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All RIGHT (just convinced like 20 people not to circ!)

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Background: I am in an introductory composition class at the University of Hawaii because the course is required for all students regardless of academic past (I am a senior, go figure).

So in this class our teacher states that we will be doing one research-based persuasion paper. We have already done papers in several different styles. The process is very open, since we share ideas throughout the class to get ideas about potential counterarguements, support for ideas, etc. Volatile subjects are allowed and slightly encouraged.

When I announced my intent to do this paper on circumcision, I got pretty much everyone's attention. I was astounded to hear "why not?" as the most frequent question. But it turns out that most of the students in the class were extremely open-minded and I know for certain that the three men in my focus group are now firmly on "our" side.

I am wondering, though; what should my "power point" be? What is the ONE THING that seals the case for you? I need to put that right up front-and-center. This is an 8-pager opinion paper, written in narrative style, and I want to pick out one main point to really hammer in.

I have never had a chance to get to so many people at one time. They will all hear at least part of this.
post #2 of 31

Re: All RIGHT (just convinced like 20 people not to circ!)

Originally posted by nikirj

I am wondering, though; what should my "power point" be? What is the ONE THING that seals the case for you?
That I have no right to authorize the removal of a healthy part of another person's body. My sons' bodies are their own -- they were born healthy and whole and I've no right to interfere with that.
post #3 of 31
A few choices:

(1) Medical necessity
(2) Risk of complications
(3) Sexual Damage
(3) Religious
(4) Human rights
(5) Legal problems

(1) There is little argument about the medical necessity as evidenced by statements by medical orgainzations. (2) The risk is known but there is little agreement about the frequency. (3) While the damage has been documented for 2,000 years, there is no definitive research. (3) A touchy subject but definitely not for Christians. However, it is odd how some people can read the Bible and come up with two totally different conclusions. (4) Probably the easiest to assert and document. (5) This aspect is so new that there is still not much proof.

My suggestion would be to use Human Rights as your main argument and all of the others as supporting arguments.

We will be glad to assist with information and links. Just ask!

post #4 of 31
Definitely the human rights aspect.
post #5 of 31
I think the human right to genital integrity is the fundamental point that can not be argued down at all.

I think the argument needs to be lifted out of the context of parental decision making (presenting rather fluffy pros and cons of circumcision or non-circumcision ...all the while reinforcing the idea that OTHER PEOPLE have a right to make decisions about someone's healthy unique sexual anatomy)

Most people have a presumption that this is a decision parents have, so let's make our case to them.

The fact is, this is ONLY a decision parents have because two very gigantic systems (legal and medical) have been negligent in their duty and have shuttled the responsibility to figure this out back to lay people.

The 14th ammendment makes male circumcision legally wrong as long as anti FGM laws are standing, the basic tennets of medical practice make circumcision medically wrong- if the laws were applied properly- circumcisers would be prosecuted for sexual assault- they are not using their scalpels for a medical purpose- and when a Dr. uses a scalpel that is not healing- it is harming, and that is a crime.

Regardless of what parents may want- it is the duty of the law and the physicians, to tell them that this practice is not acceptable. This case can be presented in a rather airtight manner because the only arguments against it require (what is actually happening) us to turn a blind eye to logic, common sense and ethics for this special circumstance because we simply need to do this, and our culture's compulsion defies reason and demands to be protected.
post #6 of 31
That I did everything in my power to protect him during my pregnancy and worried about his health and safety, was so careful to do everything right- eat healthy, exercise, natural birth etc- How could I willingly give him up to go through the tremendously painful and terrifying experience of having his penis cut apart?

Also, how DARE anyone believe they have the right put another human being through horrific pain - let alone their SON who trusts and loves them- JUST TO MAKE THEM LOOK BETTER???!!

People also get really heated about their disgust of female circ- I would focus breifly on the similarities of the two- male vs female circ. They are both done for religious reasons, they are both done to make the child look "nicer", to make them more socially acceptable, they are both incredibly painful, etc.

Too bad you couldn't show a video of infant circ- I'm sure that win over lots more people!!

Good Luck!!
post #7 of 31
I vote for the human rights aspect as well.

post #8 of 31
Focus on the human rights aspect.
I second Sarah's post.

