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Circumcision

 
  

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Ganesh
21:24 / 18.02.02
I don't think that was Planet of Sound's point, Mord@nt; I certainly didn't take it that way. I assumed he was contrasting, amongst other things, the legal status of both types of operation - in that one is seen, quite correctly, as illegal, barbaric mutilation, while the other is carried out routinely, with no real medical justification, throughout the US.

Bitchie: sure, but unless one believes in a shadowy cabal of (exclusively US) doctors out to hoodwink the American public, it's difficult to see how the situation's come about. I'm sure you're not suggesting that American parents are any more conformist than anywhere else?

Kind of odd, isn't it? Which is possibly what PoS was getting at.
 
 
Matthew Fluxington
21:28 / 18.02.02

...and here we see the living proof. Flux, if you lived in a society where, to take Ganesh's example, it was customary to have children's ears lopped off at an early age, they would no doubt find ears (your ears, for example) a 'freakish' and harrowing sight.


Listen, I don't really think it's that big of a deal either way, and I don't think it's similar to having one's ears being cut off, or having a woman's genitalia torn up. The foreskin really isn't all that important. It's more like losing an earlobe than it is like losing the ear itself.

Would you give any thought to the idea that your own conformity on this issue, and possibly on many others, might be a product of your infant experiences? Have you ever previously thought about the issue, or done any research; would you simply have allowed this operation to take place on your (hypothetical) son, without this?

My conformity on this issue? I think that it's more a case of me not caring either way, but prefering that my son be circumcized just to make his life a tiny bit easier, as I would see it. A lot of folks are hung up about their penises as it is, I figure maybe it's only slightly easier to not have yr cock potentially scare folks. I personally don't care about the fact that I was circumcised, and I don't get why yr so hung up about this. If I had a kid, and he wasn't circumcised, it wouldn't bother me or anything.

[ 18-02-2002: Message edited by: Flux = Rad ]
 
 
Matthew Fluxington
21:34 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Mordant C@rnival:
I believe that all male babies born in America are circumcised as a matter of course (Someone correct me if I'm wrong).



In most hospitals, infant boys are circumcised unless the parents ask for them not to be.
 
 
Ganesh
21:39 / 18.02.02
'Nesh, I believe that all male babies born in America are circumcised as a matter of course (Someone correct me if I'm wrong).

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "in circumstances where there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child's well-being" it's up to the parents to make an "informed choice". Of course, the words 'potential' and 'informed' here are rather stretchy...

An interesting (if hardly unbiased) historical perspective, pointing out that male circumcision was originally devised by those ever-watchful Victorians as a safeguard against masturbation. Interestingly enough, a certain Mr Kellog was a staunch advocate - which has rather put me off his 'flakes'...
 
 
Less searchable M0rd4nt
21:42 / 18.02.02
To clarify: I wasn't responding specifically to PoS. I just felt that some of the posts showed a slight lack of awareness as to what female "circumcision" actually entails; hardly uncommon.
 
 
Ganesh
21:51 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Flux = Rad:
[qb]Listen, I don't really think it's that big of a deal either way, and I don't think it's similar to having one's ears being cut off, or having a woman's genitalia torn up. The foreskin really isn't all that important. It's more like losing an earlobe than it is like losing the ear itself.


Put simply, it's allowing one's child to undergo a medically unnecessary operation (with all attendant, albeit minor peri-operative risks) to remove - without possibility of consent - part of his anatomy. On... what? Cosmetic grounds? Because it happened to you?

I agree that Freud's theories of childhood sexuality are pretty damn hard to prove either way - but the possibility that genital pain in the first few hours of life might affect an individual's later development is at least as plausible as the 'hygiene' bullshit trundled out to justify the procedure.

So, to you, it's just an earlobe. You make the decision; your child can hardly object. But, using that example, why - if it's not medically necessary - amputate one's child's earlobes?

Doesn't make sense to me...
 
 
Matthew Fluxington
21:53 / 18.02.02
Alright, alright, alright - if, on the off chance I ever father a son, I shall not have him circumcized. And I shall name him Ganesh in your honor.
 
 
Ganesh
21:55 / 18.02.02
Leave him his trunk...

 
 
bitchiekittie
21:56 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Flux = Rad:
In most hospitals, infant boys are circumcised unless the parents ask for them not to be.


and most parents just accept that its what happens to brand new little boys, no questions asked. I dont think theres a conspiracy, only that if no one asks its simply accepted as the preferred, accepted practice. and round and round

I think its odd, too, ganesh - but acceptance is simpler, and thats where folks tend to veer, eh? when in doubt, go with the norm....
 
