A woman followed me home today. I pulled into the driveway, and she parked her expensive sports car on the street at the end of the drive. “I had to ask you about what your bumper stickers are about,” she informed me.
There were the four that caught her eye, plus the personalized license plate (NOCIRCM) on a child-abuse prevention plate (“It Shouldn’t Hurt to Be a Child). The bumper stickers say: 1) Circumcision – A Cruel Ripoff; 2) We are Helping Stop Routine Circumcision; 3) Stop Cutting on Defenseless Babies – Circumcision is Wrong; and 4) Circumcision Destroys A Key Part of ManHOOD – His Body. His Choice. Cutting is Wrong.
So I informed her. “Circumcision is a violatiion of human rights. It destroys an important body structure. It’s cruel and denies the male infant the right to decide for himself.” She said she was a school nurse. When her two sons were born at separate times, they asked her whether she wanted it done to the babies. They didn’t just do it, she stressed. Well, did her sons give consent? Did you realize the ramifications of having your boys altered forever? Of course, not. I told her a very, very small number of intact males grow up to seek and get circumcisions. Why would they want a sensitive, protective, lubricating, movable part of their penis amputated? Why would they submit their manhood to the knife? Why would they want part of their privates turned from an internal structure to something exposed forever to air and clothing, to keritanize (get calloused) and lose sensitivity.
She was listening intently. I noted that females are protected by law in the U.S. from having the genitals cut on to satisfy some cultural or religious notions. She noted how African women are subjected to horrific cruelty through female genital mutilation to satisfy their culture. Yeah, I said women die, have their sexuality stunted and suffer all the rest of their lives. Tragically, feminists (and I am all for feminists) get huffy to bring up male circumcision in the same breath as female circumcision, as if it somehow trivializes the brutality of cutting women’s privates.
I told my driveway visitor that I have worked for decades with people across the U.S. and beyond in this compelling human rights fight and that circumcision is simply medically unethical — a rude, repulsive sexual assault on a helpless human. And it’s legal! I told her the billion-dollar circumcision industry has foisted a great fraud on parents with fear-mongering about diseases or sanitation. The United States has the highest circumcision rates in the world and one of the highest HIV-transmission rates. Go figure! In Europe, where circumcision is regarded as so much cruel foolishness, the HIV rate is far lower than in the U.S. It is a red herring that circumcision reduces HIV. But it makes the circumcision industry obscenely rich– and especially it is being palmed off on unsophisticated African cultures where HIV and AIDS have ravaged the population. (Condoms, sexual responsibility and education are the real answers to reverse the scourge).
Mothering, the longtime magazine that champions basic and traditional parenting practices, has long carried definitive stories on the repulsive practice of circumcision. I have quite a collection of their articles — and once they published my letter about one of their articles. Their online discussion currently is getting comment on the topic, “If you regret being circumcised….” Men tell of their discovery of what had been done to them and their resentment and realization of how their sexuality has been compromised. But women, too, are commenting. Take this one:
I am the wife of a circumcised man and it has impacting me negatively. After years of marriage we are realizing that his lack of foreskin is causing me pain during sex. I always thought the chaffed, burning and raw pain that I feel for several days after sex was my fault. I tried everything to make sex more comfortable, but nothing significantly helped. Now, we are realizing that circumcision is the cause. I am so angry over what circumcision has taken from our marriage! I am so upset that my husband and I cannot enjoy each other the way we are meant to! His parents made this decision for him, but I do not feel it should have been their choice. Now my husband and I have to live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of our married life. Male circumcision impacts women, too.
It is encouraging that European countries are playing hardball with the circumcisers, outlawing it where they can and coming to the support of minor males. Deaths from the surgery and botched circumcisions revile Europeans as they should in the U.S. Only the Jews and Muslims are pushing back, but even the more enlightened people among them see no value in slicing foreskins.
Many have spotted my bumper stickers and pulled out their camera phones and snapped photos to post. I watch them in my rear-view mirror. I watch them laugh or point or stare with their mouths open and start spirited conversations with carmates. Mission accomplished.
I am sometimes asked, “There are so many injustices and so much suffering in this world, so why don’t you go after something more important?” My life’s work shows I have actively worked on many causes. But protecting helpless, defenseless baby boys from the madness of the cutting of perfectly healthy body parts without the consent of the owner is a no brainer. Such latitude is not permitted for any other kind of medical procedure. Shame on the medical industry that capitalizes on screaming, non-consenting infants. If I resent that I was circumcised — and I know I am not alone — how can the torture and violation be allowed. Check out what James Stewart writes on the “Saving Our Sons” site about his realization. Insurance company must stop paying for this cosmetic surgery. Parents need to respect their sons’ bodies — not perpetuating a repugnant practice that has no place in a civilized world. The medical industry needs to research, educate and understand the intricacies of the foreskin, a structure that women and all mammals have.