If you were doing a longer presentation, I'd get people to think about why they WANT to circumcise someone. One point that might do it is, Why can't it wait? Why is the doctor handing us this paper?
And before that, show listeners how frequent it is. I had no strong feelings one way or the other because I thought it was rarely done. Our church (in my youth I was Catholic) did not say anything and I got the impression that people are good and bodies are neutral. I thought that only Jews felt strongly about circumcision.
post #9 of 31
While I agree with the others here regarding the human rights aspect...I think it needs to go hand-in-hand with the fact that infant circumcision is NOT medically necessary in order for the human rights aspect to be fully understood...especially those new to the debate surrounding infant circumcision and for those who have only ever heard (falsely) that it IS medically necessary.

The medical profession suggests and parents authorize invasive and painful procedures for newborns all the time (notwithstanding infant circumcision). However, the difference between other recommended procedures and infant circumcision is that there is, in virtually ALL cases, a medical NEED for such procedures. In order for the human rights aspect to be clear to those listening or reading the paper, it needs to be clear that there is NO MEDICAL NEED for infant circumcision...that the foreskin is a normal, natural body part of virtually ALL male children born to this planet (those born without one are considered to have a birth defect...sorry, can't remember the name of the defect).

If I was writing the paper, I think I would open with some of the bottom-line statements from medical organizations around the globe.

"Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." -American Academy of Pediatrics

"Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed." -Canadian Pediatric Society


It then becomes very clear that removing a body part from an unconsenting person in the absence of medical need violates that persons right to their bodily integrity (at least it does for me).

Just my two cents.

post #10 of 31
I know it seems like a relatively minor thing (everyone else brought up very pithy stuff), but I really don't feel like it's my right to make permanent, unnecessary changes to my son's body without his consent. If he wants to get circumcized when he's older, he can still do it (though I don't think anyone would want to!), so why would I make that decision for him? In some ways, I see it like deciding to give an infant a tattoo (although I think the tattoo would be more easily removed than a foreskin restored); it's a personal thing that he/she should be able to voice an opinion on.

post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone!

I ended up focusing on it not being a medically necessary procedure. I am working in the point that parents should not have the right to make this decision, but I feel that it would lose audience because a lot of them just aren't willing to hear that; and since the point is that people listen to the whole arguement, I am going to kind of pull that point in later.

If anyone knows of a resource that I can use for a couple of statistics (the percentage of botched circumcisions, overall prevelance, things like that), I would very much appreciate it. I cannot use heavily-biased sites like NoCirc unless the facts appear elsewhere.

Thanks for your help!
post #12 of 31
I don't know how many circumcisions are botched every year, but I do have a story that happened to a man my mom went to high school with:

He was performing a circumcision and botched it! There was so much damage that it was recommended the baby have a sex change. This dr was involved in a hugh lawsuit.
post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Kat20
He was performing a circumcision and botched it! There was so much damage that it was recommended the baby have a sex change. This dr was involved in a hugh lawsuit.
Recommending a sex change!? Now that I could mention...that would sure scare the men!
post #14 of 31
Oh, I know! What man would want his or his son's potential to be ruined? You should definitely mention this! That's why I'm leary to bring this up story up with men, but I will definitely be telling my future husband and maybe I'll practice on some male friends I am not sure when it happened, but I'll ask my mom when she calls in a few days. Maybe there is an article about it.
post #15 of 31
There were two botched circumcisions the same day and same hospital, two different doctors:


"Composite State Board of Medical Examiners issues public reprimand of Dr. H. Fred Gober and Dr. Leroy N. Moyer, Atlanta doctors who injured two baby boys while performing circumcisions last year at Northside Hospital. The Composite State Board of Medical Examiners has issued a public reprimand of two Atlanta doctors who injured two baby boys while performing circumcisions last year at Northside Hospital. One child later was forced to undergo a sex change operation and now is expected . . . . . . "

It was not divulged what happened to the other boy as a result of the accident.


"Northside Hospital will pay $22.8 million to a boy severely injured in a circumcision accident at the hospital nearly six years ago, attorneys for the child said Monday. However, Northside spokeswoman Karen Koch denied that a final settlement had been reached and declined further comment. The child, who is now 5 years old, had his penis severely burned in the August 1985 mishap. His attorneys said he will never be able to function sexually as a normal male and will require . . . . . "

Both boys lost their entire glans in the accidents.

The site is a pay site. 10 articles for $5.95.

post #16 of 31
"One child later was forced to undergo a sex change operation and now is expected ..."

When are these idiots going to realize that forced genital cutting is not the soultion to forced genital cutting. So now this little boy had an artificial vagina that his mother is going to have to dilate with am (ehem) child sized plastic dildo (as IF CHILDREN ARE SUPPOSED TO BE PENETRATED!!) and that is going to be good for him?

