Zelophehad’s Daughters

Circumcision Panel

Posted by ZD

Recently the ZDs brought together a panel of experts in male reproductive health to discuss an important but sensitive issue that affects all of us, with implications for religion, hygiene, and public policy. This is an abridged transcript of that discussion.

Myrtle-Jane Merryweather, moderator

Harriet Appleworthy, MD

Lucy Quackenbush, PhD, child psychology

Rachel Goldfarb, professional mohelet

Eliza Piddlewit, author, Intact Makes a Comeback!

Ms. Merryweather: So what exactly are the benefits of circumcision, to the individual or the community, as you see them?

Ms. Goldfarb: Oh, they’re absolutely enormous! There’s no reason not to go through with it! It’s much easier to clean your penis if it’s circumcised, let me tell you. Plus, there are studies suggesting the risk of spreading the HIV virus is reduced in circumcised men. It’s absolutely beneficial to your health in every way.

Ms. Piddlewit: But why mutilate yourself to—maybe—stop the spread of a disease you probably don’t even have at the time you’re mutilated? Look, even if those studies are true, there are a lot safer ways to stop the spread of disease. Practice safe sex. It’s as simple as that. It’s not worth chopping up your private parts—or those of your son—over. A mastectomy might stop you from contracting breast cancer, but is it worth it?

Ms. Appleworthy: That’s not a fair analogy. We’re not talking about chopping men’s penises off, simply removing the foreskin. And there do seem to be some moderate health benefits for the circumcised, so that’s worth taking into consideration.

Ms. Merryweather: Is circumcision safe?

Ms. Goldfarb: I’ve been performing circumcisions for years and I can testify to you that it is absolutely safe! As long as you go to a trained professional, I wouldn’t worry. I’ve seen all kinds of penises in my years as a mohelet [circumciser in Jewish communities] and have never slipped up, so to speak. [awkward laugh]

Ms. Quackenbush: There’s some pain if it’s performed without anesthesia though, no?

Ms. Appleworthy: Well, topical anesthetic is typically applied in a hospital setting, so I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s hard to know what babies experience subjectively. But in my work environment we always administer anesthesia of some sort.

Ms. Merryweather: Let’s talk about the social benefits.

Ms. Quackenbush: The male psyche is extremely fragile—it’s essential to understand how important it is to boys to look and feel like their peers.

Ms. Piddlewit: I can’t stand this argument! Everyone else did it, so now you have to too?!

Ms. Quackenbush: Well, no, but—look. Our social environment shapes us in profound ways. In the U.S., the majority of boys are still circumcised. Things are different in Europe, of course. But here in the U.S.—we can’t ignore how hard it can be on kids to be physically different. I’m not saying you should allow that to make the decision for you, just that you should take it into account.

Ms. Piddlewit (sotto voce): If God intended for penises to look like that, why didn’t he make them that way himself?

Ms. Goldfarb: Because it’s a symbol of commitment to God! You can accept it or reject it. God doesn’t force the sign of the covenant on us.

Ms. Merryweather: Now exactly what is the deficit in sexual sensation to circumcised men would you say? Is it significant?

Ms. Piddlewit: It can be devastating to lose any sexual sensation. You’re just better off having all your natural parts, in my experience.

Ms. Appleworthy: That’s contested. It’s not clear exactly how much loss in sensation there is, if any.

29 Responses to “Circumcision Panel”

  1. 1.

    3 pro-cutters against 1 sane person? Hardly fair debate, don’t you think? None of the reasons you people can come up with for supporting this barbaric practice will EVER justify mutilating a baby! That is NOT debatable.

  2. 2.

    “Ms. Goldfarb: Oh, they’re absolutely enormous! There’s no reason not to go through with it! It’s much easier to clean your penis if it’s circumcised, let me tell you. Plus, there are studies suggesting the risk of spreading the HIV virus is reduced in circumcised men. It’s absolutely beneficial to your health in every way.”

    ^ Anyone who agrees with this must be absolutely delusion (forgive me for being strident.) Anything would be much easier to clean when the object you were supposed to clean (male and females have foreskin) is removed completely without any medical reason by the way. The risk HIV virus is extremely exagerrated, if anything the USA has the hightest rate of circumcisions in the West as well as the highest rate of Stds, HIV, HPVs. There is no benefit of circumcision unless for therapeautic reasons, which is rare to begin with.

    “Ms. Appleworthy: Well, topical anesthetic is typically applied in a hospital setting, so I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s hard to know what babies experience subjectively. But in my work environment we always administer anesthesia of some sort.”

    ^ Anesthetic is rarely used because of the wait time and is barely effective. The pain will come back after the anesthetic use as well, what then? The child will suffer for days. Its not hard to know what baby if hes screaming and crying, and seizing (Canadian study had to be cancelled because babies were choking and one seized because the pain of Circumicsion).

