Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Circumcision: A Response To Skeptics

Someone asked today how I handle people who just want to circularly argue about circumcision without ever actually looking at the factual research and literature on the topic. Those people who do not know what the prepuce organ is, what it does, or is responsible for - who think that it is 'just skin' that is removed during infant circumcision. How do I respond, she asked, to people who repeatedly bring up the "African studies" or "cleanliness" without really knowing what they are talking about in the first place...


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I don't argue with people who:
(1) really want to remain ignorant due to their own disturbed fascination with cutting boys penises
(2) have circumfetishes
(3) are too intellectually challenged to understand valid medical studies vs. propaganda, read empirical research, or study health-related topics in depth with 1/2 a brain.

It is just too exhausting and those are the rabidly pro-cutting people who are bound and determined to repeat the abuse no matter how unfounded it is. They are those you just hope do not have sons...(or girls if they are in a country that cuts the prepuce organ fr girls). And it is for these little ones that the MGM Bill is so vitally necessary in the United States.

Although I don't waste my time arguing with those who fit the above-mentioned categories, I DO give them and everyone who brings up the topic ample resources to accurate, factual information and well-done empirical studies. I make sure they have access to learn all they can, and dig into the literature and experience of the topic further on their own. I encourage them to watch circumcisions being done - to become WELL VERSED in the prepuce organ - all its many functions and purposes for existing. To thoroughly know the statistics and facts on the matter. I provide the starting point in research on the topic (it isn't difficult when there is SO much of it).

And, in the end, I remind them of a few things:

1) There are many reasons that NOT ONE Medical Organization in the entire WORLD recommends circumcision. This alone should tell us something.

2) The U.S. has the highest rate of circumcision of any Western nation (by FAR the highest as our rates are about 50% and the next closest is Canada with a rate around 10%). We also have the HIGHEST rate of all STDs of any Western nation (including HIV). Developed nations where 98-99% of their boys/men remain intact have the lowest rates of STDs (including HIV). If circumcision 'protected' against diseases (which it certainly does not - it does JUST THE OPPOSITE)...but if it did, we would NOT see these figures to such an extreme and obvious degree.

3) Men have a higher chance of getting BREAST CANCER (0.7% likelihood) than they do of getting penile cancer (0.09%). To argue that circumcision decreases the rate of penile cancer is like arguing that if we keep kids locked inside their bedroom their whole life they won't get struck by lightening outside. It is absurd. Yes, if you cut an organ off your body, you will not ever get cancer in that organ. Bright idea. Maybe we should severe all organs & limbs & live as vegetables.

4) Women/girls have a 900x greater likelihood of getting a UTI than men/boys. Among men/boys it is very rare, and when it does happen, is almost always due to an unknowledgeable adult messing with/forcibly retracting/over-cleaning a baby boy's penis. Should we cut off the prepuce organ of all girls at birth? Obviously they would 'benefit' more than the boys... No, of course not. Because UTIs are minor and EASILY and quickly treated with antibiotics.

5) There are no "African Studies" - there was ONE 'study' (that was not valid/reliable/repeatable or peer-reviewed in any way) conducted by a research team funded and propelled by Americans with the preliminary purpose of going into South Africa to circumcise the black adult men there. Countless medical groups from around the world have critiqued and called into question the methods used for this study. When their first "results" showed no difference between cut vs. uncut men, another small sample of African men was 'recruited' and divided ahead of time into those who tested positive vs. negative for HIV and those who were cut vs. uncut so the 'sample' could be an accurate picture of what they were hoping to show. Although this whole thing is bogus to begin with -- EVEN IF IT WEREN'T - it has NOTHING to do with the routine genital cutting of baby boys in the United States! Dr. Dean Edell discusses this here, along with additional articles on the subject.

