I have always been fascinated by the act of circumcision. It is one of those acts that, even though I approve of the look of the penis afterward, I find so barbaric and unnecessary an act, that it honestly bewilders me why so many people still decide to circumcise their newborn sons, or to voluntarily submit to circumcision as an adult.
I know there are many arguments for why people say circumcision is a good thing. They say it makes the penis cleaner, reduces infections, reduces the risk of penile cancer, eliminates a problem called phimosis (where the foreskin becomes tight and in some cases painful), may help prevent the contraction of HIV, may reduce the rate of masturbation, may help provide skin for burn victims, may improve sexual longevity, and, as if the list wasn’t long enough already, makes the penis a more beautiful organ.
I dispute, or have issue with, most of these claims. For starters, circumcision as a means to improve cleanliness is so ridiculously absurd that I find it laughable. There is a great little invention called soap, and so long as a person washes with it on a regular basis, having a foreskin should be no problem.
Secondly, circumcision may honestly reduce the rate of infection that can occur under the foreskin, but I fail to see how circumcision is preferable to a small dose of penicillin, a swab of alcohol, or some other form of antibiotic or germ killing agent. And just because you are circumcised, doesn’t mean you will never get an infection—some infections can actually be caused because of the circumcision. And it occurs to me that the logic behind this reason is comparable to cutting off a baby’s ears because at some time in his life he might get ear infection. I don’t see anybody rushing out to cut off a baby’s ears any time soon, but apparently the logic makes sense to some if we’re talking about the penis.
Thirdly, of course, if you remove a part of the body, you eliminate the potential for cancer in that part of the body. But that doesn’t mean we should go chopping off every part of the body that could become cancerous when first born. If we did that, we’d have to remove the lungs, brain, pancreas, liver, and a whole host of other body parts that I’m sure most wouldn’t/couldn’t do without. And besides, we’re only talking about the “potential” for cancer. Just because you have a foreskin doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to get cancer. This reason to circumcise, like those before it, just seems moot to me. Leave the skin until there is cancer. Then, if necessary, circumcise.
Fourthly, as with cancer, circumcision to prevent the possibility of phimosis (or even other such similar problems) just seems extreme. Not all males with foreskins will grow up to have this problem, so why not leave their skin alone unless they do end up having this? And, in some cases, this problem can be solved over a period of time by simply stretching the foreskin over the glans little by little until the tightness is no longer significant.
Fifthly, it is absolutely stupid to believe that circumcision can prevent or in any serious rate reduce the risk of contracting HIV. I hear this argument and I just want to cringe by the misinformation and deceitfulness of it. Safe sex or abstinence is the only real prevention for contracting HIV. Circumcision is no cure, and it is frankly idiotic to be circumcised for this reason. Use a freaking condom and keep your skin—even if you get circumcised, you’ll still need to use a condom or practice abstinence to be any better protected. There is no real benefit here in being circumcised (and yet half of Africa is buying into this notion).
Sixthly, circumcision absolutely does not reduce the rate of or prevent the practice of masturbation. You need only ask those who are circumcised to know that this is true.
Seventhly, foreskins may be used for burn victims, and if so, at least they’re going to some good, but that doesn’t mean a person has no right to make the decision to contribute a part of himself for this reason. If an adult male wishes to have himself circumcised in order to help a burn victim, then I think that’s great. But to circumcise a baby for this reason, just isn’t right. Likewise, this applies to medical research and testing.
Eighthly, circumcision may improve sexual longevity? If this is true, it is probably only because the glans of the penis has become desensitized over a lifetime of being rubbed by clothing. That or the brain has learned to turn off such stimuli. I find either reason a poor excuse for circumcision. If you want longer sexual experiences, just stay in bed longer and try for round two and so forth (or practice holding off orgasm, either way).
Ninthly, I understand the arguments concerning looks. If you are circumcised and have a son, it may seem only natural to want your son’s penis to look like yours. But, looks shouldn’t really matter in this regard. If your son had your mother-in-law’s detestable green eyes (I’m not saying I dislike green eyes—it’s just an example) instead of your brown, is that a reason to have your son’s eyes removed or dye injected into them to make them brown? Of course not! You’d let them be. So, if your son isn’t born circumcised like you are, why not also just let him be in this regard?
