Circumcisions: they’re back

Imagine that there was a simple, safe and highly effective treatment that prevents the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, not to mention cervical cancer and penile cancer.

Sounds too good to be true, right? But it is true. It’s not a medication, it’s not a vaccine, it’s … circumcision!

I’ve taken a lot of heat over the years for my stance on circumcision: that it is a matter of parental choice and that it has medical benefits. As far back as 2008, in discussing a just published paper on circumcision and HIV transmission, I pointed out:

The new study does not change what we already know: circumcision dramatically reduces the risk of transmitting HIV.

It was only a matter of time, therefore, before the American Academy of Pediatrics reversed its stance on circumcision to acknowledge the weight of the scientific evidence. The new recommendations were released on line today in advance of publication in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics:

Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.


Systematic evaluation of English-language peer-reviewed literature from 1995 through 2010 indicates that preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure. Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections.

Contrary to the claims of anti-circ activists:

The procedure is well tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions with appropriate pain management. Complications are infrequent; most are minor, and severe complications are rare. Male circumcision performed during the newborn period has considerably lower complication rates than when performed later in life.

Infections disease experts and public health officials have been pushing for years to have the health benefits of circumcision acknowledged and widely publicized. The AAP has finally responded albeit somewhat tepidly:

Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns. It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.

Anti-circ activists have been repeatedly thwarted in their efforts to ban circumcision.

The San Francisco initiative was struck off the ballot:

udge Loretta M. Giorgi ordered San Francisco’s director of elections to strike the measure from the city’s ballot because she said that it is “expressly preempted” by the California Business and Professions Code.

Under that statute, only the state is allowed to regulate medical procedures, and “the evidence presented is overwhelmingly persuasive that circumcision is a widely practiced medical procedure,” the ruling said.

After a brief hearing, Giorgi also found that the proposed ban would violate citizens’ right to the free exercise of religion, said Deputy City Atty. Mollie Lee, because it targets Muslims and Jews, whose faiths call for circumcising males.

And the recent decision by a German court was overturned:

In Europe, a government ethics committee in Germany last week overruled a court decision that removing a child’s foreskin was “grievous bodily harm” and therefore illegal. The country’s Professional Association of Pediatricians called the ethics committee ruling “a scandal.”

Does the change in the AAP’s stance mean that parents should circumicize their sons? That decision is best left to parents … but at least parents will now receive accurate information with which to make the decision.

  • “Health benefits” is a straw man. We don’t subject any part of the body to the same scrutiny as the male foreskin. Think about it. Despite the fact that uncircumcised women are more prone than uncircumcised men to most of the maladies for which circumcision purportedly reduces the risk, have you ever seen studies of the health benefits or lack thereof of cutting off a baby girl’s labia, which amount to wrinkly, often moist folds of bacteria-trapping flesh? Or how about studies concerning removing children’s earlobes early on in life, since after all they are a prime location for skin cancer? Or how about prophylactic toenail removal to prevent the risk of fungal infection?

    Let’s be honest here, folks: you could link any non-essential body part to infection and disease and make a seemingly valid argument for routine amputation at birth. But we don’t. Except for the prepuce, and only in males.
    Kinda weird, wouldn’t you say? I’d guess that something else is afoot here,

  • cosmopolite

    Casual sex should ALWAYS be with a condom. Regardless of whether or not the woman is on BC. The switch to bareback is a hard bridge to cross. I’ve crossed it only once. I told my future wife that she was my only lifetime sex partner, and she opted to believe me. Had she asked me to get tested, I would have happily complied.

  • cosmopolite

    Journalists have uncovered that in East Africa, the false notion that circumcised men can dispense with condoms has made considerable headway.
    Condoms detract from the quality of the sexual experience. I submit that this is especially true of circumcised men. I also submit that PIV with condoms is unpleasant for women unless they use water based lube. The upshot is resistance to condom use during casual sex. I have read a number of young American men say in social media that they absolutely refuse to use condoms, because they kill all the fun. It is very likely that these men are circumcised.

