"WHEN FASCISM COMES TO AMERICA IT WILL BE WRAPPED IN THE FLAG
AND CARRYING A CROSS." -SINCLAIR LEWIS

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Male Genital Mutilation

So I was reading an anthropological article the other day about moral relativism and female genital mutilation and it got me thinking, not so much about either of those topics but rather the titular one: male genital mutilation, or more commonly circumcision. Full disclosure (and probably much more than most readers here require): I myself am circumcised. I (thankfully) have no recollection of the procedure and am (also thankfully) quite happy with the results.

In the course of researching this topic prior to writing this post I have found out that there are any number of pretty nutty religious and/or cultural beliefs that are regularly carried out in this regard with very little logical and scientific backing, i. e. dipping the amputated foreskin in brandy and eating it, going to the trouble to bury the discarded flesh, etc. The facts that the practice does reduce the chances of general infection and the spread of HIV are also not largely in question by any major, sufficiently educated, industrialized society.

I guess my main problem with this practice (as I said, I am very happy with my own equipment and for those who are not regular readers, you'll find that I'm quite obviously neither Jewish nor Muslim) is that I was not given the choice. I know, I know, I'm happy with the results so why should I be upset, right? And I'm not, really. I hold no ill will towards either of my parents for making this decision for me but there is just some part of me that hates having decisions made on my behalf and without my consent, even if I do eventually approve of the outcome. Perhaps I have some control issues (I do).

I guess the reason I'm bringing the topic up is this: I don't have any children (that I know of, *wink*wink*) but if I did I would seriously weigh whether to go ahead with circumcising my son yet I'm fairly certain that I would eventually choose to go the circumcision route, for most of the reasons that I've detailed above. My main stumbling block? What if he's later upset with me for making this fairly unnecessary decision to amputate a piece of his body well before he's able to choose for himself if he wants the procedure to be done?

I mean, if I were upset that I had been circumcised as an infant I wouldn't buy any bullshit "Well, my god told me to do it" answer from my parents, much less the more truthful "Well, I like my cock that way so I just figured that you would too" one that I'd be obliged to provide. For all those reading who aren't guys, what your junk looks like and how it is shaped is a fairly big deal for us. Who am I to make that decision for my theoretical boy without his input? Maybe I'm wrong to hold this opinion but I believe that children are denied several rights that they deserve in American society (and to a greater extent, around the world), this being just one of them.

So I guess my question to the guys reading these words is best stated thusly: what are your views on this subject? Am I wrong to worry about making this decision for my perhaps future son? Do the practical aspects and cultural mores outweigh the individual rights concerning this procedure? Should my own religious beliefs (or lack thereof) be given a special measure of significance? And more personally, are you either upset or glad or neither that the decision was or wasn't made for you by your parents, for whatever reasons? As I've already said, I pretty much know how I'll decide this issue (absent any feedback from my equally theoretical wife, of course) but other perspectives and viewpoints from readers are, as always, welcome. Please expound at any length (no pun intended) in the comments section.

48 comments:

TRUTH 101 said...

Chicks can think of enough reasons to deny us sex JBW. It would be a poor exercise in judgement to add an ugly, foreskin covered penis to their list.

JBW said...

I tend to lean that way myself T101 but all those French and Italian guys seem to have no problems getting laid.

TRUTH 101 said...

Yeah. But these dudes also think hairy armpits and legs are sexy. It only goes to reason their women dig ugly penises.

You're obviously a far more worldly individual than I am JBW. I will submit the last word on this to you Amigo.

JBW said...

Neither defending nor endorsing hairy chicks or creepy dog dorks, T101. Just making the observation.

slundy said...

Well having a couple of younger cousins (way younger) one was circumcised and the other wasn't. The one that wasn't came down with an infection a few times growing up. Plus there's the 'peer pressure' aspect. If you're in the shower at school or the gym and someone else gets a look at your junk and see's that it's 'different' than everyone else's then they may feel 'weird' or 'different'. Thankfully I only have a daughter right now so I won't have to worry about it until the next one comes along. Also when a father goes to potty train his son, and he has to show him how to do what we do, the son may feel odd if dad looks different than himself.

slundy said...

BTW, came across your site through stumbleupon. nice site, easy to read topics (nothing that makes me feel completely uneducated or out of touch...lol).

JBW said...

Thanks for stopping by slundy, glad you dig my site. Can't tell if you just gave me a compliment or not though...

