- While US medical experts have waffled on the issue, European, Canadian, and Australian doctors firecely oppose circumcision and highlight the beneifts of foreskin.
- Many people, including medical experts, slam American medical institutions promoting circumcision as preposterous
- Like an eyelid, the foreskin has many functions – and its removal causes the head of the penis to harden and desensitise, like a callus
- Many call out feminist double-standards on the issue, claiming the frequent violation of boys is ‘systematically ignored’
Most people would consider the bodies of men and women equally valuable.
But, when it comes to circumcision, that clearly isn’t true – which is odd considering the procedure removes functional tissue, causes extreme pain, permanently disfigures and forever damages sexual response, regardless of gender.
Oh, and in most cultures where female circumcision is routinely performed, the male equivalent is also done with equally dirty, blunt apparatus.
Meaning it’s less a competition of suffering and more a universal issue of genital integrity.
So, you can imagine my disdain when medical experts recently re-asserted the myth that clamping a boy’s foreskin without his consent and cutting it off with a scalpel is meritorious.
Fortunately, as someone with 30 years experience of having a penis, I’m more than qualified to explain why it’s not OK to modify a person’s body without consent.
Infant circumcision a multi-million dollar industry shrouded in misinformation, monetary gain and foreskin folklore
The first circumcision is thought to have happened in Egypt centuries ago and, since then, has been performed for religious reasons across the Middle East – but it only became popular in the West during the nineteenth century when Victorian kill-joys wanted to discourage people from masturbating.
Not to put you off your breakfast, but one of the biggest advocates was Michigan physician Dr John Harvey Kellogg – yep, the man behind your corn flakes.
A medical practitioner and businessman, he also doubled as a sex prude.
Not content with his own monastic life, he also wanted to discourage everybody else from pleasure too, so suggested young girls receive a dab of carbolic acid to the clitoris, while boys have the hoods of their foreskins cut off.
Both methods were designed with one specific, leg-crossing aim: to tame lust in the young.
Fortunately, the former didn’t catch on – but the latter did…and has now become a multi-million dollar industry shrouded in misinformation, monetary gain and foreskin folklore.
So, to combat this, here’s a definitive, six-point reality-check on circumcision:
1) THE BODY HAS FORESKIN FOR A REASON
The foreskin is a normal, sensitive, and useful body part. In infant boys, it serves a protective function, and throughout a man’s life, it keeps the glans moist, shields it from injury, and enhances sexual pleasure.
By crushing and severing the foreskin, you damage the healthy penis, cause unnecessary pain and bleeding, create a risk of infection and complications, and permanently remove viable erogenous tissue.’
In fact, the foreskin has 4 benefits or “Powers.” These include:
- Pleasure – The foreskin has over 20,000 nerve endings
- Protection – The foreskin protects the end of the penis by keeping it moist and supple.
- Lubrication – The foreskin produces its own lubricants and emollients.
- Connection: The foreskin is a key link between an intact male and his intact partner.
Besides, if we didn’t need it, evolution would’ve got rid by now.
Oh, and no professional medical association in the world recommends routine circumcision, so there.
In December, it was recommended all boys in the US have the controversial procedure
Medical experts are increasingly divided over whether circumcision should be performed.
On one side of the debate is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In 2012 the issued a vague policy statement that claimed the benefits were not great enough to recommend infant circumcision. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) then floated draft guidelines recommending the procedure for all boys. However the guidelines were withdrawn in the face of over 3000 opposing public comments and a threat by at least one US doctor to expose the CDC’s flawed data they had relied on.
2) CIRCUMCISION CAN CAUSE PERMANENT INJURY AND INFANT DEATH
More worryingly, boys who have their foreskin removed often suffer complications – some of which are not revealed until the victim is sexually mature.
Sadly, an additional 117 babies are estimated to die from botched procedures in the US alone, each year.
In September 2012, a two-week-old infant died at a Brooklyn hospital after contracting herpes through a circumcision ritual called metzitzah b’peh, which involves the bleeding foreskin coming into contact with the mouth of the mohel, who sucks it dry.
A Californian baby Brayden Tyler Frazier died in 2013. The newborn child, who was only a few days old, suffered serious complications as a result of the procedure and died from his injuries on 8 March. Ironically, his death coincided with International Women’s Day.
In 2018, two baby boys were seriously disfigured by the same New York doctor using a very common but dangerous method of circumcision using the infamous MOGEN clamp method. Mom claims doctor botched newborn son’s circumcision
3) IT’S SEXIST TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN FGM & MGM
One look in the comments section of Dr Turek’s article shows a huge empathy gap – and utter contempt for anyone who tries to align the issues.
Laws across the West rightly prohibit girls from undergoing FGM, but the same protection isn’t extended to boys.