  • cosmopolite

    Unprotected sex becomes more common as one goes down the social scale.
    STDs are more common in the circumcised USA than in intact Europe and Japan. All “evidence” that circumcised is healthier in the first world, is gathered in walk-in STD clinics located in slum neighbourhoods. Evidence collected in Australia and New Zealand, where adult men are a mix of cut and uncut, shows that circumcision has no effect on STD frequency.

  • cosmopolite

    If unprotected sex remains a fact of life in Africa, then HIV+ will also remain a fact of life, regardless of circ status. At best, circumcision will only delay the inevitable. Men will die of AIDS in their 30s and 40s rather than in their 20s.

  • cosmopolite

    You have noticed an important fine point that tends to get lost in all the shouting: circumcision has no benefit when an infected man and a clean woman come together.
    Another important fine point is that circ status has no effect on MSM transmission of STDs. Yet another fine point is that dirty needles are a major way HIV is transmitted in the first world, and circ status play no role whatsoever in that story.

  • cosmopolite

    Those who advocate prophylactic circumcision also urge men not to go bareback. But this sends a confusing mixed message. As a Kenyan man told a western journalist “if I still have to use a condom, what’s the point of the campaign to get all men circumcised?” There is no answer to that fair question. The WHO and the like also have no idea if circumcision discourages condom use, because No Foreskin + Condom => Boring Sex.

  • Ann

    This site is so full of hate and vitriol that even if there is good information I can’t stand to read it. Disgusting.

  • cosmopolite

    Irresponsible sex is correlated with poverty and low educational attainment. This is why unprotected sex is common in Africa, and as long as that persists, circumcision will be useless in that continent. STDs are less common in the American urban upper middle class, because men and women in that class are more likely to “plan”, to be careful.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “This is why unprotected sex is common in Africa, and as long as that persists, circumcision will be useless in that continent.”

      Quite the opposite. Circumcision is especially important in areas where rates of STDs are high and access to condoms is low.

      • yugaya

        “Irresponsible sex is correlated with poverty low educational attainment. This is why unprotected sex is common in Africa” Could you fucking stop being a complete bigot?

        “two-thirds (of university students surveyed in UK) had had unprotected sex.”

        • cosmopolite

          In the USA, the further down the socioeconomic scale you go, the more frequent the unprotected sex. And I would be surprised if that is not broadly true in the UK as well. To call that bigotry is to let political correctness stand in the way of useful knowledge.

      • cosmopolite

        Instead of paying large sums for circumcision campaigns, the first world could make sure that there are free condoms in every village commissary.
        I confidently predict that by 2035, it will be quite clear that circumcision is useless in the struggle against STDs in Africa. The urban myth that circumcised men can’t catch STDs will be an important reason why my prediction will come true.

      • cosmopolite

        The WHO thinks like you do, basing itself on 3 badly flawed clinical trials. For starters, the clinical trials did not address something called risk compensation, which predicts that circumcised men will be less diligent about using condoms during casual sex. After 10-20 years, the HIV+ rate among circumcised men will converge to that among intact men.

        In reality, there is only one African country having a mix of cut and intact men, where the intact men have a materially higher rate of HIV+ than the cut men do. That country is Kenya. In 17 out of 18 countries, either cut men were more likely to be HIV+, or the advantage of cut men was too small to matter.

      • cosmopolite

        I am very confident that raw human experience over the next 20 years will contradict your prediction. Because of something called risk compensation. Moreover, circumcision is worthless when the mode of transmission is anal intercourse, and when infected men get together with clean women.

  • cosmopolite

    Is this fact altered in any way by hubby’s circ status?

    I suspect that circ status matters in casual relationships, because I suspect that Circumcised + Condoms = Boring Sex!

    • demodocus

      Judging by my husband’s reactions, (and he makes kindergarten books seem difficult to read) this is not always the case.

      • cosmopolite

        When I say that Circumcised + Condoms = Boring Sex, I do not mean that that is true in every instance of sex, for all parties. That equation is only a general tendency that holds only in a statistical sense.

        There are no studies on how circ status might influence the willingness to use condoms during casual sex. If the data for such studies are based on oral self-reports, then the resulting studies are probably not worth much.

        But we do know this. STDs are not less common in circumcised South Korea than in intact Japan and Taiwan. Not less common in the circumcised USA than in intact Europe.

