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What factors really determine whether or not a child gets circumcised? From my research it appears that there are in fact very few health reasons why this procedure should be performed. I'm curious why circumcision is still relatively prevalent as a non-religious "ritual" (I call it "ritual" because of its status as a standard/routine procedure).

Some of the things I am pondering are as follows, and I would appreciate any thoughts and ideas.


  • Do doctors advocate aggressively for the procedure?
  • Should circumcision be discussed more openly/publicly in order to prevent misconceptions about conformity?
  • How does the current structure of sex-ed impact what is considered "the norm"?
  • Do intact males ever feel stigmatized?
 

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I think your second point about having more conversations is the key. Circumcision isn't all that widely discussed in the US. Stereotypes and misconceptions can continue easily and unabated because of this. The more it's talked about, the more opportunities for conversation and education. Your other questions are also part of the equation. But I think the conversation piece is the most critical part of bringing about more information and awareness to a broader audience.
 

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I think there is a big problem with the foreskin being viewed as this optional, nonfunctioning part. I had absolutely no clue about it and when I researched it, I instantly felt sick and angry for what was done to my husband. You'd think that men would be livid over this given that, at least in this country, the fixation with their anatomy. But I think they are just clueless.

I also think it is so weird that there is this fixation in the world of those that circumcise on boys penises matching their fathers. It is gross and weird and I don't get it. Why are they comparing parts? Why isn't there more respect and privacy for an intimate part of the body? As the mother of an intact son, I am extra thankful of his foreskin keeping his glans covered. It doesn't feel right that that part of his body should be regularly exposed to others.
 

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The view of the audience depends where you are in the world. In Europe, where the vast majority are not circumcised (especially northern europe), the practise is generally not discussed so as not to upset those who have been cut as babies for religous purposes (ie muslims and jews, in broad terms). In other words its the opposite to the US - here its fear of stigmatizing those who have been cut. There is also massive religious influence in europe. When a German court ruled that cutting a boy under the age of 18 was a mutilation and infringement on human right to body integrity, the ruling was quickly withdrawn to appease religious complaints of anti semetism - a sensitive subject in post-nazi germany. Fear of religious critic and stigmatising religious minoroties is covering up any discussion. The politically correct position is that the rate is 50/50 - and this is what is said in schools, obviously to keep kids at ease. But in nothern europe, virtually no one cuts a boy other than for religious or urgent medical purposes, so that 'fair' figure just reflects the religious proportions. In scandinavia, the rate is effectively zero. Also finding a hospital that will do it is not so easy. In Paris, an american collegue had to take his boy back to the US to have it done 'safely'.


Profe above is right - I am coming up to a year since losing my foreskin after a freak accident. I have hated every moment that my 'knob' is exposed (ie all day, all night). Its an absurd way for a man to be forced to go through life. Every animal on this planet with a penis has a foreskin, or equivalent. Nature did a great job after years of development. Man is the only living creature on earth to inflict its removal on his babies and wonder around with an exposed delicate body part all day. Loss of sensitivity is inevitable as its not protected, amongst other very negative consequences.


Having looked into it over here, the non-religious dominant consenus, especially in northern europe, is that you should let the person in question decide : consent once adult to having this done to yourself is the only morally justifyable position. That view disturbs religious practices who have no answer other than 'its our culture'. The discussion is set aside, no european politician will take on the risk of the muslim or jewish lobby who have plenty of doctors to perform and represent the practice. To question it risks being treated as a racist - a sidelining mediatic reply, which avoids giving a proper answer to this very human question that sees no colour.


The focus in the US, from what I gather from this and other forums, seems to be that its considered good for childcare (mums seem to forget that the baby grows to be a man), and that its a hygenic necessity : in other words its pushed by the medical profession and ingrained into social attitudes. Note that in europe the medical profession is largely state supported, there are no economic motivations. The medical arguments here for the cutting of a baby on childcare or hygenic grounds just isnt an issue. There is no fear of a girl saying 'ewwww' to a natural boy. The north american attitude - more or less the only significant developed world population in favour of cutting for non religious reasons, merits the OP questions.

I had no view on this issue until I myself was unexpetedly cut in mid life. The consequences to my daily life before/after have left me in amazement that this practice goes on. One of the ways I cope with my own sadness and loss is to work to raise awareness, hence my regular postings. Upsetting the religious does not bother me on this particular topic - I am exposing a basic human issue, based on my own suffering, over to them to defend their practice - speaking out is the only way to break the uncomfortable social silence and preconceptions. Having your 'knob' exposed permanently, and irrevocably is just not right if its not your choice and I dont hesitate to explain my own experience on that.

However, sadly, in europe there is social discomfort with talking about a private body part, a trend to political correctness in over-protecting minority practices, and a strong religious lobby that makes it difficult for those of us who suffer to speak out, and so it goes on. After all, its hardly dinner table conversation, but when I do, I have often been made to feel that a man should be a man about it, put up and shut up.

To respond to the OP, read the book 'unspeakable mutilations' - the title refers to the difficulty in talking about the subject - its preface, by a cut from birth man, sums up well the situation both openly and sensitivly, from my experienced perspective anyway.
 

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The factors are the ease and availability of individuals willing to perform the procedure. How many other body parts would people be walking around missing if the option was given to amputate any other part of the body at birth? I believe that it is quite obvious that there are going to be individuals who would be willing to cut off any other part of their childs body if that option was given to them. I have no doubt that we would see many countless people everyday walking around missing ears, noses, fingers and toes if physicians asked parents if they desired to have those parts removed from their child the moment they were born.

They do it because they can, that is the biggest reason of all.
 

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JLUK thank you for giving your voice to the fight. I am so sad and sorry for what happened to you. But I thank you so much for giving voice to these babies who are being harmed. You have the unique perspective of being able to voice the horror of the experience. I hope and pray that as many as possible hear your words and change because of it.
 

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OP, I'll first address your questions:

1. Yes, often doctors do aggressively promote RIC. It is a big revenue generator - a 1 1/2 billion dollar a year business in the U.S. Even in Canada, where the national rate of RIC is somewhat less than 10%, I believe, there are doctors who promote it. My wife's nephew and partner had a boy last year in Saskatchewan and were asked no less than 3 times if they wanted the baby circumcised. This in a province where the College of Physicians and Surgeons issued a statement some 15 or more years ago discouraging the practice and warning of possible lawsuits if they did perform circumcisions.

2. Absolutely , circumcision should be discussed more openly along with all the more recent evidence that proves both physiological as well as psychological damage.

3. I can't comment on this, except to say that the subject should be part of the curriculum.

4. I really don't think intact males are stigmatized very often. I spent all 12 years of grade school in boys boarding schools that had totally open, communal shower rooms. Everyone saw everyone else - you could not help it. I can't recall so much as a comment based on circumcision status. It was just accepted that there were two types of penis.

I think that "Profe" made two very good points above: That many people, including most of our medical community view foreskins as something that has no value and no useful function. I find that rather tragic. Also the fixation of fathers wanting their sons to have a matching penis. REALLY ?? Are they planning to sit on the couch watching the game with their penises hanging out, comparing ?? How absolutely absurd. Well, we all know that it is the father's defence in being unwilling to accept that something was done to him that was detrimental. Few males are willing to accept that they have less of a penis.

I am a guy who was circumcised as an infant and it has been a big issue all my life. Unlike "JLUK", I never got to experience my foreskin, but I miss it just the same. I find it very therapeutic to participate on boards such as this to try and break the chain of barbarity and hopefully help more boys remain whole.
 

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Money is a huge factor. I have read that RIC is a 1 1/2 BILLION dollar industry in the U.S.

Of course DENIAL is another. Most doctors are circumcised themselves, and like most circumcised males, they can't accept that something harmful was done to them. Few men are willing to admit that they have less penis than they should, or could have!
 

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I can answer a couple questions

i had two hospital births (17 and 10 years ago) and neither of my OB recommended circumcision, even the nurses were relieved that I wasn't having it done. I know several women my age who have also chosen not to have it done and from talking to them they were not pressured to do so by their doctors either

my husband (not the father of my sons) is intact, he says he's never even seen his friend's penises and that he's never felt embarrassed about being intact. My son's are 17 and 10 and neither have has been stigmatized.
 

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Of course DENIAL is another. Most doctors are circumcised themselves, and like most circumcised males, they can't accept that something harmful was done to them. Few men are willing to admit that they have less penis than they should, or could have!


This is true to my experience. In trying to understand what I was going through after having been cut in mid-life, I systematically asked the experts I have consulted as to their own penis situation - 'lets talk on a man to man level' - whilst surprised I asked, they were honest :


1st urologist, who carried out the operation on me : he was cut - said and that there would be no change. He didnt take my subsequent questioning seriously.
2nd urologist : cut - just confirmed that my circumcision was fine and advised that there was no difference, other than to use lubrication. On protesting, he referred me to sexologists.
1st sexologist - cut - just said I would get used to it
2nd sexologist - uncut - was clear, explained that the architecture of my penis had been changed : with restricted gliding movement and loss of protection, clearly there were adaptations that I, and my wife, would have to learn to deal with.



All these men are emminant and highly respected practitioners in this field.

So what I have seen is that the profession is dominated by cut advisors, even over here in Europe where the proportions of cut me are much lower. Judging by the names of the Drs I saw, the cut ones were of jewish and arabic origin, ie cut from birth for religious reasons. In not taking me seriously, or understanding that I was experiencing a big difference, I got the impression that there were some denial issues going on, I even felt that I was disturbing them.


Only the natural Dr recognised that I could be going through a difficult time in understanding where half my sexual pleasure had gone.


ALL however recognised that in time, sensitivty would reduce and that that would be a longer term problem. It would seem that this is a fact that they cannot deny.
 

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ALL however recognised that in time, sensitivty would reduce and that that would be a longer term problem. It would seem that this is a fact that they cannot deny.
I don't believe that you would find the same level of recognition of the long term negative effects of circumcision in North America. One doctor that I spoke with admitted that there might be psychological ramifications, but he refused to acknowledge that the could be physiological consequences. Sadly he went on to circumcise his own son. That is the best response that I have ever received from a doctor here, with the exception of my family doctor who is a lovely English lady that considers circumcision "bizarre". How right she is !!
 

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Money is a huge factor. I have read that RIC is a 1 1/2 BILLION dollar industry in the U.S.

Of course DENIAL is another. Most doctors are circumcised themselves, and like most circumcised males, they can't accept that something harmful was done to them. Few men are willing to admit that they have less penis than they should, or could have!
Or maybe they're fully aware of how damaging it is but so envious of other people's foreskins that they want to chop them off.
 
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