6) By simply looking at the purposes/functions of the prepuce organ we see that one of its primary reasons for existing is for protection and to COMBAT illness/disease by naturally warding off bacteria/viruses with its own perfect concoction of antibodies. Remove this, and this most excellent source of protection is gone. When I reviewed EVERY SINGLE study done on the topic as part of my graduate study & thesis publication, I found that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that circumcised men (in all countries) have higher rates of ALL STDS (HIV included) across the board. Intact men certainly are at a benefit as far as health is concerned. And all that said -- why on earth are we focusing so much on cutting/not cutting genitals when it comes to STDs?! The only real protection is (1) to abstain from sex w/ infected partners or (2) use condoms. Maybe we should pour our $ and resources into condom use/education in South Africa rather than trying to cut them all up... This race-related study imposed by white American men on black S.African men sort of reminds me of another STD 'study' done years ago... Tuskegee, anyone?

7) When we started removing the prepuce organ in a U.S. rampage at the end of WWII, we KNEW what it would do to men's sexuality - their sexual sensation, their sexual experience - and that of their partner. Our primary goal was to REDUCE sexual fulfillment among men by removing the ONE organ MOST responsible. We hoped (or, at least Kellogg and Graham hoped and preached) that it would curtail masturbation among boys and reduce promiscuity among men. Our soldiers would be "healthier" in future wars - more able to focus on the war at hand - rather than picking up women (and thereby diseases) around the world. Of course, it never did work to diminish masturbation, promiscuity, disease - or blindness for that matter! But it DID reduce a nation of men's natural sexuality & experience. Kudos to N.O.R.M. for gathering together men who want to counter this assault upon their sexuality (and their partner's experience) as best they can. [More on restoration here.]

8) In the end, a man's body is HIS body. If he wants to cut up his nether regions when he is old enough to say "CUT ME" then so be it. But at birth, a crucial time of primal attachment, bonding, hormone rushes, trust/distrust formation, heightened sensitivity - especially to pain, along with countless other things - it is NOT the time to play hack-saw with a boy's most sensitive organ. It is not anyone's right to remove 1/3-1/2 the penis surface, the most erogenous area, the ridged band, 20,000+nerve endings, mucus membranes, sebaceous glands, and more - forever impacting this man's future life/health/sexuality along with that of his partner, without his knowledge and full informed consent. It is a complete violation of human rights and genital integrity.

I agree with Derek, a father who blogs about his experience w/ circumcision (http://naturalpapa.com/circumcision-will-you-make-the-cut/
http://naturalpapa.com/circumcision-barbaric-mutilation-videos/), when he says that any mother who is going to allow her son to be genitally mutilated at birth should have to hold her writhing baby - legs forced open, screaming bloody murder, lapsing in and out of comas/seizures/petit heart failure - to watch the physician stroke her baby's tiny member to achieve erection for the first time post-birth and get a better 'grip', to rip his prepuce off his glans (as a fingernail ripped from the finger), to stab a knife in between and separate the glans from the prepuce (firmly attached as one-and-the-same at birth), to clamp and slice, cut and sever (and then sell to cosmetic/pharmaceutical companies!) the #1 most sensitive organ that exists on men and women.

If we (as mothers especially) were not allowed to cowardly hand over our baby to be sexually abused as we hid in another room, maybe more mothers would SEE what takes place, do their research ahead of time, and speak out about what a horrifying tragedy is still taking place for the very unluckiest of boys born to parents ignorant or misinformed on this topic.

15 comments:

  1. Oh yes, that article was ridiculous! I encourage you to write a letter and spread the word that all moms and parents should do their OWN research and not trust everything they read!!!

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  2. Yikes! Thank you for posting.

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  3. Awesome response!

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  4. While I feel extreme guilt when reading this, because my first son was circumcised... thank you for posting it and for all the posts you boldly share!

    It's akin to using formula... while I regret using it for my first babies when I weaned them ~ nine months, I choose to not feel guilty because I was misinformed / lacked the resources and education to make a better decision. Now I know better!

