Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Opinion: Circumcision is Genital Mutiliation

Last night, as we snuggled up in bed, father-to-be M spoke quietly into the darkness.

"I don't want him circumcised."

I was shocked by the flood of emotions that swamped me, mostly a mixture of rage and sadness. When I felt like I could speak, I responded.

"Absolutely not. Even if you wanted him circumcised, I would not allow it."

And then I lay there in the darkness and fumed, knowing that I might not be able to stop my son from being circumcised even if I explicitly told the hospital not to, because babies are circumcised "by mistake" all the time.

I consider circumcision to be genital mutilation. It is illegal to circumcise female children, and yet this leftover practice from the days of barbaric rituals performed on helpless male infants is still encouraged here in the US. I just don't get it.

I don't get why anyone could think it is a harmless practice to cut off the skin protecting an infant's penis. I remember years ago overhearing friends of my parents talking about how their new baby boy was so much fussier than their daughter had been, and I remember someone else saying knowingly "They always are."

Well DUH. Not only did he have the pain of an open wound, but it burned like HELL every time he urinated. And his parents and doctors did that to him for no medically sound reason. "Just because."

I just don't get why anyone would think it is ok for a baby to start out his first days in the world with a deliberately inflicted injury. Some people justify it by saying that they don't want their son to feel different from the other boys, or from his father. That's stupid. Some women say they aren't comfortable with the idea of having to clean an uncircumcised penis. That one really pisses me off. By that rationale it should be ok to circumcise girls, because girls are much more difficult to keep clean, especially during the diaper stage, because of all those folds of skin. Some people say they do it for religious reasons, and I consider that idiocy, too. If it is that important to your religious principles, then by God wait until he's old enough to consent to both the religion and the genital mutilation ritual.

Given my experience with male partners the past 20 years, I can say that uncut men are more sensual and enjoy better sex lives. The sensitivity of the foreskin itself is immense. The protection it provides for the head of the penis, which is supposed to be a mucus membrane, keeps all those nerve-endings alive and functioning optimally. Men who are circumcised are at a greater risk for erectile dysfunction, probably because their penises have been chafed by underwear for decades. I have yet to come across an intact male who needs Viagra.

I think that parents should be required to be present to witness this procedure being performed on their child. I've a feeling that there would be far fewer circumcisions then. I also think that requiring the presence of a guardian would eliminate the occurrence of "accidental" circumcisions like the well-publicized one that occurred in Miami a couple of years ago.

I feel a little better after this rant but I'm still angry and afraid. Angry that we mutilate helpless infants, and afraid that it might happen to mine, no matter how hard I try to protect him. I imagine myself in the delivery room screaming at the staff not to mutilate my son's genitals, over and over again, threatening to sue them, or even mutilate them myself, until I'm hoarse. That shouldn't be necessary, but it just might be, because bottom line -- hospitals have a financial incentive to perform circumcisions.

And that, my friends, is the saddest reason for circumcision of them all.

Articles and discussions on circumcision:
Male Circumcision and Quality of Sex Life (Psychology Today) by Gad Saad, PhD.
NOCIRC: Making the world safer for children


  1. A male friend of mine told me privately that he felt hurt reading this rant because he was concerned that I find circumcision scars and/or circumcised penises repellent.

    So to clarify, I want to say that my condemnation of circumcision is not intended to reflect negatively in any way upon those who have been circumcised, and I'm hoping that circumcised men don't take my rant personally. There is nothing wrong with you. I just think it is wrong to perpetuate the thoughtless, casual way in which these procedures are consented to and performed on helpless infants, and I'm trying to do my part to raise awareness of an issue I feel very strongly about.

  2. Thank you Kelly for your post. This issue needs to be addressed and people need to come out of their state of denial on this issue, as painful as it may be for them to do so! For the marital happiness of future generations in the USA, we need to stop this needless, harmful practice. Natural sex is superior to circumcised sex for both wives and their husbands.

    My own view is that the medical community keeps pushing this practice because of the money they make off this needless surgery. When you strap down a newborn and mutilate his genitals, it is about power and control, and not about promoting health. (All the myths about circumcision preventing this or that malady have been debunked!)



  3. Thank you for posting this blog, Kelly. You are absolutely correct. I have never been able to understand why any rational human being would consider circumcision an acceptable thing to subject a child to. Are they so arrogant that they think nature (or the creator) made a mistake? Do they think that male infants are born deformed? What? Stop and think about it for a second - amputating a healthy, useful piece of a child's penis (often with no pain medication) can only be considered bizarre and barbaric.


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