Even the NSPCC, Save the Children and Barnado’s have no initiative to protect boys. Of course, gender warriors justify this by claiming one is about hygiene and the other the oppression of women, but is there actually a link between male circumcision and FGM?
‘Oh, there’s absolutely a comparison,’ says Rebecca Wald, creator of Jewish campaign group Beyond The Bris, which advocates against boy-cutting.
‘There’s a continuum of FGM [female genital mutilation] and the equivalent of male circumcision is definitely on there, whether people like it or not. Some forms of FGM are just a pin-prick, which is obviously still bad, but it’s nowhere near as terrible as complete foreskin removal. The whole thing has become political.
‘As a mother, I’m amazed that there are people dedicated to saving girls’ genital integrity who couldn’t care less about boys’. It’s definitely a men’s rights issue. One hundred per cent.’
Interestingly, she also sees it as a woman’s issue.
‘Most of my audience are women,’ she adds. ‘Which is interesting, because it’s a son’s mother who hands him over to be operated on in the first place. Her boy is taken with her full consent, when – like a lioness – she should be opposing it. But where are the feminists?’
Jonathon Conte, a Californian campaigner who’s also part of a radical new generation of anti-cutting activists across the USA, agrees.
‘Regardless of the sex of the victim, a healthy individual being restrained without their consent and having their genitals removed is a violation.
In its purest form the removal of the prepuce, which is the same structure anatomically in men and women, it’s entirely an analogous procedure.
Besides, we shouldn’t be arguing about what’s better or worse. It shouldn’t be a competition of suffering, everybody has the right to grow up with their whole body.
‘As an adult if you want to have a body modification – a tattoo, a piercing, cosmetic surgery or circumcision – great, go for it, but children aren’t property.’
4) UNCIRCUMCISED MEN ARE NOT DIRTY
Perhaps one reason for the on-going tolerance of male circumcision is the hygiene excuse. Some people raise a rather silly reason in that men need help with hygiene, therefore cutting of a very important part of their body is somehow worth it. We expect men to brush their teeth, wash their hair, and wipe their butts. Yet they are simultaneously incapable of washing their genitals?
The World Health Organization says circumcised boys help reduce the risk of heterosexually-acquired HIV infection by 60 per cent. But, last time I checked, baby boys weren’t having sex.
And, anyway, when that time eventually does come there’s always a condom.
Besides, if circumcision prevented HIV so much, why is America still a nation with high transmission rates? In 2011, 49,273 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States. In that same year, more than 32,000 people had full-blown AIDS.
More importantly, let me reiterate what any sane person already knows: rolling a foreskin back in the shower is not rocket science. Mother Nature is smart and knows exactly what she’s doing.
And while Dr Turak asserts that circumcision can help prevent penile cancer, a simpler solution is surely to offer all young men the HPV vaccine – something that’s currently only given to women.
5) BOY-CUTTING OFTEN CAUSES PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE
The appropriately named Catherine Hood, a counsellor from the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine, knows about the mental scarring, too.
By crushing and severing the foreskin, you damage the healthy penis, cause unnecessary pain and bleeding, create a risk of infection and complications, and permanently remove viable erogenous tissue
She sees many men who are angry about having been circumcised as a boy – and explains that they experience feelings of invasion, self-loathing and shame.
‘The issues that men are angry about are very individual,’ she says from her clinic in LA.
‘But often they are angry with the fact they’ve had the procedure and this can lead to a sense of loss or of being different to the other men.
‘This can cause a drop in sexual confidence, avoidance of relationships, or I have seen one man who felt he had reduced sensation and so didn’t enjoy sex as much as a result.
‘Obviously parents make the decision to get their children circumcised and the child doesn’t have a say. If the child then grows up with any grievance against their parent then this is an obvious focus.’
Men forced into circumcision by town residents in Kenya
In addition to the thousands of doctor fees and hospital charges for the procedures (of which there are more than a million US cases each year) there are the people who make money off the tools used – the clamps, the circumstraint boards used to strap down the children, and the devices.
On top of that there’s the tissue-harvesting industry, where a number of companies make a profit on neonatal foreskin. The tissue, after amputation, is sold to biotech companies and it’s used for skin grafts, burn victims, diabetic patients, scientific research and anti-wrinkle cream.
‘It’s a huge multi-million-dollar industry, so there’s a lot of financial incentive to keep the circumcision train rolling,’ adds Jonathan Conte.
‘There are many people who are making a lot of money when it happens, who would make no money if it didn’t. Forget human rights, it’s all about the mighty dollar.’
Which begs the question: is there a hidden financial reason why we’re encouraged to cut our sons? Is this just a cash-generator – straight from his pants? The answer, with the exception of medically-correcting phimosis in consenting adults, is always yes.
Meaning practitioners and parents should cut it out, not off.