    With circumcision, it's a little harder to choose regret instead of guilt, because I know that it was truly a painful experience.

    Momma's intuition should always be followed... any time I've gone against that feeling, I always end up regretting it.

    And for those that have made the decision to not circumcise but still aren't fully aware of all the information about it (like we were)
    WHEN INTACT, DON'T RETRACT - ONLY CLEAN WHAT IS SEEN!

    I'll say it again and again and again every chance I get, by chance that this might be the first time you've been exposed to this!

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  5. Thanks! You're the BEST!
    I am just reading it....OMFG, you are seriously AWESOME! Thank you SO MUCH!

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  6. Tiffany - thank you so much for sharing your personal story in regards to circumcision - I believe you are a powerful testimony to other parents out there who allowed their first son to be cut due to lack of information/misinformation and have the ability to make a better choice for future sons. It takes guts to admit when we may have made a mistake and make a path-change in life - especially when it comes decisions that impact our kids. But you are so right - listening to that primal momma instinct is usually the very best thing to do. Thanks for being so brave, so wise, and changing the world little by little!

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  7. I was surprised to see a blurb in this month's American Baby magazine (one of those freebies that comes every month) that said "on the fence about circumcision? it may help to know that 79% of babies in the US are circ'd and these babies have much lesser risk of UTIs in the first year and STDs when they are older"...wtf? it pissed me off (but I know I'm just preaching to the choir here. LOL) I don't really care what their view is, but there is so much out there to say men get LESS STDs in other parts of the world...and is it still really 79% in the US? And I don't know how people take what the CDC has to say for gospel....but that's opening up a whole other can of worms :)

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  8. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, that boils my blood, Cathy!

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  9. A LOT of people have already responded to the FALSE information printed in American Baby this month - and I would encourage you all to do so as well. There is NO reason the pro-circ editor should be able to throw things out that are ENTIRELY not true. When we asked where they were getting these figures and who they were citing - they said the CDC - which is a downright lie. So, we sent them the CDC public files of reports on rates of circumcision and disease from the past 10 years. According to the CDC records, the highest rate of circumcision in the US nationwide was 65% about 25 years ago - it was NEVER even close to 79% as American Baby printed. Last year (2008) 51% of boys nationwide remained INTACT at birth. It is absolutely horrible that a widespread pop magazine would print such delusions of the truth. And yet, I guess it doesn't surprise me because POP PARENTING MAGAZINES exist for the purpose of $$ (via entertainment) - not health, reliable research, or factual stats.

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  10. That's disgusting!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. thanks for that...I was just at the CDC site and could not find anything that said 79%! all i found was 65% like you stated...

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  12. For this reason - the ubiquitous trash, misleading information, and skewed angles - presented in pop parenting mags I give, and encourage everyone to get, "Mothering Magazine" - it is the only one out there that bases all articles in valid, well-documented research (you can actually look up the empirical studies that they report from unlike "American Baby" "Parenting" and the others...) http://www.mothering.com/

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  13. It's disturbing a baby magazine would make unsubstantiated claims like that - 79% is an outright lie. It's obvious that they are in the pro circ bus.

    This is a terrific article!

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  14. I wrote a rebuttal article to Parents magazine for the June 2009 issue on formula feeding, perhaps you should do the same for circumcision... if you won't I will dagnabbit! I posted my article on my website, and also posted it in the response section to the online version of the magazine. have you ever considered associated content? I think I've got one article published by them, and believe I will be submitting that formula one as well. If you want to know how to go about doing all that, let me know (though you seem very resourceful and probably don't need my help one bit on that stuff!)

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  15. UPDATE:
    Anyone who wishes to respond to the downright lies printed in American Baby Magazine can send correspondence to:

    Email: ABLetters@americanbaby.com

    Letter:
    Judith Nolte, Editor-in-Chief
    American Baby Magazine
    c/o Meredith Corp.
    375 Lexington Avenue
    New York, NY 10017

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