Monday, September 21, 2009

History of Female Circumcision in the United States


The prepuce organ ("foreskin" or "clitoral hood") is a natural, normal, vital, protective, healing and sexual organ on all mammals. It is an analogous and homologous organ in all girls and boys, women and men. The prepuce contains more nerve endings (currently thought to be 70,000+) than any other part of the human body. There is no body part that is as sensitive and discriminatory as the prepuce organ. It produces its own antibodies, and has its own sphincters to protect the glans (head) of the clitoris/penis. The prepuce has its own gliding mechanisms, produces its own natural lubrication, and has its own mucosal tissue and ridged band. It performs functions similar to those that the eyelid does in protecting the eye, the fingernail in protecting the finger, and yet has unique sexual responsibilities that no other body part can take the place of.

The prepuce is present in both baby girls and baby boys at birth and is securely and tightly fastened to the glans of the clitoris/penis. It stays closely adhered throughout childhood and sometimes into the teenage years. The prepuce serves important health and sexual functions and purposes in both men and women as they grow into adulthood.

The amputation of the prepuce by those attempting to control men's and women's sexuality has a similar history in the United States and around the world. The loss of the prepuce has a similar impact on men and women. Surgical amputation of the prepuce has always been a 'solution' in search of a problem that does not exist. Hopefully soon the Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) of minor children and infants will reach the same legal termination as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the United States.

ALL human beings, male and female alike, have the same basic human right to genital autonomy.




As late as the early 1980s in the United States, some avenues of popular media were promoting female circumcision as a good thing - cosmetic genital surgery that would enhance a woman's desirability and sexuality. Many of the same myths we hear in the beginning of the 21st century about male circumcision were commonly assumed to be true for female circumcision in the 20th century.

Two such articles appeared in Playgirl in 1973 and 1975:

Kellison, Cathrine. "Circumcision for Women." Playgirl 1.5 (October, 1973). 76, 124-125.

"$100 Surgery for a Million-Dollar Sex Life." Playgirl 2.12 (May, 1975). 52-55.

The Federal law went into effect in March, 1997, in the United States making any non-medically necessary cutting upon the genitals of a minor girl, for any reason, religious or otherwise, and to any degree, a federal crime. Read the U.S. FGM Law here.


Additional resources (books, websites, articles) at: Are You Fully Informed?

Join in the conversation at Saving Our Sons

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35 comments:

  1. That is my favourite photo. It is long past time to take away the excuse that infant males are somehow different and therefore don't deserve protection from this violent and painful behavior.

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  2. Oy do you have an est. weeks gestation for the "which do you cut" pic?

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4864126&id=734366456

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  3. I am not 100% certain of the gestational age of each of these babies, but they are likely in the 1st trimester, around Week 10. You can see that differentiation has already started to occur (which begins after Week 7), yet the homologous and analogous nature of the gonads is still very apparent.

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  4. hiya these are 11 weeks .. pics are used on this site http://www.baby2see.com/gender/external_genitals.html ... :)

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  5. Jackie NickersonJune 29, 2011 1:29 PM

    To the WOMEN who say, 'It's my choice to circumcise my son,' just keep in mind that when you were born YOUR parents had the CHOICE to circumcise you because female circumcision was still legal. My guess is that you're happy they didn't, right?

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  6. Isn't male circumcision just removal of the foreskin?
    What's the detrimental factor there?

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    Replies
    1. Circumcision removes 20,000 nerve endings, the most functional and sensitive part of the human body, and 15 square inches of tissue. It changes the function of the penis.

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  7. @ Anonymous - the foreskin is a very important part of the penis. Removing it leaves the man with no mechanical lubrication, and the majority of nerves he's left with are pain receptors instead of fine-touch receptors and stretch receptors. It makes sex more difficult and less pleasurable.