      • cosmopolite

        I do not understand what you are saying here.

  • Gary Epstein

    Imagine a female doctor who circumcised all her sons. Imagine a female doctor who is just waiting for an opportunity to say, see I always was right.

    • Jhon Murdock

      Imagine this female cut doc to be the most patient and frustrated infant mutilator who ever lived.

  • me

    Women are more likely to contract HIV from an HIV+ circumcised man than from an HIV+ intact man. The rough keratinised glans makes micro tears in the vagina, through which the virus can enter. Since women are far more likely to contract HIV from men than vice versa in any situation, surely the it is more sensible in terms of HIV prevention to remain intact?

    But that’s if the study wasn’t flawed in the first place: one of the only studies that purported to show protection for circumcised men involved telling newly circumcised men to abstain for 6 weeks and practice safe sex, whereas the control group were no counselled in this way. Other studies have shown no benefit for circumcised men.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “Since women are far more likely to contract HIV from men than vice versa in any situation, surely the it is more sensible in terms of HIV prevention to remain intact?”

      Surely your ability to rough out the math of systems is better than this! Or is it that you don’t understand sexual networks? Either way, try again.

  • Thomas Finch

    Imagine that there was a simple, safe and highly effective treatment that prevents more than 95% of breast cancer, not to mention deaths from breast cancer.

    Sounds too good to be true, right? But it is true. It’s not a medication, it’s not a vaccine, it’s … double mastectomies for all baby girls!

    • dumb.ass.

      • Really? Because it would work. And breast cancer kills a hell of a lot more people than penile cancer does.

        • Young CC Prof

          And women who are genetically high-risk DO often get masectomies, and sometimes hysterectomies, after completing their families.

          • Which illustrates my point. A targeted intervention in consenting adults. Exactly what circumcision should be. They didn’t remove those girls’ breasts or uteruses at birth. They waited till they were adults and let them make that decision. Nor do they perform either of those procedures indiscriminately, on every woman, but only on the tiny minority who stands to receive the greatest benefit.

          • Infant circumcision is like vaccination. The infant cannot consent but its in the babies best interest. Why would you want the baby to have to wait til he’s grown up and have a riskier and more expensive operation? Stupid fucking liberal bullshit.

          • itry2brational

            Except, circumcision is nothing like vaccination.

          • James M. Barber

            Yeah but they have a lot of the same wierdo responses from people. You are more like an anti vax nut job than anything else.

          • And this is relevant to the facts in either case, how?

          • Joshua Shaffer

            infant genital mutilation deprives a child of a highly valuable and pleasurable body part.
            Vaccinations only strengthen immune systems.
            Your comparison is as weak as your mind!

          • Vaccination removes no tissue and offers proven, strong, protection against deadly, contagious diseases of children (now rare precisely because of vaccination – and it is this rarity that anti-vaxxers exploit, leading to sporadic outbreaks of those diseases).

            Infant genital cutting on the other hand permanently removes a normal, healthy, functional body part and offers in return only debatable or disproven slight reductions in already-rare diseases of late onset that can be better prevented by other means, or treated as they occur.

            It turns out it would take
            * scores of baby boys cut in vain to prevent one man getting an STI after having unprotected sex with an infected woman
            * hundreds to prevent one getting a UTI that can be treated with antibiotics (as they are in girls, who are at greater risk), and
            * thousands to preven one old man, with a readily detected and treated abnormality of his foreskin which he neglected, and who probably smoked, from getting penile cancer.
            And those are from the circumcision-advocates’ own figures!

          • S Ross

            Umm. Maybe that’s because those girls might grow up to be women who would regret not being able to have children and breast feed? I think it goes without saying that a lot of them would. Not to mention that indiscriminant hysterectomies at birth would… *wipe out the population.* No circumcised man I’ve ever talked to about it has ever expressed remorse over his missing foreskin. The population won’t die out if all men are snipped. The consequences of losing foreskin are so insignificant next to those of losing a uterus, I can’t believe you’d even try to compare them.

    • Even more to the point, for all boys, because men have no use for their breasts (if you don’t count their erotic value) and MALE breast cancer is more common than penile cancer.