 
Ganesh
22:07 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by bitchiekittie:
I think its odd, too, ganesh - but acceptance is simpler, and thats where folks tend to veer, eh? when in doubt, go with the norm....


Sure but, as I say, the geographical spread is quite striking: at the beginning of last century, the practice was common in the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. The US is now the only country to routinely circumcise.

Are US parents more likely to "go with the norm", then? Why did it die out in other countries but not in the US? I honestly think it's to do with the US being generally more fearful of 'contamination' in any form - but that's really just speculation.
 
 
The Planet of Sound
22:48 / 18.02.02
Urgh. Even the word 'flakes' seems somehow... dirty, now.

"By about 1880 the individual... might wish[to]... tie, chain, or infibulate sexually active children... to adorn them with grotesque appliances, encase them in plaster, leather, or rubber, to frighten or even castrate them... masturbation insanity was now real enough--it was affecting the medical profession."

Love it. 'Masturbation insanity'. 'Tis indeed a most perplexing case of psychosexual norms and such like. Perhaps the American obsession with circumcision isn't so much about obsessive cleanliness, but about routine instillation of conformity at a very young and tender age, it being perhaps the most ant-hill like of all our first world societies?

Henry Kellog had some crazy ideas about all manner of things, mostly involving poohing. 'The Road to Welville'; fantastic film, 'womb manipulation', ho ho ho, yes indeed...
 
 
The Planet of Sound
22:52 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Flux = Rad:
[qb]
I figure maybe it's only slightly easier to not have yr cock potentially scare folks.

[ 18-02-2002: Message edited by: Flux = Rad ]


In the showers, no doubt, after a manly bout of football, one of those freakish 'cavaliers' starts jiggin' it about and upsettin' the other jocks. Can you imagine? The horror, the horror...
 
 
Sauron
23:22 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Mordant C@rnival:
To clarify: I wasn't responding specifically to PoS. I just felt that some of the posts showed a slight lack of awareness as to what female "circumcision" actually entails; hardly uncommon.


Yes yes, MC correct as always. I just feel uncomfortable comparing the two. If the debate was about the wrongs and rights of male circumcison I think we would have a good argument. I just think at the moment it's like we are asking What's worse, Hitler's extermination policies or his haircut?
 
 
Sauron
23:25 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Ganesh v4.2:
Leave him his trunk...




aha, sorry forgot about the closeness of this topic to your heart ...
 
 
Ganesh
23:25 / 18.02.02
Um, I think we are arguing the rights and wrongs of male circumcision. Aren't we?

In one sense, they're comparable as mutilations of male and female children's genitalia. I guess PoS's arguing that the one - albeit very different in terms of cultural significance, operative procedure, 'motivation' and legality - is as deserving of the word 'mutilation' as the other.

Okay, he's overstating to make his point but, in essence, I think he's correct.

[ 18-02-2002: Message edited by: Ganesh v4.2 ]
 
 
Sauron
23:44 / 18.02.02
OK, so I think my example is OTT and I think PoS original thought was meant to, and has, instigated debate.

But for I fully on the fence with regards to circumcision. My Dad is circumsiced and this doesn't seem to have done him any harm (although I did just read in Screen International that his namesake had been nominated for Best Makeup for Lord of the Rings, so maybe he's been leading a double life all this time), I haven't been circumcised and seem OK- I would not have a problem with cavelier or roundhead for my son, so it's not an issue close to my heart, whereas I have always been appalled by female circumcision. Besides, how many people do you know who have trauma from male circumcision? And how many King Mob fans arguing against it would then go and have their daughter's/ son's ears pierced?

[ 19-02-2002: Message edited by: Sauron ]
 
 
Sauron
23:48 / 18.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Ganesh v4.2:
operative procedure

[ 18-02-2002: Message edited by: Ganesh v4.2 ]


Language a bit too blasť here methinks. I really don't think you can compare the two even for effect.
 
 
The Planet of Sound
10:09 / 19.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Sauron:
Besides, how many people do you know who have trauma from male circumcision?
[ 19-02-2002: Message edited by: Sauron ]


These therapists make a comfortable living from helping men who have been traumatised by circumcision. There's plenty of other stuff on the Wide World Intranet:
http://www.noharmm.org/referral.htm
 
 
Sauron
11:15 / 19.02.02
Maybe I'm not sensitive (sorry) enough to this issue, but I still think one is like pissing in the ocean compared to the other.
 