    Check this out: http://lifeasareader.blogspot.com/2011/06/sexual-dysfunction-and-mgm-circumcision.html
    as well as this: http://lifeasareader.blogspot.com/2011/06/most-informative-discussion-of-mgm.html

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  8. Anonymous, removal= ripping, (the foreskin is fused to the head of the penis and just be ripped away before the foreskin is crushed and cut off), crushing, cutting, pain, loss of sensation, loss of protective factors, violation of basic human rights to security of person. It's unnecessary surgery on a tiny helpless baby. I highly suggest viewing a video and you'll see.

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  9. @Anonymous: I strongly recommend spending an hour or so reading the articles and stories here at Peaceful Parenting that pertain to circumcision, and the functions of the foreskin. You'll find the answers to your question. You're already here; make the most of it. Become informed. The more you learn about circumcision, the worse it gets.

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  10. The foreskin also absorbs a woman's fluids during sex allowing a man to bond more intimately with his partner. Without a forskin a mans response to sex is like an on off switch, vs an acceleration with peaks and valleys as it is intended to be.

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  11. "Isn't male circumcision just removal of the foreskin?
    What's the detrimental factor there?"

    The foreskin is a substantial piece of flesh with blood vessels, and 20,000 nerve endings. Cutting off a piece of anybody's genitals is always detrimental.

    Not to mention that a circumcised man must use lube for the rest of his life for both masturbation and sex with his partner. A circumcised man is also less sensitive, which means that he has to thrust harder to feel anything; this may cause pain and/or injury to his partner.

    Not to mention that the forced removal of normal, healthy flesh from a healthy, non-consenting individual is a violation of basic human rights.

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  12. I never thought of it before, but even the word "foreskin" gives the incorrect impression that it is "extra" skin. Like how a book has a "foreword." It's just an extra part that it's OK to skip.

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  13. Anyone who asks what's wrong with circumcision should have to watch at least one of these videos:

    http://www.drmomma.org/2011/01/neonatal-circumcision-video-for.html

    http://www.drmomma.org/2009/08/plastibell-infant-circumcision.html

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    Replies
    1. I can't even watch an entire minute of the video. I begin to sob uncontrollably. :( it breaks my heart to see a beautiful, innocent little baby suffer so needlessly while asshole adults make light of the torture they subject him to. So glad I kept my son whole, and NEVER considered violating him in this way.

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  14. @Amy - you have a forehead, but no one suggests removing that. ;)

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  15. The foreskin of an infant is fused to the head of the penis like your thumbnail is fused to your thumb. Ever bend your nail back? OUCH! Now let's do that to a penis, the most sensitive part of the male body, and on an INFANT none-the-less (who in most cases is only days old)...and then cut it off. Oh, don't forget the lovely clamps they use. *shudder* common sense people.

    And let's not forget the bleeding open wound they're left with that gets covered in feces and urine. Awesome.

    Aaaaaaand the number of infants who DIE from having this procedure done. Infections, blood loss, etc. And all those botched circumcisions that leave them scarred and having issues for the rest of their lives. ya there's no detrimental factor here!

    And all this is done without the consent of the person who's foreskin is being removed. Its their body, and something is being permanently removed. I think each person has the right to decide whether or not part of their body is removed, or whether they keep it...especially when there is nothing wrong with it. K I'm done :)

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  16. @Amy, I know what you mean. I've gotten into arguments where I've been given the "but it's just extra skin" line.

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  17. i have to admit that I had remained impartial on this issue even though I understood how some parents might feel this way. I suppose because my only experience has been with circumcised men, it seemed more "normal" to me. I even found it strange when a friend of mine did not circumcise her own son, but I did not comment or ask her about it- just assumed it was a religious decision. This particular article has really helped me to understand the seriousness of the issue. Thank you for opening my eyes, and I can honestly say that now I regret circumcising my own sons. I had done no research prior to having my children, and just assumed it was what you were supposed to do.

    Here in CA there was supposed to be a MGM prop, on the ballot, but it was removed due to pressure from religious communities. It will probably be some time before that gets passed since were are in a country so consumed with our rights to do what we want. Hopefully by the time my children have children, it will not be an option anymore.

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  18. To answer the question that is at the top of the page, "Which do you cut?":

    NEITHER!!

