Stop Mutilating Your Sons
Why circumcision is wrong
I usually don’t release two articles in a single day, but for this one I didn’t have control over the publication schedule.
Nonetheless, it’s good that things worked out this way, as I’m able to follow yet another staunchly pro-Israel piece by making the case against circumcision, for a webzine called Queer Majority no less. I don’t care if it angers new subscribers. My only loyalty is to the truth!
As a general matter, I tend not to write for outside publications anymore and prefer to put everything on this Substack. But when I saw the name of the site, and the topic they wanted me to write on, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.
Here’s how it begins.
Imagine if we as a society decided to permanently dull infants’ sense of taste as a standard practice, perhaps by applying some kind of chemical solution shortly after birth. If we felt the need to defend the practice, we could come up with plenty of justifications. Obesity is, after all, a major health problem. Dulling our sense of taste could empower people to eat healthier but more unpalatable foods, which would save money and improve health. To anyone outside of our hypothetical culture, however, this would rightfully sound insane. Think of how we react to arguments in favor of “female genital mutilation” (FGM), also known as female circumcision, a practice that is common in parts of the Middle East and Africa, but which international organizations consider a human rights violation. Yet its male equivalent remains distressingly commonplace. As of 2016, according to one estimate, just under 40% of males were circumcised globally, and 71% in the United States, which is an extreme outlier among Western nations.
Circumcision is, in a sense, easy to justify through the trappings of science by overgeneralizing from limited findings. For example, a randomized control experiment from Kenya published in 2007 showed that male circumcision reduced rates of HIV infection. Studies like this have led scientists to recommend circumcision in the United States, where rates of HIV and other STIs are a fraction of what they are in Africa, and where condoms are more freely available. In fact, HIV/AIDs deaths have sharply declined in recent years, as has the rate of new infections among gay and bisexual men, the most at-risk group.
Comparing circumcision to other issues, we begin to see how strange the practice truly is. Gender-affirmation surgery for trans individuals has become a hot-button political issue in many countries, but whatever your take on the matter, at least those being operated upon — even teens — have some say in what happens to their bodies. In general, just about every culture allows for the removal of a body part if there is a medically valid reason to do so. Male circumcision, on the other hand, is widely inflicted upon infant boys as a matter of course — and nobody can truly argue that it’s life-saving or even has clear and substantial benefits. It is like nothing else in modern society, and the post-hoc justifications for the practice are weak.