  • cosmopolite


    “…in no way should sex be brutal…”
    Agreed, but a lot of things that shouldn’t happen, happen nevertheless 🙂

    “…regardless of whether
    or not you are intact.”
    Some women who reveal their sex lives in social media, have written that cut men are more likely than intact men to thrust too fast, too hard, and too deep.

    “Your implication that having a foreskin is
    somehow a substitute for poor lubrication…”
    Women have told me of this substitution. One such woman is my wife.

    “…talking about sex in terms of
    reducing her discomfort sounds… just awful.”
    My view is that any talk admitting to discomfort, and exploring measures to reduce that discomfort, is a good thing.

    “Sure, an intact penis
    glides differently…”
    A number of sexually sophisticated women have used social media to reveal that this difference is a major one, and a lovely one too…

    “…but you have bigger problems. Your poor wife.”
    You do not know me or my wife well enough to make such a statement.

    I have had Biblical knowledge of my wife for over a quarter century. Every time we have strolled through Venus’s Garden, she has climaxed, often more than once. What I write in this thread is not grounded in a sexually troubled marriage, but in several decades of reading, of conversations with women during my uni day and with my wife, and most of all, of reading what women say in social media about their sex lives.

  • Jesse Walden

    in theory female circumcision would have the same supposed benefits. want to step up to the plate Amy Tuteur?

  • Awful lot of trolling going on here. I have an idea – since circumcision is optional, maybe we could just leave the decision up to the people involved in making the decision, and the rest of us could just kinda butt out.

    • Greg Hartley

      I agree – the only person who should make a decision on genital cutting is the owner of the prepuce (barring an extremely rare medical condition).

  • Magpie

    Medical reasons why this procedure should NEVER be performed on an infant (who clearly is not at risk of STD’s!):
    – a male baby feels more pain than an adult (lack of testosterone)
    – an infant can’t metabolize proper pain meds or anaesthetics (harmful to the organs and even lidocain can cause seizures)
    – studies showed that stress hormones in infants skyrock during circumcision (even with penile block!), they do not only alter the brain waves, but also interfere with the bonding hormone oxytocin (this was meant for the female to be able to stop labour when danger approaches)
    – the foreskin is still fused to the glans in infancy and has to be ripped off which leaves and open wound in a soiled diaper (risk of infection!)
    – the brain runs on full power the first month (imprinting phase!) and will make the connection of genitals with severe pain, which also is psychological questioning!
    – the risk of bleeding or botched procedures is much higher on an undeveloped penis
    – the foreskin contains more tactile nerves than the fingertips and also huge blood vessels, removing those increases the risk of ED in later life.
    – the glans is supposed to be an inner organ, like the clitoris or the eyeball, exposing it to the elements in such an early age will make it become calloud and logically decreses sexual pleasure dramatically for life
    – another disturbing thing to consider is, that the glans is only seen on an erect penis and triggers sexual interest in mammals. Forcing this look onto a baby or child (where the foreskin is naturally fused and the glans hidden) could contain pedophiliac ambitions

    You must also consider that studies in Africa showed, that circumcised men are less likely to use condoms and have a higher risk of contracting HIV than intact ones who are more careful.
    The lack of feeling (many cut men are unable to orgasm with condoms) and the wrong conclusion, that they are now “safe” lead to this dramatic and dangerous side effect.
    Routine genital cutting of infants (boys or girls) is against all medical ethics and modern knowledge. So called “doctors” who promote this loose all credibility in the civilized world.

    • Young CC Prof

      Look, I was going to stay out of this, but some of your biological reasons are obvious nonsense. Stress hormones? Look at what happens inside an infant’s body during a normal birth. MINUTES of oxygen deprivation. Skyrocketing levels of norepinephron to protect the brain. MOST of them are born with blue fingers and toes. The lungs are yanked open. Cold air assaults them.

      And the result? Lungs dry out and open wide. Baby is eager to lie back down on Mom’s chest and start rooting for a nipple. No harm done.

      Nothing that happens in a normal hospital birth, including circumcision, can remotely compete with the stress of actually being born.

      And stress hormones don’t stop labor. If they did, no babies would ever get born. You don’t think labor itself is stressful?