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  19. Did anyone watch the the video called "It's a good thing!" after the end of the original video? It talks about how circ'd women are just as orgasmic as non circ'd women. It doesn't however, mention how a circ benefits a woman. Did I miss something? Does anyone have any more info about this "study." ?

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  20. I always felt that the cutting of the genitals of any gender is abuse. It shouldn't even be an option! Additionally Doctors who lie to parents perpetuating these myths should loose their license.

    According to the International Child Abuse Network, physical child abuse is any physical injury to a child that is not accidental.

    Injury is defined as both "any physical damage to the body" and can generally include "harm"

    Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.

    These definitions taken together prove that Circumcision is defined as child abuse. There is no way around it.

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  21. We really need to reconsider how "intelligent" humans really are. First, humans have an addiction to substances that harm their bodies like drugs, sweets, alcohol, and other junk food. If a snickers bar were to be left on a plate for several days, it would not rot because the bacteria refuses to eat it because it provides them no nutrients. Then we invented bodily piercings. It doesn't matter whether it's earrings, tongue rings, genital rings, or nose rings, if you take some time to ponder about it, it seems really barbaric. Now we have genital mutilation. There is really no point in doing this. It does not lower or increase the risk of HIV transmission as most people will say, and both male and female genital mutilation is them same.

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  22. circumcision is a pagan rite. performed by doctors everywhere because the people it matters to most(pagans) wrote the books that med school students study. most religions come from paganism. started with egyptians and probably even before that. always wondered why children always needed shots and circumcision upon birth. you know kids are born with over 200 chemicals in their bodies today..

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    1. A pagan rite? Really? Pushed by pagans who write text books? While it is true that circumcision goes back as far as Ancient Egypt, I somehow don't think the Egyptian gods are writing our current medical text books. And as for modern day pagans, they are LESS likely to circumcise their children, and more likely to be informed as to why it might be a bad idea. In most branches of paganism the body is seen as sacred, a temple, and removing bits of it rather goes against that belief.

      Actually, circumcision was largely held in horror by almost everyone until well into the 19th century. It's prevalence today comes from a Victorian push for the procedure to be done "for the health of the child," and that's where it's remained until this day. The original reason seems to be to cure masturbation--which, knowing the Victorians is hardly shocking. They also enjoyed removing clits on women for the same reason.

      And the voice of a generation that helped popularize circumcision as a way to prevent masturbation? John Harvey Kellogg, the maker of Kellogg's cereals. Yes, THOSE Kellogg's cereals, the ones we buy even today.

      You really don't have to go very far backwards in time to start pointing fingers. And whatever reason the Egyptians may have done it--cleanliness, rites of passage, test of bravery, something else (scholars lean towards cleanliness)--it is NOT the same reason it was embraced in the modern age (the reason of cleanliness was only used AFTER circumcision was already widely embraced as a masturbation cure). And doctors certainly didn't go to Ancient Egypt for ideas on how best to treat the problem of men pleasuring themselves into presumed insanity. They look/ed (then and now) at their modern science, modern studies, and modern modes of thought. And if our research has gone down a herring trail, unfortunately they follow that too.

      It's all a case of man trying to improve on nature and being culturally scared of his ("His" in the universal mankind sense, not the male gendered sense) sex drive. And since pagans both past and present have been historically more okay with both those things, you can't just slap blame at their feet. Its simplistic reasoning surrounding a complex issue and, in my opinion, it only confuses things more.

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  23. Rada and the RoosJune 09, 2012 7:24 AM

    well, now I know why it wasn't a crime when my grandmother cut me at age 7. 1977--> not illegal. gah. she cut me for personal and religious reasons, so that I wouldn't disgrace the family. so that I could be married to another member of the royal family. my mother spent years on the run, hiding from the family. I don't remember much from before I was 10, have recently been diagnosed with DID. It's not just a sexual performance issue. It's a way of keeping women weak, sad, biddable.