And then for all those who find a circumcised penis more pleasant on the eyes, I can say that I sympathize, because I too prefer the look of a circumcised penis to one that is not circumcised. But I find this a shallow reason to have a newborn baby circumcised. Again, if the boy grows up and decides on his own that he wants his penis to look this way, then that would be great. But not all boys may want to grow up seeing a scar around their penis and the glans exposed all the time. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case, each male should be given the choice to decide how his body should look. This should be a personal decision made by no one but the individual himself.
And now, in addition to the reasons I’ve already mentioned, here are some more good reasons not to circumcise. Each year, many newborn males die due to complications of circumcision—usually by bleeding to death. I don’t know about you, but to know that my son died due to an unnecessary procedure would bother me greatly. And then there are always potential problems in the healing process of circumcision. The wounds can become infected, skin bridges can form where the skin didn’t heal together fully, and in some cases the skin can fuse to the glans itself. There is also the potential for too much skin to be removed, causing erections as an adult to be painful due to the skin being tightened too much. And then there is the whole sensitivity issue. Some people believe circumcision causes no decrease in sensitivity, while others believe it does. We can think logically about this for a moment, and if we do, we might at least admit that to some degree circumcision does in fact cause some loss of sensitivity—either physically or perceived. As I mentioned earlier, if clothing is rubbed against the glans all the time, that would have to either numb the glans, or the brain would have to adapt by ignoring the stimuli. Otherwise, you’d always be sexually stimulated with each step you take. And from what research I’ve done, this seems true considering how many uncircumcised men talk about how sensitive the glans is. Most circumcised men don’t talk about their glans being sensitive just to the touch. A lot of uncircumcised men, however, do say this. But to know for any certainty on this issue, we’d have to ask someone who has been circumcised as an adult and experienced both worlds. Again, from what research I’ve done, most men who were circumcised as adults say there wasn’t a lot of decrease, but that there was some decrease in sensitivity after being circumcised. Depending on the person and their needs, however, I suppose loss of sensitivity could be a good thing or bad thing—perhaps someone is just way too sensitive uncircumcised to find pleasure when sexually stimulated. And then there is pain. Not until recent years did doctors do much, if anything, to decrease pain during circumcision—and many still won’t do anything to help prevent this today. Pinch a baby and tell me he can’t feel it. Cut off his foreskin and I’m sure he’ll feel that too (find any video online of infant circumcision and you’ll see a baby squalling). And then there is the healing time. It can take months for a baby to heal from being circumcised, same as with an adult. In both cases, this can bring discomfort, swelling, infection, and, yes, pain. And for a baby, any pain caused by circumcision is needless.
Then we come to the question of religion. Is it acceptable for Jews, Muslims, Christians, or other religious groups to circumcise their male sons? I would say no. I understand why people of faith would want to circumcise their sons if their religion dictates such a thing. However, just because you circumcise your son, doesn’t mean he will grow up to practice or believe in that faith. I hold to this belief, much as I do with infant baptism. I believe both should be a sign of faith on the individual’s part. If a man believes in God and wishes to follow Him in faith, then let him be baptized, or, in this case, circumcised. Either, I believe, should be a personal decision.
But let’s think about the religious aspects of circumcision a bit further. There are many religions out there. And there are many new religions formed all the time. We have allowed circumcision of infants because it has been practiced for thousands of years. But if one or the other of a more new religion began dictating that newborn males should be tattooed, would we allow this? Or if there was a mandate that the earlobes be cut off, or the right hand be branded, or the left hand pinky finger be removed (after all we can live without that finger), would be really approve or allow such practices? I seriously doubt it. And so, with that in mind, why would we continue to allow circumcision? Just because it’s been allowed for so long? Is that really a good reason? Keeping all of this in mind, I would say that not even religion is a great reason to circumcise.
I honestly don’t see any great reasons to circumcise a baby. There are some reasons to circumcise when a male gets older, but not at birth. And so I suggest that we as a nation begin rethinking this whole circumcision thing. For starters, let’s quit doing it just because it’s been the norm. And let’s stop being misinformed and fooled by people who have their own ulterior motives involved (paid off doctors, sadists, medical researchers/companies, religious groups, governments, and so forth). If we do, we may see a different norm develop in this country. And I’m sure the world wouldn’t fall apart if that were the case. Heck, most to the world’s men are uncircumcised anyway (ever wonder why).