastically improving the survival rate of the child. Circumcision doesn't do that, but the evidence is starting to show that it has a non-negligible effect [on male infection within heterosexual relations sans condom].

It might be that the recommendation changes to 'helpful, but not necessary'. Which is fine. Or 'helpful, but not cost-efficient for the government compared to subsidizing condoms / education'. Which again is fine. But it's not that it's not useful.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:59 PM on August 25, 2009


He [Dr. Kilmarx] and other experts acknowledged that although the clinical trials of circumcision in Africa had dramatic results, the effects of circumcision in the United States were likely to be more muted because the disease is less prevalent here, because it spreads through different routes and because the health systems are so disparate as to be incomparable.
...
Another reason circumcision would have less of an impact in the United States is that some 79 percent of adult American men are already circumcised, public health officials say.


from the article posted here and other articles i've read in the last couple of days, it doesn't look like the CDC actually knows anything new. of course, we can't know that because they haven't released their report yet. this smacks of sensationalist reporting on the part of the media and almost baseless fear mongering from the CDC.

stop chopping of parts of your baby's body just because you don't want to teach him how to properly clean himself.
posted by nadawi at 7:00 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


the evidence is starting to show that it has a non-negligible effect [on male infection within heterosexual relations sans condom in africa]

unless i missed something, we haven't found that to be true in the US. unless the 21% of uncircumcised straight guys in the US have a far higher rate of HIV/AIDS, there is nothing to see here.
posted by nadawi at 7:02 PM on August 25, 2009


docgonzo, to give them their due, the CDC seems to be claiming[pdf] that needle exchanges are good things to have.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:03 PM on August 25, 2009


Except, of course, that this might be a matter where there are some ethical considerations that should be made, which the CDC might not be making. If circumcision helps that much? That's great; when you're old enough to consent to this sort of thing, you can be encouraged to get circumcised and do your part to reduce HIV transmission rates. But... you know, few children are out there having sex and passing along HIV; if the only reason this scheme works is because it's performed on a population who can't defend themselves, and who won't see the benefit for well over a decade, then... that seems a bit iffy! Especially when there are other, less drastic measures that could be done, and especially when it would mostly affect non-white populations.

The CDC is thinking about recommending it, not forcing it on the general public. What do you recommend they do instead? Ignore information that could save lives because some people find it distasteful? The CDC is just trying to stop the spread of a disease which is there job. It's up to you to decide what to do with the information.
posted by kylej at 7:04 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


No there doesn't seem to be a study showing that true in the States. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a study going against it, there doesn't seem to be a reason it wouldn't hold in the States as well [barring the fact that it's more prevalent in male-male sex here, which is not guaranteed to always be the case], and people from the U.S. do in fact travel to Africa from time to time.

Y'know, pilgrimages to the President's birthplace and all that.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:06 PM on August 25, 2009


It would be great if someone could explain to me why these findings wouldn't hold true in America? I don't think there's a huge difference between African and American sex but please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by kylej at 7:11 PM on August 25, 2009


again, if the CDC can show that the heterosexual part of the 21% of uncircumcised males have a higher rate of HIV/AIDS in the US than i'm on board. but the doctor in charge of this whole thing admits "the disease is less prevalent here, because it spreads through different routes and because the health systems are so disparate as to be incomparable."

comparing medical findings from Africa and the US, especially as it relates to infectious diseases, is not comparing apples to apples. the CDC admits this.
posted by nadawi at 7:13 PM on August 25, 2009


Cutting off the whole thing would cause AIDS rates to plummet.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:15 PM on August 25, 2009


Considering the whole "existence of condoms," thing, painful mutilation of an infant's genitals seems like a strange direction to go with public health measures.

That's true, but, fortunately, we are not discussing mutilation, which is a loaded but otherwise meaningless phrase here, designed to superimpose a sense of moral outrage and push the discussion away from a neutral, civil tone. Instead, we are talking about circumcision, which is a medical procedure that a significant portion of the population finds culturally and/or aesthetically preferable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:18 PM on August 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


kylej - it's not the sex, it's the health systems, the levels of hygiene, and access to safe water that is different.
posted by nadawi at 7:18 PM on August 25, 2009


One exception is the practice of "dry sex" in Africa.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:22 PM on August 25, 2009


We all wanna see Obama's penis.

No, I'm good, thanks anyway.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:23 PM on August 25, 2009


...unless i missed something, we haven't found that to be true in the US. unless the 21% of uncircumcised straight guys in the US

Yes, well for one thing, not everyone who is uncircumcised is straight. That 21% refers to every uncircumcised male in the US.

...have a far higher rate of HIV/AIDS, there is nothing to see here.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there are many risk factors for AIDS and it is folly to definitively dismiss one factor based on such a simplistic assumption.

While the majority of studies have been conducted on the subject in Africa, some have been done in other countries, including the US, India, the UK and Australia. The CDC is concentrating on the newest studies, despite their geographic limitations, because they examined a very large population sample.
'...there is now compelling epidemiological evidence from over 40 studies which shows that male circumcision provides significant protection against HIV infection; circumcised males are two to eight times less likely to become infected with HIV.'

That said, there have also been a number of smaller studies conducted whose results conflict with that assessment:
Based on the studies published to date, recommending routine circumcision as a prophylactic measure to prevent HIV infection in Africa, or elsewhere, is scientifically unfounded.
I think it's probably unlikely that a CDC suggestion would have much of an impact on the number of circumcisions performed in this country.
posted by zarq at 7:25 PM on August 25, 2009


If evidence showed that female circumcision reduced HIV/AIDS infection by a statistically significant amount, would anyone here find the practice acceptable, or at least less abhorrent? If the answer is no, how is male circumcision different (to you)?
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 7:28 PM on August 25, 2009


If evidence showed that female circumcision reduced HIV/AIDS infection by a statistically significant amount, would anyone here find the practice acceptable, or at least less abhorrent? If the answer is no, how is male circumcision different (to you)?

Are you crazy? Male circumcision doesn't cut off the penis and leave a little stump.
posted by geoff. at 7:30 PM on August 25, 2009


Because circumcision and clitorectomy, despite having similar names, are extraordinarily different, and I expect you already know that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2009


There's a range of female circumcision practices.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2009


Then please be more specific in asking your question. Otherwise, it seems that you are trying to compare male circumcision with the very worst thing you can.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:32 PM on August 25, 2009


kylej - it's not the sex, it's the health systems, the levels of hygiene, and access to safe water that is different.

Sorry to be nit picky, but could you provide a citation to how that effects AIDS levels?
posted by kylej at 7:42 PM on August 25, 2009


Hey, guess which continent has the highest percentage of circumcised males?

Hint: It also has the highest prevalence of HIV.

Did you guess Africa? Good for you!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:45 PM on August 25, 2009


I also guessed that correlation does not imply causation. Is that good for me as well?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:47 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


If evidence showed that female circumcision reduced HIV/AIDS infection by a statistically significant amount, would anyone here find the practice acceptable, or at least less abhorrent? If the answer is no, how is male circumcision different (to you)?

Male and female circumcision are not comparable. To make male circumcision comparable, you'd have to sever part or all of the glans of the penis, not the foreskin.
posted by fatbird at 7:50 PM on August 25, 2009


I also guessed that correlation does not imply causation. Is that good for me as well?

I guess so.

Still, read this.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:57 PM on August 25, 2009


Hey, I'm not telling anybody to circumcise their babies, medical benefits or no. I just rankle when people get in on these discussions early to declare the practice child abuse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:01 PM on August 25, 2009


Teach boys to use condoms. Teach girls to demand that boys use condoms, or use female condoms. Don't mutilate children--yes, removing a perfectly healthy part of the body for some nebulous possible health benefit 20-30 years down the road is mutilation. Christ.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:03 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Teach boys to use condoms. Teach girls to demand that boys use condoms, or use female condoms. Don't mutilate children--yes, removing a perfectly healthy part of the body for some nebulous possible health benefit 20-30 years down the road is mutilation. Christ.

Jesus was circumcised.
posted by kylej at 8:05 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't mutilate children--yes, removing a perfectly healthy part of the body for some nebulous possible health benefit 20-30 years down the road is mutilation. Christ.

So did my parents mutilate me by having my teeth removed when I was 10? The point was to make room for braces, which served no medical function, but only an aesthetic one. Trust me as somebody who has been both circumcised and had braces -- the braces took longer, hurt more, and came with greater risks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:08 PM on August 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sorry to be nit picky, but could you provide a citation to how that effects AIDS levels?

the evidence seems to be in medical journals that i don't have access to. maybe another mefite can gain access to the studies of Nigel O'Farrell and King K. Holmes as it relates to pre and post sex penile washing. basically, it is thought by some that in the more poverty stricken areas where daily showers/baths aren't a possibility and males don't wash up before and after sex has to be considered when looking at HIV/AIDS transmission in africa.
posted by nadawi at 8:09 PM on August 25, 2009


posted by kylej Jesus was circumcised.

"Father, why hast thou foreskinned me?"
posted by mattdidthat at 8:10 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should mention that it wasn't all my teeth, in case that wasn't self evident, but it was 10 baby teeth and four adult ones of a period of quite a few years.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:10 PM on August 25, 2009


kylej - why are you so adamant about advocating mutilating male infants?

Didn't your dad show you how to roll back your foreskin and wash it off, and thus, prevent urinary tract infections? You wipe your anus after you defecate and wash between the butt cracks when you shower, right?

Is the whole "sex education" thing in the United States so bad that not only does it notteach about contraception but also fails to teach you how to keep your genitals clean much less what it should look/feel like when it's proper health?
posted by porpoise at 8:11 PM on August 25, 2009


kylej - why are you so adamant about advocating mutilating male infants?

Why are you so adamant about using the term "mutilated." I can only assume that because you choose to use so loaded a phrase, you are no arguing in good faith, but instead are here to chastise those who disagree with you. Since that is the case, why should anybody be accountable to you when you demand answers from them?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


astro zombie: baby teeth come out on their own anyway, and removing a few adult teeth does not change the function of your mouth nor your ability to chew food. removing the foreskin absolutely changes the natural function of the penis.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie (damn non-preview): because slicing off a perfectly healthy body part is mutilation.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by dirtynumbangelboy removing the foreskin absolutely changes the natural function of the penis.

Cite, please?
posted by mattdidthat at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2009


and removing a few adult teeth does not change the function of your mouth nor your ability to chew food

Braces dramatically changed the way my mouth worked, and greatly increased my risk of gum disease, at it made flossing extraordinarily different. Have you had braces, because you seem to be speaking as somebody who has no experience with them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus was circumcised.

Read up on your Paul, yo.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2009


Astro Zombie (damn non-preview): because slicing off a perfectly healthy body part is mutilation.

I say it isn't, in this instance. Who are you to insist you're right?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:15 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cite, please?


No stupid disingenuous questions, please?

Braces dramatically changed the way my mouth worked, and greatly increased my risk of gum disease, at it made flossing extraordinarily different.

Temporarily.

Have you had braces, because you seem to be speaking as somebody who has no experience with them.

My sister did, had to listen to her bitch and moan for 2+ years.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:16 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Read up on your Paul, yo.

I've read Paul, and don't recall him saying that Jesus was uncircumsized, but, rather, than from the time of his writing, circumcision was no loner a religious obligation thanks to a nebulous concept of being "circumcised in your heart." Can you point out where he says otherwise?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:17 PM on August 25, 2009


I say it isn't, in this instance. Who are you to insist you're right?

Someone who's right. Could you maybe give a definition of mutilation that doesn't include slicing off perfectly healthy flesh that has only a nebulous statistical connection to possibly maybe preventing transmission of a disease that the guy in question is unlikely to catch or transmit?

No? Aw.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:17 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Temporarily

I still have problems with my teeth as a result of my braces. Many people who had braces do. So, no, not temporarily.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by dirtynumbangelboy No stupid disingenuous questions, please?

You just declared, "removing the foreskin absolutely changes the natural function of the penis"--if that's true, surely you can provide a link to an AMA or NEJoM cite which backs this up.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:20 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that mutilation is not an act of moral definition, but instead a dictionary accurate one? You are, in fact, mistaken, and your refusal to use neutral language to discuss this demonstrates, as I have said earlier, an act of stepping into a thread and morally condemning people because you do not share their aesthetic sensibility or their parenting choices.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:20 PM on August 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


kylej - why are you so adamant about advocating mutilating male infants?

Didn't your dad show you how to roll back your foreskin and wash it off, and thus, prevent urinary tract infections? You wipe your anus after you defecate and wash between the butt cracks when you shower, right?

Is the whole "sex education" thing in the United States so bad that not only does it notteach about contraception but also fails to teach you how to keep your genitals clean much less what it should look/feel like when it's proper health?


I'm circumcised, so I actually don't have a foreskin. I do wipe my anus as well as washing my butt crack when I shower. Are you implying that parents who have their kids circumcised don't teach them general hygiene? Because that's offensive to me and probably a lot of other people in this thread.

I wouldn't say that I'm adamant about advocating mutilating male infants, but I am adamant about researching ways to save baby's lives.

And personally, I don't feel too mutilated, but that's just me.
posted by kylej at 8:20 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Porpoise, and dirtynumbangelboy: Why are you so adamant about advocating the condemnation of boys to a lifetime of UTIs, penis cancer, and HIV?

Of course, you're not, are you? That would be an absurd, extreme, emotionally-loaded and factually deprived characterization of what you think, wouldn't it?
posted by fatbird at 8:22 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by dirtynumbangelboy removing the foreskin absolutely changes the natural function of the penis.

Cite, please?


You need cites for that? Really?

Circumcision takes what is essentially an internal organ (glans penis) with mucous membranes, and makes it external, keratinized, and dry. It's roughly equivalent to cutting your lips off.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


but I am adamant about researching ways to save baby's lives.


So circumcision, which has some possible statistical correlation to maybe preventing a small percentage of HIV transmission through sexual intercourse saves babies how, exactly?

So you're saying that mutilation is not an act of moral definition, but instead a dictionary accurate one? You are, in fact, mistaken, and your refusal to use neutral language to discuss this demonstrates, as I have said earlier, an act of stepping into a thread and morally condemning people because you do not share their aesthetic sensibility or their parenting choices.


I will absolutely condemn anyone who thinks slicing bits off infants is a reasonable parental choice. Calling removal of multiple square inches of some of the most sensitive tissue on the body an 'aesthetic' choice is ridiculous on its face.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2009


Circumcision takes what is essentially an internal organ (glans penis) with mucous membranes, and makes it external, keratinized, and dry. It's roughly equivalent to cutting your lips off.

I still don't see what functions of the penis it changes? Circumcised men can still pee and ejaculate. Is there another use that I'm missing due to my circumcision?
posted by kylej at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2009


removing the foreskin absolutely changes the natural function of the penis.

Speaking from experience, circumcised men can pee and have typical, pleasurable sex, including ejaculation. Is there a third function of the penis that they don't tell us circumcised folk? IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW! That's why people are so up in arms!

Could you maybe give a definition of mutilation that doesn't include slicing off perfectly healthy flesh that has only a nebulous statistical connection to possibly maybe preventing transmission of a disease that the guy in question is unlikely to catch or transmit?

mu·ti·late (mytl-t)
tr.v. mu·ti·lat·ed, mu·ti·lat·ing, mu·ti·lates
1. To deprive of a limb or an essential part; cripple.
From. Don't try to claim that the foreskin is 'essential'.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's true, but, fortunately, we are not discussing mutilation, which is a loaded but otherwise meaningless phrase here, designed to superimpose a sense of moral outrage and push the discussion away from a neutral, civil tone. Instead, we are talking about circumcision, which is a medical procedure that a significant portion of the population finds culturally and/or aesthetically preferable.

I hope you can maintain a similarly neutral tone when discussing, say, labial trimming.
posted by rodgerd at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2009


Circumcision takes what is essentially an internal organ (glans penis) with mucous membranes, and makes it external, keratinized, and dry. It's roughly equivalent to cutting your lips off.

QFT.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2009


It's roughly equivalent to cutting your lips off.

Is it really? Aside from the fact that the comparison is satisfactorily shocking, in what way are they similar?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I personally wouldn't mind this at all if the CDC could also at the same time stop (a small, wee, tiny proportion of) people viewing the choice to disagree with circumcision as strange and other-worldly. But, of course, they can't, and I guess I'm personally—a little, a squinch, a wee bit—irked by the fact that defending a personal belief gets a little harder when people might shout you down with this news. Otherwise, no objections from me, except that perhaps, given the relatively low chance that recommending circumcision will lower the US HIV prevalence rates on top of all the other nifty measures we have in our arsenal—sex education, safe needles, notification and reporting—this story has definitely been a little overhyped by everybody. CDC doing their job, etc. etc.

And it's clear the post is not about just how bad or good male infant circumcision is in an empty vacuum context where the old arguments can get rehashed again, so perhaps posts that discuss neither

(1) HIV nor
(2) Obama's glorious pixie-dust-infused Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory

should be typed, previewed, reconsidered, and not posted.
posted by shadytrees at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who are you to insist you're right?

Someone who's right.


Wow, a huge portion of the internet was just boiled down to 10 words.
posted by brain_drain at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


Instead, we are talking about circumcision, which is a medical procedure that a significant portion of the population finds culturally and/or aesthetically preferable.

...and another significant portion finds culturally, aesthetically, ethically, and morally abhorrent.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 PM on August 25, 2009


Calling removal of multiple square inches of some of the most sensitive tissue on the body an 'aesthetic' choice is ridiculous on its face.

It is an aesthetic choice. People make the choice based on aesthetics. You won't allow me to use a genuinely accurate description, but insist that you get to use whatever loaded language you like?

I hope you can maintain a similarly neutral tone when discussing, say, labial trimming.

When the subject comes up, I shall try to; it is, however, not what we are talking about now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it really? Aside from the fact that the comparison is satisfactorily shocking, in what way are they similar?

You could still chew, swallow, and talk in a somewhat hampered fashion. The parallel is quite good actually.

But if you really want to get into it, then perhaps all girls should have their labia sliced off at birth to prevent some disease they have a vanishingly small chance of contracting 20 years later.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:28 PM on August 25, 2009


...and another significant portion finds culturally, aesthetically, ethically, and morally abhorrent.

Yes. So don't have your child circumcised. I won't kick. You have every right to choose to forgo the operation for any son you have.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:28 PM on August 25, 2009


Is it really? Aside from the fact that the comparison is satisfactorily shocking, in what way are they similar?

In that cutting off your lips would do to the mouth what circumcision does to the penis.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2009


The parallel is quite good actually.

"Good" here meaning "suits me," while my braces parallel, which did not suit you, was, for some reason, bad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


It is an aesthetic choice. People make the choice based on aesthetics. You won't allow me to use a genuinely accurate description, but insist that you get to use whatever loaded language you like?

People make the same claims about clitorectomies and infibulation. But of course that's different.

Why do I bother? You're usually more intelligent than this.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2009


Re: my question, I'm not trying to be inflammatory; just stipulate that the amount of flesh removed is equivalent for our purposes.



that's not something you get to say every day now is it?
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2009


In that cutting off your lips would do to the mouth what circumcision does to the penis.

It's not a tautology. Explain to me precisely how this is this case, please.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why do I bother? You're usually more intelligent than this.

I haven't really gone through your posting history. I would hope that you're not the sort that ordinarily relies on the force of moral condemnations, inapt parallels, and personal attacks to make your points.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:31 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Good" here meaning "suits me," while my braces parallel, which did not suit you, was, for some reason, bad.

Some people experience long-term side effects from having braces.

Every single male who has been circumcised experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity.. but you know this already, and you choose to ignore it, and claim it's an 'aesthetic' choice to mutilate infants. Do let me know when your children are born, won't you? I find feet aesthetically repulsive and will cut them off.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:32 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope you can maintain a similarly neutral tone when discussing, say, labial trimming.

Interesting that you raise this point, now that labial trimming is a common enough procedure in plastic surgery to have it's own specialists. Not sure what it says about the circumcision debate.

...and another significant portion finds culturally, aesthetically, ethically, and morally abhorrent.

See, this is what always gets me in these debates: one side is mostly 'enh, there's some plausible, statistically noticeable health and hygiene benefits', while the other uses words like 'mutilation' and 'abhorrent'. I really have trouble understanding the strength of the feelings against it. I can understand someone who says 'nah, didn't bother with my son.' I can't understand why to others it has the hue of a moral crusade.
posted by fatbird at 8:32 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Every single male who has been circumcised experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity..

How do you know this?
posted by fatbird at 8:34 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not a tautology. Explain to me precisely how this is this case, please.

Hi.

Read. Think. Connect.

Inside of mouth: Mucous membranes. Remove lips, mouth cannot close, membranes become keratinized and dry, just like I just fucking said about dicks. Fuck.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:34 PM on August 25, 2009


Cut off your own feet, or your kids' feet, and leave everyone else alone. Which is all that the people in favour of circumcision around here would be doing.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2009


I can't understand why to others it has the hue of a moral crusade.

Because we have a general societal approval for self-determination and right to choose what to do with your own body, and for some reason some of us have a teeny little objection to infants' bodies being sliced up for no good reason? If a boy wishes to get circumcised, he can do it the same time he gets his first tattoo... which we don't allow infants to do.

Naa. Couldn't be that.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Every single male who has been circumcised experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity.

So the determining factor now is not whether or not it happens, but whether it happens to everybody. I'm sorry, but to be internally consistent, I think you would have to condemn braces as being likewise mutilation, because, while it might not carry the same risk of permanent transformation for the worse, it nonetheless carries risk. You can't disregard that just because you prefer to work in absolutes.

And please don't threaten to cut off my children's feet. I really assume that you can see that that parallel is not only totally disconnected, but crosses a rhetorical line.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Inside of mouth: Mucous membranes. Remove lips, mouth cannot close, membranes become keratinized and dry, just like I just fucking said about dicks. Fuck.

Without lips one would have considerable difficulty eating and tasting food. Given the circumcised men do not, to my knowledge, appear to suffer sexual dysfunction disproportionately, the parallel is not obvious.
posted by fatbird at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2009


I really have trouble understanding the strength of the feelings against it. I can understand someone who says 'nah, didn't bother with my son.' I can't understand why to others it has the hue of a moral crusade.

Yeah, I'm kind of against it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm circumcised, and I don't think it's impacted my life in any meaningful way. But, dude. Routine. Infant. Mutilation. What's not to take seriously there?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:36 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Remove lips, mouth cannot close, membranes become keratinized and dry, just like I just fucking said about dicks

Cite please.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 PM on August 25, 2009


posted by dirtynumbangelboy Every single male who has been circumcised experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity.

Cite, please?

Given that the overwhelming majority of males are circumcised as infants, before they've experienced any sexual sensitivity, how would these males know that they have experienced a permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity?
posted by mattdidthat at 8:37 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cut off your own feet, or your kids' feet, and leave everyone else alone. Which is all that the people in favour of circumcision around here would be doing.


Except what they're doing is forcing an irrevocable choice on babies who cannot change it later. Yes, one can (sort of) restore the foreskin, but it's not the same.

I'm sorry, but to be internally consistent, I think you would have to condemn braces as being likewise mutilation, because, while it might not carry the same risk of permanent transformation for the worse, it nonetheless carries risk. You can't disregard that just because you prefer to work in absolutes.


I disregard it because they are not even remotely the same thing, not least because the children involved have some agency in the matter. I am indeed dealing in absolutes: slicing healthy flesh off defenceless babies is a bad thing.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:37 PM on August 25, 2009


According to this medical dictionary, 'keratinization' means the formation of 'hard, horny' material, such as fingernails. Are you claiming that the glans of circumcised men take on a hard surface remotely similar to fingernails?
The conversion of squamous epithelial cells into a horny material, such as nails.
posted by fatbird at 8:38 PM on August 25, 2009


Given that the overwhelming majority of males are circumcised as infants, before they've experienced any sexual sensitivity, how would these males know that they have experienced a permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity?

Asking for cites again. It's almost like you're pretending not to know anything. Almost..

Multiple studies have shown. Go Google.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:38 PM on August 25, 2009


dirtynumbangelboy, the moment you proposed that cutting of children's feet is the equivalent of circumcision, you removed yourself from having any authority to declare what is a useful comparison and what isn't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Multiple studies have shown. Go Google.

You're responsible for backing up your own argument, not forcing others to do your work for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:40 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


But, dude. Routine. Infant. Mutilation. What's not to take seriously there?

It's not random--there are (arguably) sound medical reasons to do it, and a long history of doing it without apparent problems. And as we've been pointing out, 'mutilation' is a meaninglessly emotional term that more accurately describes the speaker than the procedure.

Absent some cite that circumcision has some measurably or demonstrably detrimental effect, it's not different than trimming the earlobes of a baby. And if we'd been trimming earlobes for millenia and it was widely culturally accepted, I don't think we'd be calling it mutilation. It would be an oddity at best.
posted by fatbird at 8:41 PM on August 25, 2009


Every single male who has been circumcised experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity.. but you know this already, and you choose to ignore it, and claim it's an 'aesthetic' choice to mutilate infants. Do let me know when your children are born, won't you? I find feet aesthetically repulsive and will cut them off.

When you cut off someones lips, you significantly hamper them in eating, talking and kissing with no benefits.

When you circumcise someone you slightly decrease their sexual sensitivity and benefit them in various ways (which I can list if you like, but you probably are already aware of them).

It's up to the parent to weigh the pros and cons.
posted by kylej at 8:41 PM on August 25, 2009


Heh, "horny material"
posted by Sys Rq at 8:43 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


People make the same claims about clitorectomies and infibulation.

I honestly do not understand this analogy. Many millions of men are perfectly happy with their circumcised penises. In fact, I'd wager that a vast majority of men who have been circumcised have no problem with it.

Nothing remotely similar can be said about clitorectomies or infibulation.
posted by brain_drain at 8:46 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take this opportunity to be that guy who points out that a slight decrease in sexual sensitivity is not necessarily a bad thing.

That was wrong. Now I feel dirty.
If only my father had taught me how to wash.

posted by Lemurrhea at 8:47 PM on August 25, 2009


Here's the first google result for "circumcision experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity": From the Journal of Sexual Medicine:
Results. In response to the erotic stimulus, both groups evidenced a significant increase in penile temperature, which correlated highly with subjective reports of sexual arousal. Uncircumcised men had significantly lower penile temperature than circumcised men, and evidenced a larger increase in penile temperature with sexual arousal. No differences in genital sensitivity were found between the uncircumcised and circumcised groups. Uncircumcised men were less sensitive to touch on the forearm than circumcised men. A decrease in overall touch sensitivity was observed in both groups with exposure to the erotic film as compared with either baseline or control stimulus film conditions. No significant effect was found for pain sensitivity.

Conclusion. These results do not support the hypothesized penile sensory differences associated with circumcision. However, group differences in penile temperature and sexual response were found. Payne K, Thaler L, Kukkonen T, Carrier S, and Binik Y. Sensation and sexual arousal in circumcised and uncircumcised men. J Sex Med 2007;4:667–674. [bolding mine]
So they found some measurable differences in how they react along specific measures, but no general difference in sensitivity. Note that this study measured sensitivity when aroused, as a direct proxy for sexual stimulation, as opposed to other studies that did not induce arousal prior to measurement.
posted by fatbird at 8:55 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hm. I actually went ahead and did dirtynumbangelboy's research for him and found this research project, which offers that 98.5 percent of circumcised men report no difference in sexual satisfaction from uncircumcised men. And these were men who were circumcised as an adult, and so would know the difference.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


This thread has gone precisely how I knew it would the second I read the word "circumcision" in the original post.

Go team.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:59 PM on August 25, 2009 [11 favorites]


So would you support female circumcision (stipulate physical equivalence to male circumcision) if it had measurable hygienic or disease prevention benefits?
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:00 PM on August 25, 2009


So would you support female circumcision (stipulate physical equivalence to male circumcision) if it had measurable hygienic or disease prevention benefits?

Is it possible to discuss this without hypotheticals? In answer to your question, if female circumcision was, in some way, the equivalent of male circumcision, and showed the same health benefits and the same potential risks, then yes, I would support it. Also, if cows were exactly like a bomb, I would support drinking bomb milk.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:03 PM on August 25, 2009 [15 favorites]


So would you support female circumcision (stipulate physical equivalence to male circumcision) if it had measurable hygienic or disease prevention benefits?Physical equivalence to male circumcision would be something like... I don't know. If labial trimming had no demonstrable bad effects (and studies backing that up like the one I cited above), and some measurable good effects, sure. Why wouldn't I?

What's so holy about the unaltered human form that we shouldn't mess with it under the reasonable and supported belief that it will be beneficial, and best done at a time when the decision is made by the parent for a baby, rather than as an adult?
posted by fatbird at 9:05 PM on August 25, 2009


posted by Astro Zombie if cows were exactly like a bomb, I would support drinking bomb milk.

Yes, but would you support torture in the "ticking time cow" scenario?
posted by mattdidthat at 9:06 PM on August 25, 2009


If the cow was circumcised, yes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:06 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


R_Nebblesworth, I'll take a crack at that.

First of all, we'll do as you say and assume there is a physical equivalence to male circumcision. This means that the woman could still have and enjoy sex, little to no loss of sensitivity as both fatbird & Astro Zombie cited above. In that case, the measurable hygienic / anti-disease benefits could quite likely outweigh the female circumcision. I would have to see what those benefits were.

Now let's assume there isn't a physical equivalence, and your hypothetical female circumcision is closer to the female genital mutilation that happens now. In that case, the measurable benefits would have to be huge. Like absolutely massive, as a guess at least a 1/3rd chance of death otherwise.

Finally, there is no physical equivalence, and stipulating it even as a hypothetical is not really kosher.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:06 PM on August 25, 2009


WOW, ton more posting than I expected between my post and, er, now.

re you implying that parents who have their kids circumcised don't teach them general hygiene?

No - I'm saying, you teach your kid how to maintain a foreskin and that cleaning under it regularly is a good thing; they're going to be a lot better off than kids with foreskins who are in an environment where "touching your penis is BAD BAD BAD."
posted by porpoise at 9:11 PM on August 25, 2009


Ok, so why is foreskin restoration a viable... thing?
posted by porpoise at 9:13 PM on August 25, 2009


Why wouldn't I discuss it with hypotheticals? They are a good way to suss out why and whether people think circumcision is appropriate for one gender but not another; and what their reasoning is. Besides the point of using the hypothetical is to make it clear what we're talking about - I don't want to be accused of comparing apples to oranges to make a cheap point.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:13 PM on August 25, 2009


I know I have participated in it, but I wonder if we couldn't agree that the discussion of circumcision isn't really resolvable here, and get back to the fact that birthers think they can solve the riddle of Obama's nationality by seeing the first whang. I've made every point I can make on the other subject, and don't care to endlessly rehash the same points, so I will bow out of that discussion, but I am very curious about the fact that one segment of the population has lost their mind to such an extent that they are demanding the president expose himself to disprove a lunatic theory.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:16 PM on August 25, 2009


WOW, ton more posting than I expected between my post and, er, now.

re you implying that parents who have their kids circumcised don't teach them general hygiene?

No - I'm saying, you teach your kid how to maintain a foreskin and that cleaning under it regularly is a good thing; they're going to be a lot better off than kids with foreskins who are in an environment where "touching your penis is BAD BAD BAD."


That's great that you believe that; I in fact do too. But that seems to have very little bearing to the conversation at hand right now.
posted by kylej at 9:16 PM on August 25, 2009


dirtynumbangelboy: Every single male who has been circumcised experiences permanent decrease in sexual sensitivity

Above I posted a link to a study in a neutral medical journal that says the contrary. Do you have a cite to back up your claim?
posted by fatbird at 9:17 PM on August 25, 2009


I, too, want some of your delicious bomb milk.
posted by nonspecialist at 9:18 PM on August 25, 2009


What's so holy about the unaltered human form that we shouldn't mess with it under the reasonable and supported belief that it will be beneficial, and best done at a time when the decision is made by the parent for a baby, rather than as an adult?

The reason I am opposed to parents making permanent, painful cosmetic choices like this is that at what point do adults own children's bodies? Why do they have the right to do that to a child that is unable to give informed consent? it's morally reprehensible to use a child for your sexual gratification, so why isn't the same attitude applied to modifying the aesthetics of their genitals? If there is absolutely no medical issue in play, then why not wait until the kid is an adult and can decide for themselves? Pain? Really?

I would never tell another person how to raise their children, but it gives me the heebiejeebies. If my parents had decided to trim my labia as a child for any non-medical reason, I would be raging at them for the rest of my life. Body autonomy is important.

My own opinions aside, there's a pretty interesting conversation about this issue over at Momversation. Wherever you look, there are people arguing about cock.
posted by saturnine at 9:19 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


WHERE IS THE ABSENCE OF FORESKIN OBAMA
posted by shammack at 9:19 PM on August 25, 2009


bomb milk all around then?
posted by kylej at 9:19 PM on August 25, 2009


This thread has gone precisely how I knew it would the second I read the word "circumcision" in the original post.

Go team.


I've skimmed through many a circumcision thread on MeFi, and don't think I've ever weighed in on one. I'm bemused by the outrage this topic always generates. All my partners have been circumcised (since they've all been North American and were all born during the sixties or seventies, it kind of goes with the cohort), and none of them had the slightest issue with it. Whenever circumcision got mentioned they all said they couldn't imagine sex feeling any better than it did. I think only one said he wouldn't do it to his son should he have one, because it wasn't really necessary, but he had no problem with the fact that he'd been circumcised.

To hear some of you rant about this issue, one would think you were hiding away in remote caves (albeit caves with internet access), unable to face any prospective sexual partners because you wouldn't be able to garner the slightest satisfaction from any congress and they'd flee screaming from the mere sight of your hideous deformity anyway.
posted by orange swan at 9:20 PM on August 25, 2009


They are a good way to suss out why and whether people think circumcision is appropriate for one gender but not another; and what their reasoning is.

If you're making a separate argument that's one thing, but it looked like you were directly conflating male circumcision with female genital mutilation.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:20 PM on August 25, 2009


I am very curious about the fact that one segment of the population has lost their mind to such an extent that they are demanding the president expose himself to disprove a lunatic theory.

Apparently you weren't following the news closely when Paula Jones's lawsuit against Bill Clinton was in full swing.
posted by fatbird at 9:21 PM on August 25, 2009


All the lips/penis comparisons aside, or the health benefits, what I think offends anti-circumcisions types is: it's painful, it's permanent, and the only reason we don't feel guilt (or are able to convince ourselves we don't) is because the child in question won't remember it and hold it against us. If we did it the same way at age 10, when the child could realize what was happening and look you in the face in horror while it was done...I'm pretty sure that all our talk of UTI rates and slightly lower risk of HIV from unprotected sex would suddenly carry a lot less weight.

Why is it ok to do it to an infant but not a 10 year old? The mental trauma to them is less, but the bodily pain surely isn't. It's a moral issue more than a medical one. If my son wants to get his foreskin lopped at 18, he can. It's his body. And at that age, he can get the good painkillers.

And it is very frustrating for the American Ped. Society and CDC not to address these issues, which are a large part of why circumcision isn't done as much anymore. You could prevent lots of STDs by making kids wear chastity belts too, but we don't recommend that, even though it would probably save lives, because it's immoral and unethical.
posted by emjaybee at 9:21 PM on August 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


birthers think they can solve the riddle of Obama's nationality by seeing the first whang

Don't be whierd.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2009


Well, people do scream and flee my member; that much is true.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2009


posted by Astro Zombie I am very curious about the fact that one segment of the population has lost their mind to such an extent that they are demanding the president expose himself to disprove a lunatic theory.

He'll call it the "Flash For Junkers" program.
posted by mattdidthat at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did someone say bomb milk?

Where are the cookies?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2009


Lemurrhea, what do you mean by your comment? First you answer my question directly, then you say that it couldn't ever happen anyhow and imply (at least to my reading) that I shouldn't even have thought of it or said it. You can't have it both ways - what do you mean it's not really kosher?

Consider this: If it's appropriate to circumcise males for health benefits, should we find some way (since you say there isn't any equivalence currently) to circumcise females for similar benefits that isn't barbaric? If not, why not?
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:24 PM on August 25, 2009


How, kylej; that you're after-the-fact?

The feeling I get for this end game 'metafilter circumcision' thread is Astro being... non-zombie, and you who keep trolling.

No-one who enjoys their foreskins are going to have a huge dog in this fight. It about wanting kids who'll grow up to be people we'll have to put up with who aren't fucking "virgin psychoes" who need help adjusting because they've never been laid.

Millenium hand and shrimp.

Whoof.
posted by porpoise at 9:24 PM on August 25, 2009



The reason I am opposed to parents making permanent, painful cosmetic choices like this is that at what point do adults own children's bodies? Why do they have the right to do that to a child that is unable to give informed consent? it's morally reprehensible to use a child for your sexual gratification, so why isn't the same attitude applied to modifying the aesthetics of their genitals? If there is absolutely no medical issue in play, then why not wait until the kid is an adult and can decide for themselves? Pain? Really?

I would never tell another person how to raise their children, but it gives me the heebiejeebies. If my parents had decided to trim my labia as a child for any non-medical reason, I would be raging at them for the rest of my life. Body autonomy is important.

My own opinions aside, there's a pretty interesting conversation about this issue over at Momversation. Wherever you look, there are people arguing about cock.


But there are medical issues in play. And really, you're comparing removing the foreskin of a baby's penis (with arguably no negative effects and obvious benefits) to having sex with a baby (which has many, many, many negative effects and no benefits)?
posted by kylej at 9:24 PM on August 25, 2009


I would like some bomb milk. I once tried some of my wife's breastmilk, because, come on, what father hasn't tried it, and I had mine in a shot glass decorated with gold leaf, and I was circumcised at the time, and it was a confusing thing, but kind of tasty.

I have no point, really.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:26 PM on August 25, 2009


Well, there's no arguing with that.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2009


Needs more vitriol.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:29 PM on August 25, 2009


How, kylej; that you're after-the-fact?

The feeling I get for this end game 'metafilter circumcision' thread is Astro being... non-zombie, and you who keep trolling.

No-one who enjoys their foreskins are going to have a huge dog in this fight. It about wanting kids who'll grow up to be people we'll have to put up with who aren't fucking "virgin psychoes" who need help adjusting because they've never been laid.

Millenium hand and shrimp.

Whoof.


Are you calling me a virgin psycho (I'm 16, fyi)? And again, I'm circumcised. That seems a lot more like trolling to me than what I'm doing (which is trying to have a reasonable discussion). If any of the mods think I'm trolling, memail me and I'll gladly stop.

I'm still not sure I understand your comment.
posted by kylej at 9:30 PM on August 25, 2009


The reason I am opposed to parents making permanent, painful cosmetic choices like this is that at what point do adults own children's bodies? Why do they have the right to do that to a child that is unable to give informed consent? it's morally reprehensible to use a child for your sexual gratification, so why isn't the same attitude applied to modifying the aesthetics of their genitals? If there is absolutely no medical issue in play, then why not wait until the kid is an adult and can decide for themselves? Pain? Really?

95% of the argument in favour of circumcision has to do with the apparent medical benefits of it: easier hygiene, almost total absence of penile cancer in circumcised males, and now reduced rates of disease transmission. That's why it's the CDC releasing the study, not the editors of Cosmo. To be fair, those are minor medical benefits because penis cancer is pretty rare to start with (I think only 60k cases in the U.S. since 1935), and there are much more direct ways to prevent transmission of STDs like condoms. But those differences are measurable and available with a minor procedure with no demonstrable detriment to the child, so why not do it?

The aesthetic argument is rather silly, I think--if most men weren't circumcised, women would prefer uncircumcised men. But I've known quite a few parents lately faced with this decision, and none of them brought up how it would look to potential partners.

Parents have a right to do that to their child because they make lots of life-altering choices for children--it's called raising them. Parents decide to vaccinate or not, which has medical risks. Parents decide whether or not to get the child braces. In the event of an emergency, they make drastic decisions. Until the child can make their own decisions, the parents do it.

The reason it's done to infants is that it has vastly fewer complications and risks as an infant procedure than as an adult procedure.
posted by fatbird at 9:31 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I got of it was that we should make sure the uncircumcised don't grow up with such shame about their filthy, untouchable penis that their relationship with sex is distant and somewhat psychotic; please correct me if I misread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:32 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're fine kylej. A certain someone just wanted to drop a WTF comment because you support mutilating babies and putting them through the pain of having their lips removed.

Whoof
posted by P.o.B. at 9:32 PM on August 25, 2009


R_Nebblesworth, I answered your question the way I did because I wasn't sure if you were asking it in good faith or trying, as P.o.B. said, to conflate FGM with circumcision. If you were going in good faith, then the first part of my response is what you need. If you'd been trying to claim they were equivalent, then I had to question that.

Since my comment, it's become clear that you weren't making a shitty argument, and I apologize for thinking the worst.

If there is a way to do a non-mutilating "female circumcision", with health benefits, then it's definitely worth considering. Mind you, I'm not convinced that even male circumcision's benefits are worth the however small risk of screwups. Mainly because I'm so far away from having a chlld that it's just not something I worry about.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:33 PM on August 25, 2009


If it's appropriate to circumcise males for health benefits, should we find some way (since you say there isn't any equivalence currently) to circumcise females for similar benefits that isn't barbaric? If not, why not?

If a doctor claimed that there was a way to surgically alter the genitals of women at birth to produce minor but continual medical benefits throughout their life, with no loss of function or sensation, then the only thing that would hold me back from supporting it (in comparison to male circumcision) is that we don't have thousands of years in which large numbers, sometimes majorities, of women had it done and have demonstrated that it's safe and beneficial.
posted by fatbird at 9:35 PM on August 25, 2009


Jesus threadshitting Christ. You anti-circumcision lot are so strident about the loss of sensitivity that based on my current level I'm glad I'm circumcised. Otherwise, I'd have an orgasm practically every time I brushed up against an inanimate object.

However, I'm pretty sure you can't possibly be correct.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:38 PM on August 25, 2009


Okay, no need to apologize; I appreciate your consistency.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:38 PM on August 25, 2009


But there are medical issues in play. And really, you're comparing removing the foreskin of a baby's penis (with arguably no negative effects and obvious benefits) to having sex with a baby (which has many, many, many negative effects and no benefits)?

Well having sex with children has many benefits for the adult involved, but I'd rather not go down that path any further right now. Bleurgh.

I also wasn't quibbling medical circumcisions, merely the predominant use of them for cosmetic reasons. If you don't think children have the right to be protected from unnecessary cosmetic procedures, especially ones that involve their genitals, then it's just a case of agreeing to disagree.
posted by saturnine at 9:40 PM on August 25, 2009


Metafilter: having sex with children has many benefits for the adult involved
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:43 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think you missed the part where unnecessary and cosmetic are kind of a toss up, therefore arguable.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:44 PM on August 25, 2009


Why is it ok to do it to an infant but not a 10 year old? The mental trauma to them is less, but the bodily pain surely isn't. It's a moral issue more than a medical one. If my son wants to get his foreskin lopped at 18, he can. It's his body. And at that age, he can get the good painkillers.

I don't find the pain argument convincing because, having cared for toddlers, I've seen how much raw pain they experience already. Bumping heads, scraping knees, sometimes more serious injuries... my right thumbnail is still goofy looking from being slammed in an oak door when I was five. At school I slipped and fell, hitting my head on the bike racks hard enough to spend the afternoon in the nurse's office.

Compared to them, the pain of circumcision of a penis with a topical anesthetic applied, especially when it won't be remembered, seems almost trivial in the grand scheme of things. Many more equally painful experiences await us all from the time we're born. It would matter to me if there were no benefits at all, but balanced against that, I have a hard time feeling outrage.
posted by fatbird at 9:45 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well having sex with children has many benefits for the adult involved, but I'd rather not go down that path any further right now. Bleurgh.

I also wasn't quibbling medical circumcisions, merely the predominant use of them for cosmetic reasons. If you don't think children have the right to be protected from unnecessary cosmetic procedures, especially ones that involve their genitals, then it's just a case of agreeing to disagree.


In that example I was just talking about the benefits/negatives to the baby, not the adult.

Again, I think that the medical advantages of circumcision outway the negatives, so to me, it's not about cosmetic reasons. Some people also have religious reasons which are equally valid to them. Ultimately, I believe it's up to the parent.
posted by kylej at 9:45 PM on August 25, 2009


If you don't think children have the right to be protected from unnecessary cosmetic procedures, especially ones that involve their genitals,

Who's arguing for circumcision on purely cosmetic grounds? It's a stupid add-in argument that goes on the list, and usually near the bottom.
posted by fatbird at 9:46 PM on August 25, 2009


Metafilter: Wherever you look, there are people arguing about cock.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:49 PM on August 25, 2009


EVERYBODY! The baby sex thing is disgusting and was ridiculously added into this discussion. It should be dropped. PRONTO!
posted by P.o.B. at 9:49 PM on August 25, 2009


The article cited in the FPP quotes a number of American mothers who say their baby boys were circumcised as a matter of course without the parents even being asked. So I assume that this CDC study is moot because all you Merkins are already skinned and those arguing against the practice are furriners or self-hating traitors.
posted by CCBC at 9:54 PM on August 25, 2009


Furriers?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 PM on August 25, 2009


is that we don't have thousands of years in which large numbers, sometimes majorities, of women had it done and have demonstrated that it's safe and beneficial.

The reason people were circumcising was almost exclusively due to religion, until rather recently, when it became a regular practice of modern medicine, but without a lot of compelling evidence to support it. The idea that we can take a silly practice we adopted out of inertia rather than any proven benefit and somehow dress it up in the guise of public health is absurd. Yes, it has some benefits, but not so great that we'd start doing it if we didn't do it already. If we didn't already circumcise boys we'd think it was pretty horrific. So, why not stop the practice outside of religion and leave it up to people who can make the choice for themselves?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:01 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, why not stop the practice outside of religion and leave it up to people who can make the choice for themselves?

I thought that was a given these days ... Ohhh, You mean let the baby decide?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:06 PM on August 25, 2009


Yes, it has some benefits, but not so great that we'd start doing it if we didn't do it already. If we didn't already circumcise boys we'd think it was pretty horrific. So, why not stop the practice outside of religion and leave it up to people who can make the choice for themselves?

It's true that if we hadn't done it historically, we almost certainly wouldn't start now. But there are valid medical reasons to do it to newborns rather than adults (mostly having to do with the rate of complications for the procedure), and now there are demonstrable medical benefits and studies showing no detrimental effects in general. Why stop? Why give up a practice that we lucked into that turns out to be a good one?
posted by fatbird at 10:07 PM on August 25, 2009


"The idea that we can take a silly practice we adopted out of inertia rather than any proven benefit and somehow dress it up in the guise of public health is absurd."

There are a ton of things that we as society just "do" for reasons that are no longer relevant. This one just happens to be really really polarizing, but also has real-life medical benefits.
posted by potch at 10:12 PM on August 25, 2009


After looking at porpoise's profile, everything makes so much more sense.

"Please take any post of mine made between 7pm and 4am PST with a hypernatraemic amount of salt.

In other words; I'm very likely quite drunk."

posted by kylej at 10:20 PM on August 25, 2009


posted by krinklyfig So, why not stop the practice outside of religion and leave it up to people who can make the choice for themselves?

Keep The Tip, a short play.

SCENE 1: A hospital room. FATHER bends over his baby son.

FATHER: Son, you need to make an important choice, and I'll support whatever decision you make. Do you want to be circumcised?

BABY: Gurgle. Gurgle-urgle.

FATHER: Very well.

(Quick fade to black, sounds of screams and tussling)

SCENE 2: A living room. BABY is now a TEENAGER.

TEENAGER: Why can't I get my eyeballs tattooed and pierced? You're so unfair! I hate you!

FATHER: The answer's no. I already let you make one body-modification, and you screamed bloody murder the entire time. Enough.

(Curtain.)
posted by mattdidthat at 10:31 PM on August 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


Actually, I once read (and was very surprised by) an article which suggest that women who have have female genital surgery (which is done for religious reasons and can be a rite of passage very significant to women) didn't have an ill effect on the sex lives of the older women studied (adult immigrants to Italy), who reported enjoying sex and experiencing orgasms as often as women who had not experienced FGM. But it did have an effect on the sexual experience of younger women (who had emmigrated as children), who grew up in a culture which believed that they would have sex problems because they were circumcised.

Note: I don't know exactly what form of surgery the article studied - there are much larger differences between practices than for male genital surgery - the wikipedia article has the WHO types, with diagrams (so NSFW). A simple clitoridectomy is worlds away from infibulation (sewing the labia closed). The last is the most extreme, but accounts for only about 10% of FGM, and obviously has a very different effect on health and sexual experience than more minor forms. But the article both surprised me, and (along with reading other material on the cultural importance of FGM as a rite of passage in some cultures - a specifically female and female-dominated rite of passage - it made me realise that FGM is no more a black and white issue than male (religious/cultural) genital surgey is.

So (if this one study is supported by others that show little or no ill effect, outside of psychological pressure), would western cultures accept female circumcision for religious reasons, as they have accepted male?

(personally, I do incline to the "wait until 18" mode for both. I think that would be the best policy for western governments - make female circumcision legal, but only for adults, thus being tolerant of others' choices while still being against children having such a choice made for them.)
posted by jb at 10:51 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do incline to the "wait until 18" mode for both. I think that would be the best policy for western governments - make female circumcision legal, but only for adults, thus being tolerant of others' choices while still being against children having such a choice made for them.

That certainly seems like the most reasonable solution, regarding both male and female circumcision; given that it affects sexual health and is (in a Western society with good hygiene) mostly a cultural and cosmetic thing with some debatable benefits in the case of male circumcision that only apply to sexually-active people, it strikes me as a bit absurd that we're OK with it routinely being done to infants. If circumcision were invented tomorrow, such a stance would be viewed as sheer insanity.

But I'm pretty squicked out by infant ear-piercing too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:33 PM on August 25, 2009


"almost total absence of penile cancer in circumcised males"

I think anyone interested in whether circumcising their child is a good idea would do well to compare two statistics: the rate of penile cancer in uncircumcised males, and the rate of complications arising from circumcision. One of these numbers is much larger than the other, see if you can guess which...
posted by pascal at 11:39 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think anyone interested in whether circumcising their child is a good idea would do well to compare two statistics: the rate of penile cancer in uncircumcised males, and the rate of complications arising from circumcision.

When evaluating risk, one evaluates the odds of something happening against the cost if it does. Which is the worse risk: a 0.2% chance of a infection requiring antibiotics, or a 0.02% chance of cancer?
posted by fatbird at 11:44 PM on August 25, 2009


When I saw the New York Times article I considered posting it (you know, for the lulz), but decided that discretion would be the better part of valor.
posted by grouse at 11:48 PM on August 25, 2009


Fatbird: I believe the statistics for "mild" complications like that are as high as 2-10%, but do you think that is the worst that could happen? Add to that (from Wikipedia, sorry)..

The American Medical Association and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians say the use of infant circumcision in hope of preventing penile cancer in adulthood is not justified.[6][7] The American Cancer Society has said that the suggestion that circumcision reduces penile cancer rates, were based on studies that were flawed because they failed to consider other factors that are now known to affect penile cancer risk. It concluded: "The current consensus of most experts is that circumcision should not be recommended as a prevention strategy for penile cancer."[8]

posted by pascal at 12:01 AM on August 26, 2009


I can't believe I'm going to weigh in on this, but here goes-

I'm certainly in the anti-circumcision camp, myself. I'm sure this has at least something to do with the fact that I wasn't circumcised, and I'm glad of that fact. I suspect that for most men, their views on this issue are largely based on their own status, and I also suspect that the, um, intensely personal nature of this is at least part of the reason why people tend to be so passionate about this, and why these threads never go well. (Though there are a lot of anti-circumcision arguments I really wish people would stop making. Comparing it to female genital mutilation is just offensive, I think, and personally I think female "circumcision" shouldn't ever even be called that, as it's much more equivalent to castration, and calling it circumcision both downplays what it actually is and invites that stupid red herring of an argument.)

Quite probably, if I was circumcised, I would feel perfectly content with that state of affairs- it certainly seems to be the norm. Yet I wasn't, and so I'm perfectly content with that- as I say, I'm very glad I wasn't. (I'm not going to make any claims about increased sensitivity, or whatever- I can't make judgments of that kind. It's just, well, a part of my body.) Now, if I weren't happy with having a foreskin, I could change that. If, however, I'd been circumcised and wasn't happy with that, there wouldn't really be anything I could do about it. That being the case, why do we feel that we have to make that decision for children before they can do so themselves? This is quite an extreme measure, after all- it involves removing a part of their body and inflicting pain on them. I can see something like that being perhaps being justified in extreme circumstances, if there were truly serious health risks to having a foreskin. But the benefits in this case are things that mostly aren't even issues if one practices good hygiene and uses condoms, as far as I can tell. Even if we grant the penile cancer thing (and it seems like that's controversial), that's rare anyway, and frankly, as far as removing organs in an attempt to reduce the risk of future complications goes, I'd be far, far more inclined to go get my appendix taken out now as a preventative measure than have my foreskin removed, and believe me, I'm not rushing out to get an appendectomy right now. And if we're counting relatively rare events, the risk of botched circumcisions and general complications should also be taken into account. These things do happen.

Maybe the state of things with AIDS in Africa counts as an extreme circumstance, and so it's warranted to recommend it there- I won't try to argue that point. But in America? To those who were circumcised, I imagine it seems easy to imagine the foreskin as something entirely superfluous. Having one, I can say that it does not seem that way to me at all, and that the thought of it being removed is horrifying to me in the same way that removing any other bits of my genitals with a knife would be. I don't think that's an unusual view among uncut men- and I think that should be taken into account in these debates more than it is. If you're thinking of the foreskin as something equivalent to fingernails or tonsils, my experience is that it is very much not in that category. Circumcision thus seems to me to be a much more serious and drastic step than pro-circumcision arguments always make it out to be- and I think most pro-circumcision arguments don't hold up if it's treated that way.
posted by a louis wain cat at 12:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


can anybody find numbers on the incidence of HIV in the US (mostly circumcised population) vs. the EU (mostly uncircumcised population)? Wouldn't it make more sense to compare those numbers? Of course there are other factors to take into account however that might give some indication if circumcision has any impact at all.
posted by canned polar bear at 12:25 AM on August 26, 2009


(Um, just realized that link should have had a NSFW warning- sorry about that.)
posted by a louis wain cat at 12:53 AM on August 26, 2009


Re: birthers demanding to see Obama's penis. Not to Godwin this, but I'm shocked - not really - that these idiots don't flinch at the nasty echo of not too distant a past, where examining a penis was a way to decide if someone was qualified to live or die. How can they demand then to "see the penis"? Oh, that's right, we are dealing with the extreme right - I can well imagine these types a few decades earlier in Germany, demanding that someone prove they are not Jewish, by this vile method. Amazing, how tone deaf these folks are.
posted by VikingSword at 1:16 AM on August 26, 2009


I've just gone ahead and written a song based on my Bomb Milk comment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:19 AM on August 26, 2009


Circumcision does not affect sexual health. I'm not sure how many men need to say that and how many studies need to be linked to disprove that. If you are unsure and need a demo, you are on the internet and you should be able to get a firsthand look at how well some men perform circumcised. You can stop trying to ramrod that argument into this, but I'm sure that's not going to stop anyone.
I think the idea that you're making some kind of life altering decision for the baby was pretty much implicit when someone got pregnant. So I don't think that has much bearing as far as "OMG! Don't hurt the babies!" Perhaps the best analogy here may be like taking out tonsils or appendix or wisdom teeth. The problem is, the best time (if there is one) is when the baby is newly born. Not at 18, and if you need that spelled out for you then you're missing the very point some of you are pushing.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:21 AM on August 26, 2009


Lemurrhea:
mu·ti·late (mytl-t)
tr.v. mu·ti·lat·ed, mu·ti·lat·ing, mu·ti·lates
1. To deprive of a limb or an essential part; cripple.
From. Don't try to claim that the foreskin is 'essential'.
Why did you not post the rest of it?
2. To disfigure by damaging irreparably: mutilate a statue. See Synonyms at batter1.
3. To make imperfect by excising or altering parts.
While some people clearly find the circumcised penis better, and not everyone by a long way would describe one as disfigured or imperfect, those are clearly the more appropriate definitions for the discussion here. It's a pretty poor way to argue - leaving out what are clearly the definitions in question to build a straw man around another.
posted by edd at 2:55 AM on August 26, 2009


Who's arguing for circumcision on purely cosmetic grounds?

Astro Zombie's made about a zillion posts in this thread, arguing that it's an aesthetic decision similar to removing a child's functioning teeth so as to fit braces.

I agree with him. I think the primary reason most people do it is because they think Junior's knob should look just like the old man's old man.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:04 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually Astro Zombie mad a Ba-Zillion posts about that. I counted!

3. To make imperfect by excising or altering parts.

While some people clearly find the circumcised penis better, and not everyone by a long way would describe one as disfigured or imperfect, those are clearly the more appropriate definitions for the discussion here. It's a pretty poor way to argue - leaving out what are clearly the definitions in question to build a straw man around another.


I agree! I have a haircut mutilation scheduled for next Friday and I need to look good while I set some people straight.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:52 AM on August 26, 2009


removing the foreskin absolutely changes the natural function of the penis

I can understand that someone circumcised could believe/argue that there is no functional difference of the penis following circumcision. I don't see how someone who still got a foreskin could agree with that, given that a rudimentary simulation of life as circumcised is readily available for him.
It's quite obvious to me that the primary function of the foreskin is to aid insertion. It might have very little practice implication in these modern days of foreplay and store bough lubricants, but in mankind's rape prone past I can understand that evolution selected for it. Being quite fond of my foreskin I feel hesitant to give this ammunition to the advocates of such a questionable practice as circumcision but a fact is a fact. The foreskin is a rape tool! ...Also I suspects it makes masturbation easier/more enjoyable. To balance things out, it's not a great place to store loose change.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 4:20 AM on August 26, 2009


Funny it is so universal in America if it is such a non issue
posted by A189Nut at 4:25 AM on August 26, 2009


few children are out there having sex and passing along HIV; if the only reason this scheme works is because it's performed on a population who can't defend themselves

also true of hpv vaccine. Speaking of which I can't wait for conservatives to oppose circumcision as "promoting promiscuity".
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:06 AM on August 26, 2009


To balance things out, it's not a great place to store loose change.

On the plus side though, I've never been subjected to a police search where they've asked me to roll back my foreskin.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:16 AM on August 26, 2009


Maybe someone can help me out here about why all the hate on circumcision? There was a post on the green a week or so ago about yeast infections in little boys and about how the uncircumcised have to do weird things to themselves to get clean and honestly it freaked me right the fuck out. Obviously, I'm circumcised, but I'm not jewish or christian or any of those things.

So I had a conversation with a couple of my hipster friends about it, and they were ADAMANT that their children would NOT be circumcised. Like, ADAMANT. Which was just weird to me. They based it on saying that circumcision removes some huge percentage of the nerves in the penis, to which I responded that if I had 50% more nerves in my penis sex would never last more than 20 seconds (honestly I can't even IMAGINE that). Then they talked about "how common" penis manglings are, which doesn't even make sense cuz you're not even chopping meat. And they talked about pain, but...I mean, I don't remember my bris, do you? And I have injured my weiner before, and it took like 20 hours to heal a cut, which is just amazingly fast.

For what it's worth, I also think uncircumcised peni look like dog weiners, which is just gross.

But seriously, can someone educate me on why circumcision is currently very unpopular?
posted by TomMelee at 5:31 AM on August 26, 2009


But seriously, can someone educate me on why circumcision is currently very unpopular?

Can anybody educate me on why circumcision is very popular?

The truth is, it's not popular. The circumcision rate for the world as a whole is not as high as in the US, with the majority of males being uncircumcised. Circumcision is most popular among Jewish and Muslim populations, and in North America. The United States is possibly the only country in the world where the majority of males infants are still circumcised at birth for non-religious reasons. The supposed medical and hygiene benefits have failed to convince other countries to adopt or retain the same practice. In the EU most males now remain uncircumcised despite sharing a similar culture and medical establishment as the US. The US is an outlier on circumcision, and those who wish to defend the practice really need to explain how it became so, and why it should remain as such.
posted by Sova at 5:57 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


But seriously, can someone educate me on why circumcision is currently very unpopular?

Bandwagoning?
posted by adamdschneider at 5:59 AM on August 26, 2009


Sova-
Asking why it's very unpopular is != to asking why it's popular. I never actually said it popular, it's just something I've started to hear a lot of talk about in regular conversation.

And I don't see a need to defend anything outside of "I like it."

Why the fuck do you take a sour fruit, add a shitload of sugar to it, squirt in some water and drink it? Because I like lemonade. That's a good enough reason.

My question was about the increase in the popularity of the topic, as well as about some actual for real stats about why it's such a bad thing.

Popular haterade is still haterade, regardless of the folks on the bandwagon.
posted by TomMelee at 6:03 AM on August 26, 2009


Lemurrhea:
Why did you not post the rest of it?

2. To disfigure by damaging irreparably: mutilate a statue. See Synonyms at batter1.
3. To make imperfect by excising or altering parts.

While some people clearly find the circumcised penis better, and not everyone by a long way would describe one as disfigured or imperfect, those are clearly the more appropriate definitions for the discussion here. It's a pretty poor way to argue - leaving out what are clearly the definitions in question to build a straw man around another.


Of course there will be definitions that call circumcision mutilation. But I was answering the specific question of "Could you maybe give a definition of mutilation that doesn't include slicing off perfectly healthy flesh...", which was clear from my comment. I found a definition from a reputable source, and linked to it. Other definitions were thus irrelevant. I should ask you why you didn't post the rest of my comment.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:06 AM on August 26, 2009


We need willy cutting panels and we need them now!
posted by caddis at 6:28 AM on August 26, 2009


to the tune of "my bonnie lies over the ocean"

My oneskin hangs down to my twoskin
My twoskin hangs down to my three
My threeskin hangs down to my foreskin
My foreskin was cut off of me.

Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me, to me
Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me.

I was circumsized when I was young
So young I could hardly see
The first thing I felt was a scalpel
Cutting my foreskin off me.

Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me, to me
Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me.

They said it would keep me from sinning.
But I think it's plain to see.
It's a game, that nobody's winning.
When you cut my foreskin off me.

Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me, to me
Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me.

I guess that it's easy to wash.
And I'm protected from H-I-V.
But I'd gladly wear a condom.
If you just give back my foreskin to me.

Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me, to me
Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me.

I guess that I got a bit cocky.
In my protection from H-I-V.
I fucked without a condom.
And now, it hurts when I pee.

Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me, to me
Give back, give back, oh give back my foreskin to me.

What did they do with my foreskin?
Dad said it's buried under a tree.
So last night, I took a shovel.
Now I carry my foreskin with me.


I wrote this about 2 years ago, and have sung it in a group of about 50 friends. Long story.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:36 AM on August 26, 2009


The mother eats the placenta, the father eats the foreskin. What's so complicated about this?
posted by yeti at 7:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Circumcision is one of those topics that, like breastfeeding, Richard Dawkins, Ralph Nader, and treatment for mental health issues, always seems to draw out unreasonable wank. Personally, I don't feel that the benefits or risks are so great as to override parental choice in this matter. The routine process for this should be education and informed consent, which is something that has previously been lacking in the United States.

Personally, I find the wingnuts wanting to peek into the president's trousers as if that would be definitive to be fucking hilarious.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:12 AM on August 26, 2009


There was a post on the green a week or so ago about yeast infections in little boys and about how the uncircumcised have to do weird things to themselves to get clean and honestly it freaked me right the fuck out.

I use a wire brush myself. And a bottle brush to clean down the eye.

You just can't be too careful when you've got a foreskin to take care of.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like my foreskin and am happy to have it. But every person-who-has-sex-with-men I've ever talked to about this says that dudes with and without foreskins enjoy sex just fine, something corroborated in the studies that survey men who have had adult circumcisions.

I mean, if I were told today that it was medically necessary to trim my weiner, I don't think it would be nearly the crisis that some of the analogies above make it sound (lips? really?). I imagine that the healing would be really sore, and there'd be a few uncomfortable weeks until the skin toughened up and the chafing didn't hurt. After that, I expect that sex would be perhaps a bit different, but still pretty darn good.
posted by Forktine at 8:19 AM on August 26, 2009


, I'm circumcised, but I'm not jewish or christian or any of those things....I mean, I don't remember my bris, do you?

These two statements are so astounding. I don't even know what to do with the fact that a non-Jew would refer to his circumcision as his bris. Wow.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:25 AM on August 26, 2009


You can have my foreskin when you pry it out of this cold, dead hooker's hands.
posted by fuq at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2009


Reading this entire thread has really given me a funny feeling down there.
posted by bonefish at 8:56 AM on August 26, 2009


The neo-kooks are fighting the good fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of their own fascination with African-American male genitalia, which I understand to be a subject fascinating to a great number of folks.

The only thing that surprises me is that it took this long to come out in the open. Maybe it's just me though, I didn't want the image of these mouth-breathers all wide-eyed and slack jawed, rubbing themselves frantically while thinking of the presidential scvontz.

Although that's a political cartoon I'd dearly love to see. Any artists in the audience?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 9:01 AM on August 26, 2009


Um, is there any evidence that this Obama circumcision theory is taken seriously by anyone other than a couple of random Free Republic commenters?
posted by brain_drain at 9:11 AM on August 26, 2009


posted by Aversion Therapy Although that's a political cartoon I'd dearly love to see. Any artists in the audience?

Shepard Fairey is working on a LET'S SEE WANG poster.
posted by mattdidthat at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2009


not all male circumcisions are created equal, just as not all female circumcisions are created equal.

The most damaging form of male circumcision that is practiced today is that which removes the entire frenular area, leaving the glans as the only platform for sexual sensation. Unfortunately, many babies who are circumcised experience this horrific loss of sexual hardware whereas many men who are circumcised as adults (including those in many of the studies on circumcision's effects on sexuality) retain the bulk of their frenular tissue, including the frenulum.

Another source of confusion is that many studies that examine the sexual effects of circumcision only assess the sensitivity of the glans. The one study that examined the effects upon the frenular area found that those areas are the most sensitive areas of the penis.

Finally, the vast majority of women who are circumcised consider it a wholly good thing, and it is the women who are the primary perpetuators of this practice, just as it is circumcised men who are the primary proponents of circumcising baby boys.

To claim that male and female circumcisions cannot be compared is to ignore the fact that both practices have a large degree of heterogeneity along many dimensions including:

-quality and quantity of tissue removed
-rationales


The fundamental moral point about human genital cutting is that the removal of sexual tissue from a nonconsenting human, male OR female, is a cruel and evil act unless absolutely medically necessary.


Finally, it cannot be overstated how important the frenulum is for the male sexual experience. It is an absolutely integral component of male sexuality. Unfortunately, those who do not have any frenular tissue, and have only experienced glans based orgasms, cannot, or will not, accept this fact.
posted by spacediver at 9:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Finally, it cannot be overstated how important the frenulum is for the male sexual experience. It is an absolutely integral component of male sexuality. Unfortunately, those who do not have any frenular tissue, and have only experienced glans based orgasms, cannot, or will not, accept this fact.

In funny, you say all these things, but don't back them up in any way. I guess you're welcome to your mind blowing sexual experience, which we're just going to take your word for. Me, I have three hour orgasms, and those of you with foreskins will never know just how awesome it is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:35 AM on August 26, 2009


BOMB MILK
posted by cortex at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


astro zombie, I could cite references, but you could also very easily ascertain this fact by asking any intact male whether or not he derives pleasure from his frenular area, just as you could ask any intact female whether or not she derives pleasure from the area where her labia minora connects to the clitoris (this area is anatomically equivalent to the frenular area of the male).

The area in question is the ventral part of the shaft, where the frenular delta tapers up into the frenulum to meet the glans.

In fact, many circumcised males can verify this for themselves by examining the remnants of said tissue along their scarline.
posted by spacediver at 9:41 AM on August 26, 2009


In funny, you say all these things, but don't back them up in any way. [...] Me, I have three hour orgasms [...]

CITES, PLEASE
posted by Sys Rq at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2009


In fact, many circumcised males can verify this for themselves by examining the remnants of said tissue along their scarline.

The question is not whether it derives pleasure, the question is whether sexual satisfaction is significantly diminished, which is what you claim. That you haven't demonstrated, and your claims contradict the studies that have already been posted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2009


Hey, if it were any more satisfying who would leave the house, amirite?
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 10:00 AM on August 26, 2009


It would be great if someone could explain to me why these findings wouldn't hold true in America? I don't think there's a huge difference between African and American sex but please correct me if I'm wrong.

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen touched on that in this blog post.
posted by not that girl at 10:06 AM on August 26, 2009


the existing literature that tries to actually assess the impact upon sexual satisfaction on both circumcised males and females is extremely limited. Mixed results have been obtained for both women and men.

Reasons for this are primarily methodological: the dependent measures are always self report, and this introduces a huge bias. Secondly, particularly in the male studies, the type of circumcision is never controlled for. A case in point is the latest study out of uganda which found that males circumcised as adults experienced no negative impact on sexual satisfaction. What this study failed to mention is that every single one of these males had had their entire frenular area, including their frenulum's, spared (a fact I had to dig out and publish in a letter to the same journal a few months later).

There is a very powerful theoretical argument to be made about why the loss of erogenous tissue has a negative impact upon both male and female sexual experience. Orgasms seems to involve the build up of nervous energy within the local peripheral nervous system (the erogenous tissue) until threshold is reached, and the energy is released in a series of pulses. By reducing the number of neural modulators involved, threshold may be reached sooner, and the energy released may be less (less powerful orgasms).

This concords well with many anecdotal reports of men who have experienced less powerful ejaculations after being circumcised as adults (they report the ejaculations are more dribbly than spurty, and feel less intense and have a shorter duration).

The important point I'm trying to make here is that are demands for evidence are largely disproportionate when dealing with male vs female circumcision. The very fact that female genital cutting often removes erogenous tissue should be, and [i]is[/i] sufficient reason to cause us to think:

"that is a crime against humanity, and I don't need a study to show that it negatively impacts their sexuality"

Often we do not have the same standards when applied to male sexuality, which in my opinion is a sad commentary on cultures which engage in male genital cutting.
posted by spacediver at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Braces dramatically changed the way my mouth worked, and greatly increased my risk of gum disease, at it made flossing extraordinarily different

I have TMJ problems and chronic headache which is probably partly caused by the TMJ problems, and at least one oral surgeon has expressed the opinion that these problems were caused by having had braces as a teenager.
posted by not that girl at 10:11 AM on August 26, 2009


In fact, many circumcised males can verify this for themselves by examining the remnants of said tissue along their scarline.

Um, what?

I mean really, I can't compare but what?

I mean, seriously, bwah?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:24 AM on August 26, 2009


Um, what?

kirk, if you are circumcised, examine the sensory topography of your shaft. The ventral area (underside) of your shaft, where the scarline is, may be extraordinarily sensitive, and if you're lucky, you may be able to derive an orgasm through stimulation of only this tissue.


This is the area in question (although the diagram is of an intact penis, the corresponding area I'm talking about would be areas 13 and 14)
posted by spacediver at 10:32 AM on August 26, 2009


Spacediver,
this is probably TMI, but you're kind of hating on my ween here. "If I'm lucky"? I've actually broached this topic with some of my circumcised friends in the last couple weeks as it's been brought up, and not a single one of us has any "issues" with the sensitivity of that region. Actually, if the sensations I receive when that area is directly stimulated (palm, tongue, teeth, w/e) are on par with what women feel when the clitoris is directly stimulated OR what you uncut folks have all over the last inch or so of your penis, I thank goodness that I have neither the clitoris or the foreskin.

I mean I like it, I really like it, but it's total sensory overload.
posted by TomMelee at 10:40 AM on August 26, 2009


posted by spacediver examine the sensory topography of your shaft. The ventral area (underside) of your shaft, where the scarline is, may be extraordinarily sensitive, and if you're lucky, you may be able to derive an orgasm through stimulation of only this tissue. This is the area in question (although the diagram is of an intact penis, the corresponding area I'm talking about would be areas 13 and 14)

Clearly, you've done extensive self-examination and research in this particular area.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:41 AM on August 26, 2009


tommelee, first off, I'm not intact.

Secondly, there are males who aren't as fortunate as you, and have absolutely no sexual tissue left on their shaft. Can you honestly say that you'd rather have nothing there?

Thirdly, could you justify a partial clitoridectomy by saying that the whole array of tissue is sensory overload?

The wonderful thing about the frenular area is that it responds to stretch and not just direct touch. This allows a gradual build up of stimulation. In my experience, women also tend to prefer a gradual ramping up of stimulation.

We have no right to meddle with the sexual hardware of unconsenting humans, unless it is absolutely medically necessary.
posted by spacediver at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2009


The ventral area (underside) of your shaft, where the scarline is, may be extraordinarily sensitive, and if you're lucky, you may be able to derive an orgasm through stimulation of only this tissue.

I'm really not supposed to be doing this at work.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:55 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Circumcision doesn't stop spread of HIV among gay men. So leave gay babies alone!
posted by binturong at 10:59 AM on August 26, 2009


This thread has gone precisely how I knew it would the second I read the word "circumcision" in the original post.

Sigh. Admittedly, I knew it too. I posted it anyway.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:01 AM on August 26, 2009


Where I lose sympathy for the anti-circumcision movement is when they make claims about my anatomy that I know from joyful experience to be false, and insist that my pleasure is a form of false consciousness.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kirkjob, would you similalarly lose sympathy for the anti-female-genital-cutting movement because they make claims about female anatomy that circumcised females know, from joyful experience, to be false?

Nobody here has insisted that your pleasure isn't real. What is being claimed here is that there is very good reason to believe that sexual pleasure is compromised to the degree that the hardware that facilitates this pleasure, is compromised.


Here's a question that rarely gets reflected upon:

What kind of male genital cutting would constitute a form of sexual destruction? How many nerve endings can you remove before you consider it harmful?
posted by spacediver at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2009


I wonder how much the foreskin or lack thereof (or the frenulum, or anything) could even theoretically [as in, whether or not the nerve responses change] affect sexual satisfaction at all due to (I think it's called) brain plasticity. I mean, pleasure is not felt in the penis, but rather in the brain. It feels like it's in the penis, but we're all in agreement that it's really the brain giving us pleasure, right?

So what the various tissues do are send signals to the brain. These are purely physical signals - heat, constriction, humidity, whatever. The brain interprets these as good good no wait lower there. Assuming we're circumcising the kids, would their brains even have developed enough to interpret these signals properly at the time of circumcision?

More to the point, these signal channels from the penis to the brain have a max information limit. I have no idea what it is. But I can attest to the fact that after a certain point of heat, things stop feeling warm. Same with actual pain (sort of).

So why wouldn't the brain adapt to register the maximum possible signal strength by the various penile tissues as, in effect, Max_Pleasure? In which case it doesn't matter if you've been snipped or not, as long as you've got a moderately responsive organ*, your brain can still hit the whole range of emotion/feeling.

The brain can use teeth to see in procedures done to children, do we really think it can't get its jollies when the body is changed as a baby?

*And you do. It's a dimmer switch, not a circuit breaker.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2009


Spacediver, this is probably TMI, but you're kind of hating on my ween here.
posted by TomMelee at 10:40 AM on August 26 [+] [!]


This from the person who wrote: For what it's worth, I also think uncircumcised peni look like dog weiners, which is just gross.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:56 AM on August 26, 2009


What kind of male genital cutting would constitute a form of sexual destruction? How many nerve endings can you remove before you consider it harmful?

More than is removed during a circumcision.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


More than is removed during a circumcision.

But as I have patiently pointed out, there are many many different styles of circumcision, each of which remove varying amounts and types of tissue.

In order to intelligently answer the question I've posed, you would need to have a basic understanding of penile anatomy.

