Friday, 20 May 2011

My Body, My Choice. . .

. . . unless you are an infant or minor boy whose parents' culture or religion requires circumcision.

Well, in whacky San Francisco, boys might have a choice.
Lloyd Schofield has come one step closer to achieving his mission to ban circumcision -- the surgical removal of the penile foreskin -- in the City by the Bay.

San Francisco city officials said Wednesday that Schofield had collected enough signatures -- more than 12,000 -- to put the measure on the city ballot in November 2011.

"The foreskin is there for a reason," said Schofield, who is retired from a career in the hotel industry. "It's not a birth defect. It serves an important function in a man's life, and nobody has a right to perform unnecessary surgery on another human being."

Schofield began researching circumcision several years ago and found a local group of "intactivists," people who believe that infant boys have the right to keep their foreskin intact. Together they created an advocacy group called the Prohibition of Genital Cutting of Male Minors. The ban would make it illegal to "circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years."

I got no dog in this race, but I think his argument equating the procedure with female genital mutilation is a bit much.

Nonetheless, this will be an interesting debate to watch. Because there are some powerful groups* who do have a dog in this race. (Bold mine.)
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin circum (meaning "around") and cædere (meaning "to cut"). Early depictions of circumcision are found in cave paintings and Ancient Egyptian tombs, though some pictures are open to interpretation. Religious male circumcision is considered a commandment from God in Judaism. In Islam, though not discussed in the Qur'an, male circumcision is widely practised and most often considered to be a sunnah. It is also customary in some Christian churches in Africa, including some Oriental Orthodox Churches. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global estimates suggest that 30% of males are circumcised, of whom 68% are Muslim.

Could this be a uniting factor among/between usually unfriendly parties? As in Egypt, protesters could chant: 'Muslims, Christians, Jews, one, er, hand'.

*Interesting (NSFW) photos at the wiki link.

10 comments:

Alison said...

Considering the fact that circumcision has been proven to help stop the spread of AIDS in Africa, this seems to be a bit of a dimwitted crusade. I don't have the stats, but I remember reading about the lower rate of cervical cancer amongst women whose husbands are circumcized. It definitely appears to have health benefits, not to mention being cleaner and from my point of view, more aesthetically attractive. Frankly I'd never give a blow job to an uncircumsized male. I suspect I'm not alone in that.

fern hill said...

Research is not completely cut-and-dried, Alison.

But I agree on the aesthetics of it.

rww said...

Some parents may do it for health reasons and there are reasonable arguments on both sides of that position but it is certainly not unusual for parents of minors to make medical decision for children.

Beijing York said...

Aesthetically speaking, the helmeted peen is more appealing in my view ;-)

Niles said...

It should also be taken into consideration who is doing the circumcision on infants and youths.

There is a history of horrifyingly botched benign intent procedures by a variety of circumcision practitioners. One rather 'infamous' case of recent times, the circumsizer managed to give STD to infants because part of the procedure was mouthing the penis of the 'patient'.

Male circumcision is a surgical procedure done far more often for cosmetic consideration than any on again-off again medical grounds (although, I can't cite this at the moment, I recall reading something about Gilded Age proponents touting it as part of the desensitizing effort to stop boys masturbating. Considering what else was tried, I am not surprised).

It's not a critical health procedure. Genitalia hygiene being treated as a sane, unashamed part of a blunt sexual health training in everyone's education is a critical health procedure, and that's the crux of the argument that proposes circumcision as a medical need. It's a drastic fixit response to counteract ignorance the tyranny of sex-is-Satan culture imposes.

I think there should be a point in a cis-boy's life where *he* decides where he wants the procedure or not. If it's for religious purposes, there are sects even now that wait for males to be of age to consent. I'm pretty sure because infant male circumcision is such an integral party of religious identity in so many, I can kiss that idea off and I await fireworks and gay sex conspiracy theories in Frisco.

If forced surgery on cis-girls' genitalia for religious/cultural identification is bad, so is forced male circumcision, even if the more *common* outcome of one is presently horrifically more drastic than the other.

I just find that treating a natural body part as a medicalized abnormality that has to be excised with surgery from children as soon as medically possible, is not healthy for the entire cultural attitude about sex, reproduction and overtones of cleanliness. Circumcision has been far more popular in North American secular culture than Europe's. But far more 'New World' men these days are escaping the knife. I know families that have specifically confirmed with their baby doctor that a new son isn't de facto circumsized and doctors are feeling more free to state it's not the sanctified hygiene be-all it's been touted in the past.

Are men to be sexually ostracised as unclean for not having gone through the procedure? Well, that's a personal decision I'm not going to address.

In the case of African AIDs, I'd say the women there would gain from being able to use condoms freely far more than having a circumcised husband.

fern hill said...

I knew I'd run across the term 'cis' before. Not that I am enlightened by it.

Buffy said...

IMO circumcision is an unnecessary and barbaric practice. If adults want to do it that's their prerogative, but children should not be subjected to it. There's no compelling medical reason for it and the religious beliefs of the parents are not a legitimate excuse for subjecting a child to the pain and the potential complications of the practice.

Anonymous said...

Ears are hard to clean. Let's cut them off too!

Mrs. B. said...

I wonder why so many women prefer the look of a circumcised male. I actually prefer all the original equipment.

D said...

I don't think the aesthetic look of the thing should be relevant to the matter of whether this surgical procedure should be encouraged/inflicted on infants. I mean you could argue that some men prefer the look of an infibulated woman-- but that wouldn't make the procedure more acceptable to me, honestly.

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