"[Circumcision] is probably the most serious operation one can perform without being charged with practicing medicine without a license… The state regulates the hygienic practices of the people who cut our hair and our fingernails, so why not a baby’s genitals?"
and I’m having some trouble finding resources. For instance, where can I find out about smegma in males vs females? According to the internet, it seems to be common knowledge that females produce more smegma, but I can’t find a scholarly source stating that.
Also, I want to talk about how smegma, UTI’s, yeast infections are seen as especially gross by men, when they are more common in vaginas and relate that to misogyny and devaluing of the vagina/vulva, but that’s been really hard to find sources on.
Does anyone know of any resources that might be helpful? Thanks
I’m making a big official post about it because I’ve been getting a lot of complaints from MRAs who think I don’t take male circumcision seriously.
I am absolutely 100% okay with men fighting for their right to bodily autonomy and taking issue with the practice of male circumcision. I’m totally cool with it. It doesn’t affect me, and it’s not an issue I have a stake in because I do not have a penis. I’ve known men who liked the fact that they were circumcised, and I’ve known men who dislike it. I assume cisgendered men know more about what it’s like to have a penis than I do, so I don’t want to try to make this issue “mine” because I certainly do not appreciate it when men try to control MY bodily autonomy and reproduction rights.
I really don’t understand why MRAs and feminists bump heads on this so often. At least, I don’t understand why MRAs DECIDE to bump heads with feminists on this issue, since it doesn’t really have anything to do with us. A lot of MRAs seem to throw male circumcision in our faces like it’s somehow evidence of female privilege, which it isn’t.
Female circumcision is not even really a “circumcision” procedure. It is the removal or mutilation of the entire clitoris (and sometimes additionally the sewing together of the labia), whereas male circumcision is the removal of excess skin. Male circumcision grew out of tradition but stayed prevalent for hygiene reasons. While it is possible for men to remain clean and infection-free even with an uncircumcised penis, it is easier with a circumcised one. That’s not to exonerate the practice of male circumcision, but that’s the reason it’s still around.
I’m extraordinarily resentful of people who compare male circumcision to female circumcision. Comparing a perhaps outdated hygiene practice to the malicious and senseless violence of female genital mutilation is wrong, and to use this as “evidence of female privilege” is unbearably sad. It is not our “privilege” that we do not have to undergo this procedure, because the reason for its existence in the first place was misogynistic - in some cultures, our sexual pleasure is a sin and our “purity” held to unreasonably high standards. This procedure comes with life-long complications for childbirth, intercourse, and even urination. Male circumcision came into practice to protect you from disease, and while some men may lose slight sensitivity or even suffer urination complications from a botched circumcision, the procedure was never malicious or sexist in nature.
We feminists would not take as much issue with you MRAs if you did not so disrespectfully compare the removal of your foreskin to the removal of OUR ENTIRE CLITORIS. If male circumcision were the practice of removing the entire head of the penis on the grounds that pleasure should be reserved for us, they’d be comparable. But it isn’t, and they aren’t.
You are free to go about your opposition to male circumcision. Don’t bring feminism into it. Don’t bring female circumcision into it. Don’t bring the notion of “female privilege” into it. If you do, you’re terrible.
Please don’t refer to foreskin as “excess” skin. Calling it such demonstrates a lack of understanding of the purpose and functions of the foreskin.
It was my understanding that feminism was for EQUAL rights, not for FEMALE rights.
Male circumcision actually spread to repress male sexuality (google the Kellogg brothers). Genital mutilation is sexual repression, period. Also, there are many degrees of female circumcisions. Some damage less flesh than a typical male circumcision. Some more. Some are the exact equivalent (removal of the prepuce AKA clitoral hood), though all are horrible. While I agree that it’s wrong to downplay FGM as if MGM is worse, downplaying MGM as if FGM is worse is also wrong. You can’t compare two horrible things and try to decide which is less horrible. It will always insult those affected by the other.
I do actually feel privileged as a female assigned at birth that female infant genital mutilation is illegal in my country, so my genitals are intact. I’m privileged as a human with intact genitals, not mutilated against my will.
I wish OP wouldn’t say “we feminists,” because many feminists would disagree with her. Because feminism is about equal rights regardless of gender, I believe that all people, regardless of gender, should be in full control of their genitals and be protected from unnecessary, risky procedures.
