Foreskin fetishists

fertility god

A visitor from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the most important part of the human body is the foreskin. It is, after all, the only part of the body that has multiple organizations devoted to its preservation in the natural state. The visitor might get the impression that the choice of circumcision is a fateful choice with profound implications for the rest of life.

It would probably come as a shock to our visitor to learn that circumcision is just one in a series of issues that allow some parents to feel superior to other parents. In fact, the fetishization of the foreskin is just another example of maintaining that minor, irrelevant decisions are critical to parenting, while major decisions that have an impact on the community at large (such as vaccination) should be left entirely to parental discretion.

The language used by foreskin fetishists might lead the visitor to believe that circumcision is very dangerous. According to Based on a review of medical and psychological literature and our own research and experience, we conclude that circumcision causes serious, generally unrecognized harm and is not advisable.” Foreskin fetishists also employ inflammatory language to express their judgmentalism. Circumcision is “mutilation” and parents who choose to circumcise their sons are “mutilators”.

The foreskin fetishists are so obsessed with the foreskin that they actually dare to advance the misogynistic claim that male circumcision is analogous to female genital mutilation, in other words, that the foreskin is the analogue of the clitoris. The male analogue of clitoridectomy is is amputation of the penis. Comparing circumcision to clitoridectomy is like comparing ear piercing to having your ears cut off.

Anti-circ activists like to claim that there only risks and no benefits to circumcision, but that is not true. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data arenot sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. Inthe case of circumcision, in which there are potential benefitsand risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s currentwell-being, parents should determine what is in the best interestof the child. To make an informed choice, parents of all maleinfants should be given accurate and unbiased information andbe provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. It is legitimatefor parents to take into account cultural, religious, and ethnictraditions, in addition to the medical factors, when making thisdecision…”

Circumcision is now known to have additional benefits in preventing the transmission of HIV. In fact, the World Health Organization has begun recommending routine circumcision for adult African males, in order to limit the spread of a disease that has devastated a continent.

Why do anti-circ activists fetishize the foreskin? They do so because it is a convenient way to assert superiority over parents who make different decisions. The anti-circ activists belong to a group of parents who believe that parenting can be reduced to a few decisions (trivial in reality) about birth, circumcision, diapers (cloth or disposable), whether your child sleeps in your bed, and how much and how you carry your baby around. Fortunately, or unfortunately, parenting is far more complicated. There are no fool proof prescriptions for successful parenting, and no simple ways to separate the “good” parents from the “bad”.

Rather than judge parenting by process (the decisions parents make), good parenting can only be judged by outcome. Did the choices that the parents made allow the child to reach his or her potential and become a happy and productive member of society? When parenting is judged by outcome, we are all in the same boat. No one really knows if they are doing the right thing until long after a particular decision is made. Therefore, no parent can feel superior to another parent. However, some parents really, really want to feel superior to everyone else. Hence the elevation of the foreskin to being one of the most important parts of the human body.