Genital Integrity Awareness Week is March 28 to April 3, 2019. You can find events/marches in Washington, DC, here. Follow the week’s events on Facebook here. Learn more about Genital Integrity Awareness Week here, and see Kindred’s Circumcision Resource page here.
American Circumcision is an award winning feature-length documentary about the modern circumcision debate, and the growing Intactivist movement, which says that all human beings should have the right to make their own choices about their bodies.
The 2017 film, American Circumcision, should be watched by everyone who will have a boy in the future, everyone whose family will have a baby boy in the future, every medical professional that has a say on child treatment, and all parent educators. It is filled with important information, from history to research studies, and with interesting details about male anatomy and the horrific circumcision practices (and accidents) themselves.
Here are some of the movie’s points:
Circumcision as a cultural practice started with a minimal clipping as instructed by God to Abraham in the Jewish Torah. When Jews started competing in athletic games with the Greeks, they started to stretch the foreskin so they would look like the Greeks. This disgruntled Jewish leaders who then changed the practice to remove the entire foreskin.
Outside of the middle east, Victorian England started it as a means to prevent masturbation, considered to be related to madness and ill health.
Indeed, the foreskin is highly sensitive in all sorts of ways. Sorrel study shows that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis (10,000-100,000 nerve endings). Note: A number of researchers who published tests of sensitivity did not test the foreskin.
Lots more on its English history, where circumcision was correlated with wealth (upper classes did it more), here.
Americans, with puritanical roots, adopted it as a means to curtail social pleasure. Though circumcision largely died out in England by the 1950s and health services never paid for it, the USA continues the practice still today.
More on history of circumcision in USA, here.
THE EFFECTS OF INFANT CIRCUMCISION
As John Geisheker, director of Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC), explained, there is a massive literature on the topic, in multiple disciplines. As he awakened to the issue, he reports becoming more and more horrified at what he learned. Lots of studies show there is no good effect.
PAIN. Only about 50% of are anesthetized. Anesthesia doesn’t always work, doctors don’t wait long enough for it to work, and the best anesthesia takes several injections into the penis (painful!)
The younger the baby, the more exquisitely the pain of circumcision is felt (Anand & Hickey, 1987).
PTSD. The Taddio study showed that circumcised infants reacted more hysterically to vaccinations, which was interpreted as PTSD. Babies might look like they are sleeping but they would withdraw into catatonic shock. Distrust is potential aspect of the PTSD that results.
INABILITY TO EXPRESS FEELINGS (alexithymia). Boys go into shock and dissociate during the procedure which can lead to an inability to express their feelings.
LONGTERM. Flashbacks in dreams. Rage, particularly toward women.
SEXUAL ABUSE. Baby gets erection and then circumcision occurs. When Marilyn Milos saw this she realized it was sexual abuse, where sexual and violence are brought together.
SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION. Intact penises appreciate the same kind of motions that vaginas prefer. Circumcision changes that. Problems increase with age.
BOTCHED PROCEDURES. Botched circumcisions happen frequently. A malpractice lawyer said in the film, “there is a lot of malpractice.”
POLITICS AND EXCUSES
In the USA, the sexual revolution of the 1960s countered the anti-pleasure view of a good life. As a result, decade by decade, other rationales have been promoted to continue the practice of circumcision, making it a political not medical issue.
Don’t upset the patients! A nurse who turned against the practice after watching it, was fired and told she should not have been upsetting the patients (mothers). Don’t upset the patients, or circumcised men or their parents or the medical system making money from the procedure.
Other recent excuses made by promoters of the practice include:
- Penile cancer
- *an illness of elderly men with poor hygiene.
- Urinary tract infections
- *girls get them too and are treated with antibiotics
- HIV will be prevented
- *False. Europe does not circumcise routinely and has lower rates of HIV than the USA which circumcises routinely.
- *Research studies cited from Africa use statistical hoodwinking when it is said that there is a 60% reduction of HIV with circumcision. This is the rate relative to a control group. This is a common misleading way to report epidemiological and medical studies, making interventions seem better than they truly are. Instead, across studies of HIV reduction there is only an absolute risk reduction of 1.8%. Condoms work much better. These studies are also flawed in many other ways with self-selection bias, attrition bias, etc. Participants were unemployed and got well paid.
THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS (AAP)
The head of the APP committee advocating infant circumcision was interviewed in the film. The 2012 APP statement he helped write says the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks but they also say “The true incidence of complication after infant circumcision is unknown.” Reports of death or complications were treated as case studies. Problem: Adverse responses are not collected and often happen outside the hospital where circumcision took place.
He also said that 120 million US men are circumcised.
DANGERS FOR UNCIRCUMCISED BOYS
Even those who are/were not circumcised have/had doctors who mistreated their penises at well-child visits (i.e., forced retraction), presumably out of ignorance. Some boys don’t recover and undergo circumcision later.
Is being against infant circumcision antisemitic? Is being for baby wellbeing anti-semitic?
Circumcision is practiced to welcome baby boys into the Jewish community. Recall that the original method of circumcision didn’t do the vast damage that today’s practices do.
Now there are other ways to welcome baby boys. For example, Brit Shalom does not require circumcision.
*See also, Celebrating Brit Shalom. Rebecca Wald and Lisa Braver Moss; 2015. A peaceful Jewish way to welcome baby.
There are a number of Jewish groups for intactivism (see link below).
HARD HITTING QUOTES FROM THE FILM:
Marilyn Milos says that circumcision is “the torture and mutilation of babies.”
“Advancing your career on the mutilation of babies is evil.”
“How do you apologize to your children for doing this to them?”
“You don’t get over this.”
“Whose penis? Whose body?”
“Do no harm.”
Please watch the film if you care about children.
What does infant circumcision look like?
Here are some videos of infants being circumcised that are very disturbing.
Map of the world’s circumcision practices. Notice how this relates to violence in men from those places.
ACTIVISM (LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS)
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS, CIRCUMCISED MEN, INTACT MEN
MORE BLOG POSTS of mine (written with experts):
Featured Photo Shutterstock/Altanaka