Saturday, August 28, 2010

Circumcision

My Own PERSONAL Take on Circumcision - (I do not expect ANYBODY to hold the same opinions as me and am open to the array of ideas that exist!!) -

As an individual who uses objective scientific research to speak out against sex negativity, body negativity, and oppression, I cannot support male OR female circumcision in infants. It goes against everything that I believe in and stand for.

-I will never look warmly upon procedures which serve to alter the body without significant medical cause, whether it is breast augmentation, labiaplasty, or circumcision (but I do support the right for individuals to modify their body when they are consciously able to choose). Without medical cause for the procedure, the implication is that there is something wrong with it when there absolutely is not. I feel that natural bodies are beautiful (this belief is one of the big reasons I started Sex+).

-It deprives males of pleasurable nerve endings and leaves their body permanently altered, almost invariably without their consent. It is not anybody else's right to make such a drastic decision about a person's body & sex organs - not even a parent. Such is a textbook example of injustice.

-I do not feel that tradition is a viable reason to engage in such practices, and there is heaps scientific literature to refute claims of hygiene and STD prevention by circumcision proponents several times over. Even if there was significant benefit, I would still advocate sexual health education as a way to promote cleanliness & stop the spread of disease instead of mutilating baby's genitals.

-After much research, I am convinced that the only reason a circumcised preference exists is because it is a cultural norm. I do NOT support degradation and bullying based on body parts - whether they are circumcised or not.

-Additionally, circumcision is born out of religious doctrine, and as I am not religious, I do not personally feel that it is worth supporting, especially since religion has facilitated sex negative practices such as breast ironing, female genital mutilation, and castration in the past.

-I do, however, respect the decisions of others to what they will so long as they have taken ample time to properly educate themselves on the matter with literature from both sides of the argument. :)

15 comments:

  1. I agree with most of what you say, but why don't you respect the rights of people over their own bodies, rather than the "rights" of their parents to have healthy normal living tissue cut off? Everyone, male or female should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want parts of their genitals cut off. It's *their* body.

    You might also want to check out the following:

    Canadian Paediatric Society
    http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/fn/fn96-01.htm
    "Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed."

    http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/pregnancy&babies/circumcision.htm
    "Circumcision is a 'non-therapeutic' procedure, which means it is not medically necessary."
    "After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions."

    Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    http://www.racp.edu.au/index.cfm?objectid=B5610716-9E3E-6C97-A8D87880FD002E3B
    "After extensive review of the literature, the Paediatrics & Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has concluded that there is no medical reason for routine newborn male circumcision."
    (almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. "Routine" circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

    British Medical Association
    http://www.bma.org.uk/ethics/consent_and_capacity/malecircumcision2006.jsp#Circumcisionformedicalpurposes
    "to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate."

    The Royal Dutch Medical Association
    http://knmg.artsennet.nl/Diensten/knmgpublicaties/KNMGpublicatie/Nontherapeutic-circumcision-of-male-minors-2010.htm
    "The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children's rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications - bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications."

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  2. @ml66uk

    I do? Did you not read what I said?

    "It is not anybody else's right to make such a drastic decision about a person's body & sex organs - not even a parent."

    That means INDIVIDUAL over PARENTS. ;)

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  3. Circumcision of infants needs to stop. I was circumcised as an infant and I dislike it so much that I am restoring my foreskin. The change is amazing. But, it makes it all the more apparent to me that my circumcision harmed me.

    I do take issue with your statement that you "respect the decisions of others to what they will." The only person making a decision worthy of respect is the person who is deciding about their own genitalia. That does not include parents, who should not be making any decision regarding cosmetic surgery for their children. Parents need to know that there is no circumcision question that they need to decide for their children.