      You want your opinions on circumcision to be taken seriously on a science-based childbirth blog? Don’t go spouting natural childbirth myths about how “gentle birth” is disrupted by evil hospitals.”

      • Magpie

        You are thinking too emotionally and not in a rational way. There is a difference between dangerous stress and exhausting stress. Birth is a natural progress to which the infant is prepared for, it is not stress in an alarming sense for him. They produce endorphines and natural bonding hormones to counteract this, while the cutting of skin and inflicting an open wound is a totally different process where tactile nerves get cut, this shows acute danger (predator, infection, even death) and is instinctively far more alarming for an infant body.
        In nature, if an animal is in birth and a predator approaches, the adrenaline indeed stops labour, so she can flee. It is much different from the stress of the birthing progress itsself (check the different hormones excreted!).

        Nevertheless, all the other aspects I said are undeniable, plus the fact, that forced genital cutting is a violation of human rights (the huge market on foreskin restauration proves this). If you defend this, you have to defend FGM type Ia (the removal of the clitoral hood): same tissue, same pain, same phony “benefits”.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Too emotionally? Can you say “projection”?

          • cosmopolite

            Projection is a 2 way street.

      • cosmopolite

        You seem to argue that birth is very stressful for the child. Having witnessed the birth of my own children, I incline to agree. But the stress of childbirth in no way justifies inflicting more stress on a child, by operating on its genitalia without anesthesia, a very common practice in USA maternity wards and pediatrician offices. The stress of childbirth moves me to find ways to be kinder to newborns and reduce their distress, not add to it.

    • MLE

      I’m imagining my primeval self rocking on a birthing ball that my partner just carved out of a boulder, when out from behind a shrub, a saber-tooth cat (attracted by the animal-in-trouble noises I was making during the “rushes”) bounds out from behind a bush, salivating over the mother baby dyad. Just as I’ve accepted my fate of becoming some kind of enormous cat eclaire, a wave of oxytocin crashes to the rescue. I calmly order labor to stop, and then direct the wave of oxytocin to crush the approaching predator. The yowling cat recedes into the underbrush, while I pack up my birthing rock and mammoth-hair rebozo, and move to a more secure location inside a cave with a fire burning at the entrance.

  • Tora Spigner

    is no medical reason to circumcise a newborn. If he wants to be cut
    when he can decide, that should be left to him. It is not cleaner nor
    more hygienic, in fact a baby boy is easier to clean than a baby girl,
    no folds. Just clean the outside, never try to move the foreskin away
    from the head of the penis. In a newborn, it is attached like your
    fingernail to your finger. The only person who should ever touch his
    foreskin to move it is the boy himself. When he is old enough and
    retractable, a quick rinse in the shower is all he needs. If you can
    teach your son to wipe his butt, brush his teeth and floss, then he can
    learn to keep his penis clean. Since the foreskin has 20,000 nerves,
    removing it changes his sex life forever. If you want your son to have
    his best life, and that includes his sexual life, do not circumcise him.

  • cosmopolite

    The “information” in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report is confused, confusing and often simply wrong. The AAP drew heavily on the published literature, but failed to note that the subjects in nearly all of this recent literature claiming that RIC has prophylactic benefits, are drawn from the AIDS belt of Africa, or from the First World urban underclass. The results from such studies are not at all relevant to the lives of nearly all readers of this thread.

    Japan and Europe fail to bear out the claims made in this literature. South Korea circumcises; Japan and Taiwan do not. There is no evidence that South Korean men have better penile health than Japanese and Taiwanese men. Ditto for the USA and Europe. 70 years ago, the RIC rate in the UK (NZ) was 35% (90%). It is now zero in both countries. Where is the time series evidence of gradually rising rates of penile problems and STDs in those countries. Since 1970, RIC has declined in Australia and Canada. Where is the time series evidence of rising problems?

    Tuteur is silent about the fact that RIC is usually done without effective pain reductions, and so is intensely painful. As RIC has grown more controversial over the past 30 years, American doctors have not rushed to adopt lidocaine. That betrays a callous attitude of a kind I totally reject.

