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Circumcision

surgical removal of the foreskin from the human penis

circumcision (from Latin circumcidere, meaning "to cut around")is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce)

Contents

QuotesEdit

  • Male circumcision provides a degree of protection against acquiring HIV infection, equivalent to what a vaccine of high efficacy would have achieved. Male circumcision may provide an important way of reducing the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Dr Auvert, et al, PLoS Medicine, November 2005
  • Circumcised males do not benefit from their circumcision but instead only suffer pain and permanent disfigurement of their genitalia.
    • Thomas Bartman, MD, PHD Division of Neonatology University of California, San Francisco Pediatrics, Evanston, Jan 2001, Vol. 107:1, p 210
  • Our conclusion is that circumcision is neither a compelling prophylactic measure nor a form of child abuse. For this reason, nontherapeutic circumcision of infant boys is a suitable matter for parental discretion.
    • Drs Benatar and Benatar, American Journal of Bioethics, 2003
  • To cut off the uppermost skin of the secret parts is directly against the honesty of nature, and an injurious insufferable trick put upon her.
    • Dr John Bulwer Anthropometamorphosis, man transform'd, or the artificial changeling (London 1650), p. 213
  • Circumcision counts for nothing, and its lack makes no difference either. What matters is keeping God’s commandments.
    • 1 Corinthians 7:18-19, New American Bible, 1978-1979 edition
  • Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.
    • Genesis 17: 9-14
  • [The] Task Force did recommend making all parents aware of the potential benefits and risks of circumcision and leaving it to the family to decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their child.
    • Dr Lannon, et al, 1999 AAP Task Force on Circumcision, Pediatrics, 2000
  • Analgesia is safe and effective in reducing the procedural pain associated with circumcision; therefore, if a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided.
    • Dr Lannon, et al, American Academy of Pediatrics: Circumcision Policy Statement, Pediatrics, 1999
  • Bris has a way of erasing the lives of women from the moment we are born. The bris ceremony becomes a major celebration of a boy’s birth, leaving the arrival of a girl ritualistically unnoticed, except in certain Sephardic communities, where there is a centuries-old tradition of honoring the birth of a Jewish daughter. The past generation or two of women have sought to fill in that void, but it’s still an uphill battle. Some expectant grandparents, for example, still wait to make appropriate travel plans based on gender — for a boy, of course they will attend the bris, but for “just” a girl they might not rush to make the trip. In an adult course on the Jewish lifecycle I once taught, I had to use a curriculum with the following chapter titles: “Bris, Bar/ Bat mitzvah, Wedding, Death.” The educators seemed to lack any awareness that there’s more to a birth than the bris. This classic vision of the Jewish lifecycle, emphasizing the bris as the quintessential moment of birth, practically ignores the existence of girl babies and the experiences of women. This dismisses the entire experience of childbirth, as if to say we’re not really celebrating new life — we’re celebrating a new set of male genitals for the Chosen People. Howard Eilberg-Schwartz has written that “Since circumcision binds men between and across generations, it also establishes an opposition between men and women”
  • It is hard to articulate a rational explanation for this practice of making our babies bleed, beyond “That’s what we’ve always done,” and I know how weak an argument that is. Even Harry Brod, noted professor and scholar of masculinities, in an article entitled, “Circumcision and the Erection of Patriarchy,” wrote: “For many Jews, the circumcised penis is the defining mark of being a Jew…. [T]he idea that circumcision confers Jewish identity has a deep and powerful hold on many Jews, even those not otherwise particularly observant.” Even opponents of patriarchy are reluctant to oppose a tradition that seems so essential.
  • It is easy to see this proposed bris ban in light of the narrative of Jewish oppression. As the Jerusalem Post noted in an editorial, “Opposition to brit mila dates back to ancient times. The Romans were particularly hostile to the practice before and after the destruction of the Second Temple. It was seen by the pagan Romans as an attack on the Hellenistic adoration of nature, considered perfect and a reflection of the will of the gods.” As much as it’s hard to explain why bris is so important for Jews, it’s even harder to explain why the practice brings out such hatred among its opponents. It is irrational anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head in the strangest of places — surrounding the genitals of Jewish men.
  • Athena Gorospe, in Narrative and Identity, expounds on this idea around the biblical concept of “circumcision of the heart” (Deut 10:16). “A circumcised heart is associated with the ‘loosening of the neck’…to remove the ‘hardness’ that keeps a person’s emotions, desires, mind, and will from fully surrendering to Yahweh. It is to make the heart ‘the organ of commitment’ more sensitive and responsive to God….Physically, to circumcise is…. to uncover the sheath and expose the organ so that it becomes more sensitive and responsive to touch… to remove anything that hinders the person from being sensitive and responsive to the divine will.” Although the reminder that we all need to be working on self-improvement and developing compassion and sensitivity towards the other is one of the Jewish world views that I most love and connect to, ideas that the male body needs to be curtailed and even “perfected,” that sex is by nature barbaric, and that all our desires need to be restrained, raise some difficult theological and moral questions. And, ironically, it confirms the assertion by proponents of the ban that this procedure is bad for men’s sex lives.
  • While I continue to be troubled by new and creative manifestations of anti-Semitism, the truth is, I’m still not really sure how I feel about the bris. This entire series of events mostly makes me wonder about the centrality of masculinity in our cultures — Jewish and Western. It feels like this entire story is a kind of male turf war, a battle over whose penis is superior. It’s as if the uncircumcised penis is as much of a threat to Jewish identity as the circumcised penis is to Gentiles.

