Going uncut: It’s humane and European

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Photo by Alex Hernandez

I don’t have brothers or sons, and I certainly don’t have a penis, so I recognize that I may not be the world’s foremost authority on circumcision. But I’d like to make an air-tight argument for the uncut penis, which the vast majority of men in the world possess.

Michael Fassbender in Shame.

Wait, I’m serious. Fassbender was born in Germany, where the circumcision rate is less than 10 percent, and over 60 percent of parents equate the procedure with genital mutilation. Efforts to ban non-medically necessary circumcision have gained traction in Germany, Denmark, England and even California, though advocates for parental and religious rights have managed to keep them at bay. Still, circumcision rates are down in the U.S., and the tide is turning. Like the death penalty, universal healthcare and the metric system, this is yet another issue where our country is the slowest to leave the dark ages.

Adult circumcised men tend to take arguments against circumcision very personally, simply because it implies that what their parents did to them was unnecessary and even wrong. I can understand this. But the discussion of this archaic and very brutal procedure should not be about adult men.

Guys have what they have, and many of them, as well as arguably most women, are happy with cut penises due to the preconceived notion that they are cleaner and look better. The desire to make sure a son “looks just like Dad” is one of the most prevalent reasons for circumcision.

The circumcision rate has been declining since 1979, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association and more have been saying it’s not medically necessary for nearly four decades. Currently, circumcision is not covered by medical insurance for this reason. It persists because of the Jewish and Muslim religions and various other half-truths and old wives’ tales that have often been compared to Chinese foot-binding.

I get the problems that arise with interfering with someone’s religious beliefs, but at some point, children deserve to be protected from harm. Oregon has been a leader in convicting parents who cause injury and death to their children by rejecting modern medicine because of religious beliefs, and is this issue really that far off?

Circumcision is extremely painful. Trust me, if you find a video of it online, don’t watch. Sure, your baby probably won’t be traumatized for life, but over half of circumcisions are performed without anesthesia as the foreskin is separated from the glans and then crushed. Why would you do this to a baby with no decent reason?

These days, more and more people are saying circumcision can prevent the spread of HIV, which was a discovery made in Sub-Saharan Africa. This holds water because the foreskin, like the anus, is fragile and tears more easily. The foreskin also contains Langerhans cells, which can more easily transmit the disease, and which are also present in the mouth and vagina. We’re not amputating those, are we? Plus, if you look at the increase in condom use and AIDS activism in Africa, you see that the number of HIV-related deaths decreases as Africans receive the kind of education we take for granted in the U.S. without genital mutilation.

The foreskin is not an expendable part of the anatomy. For my part, I don’t think any grown man should be stigmatized for how his penis looks. But when it comes to chopping off bits that boys were born with, it makes sense to think again.

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