This may be a good starting point, though it is based only on reasearch up to the mid 90's.
posted by spacediver at 12:08 PM on August 26, 2009


Spacediver, your question was a rhetorical trick, the equivalent of asking "how much patting on the back is okay before you're beating somebody?" I won't be drawn into something where the inevitable outcome is a negative when the starting point is not mutually agreed to be a negative.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2009


lemmurrhea, while the brain certainly does instantiate the conscious experience of orgasm, the peripheral nervous system plays a key role in modulating the quality of the experience. There may be a point at which there are diminishing returns of pleasure as a function of increased erogenous tissue, but I don't think evolution fashioned us with the array of erogenous tissue found in the intact penis if most of it were for nought.

And while this may be an interesting theoretical discussion, practically speaking, I think it is wrong to assume that most of of the tissue is redundant and callously remove it for precisely the same reasons I think that it is wrong to assume that most of the clitoris is redundant and callously remove part of it (e.g. partial clitoridectomy).
posted by spacediver at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2009


Spacediver, your question was a rhetorical trick, the equivalent of asking "how much patting on the back is okay before you're beating somebody?" I won't be drawn into something where the inevitable outcome is a negative when the starting point is not mutually agreed to be a negative.

Then let me ask you how much female sexual tissue is ok to remove before it is considered harmful.
posted by spacediver at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2009


> My question was about the increase in the popularity of the topic

It's because of the increase in the popularity of outrage.
posted by jfuller at 12:19 PM on August 26, 2009


Then let me ask you how much female sexual tissue is ok to remove before it is considered harmful.

Since a clitorectomy is so different from a circumcision as to be an extraordinarily bad point of comparison, and as we are discussing male circumcision, I shall decline to answer that question, as it had no legitimate bearing on this discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:20 PM on August 26, 2009


again, you are failing to understand two things:

1) the external female sexual system is comprised of much more than simply the clitoris.

2) not all female circumcisions are created equal - some of them remove only the clitoral hood (which is the equivalent of removing the dorsal part of the male prepuce/foreskin.

Given this information, what would you consider an assault on the female vulva? Would the removal of the entire array of tissue comprising the labia minora (which is embryologically equivalent to the ventral prepuce of the male penis) be ok with you if it confered some protection against disease?
posted by spacediver at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2009


Given this information, what would you consider an assault on the female vulva? Would the removal of the entire array of tissue comprising the labia minora (which is embryologically equivalent to the ventral prepuce of the male penis) be ok with you if it confered some protection against disease?

Again, my point is that this is not a discussion, but a poor comparison designed to impugn circumcision by comparing it to a distinctly unrelated practive that is widely regarded as a social evil, and I'm not especially interested in being led down that path.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2009


I'm asking you some very important questions that are designed to get you to think about the basis of your intuitions regarding female genital cutting. As of now, you seem to take it as an article of faith that any form of female circumcision is terrible, and any form of male circumcision is fine.

But when I pose some penetrating questions that force you to flesh out these differing intuitions, you resort to saying that you do not want to be led down this path since the two are completely different.

If they are so different, then answering these questions should provide you with an opportunity to flesh out exactly how they differ.

And incidentally, communities that practice female genital cutting do not regard it as a social evil, and most of this planet does not practice male genital cutting. In fact, recently a poll in sweden revealed that most doctors consider male circumcision as barbaric as female circumcision
posted by spacediver at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2009


I'm asking you some very important questions that are designed to get you to think about the basis of your intuitions regarding female genital cutting.

And I'm tellign you I won't answer them. If you can rephrase your questions so that they specifically address the practice of male circumcision, fine, but as long as you keep trying to push a parallel with female genital mutilation that I find inapt, and you haven't demonstrated to be apporpriate, you're not going to get an answer out of me.

Since the issue is male genitalia, it seems like you might be able to limit your discussion to that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:47 PM on August 26, 2009


spacediver: Why yes, I will most certainly agree that American and European feminists often misstep in accusing other women, especially women of color from other cultures, of having a false consciousness about their concerns. My concern is that you spoil an otherwise reasonable discussion by insisting that those of us who are circumcised are not at all responsive from corona to testes, and are imagining things if we are.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:48 PM on August 26, 2009


KirkJob, I have never stated that circumcised males are not at all responsive from corona to testes. On the contrary, I've said that many circumcised males (including myself) are actually spared generous amounts of frenular tissue. I think you may have misread my comments.
posted by spacediver at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2009


I don't think evolution fashioned us with the array of erogenous tissue found in the intact penis if most of it were for nought.

I don't think evolution works towards preventing redundancy in the slightest. There are better ways than the human body to do quite a bit of what we try to do, but here we are. Arguing that "we evolved, hence this part is necessary" is appendysterical.

And I disagree with your argument about the PNS, not because it's not true (I have no clue), but because it too would be subject to my question of brain [or rather PNS] plasticity. Why wouldn't the body adapt to handle the changes?

Finally, the poll you linked is specifically "unless the procedure was deemed medically necessary." Which is important caveat when we're talking about the fact that circumcision may reduce HIV.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:57 PM on August 26, 2009


...which is *an* important caveat, edit window be damned.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:58 PM on August 26, 2009


Astro, in order for me to successfully push the (moral) parallel, I need you to participate in my line of thought. You don't have to agree with my conclusion, but to outright refuse, a priori, to even participate, is in my opinion not a healthy epistemic attitude.

I obviously consider male genital cutting to be a practice that is morally equivalent to female genital cutting, with the proviso that the milder forms of male circumcision are hardly as damaging as the most severe forms of female circumcision, and that the milder forms of female circumcision are hardly as damaging as the most severe forms of male circumcision.

Now I have come to this judgment by reflecting upon the features of female genital cutting that I deem minimally sufficient to cause moral outrage, and then seeing if those very conditions map onto the practice of male genital cutting.

After careful consideration, I find that they do indeed map.

Now I may well be completely wrong, but in order to have a meaningful discussion about this claim, I need you to actually interact with the thought process.

You can do so by telling me what are the properties of female genital cutting that to you, render it so horrific.

Do you just think that female genital cutting is wrong because you were told so by society? Or is your moral judgment based on something more subtantial?

My own moral judgment regarding female genital cutting is that it is wrong because the removal of sexual tissue from a nonconsenting female, unless absolutely medically necessary, is a heinous crime. This is precisely the line of thinking that underlies the basis for the United Nation's condemnation of the practice.

I would consider female genital cutting wrong even if it offered some protection against STD's and disease, and even if the vast majority of the population that practiced it considered the external female vulva an ugly object in need of trimming.

If an adult female finds herself aesthetically at odds with her vulva, does not want to take the time to clean herself, wants to engage in unprotected sex, or finds her sexual sensations too intense, then by all means, allow her to remove as much tissue as she pleases.

But to force this choice upon a young girl is plain fucking wrong.

Now why do your moral intuitions change so radically when I replace the sex of the subject in the above analysis?

posted by spacediver at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2009


lemmurrhea, prophylaxis is rather different from medically necessary. We would not consider routine neonatal mastectomies in order to prevent breast cancer.

Medically necessary is when you have gangrenous or cancerous tissue that, if not removed, will have a very high risk of causing immediate harm to neighbouring tissue or the organism as a whole.

There is not one national medical association on this planet that deems male circumcision medically necessary, and in fact, not one national medical association that even recommends the procedure.
posted by spacediver at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2009


sorry about the run on italics in my previous post. Should have taken the time to preview it.
posted by spacediver at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2009


Andrew Sullivan provides a link to an article about a study that quantifies the reduced sensitivity of the circumcised member.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:22 PM on August 26, 2009


Astro, in order for me to successfully push the (moral) parallel, I need you to participate in my line of thought. You don't have to agree with my conclusion, but to outright refuse, a priori, to even participate, is in my opinion not a healthy epistemic attitude.

I obviously consider male genital cutting to be a practice that is morally equivalent to female genital cutting, with the proviso that the milder forms of male circumcision are hardly as damaging as the most severe forms of female circumcision, and that the milder forms of female circumcision are hardly as damaging as the most severe forms of male circumcision.

Now I have come to this judgment by reflecting upon the features of female genital cutting that I deem minimally sufficient to cause moral outrage, and then seeing if those very conditions map onto the practice of male genital cutting.

After careful consideration, I find that they do indeed map.

Now I may well be completely wrong, but in order to have a meaningful discussion about this claim, I need you to actually interact with the thought process.

You can do so by telling me what are the properties of female genital cutting that to you, render it so horrific.

Do you just think that female genital cutting is wrong because you were told so by society? Or is your moral judgment based on something more subtantial?

My own moral judgment regarding female genital cutting is that it is wrong because the removal of sexual tissue from a nonconsenting female, unless absolutely medically necessary, is a heinous crime. This is precisely the line of thinking that underlies the basis for the United Nation's condemnation of the practice.

I would consider female genital cutting wrong even if it offered some protection against STD's and disease, and even if the vast majority of the population that practiced it considered the external female vulva an ugly object in need of trimming.

If an adult female finds herself aesthetically at odds with her vulva, does not want to take the time to clean herself, wants to engage in unprotected sex, or finds her sexual sensations too intense, then by all means, allow her to remove as much tissue as she pleases.

But to force this choice upon a young girl is plain fucking wrong.

Now why do your moral intuitions change so radically when I replace the sex of the subject in the above analysis?


He doesn't want to compare vaginas and penises as they are completely different things. This is not a discussion about vaginal circumcision, it is about penile circumcision. Comparing the two is similar to the awful comparison earlier in the thread of comparing circumcision to cutting off your lips. Please give it a break.
posted by kylej at 1:23 PM on August 26, 2009


kylej, it is fine to continue to claim it is an awful comparison, but you need to explain exactly why it is an awful comparison.


Suppose that Hungary started kidnapping families from Thailand and selling them as slaves, and the rest of the world tried to argue to the Hungarians that this was wrong, and used the african slave trade as an example.

To which the Hungarians repeatedly said:

"Comparing the two is awful"


Now I've carefully and patiently articulated exactly why I think they (male genital cutting and female genital cutting) are comparable, but nobody has yet articulated why they are not comparable.

Instead, it is presumed, as an article of faith, that they are not.

If they really are not comparable, then provide something of substance that truly differentiates them.
posted by spacediver at 1:35 PM on August 26, 2009


kylej, it is fine to continue to claim it is an awful comparison, but you need to explain exactly why it is an awful comparison.

Actually, it is quite the opposite. In order for you to make the parallel, you must demonstrate that the parallel is useful. From your own comments, it seems that you mostly find the parallel useful in forcing a moral point. If you can explain how the two forms of body alteration are substantially similar, you might be able to make your case, but, as had repeatedly been asserted, the differences between the physiology are significant, and saying "well, this thing is roughly like this thing" when comparing one thing to another, especiall when the other is widely seen as a moral evil, is disingenuous. I've asked you to discuss this subject specifically as it relates to male genitalia, and yet you insist on pushing this inexact parallel and discussing female genital mutilation. Why is that, aside, as I have said, from the fact that it allows you to force ma discussion of one thing into being a discussion of another thing, with the added benefit that that other thing tends to be seen as bad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:41 PM on August 26, 2009


Would you please leave our clitorises out of this? Jesus.

You must be able to make your case against male circumcision without reference to women's bodies.

The cutting of our bodies is not an appropriate rhetorical tool for shock value in a thread that has to do with your penises.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:41 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


The prophylactic benefit of circumcision in regards to HIV doesn't strike me as all that compelling. Even if the studies pan out to be true, cutting one's risk by 50% to 70% (with 60% being typical) doesn't strike me as odds that justify making the treatment routine, especially given the alternatives.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:48 PM on August 26, 2009


Here's a link to a better article on the aforementioned study. It has a link to the full citation of the journal article, and the abstract, which I excerpt here:
RESULTS
The glans of the uncircumcised men had significantly lower mean (SEM) pressure thresholds than that of the circumcised men, at 0.161 (0.078) g (P = 0.040) when controlled for age, location of measurement, type of underwear worn, and ethnicity. There were significant differences in pressure thresholds by location on the penis (P < 0.001). The most sensitive location on the circumcised penis was the circumcision scar on the ventral surface. Five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed at circumcision had lower pressure thresholds than the ventral scar of the circumcised penis.

CONCLUSIONS
The glans of the circumcised penis is less sensitive to fine touch than the glans of the uncircumcised penis. The transitional region from the external to the internal prepuce is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis and more sensitive than the most sensitive region of the circumcised penis. Circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis.
Note that last sentence.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2009


Astro, I've explained how the parallel is useful in quite some detail. Both procedures involve the removal of erogenous tissue from a non consenting human.

You claim that the differences in physiology are significant, yet you have shown an astounding ignorance concerning both male and female sexual anatomy, as well as a very shallow understanding of the practices of both female and male genital cutting (hint, not all female circumcisions are done to sexually deprive females and not all female circumcisions involve the removal of any of the clitoris).

If you would like me to discuss male genital cutting without reference to female genital cutting, then that is entirely possible.

My argument would be that it is fundamentally wrong to remove sexual tissue from a nonconsenting male, unless absolutely medically necessary.

The use of the female counterpart is merely a pedagogical tool. Afterall, if you believe that female genital cutting is wrong, and I can show you that the reasons that you use to come to this conclusion can be applied to male genital cutting, then that is worth something.
posted by spacediver at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2009


spacediver, I don't want to take your bait here, but I would consider a WHO class I circumcision sans clitoridectomy- that is, removal of some or all of the clitoral hood without removal of the clitoris (present in most type I-III), portions of the labia (type II) or infibulation (type III) to be an 'acceptable' form of female circumcision. As with male circumcision, this procedure results in very little, to (most likely) no loss of sexual or other function. As a result, it has been promoted by women's health advocates in some populations as an alternative to the more invasive forms of female genital cutting: the thought being to replace the harmful ritual with one that involves at worst minimal harm to the recipient.

A clitoridectomy or infibulation is in no way comparable to male circumcision; the former would be equivalent to removal of the glans penis or the whole penile shaft, while the latter would include (in most cases) this removal along with sewing the remaining urethral outlet under a flap of grafted skin, allowing urine to dribble out of a small hole that's provided. So if you expand the definition of male circumcision to include these procedures as well, sure, they're comparable, and I guess I'm anti-circumcision.
posted by monocyte at 1:50 PM on August 26, 2009


If you would like me to discuss male genital cutting without reference to female genital cutting, then that is entirely possible.

Yes please.
posted by kylej at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2009


yet you have shown an astounding ignorance concerning both male and female sexual anatomy,

Actually, I think I have made my case quite clearly, and simply calling me ignorant does nothing to forward your argument. If you can't make the case without refering to the actual organ, but, instead, by parallel, you don't have a case.

By the way, since at no moment have I asked you to instruct me, I don't need you applying pedagogic tools to this discussion, and the fact that you are doing so is telling. You're not actually having good faith discussion, but have come in as an instructor, dispensing wisdom, by virtue of your moral authority and, at the moment, an appeal to authority, as you seem to believe you have some vastly superior undertsanding of anatomy that allows you to compare apples to oranges -- although you yourself admit that the only value in doing so it to compare a neutral thing to a despised thing, as I have suggested.

Pardon me if I excuse myself out of this discussion. I don't really go to the Web to be lectured by people who use specious arguments to force a sense of moral certainty, and then, when called on it, get personal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can have my foreskin when you pry it from this hooker's cold, dead hands.
posted by fuq at 2:00 PM on August 26, 2009


And as the CDC points out, widespread circumcision has done little to check the spread of the epidemic.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:02 PM on August 26, 2009


I don't really go to the Web to be lectured by people who use specious arguments to force a sense of moral certainty, and then, when called on it, get personal.

There are days when the web appears to be 33% this and 67% porn.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2009


Female genital cutting, in the cultures that practice it, is primarily a control issue, which leads to emotional scarring as well as physical scarring. It's done to demonstrate to a woman that she is not in control of her own sexuality, to actually make sex painful so that she will remain a virgin until she is married. After she's married, it is still painful, of course, but that is considered no longer a problem as she 'belongs' to her husband.

Male circumcision, as practiced in America (which is the only country I can speak to, as I'm an American), does not cause painful intercourse, nor does it cause men to forgo sex (believe me) until they are married or attempt to take sexual control away from them.

The "without consent" issue that bothers you so much: are you in favor of those parents who elect not to have their children vaccinated? Do you think that parents have the right to subject their children to painful innoculations? If you argue that they don't, then you are consistent at least, but if you say the two things are different, then this isn't really an issue of consent or lack of it, but rather what you personally think is morally acceptable when it comes to a child's health. You do not feel circumcision is necessary; some parents disagree.

My boys are both circumcised, a decision I left to their father as I did not feel that, as a woman, I could empathize with all the personal issues that led to the decision for the procedure. I never had a penis and he does, case closed for me. To say that my husband is committing child abuse to have his sons undergo a procedure he also had done seems wrong to me.

Now, you may be thinking that some of these women who have endured genital cutting have mothers who also had the procedure. But again, there is an issue of control there--those women have been conditioned by the males in charge to feel that the only way their daughters will be accepted by the males in their society is if they are cut. I would agree that this control structure is inherently wrong--but I have to ask, if a woman in that society did not undergo the procedure as a child, but instead was whisked away to another place, and then she decided as an adult that she wished to have her genitals cut, would you support her decision? Or would you still be morally opposed? By your argument, you should support her decision.

Incidentally, I had a friend who was in the Peace Corps with her husband. Her son, born in a third world country, was not circumcised. When he was eleven, his mother tearfully informed me that he was having serious, recurring health problems so his doctor felt it was necessary to circumcise him for his own health. I gather the foreskin would not retract properly or something but I didn't want to pry so I am not sure of the exact nature.

Anyway, I can assure you that at eleven, it was far more traumatic for this boy to go through this procedure. My sons have no memories of their circumcisions whatsoever; he does. Though they all had topical anesthetic, I can't imagine that his ongoing health issues made healing from the procedure easier. There might even be some nostalgia for the way he was before the operation, who knows?

Which brings up another point: in America, you can't really just (as it stands now) decide to have an operation and have insurance cover it unless you have a medical need. So, if a boy grows up to whatever age you consider is old enough for him to consent to the procedure himself, and he then wants to be circumcised, it is ultimately the insurance companies, not his parents or even himself who makes the decision. Obviously, his doctor can push the issue, but again it would need to be "medically necessary". So I don't think the argument of "well, he can always have it done if he wants to later," is necessarily a valid point right now. Hopefully, health reform will change that.
posted by misha at 2:20 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


to compare a neutral thing to a despised thing

If you haven't realized by now that the "neutral thing" is despised, well, you may want to grab a quick CAT scan on your lunch break, 'cause there's something really wrong with your brain.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2009


The "without consent" issue that bothers you so much: are you in favor of those parents who elect not to have their children vaccinated? Do you think that parents have the right to subject their children to painful innoculations?

Innoculations benefit everyone. Circumcision, not so much.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:22 PM on August 26, 2009


Innoculations benefit everyone. Circumcision, not so much.

There are risks to innoculations as well as benefits, exactly the same as with circumcision.
posted by kylej at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2009


Damn! spacediver already cited that study. Sorry, spacediver, I somehow managed to miss that. (Also, spacediver's link includes the body of the paper, which makes it clearly superior to mine.) Mea culpa.

It's interesting to note that spacediver supplied the "cite" requested by mattdidthat, Astro Zombie, and fatbird, but I don't recall seeing any of them respond directly to it.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2009


There are risks to innoculations as well as benefits, exactly the same as with circumcision.

So?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:26 PM on August 26, 2009


If you haven't realized by now that the "neutral thing" is despised, well, you may want to grab a quick CAT scan on your lunch break, 'cause there's something really wrong with your brain.

I think he meant neutral in that there's no overwhelming majority that's totally against circumcision.
posted by kylej at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2009


There are risks to innoculations as well as benefits, exactly the same as with circumcision.

So?


So your argument is wrong and doesn't make sense?
posted by kylej at 2:28 PM on August 26, 2009


If you haven't realized by now that the "neutral thing" is despised, well, you may want to grab a quick CAT scan on your lunch break, 'cause there's something really wrong with your brain.

"Despised by Sys Rq" =/= "despised by everybody."
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on August 26, 2009


spacediver's linked study about 2 out 3 Swedish doctors not wanting to perform circumcisions also says this:

An estimated 3,000 male circumcisions are performed in Sweden each year, with about 2,000 of them performed by people who are not doctors and who do not have a medical license, The Local reported.

The Swedish Board of Health and Welfare has proposed regulating male circumcisions and requiring all municipalities to offer male circumcision for non-medical reasons.


So, because two out of three doctors don't think circumcision is necessary, 2 out of 3 circumcisions (note that they are still being done) are NOT being done by doctors. This is NOT a solution. This is like advocating coat-hanger abortions, and obviously the Swedish Board of Health agrees, as they want circumcisions offered!
posted by misha at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2009


Oh, I see. But neutral to Astro Zombie equals neutral to everybody?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2009


An estimated 3,000 male circumcisions are performed in Sweden each year, with about 2,000 of them performed by people who are not doctors and who do not have a medical license, The Local reported.

They have mohels in Sweden too, you know.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:35 PM on August 26, 2009


My point, Sys Req, is that saying Sweden is against circumcisions is simply not true, as the Swedish Board of Health recommends making them available to the public.
posted by misha at 2:37 PM on August 26, 2009


...which they are.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:39 PM on August 26, 2009


Oh, I see. But neutral to Astro Zombie equals neutral to everybody?

No. In fact, "neutral" is not the right word either. 76 percent of the male population of the US is circumsized. So it had quite a bit of tacit approval.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:42 PM on August 26, 2009


Look, whatever.

I'm not at all suggesting that circumcision should be banned outright, or even that parents should feel bad about circumcising their infant sons; only that they should read both halves of the pamphlet beforehand and really think about what they're doing and why they're doing it.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:46 PM on August 26, 2009


My figures show that live births in Sweden are approx. 100,000 per year. Assuming a relatively even sex ratio, that makes the rate of circumcision about 6%?

kylej: The complication rate for circumcision is an order of magnitude higher than vaccination according to my research, with a much lower rate of successful prophylactic effect. Which is probably why few professional organizations are eager to endorse it for that purpose.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:46 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Monocyte, thank you for addressing my questions directly.

spacediver, I don't want to take your bait here, but I would consider a WHO class I circumcision sans clitoridectomy- that is, removal of some or all of the clitoral hood without removal of the clitoris (present in most type I-III), portions of the labia (type II) or infibulation (type III) to be an 'acceptable' form of female circumcision. As with male circumcision, this procedure results in very little, to (most likely) no loss of sexual or other function. As a result, it has been promoted by women's health advocates in some populations as an alternative to the more invasive forms of female genital cutting: the thought being to replace the harmful ritual with one that involves at worst minimal harm to the recipient.

A clitoridectomy or infibulation is in no way comparable to male circumcision; the former would be equivalent to removal of the glans penis or the whole penile shaft, while the latter would include (in most cases) this removal along with sewing the remaining urethral outlet under a flap of grafted skin, allowing urine to dribble out of a small hole that's provided. So if you expand the definition of male circumcision to include these procedures as well, sure, they're comparable, and I guess I'm anti-circumcision.



There are a couple points I'd like to take issue with - the first being that you claim that removal of any parts other than the clitoris (in the female) or the glans (in the male) has no bearing upon the sexual function of the female or male. What exactly are you basing this claim on?

Anecdotally:

From my own experience, which includes careful communication with sexual partners and female friends, I can assure you that many women derive significant pleasure from stimulation of their labia minora, especially the part that joins up to the clitoris. To remove this tissue is to permanently deprive females of this experience.

I can also assure you that the remnant of my own frenulum are extremely important to my sexual experience. The orgasms derived from stimulation of this area are qualitatively different from my glans orgasms. They have a more sugary feel to them, whereas the glans stimulation feels more sweet and sour (that's the best I can come up with - a synaesthetic metaphor)

I challenge you to have the courage to ask any intact male some incisive questions about the topography of his penis. Go and ask 5 males whether their frenulum plays an important role in their sexual experience. You might be surprised. The glans is not the sole seat of sexual pleasure in the male.

Peer reviewed wise:

It's been shown that the inner ventral prepuce contains the bulk of sexual hardware in the male, and many studies do show a loss of sexual satisfaction after circumcision.


I agree that full clitoridectomy, removal of labia minora, and infibulation is one of the worst forms of sexual mutilation out there, and that there really isn't an equivalent for males that is commonly practiced.

Where we seem to disagree is that the clitoris and the glans, while integral, are not the sole seats of sexual pleasure.

In fact, neurophysiologically speaking, the frenular area is more akin to the clitoris, given the density of erogenous nerve endings found in both. The glans is relatively sparse, and has no fine touch receptors, though the corona (the ridge of the glans) may have some.
posted by spacediver at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2009


(Also, misha, the key prase you may have missed in that quote of yours is non-medical reasons. So, when you say "NOT a solution"—not a solution to what, exactly?)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:52 PM on August 26, 2009


kylej: The complication rate for circumcision is an order of magnitude higher than vaccination according to my research, with a much lower rate of successful prophylactic effect. Which is probably why few professional organizations are eager to endorse it for that purpose.

Cites please.
posted by kylej at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2009


Based on our findings, a complication can be expected in 1 out every 476 circumcisions. Six urinary tract infections can be prevented for every complication endured and almost 2 complications can be expected for every case of penile cancer prevented.*

Fifty eight patients presented a median of 13 weeks post‐inoculation: 32 with suppurative adenitis, 17 with inoculation site abscess, three with both inoculation site abscess and suppurative adenitis, and six with non‐suppurative adenopathy. The overall complication rate was estimated at 1/931 vaccinees with 1/1543 developing suppurative adenitis. Twenty six infants required surgery.*
posted by Sys Rq at 3:02 PM on August 26, 2009


But when I pose some penetrating questions that force you to flesh out these differing intuitions...

Tell me you were doing this on purpose.

Would you please leave our clitorises out of this? Jesus.

You must be able to make your case against male circumcision without reference to women's bodies.


I don't think it's a horrible to compare male and female genitalia in this instance. He should probably let it go if only because it doesn't seem to be convincing anyone.

As far as my thoughts on circumcision go: it's coming across as a bit disingenuous that all of a sudden it's all about health benefits. It seems as if people who were emotionally and socially invested in cutting foreskins off were looking for reasons to be allowed to continue to do so. And this is just how it appears to me (up in Canada).

there's no overwhelming majority that's totally against circumcision.

On what planet?
posted by ODiV at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw that study, Sys Rq, and thought it gave excellent information. However, vaccinations are tough to quantify. First of all, children are given multiple vaccinations. Also, complications from vaccinations include neurological problems and even death. Abscesses are bad enough, and I certainly think they are serious, but we really can't compare apples to apples here. And I would never argue against vaccinations, despite the risks.
posted by misha at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2009


Based on our findings, a complication can be expected in 1 out every 476 circumcisions. Six urinary tract infections can be prevented for every complication endured and almost 2 complications can be expected for every case of penile cancer prevented.*

Fifty eight patients presented a median of 13 weeks post‐inoculation: 32 with suppurative adenitis, 17 with inoculation site abscess, three with both inoculation site abscess and suppurative adenitis, and six with non‐suppurative adenopathy. The overall complication rate was estimated at 1/931 vaccinees with 1/1543 developing suppurative adenitis. Twenty six infants required surgery.*


Even if something is less effective than preventing diseases/infections as something else that doesn't make it invalid.
posted by kylej at 3:07 PM on August 26, 2009


On what planet?

This one? If you can give me a genuine citation that shows that the overwhelming majority of the earth's population is totally against allowing babies being circumcised then I'll shut up.
posted by kylej at 3:11 PM on August 26, 2009


Oh, Sys Rq, I meant that some here (not you) seemed to be against circumcision and saying, hey, the Swedes are against it, and using that as an argument against circumcision. And my point was simply that not all Swedes are against it, that some are having it done without doctors because doctors won't do the procedure, and that I think we can agree that this hardly represents an ideal situation.
posted by misha at 3:11 PM on August 26, 2009


kylej: You asked for cites, I googled for them, and voila. You're welcome.

misha: First of all, children are given multiple vaccinations. Also, complications from vaccinations include neurological problems and even death. Abscesses are bad enough, and I certainly think they are serious, but we really can't compare apples to apples here. And I would never argue against vaccinations, despite the risks.

Neither would I, ever ever ever (except maybe the dumb ones like chicken pox). Again, just doing other people's homework, quick and sloppy.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2009


kylej: Ah, I thought you meant it as "wouldn't even consider it". Question withdrawn. I have no idea how I'd even go about finding out how many people are totally against the circumcisions of babies in other families/countries/continents.
posted by ODiV at 3:14 PM on August 26, 2009


1/476 and 1/931 are of the same order of magnitude.
posted by prak at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


quick and sloppy

*cringe*
posted by ODiV at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2009


And my point was simply that not all Swedes are against it, that some are having it done without doctors because doctors won't do the procedure, and that I think we can agree that this hardly represents an ideal situation.

I'm sick of all the CITES PLEASEing, but, um, you got a cite for that "because"? I'll wanger that a lot more Americans are circumcised outside a medical setting (i.e. at a bris) than Swedes, entirely by choice rather than necessity. It's not really a back-alley abortion scenario in the slightest.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:17 PM on August 26, 2009


heh, um, *wager*
posted by Sys Rq at 3:18 PM on August 26, 2009


Dude, that was the most awesome typo in the history of the universe. I salute you.
posted by elizardbits at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sick of all the CITES PLEASEing, but, um, you got a cite for that "because"? I'll wanger that a lot more Americans are circumcised outside a medical setting (i.e. at a bris) than Swedes, entirely by choice rather than necessity. It's not really a back-alley abortion scenario in the slightest.

I'm guessing that she brought that up because in Sweden the majority of doctors won't do circumcisions which leads to increased risks as people do them themselves or pay unlicensed professionals.

I feel like parallels can be drawn to back alley abortions which greatly increase the risk for the patient because there's no legal option.
posted by kylej at 3:22 PM on August 26, 2009


kylej: The CDC review cited here places the risk of complications in the United States at between 0.2-2% or between 20-200 per 10,000. Those figures rise to 4-8% worldwide. The risks of serious complications associated with MMR are estimated at around 5.3 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, circumcision is associated with only a 50-70% reduction in risk of HIV transmission compared to between 95-100% efficacy for most vaccines.

kylej: Even if something is less effective than preventing diseases/infections as something else that doesn't make it invalid.

I don't think "invalid" has been put forth in this discussion. However the benefit/risk ratio is significantly different for vaccination vs. circumcision. People recommending routine vaccination on medical grounds are extremely well-justified. People recommending routine circumcision on medical grounds are not, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine vaccinations but informed parental consent and choice on circumcision.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:30 PM on August 26, 2009


If you can give me a genuine citation that shows that the overwhelming majority of the earth's population is totally against allowing babies being circumcised then I'll shut up.

Don't know about the "totally against allowing..." but since Chinese, Russians, South Americans and Europeans are mostly not circumcised I think you have your global majority right there.
posted by binturong at 3:31 PM on August 26, 2009


MetaFilter: I'll wanger that a lot
posted by Bookhouse at 3:36 PM on August 26, 2009


Actually, having read further, it does appear that at least as recently as 2006, Swedes require medically trained professionals to be present, at least according to Wikipedia:

In 2001, Sweden passed a law allowing only persons certified by the National Board of Health to circumcise infants, requiring a medical doctor or an anesthesia nurse to accompany the circumciser and for anaesthetic to be applied beforehand. Jews and Muslims in Sweden objected to the law,[94] and in 2001, the World Jewish Congress stated that it was "the first legal restriction on Jewish religious practice in Europe since the Nazi era."[95] In 2005, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare reviewed the law and recommended that it be maintained. In 2006, the U.S. State Department's report on Sweden stated that most Jewish mohels had been certified under the law and 3000 Muslim and 40–50 Jewish boys were circumcised each year.[96]

So, there probably aren't any back alley circumcisions (thank goodness). My comparison is thus probably not the best, and I apologize if I muddied the waters of the controversy.
posted by misha at 3:37 PM on August 26, 2009


Okay.

I'd just like to make it clear that I one-hundred percent recommend informed parental consent and choice in regards to circumcision.

I think we can stop arguing about vaccinations. I completely support routine vaccination and I do not support routine circumcision (though I do think that circumcision is a valid and possibly beneficial option that should be explored).

I feel like sometimes I get so wrapped up in a discussion I get carried away and will belabor every point.
posted by kylej at 3:37 PM on August 26, 2009


Don't know about the "totally against allowing..." but since Chinese, Russians, South Americans and Europeans are mostly not circumcised I think you have your global majority right there.

I was talking about the "totally against allowing". I understand that the majority of the world was uncircumcised.
posted by kylej at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2009


And I should say that I don't want to see circumcision banned. I lean towards an informed consent and skepticism as to the health claims.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:41 PM on August 26, 2009


Anyway, I can assure you that at eleven, it was far more traumatic for this boy to go through this procedure. My sons have no memories of their circumcisions whatsoever; he does. Though they all had topical anesthetic, I can't imagine that his ongoing health issues made healing from the procedure easier. There might even be some nostalgia for the way he was before the operation, who knows?

The exact same thing happened to some friends of mine, except they were one of those adamant "NO WAY!" couples. I didn't say I told you so or any b.s. like that but I think I did say something like, "well, the sooner the better" as they were waffling on when to schedule the appointment. The reason I didn't bring it up earlier is because it's anecdotal, but it is something where I think people keep saying that boys can choose to do it later in life when sometimes you can't.

It's not really a back-alley abortion scenario in the slightest.

What happened to that whole 'complications happen' argument? I'm not saying you were asserted it, but it seems to be one of the cornerstones of this con-circumcision argument. You can't really sit on both sides of that fence.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:42 PM on August 26, 2009


To grind my own axe a bit, I think that elevating anything with such a low rate of effectiveness as prophylactic against HIV at this point in time is highly irresponsible. What's working to slow the epidemic? Clean needles and safer sex. And that's about it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:50 PM on August 26, 2009


Once again re-entering the cone of crazy against my better judgment.

There are a couple points I'd like to take issue with - the first being that you claim that removal of any parts other than the clitoris (in the female) or the glans (in the male) has no bearing upon the sexual function of the female or male. What exactly are you basing this claim on?

I'm not sure how you think I claimed this. I'm also not sure how it has any bearing on the rhetorically unwise and borderline dishonest equivalency you were setting up between male and female circumcision practices. As previously stated, I would consider only removal of the clitoral hood to be an equivalent practice.

Anecdotes
I'm not sure how to respond to this, except that it's creepy that you're making any assumptions about my person.

Peer reviewed wise:

It's been shown that the inner ventral prepuce contains the bulk of sexual hardware in the male, and many studies do show a loss of sexual satisfaction after circumcision.
...
neurophysiologically speaking, the frenular area is more akin to the clitoris, given the density of erogenous nerve endings found in both. The glans is relatively sparse, and has no fine touch receptors, though the corona (the ridge of the glans) may have some.


Your claims about the frenulum v. glans tend to understate the substantial innervation present throughout the structure, including the corona. This is all I will say on this topic, though the entire medical literature on this topic can be read quite quickly.

But anyways, sexual satisfaction after circumcision... This is the kicker, isn't it? All this innervation talk is irrelevant in light of end function and perception thereof. Let's see what the literature has to say...

PubMed search terms: "circumcision sexual satisfaction"

In the light of our findings, we conclude that circumcision may contribute to sexual satisfaction by prolonging PEP latency but further studies are warranted also regarding the other dimensions of circumcision.

PMID: 19115671

CONCLUSIONS: Adult male circumcision was not associated with sexual dysfunction. Circumcised men reported increased penile sensitivity and enhanced ease of reaching orgasm. These data indicate that integration of male circumcision into programs to reduce HIV risk is unlikely to adversely effect male sexual function.

PMID: 18761593

CONCLUSION: Adult male circumcision does not adversely affect sexual satisfaction or clinically significant function in men.

PMID: 18086100

CONCLUSION: These results do not support the hypothesized penile sensory differences associated with circumcision. However, group differences in penile temperature and sexual response were found.

PMID: 17419812 (I think we saw this one earlier.)

CONCLUSION: There was a decrease in masturbatory pleasure and sexual enjoyment after circumcision, indicating that adult circumcision adversely affects sexual function in many men, possibly because of complications of the surgery and a loss of nerve endings.

PMID: 17155977

Adult circumcision appears to result in worsened erectile function (p = 0.01), decreased penile sensitivity (p = 0.08), no change in sexual activity (p = 0.22) and improved satisfaction (p = 0.04). Of the men 50% reported benefits and 38% reported harm. Overall, 62% of men were satisfied with having been circumcised.

PMID: 11956453

CONCLUSIONS: Circumcision does not appear to have adverse, clinically important effects on male sexual function in sexually active adults who undergo the procedure.

PMID: 11956452

While this is far from an exhaustive search, it would seem that the preponderance of the evidence suggests that circumcision has no effect on sexual satisfaction, with the most numerous minority view being that it in fact enhances the experience.

Well, that's it. I am done with this.
posted by monocyte at 4:01 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


When interpreting the conclusions of many of the studies cited by monocyte, one needs to keep in mind that men who are circumcised as adults often have some problem that prompted it, and that alleviating that problem might result in the perception of an improvement in function.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:41 PM on August 26, 2009


When interpreting the conclusions of many of the studies cited by monocyte, one needs to keep in mind that men who are circumcised as adults often have some problem that prompted it, and that alleviating that problem might result in the perception of an improvement in function.

Can't it be assumed that the research scientists accounted for this fact in their research? I'd also assume that the majority of the studies went further then just asking, "How's your penis feel after getting it circumcised? Better? Okay sweet!"
posted by kylej at 4:49 PM on August 26, 2009


When interpreting the conclusions of many of the studies cited by monocyte, one needs to keep in mind that men who are circumcised as adults often have some problem that prompted it, and that alleviating that problem might result in the perception of an improvement in function.