  • cosmopolite

    “Male circumcision performed during the newborn period has considerably lower complication rates than when performed later in life.” There is no evidence of this. An infant has a much smaller penis, is not anesthetised, and cannot cooperate with his recuperation. A circumcision that goes well at birth can result in too much skin removed to allow comfortable erections after the 15th birthday. I have never heard of a First World adult dying after being circumcised.
    The benefits are allegations. The risks are unknown. The two simply cannot be compared.

  • Greg Hartley

    Oh, btw, I did not perceive my genital cutting as “well tolerated” when performed…and do not tolerate it now. Restoration helps, but the most important functions are gone forever.

  • Greg Hartley

    This inaccurate advice is easily refuted by information from non-cutting cultures. It was written by a person who cannot even spell the procedure: “…should circumicize…” Re: your last statement, the decision to excise healthy, functional erogenous tissue is best left to the owner of the prepuce. Genital cutting of children, to purportedly prevent a disease they cannot contract until later in life, is completely unethical. My body belongs to me!

    • Vyx

      Parents make permanent, life-altering medical decisions for their children all the time. It’s part of being a parent.

      • Greg Hartley

        They only make surgical decisions when medically necessary – genital cutting is not. Only the owner of prepuce (foreskin) should decide whether the purported benefits outweigh the known risks and loss of function. Should we excise breast tissue from infants who are more likely to develop breast cancer? Of course not – women can make fully informed decisions about their bodies; men should as well.

        • Vyx

          Except for things like nevus removal, plastic surgery, tooth extraction, pre-emptive tonsil/adenoid extraction, orthodontics…many of these involve much greater risks and pain than foreskin removal, and parents are still allowed to make the choice for their children.

          • Greg Hartley

            Once again, prepuce excision is never medically necessary for an infant. Many medical organizations from non-cutting cultures recommend against it. How do you feel about Type 1 FGC? It is considered essential for cleanliness and marriage in certain cultures – should parents make this decision for their children? A Type 1 FGC procedure is analogous to a “typical infant circumcision.” I repeat, my sex organs belong to me – optional alterations are unethical.

          • Vyx

            Many of the procedures I listed are done for solely for cosmetic purposes.

            And here’s where I get to shock you and say I don’t have a problem with female circumcision within the cultural context. Should we tell women not to wear headscarfs because they are being oppressed? Should we tell Sheiks to shave and cut their hair? I desperately wish that female circumcisions were able to be performed in safe, clean environments with adequate pain relief. But I am not about to tell the parents who make that choice for their child that they are abominations because they are following ingrained cultural traditions.

          • cosmopolite

            Should a parent have the right to make cosmetic alterations to the body of a child, when what is being altered is completely normal? When what is being altered is a key player in normal sexual life?

          • Vyx


          • cosmopolite

            I am relieved that I am not your child.

          • Greg Hartley

            To cosmopolite – well said. Thankfully, the dinosaurs with this view are fading. Reminds me of George Wallace who advocated “segregation now and forever.” At least he had a change of heart later in life…

          • Vyx

            Because circumcision is equivalent to the systematic enslavement and repression of an entire race. White men really have overcome so much to get to where they are today.

          • Vyx

            Should a parent have the right to make cosmetic alterations to the teeth of a child, when what is being altered is completely normal? When what is being altered is a key player in normal eating life?

          • Greg Hartley

            No, unless the teeth are causing problems.

          • Vyx

            Orthodontics, the next intactivist platform.

          • cosmopolite

            The furthest frontier of intactivism is the intersex. In the absence of difficulties with urination, a child born intersex should not under go cosmetic surgery until (s)he can give informed adult consent to it.

          • cosmopolite

            No ethical dentists will alter the mouth or gums of a child with a healthy normal mouth.

          • Vyx

            What about the prophylactic removal of wisdom teeth? Or orthodontics for cosmetic purposes? or the removal or capping of malformed teeth for cosmetic purposes?

          • cosmopolite

            Malformed teeth are not comparable to the normal foreskin. After all, they are malformed. Orthodontics for purely cosmetic purposes should wait until age 18. I am not convinced that the last word has been said about wisdom teeth. Mine were removed a few months before I turned 18, and I do not regret them. Knowing what I know now, I would very much regret having no foreskin, because it is the sexiest part of my aging body. My wife is past menopause. My foreskin makes sex less brutal and more comfortable for her.