Start the violation by tearing his foreskin off his glans- start by cramming your metal probes into the innermost private spaces of his infantile sex organ- finish him up with a perscription for estrogen and a permanant gender identity problem not to mention an impossible role to play in the straight or gay world and these F-ers think that is a solution!?

It is better to be a surgical mutant infertile and chemically enhance woman that to be 100% the man you are without a dick. How insulting is that to you? If you are a man- you should be insulted... if you are a woman you should be insulted. If you are intergendered you already know the horror that is happening to these kids. And this is not even a case of making a decision to push someone's gender toward a more definitive physical appearance- (which in itself is WRONG) this is a total corruption.


If a man wants to get a sex change when he is an adult and wants to do what it takes to have a vagina when he is an adult- fine. To put a child through that is worse than evil, worse than barbaric... and they actually say the word FORCED... what do they mean by that? Do they mean pushed beyond his own will and desire- or do they mean that things were so bad that they had no other option? They actually think that totally mucking up someone's gender is a solution to totally mucking up someone's genitals? This is INSANE! Someone get me out of this acid trip from hell. These people are un flipping believable! Why are they not in JAIL for even thinking they could make such a perverted mess with a human being sexually.
This is worse than molesting, worse than incest, worse than rape, worse than brainwashing, this is in my opinion a MURDER. The boy who was born was MURDERED by those people who took such liberties with who he is again and again. How can they think they have the right to take his whole gender? His entire name? His whole sex organ? His role as a father? The place in this world that he was made to fill, the relationships that he was supposed to have- as a BOY. How DARE they take that from him!

And think they can create a mannequin to fill some place they think they have for people without penises. Women are not just people without penises!!! That is so insulting I can't believe his mother did not want to kill the person who would suggest it. I am not a woman by my lack of a penis!! And cutting off a boys' penis does not make him any more a woman that slapping a fake beard on my face would make me a man. Are these doctors so stupid that they could invest millions of dollars in the physicality of such a stupid cruel and unethical lieing premise?

Did I mention that I am furious!?
post #17 of 31
I think the board just melted down and my screen is smokin'.

post #18 of 31

I LOVE your posts because you say what I am afraid to say.
post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 

Want to see the paper?

Here's what I've got (warning: long and intended to not draw off people who aren't so open-minded): (Edited to add: and the paragraphs didn't cut off right, so I'm putting them in now) (OH, and YOU GO SARAH)

Imagine: your baby boy has just been born. You have touched him for the first time, held him for the first time, looked into his eyes and connected with him. You slept an uneasy night in the hospital, excited and worried, ready for your new life with your new baby to begin. Hours before you leave the hospital, you hand over your new baby boy to be circumcised. You don’t really think much about it; after all, it is just something that we do for baby boys, right?

You don’t see what happens next, and perhaps it is better that you do not. Your son is strapped to a metal tray, arms and legs splayed looking for all the world like a frog prepared for dissection. But the subject in this case is wide awake, unsedated, alert. In strides the doctor. He will receive four hundred dollars for this procedure. It is just one of many that he will perform today (“First do no harm?” Not when there’s money involved, apparently). He leans over your baby, who is sprawled most unnaturally on cold metal, probably already crying because it is cold, and the position is so unlike the comfortable curl he assumed in the womb.

The doctor smears topical anesthetic (if your son is lucky) on the most sensitive area of the body, the portion of the body with the very densest concentration of nerve endings. He pulls foreskin away from the glans of the penis, ripping delicate tissues not meant to be parted until 3-8 years of age. By now your son is screaming, and perhaps has already passed out (what many parents think is “sleeping through circumcision” is actually passing out from the pain). A circular clamp is inserted and tightened, roughly chomping off skin, breaking nerves, bursting blood vessels. Your son’s nervous tissue is fully formed, the first system in the body to mature, and he experiences the full range of sensations as any adult would, but lacks the communicative ability to do anything but cry. Most of the remaining conscious babies pale, scream in high-pitch, try to tear themselves away; but they are small, helpless, new. The doctor makes a swift cut along the clamp, carefully (we should hope) snipping away the remaining connections to the glans of the penis.

