Most folks don’t think much about foreskins, in fact, most Americans are pretty much used to not seeing them in the wild . . . so when a proposed ban on circumcision in San Francisco made the news rounds, most folks dismissed it as odd.
However, the ban – a universal ban on all circumcision, not just routine hospital ones but religious circumcision practice as well – has started gaining traction.
See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/us/05circumcision.html and for recent news. While I generally agree with the sentiments of a ban and truly think the practice is offensive and unneccesary and potentially dangerous, I also agree with critics that the circumcision ban comic book is full of ethnic stereotyping and is a bit offensive as well (see http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/circumcision-ban-comic-book-shows-grotesque-anti-semitic-imagery-adl-says-1.365834).
However, I think it is unfair of the critics of the ban proposal to lump it and all other bans in with religious persecution bans. This is not an issue of religious freedom, it’s an issue of health and safety.
For most of the history of the United States, circumcisions were rare . . . then came Dr. Kellog and his paranoia against teen male masturbation which eventually gave us Kellog’s Corn Flakes as a dietary measure to reduce the amount of meat boys ate in an effort to lower their sex drive and thus decrease their bouts of masturbation. Then, these anti-masturbation paranoids started resorting to teen circumcision specifically with the intention of making the penis so sensitive from pain that the boys wouldn’t touch it so much. Then, someone got the idea that clipped penises were somehow more hygienic as boys and men could not be trusted to properly wash themselves – despite the fact that for most of the existence of the species boys and men seemed to be doing okay on that end (well, except in incredibly repressed societies where they were so ashamed of a natural thing like the penis that they were too shy to properly touch the thing to pull the foreskin back and give it a proper wash and no one would show them a proper method).
No one dies from an uncircumcised penis but as recent news has show some boys do die from botched circumcisions and even though most circumcisions go fine there is a certain percentage of folks whose circumcisions do leave problems . . . I know as I am one of those folks and while I have no anger towards my mother for allowing a doctor to mutilate me I sometimes wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time and punch the doctor in the face before he had a chance to do it . . . well, maybe not, but while I certainly have a healthy sex drive, my circumcision scar does cause serious issue at times and many times prevents healthy happy sexual intercourse . . . and for someone with an otherwise healthy – or what some might consider hyperactive – sex drive that can be problematic.
There are folks whose circumcisions have left them unable to have adult sex . . . even an erection can cause intense pain. All for a process that has never been proven to be more hygienic than simple proper cleanliness of the sort used for thousands and thousands of years by our ancestors and by cultures that do not practice male infant genital mutilation of this sort.
Statistically, circumcisions have gone down in the United States – only 30-50% of newborns are circumcised (unlike when I was born and all male babies were circumcised automatically, often without parental consultation – it was just how things were done).
While emotionally I am with the ban it entirely camp, realistically, I don’t think there’s enough to ban it for those groups who practice it as part of their faith. Unfortunately, it is those groups whose religions demand that they mutilate their male children who are likely to win on this issue. So, I’d like to see a compromise worked out where the practice is generally banned and that those who wish to continue the practice for religious reasons be allowed to but they be required to go through some processes to do so . . . that only certified persons perform the act and that prior to the
mutiliation circumcision both parents must sign a consent form acknowledging that they have been appraised of the risks, including some of the possibilities if something were to go wrong.
Folks should NOT be expected to accept circumcision as a bona fide reasonable alternative to leaving their child’s penis intact. As a culture have we grown to fear the penis so much that we think mutilating it and putting our children through a painful procedure (yes, babies DO feel pain and whether or not you believe they will or won’t remember the act of slicing away their foreskins, whey put them through it if you don’t have to?) somehow becomes normal or typical?
See the debate at http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com.
All it takes is a very very very small slip of the knife . . . so why risk it when your child can lead a healthy happy hygienic life intact?
In my opinion. You are free to disagree with me . . . but . . . if you do, on this you’re just plain wrong.
All the best,