          • Vyx

            Straightening teeth after age 18 is much more difficult than while the child is growing/still loosing teeth.

            Nowhere have I said that foreskins are bad or should definitively be
            removed as a matter of course. I’m saying that for many families it is a
            personal and cultural choice that they choose to make, and that is not a freedom we should restrict as long as the procedure is done safely and cleanly.

            I’m glad you are happy with your body, it is unfortunate though that sex is in any way at all ‘brutal’ for your wife.

          • theNormalDistribution

            My foreskin makes sex less brutal
            Bro. I think you’re doing it wrong.

          • Trixie

            The foreskin does make the penis glide differently during sex and reduces the need for lubricant. “Brutal” is hyperbole, but he has a point there.

          • cosmopolite

            “Brutal” refers to the way men in USA porn go about it. The moving foreskin encourages men to thrust more slowly and more gently, with a gradual buildup.

            Women who have had many sex partners have spoken to this in eloquent terms.

          • Trixie

            Well, your word choice was off and a bit upsetting, frankly.

          • MaineJen

            You’re trying to learn about USA sex from USA porn? Good luck with that…porn has nothing to do with reality.

          • cosmopolite

            I am intact, and married to a woman who had extensive experience with cut men before meeting me.

          • theNormalDistribution

            My point was that in no way should sex be brutal, regardless of whether or not you are intact. Your implication that having a foreskin is somehow a substitute for poor lubrication, talking about sex in terms of reducing her discomfort sounds… just awful. Sure, an intact penis glides differently; but you have bigger problems. Your poor wife.

          • Trixie

            But a foreskin is (to some extent) a substitute for poor lubrication. For the same reason that an intact man can easily masturbate without lube.

          • Greg Hartley

            Wow! At least you’re consistent, which is rare among supporters of MGC. What about immigrants to the US? Should FGC remain illegal for them? Although non-ritual MGC is sometimes perceived as cosmetic, its origins are in the control of male sexuality (see David Gollaher’s book on the subject, or research medicine in the late-1800’s). Wearing headscarves is simply not comparable to carving out someone’s genitalia. Although you believe parents can force irreversible body alteration on their children in the name of culture, I believe the child’s right to bodily integrity takes precedence over the parents culture or religion. Humanity is evolving, albeit slowly, toward respect for genital autonomy.

          • Vyx

            Why shouldn’t immigrants be able to exercise religious freedom if they move to the US? Isn’t that a big part of what this country is all about? If the parents can find a doctor willing to perform the procedure in compliance with health and safety standards, they are then taking precautions to see that their cultural traditions are upheld in a way that minimizes harm to their child. Would I put my child through the same procedure? No. But I don’t come from the same cultural background. Isn’t it great that we live in a society where we are allowed to hold different beliefs?

          • Greg Hartley

            There is one huge problem with your logic. Unlike religious education, genital alteration is largely irreversible. For the parents to practice their religion, they must violate the child’s freedom of religion.

          • Vyx

            Children don’t have freedom of religion. Perhaps that is horrible for the child, but constitutional rights are not guaranteed to children, they are continually filtered though the rights and perspectives of that child’s parents.

          • Greg Hartley

            Amazing! At what age do children “earn” constitutional rights? So children are basically the property of their parents…? I recognize that you didn’t exactly say that, but it sure seems like a good comparison. I’m glad that your extreme perspective is rare – no further questions or comments. It appears that we have reached a brick wall.

          • Vyx

            Perhaps I phrased that poorly. Children are given rights in our society, certain human rights are inalienable. However, minors do not have the right to autonomy. Their designated caregiver oversees and monitors those rights until they reach the age of majority or are emancipated. This causes certain problems, but is currently the way our society works. You believe that circumcision violates children’s freedom of religion; however, our society says that it is up to the caretaker to determine when that freedom has been violated, not you.

          • Vyx

            Genital autonomy, eh? I guess many people have argued that some people think with their genitals, you are the first I have heard arguing that genitals should think without their people.