    “Ms. Appleworthy: That’s contested. It’s not clear exactly how much loss in sensation there is, if any.”

    ^ I find this hard for a woman to answer and to understand. I do not even quote research for this. An Intact man his 20,000 nerve endings or more in his foreksin, believe there is loss. Let me give you a clear example. A mutilated penis (circumcised) can withstand the pressure of a shower on the tip of penis while an intact man were to retract his foreskin the senstation would be too much to hanlde (a good thing). The glan (tip of the penis) is calluced like bottom of your feet and circumized men are 4-5 times more likely to be on viagara in the future.

    I found this discussion to be unfair, so I had to post so parents are not scared into mutilating their children because three biased professionals in this panel.

  3. 3.

    Ms. Quackenbush, Ms. Goldfarb, and Ms. Appleworthy all seem a little too happy to mutilate poor innocent babies! So since they are pro circumcision since it supposedly has all these great benefits they why not have yourself circumcised? Oh wait you wont because female circumcision is considered “mutilation” and “highly painful” …… Well here is a news flash for you all CIRCUMCISION IS GENITAL MUTILATION REGARDLESS OF THE SEX OF THE PERSON IT IS BEING PREFORMED ON!!!! IF ITS AGAINST THE LAW AND CONSIDERED BARBARIC TO DO IT TO ONE SEX THEN COMMON KNOWLEDGE SHOULD TELL YOU THAT IT SHOULD BE TREATED WITH EQUAL INSIGHT TO THE OTHER!!!!!!!

    Oh and P.S. NONE OF YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO DETERMINE IF ITS BEST TO MUTILATE A BABIES GENITALS!!! THE DECISION BELONGS TO THE OWNER OF THE GENITALS IN QUESTION AND SINCE YOU ALL ARE FEMALES YOU ARE ALL AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFIED FROM MAKING THAT DECISION. Also if you believe that cutting the foreskin off of a penis lowers the risk of getting HIV then obviously you will believe anything so please contact me, I have a bag of magic beans that will sprout and make all your dreams come true as well…. they only cost $5,000,000.00 each……..

  4. 4.

    Personally, I’m just really grateful to have these four women here to tell us about male reproductive health. It’s really very important to have this kind of objective, scientific point of view on a subject like this, and the expertise these women have about the male sex organ makes them the best possible representatives for addressing the legal and medical issues surrounding this sensitive subject. I literally can’t think of anyone I’m more interested in hearing on the issue than Ms. Appleworthy, Ms. Piddlewit, Ms. Quackenbush, and Ms. Goldfarb. I just can’t imagine that anyone knows more about penises then these women do.

  5. 5.

    Studies SUGGEST – don’t prove. Studies ALSO suggest that it DOESN’T help, as does the vast number of countries that are natural with low rates of STDs and HIV.

    Easier to clean? Wow, so do you chop off your fingers to avoid having to scrub them daily? My sons penis is easier and cleaner than my daughters vagina, I wouldn’t mutilate her for MY lazy sake. Hygiene is an excuse for laziness as an excuse. – mommy is too lazy to clean it properly so you don’t have to bother either.

    Pain relief. Wow. Their pain is ‘subjective’ let’s slice up your body with only ‘semi effective topical anasthetic’ and see if it hurts shall we
    Ugh.

  6. 6.

    Yes, these ladies are clearly equipped (ahem) to speak authoritatively on this subject.

    This reminds me of when, in a gender and sexualities class, I learned that the text of the original Kama Sutra includes a debate between a group of men about whether or not women orgasm, including a complex research methodology to figure it out. At no point does the group of men think to talk to or ask a woman.

    As an aside, I know two men who were circumcised as adults (one for religious reasons, one because of an infection he got while traveling abroad). Both of them prefer circumcised sex – one of them actually goes about trying to persuade new parents to circumcise their boys. I assume, however, that their experience is distinct from that of men who are circumcised as babies, since the latter have the glans exposed for years, thus likely leading to more desensitization of the area.

  7. 7.

    Hey, this isn’t funny either.

  8. 8.

    NONE OF YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO DETERMINE IF ITS BEST TO MUTILATE A BABIES GENITALS!!! THE DECISION BELONGS TO THE OWNER OF THE GENITALS IN QUESTION AND SINCE YOU ALL ARE FEMALES YOU ARE ALL AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFIED FROM MAKING THAT DECISION.

    I agree–it’s shocking to see such shenanigans. I simply can’t imagine living in a place where there were panels made up entirely of one sex discussing issues related to the reproductive/sexual health of the other, or where representatives of one sex were making these kinds of personal decisions for the other.

