Circumcision...medical necessity or barbarism

I’m sure this thread has probably come up about a zillion times, but I have been away alot and probably missed it. If it has, moderators feel free to remove it.

But, how do people feel on this issue. Is male circumcision a medical necessity without which male children (and adults) are at greater risk for infections, penile cancer, and infecting their partners with STDs. Or are all of these arguments artifacts of a pro-circumcision US medical dogma that promotes a barbarric practice.

Obviously I probably wouldn’t have raised the issue were I not in the “barbaric practice” camp, but I am genuinely curious as to the feelings of the SDMB. :slight_smile:

I don’t find anything barbaric about male circumcision though I don’t believe it is medically necessary. Why do you think it is barbaric?


I’ll ditto MGibson. It’s neither barbaric, nor medical necessity. It’s a useless piece of skin, and getting rid of it has legitimate justification from a hygenic standpoint, but I don’t know anybody who’s died from a dirty willy. I’m pretty much neutral on the subject. I’ll probably have my kid circumsized. Assuming I have a son, of course.


I’m with avalongod.

Circumcision isn’t a common practise here in Japan, yet I never hear anything about penile disorders (neither has my husband, who is Japanese, has two brothers and went to an all-boys high school). He was taught how to clean himself properly, and is teaching our two sons. As his wife, I have no problems with his penis. And the thought of circumcising my sons has never crossed my mind.

If at a check-up my paediatrician noticed something wrong with my son’s penis and recommended a circumcision, maybe I would consider it, but only after getting a second opinion.

Basically, I don’t see the necessity of removing a guy’s foreskin merely for cosmetic purposes.

This presentation is a classic false dilemma. “Absolute necessity” and “barbaric mutilation” are not the only options here. It’s not necessary by any means, I’ll certainly agree with you that far. But to call it barbaric is to reduce the word to meaninglessness.

All right, I don’t have a cite for this at the moment, but I remeber reading in a couple of different places that Marie Antoinette’s husband (Louis XVI, I believe?) had some difficulty creating heirs to the throne because of his foreskin. Circumcision was considered, but it was decided that at his age, the shock and pain from the procedure (no anesthesia) might cause such ill effects that he would never be able to procreate anyway.

Although I’ll note that the title is a false dichotomy, I have to go with “Barbarism”.

Useless? It’s one of the most sensitive parts of the entire male body. I, for one, can think of many uses. :slight_smile:

I see it like this:
There is no medical reason to remove the foreskin.
There is an obvious drawback to removing the foreskin.
The person who is having his foreskin removed is not the one who made the choice to have it removed.

While routine male circumcision isn’t nearly as barbaric as female “circumcision” (a.k.a. female genital mutilation), it’s still barbaric and should be stopped.

I’m always pleased to be considered a classic. Sigh. I was just trying to come up with an interesting post…cut me some slack, man. Just don’t slice up the 'skins.


At the risk of providing TMI, I’m circumsized, and have never had any complaints in that department. If I had to rank all of the body parts from brain to appendix in order of importance, I think the foreskin would be pretty close to the bottom of the list.

So, weighing the pros and cons of the situation:

If you keep the foreskin, sex might be a little better. How much better, few can probably say.

If you get rid of it, hygeine is a little easier, especially in the early years when kids aren’t the tidiest of critters.

Basically, there’re reasons on both sides, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for their decision. Nevertheless, I’ll ditto Daikona in that calling the practice “barbaric” is completely ludicrous. Gassing Kurds is barbaric. Suicide bombing is barbaric. To misquote one Vincent Vega: Circumcision isn’t in the same ballpark. It isn’t the same league. It isn’t even the same f’ing sport.

insert JDT joke HERE

Why are we doing this again?

Don’t you guys ever get tired of trying to pass judgment on people who make a decision that is none of your business?

I don’t know if I’d use the word barbarism, but it seems wrong to cause a permanent physical change to someone else’s body without a really compelling medical reason when that person is unable to consent to such a change.