Kevin said...

I have a son, and his mother and I didn't have much problem deciding that we had no interest in slicing off a healthy part of our baby just because it's socially expected. I think it's grotesque that it's still assumed in this day and age. And yes, I'm circumcised myself, and yes, I do find uncircumcised penises to be somewhat weird, but so what? Is that sufficient reason to slice up your baby? To us, it wasn't. And it's one of the few decisions I've made in my life that I haven't second-guessed.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Ah, the classic "I'm glad my hot dog doesn't have a bun, I don't like bread anyway!" argument (to quote the comedian Onision.)

You should really read up on the function of the foreskin -- it's actually the most sensitive part of the penis and makes sex much more enjoyable.

Here is a good blog post about the psychology of cutting your son to look like you:
http://www.stopcirc.com/vincent/vulnerability_of_men.html

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

@T101 How does having a foreskin make a penis ugly? You do realize they look very similar when erect, minus the scar tissue on the cut guy?

@slundy I had an ear infection growing up, should I have cut out mye ears too?

@slundy peer pressure? You know only half of boys born today in the U.S. have their genitals cut, and only 20% of boys born in California, where our esteemed author lives? Have you read the parable about the fox who lost his tail?

@JBW snap out of it man, cutting off the most sensitive part of your kid's genitals just b/c it happened to you ain't cool. I can't believe this discussion even needs to take place.

Last point, Google "botched circumcision." I rest my case.

one L said...

I like the way your name is "GenitalIntegrity", as though my genitals have some sort of lesser moral code. That makes me giggle.

I guess I had better look into Genital Boarding Schools.

JBW said...

And I would never suggest that you shouldn't have had the right to make that choice yourself, Kevin. Well, maybe I would: as I say, I'm still fairly undecided on this issue.

JBW said...

GenitalIntegrityNYC is here as a result of Sullivan linking to me and is obviously very passionate about this subject but I'm going to let my original post speak for itself, one L.

Oh, and why are your own genitals so unprincipled? I think Genital Boarding School might be too good for them. Perhaps a Scared Straight program might be more effective. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all night! Don't forget to tip your waitress...

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Fairly undecided? You said you were "fairly certain" you would mutilate your son's penis. (You did call it mutilation, which it is.) Then you and T101 clearly indicated that you think an intact penis is "ugly."

Mutilated men convince themselves they are happy they were mutilated as a coping mechanism. JBW, I feel for you, I really do. I had my foreskin amputated as a baby, but I've chosen to break the cycle of brainwashing.

I dare you -- double dog dare you -- to watch a circumcision operation being performed. I bet you can't watch all the way through!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXVFFI76ff0

You should know what it is exactly that you are endorsing.

Best

JBW said...

Ah, it's time for the pop psychology now I see. How could I possibly be happy with my cock looking more like a porn star's than a dog's? Don't cry for me, Argentina. Without going into too much detail let me just say that I love my penis: we hang out together every day, getting into all kinds of adventures and hi jinks; sometimes I take him golfing on the weekends. And he has a stunning profile.

I think you should look up the definition of the word "endorse", GINYC. By even writing this post and in fact using the word "mutilation" whilst admitting that I'd seriously weigh whether to go ahead with a theoretical son's circumcision I'd say that not only have I been fairly open-minded on the subject but also that I'm far ahead of the curve than most other American males.

I don't know if your double dog dare is because you consider that video to be cruel or gross and it doesn't matter because I ain't gonna watch it. Of course, I wouldn't watch a hemorrhoid operation either but neither would I imply that failing to do so would somehow prove a rhetorical point. I won't even go into infection rates because I have the distinct impression you would dismiss them out of hand.

As long as we're analyzing each other I'd say that you're the one with the complex, or at least some type of chip upon your shoulder. As I said, you're obviously passionate about this issue but as I have no children to mutilate this debate is purely academic; your impassioned pleas will save no prepuce today. I'm categorizing my views on circumcision with my views on abortion: it's not something I'm entirely comfortable with, I'm UNDECIDED as to exactly where I stand but I would not feel right telling someone else that they could not make this decision for their own family. I wonder: would you outlaw the practice if you could? My analysis points towards "yes".

Peace, I'm out.

TRUTH 101 said...

They have this "shield" or something that wraps around the head of the penis now. Had it for at least 20 years actually, that after a few days, the foreskin just falls off leaving a fine, well coifed penis.


To each his own Genital Guy. If you're offended because I think my circumsized weaner is prettier than yours then we will have to agree to disagree.

one L said...

Thanks, T101. I was also going to bring up the plastic donut thing they use these days. Our friends say it's remarkably smooth.

I watched your video, GINYC. I had to keep the volume down because my wife's asleep on the couch next to me, but otherwise, I could see everything just fine. My comments are that the video is unnecessarily 8 minutes long, that the procedure went about like I used to imagine them (though they are different these days) the baby didn't even bleed on the initial incision (or very much at all), and the baby stopped crying almost immediately after they were done.

In short, I wasn't really grossed out, offended or anything else. I don't think you're scarring your baby emotionally or physically and that those who circumcise children are not in the wrong. I really don't think you're even stripping your child of his future rights... I mean, how many of these kids are going to regret being circumcised?

I like football, dinosaurs and my circumcised penis.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

@JBW
Just to be clear, of course I think it should be illegal, just like it already is (since 1996) for girls. Permanently removing part of an infant girl's genitals is widely considered a violation of her human right to the whole body. How are boys different? You may not be having a kid right now, but you're words influence others.

You say you're open-minded, yet you hold on to the myth that a foreskin is a disease, comparing it to a hemorrhoid. Probably not worth arguing with you anymore.

@OneL
Much more respect for you for actually watching the video. I would say the volume is actually important, since you can hear the baby increase his level of crying/choking when they start cutting into him. Interesting fact though, the reason some babies stop crying after, or even during circumcision, is actually because their bodies go into shock from the pain.

Last, I am not saying that you shouldn't love your penises. In fact, I think everyone should be allowed to have themselves circumcised as consenting adults if they want to. There are, however, many many men who feel wronged by having this happen to them as non-consenting babies. I think many of today's babies will in fact grow up to regret being circumcised, since they will be in the minority in the US and keenly aware that they are missing something that everyone else has.

Thanks

one L said...

I could hear the dull hum of the doctor explaining the procedure and could CLEARLY hear the crying of the child. I imagine I'd be screaming if someone was lopping off part of my body as well.

Ultimately, though, it's probably a much easier procedure to undergo as a newborn than an adult. I've never had a vasectomy, but my friends who have say that it's not a delightful recovery. I imagine that a circumcision would be a few steps beyond that.

My knowledge on this subject as a whole is minimal. I imagine it's one of those deals where you have your small # of folks who wish they had been given the choice to make for themself, while there will also be folks who HAVE the choice but wish they didn't. Know what I mean?

For those interested, I've decided to apply to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. I might as well enjoy some basketball as I whip myself into shape.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Well, the procedure's completely unnecessary, so I'm not sure why you would want to have it done as a baby. It's also certainly not easier, because babies are too fragile to go under general anesthesia. An adult wakes up and it's done, while the baby is awake the whole time, feeling everything. Moreover, when you are born, the foreskin is fused to the glans, so the doctor has to stick a probe in to rip the two apart (Go to 4:55 in the YouTube video to see this in action). Imagine having a nail ripped off your finger, only on your dick. And you're two days old. To add insult to injury, the raw, bloody glans burns like hell for a couple weeks every time the baby urinates. Welcome to the cruel world, kiddo!

There are actually a large number of people who are upset about having it done to them as a baby, myself included, and there are a number of organizations dedicated to stopping it.

Almost nobody left intact has themselves circumcised as an adult. Certainly there are the circumfetishists, who schedule their circumcisions and then masturbate to Gomco clamps, and that's fine (go to circlist.com to see what I mean). Let them do it as an adult.

But, how is it legal to cut off part of someone's penis against their will?

JBW said...

I'd say that the practice of female circumcision is not exactly comparable to that of males, GINYC. As I understand it, certain cultures amputate the clitoris to prevent girls from feeling any sexual pleasure, mainly for fucked up religious reasons, whereas male circumcision is done more for reasons of ritual and hygiene. Now you can make the argument that this denies both genders the "human right to a whole body" and you'd be right but I'd say that the respective reasons for performing both procedures and the desired outcomes make female circumcision a much more egregious violation. And I'm not sure exactly how much my words influence others but it probably isn't to an extent worth your getting this worked up over what I write here.

Perhaps I miswrote when I said that you should look up the definition of "endorse" and should instead have encouraged you to look up the term "open-minded". Writing a post about this subject and questioning whether I should circumcise my fictional child is fairly open-minded but you seem to define the term as "agreeing with GenitalIntegrityNYC". The Hemorrhoid analogy was not meant to compare a foreskin to a disease but rather to choose a random surgery that I would prefer not to view, absent a discussion of it's merits or lack thereof. Hyperbole and intentional misunderstandings don't win debates on this site my friend but walk away from the argument if you feel so inclined.

As to that, your suggestion that many men will grow up resenting that they've been circumcised seems somewhat unrealistic to me. I know many guys who are circumcised and I've never met one who regretted that the decision was made for them at birth. Again, your admission that you are upset about having it done to you puts your previous statement that "Mutilated men convince themselves they are happy they were mutilated as a coping mechanism" in perspective. Are you yourself so close-minded that you refuse to believe that I'm genuinely happy with the way my dick looks? I understand that my apparent satisfaction flies directly in the face of your supposition but that hardly makes it untrue and for you to make such a blanket pop-psych evaluation based on never having met me or any of the other "many" men who claim similarly again says more about yourself than it does this issue.

Pop quiz, hot shot: your baby is born with a less than functional malformed arm, so much so that it obviously wouldn't serve much purpose for him to keep it. Do you leave it intact and wait until he's 18 and can decide for himself to have it amputated or do you make the decision in his infancy in order to give him the opportunity to learn to function without it and eventually gain a sweet-ass cybernetic one. What do you do? What do you do?!

And before you start crying again, I'm not saying that the male foreskin is comparable to a deformed limb, just that sometimes parents have to make decisions for their children at a young age that they cannot consult them about first. And yes, I have both of my arms and they look almost as good as my penis.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Like I said, probably not worth arguing with you. Your only defense for circumcision lies in your mistaken belief that the foreskin is a deformation and/or malady.

Go read a book on the history of male circumcision, and you will see that in many parts of the world it is practiced for the same reasons as female genital mutilation is practiced -- religion, sexual repression (was popularized in America to "cure masturbation", "hygiene", "disease prevention", aesthetics, rite of passage, blood/fertility sacrifice. And female genital mutilation runs the gamut, anywhere from ritual pinprick, to cutting off the clitoral hood, labia, and/or removal of the clitoris or even sewing up the vagina. It's all wrong, and it's all illegal in the U.S. as of 1996. Before that, you'll be surprised to know that it was not only legal in the U.S., but was practiced/promoted by some doctors for the same reasons as male circumcision. As far as scope, male circumcision is probably somewhat comparable to removal of the clitoral hood in females, which is their version of the prepuce. Would you do that to a baby girl? However, due to the "gliding action" male foreskin provides during sex, male circumcision is arguably even worse than removal of the clitoral hood in females.

So, you like the way your dick looks, that makes it ok to subject an infant to unnecessary, irreversible cosmetic surgery? Would you give your infant daughter fake tits because you liked the way they look?

So let me repeat, male circumcision was popularized in English-speaking countries to "cure masturbation" and to curb sexual desire, which were believed to cause diseases including paralysis and insanity. Read that over again a couple of times to yourself. Here's a quote for you:

"To obtain the best results one must cut away enough skin and mucous membrane to rather put it on the stretch when erections come later. There must be no play in the skin after the wound has thoroughly healed, but it must fit tightly over the penis, for should there be any play the patient will be found to readily resume his practice not begrudging the time and extra energy required to produce the orgasm... We may not be sure that we have done away with the possibility of masturbation, but we may feel confident that we have limited it to within the danger lines."
(E.J. Spratling, MD. Medical Record, Masturbation in the Adult, vol. 48, no. 13, September 28, 1895, pp. 442-443.)

http://www.cirp.org/pages/whycirc.html

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GenitalIntegrityNYC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

sorry for the accidental repeat post

EUROman said...

Keep spreading the message GenitalIntegrityNYC, you are in the right and as an uncircumsized european male I can testify that the foreskin is quite enjoyable, makes lubrication unnecessary during masturbation and looks quite nice, even if I do say so myself. And excuse my spelling and punctuation as I'm not a native english speaker.

JBW said...

Perhaps you're right not to argue with me, GINYC. Being UNDECIDED means that I don't necessarily agree with you and since you ignore my points and only repeat yours it's probably for the best. Take care.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Actually I've been adding new information, whereas you have been repeating the myth that the foreskin is useless, superfluous tissue.