    Oh, wait . . .

  9. 9.

    Oh, kids. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.

    Take a deep breath. Look at the calendar. And then think hard about what the topic of this post is. (Hint: It’s not actually about circumcision.)

  10. 10.

    I simply can’t imagine living in a place where there were panels made up entirely of one sex discussing issues related to the reproductive/sexual health of the other

    Lady, you are entirely misunderstanding this discussion. This discussion has nothing to do with men’s health. It is all about religious freedom. Why do the men always want to try to make these circumcision discussions all about them. Please, won’t you consider the feelings of the women whose religious freedom will be tangentially, minutially affected by this!

  11. 11.

    Bouncer, what is it about? Please enlighten me, I didn’t get the pun I guess.

  12. 12.

    Gee, why not look at surveys of adult men and their experiences — unlike female circumsicion, male circumsicion is reversable.

    The HIV issue? NPR has a really interesting presentation discussing just how much harm to working third world programs has been done by westerners exporting the “just use condoms” philosophy.

    So much death caused by arrogance.

  13. 13.

    The humor here is much like that embodied in the claims that if it were a men’s health issue, breast cancer would get more attention. Of course men do get breast cancer, and the comparative condition is prostate cancer. Using the same math that generates the one in nine number, it is 100% for men and prostate cancer.

    Compare the amount of funding and attention paid to the two conditions — one that both men and women get and one only men encounter.

    Still, it does make for an illuminating discussion.

  14. 14.

    I think — I could just be crazy — but I suspect this might be a post about

    “living in a place where there were panels made up entirely of one sex discussing issues related to the reproductive/sexual health of the other, or where representatives of one sex were making these kinds of personal decisions for the other.” (8)

    I dunnow. Might just be reading into things again. I was also the crazy person who thought Jonathon Swift didn’t really want us to eat babies.

  15. 15.

    Mely–wait a moment. Ah well, next you will know, it will turn out that there are people out there who want to tax everyone to pay for circumsicion of only baby boys.

  16. 16.

    Good point, though, that mothers almost always make this decision without input from fathers and mothers are almost all female, baby boys almost all male.

  17. 17.

    Stephen, I think a panel of expert women should look into the issue of whether everyone should be taxed to pay for the circumcision of boys. (Also whether healthcare should cover Viagra.)

  18. 18.

    Sounds like a good start to me.

  19. 19.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_medicare_pay_for_Viagra — at present it does not. Maybe if an all female panel considered it, the law would change.

  20. 20.

    Male circ is NOT reversible. You cannot regrow 20,000 nerves and muscle tissue. You can stretch the remaining (if any) skin to recover and protect the glans, but the actual foreskin itself is NOT re-growable.
    Fyi. Type 4 female circumcision involves nothing more than a tiny pin-prick to the clitoris. No tissue is removed, no permanent damage done. Type 2 (I believe its 2?) Only removes the clitoral hood. The female foreskin. Exactly the same as the male circumcision. Yet both forms of female circumcision are illegal, despite being the same or less than what is done to neonatal boys.
    The clitoris has approx 8000 nerves on average. The foreskin of a male has 20,000.

  21. 21.

    I don’t think moms make this decision more than dads. In fact, the moms I know have often deferred to the dad. I wish someone would let the baby pick, though, just like I want people to keep their decisions out of my uterus. It’s not your uterus, it’s not your penis. Let the person who owns it decide.

  22. 22.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreskin for more on the science, FYI.

  23. 23.

    Humour’s a funny thing. Clearly some people here didn’t get that this wasn’t really about circumcision – because it looks so very like the discussions that are. It passes the duck test for articles about circumcision, you might say.

    But if you want to know how to write a convincing article about circumcision, a useful guide is here

  24. 24.

    But Hugh7, if it passed the duck test for an article on circumcision, why provide a guide to make it more convincing?
    The very things that make it unconvincing expose it as parody.

  25. 25.

    Hugh7 — the Wiki really fails the guide, doesn’t it.

  26. 26.

    It seems as if the ZD readership has changed a bit since last April Fool’s day?

    Or perhaps circumcision is such a hot button issue that people can’t see the satire on this feminist blog?

    Sigh.

    I, for one, thought it was brilliant. Almost as good as when I baked chocolate chip cookies for my kids yesterday and told them I put my boogers in the cookie dough :)

  27. 27.

    .

    I’m on frequent and graphic record as being against circumcision, but I will admit the HIV argument makes sense in Africa.

  28. 28.

    .

    Also, many insurances do not cover circumcision as it’s “cosmetic”.

  29. 29.

    Coming around a bit late, but I must say I was highly amused by the post & the discussion. I need to remember to always check ZD on Apr. 1st. :)

Leave a Reply