When you next see your son, there are few indications of the horror that has just occurred. His body may still shake, and you may tell yourself that he is cold. He is bleeding, but you tell yourself that this is normal. Newborns lack tears, so his face is clean, and they lack the ability to talk, so he can’t tell you about it. Some infants actually suffer a form of post-traumatic stress disorder for months after the ordeal. You take your baby home, along with your package about what to do if the bleeding doesn’t stop (which is common, since newborns lack important blood clotting factors) or the open wound on your son’s genitalia becomes infected.

Shocking, isn’t it? But no, alas, this is not fiction. This is truly what happens; and that is for the fortunate infants who have smooth, uncomplicated circumcisions (this can be a far more hideous affair for the 9 percent of baby boys who have complications) (“Infant” 1268). The procedure in question is referred to as Routine Infant Circumcision. It is painful, unnecessary, and the risks clearly outweigh the benefits. And yet, the majority of baby boys in the United States are still subjected to this procedure. The continuation of the practice of routine infant circumcision is almost wholly the result of a lack of education on the part of the parents. We need to eliminate the practice of routine infant circumcision by educating parents and professionals, and by encouraging insurance companies to drop the procedure from their policies.

Since 1971 the American Academy of Pediatrics has held that “no absolute medical necessity existed to mandate circumcision” (“Infant” 1268). Since there is no medical necessity for circumcision, this means that Routine Infant Circumcision is essentially a cosmetic procedure. This classes circumcision with things like face-lifts, liposuction, breast reduction, and a litany of other procedures that may have more medical merit, but are still not covered by insurance carriers. Cosmetic procedures are performed for myriad non-medical reasons, but in this case the most common include such ridiculousness as looking like the father, fitting in at the locker room, and looking better. I am assuming, for those who want their baby’s genitalia to match his father’s genitalia, that if the unfortunate child is born black-haired to a blond father he will be promptly dunked head-first into a vat of bleach, or if the poor dear should chance to have grandma’s separated earlobes they will be promptly hacked off. Further, looking like his peers should no longer be a consideration. Whatever locker-room teasing intact men may have experienced in the past, they are almost certain not to experience it now; every year the rate of circumcision falls, and it is estimated that by the time a baby born this year reaches the high school locker room, 40% of his peers will be intact as well.

You have perhaps been told that the foreskin is just useless tissue, so why not get rid of it? The fact of the matter is that this is a lie. The foreskin has a function. It is first of all the site of the second-densest concentration of nerve endings in the body, second only to the glans. This greatly heightens sensation. How can we possibly argue that we do no harm by cutting off nearly half of penile sensation? The foreskin also contains an abundance of glandular tissue. This tissue secretes a substance which is commonly known as smegma and is thought to be a rather dirty thing. It is not. It lubricates the area and provides protection for the glans. The glans of an intact male is in much better shape than that of a circumcised male, which has scar tissue and cornifications that both lessen sensitivity and make the glans slightly rougher, more skin-like than in the intact male. Smegma is an important part of this protection process. In fact, the foreskin of males is physically incapable of retraction until ages 3-8 for most boys, and puberty for some. This is not abnormal or dirty. In fact, it is highly healthy. The glans and foreskin as a combination is a self-cleaning apparatus. You should no more be trying to scour under a foreskin of a baby boy than you should be trying to clean out the vagina of a baby girl, or sterilize the earwax from your baby’s ears. It is not until a more mature state is reached, when the body is more sexually ready and is producing higher amounts of secretions and perhaps engaging in intercourse that this area needs cleaning, and then the foreskin will pull back on its own anyway. At this point, a simple retraction and wash with water during a daily shower will keep an intact man as clean as any of his circumcised counterparts.

The most frequent excuse to circumcise a healthy newborn boy comes from the fact that circumcised men suffer fewer infections and penile cancers. But there is doubt even in this well-established line of reasoning. In the words of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “In the absence of well-designed prospective studies, conclusions regarding the relationship of urinary tract infection to circumcision are tentative” (“AAP” 383). Recent press has given much credence to circumcision as a method for STD prevention, but seriously, STDs are NOT prevented by circumcision; their rates are merely lowered. I would much rather see my child practicing safe sex than relying on the statistically dubious value of chopping off a protective portion of his penis. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics still stands by their 1989 statement regarding studies on STDs and circumcision: “The evidence is conflicting and methodologic problems render these reports inconclusive” (“AAP” 382). Finally, in the risk/benefit analysis, the risks clearly outweigh the benefits. It is estimated that nearly 1:10 circumcisions result in complications (which can range from fairly mild problems, like excessive bleeding, to mistakes serious enough cause death or to warrant recommendation of a sex change – resulting in lifelong physical and psychological damage), while penile cancer (a very treatable cancer) strikes just 1:100000 intact males, and UTIs (extremely treatable, with extremely rare instances of permanent damage) are estimated to increase approximately tenfold. While some parents are comfortable throwing the odds out the window and circumcising despite the fact that the risks clearly outweigh the benefits, I refuse to face even the slightest chance that a choice I make may result in death or lifelong damage to my son when the alternative is so simple; don’t circumcise. This is a choice my son can make for himself in the future, anyway. While a circumcision cannot be undone, a man unhappy with being intact can opt for a circumcision later in life. It is unlikely, however; 99.9% of uncircumcised males report being happy with their intact genitals. And in the exceedingly rare event that my son should need a circumcision for medical reasons later on in life, his genitals will be larger, giving more space for error; he will be able to report discomfort, heading off infection sooner; and he will be able to keep infection-causing feces and urine off the open wound, something not possible for a diapered newborn.

