Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thoughts on Circumcision

This morning, I read an interesting article on Alternet about circumcision. The author addressed the question:

Circumcision remains one defining trait for Jewish men. But how does a Jewish feminist parent rationalize the tradition today?

Written in a tongue-in-cheek style, the author ponders how to reconcile her Jewishness with her liberalism, where it is currently not politically correct to be in favor of circumcision. She researched the topic and found quite a few anti-circ links, from Jewish, other religious, and secular perspectives.

Most of these groups "propagate the dangers and medical futility of circumcising male newborns, and 'facilitate [the] healing' process for the estimated 1.2 million Americans still 'diminished' every year."

She mentioned support groups and message boards for men who believe they are "victims" because they were circumcised.She mentioned a man who who posted that "circumcision was 'the single most traumatic event of my life' on the Circumcision Resource Center’s website. Or the forty-seven-year-old man from Atlanta who blogged about being ignored, explaining that, 'When we men discuss our feelings about circumcision, no one listens, not even doctors. I'm one of the millions of men who doesn’t like being circumcised. I wish I had been able to scream at the doctors, ‘Hands off, it’s mine!’'"

The article mentions men who feel so strongly that they were victimized that they attempt to have their foreskins restored, either by surgical or rather painful non-surgical means and have even formed an organization, The National Organization of Restoring Men.

My response to this article follows below:

I'm not Jewish, but I was circumcised as most American baby boys were in the late fifties. It's been a total non-issue for me throughout my life. I don't feel like a "victim", and I'm quite happy with the appearance and performance of my penis.

It wasn't until the last few years or so that I even heard about the anti-circ movement. I have to admit it pretty much baffles me, as I do not see my life as having been diminished for the simple fact of being circumcised.

I rolled my eyes when reading about the man who said that his circumcision was the "most traumatic event of his life". Give me an effing break. I can understand a man perhaps wishing that he'd been left uncut, but I don't get all the hand-wringing and claims of continued "suffering".

And the idea of men forming a group to piss and moan about what victims they are because they were circumcised decades before, when there are people who go to bed hungry every night, people truly suffering and dying in cancer and AIDS wards, and a host of other examples of true suffering, just leaves me speechless. The idea of foreskin restoration leaves me similarly speechless.

Of course, disliking circumcision is a perfectly valid opinion. But for oneself, it's over and done with, and I see little benefit in embracing the notion of perpetual victimhood. Rather, a more positive way to express one's opinion would be to leave one's own sons uncut and to provide information for those future parents who are undecided about this issue, then leave them to make their own decision.

I blogged about this a few years ago and ended up having to write a second entry because of the heated responses. To read these entries click here.

3 comments:

TLC Tugger said...

Foreskin feels REALLY good.

Laura MacDonald said...

Restoration is not about victimhood...it's about taking back control and increasing sexual sensation.And that includes the pleasure of the female partner by the way.

Cut women are also being helped by at least one charity to achieve some degree of genital restoration - are you against this too?

We only get one body and we are entitled to make the most of it - if its possible for a circumcised man (or woman) to restore some of what they have lost why on earth should they have to justify this to you?

Hugh7 said...

"...liberalism, where it is currently not politically correct to be in favor of circumcision." It is? Speed the day! But sadly, the desire to cut (male) babies' genitals cuts across all political barriers, all religions (except Sikhism), all the things that usually divide people. It is a hydra-headed memeplex that can always find a way around people's commmon sense and compassion. For that reason, while we do "provide information for those future parents who are undecided about this issue, then leave them to make their own decision" - they actually have no ethical right to make that decision about someone else, who is not their property, but has the luck to be in their care for the first 18 or so years of his life. (And this is not like other "decisions parents have to make for their children" like vaccination - they are not allowed to cut any other healthy part off their boy, or any part at all off their girl.)

Sure "there are people who go to bed hungry every night, people truly suffering and dying in cancer and AIDS wards, and a host of other examples" (and how much have you done for them?) There are ALWAYS graver causes than any cause you care to name. (Every cause falls somewhere between "Saving the Universe" and "Feeding rocks.") That doesn't mean we should ignore anything less than the gravest. Plenty of people don't do anything about anything.

And most of the rest of this blog can be summarised as "I don't know what I'm missing, how dare they?" Those of us lucky enough to still have all we were born with do know what you're missing,; that's why we're working to ensure that no-one else will be deprived of it.