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  4. Great post! I escaped the knife, and blogged about it recently:

    http://slackerinc.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/in-which-i-talk-about-my-penis/

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  5. Laci, have you read the blog or book of Adrian Colesberry? The book is titled "How To Make Love to Adrian Colesberry" and I suspect you'd love it. The blog is here: http://blog.adriancolesberry.com/

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  6. Laci, way to move on something the Hitch has mentioned occasionally. Way more forceful in his words, and much more patient in yours. I do recognize your strong feelings against it...and I'm with ya.

    Cultural norms are an interesting thing. As a sociologist, I'm keenly aware of the way social and societal expectations affect the way we interact, and are effects of our collective intercultural bargaining. That being said, whoever thought it was a good idea to trim babies' parts, any baby either male or female, and got away with while escaping the label of lunatic is pretty impressive to me.

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  7. Cool post!
    I chose not to circumcise my son not because of any research I had done, but simply because most of the men I had been with in my life were intact, so that seemed like the norm to me. It was only when my family freaked out about my choice that I started doing research, which only strengthened my conviction not to circumcise my son. It is one thing that I really stood up for (as a relatively young, single mom, I got pushed around a lot), and if I could only stand up for one thing, I'm glad that was it.
    I might add, as a woman who's been with both, I certainly have a preference for intact men. I love my circumcised fiance, and sex with him is great, but I think it would likely be ten times better if he still had his foreskin.
    Also, all the potential intactivists on this blog will probably be happy to hear that only about 30% of boys born today are circumcised after birth. That means intact boys, like my son, will be the majority. Kind of blows the locker room argument out of the water.

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  8. @StreetPhilosopher:

    Circumcision is a fascinating problem in the social science of human sexuality. The drivers behind this passion to make the penis bald are not medical, of that you can be sure. The preference for the bald penis was so strong that millions of circs were performed without anesthesia. Hundreds of millions of adult men are circumcised, even though there is no credible research on possible adverse effects on sexual pleasure and functionality.

    Around 1900, it became fashionable among the English speaking upper middle class to circumcise their baby boys. In the UK, the fashion never spread to the entire population. In Ireland, it never caught on at all. But in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA, circumcision eventually spread to the vast majority.

    Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand doctors came to see routine circ as a dubious medical practice. The government stopped paying for it. The practice died out in New Zealand, and is down to 10-20% in Australia and Canada.

    Only in the USA does the practice persist. Only USA medicine insists that it be a free choice of the parents. Only USA doctors seem unable to follow their professional consciences. Only American epidemiologists conclude that routine circ reduces AIDS and HPV in the First World.

    Circumcision is a cattle brand signaling in the locker room and the bedroom that one's parents were not unwashed immigrants, or rednecks. This dysfunctional mindtrap can be escaped with the help of forthright advice from doctors. But the AAP has tied the hands of American doctors. Thus routine circumcision has become, arguably, the single most controversial feature in American pediatrics. Can you imagine how bizarre this looks in sophisticated European eyes?

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  9. I was circumcised myself. But it was due to a medical condition I had. Of course, my dad being originally a Catholic raised in a predominantly Catholic household (much of my Austrian heritage is either Catholic or Hutterite, hence my last name).

    In a perfect world, I would not have any penile problems that I had in the past, let alone the physical deformity that existed at birth. I wish I could have changed that mutation through means other than circumcision, but there was no other choice at CHEO. They had to circumcise me, otherwise I would have lived the rest of my days in physical discomfort and mental agony.

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  10. I hadn't noticed the typographic error. I had meant to continue in that first blurb by saying that my dad disapproved of me being circumcised.

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  11. hey, whatever happened to "things i wish i could tell you"?)...

    hope you are well...

    miss you (strange as that may be :)

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  12. so i guess this blog space never worked out for you and you do have your own site, but i've always wondered what happened to the posts i have titles and snippets of on my dashboard here that you seem to have deleted (or maybe you just hide them?)... anyway, wondering, caring, sharing - hope you are smiling :)

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  13. You state "I do, however, respect the decisions of others to what they will so long as they have taken ample time to properly educate themselves on the matter with literature from both sides of the argument"
    However you dislike women having labiaplasty.

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