          • Genital autnomy means autonomy over one’s own gentials. Duh. Females have it lifelong, why not males? Or call it bodily ownership if you prefer. It’s not a hard concept to grasp, since we all have it over all of the rest of our bodies.

          • cosmopolite

            Parents may have the legal right to have a son’s foreskin, but that does not guarantee that the exercise of that right is a moral choice. The pain of medical procedures cannot be measured and hence cannot be compared. The risks of circumcision, esp. the long run risks for adult sexual life, have yet to be measured.

          • theNormalDistribution

            You know, I wonder what the intactivist view on breastfeeding is…
            The short term benefits of circumcision are arguably greater than the benefits of breastfeeding, and the long term benefits certainly are. And yet, intactivists feel that respecting the bodily autonomy of the child is far more important than the benefit to the child, whereas lactivists feel that the (even smaller) benefit to the child is far more important than the bodily autonomy of the mother.

            I don’t get people.

          • cosmopolite

            No intactivist disparages breastfeeding. Many intactivist moms are also militant “lactivists”. The short term benefits of infant circumcision are almost nil, because people don’t have sex until they are 13 or so, and should not have sex until they are at least 18. Meanwhile, the benefits of breastfeeding are greatest while the breastfeeding is going on.

            Breastfeeding does not entail a loss of bodily autonomy for the mother.

            The long term benefits of circumcision are debatable allegations. The long term risks have yet to be researched.

          • AlisonCummins

            “people … should not have sex until they are at least 18”

            What on earth does what people “should” do have to do with reality? And who gets to be king of the world and decide what everyone else “should” do?

          • cosmopolite

            The criminal code, organised religion, parental authority, and everybody morals are constantly telling us what we should and should not do. No social or political order is possible without penalising certain personal choices.

            “Should” and “should not” are unavoidable aspects of our social reality.

            Why alter a baby boy’s penis in the belief that it will make it safer for him to have irresponsible sex and sex at an age when he should not be having sex? Why assume at birth that a newborn boy will grow up to be a manwhore? If you reduce the penalty (or perceived penalty) of bad actions, what you will get is more bad actions. This is why I predict that circumcision will not reduce the transmission of HIV in Africa over the long run. Any alleged beneficial effect of circumcision will be offset by more sex without condoms. The technical term for these human realities is “risk compensation”. The term is in Wikipedia.

      • cosmopolite

        Like all powers, the power to alter the body of others can be, and is, abused. We intactivists maintain that to circumcise a baby, and thereby alter permanently its adult sex life and that of its adult partners, in ways that are not well understood, is an abuse of power.

  • NotCinderell

    The German Pediatric Association might *say* that, but they wouldn’t be correct on the matter. The WHO is also pro-circumcision

    • Trixie

      The WHO is pro-circ for HIV prevention in areas with high heterosexual rates of HIV. In the same way that the WHO is in favor of breastfeeding til 2 — it prevents severe illness in the developing world. That recommendation doesn’t necessarily translate to the developed world, because condoms and antiretroviral therapy are much more effective than circumcision, in the same way that sanitation and proper medical care make much less important to infant and child mortality.

  • Obvious

    And if we shoot people they are unlikely to die of heart disease.

    This is literally the proposal that we should allow parents to perform cosmetic surgery on their children so they don’t have to bother bathing their infants properly. Concerns about STD’s aren’t relevant since there are these things called condoms that completely dwarf any supposed benefits.

  • Yep, and banning female mutilation is just the start of an anti-muslim or anti-tribal holocaust, right?

    You are paranoid and insane. Although I will say, if the Jewish AND Muslim religions weren’t promoting the act of forcing disgusting, sex-hating, genital-obsessed control-freak mutilations on people, they wouldn’t be criticized for them, either.

    Stone age craziness, cleaned up and labeled as medical science.

  • itry2brational

    Circumcision: one of Dr. Tuteur’s most significant and obvious intellectual black holes.

  • “Because you’re angry about your penis?”


    Would you say that to a woman who was displeased at having been genitally cut as a child?

  • I did my 1st and not my second, it didn’t really make a difference. My second baby was in NICU for a few days and I just didn’t want to put him through that. I saw my first son and he screamed and screamed !! It was awful and basically I am a total pain chicken…

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