I said I was done with this but many of these studies are behind a paywall, so: this is the case for the studies with PMID 11956452 and 11956453, where circumcision was primarily for medical reasons like phimosis or balanitis. In the other cases the studies selected patients receiving circumcisions electively, either as the result of HIV intervention studies in Africa or for nonmedical reasons in the others.
posted by monocyte at 5:23 PM on August 26, 2009


Can't it be assumed that the research scientists accounted for this fact in their research? I'd also assume that the majority of the studies went further then just asking, "How's your penis feel after getting it circumcised? Better? Okay sweet!"


actually no kyle they weren't and this has been a big source of criticism from some scientists involved in the research. As I said in my first post in this thread, the scientific literature on the sexual impact of female and male circumcision is of very little substance.

There are two important things that need to be done:

1) The amount of frenular tissue removed needs to be controlled for

2) the dependent measure needs to be more than self report - ejaculatory pressure may be a good physiological measure of the intensity of orgasm, and measures of prolactin during the hour following orgasm is a great proxy for sexual satiety.
posted by spacediver at 5:59 PM on August 26, 2009


monocyte, did you read my post concerning the study done out of uganda?


Reasons for this are primarily methodological: the dependent measures are always self report, and this introduces a huge bias. Secondly, particularly in the male studies, the type of circumcision is never controlled for. A case in point is the latest study out of uganda which found that males circumcised as adults experienced no negative impact on sexual satisfaction. What this study failed to mention is that every single one of these males had had their entire frenular area, including their frenulum's, spared (a fact I had to dig out and publish in a letter to the same journal a few months later).
posted by spacediver at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2009


spacediver's assertion that not all male circumcisions are created equal. How on earth can anyone propose to debate it without addressing that?

For that matter the broad statistics of sexual enjoyment seem nearly irrelevant to the germ of the argument. Inoffensive analogies are hard but setting aside any arguments involving pain, disease, morality or aesthetics:

Posit that it's possible to remove a person's sense of taste without trauma. Also posit that the sense of smell receives 100% of the sensory bandwidth normally used by taste and that both groups report similar levels of enjoyment of food, don't seem to be overly bothered by the difference between before and after where appropriate.

Their experiences are measurably equivalent yet the double-smell group are not perceiving an entire class of sensation that the taste-and-smell group is.

Fundamentally it's a philosophical debate over qualia.
posted by Skorgu at 6:10 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


spacediver's assertion that not all male circumcisions are created equal. How on earth can anyone propose to debate it without addressing that?

you'd be surprised how many people are incapable or unwilling on addressing this. In order to address it, they need to realize that there is important sexual tissue beyond the glans. In their minds, the glans is king, and it doesn't matter how much tissue is removed elsewhere.

As for the thought experiment involving taste, don't forget that complexity of sensation contributes to the qualia just as much as "bandwidth".

Consider the neural rewiring that occurs after amputating a monkey's finger. The regions of the somatosensory cortex that were previously fed by the amputated finger now receive input from the neighbouring fingers. One could make the argument that the monkey has not really lost sensation.

But consider that monkey now running her fingers through a lake. Suppose she only has one finger left, and that finger feeds the entire area of cortex that used to be devoted to the five fingers. It's not hard to see that the complexity of stimulation is reduced.

This is even more the case in orgasm, where the build up of energy is a phenomenon that exists on a local level. Each of those erogenous nerve endings seem to act as a capacitor, storing sexual energy to be released when threshold is reached. When you reduce the number of capactitors, it stands to reason that the strength of the orgasm is also reduced.

Indeed, this reduction of the intensity of the sexual experience in the male was one of the key rationales used by ancient jewish scholars in justifying circumcision. To them, sexuality and in particular the sexual bond between man and wife was seen as diametrically opposed to holiness. Similar justifications existed in north america during the victorian era to mutilate the genitals of both boys and girls. It's remarkable how much north american culture has forgotten about its past, yet is blindly led by the momentum of previous norms.
posted by spacediver at 6:32 PM on August 26, 2009


Spacediver: please cite on the Jewish scholarship. Ancient Jewish scholars generally felt no need to justify basic practices. Generally, too, Judaism and ancient Judaism were sex positive (what opposition to holiness? what are you talking about? niddah?), especially within marriage. What you're describing sounds much later, or if anything, would be seen as a side effect, not a justification. Who exactly are you talking about?

Actually the general trend in the Talmud is for sex and marriage. "The greater the man, the greater the desire," etc, and it was a source of questioning when an important man did not marry. I can't think of any ancient anti-male sexual pleasure sources off the top of my head (not to say that they don't exist, but the body of Jewish scholarship is so deep that it takes more than just a quote to say anything general about 'ancient Judaism' - Temple times? pre-Temple? Exile? What are you talking about?).
posted by Salamandrous at 7:09 PM on August 26, 2009


Maimonides is one key figure (12th century).

Here are some more quotes by other judaic figures (check the first three).

For a more comprehensive history, I recommend this book, written by a Jewish physician, published by Oxford University Press
posted by spacediver at 7:13 PM on August 26, 2009


Maimonides, ancient? Okay, we're on a whole different timeline here. Sorry, I was way off on what you were getting at.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:16 PM on August 26, 2009


I guess what's kind of ironic about it is that he was probably also justifying traditional Jewish practice to people around him who were calling it barbaric (and calling Jews that or worse). The more things change...
posted by Salamandrous at 7:18 PM on August 26, 2009


I remember reading in the online jewish encyclopedia that the ancient jews adopted it from the abbyssinians, who I believe circumcised both males and females - the article also stated that at least one jewish sect still circumcises females (clitoridectomy).

I also remember reading that the abbyssinians did it to render the male more masculine and the female more feminine (the clitoris was perceived to be masculine and the foreskin to be feminine) with the idea that when a man and a woman were united, they would once again be whole.

This is another reason that male genital cutting cannot be discussed without female genital cutting - they really are two sides of the same coin, and emerged together.
posted by spacediver at 7:29 PM on August 26, 2009


To them, sexuality and in particular the sexual bond between man and wife was seen as diametrically opposed to holiness.

You're just plain wrong about this, which makes me wonder what else you're getting wrong. You can't cite one or two rabbis and think that represents the whole of Jewish opinion, and thinking that you can displays a very fundamental lack of understanding about Judaism. The truth is, the general consensus of rabbis is that the sexual bond between a man and a woman is a reflection of the divine, to such an extent that sexual congress was all but required, when possible, on the Sabbath. One example.

Also, you neglected to mention that Glick is an anti-circumcision advocate, and, while he may be a doctor and an anthropologist, he is neither a historian not a religious scholar, and his interpretation of the history of Judaism, which functions as an anti-circumcision polemic, is hardly in accord with the work of scholars of Jewish history. You have been offering up appeals to authority throughout this discussion, but, even if it weren't a logical fallacy, you would still need to establish actual authority.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:49 PM on August 26, 2009


the article also stated that at least one jewish sect still circumcises females (clitoridectomy).

That is one hell of an accusation to make without a source, based on a vague memory. Ethiopian Jews sometimes practiced, but as a non-religious ceremony that they adopted from the larger culture. It is never mentioned as a Jewish practice in any Jewish text. Please try to be sensitive to the fact that baseless accusations against Jews has historically had calamitous results, and try not to speak with authority when you don't actually know what you're talking about.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:55 PM on August 26, 2009


Would anyone like a nice, warm, glass of BOMB MILK?
posted by P.o.B. at 7:59 PM on August 26, 2009


Would anyone like a nice, warm, glass of BOMB MILK?

Yes please!
posted by kylej at 8:03 PM on August 26, 2009


Astro, I was talking specifically about the school of thought espoused by the jewish scholars I cited. I never claimed that the vast corpus of jewish thought supported this view. You seem a bit defensive.


As for glick being an anti-circumcision advocate - damn right he is. So was Francis Crick, Ashley Montague, and countless other scholars. You offer that piece of information as it if is grounds to attack his credibility. Consider that it was oxford university press that published his book.

Being anticircumcision does not entail being anti-jewish or anti-semitic.

As for the jewish sect that circumcises females, here is the quote:

The possibility of this wide distribution of the practise being due to a dispersion from a single center like Egypt or southern Arabia, is disproved by the great variety of methods by which the removal of the prepuce is effected, some of the practises, as in New Caledonia and the Fiji Islands, throwing light on the "peri'ah" of the Jews.

The subject can not be adequately treated without a reference to the analogous operation of clitoridectomy performed on girls of nubile age, sometimes accompanied by the so-called "infibulation" of the adjacent parts. According to Ploss (in "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie," 1871, pp. 381 et seq., summarized in his "Das Kind," 1st ed., i. 305-324), this occurs among the S. Arabs, in Egypt, in Abyssinia, among the Gallas, the Susus, the Mandingos, the Masai, and the Waknosi (all of whom likewise circumcise their boys), as well as in Peru and on the banks of the Ucayale River. The operation is in nearly every case performed simultaneously on males and females, though they are kept separate during the periods of preparation and operation. One sect of Jews, the Falashas, also circumcise both sexes (Andree, "Zur Volkskunde der Juden," p. 84); it is probable that this practise has been adopted from the surrounding Abyssinians.

posted by spacediver at 8:19 PM on August 26, 2009


I wonder how many of you are also unaware that the original jewish circumcision was far less damaging than the radical circumcision that is practiced today. The original form was relatively mild, leaving most of the frenular area intact. It only excised the skin that extended beyond the tip of the glans.

The more radical form, introduced at I think 400 AD, and which is what is mainstream today, involves the removal of the bulk of frenular tissue.
posted by spacediver at 8:21 PM on August 26, 2009


Spacediver, it generally pays to be extra sensitive about a minority culture, and make sure you have been as explicit as possible in representing them, which you failed to do. When somebody points out that you haven't characterized them with precision, and when your own link bears that out, it's usually not a good idea to then accuse said minorities of being a little sensitive, or to imply that they are somehow accusing you of bearing a specific antipathy toward their culture. Apologies and a promise for more care and greater specificity actually tend to be in order in those circumstances.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:35 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Consider that it was oxford university press that published his book.

Since you keep relying on this fallacy, I must presume that you don't actually know what an appeal from authority is, and why it doesn't wash. But, as a rhetorical technique, it's bunk. I don't care who published it. I do care that you posted it as though it represented some sort of scholarship, without mentioning that the author was writing outside their field of professional study to support a specific viewpoint. That sort of thing does help us understand the source a little better, and to not be explicit about it makes you seem as though you were trying to pass it off as something it isn't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 PM on August 26, 2009


astrozombie, I feel I've been remarkably patient and have taken pains to be explicit. Go back and read my posts carefully (the one's to which you responded with so much heat) and perhaps you can reflect upon your own sensitivity in this matter.

Case in point is the way you reacted when I said that the article stated that one jewish sect still circumcises female. You seemed genuinely mad! Yet all I did was state something that I had read from a pretty credible source, which I later pointed out. Where exactly was my error?
posted by spacediver at 8:41 PM on August 26, 2009


I will return to this discussion later - am preoccupied at present
posted by spacediver at 8:43 PM on August 26, 2009


Tell me, why did you identify them as Jewish when your own link states that the practice was not explicitly Jewish, but was borrowed from the larger society? What was the function of that identification? Why the specificity there, when it was an Abyssinian practice that was being discussed?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:44 PM on August 26, 2009


And, to be specific about the source of my complaint, it is because Jews have tended to get the short end of the stick when accused of things like this, especially when it is somehow wedded to explicitly Jewish practices, even when it is something widely practiced. You have read somewhat about Jews; surely you must have stumbled across examples of this.

That is the sensitivity I ask for.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:49 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does it matter if it was borrowed? Very few practices in the history of our species emerge de novo. If a group of jews borrowed a practice and adopted it as their own, and then I say as much, how is it wrong to identify it as jewish?

I even made the qualification that it was a jewish sect and I claimed in my original discussion of the issue that it was borrowed from the abyssinnians.

Here is the original comment which has so inflamed you:

I remember reading in the online jewish encyclopedia that the ancient jews adopted it from the abbyssinians, who I believe circumcised both males and females - the article also stated that at least one jewish sect still circumcises females (clitoridectomy).

Here is the quote from the jewish encylopedia:

One sect of Jews, the Falashas, also circumcise both sexes (Andree, "Zur Volkskunde der Juden," p. 84); it is probable that this practise has been adopted from the surrounding Abyssinians.

How is what I said radically different from the source I quoted????
posted by spacediver at 9:25 PM on August 26, 2009


As for the short end of the stick, I have no gripe with Jewish people, and in fact out of all the abrahamic religions, they are the ones I have the most respect for intellectually (I was raised a muslim btw).

That said, I strongly abhor the genital mutilation aspects of islam and judaism (and many other aspects of the theology underlying islam judaism and christianity), and will not censor myself in the name of sensitivity.
posted by spacediver at 9:28 PM on August 26, 2009


Nobody asked you for censorship, did they.

Anyway, I bowed out once already, and will do so again. My points are falling on deaf ears, and all I have to say is what I always think to be the case in circumstances where there is no universally evident and agreed upon consensus: If it's not for you, it's not for you. Otherwise, leave it up to responsible parents to make decisions for themselves, and give them the respect of assuming they made well-considered choices that you happen to disagree with.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:02 PM on August 26, 2009


I refuse to accept that we should leave it up to responsible parents to decide the fate of their sons' genitalia, just as I refuse the same for the choice of their daughters'.

Most parents do not make well-considered choices - the biggest predictor of whether a boy or girl is circumcised is the circumcision status of their father and mother, respectively. Reason has very little to do with it, and ignorance reigns supreme.
posted by spacediver at 10:12 PM on August 26, 2009


That said, I strongly abhor the genital mutilation

That wasn't so hard was it. Come out and say what you mean, rather than dressing it up as some other argument.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:04 PM on August 26, 2009


If you're a male and you don't think female 'circumcision' is bad, think of it this way: Cutting off a clitoris is like cutting off the ENTIRE PENIS. They are homologous, analogous structures.

Honestly, people who aren't savvy about the biological specifics of this piss me off to no end. (People who aren't savvy about biology to at least a reasonable extent, period, piss me off to no end.)

Even cutting off the foreskin causes changes to the neurons underneath. Whether an adult's fine with their own foreskin coming off or not, I don't give a shit - some women cut a slit in their prepuce in order to make their clitoris more accessible for stimulation - but you don't fucking do this to children who can't make that choice.

As for various groups that do it, I say piss on 'sensitivity'.
posted by kldickson at 7:18 AM on August 27, 2009


I'm circumcised and I wouldn't have it any other way. Really, my penis still works... what's the big deal? I mean, a circumcision that makes the genitalia not funciton... ok, sure, that's terrible and counts as mutilation. But that little bit of foreskin? I don't miss it a bit.

> Reason has very little to do with it, and ignorance reigns supreme.

For gods' sake. Why is it that those who decry ignorance are so often filled with it?
posted by molecicco at 7:27 AM on August 27, 2009


Given the health benefits proven to be associated with circumcision it would seem prudent to encourage this practice by requiring circumcision prior to entering public school the same way vaccinations are required.
posted by caddis at 7:42 AM on August 27, 2009


If you're a male and you don't think female 'circumcision' is bad, think of it this way: Cutting off a clitoris is like cutting off the ENTIRE PENIS. They are homologous, analogous structures.

That's what I thought - but it may be more complex. For one, it seems that the clitoris may be much larger than most think, like an iceberg. So cutting off a visible bit is more like cutting off the tip, or another sensitive part, of the penis. And the foreskin (and bits underneath) are sensitive parts of the penis.

I thought female circumcision was horrific - until, as part of a course, I had to read a series of articles exploring the complexities of the issue, including the one I described above where it appeared women experiencing one form (sorry, I don't remember) didn't have any ill effect on their sexual enjoyment unless they believed that they should - it was psychological. I went from being deeply against any kind of female genital surgery (FGS - it's the neutral term currently used) to being much more ambivalent. (I'm still completely and utterly against infibulation and any practices designed to ensure virginity).

And there really is an uneven playing field - people who would not countenance any of the minor forms of FGS have no problem with male circumcision which isn't so very different. So I understand where spacedriver is coming from.

The big question is - should the religious circumcision of babies and children - male or female - be allowed? It's very important to some religions that boys be circumcised near to birth, but it does take the choice away from that individual. And this is where FGS is very relevant to the debate, because so many of us agree that FGS should not occur before 18 and the woman can choose for herself, but then where does that leave men in cultures/religions which circumcise infants? Should they have the same protection to make the choice for themselves? It's not about whether male circumcision has a strong deliterious effect or not - it's about whether we think that it's a significant enough alteration of the body to override the parents' religious rights to protect the child's individual rights.
posted by jb at 7:51 AM on August 27, 2009


The clitoris is indeed much bigger than we think. There are crura and bulbs under the skin.

The thing is that women get off in different ways, and cutting off the external clitoris may permanently get rid of their ability to enjoy sex personally, while it may not, possibly, do much to affect the orgasm of another woman.

So I suppose that it's just more analogous to hacking off the glans of the penis, but it's still deleterious to sexual stimulation. I don't think most men can get off unless they have a glans.

I'm not really amenable in any way to letting people do things for a culture's sake unless there's indication that it's not in some way harmful, which there is plenty of indication that there is.

In regards to some men not minding the insensitivity, you know, if you like the insensitivity, that's okay. But consider men who were circumcised who don't like the insensitivity.
posted by kldickson at 8:03 AM on August 27, 2009


jb it's nice to see someone who's taken the time to educate themselves about the anatomy and practice.

I think whatever standard we apply to females should be applied to males. Right now the standard for females in international law is that any modification of the genitals of a nonconsenting girl is a crime against humanity, and I believe that is a wise law.

Also, jb, remember the discussion on methodology - a lot of these studies that appear to show women don't suffer any deleterious effects are based on self report. This is a terrible methodology to use to assess sexual satisfaction for many reasons.

How many of these women had actually explored their full sexual potential before making these comparisons? How many of them fooled themselves into believing that nothing bad had happened (cognitive dissonance).

Physiologic / hormonal markers are a much better proxy for measuring satisfaction in these situations, and as of yet, this hasn't been done in the context of either male or female genital cutting.


btw, this is an interesting read for those who think the frenulum isn't important. It comes from a person who actually circumcised himself and recommends it.

Again, for doubters, just go ask an intact friend how important their frenulum is to their sexual experience. Ask them if they'd feel like they were losing anything if someone took it away from them.

There is however, a terrible thing that can happen to an adult being circumcised that leads to a most unsatisfying result. That is removal of so much of the inner lining of the foreskin that the frenulum, the strip of skin that runs from under the urinary opening or meatus, is removed. This simple little bit of skin, less than an inch long, flares out and blends with the inner layer of the foreskin, otherwise called the mucuous membrane. This inner layer is pink in color, no matter what t he rest of the shaft skin looks like and is the layer that lies directly against the glans, touching it when the foreskin is pulled all the way forward. If you are circumcised, it is the skin that lies behind the corona and extends to your 'cutline'. You will see a change in color of the skin and in many men, the 'cutline' is slightly browner than the rest of the skin.

Many, but not all men, have discovered the pleasure of their frenulums during the exploration of their penises and have found that just stimulating the frenulum alone can produce the most powerful orgasms they are ever likely to experience. This really IS a most important piece of the foreskin and its removal often happens in adult circumcisions -due, sadly, to the surgeon's lack of understanding of his own penile erotic tissue!!