Anti-circumcisonEdit

  • If a man decides he wants to be circumcised, just as if a woman decides she’d prefer a different cup size, then it’s a decision they should be free to make – but only when old enough to make the decision.
  • I think it should be enough to simply state: all genital mutilation is wrong. I don’t discriminate between which gender should suffer genital mutilation, and which shouldn’t – that very distinction, right there, is the precise definition of sexual discrimination.
  • Circumcising a baby boy to protect against STDs is like selling your car to make sure he's never injured in a crash.
    • Dr Schwanz, Men's Health, July/August 2002
  • Why is the operation of circumcision practiced? One might as well attempt to explain the rites of voodoo!
    • William Keith C. Morgan, MD The Rape of the Phallus, 1967
  • Circumcision is a solution looking for a problem. The medical profession bears responsibility for the introduction of prophylactic circumcision without scientific basis in the past and for its continued use and rationalization without scientific basis in the present.
    • Edward Wallerstein, Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy, 1980
  • I do not for a moment hesitate to say it right here and in the face of the entire Jewish world that… circumcision is a barbarous cruelty which disfigures and disgraces our ancestral heirloom and our holy mission as priests among mankind. The rite is a national remnant of savage African life… Nor should children born of intermarriage be viewed any longer exclusively by the primitive national standard which determines the racial character of the child only by the blood of the mother… I can no longer accept the fanciful and twisted syllogisms of Talmudic law as binding for us… I think, if anywhere, here we ought to have the courage to emancipate ourselves from the thralldom of Rabbinical legality.
    • Kaufman Kohler as quoted in Walter Jacob, ed., The Pittsburgh Platform in Retrospect: The Changing World of Reform Judaism, (Pittsburgh: Rodef Shalom Congregation Press, 1985)
  • If I was a newborn baby tonight and I could speak and I was asked about circumcision, I would say, "Can you hold off a bit until I can make up my own mind."
    • Roger McClay, New Zealand Commissioner for Children, The first cut, NZ Listener, Nov 17, 2001
  • Where possible, circumcision should not be done until the person is able to give informed consent.
    • Dr Rodger Charlton, June 2001, School of Postgraduate Medical Education University of Warwick, UK, "Men's health - a neglected area?", NZ Family Physician, v28 no3"

Pro-circumcisionEdit

  • A remedy [for masturbation] which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anæsthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.
    • Dr John Harvey Kellogg, Plain facts for old and young: embracing the natural history and hygiene of organic life, 1877
  • Circumcision is like a substantial and well-secured annuity; every year of life you draw the benefits. Parents cannot make a better paying investment for their little boys.
    • Dr Remondino, The History of Circumcision, 1891
  • Despite overwhelming evidence from urological surgeons that neoplasm of the penis is a lethal disease that can be prevented by removal of the foreskin, some physicians continue to argue against routine circumcision in a highly emotional and aggressive fashion.
    • Dr Dagher, Journal of Urology, 1973
  • The multiple benefits of newborn circumcision are additive over a lifetime and include prevention of cancer of the penis, of balanoposthitis, and protection against the effects of phimosis and poor hygiene as well as prevention of UTI and STD, particularly of HIV.
    • Dr Schoen, et al, Archives of Diseases in Childhood, 1997
  • In an apparent effort to bolster the weak anticircumcision argument, 2 anecdotal beliefs are added to the listed reasons not to choose circumcision: the "protective benefit" of the foreskin on the tip of the penis and the belief that circumcision causes decreased sexual pleasure later in life. Neither of these anecdotal beliefs meets the stated criterion of being evidence-based.
    • Dr Schoen, et al, Pediatrics, 2000

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