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  24. Mutilation is mutilation. The religious origin of male mutilation is linked to the trip of Abraham to Egypt. There he saw that the men were mutilated - a custom copied from their subsaharan masters - but he didn't have the possibility to look into the women's body. They were cut too.
    He figured that since the gods of Egypt made the country rich, circumcision may be part of the necessary rituals. Why not give the same treat to his own tribal god, Jehovah?
    Later on the Moslems who were trying to copy the religion of the Hebrews copied the practice.
    Female and male mutilation has been the rule of all northern subsaharan africans . The southern subsaharan africans have not taken to it but we try to push them into the practice, for men at least with the new myth that it prevents Aids.
    Egypt is the only mediterranean region that practices both sex mutilation to this day.
    see the map http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/prevalence/en/index.html

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  25. So, just as a counter point to many people's interesting claims. I'm a 29 year old male, circumcised with 3 kids. 2 boys, both circumcised & a daughter who is not. I don't know why there are claims of requiring lube for the rest of ones life, my wife and I have hardly ever used any. I feel perfectly fine with my anatomy as my parents decided to make it, and being in medical school watched my 1st son having his circumcision preformed. I know that some people get really worked up about this...sorry I guess. I just don't see it as bad. I do attach some degree of religious and societal norms to my decision as my wife & I are practicing Catholics, but we were actually told in marriage prep that it would be our decision, the church didn't require or encourage it. In the end, I was made to be like my grandpa and dad, and made me son like me - and as far as I can see we're all pretty happy & well-adjusted people. Anyway, just sharing a bit of a dissenting voice.

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    Replies
    1. Anon - You may be interested in reading up on the Catholic Church's stance on infant circumcision: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/03/morality-of-circumcision-according-to.html and exploring some of the information at www.CatholicsAgainstCircumcision.org

      As far as it impacting function, this commonly occurs among men in their 40s-50s, so you may not yet have experienced all the detriments of not having full and functioning genitals yet. With my unfortunate luck I suppose, I started noticing the impact in my 30s. I've been restoring now (Google 'Foreskin Restoration') for 2 years and this has made a bit of difference. There are some additional items on this subject linked at the bottom of this article in particular: http://www.savingsons.org/2012/08/circumserum-renewal-ointment-for.html

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    2. Whatever your personal experience has been, what it really comes down to is this: It's not your body, it's not your choice. I have children, and obviously, I've had to make medical decisions for them. But circumcision is not a medical decision. The arguments for health and vitality are incredibly baseless. It's a cosmetic procedure, done so that boys will look like their dads and their grandpas, as you said. The same logic is used to justify circumcising females - "it's what we've always done." Tradition, religion, culture are awesome. But not when they involve permanently altering someone's body without their consent. That's where we should draw the line. Would you condone tatooing or piercing a child's penis so that it looked like his dad's? Circumcision is far more invasive and risky and permanent than that. Why is it OK? Because it's what we've always done....

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    3. @Anonymous Dec 17. How would you have a comparism what it feels like to have stayed natural? It's nice that you have a good family life and follow tradition, as in your case. But who gave you the right to mutilate your boys? Nature intended the sexual organs to function in a certain way and just because some religious freaks (perhaps not in your case), decide slicing and dicing is the "right way" humans uncritically follow that ritual?

      There is nothing to be said against the procedure, if people at an adult age, and at their free will decide upon it, but deciding to snip off parts of an organ for a baby, who has no say is a bit much. And why are girls protected and boys are not? Does the Constitution not apply to both? People take to the streets for their "rights to bear arms" but for our little boys, they stay mute in the face of mutilation.

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  26. It's double standards, plain and simple. And it's sexism. It shouldn't matter what gender the child is they should be equally protected from what is technically bodily assault and mutilation.

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  27. I was told Americans are intelligent. Seems I was lied to. Where I'm from it's been illegal for decades.

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    1. I wish America would make it illegal and I wish that I lived where you do!

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  28. Did you know I was told it was necessary and I never questioned it and the Dr. billed us an additional $300 for this. I was pissed to say the least as I never had a boy after 3 girls.

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