To circumcise or not to circumcise, that is the question pondered for thousands of years by new parents of baby boys. For most of that time the decision was usually pretty simple: Are you Jewish or Muslim? If so then you remove the skin-hoodie. If not, God has no interest in your foreskin so you can keep it. (Technically the Jews considered it an edict from God whereas the Qur’an doesn’t specifically mention it, but many Muslims do it anyway because fuck you, we’re Muslims, and we do shit like that.)
Then, sometime around the dawn of the 20th century as the Germ Theory of Disease finally started to take hold, the idea that having a foreskin could be unhealthy (because, for God’s sake, think of where you stick that thing) caught on in Western societies and the practice went from being a quirky religious rite to a matter of good health and cleanliness. Also, a lot of people thought it helped to curb masturbation which was also considered a very bad thing. Masturbation that is, not the curbing of it.
In recent years there’s been quite a debate over whether there actually is any health benefits from trimming a man’s sausage with a number of studies indicating that any health benefits were probably minimal at best and were offset by the disadvantages (decreased sensitivity, etc.). “Intactivisits”, folks who advocated against circumcision as unnecessary and unethical, launched campaigns to not only discourage the practice, but to help men who have been “victimized” by their parents come to grips with what they considered the mutilation of their favorite organ. A few took the problem well in hand and came up with products designed to help you regrow a foreskin if you were so inclined.
Needless to say, they won’t be to happy to read about this:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, currently neutral on whether to circumcise, are drafting new policies in light of recent studies suggesting circumcision helps prevent transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Both agencies say they plan to publish their new recommendations this year, though they’ve been saying that for the last two years.
Anti-circumcision activists — dubbed “intactivists” because they advocate leaving penises intact — fear official endorsement could encourage more parents to subject their sons to what they consider an unethical and purely cosmetic procedure.
“That would be a disaster,” said John Geisheker, executive director and general counsel for the advocacy group Doctors Opposing Circumcision. “We hope they waffle again.”
My guess is that the chances the CDC or AAP will go back to recommending circumcision are probably small. At best they might offer a flaccid endorsement, but will otherwise continue to leave it as a choice for parents to make. Various studies have suggested that being circumcised may help reduce the spread of sexual diseases, reduce the risk of penile cancer, and so on. That said, the intactivists do have a point:
“We’re talking about amputating tissue from a child in order to prevent disease that adult behavior can prevent,” Geisheker said.
[…] Both sides agree that most parents circumcise their sons not for health but to conform to cultural norms, which raises ethical questions about whether parents should be able to irrevocably alter their kid’s appearance.
“You’re removing healthy, erogenous, highly nerve-supplied tissue from a human being who has not given his or her consent, and you’re doing it for nontherapeutic reasons,” Geisheker said.
On the one hand I can agree that circumcision is ethically questionable, but on the other I think the Intactivists are way more aroused by this than they should be. As a circumcised male myself I have to admit that I don’t miss what I never knew I had and I can’t think of any outstanding mental or physical health issues that are a result of my lack of foreskin. Any decrease in sensitivity that I’ve suffered from due to the lack of my dick-turtleneck hasn’t impaired my ability to enjoy sex over the years in any noticeable way.
That said, I tend to come down on the side of if there isn’t significant health benefits in it then it’s probably best to leave things where they are crowd. But then I feel the same way about unnecessary plastic surgery. There’s certainly nothing that says if for some reason a man later in life decides he wants a circumcision that he can’t elect to have one, but probably best to leave that up to each male’s prerogative unless you can demonstrate the aforementioned significant health benefit.
So that’s that then. My only real reason in writing about this was to see how many masturbation and dick jokes I could squeeze in without using lubrication. I think I rose to the occasion quite well, though it was a little hard going there for awhile.