 
Haus about we all give each other a big lovely huggle?
11:19 / 19.02.02
I think certainly that a fair difference between the severity of the two operations is being bridged by the far greater importance of the penis compared to the vulva...
 
 
Ganesh
13:12 / 19.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Sauron:
Language a bit too blasť here methinks. I really don't think you can compare the two even for effect.


Not attempting to be blase or otherwise; attempting to describe the fact that (as Mordant points out) they're vastly different in terms of exactly which parts of anatomy are removed/stitched.

They're both covered by the term 'circumcision'; they're both carried out on individuals who are, essentially, unable to give or withold consent. In that sense, I think they are comparable - in a 'compare and contrast' way, obviously. And sure, the contrasts hugely outweigh the similarities; I don't think anyone's claiming otherwise.
 
 
Sauron
13:18 / 19.02.02
Sorry I just don't see it- I am so indifferent about male circumcision, I don't think I'm coming from the same start point. Maybe I need to be educated on its *dangers* ...
 
 
Ganesh
13:18 / 19.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Sauron:
Maybe I'm not sensitive (sorry) enough to this issue, but I still think one is like pissing in the ocean compared to the other.


In terms of cultural acceptability, legality, 'invasiveness' and degree of physical mutilation, yes. In terms of the main similarity - unnecessarily operating on a non-consenting individual for esoteric/dubious reasons - they're comparable.

PoS is, I think, exploring why one is seen as much more culturally 'normal' than the other, which is a perfectly pertinent question.

To turn the question around, why don't other countries routinely circumcise male babies/children?
 
 
Sauron
13:33 / 19.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Ganesh v4.2:


PoS is, I think, exploring why one is seen as much more culturally 'normal' than the other, which is a perfectly pertinent question.


It is and it isn't. Surely it is a question of moral code. I don't know how you can answer this question hyperthetically. Male circumcision is basically harmless, perhaps unneccesary, but still relatively harmless. Female circumcision is a million miles away from harmless (far nearer to clit-less). SO how can you ignore this when asking why one is deigned 'normal' and the other isn't?

quote:Originally posted by Ganesh v4.2:

To turn the question around, why don't other countries routinely circumcise male babies/children?


This is a far better question, and it focuses on society and convention without clouding the argument.

You could also not ask this question about female circumcision without appearing misogynous/ brutal/ mad. I guess that's the difference for me.

[ 19-02-2002: Message edited by: Sauron ]
 
 
The Planet of Sound
13:43 / 19.02.02
quote:
"Male circumcision is basically harmless, perhaps unneccesary, but still relatively harmless."

I'd point towards the link to therapists above, and also to other comments made on the thread (re: botched jobs). Even if the surgery is harmless, it doesn't justify it's practice. Again, removing parts of ears is probably harmless, but that's no reason to start lopping at infants' earlobes under the guise of what are essentially cultural norms.


"You could also not ask this question about female circumcision without appearing misogynous/ brutal/ mad. I guess that's the difference for me."

Exactly. Many arguments suddenly take on characteristics of madness if the factors are changed only slightly. This tends to point towards the essential irrationality of the premise, as in this case. Take, for example, the question "Why do you insist on promoting your homosexuality?" (and think Clause 28 here). Now replace homosexuality with heterosexuality: "Why do you insist on promoting your heterosexuality?". The asker suddenly seems a bit of a looney, doesn't he?
 
 
Sauron
13:48 / 19.02.02
Yes, and I believe you have put yourself in bed with the pro- clause 28 wankers by comparing male and female circumcision.

How many male jobs are botched? Every female job is botched. I can't believe you can't see how offensive it is to compare the two, even for effect.

[ 19-02-2002: Message edited by: Sauron ]
 
 
Jack The Bodiless
13:49 / 19.02.02
No one here is disputing in the slightest that female circumcision is horrible, dangerous, and just WRONG. Right? Then let's stop trying to prove the point over and over. It's a given. We all understand.

Male circumcision... how about a fresh perspective? I was circumsized at the age of eleven. I started 'developing' at around the age on nine. By eleven I was regularly sexually active (on my own, obviously, but still active).