Undecided? You have now compared the foreskin to a hemorrhoid and a diseased limb. Give me a break. Uneducated is the word you are looking for. So, go educate yourself, then come back and comment.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Here's another one for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAo1PCDtgBY

Hear the helpless baby boy squealing like a pig at slaughter? How does that make you feel? Oh, that's right, you refuse to watch it because you are afraid of new ideas.

JBW said...

Your grasp of nuance is nonexistent, GINYC. I thought you were done arguing with me?

TRUTH 101 said...

So a foreskin makes jerking off feel better?

Okay genital Dudes. I'm sold. I'll try and get my foreskin back. Or maybe I'll just find a freshly circumsized guy and get that one sewed on.


I'm glad we had this discussion JBW. I've always said you're the best blogger there is.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

@T101 hahaha yes! If you have a foreskin you don't ever have to use any lotion to jerk off. And you never need lube for sex. That's one of the major functions of foreskin.

If you really want to get yours back, check http://www.restoringforeskin.org/beginners-guide-foreskin-restoration

Manual and the TLC Tugger are the two most popular methods.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

I also want to join T101 in thanking JBW, we may disagree on some points, but I respect that you allow others to voice their opinions. Many would just delete.

EUROman said...

@GenitalIntegrityNYC I do have to ask is there any specific reason for why you chose that as your screenname other than keeping the integrity of our genitals is in-general a good idea?

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

@EUROman "Genital Integrity" has become the most common name for the human rights movement to protect all children from genital cutting, along with "Intactivism."

And I live in NYC.

I like the way you phrased it: "keeping the integrity of our genitals is in-general a good idea"

JBW said...

Freedom of speech is one of the main themes of this blog, GINYC. I'm glad everyone has had a chance to listen to each other here.

EUROman said...

@JBW I must confess I had my doubts about you, but I think I can safely say that you are a real class act.

one L said...

I don't understand why I should wish for a foreskin if it makes orgasm easier to achieve... isn't the goal to last longer? I would understand the foreskin better if it were used for warming purposes but, even then, I could always knit a little sweater and call it done.

EUROman said...

I feel it does urge you to be a more gentle lover, though I don't know about lasting long with women, as my experience has mostly been with men.

one L said...

Well EUROman, you're more than welcome here. Our fine host, JBW, is a flaming homosexual himself.

EUROman said...

I'm actualy bisexual but I havent been with any women.

JBW said...

Thanks EUROman, but you just have to get to know me better: I'm sure I'll offend you eventually.

JBW said...

"Our fine host, JBW, is a flaming homosexual himself."

You know I've long suspected that one L married my sister merely as a ruse to get closer to me instead, and now the recruiting drive has finally started. And don't even think about giving me one of your little cock sweaters for Christmas again this year, dude.

*sigh* Is there any more enjoyable American past time than accusing your heterosexual buddies of being gay? If there is, I haven't found it yet.

EUROman said...

I don't know about that but you've just earned a new viewer, as I am going read your blog from now on.

JBW said...

Much appreciated, EUROman. I look forward to your joining the conversation here.

GenitalIntegrityNYC said...

Dear JBW, first of all, I wanted to say that I never realized how much you actually LOOK LIKE Foreskin Man! Anyway, have you seen issue #2 which just came out?

The real reason I am back is to tell you about my new project, "Barefoot Intactivist." Just Google it to find my page. Thanks for your support as always!

JBW said...

GINCY, sorry, I've not kept up here. Any resemblance between myself and Foreskin Man is completely coincidental as I lost my own long ago. I'm also completely ignorant of Issue #2, but c'est la vie.

I haven't yet checked out "Barefoot Inactivist" but I promise to as soon as I have the time. Cheers.

EliteDoomer said...

It is utterly sad and enraging that my first sexual experience was torture. My cunt of a mother chose to have me sent off with a stranger so that he could mercilessly and violently destroy my birthright while I had my arms and legs tied down. I was treated as property rather than a person and I have nothing but hatred for this abomination. Not only did circumcision rob me of autonomy in my sex life but it carved a great divide between me and the person who was supposed to love me unconditionally and protect me from harm when I was too young to defend myself, my mother. Such is the reason why I live 1500km away from her with no intention of increasing proximity.

We mutilated were not just infants, we were fucking people god damn it!!! We had rights that were ignored just like our screams of agony!!!