Male circumcision is a feminist issue that this feminist won’t be quiet about.
every time I post something about circumcision on facebook or my personal tumblr, I get really nervous for a second6
wondering if people will attack me for my stance.
but, of course, it turned out my last two posts got no response. I’d rather attacks than apathy…
all the debate-y people I know are off debating other issues that have already been beaten to death. I’d love to switch to a topic that’s actually quite underexposed
A German court has ruled that parents can’t have their sons circumcised on religious grounds in a move which has angered Muslim and Jewish groups in the country. The court in Cologne decided that a legal guardian’s authority over a child does not allow them to subject them to the procedure, which the court called minor bodily harm, reports The Financial Times Deutschland. Neither does religious freedom, which is protected by law in Germany, give grounds for such decisions to be taken for the children, the ruling says. The decision sets a precedent, which may affect medical practice across the country.
Is this blog a fucking joke and I’m just not getting it? If not, this person is so fucking evil to indulge the barbaric act of infant mutilation…
It seems to me like Jake Waskett finally opened up a tumblr account.
Lord help us all.
based on the asks…
I believe the rules we make the men follow on abortion: no uterus no opinion should be applied to the girl: no penis no opinion.
um… what? Are you serious? Personally, I think men (or non-uterus-owners) can have opinions on abortion, they just won’t be the ones to act on them. On the other hand, men and women are parents. Who’s policing people’s opinions other than you? My opinion is invalid? I’ll just restate what the anon on life-intact’s blog said (because she said it perfectly):
“I absolutely hate when people say women can’t have an opinion on circumcision because we don’t have penises. Hello! Women have sex with penises. Women are the ones who decide whether or not to circumcise their kids, which could domino effect onto their grandkids beliefs and so forth. Women give birth to superficial assholes who feel the need to pick on others simply for having a foreskin. I have every right to have an opinion on this and I plan to keep on voicing it!”
Also, someone once told me I can’t speak on it because I don’t know what it’s like to have a penis. I told him he can’t either because he doesn’t know what it’s like to have an intact penis, and we both realized that that argument is invalid. I suppose you would have absolutely opinion on no FGM? Are people incapable of compassion or empathy? Should I not care about people different from me? Do you not believe in the concept of an ally?
I will likely one day give birth to someone with a penis. You never will. Should this make your opinion invalid?
That’s not even getting into the whole binary issue…
"Ok, so I never really cared about the whole circumcision debate, but I feel like I should try and learn about it. So I was wondering if you did a post, or could do a post, that talked about all the risks and benefits (if there are any) of infant circumcision. I don't really worry about adult circumcision cause it's your own body, so your own choice you know? I want to have my own opinion on this, but I want to be fully informed first. Thanks!"
I’m glad you asked!
- The foreskin serves a purpose. It is not like an appendix, which can be removed without consequence. Though, even appendices are left alone until the cause complications, because surgery is a greater risk than the possible complications. Unlike an appendix, they are not an evolutionary biproduct. They’re relatively new, evolutionarily. It’s believed that when the penis evolved and moved outside of the body (as many animals penises remain inside of the body until aroused), it need a form of protection from harm and desensitation. It’s believed that the foreskin helps make sex happen faster, since it allows for increased stimulation when retracted during arousal, making for easier erections. Also, the fact that foreskins don’t retract until puberty is hypothesized to prevent young fatherhood and create better parents (source). Foreskins are what is natural.
- Circumcision reduces pleasure. The difference in nerves between the foreskin and remaining penis skin post-circumcision is the difference between the front of your hand and the back of your hand (source). In addition, leaving the glans (the most sensitive part, behind the foreskin) constantly exposed causes it to callus and desensitize, blocking access to more nerve endings. There was a great video that showed (through a 3D model) what is removed and how the callusing happens, but I can’t find it. In addition, the foreskin moves and glides reducing friction. The purpose of precum is to lubricate the foreskin and add comfort, even for the partner during sex. Countries that don’t practice circumcision as commonly have no market for lube, because bodies are naturally designed to make sex comfortable. Here, uncutting goes more in-depth.
- It’s risky. Circumcision causes about 117 neonatal deaths per year. That’s 1 out of every 77 neonatal deaths over a cosmetic surgery (Here is a source, though this statistic is in tons of articles).
- In addition to death, there are risks of sever scarring and botched circumcisions that severely mutilate the penis, such as in the case of David Reimer, where a botched circumcision basically ruined his life from the beginning. There are some example images of botched circumcisions here, here, here, and here, though I’ve seen more severe images. Hereare images of relatively common types of undesirable scarring. Hereis another story of a complication that arose for one man later in life due to the friction caused by a lack of foreskin.
- While there is some evidence that circumcision helps prevent UTIs, and STI’s such as HIV, there is evidence that the foreskin helps prevent these things. If you look under “Immunology” here, it goes more in-depth on the protection that foreskins provide.
