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Conforming to Atrocity

January 13, 2012

Suppose a gullible mother and father read in an article that smearing their baby with petroleum jelly every night will reduce his chances of eventually contracting skin cancer by 1%.  Wanting to keep their baby as safe and healthy as possible, they begin to perform this ritual every night.  Then they come across another article that says that the first article was flawed, and there is no evidence that applying petroleum jelly nightly affects skin cancer risk, but that it is likely to cause skin irritation.  So the mother says “Maybe we should stop doing it”, but the father says, “We should keep doing it, just to be safe, because maybe it really does protect against skin cancer.”

This is an allegory for the practice of routine non-medically necessary male infant genital mutilation (i.e. “circumcision”) in the United States.  (It would be more analogous if the “remedy” and its effects were permanent, but what I have to say on this subject is important, and I’d rather just say it than spend time racking my brain for a more apt analogy.)

The common practice of routine non-medically necessary male infant genital mutilation in this country is tragic and atrocious.  It is a moral abuse and human rights violation on par with those found in any undeveloped country or authoritarian state.  There is no relative health, hygienic, or other protective value associated with genital mutilation, as the American Academy of Pediatrics has publicly stated for decades.  In fact, as common sense would seem to dictate, genital mutilation is widely known to have a negative effect on sexual and psychological well being (though this is not acknowledged by the AAP).

The position of the mainstream medical community is that both mutilated and non-mutilated penises can potentially be associated with a variety of possible complications (albeit the association is miniscule in either case).  Therefore, doctors should abstain from recommending this atrocity, and should only “suggest” it to the parents, allowing them the liberty to inflict it or not based upon their own personal ignorance and prejudices.  Yet this is all the prompting most white Americans, who have come to perceive mutilated penises as normal, seem to need to justify this injury.

Perhaps it’s time for an Infant’s Rights movement in this country, or even around the world.

Clearly, a newborn infant is unable to provide informed consent to genital mutilation.  While consent may reasonably and humanely be deemed unnecessary in the case of a baby born with a birth defect, disease, or other abnormality that represents a clear health threat, the vast majority of genital mutilations perpetrated in this country are committed against perfectly healthy, developmentally normal infant boys.  An intact penis is not a health threat, and being born developmentally normal does not obviate an infant’s status as a human being.

You might ask, why does this abomination persist, if there is no benefit to it?  For the same reason that Americans haven’t learned the metric system and Brits still drive on the left side of the road: pure, unadulterated cultural inertia.  Yes, it is very sad.

I personally condemn anyone who supports or inflicts this atrocity as deserving of an appropriate measure of guilt, shame, and regret, good intentions notwithstanding.

Of course, if you’re Jewish it’s a different story, because for you this is a matter of religious adherence rather than rational or scientific judgment, so it invokes an entirely different debate.  But for you non-Jewish white people, what in the hell are you thinking?  How did an ostensibly Christian nation adopt a Jewish religious observance as a mainstream medical practice?  This still blows my mind.  The people of color in this country appear to have some common sense, as indicated by lower rates of abuse, but still aren’t perfect.  Don’t sell out to whitey!  Preserve your young men!  Also, based on data collected from personal observation in gyms and spas, it appears that Asians are abusing their infants almost as frequently as white people.  To me this is one of the most disturbing trends.  What’s wrong with you Asians?  White people should be modeling their civilization after yours, not the other way around!  Claim your deserved glory!

Do an internet search for concerned groups opposing circumcision, and the following are among those you will find:

One Comment
  1. concerned cynic permalink

    Before WWII, being circumcised meant that you were born in an urban maternity ward to educated parents who were not short of money. The pointed dick came to be seen as the mark of the hick. Barracks life in the world wars communicated silently to all Pfcs that the bald penis was the talisman of the urban upper middle class. By 1950, snobbishness alone assured that almost all American white boys had bald johnsons.
    The germ theory of disease, and the rise in personal hygiene, meant that an intact boy had to be taught how to clean under his foreskin. The prim mothers of 100 years ago dreaded this task. Removing the foreskin at birth meant that mom did not have to inspect and talk about the most sexual part of a son’s body, the tip of his penis. They were spared having to check his progress to full retractability.
    There was also the belief that the sensitivity and mobility of the foreskin encouraged boyhood masturbation, then seen as gravely immoral and as psychologically unhealthy. Removing the foreskin was believed to make it less likely that a boy/man would become a compulsive masturbator.
    The possibility that circumcision could damage adult sexual pleasure was swept off the table with a simple assertion: if circumcision was damaging, the Jews would have stopped doing it long ago.

    Nowadays, the bald penis is no status symbol at all. Mothers take in stride the fact that their sons have penises in need of hygiene instruction. Most parents don’t mind if their sons masturbate. The AAP does not worry about the possible adverse sexual effects of RIC, so why should parents worry? Then why do American parents persist in circumcising their boys? I submit they do so, fearing that if they let their sons retain the pointed penises nature ordained, they will face a lifetime of humiliation, first by cut boys in the locker room, then by the women they date in the bedroom. The First Rule of American Sexuality is, apparently, “you shall not suffer a Weird Dick.”

    Women often see how laughably shallow such fears are, because they have done a lot of thinking in recent decades about body shaming, and genital anxieties (to wit, the Vagina Monologues). Men have not undertaken a similar journey, and so many fathers project their penis insecurities on their infant sons. If reading this comment leaves you disgusted at America the Freudian Nightmare, that is the effect I intended.

    Years ago, I met a woman whose mind was free of all this warped sexuality. We’ve been married for 25 years.

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