We are lucky we live in America, a country of free choice. So why, when this procedure is not necessary, are we taking that right from our sons? Why do we assume that we can authorize this elective procedure when really, it can wait until they can make the decision for themselves? And why, in this country that purports to be about free choice, do we have the highest rate of circumcision in the first world? The AAP statement, that “the procedure has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks,” is by far the wimpiest of all these first-world countries (“AAP” 382). The Canadian Medical Association flat-out says that “circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed,” the Australian College of Paediatrics says that it will “continue to discourage the practice of circumcision in newborns,” and infant circumcision is so rare in Europe that no such recommendation exists (“Circumcision” 687). In any other context, tattooing for example, we would find the idea that we would make a permanent decision for a child without medical need absolutely preposterous. Many other countries see it this way. We need to leave the idea of this being a matter of parental choice behind and let the decision be one made by our sons, and only considered by ourselves if serious medical conditions arise.

Routine Infant Circumcision is an idea whose time has long passed. It has been tried and tested on millions and millions of men, and yet no significant evidence of medical benefit has ever been found. It maims thousands of babies every year, some of them severely disabled for life. And it is so, so simple to stop this. Don’t circumcise your babies. Tell your friends, if they will listen, not to circumcise theirs (or at least to take a fresh look at the evidence). Tell your insurance company that if it must fund cosmetic procedures, the hundreds of millions of dollars it would save every year would better spent fixing faces of severely injured children (currently not covered by many providers!) or perhaps on outreach to poorer countries. Routine Infant Circumcision is a problem that we can solve, and we can solve it quickly and easily by the simple act of NOT doing.
post #20 of 31
Good job! I hope you don't mind some constructive criticisim.

Three things-

Where did you learn that the glans is more sensitive than the foreskin? (I think it's the reverse) About the innervation densities- if you can't prove this- that "fact" will be blown out of the water... if you change your statement to emphasize importance without stating rankings you would be much safer.

I think four hundred dollars is a high estimate for an infant circumcision- maybe once anesthesia and hospital fees are tacked on- but my Drs charge $200 for a circumcision, and many I have heard are in that ballpark. You don't want to be discredited for exaggerating. In New York, a Dr. who does a medicaid funded circumcision gets under $12. Although I do believe that money is a motivator- I do not think they are getting paid that much to do it... (the whole question of the foreskin aftermarket is another testy and as of yet- undocumented for the benefit of the general public $$$ maker.) How much does a bioteck company pay for an infant foreskin? it could be that surgeons would willing do circumcisions for free if they can profit enough on the human flesh harvest.

In the PURPOSE section you mention sensitivity and smegma. You said NOTHING of the mechanical function of the glide mechanism for normal human intercourse- this is essential! Destroying the glide mechanism is how the victorian drs thought they could keep a boy from masturbating, it is why "F you raw" is an American term for a long night of sex...

I would never try to promote non-circumcision by trying to glorify smegma, it is simply not a good selling point. I'm not scared of smegma but I know better than to try to tell people, "Don't circumcise so your child can have smegma under his foreskin."

The foreskin is moist because it is an internal surface- but it should not be discribed as a slime producing gooey slick... it's NOT. You have to rememebr that many of the people you are addressing don't even know what it looks like- their mind will fill in the blanks with the worst possible images and you will do the opposite- disgust, not convince them. The lubrication benefit of the foreskin is mechanical, not wet.

OK_ I gotta go run to a LLL meeting! I have some other stylistic ideas, but no time. When are you turning it in?

Love Sarah
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