The frenulum contains a highly concentrated set of nerve endings that respond, not to touch or external friction, but to stretch!! During almost all masturbatory activity, males RARELY stimulate any more of the glans than just the edge of the corona as we noted, so that glans sensitivity is not that crucial in the buildup to orgasm - but the stretching and releasing of tension on the frenulum as the hand moves the shaft skin up and down actually propels the sensations upwards towards orgasm.
Whether it is intercourse or masturbation, the greatest sexual stimulation is from this tiny strip of skin. Try this. Masturbate by placing the tip of your index finger on this strip and pressing into the urethra lightly (once you are erect, the urethra is the bulging tube you can see and feel running from the meatus, under the frenulum, then to the base of the penis and in between the testicles) and then make faster and faster little circles with your fingertip which will lead to a stunning climax,but only if you can be completely alone - it takes a little time to 'plug' into this technique and you musn't be distracted.

Once you succeed though, you will know why I have stressed the need to preserve this tissue so much. During intercourse or masturbation, in addition to the feelings generated by the frenulum, there are the added benefits of compression of the urethra in the encircling hand (masturbating) or other 'enclosure' (intercourse), as well as the pressure and light friction applied to the receptors in the glans on the in-stroke -and the pressure and friction on the corona on the out-stroke., all of which combine and add up to the overwhelming sensations that finally lead to orgasm. None, however, contributes as much to this process as that tiny strip of skin - the frenulum.

posted by spacediver at 8:10 AM on August 27, 2009


In regards to some men not minding the insensitivity, you know, if you like the insensitivity, that's okay. But consider men who were circumcised who don't like the insensitivity.

FFS! Go around to every circumcised man you know and ask them how insensitive their dick is. Judging by you're posting history, this will mostly be college age guys. I would venture a guess in the ninety nine percent range that they are going to ask you wtf you are on.

I like how you've been pushing the whole idea that an orgasm is strictly based upon sensitivity and has nothing to do with that person's mind.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2009


The thing is that women get off in different ways, and cutting off the external clitoris may permanently get rid of their ability to enjoy sex personally, while it may not, possibly, do much to affect the orgasm of another woman.

Also, jb, remember the discussion on methodology - a lot of these studies that appear to show women don't suffer any deleterious effects are based on self report. This is a terrible methodology to use to assess sexual satisfaction for many reasons.

With the caveat that I read the relevant article more than a year ago, and that I don't know exactly what form(s) of FGS were involved - what I remember is that the self-report was of experiences, and that women identified experiences which were clearly orgasmic but didn't call them such, and that those who had spent their formative years in a culture where FGS was a standard practice (as opposed to women who grew up in a culture which believed that FGS would damage their ability to orgasm) reported similar orgasmic experiences as women who have not had any FGS - that is, the FGS did not seem to increase the proportion of women who did not experience orgasms, though not all did (as not all women who have not had FGS do).

Of course, these were self-report - but like pain, self-report is the only methodology for sexual experience. But the researchers didn't ask "do you enjoy sex" or "do you orgasm", but asked them to describe what they felt during sex - it was one of those intensive, small numbers open-ended questionnaire studies, rather than a big survey. And it was from the detailed descriptions of experiences and feelings that the researchers idenitified what could be called "orgasmic", etc. The study did find a serious deliterious effect on sexual satisfaction for women who grew up in a western culture (in this case Italy, if I recall correctly) - that is, if you believe yourself to be "damaged", you will be. (This may be significant for men and women).

And, of course, this is just one study - but it was strong enough for me to think I don't understand all that is going on. And that I should learn more.

But the relevance to this discussion is - if we agree that it is morally right to ban the religious/cultural alteration of female genitalia until they are adults and can choose for themselves, is it morally right to ban religious/cultural circumcision of under-age boys? Is this too much of an invasion into religious rights? What is the balance of rights? Maybe we decide that they really aren't equivalent, and banning male circumcision would be silly like banning child ear piercing (which is a bodily alteration we don't fuss about at all). But I think I have found the whole issue of both FGS and MGS much greyer. It seems like there can be at times little to no effect on sexual satisfaction in FGS, and there can be significant effect in MGS.

It may be that we (as a generic society trying to balance rights) decide that we allow certain forms of genital modification for children and not others (and we have to be very clear about where the line is), or that we ban all under-age genital surgery. This wouldn't be so bad for some cultures where the genital modification is a coming of age ceremony, which traditionally had been done in teenage hood. But it could be very bad for a culture like Judaism in which infant circumcision is very important.

That said, in some places FGS has been altered to become more symbolic than physical - I can't remember where (maybe Malaysia?) but there was a campaign? to make FGS more of a pinprick which healed - allowed people the cultural moment without the physical affect. Maybe this is something for the Jewish and Muslim communities to suggest - I mean, it's not like the Torah comes with diagrams, right? (or does it?)
posted by jb at 9:58 AM on August 27, 2009


where on earth did kdickson ever say that orgasm has nothing to do with that a person's mind?

The sexual hardware is a key component, but there are many other factors that play into satisfaction. I don't think anyone here is denying that.

Similarly, someone's ability to be a successful athlete requires not only strong muscles, endurance, speed, etc., but also the ability to perform well under pressure, to make intelligent decisions on the fly, etc.

But the physical tools are still important.
posted by spacediver at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2009


Actually I was speaking more to you. With what you keep presenting, it sure doesn't sound like what a person thinking about has anything to do with sex.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:10 AM on August 27, 2009


But the relevance to this discussion is - if we agree that it is morally right to ban the religious/cultural alteration of female genitalia until they are adults and can choose for themselves, is it morally right to ban religious/cultural circumcision of under-age boys? Is this too much of an invasion into religious rights? What is the balance of rights? Maybe we decide that they really aren't equivalent, and banning male circumcision would be silly like banning child ear piercing (which is a bodily alteration we don't fuss about at all). But I think I have found the whole issue of both FGS and MGS much greyer. It seems like there can be at times little to no effect on sexual satisfaction in FGS, and there can be significant effect in MGS.

It may be that we (as a generic society trying to balance rights) decide that we allow certain forms of genital modification for children and not others (and we have to be very clear about where the line is), or that we ban all under-age genital surgery. This wouldn't be so bad for some cultures where the genital modification is a coming of age ceremony, which traditionally had been done in teenage hood. But it could be very bad for a culture like Judaism in which infant circumcision is very important.


Keep in mind that the perceived duty of jews to cut the genitals of their baby boys is often as strong as the perceived duty of many mothers to cut the genitals of their baby girls.

As for moral equivalence, ask whether the consideration of the "harm" done by trespassing upon people's percevied duties could ever justify the harm done by mutilating somoene's genitals.

If one can justify taking a knife to a helpless baby's genitals, and removing sexual hardware, then one can justify anything. I would like to think our species could evolve to point where this basic moral fact cannot be trumped by the need to appease some compulsion brought about by tradition.

Genital mutilation represents many things that almost all of us can agree is wrong:

* it is a form of unecessary violence
* it is an assault upon one of the most precious parts of the organism
* it represents a fundamental violation of a human's rights to bodily integrity
* it is extremely painful (anaesthesia didn't exist for all those millenia)


I have heard that one definition of wisdom is the ability to examine one's cultural practices and reflect upon them thinkingly. In a sense, one needs to debug their cultural practices to allow it to evolve into something better. To blindly propagate a practice simply because it is tradition is one of the ultimate forms of blindness, and a cause of much evil.

One of the great things about judaism (islam can only hope to one day catch up to this) is the way that the practice of intense critique is built into it. It seems that jews are actively encouraged to examine an criticize and argue with doctrine.

In fact, this is why, just as how you point out that some places FGC has been altered to become more symbolic than physical, many jews, including rabbis, have adopted an alternative to the bris, namely the bris shalom
posted by spacediver at 10:19 AM on August 27, 2009


btw for anyone who is interested in a remarkably sober analysis into the jewish dimension of circumcision, from an intensely jewish perspective, I recommend Cut
posted by spacediver at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2009


P.o.B., the thing is, yes, the mind matters. But it's not exactly easy to think yourself into orgasm, unless you're one of the poor suckers who has PSAS.

Frankly, I'd relegate circumcision to one of those cosmetic things - you want to lose the foreskin for whatever reason? Go ahead. But regardless of what you believe, it shouldn't be legal to modify, in any way, an unconsenting individual unless, for example, it is medically necessary surgery.

We give religious groups WAY too much room to stomp all over basic civility.
posted by kldickson at 10:24 AM on August 27, 2009


P.o.B., the thing is, yes, the mind matters. But it's not exactly easy to think yourself into orgasm

Yeah, but I find it hard to believe anyone can make extravagant arguments about orgasms without stipuation that it is part and parcel of the program. Especially one who wants to keep cross referencing everything with the idea this is the same thing with woman (hint: not you kldickson).

We give religious groups WAY too much room to stomp all over basic civility.

I don't disagree, but this is mostly picking up on a certain someone's long-winded BS framing of this conversation. One that has mostly to do with ignoring what others have to say, and actually just outlasting them rather than having an honest conversation.

I salute you on winning your war of attrition, spacediver.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


what exactly have I been ignoring POB? Can you be more specific? I've tried to address people's points directly to the best of my ability. Perhaps I missed a point or two?
posted by spacediver at 10:49 AM on August 27, 2009


The double entendres in this thread are just killing me.
posted by ODiV at 10:50 AM on August 27, 2009


It seems now that all we are talking about is religious circumcision. I am not Jewish, neither it my husband. So these arguments about questioning religion, etc. as a reason not to circumcise do not apply to us.

It seems like there can be at times little to no effect on sexual satisfaction in FGS, and there can be significant effect in MGS.

I don't think it is for me to say if a boy should get circumsized, I think parents should make informed choices for their children. Yet you seem to have no problem taking an absolute position on this and not accept ANY circumcisions when parents are making the decision at all, spacediver. All this talk of IF the frenulum is intact and the rest is a smokescreen for your bias against circumcision.

As for the data you cite, you are relying on men to self-report when they have no basis in comparison--circumcised men don't know what it feels like for men who are not circumcised and vice versa. Scientific studies do not rely on self-reporting. You say that that is the only way to find out about sexual reaction, when monitoring physical responses to stimuli with devices that check things like pulse rate and respiration and all the rest are far more reliable, as they are not subjective.

Let's take your specifics against circumcising boys, bearing in mind that there DOES appear to be some health benefit. Now, feeling that the health benefit is not worth it for you personally or your children is fine. But for these arguments:

* it is a form of unecessary violence

Um, not proven. Unnecessary is what this debate is all about, and hardly proven because you say it is so. Obviously there is a great deal of disagreement about health benefits/risks here. As far as "violence", doctors do not come crazily at a child with knife in hand, swinging from the shoulder. It is a surgical procedure. Similarly, in a bris, I understand that it is done as part of a solemn religious ceremony. Can't see this as violence.

*it is an assault upon one of the most precious parts of the organism.

So are shots in the buttocks, but children are routinely given injections there.

* it represents a fundamental violation of a human's rights to bodily integrity

Again, only if you follow from the premise that no one should do anything to any child's body without consent. If you allow that the parents are caretakers for their children, then you are in the camp who dispute this, on the same basis that you feel that parents as those caretakers have the right to give their children innoculations and vaccines for their health. We also deal with an umbilical cord before it falls off, change babies' diapers, etc.

* it is extremely painful (anaesthesia didn't exist for all those millenia)

Well, that's a specious argument, as anesthesia DOES exist now. And, again, shots are painful.
posted by misha at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2009


Not to mention, misha, that you could apply all of those points to almost any surgery. Which would be rather ridiculous without the hysterics backing it up.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:07 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think it is for me to say if a boy should get circumsized, I think parents should make informed choices for their children. Yet you seem to have no problem taking an absolute position on this and not accept ANY circumcisions when parents are making the decision at all, spacediver. All this talk of IF the frenulum is intact and the rest is a smokescreen for your bias against circumcision.

I think in this comment you're responding to JB.

As for the data you cite, you are relying on men to self-report when they have no basis in comparison--circumcised men don't know what it feels like for men who are not circumcised and vice versa. Scientific studies do not rely on self-reporting. You say that that is the only way to find out about sexual reaction, when monitoring physical responses to stimuli with devices that check things like pulse rate and respiration and all the rest are far more reliable, as they are not subjective.

Again, I think you're responding to JB, as I've repeatedly made this very point (that monitoring physical/hormonal responses are much more reliable proxies for satisfaction).


Um, not proven. Unnecessary is what this debate is all about, and hardly proven because you say it is so. Obviously there is a great deal of disagreement about health benefits/risks here.

As I've said before, there is not one national medical organization on this planet that recommends routine neonatal male circumcision on medical grounds. Here are some policy statements.


As far as "violence", doctors do not come crazily at a child with knife in hand, swinging from the shoulder. It is a surgical procedure. Similarly, in a bris, I understand that it is done as part of a solemn religious ceremony. Can't see this as violence.

I consider the removal of healthy tissue from a nonconsenting human to be a form of violence to the organism. It doesn't have to be dealt with bad intentions.



Well, that's a specious argument, as anesthesia DOES exist now. And, again, shots are painful.


I made it clear that I was talking about the support for a ritual that has for the bulk of its history, been performed without anaesthesia. In other words, people that support this tradition are implicitly supporting the torture of infants. It's not as if they said, oh it was evil back then and now it's ok.
posted by spacediver at 12:11 PM on August 27, 2009



In the medical establishment of the 1800's circumcision was touted as a cure for masturbation, which was thought to be a grave source of bodily and psychological illness by leading medical scholars. Indeed, during this period, even females were forced to undergo similar mutilations in order to guard them against masturbation, and this was sanctioned by american physicians, though the clitoridectomy craze did not take off with the same vigour as male circumcision. Many doctors' attitudes towards the male prepuce can be traced back to this period, even though many of these doctors today are completely unaware of this history. Doctors are mentored by older doctors, who were themselves mentored by the previous generation. Attitudes are passed down through the generations, even though today's generation may be completely unaware of the source of the original attitude. Similar things can be said about attitudes towards the uterus - once thought to be a source of madness in women - where in some contemporary medical communities, hysterectomies are performed even when there are better treatment options.

It is a stark and disturbing fact that many doctors in cultures which cut their males are blissfully ignorant about the physiology and erogenous functions of the foreskin. Much of this ignorance stems from the fact that these doctors are themselves circumcised, having come from a generation where the vast majority of males were cut. Their medical texts do not cover the intact anatomy, and assume the circumcised version as the norm.

I think it's very instructive to read the following paper, published in the journal of social history, which gives insight into the medicalization of circumcision in north america.
posted by spacediver at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2009


It seems now that all we are talking about is religious circumcision. I am not Jewish, neither it my husband. So these arguments about questioning religion, etc. as a reason not to circumcise do not apply to us.

It seems like there can be at times little to no effect on sexual satisfaction in FGS, and there can be significant effect in MGS.


The former is RARE. Male circumcision does not hack off nearly as many nerves as FGM (let's be honest here) does. And it is incredibly hard to stimulate the internal clitoris as much as the external clitoris to get women off. Some of us women just don't get off real easy even having an external clitoris.

I don't think it is for me to say if a boy should get circumsized, I think parents should make informed choices for their children. Yet you seem to have no problem taking an absolute position on this and not accept ANY circumcisions when parents are making the decision at all, spacediver. All this talk of IF the frenulum is intact and the rest is a smokescreen for your bias against circumcision.

As for the data you cite, you are relying on men to self-report when they have no basis in comparison--circumcised men don't know what it feels like for men who are not circumcised and vice versa. Scientific studies do not rely on self-reporting. You say that that is the only way to find out about sexual reaction, when monitoring physical responses to stimuli with devices that check things like pulse rate and respiration and all the rest are far more reliable, as they are not subjective.

Let's take your specifics against circumcising boys, bearing in mind that there DOES appear to be some health benefit. Now, feeling that the health benefit is not worth it for you personally or your children is fine. But for these arguments:

* it is a form of unecessary violence

Um, not proven. Unnecessary is what this debate is all about, and hardly proven because you say it is so. Obviously there is a great deal of disagreement about health benefits/risks here. As far as "violence", doctors do not come crazily at a child with knife in hand, swinging from the shoulder. It is a surgical procedure. Similarly, in a bris, I understand that it is done as part of a solemn religious ceremony. Can't see this as violence.


... is it necessary to hack off a foreskin? No. And lest we excuse this just because some people with an imaginary friend think it's necessary, keep in mind that there are people who see it as their religious duty to be asshole terrorists. The latter argument does not work.

*it is an assault upon one of the most precious parts of the organism.

So are shots in the buttocks, but children are routinely given injections there.


Nobody's getting their buttocks cut off, and injections are medically necessary.

* it represents a fundamental violation of a human's rights to bodily integrity

Again, only if you follow from the premise that no one should do anything to any child's body without consent. If you allow that the parents are caretakers for their children, then you are in the camp who dispute this, on the same basis that you feel that parents as those caretakers have the right to give their children innoculations and vaccines for their health. We also deal with an umbilical cord before it falls off, change babies' diapers, etc.


Circumcision is in no way comparable to medically necessary stuff. None of these things involve hacking off harmless, non-abnormal tissue.

* it is extremely painful (anaesthesia didn't exist for all those millenia)

Well, that's a specious argument, as anesthesia DOES exist now. And, again, shots are painful.


Your argument in itself is specious. Most circumcisions still aren't anesthetic, and shots? They're medically necessary.
posted by kldickson at 12:33 PM on August 27, 2009


With respect to pain, think of it this way: compare the pain of a shot to how much it would hurt getting your finger hacked off.
posted by kldickson at 12:35 PM on August 27, 2009


The former is RARE. Male circumcision does not hack off nearly as many nerves as FGM (let's be honest here) does. And it is incredibly hard to stimulate the internal clitoris as much as the external clitoris to get women off. Some of us women just don't get off real easy even having an external clitoris.

Again it depends on what type of FGM we're talking about. And the inner prepuce does contain thousands of erogenous nerve endings. It's actually the site of the densest distribution of nerve endings anywhere on the male body.
posted by spacediver at 12:44 PM on August 27, 2009


"I still don't see what functions of the penis it changes? Circumcised men can still pee and ejaculate. Is there another use that I'm missing due to my circumcision?"

You get FM stations.
posted by klangklangston at 11:57 PM on August 27, 2009


Brief replies to this thread:

Spacediver really, really, really cares about circumcision. Check the posting history. He will outlast you—perhaps because his circumcision decreased logical and conversational sensitivity.

Regarding European attitudes: I wish I had my copy of the Opus Maledictorum; I remember an essay that talked obliquely about the role of circumcision and nationalism in Europe, referencing brown-bowed (Muslim) cunts raped by onion-headed (gentile) cocks. Where it's arguable that weird American puritanism biases US circumcision rates higher, the history of antisemitism and anti-Muslim attitudes is a cultural discriminant against circumcision in Europe (though by how much, I couldn't say).

Finally, God, the amount of bad faith and stupidity in this thread… It feels like the only explanations are unsatisfyingly Freudian.
posted by klangklangston at 12:03 AM on August 28, 2009


Folks're sure attached to their penises, ain't they? Hoooo doggies, they love 'em!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:46 AM on August 28, 2009


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