I had a slight medical problem, was misdiagnosed and had my foreskin cut off. Cue the most agonising few months of Jack's young life. I was (tacitly) advised a few years ago that it wasn't essential, and that the subsequent disappearance of the original illness was very likely due to the anti-biotics and other drugs that were provided to stop infection after the operation.

You try waking up crying every morning because your PJs are stuck to a very private, already hyper-sensitive area (and only a warm, but still painful bath will unstick them. You try explaining to your friends why you had to take three weeks off school, and why you were limping and mincing around the playground for nine more. I'd go on, but I don't want to make anyone puke.

Ganesh is right. It's still mutilation, and there's still no choice - I wasn't given any. We're just talking about a question of degree, and just because it's normal for Flux and his warped little country, doesn't make it right.

Anyone who's posted saying that it's only a minor little thing (so to speak)... if you've had it done and you feel this way, you're fucking lucky. If you haven't, you're fucking ignorant.
 
 
Ganesh
13:52 / 19.02.02
How does one measure 'harm'? How do we know male circumcision's harmless? The same way we 'know' it's important for hygiene? At the very least, we're disfiguring a child's genitalia without his consent (and subjecting him to momentary physical pain/trauma and analgesic/peri-operative risks in the process). In an age where childhood abuse - physical, emotional, sexual - is increasingly recognised as having a disproportionate effect on adult personality and behaviour, why do we stubbornly view male circumcision as being somehow outwith this area? A minor tweak of context (or geography) and it'd be considered abuse...

And, as Jack says, it's hardly 'over in an instant'. The fact that babies and young children often can't accurately vocalise pain doesn't mean they don't feel it.

Even if you're right and it is basically 'harmless', why do it at all?

The database I linked to earlier usefully summarises both the historical and geographical/cultural perspectives. The UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand seem to have abandoned the practice, at varying rates, after the anti-masturbation theories lost ground, and epidemiological studies in Europe (particularly Scandinavia) suggested the hygiene argument carried very little weight.

[edited to acknowledge Jack's contribution, above]

[ 19-02-2002: Message edited by: Ganesh v4.2 ]
 
 
Sauron
13:53 / 19.02.02
I am very sorry to hear about your experience, but as I said, a botched job for man is a terrible tragedy and an anomaly. A botched job for women is every single fucking job.

That is why I said let's talk about the rights and wrongs of male circumcision in isolation- there is no need to have female circumcision in the mix at all.
 
 
The Planet of Sound
13:54 / 19.02.02
Sorry to hear about that, Jack. QED.
 
 
Haus about we all give each other a big lovely huggle?
13:55 / 19.02.02
Actually, no. The asker sounds like somebody who is bored with another person's tireless, tiresome and voluble straightness. Happens all the time.

However, to address the question - fair enough. If there is no conclusive medical evidence in favour of male circumcision, I see no particularly good reason to perform it as a matter of course in secular circumstances.

Next question - do we still let the Jews, Muslims etc. get away with it? Or do we start trying to change attitudes towards it in those communities? And, if so, where do we arrange it in terms of priorities against people having the flesh of their vulva scraped out?
 
 
Jack The Bodiless
13:55 / 19.02.02
You're a bit of a dickhead, aren't you, Sauron?

Like I said, mutilation is mutilation. Like I said, we're talking about a question of degree. Like I said, you're fucking ignorant.

[ 19-02-2002: Message edited by: Jack The Bodiless ]
 
 
Sauron
13:56 / 19.02.02
I am not advocating male circumcision, but imagine if you were Jewish, and were due to be circumcised when very very young. Imagine if your parents did not allow this. Imagine the psychological damage this would cause.
 
 
Ganesh
13:58 / 19.02.02
quote:Originally posted by Sauron:
I am not advocating male circumcision, but imagine if you were Jewish, and were due to be circumcised when very very young. Imagine if your parents did not allow this. Imagine the psychological damage this would cause.


Happened to a friend of mine and, to use your own argument, "it doesn't seem to have affected him". His parents decided to wait until he was old enough to give or withold consent. He opted to keep the thing.
 
 
The Planet of Sound
13:59 / 19.02.02
Sauron, the only reason I included female circumcision 'in the mix' was to draw attention to the cultural values that are major players in deciding what is normal or abnormal in these circumstances. Yes, I think clitorodectomy and indeed other practices, which I've also mentioned above, are (usually) more physically damaging than the effects of male circumcision. But then there's the psychological effects to take into account, another direction we've explored. See Jack, above.
 
  

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