- Small fact I learned while researching just now, infant circumcision exposes the meatus to urine in the diaper, causing it to narrow, constricting urine flow, as you can see at the bottom of the page here. This can cause urination problems that may need to be surgically corrected (source).
- It’s a permanent, irreversible change. Though there are some foreskin restoration methods, it will not be the same skin that was lost. It will not have the same type of nerve endings and it will not fit as snugly and protect the penis as efficiently.
- It’s not your penis. I think it is best to leave the decision whether or not to circumcise up to the owner of the penis. If the penis-owner wants to get circumcised later, that should be their decision. Also, if one is circumcised later in life, one can use anesthesia. Babies rarely receive effectiveanesthetics because it’s too risky on such a small body. Here is an informative video on anesthesia and circumcision.
- If it’s that advantageous, why hasn’t the non-US world caught on? Only 10-15% of men around the world are circumcised (source).
- I feel like I will come back and add to this list…
Arguments for circumcision: (with my rebuttals in parenthesis)
According to a HealthyChildren.org article:
Medical benefits, including
A slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). A circumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life; an uncircumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 100 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life.
A lower risk of getting cancer of the penis. However, this type of cancer is very rare in all males. (A common rebuttal is that you may as well remove breasts in female infants to prevent breast cancer, which is much more common)
Prevention of foreskin infections. (May as well remove any part of the body to prevent infections there)
Prevention of phimosis, a condition in uncircumcised males that makes foreskin retraction impossible. (There are many misconceptions about when and how the foreskin should retract. Many “cases” of phimosis are just when the foreskin hasn’t naturally retracted yet, and shouldn’t be forced to retract. Really, most foreskin complications can be treated with a cream (source))
Easier genital hygiene. (A fold may make it harder to clean. Though, the vagina has many more folds and arguably a greater risk for smegma buildup, yet women are expected to keep themselves clean without surgery or amputating and body parts.)
Social reasons. Many parents choose to have it done because “all the other men in the family” had it done or because they do not want their sons to feel “different.” (However, if trends continue as they have been, intact will be the norm, and circumcised penises are more likely to be made fun of in the locker room, a common concern among men for their sons. This source says that circumcision is down to 33%, though this source says that it’s around 50%. Either way, it’s on the decline)
- Religious or cultural reasons. Some groups such as followers of the Jewish and Islamic faiths practice circumcision for religious and cultural reasons. (Actually, Judaism is the only religion that explicitly requires circumcision. Islam and Christian are somewhat tied to circumcision, but it’s more cultural and regional than religious. My Muslim friend is the only person I know that is as anti-circumcision as I am.)
For the majority of those of the Jewish faith, circumcision is a religious ritual that must be performed eight days after the birth according to their doctrine.
Some parents believe that the foreskin serves no purpose and just gets in the way of hygiene as it’s hard to clean under the skin and could be a breeding ground for bacteria. They figure just get rid of the skin and solve that problem altogether.
Hygiene was the reason that Andrea, a 32 year old Accounting Assistant from Irving, Texas had her son circumcised. “When he gets older he doesn’t have to clean his private area with extra care. His grandfather isn’t circumcised and he wished his parents did give him the surgery.”
In agreement is Lorah, a 19 year old student/stay at home mom from Mobile, Alabama. “It was just easier. When they get older it makes it easier to keep clean. Boys tend to hit that age where they don’t want to shower and this eliminates the risk of infection under the foreskin.”
Both she and Andrea say that they will circumcise any future boys they have.
There’s also another reason most parents opt for circumcision. Appearance. The general portrayal of a penis in the media is with the foreskin removed. To see an uncircumcised penis is still considered a novelty these days. This is more of a western culture belief though because for the most part, European men are not circumcised, though with the growing Western media influence there this is beginning to change.
The United States is the only country for the most part where the majority of circumcisions are performed for reasons other than religion.
One of the medical reasons for circumcisions are if the foreskin is too tight on the penis and is difficult to pull back or if there’s a condition called Balanitis which is a recurring infection under the foreskin that sometimes develops in adult men. According to some studies, there is a possibility that glands under the foreskin may tear over time making it easier for infections such as HIV to enter the body.
There’s no doubting that circumcision is a painful surgery, but parents who are pro circumcision site that it’s better that the surgery is done when the male is an infant who will forget the pain than when he must undergo the surgery as an older child or adult for whatever reason and suffer the pain then. Healing usually takes roughly seven days. Occasionally there might be a risk of infection or scarring and parents need to be vigilant about making sure babies don’t further injure the area until the penis has a chance to completely heal.