<anecdote>I do know one guy who is actually quite upset that his parents did this to him as he considered it highly disrespectful on their part to unnecessarily remove a part of his body that he cannot get back without his consent.</anecdote>

The only problem that I necessarily have with it is that a lot of infants are not anesthesized during the procedure. “Oh, babies can’t feel pain,” one mother told me when I asked about this. To me, this idea seems ludicrous in the extreme.

We’ve become so accustomed to circumsicion in this country, that an uncricumcized penis seems strange. It’s a practice so ingrained that I’ve heard that some hospitals don’t even bother to ask new mothers if they want the procedure done before going ahead. (I don’t know this for a fact, but even if it is just a rumor, it shows how deeply rooted circumcision is in our culture.)

One friend of mine was about to make love to her boyfriend for the first time, but was very turned off when she saw his “un-cut” penis. Telling me about it later, she said she knew there was nothing “wrong” with it, just that it was the first she had ever seen with foreskin intact. To her, it was bizzare and unnatractive.

Of course, the same could be said for a man in a country which so commonly practices female genital mutilation that upon seeing a “normal” woman, he might be vaguely repelled by it.

I don’t know if I would term it “barbaric” because it seems to have little to no lasting effects. There is no impediment to sexual enjoyment as accompanies FGM, and there are no glaring health risks associated with it. At the worst, we could say that it is done for cosmetic purposes, and our culture does not consider surgery for cosmetic purposes to be odd, especially something as minor as having the foreskin removed. (One could almost liken it to having a mole removed.)

** monica’s ** story of Louis XVI’s reproductive woes is partrially correct. He didn’t consumate his marriage for, IIRC, seven years because of the pain his erections caused. Out of fear, he initially declined to have what was termed a “very simple” procedure done which would have fixed the problem. (Marie’s mother blamed her for not arousing her husband enough for him to wish to overcome his difficulties.) However, t was finally done, and Louis was able to father several children.

There is absolutey no real reason to do it, from a religious viewpoint it’s understandable, but otherwise why it’s done as routine in the US baffles me.

I have to say from a European perspective, it certainly does seem babaric.


I’m sticking with barbaric. Engaging in the needless removal of flesh in a process that is painful to a baby seems barbaric enough to me (even with anaethesia, there will be normal surgical recovery pain). Particularly as most people have little understanding of the background regarding the procedure. Needless mutilation without informed consideration=barbaric.

As barbaric as nerve gassing Kurds in Iraq. No of course not. As barbaric as clitoral circumcision for female children. Nope. But like other things, barbarism can exist in degrees. To me, it still fits within the realm of what I consider barbaric.

If rational adults want to get themselves circumcised, by all means. If a baby needs it for obvious and acute medical problems, then obviously it should be done. But to do it to a helpless infant simply because that is what we have been doing since the late 1800’s. Nah, barbaric.

Not only has this subject been done before, so’s the misspelling of a lot.

Awwww, c’mon, insert it, insert it!!

I was wondering how someone, even if they’d been away alot, could have missed what was apparently the grand colossal one-trick-dog-and-pony show of alltime around here.

I think it’s now just a QWERTY phenomenom. In my culture (United States White Boy), you would be odd man out if you weren’t circumcized and SOME women might be put off. I find it fascinating that so many cultures took up the practice independently.

Tell you what. Make that list of ranked body parts. I’ll choose one from near the bottom of the list and cut it off of you without your consent. Deal?

If he agrees, than you have his consent. :smiley:

Actually, the problem is that darn near everything done to an infant is “without consent” by definition, because such consent is unobtainable. This makes any medical intervention, in fact every action, taken in respect to infants an intolerable affront to their liberty and integrity!

Free the infants! Fly from your oppressive parents, children, and live free! They make decisions without consulting you - how dare they! :stuck_out_tongue: