How Large is your Penis?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Circumcision

When I and other skeptics say that circumcision is an unnecessary barbaric ritual supporters of circumcision tell me, "it is good for the boy, it reduces his risks of getting STDs". That response is full of failure for many reasons.

The first obvious question is, "does it really reduce the risk of STD's?". I do not know. Let us assume it does for the sake for argument.

Boys are not supposed to be having sex without condoms (unless it is with someone they can entirely trust). So it is useless whether one is circumcised or not. As long as a condom is worn, it should be alright. We certainly do not want boys to be having unprotected sex with a circumcised penis. What we want is boys to be having protected sex, once it is protected it does not matter if the penis is circumcised or not.

Here is another problem with that argument. Modifying the body should only be done in the case that it is necessary. For example, pulling out dead teeth, or performing an operation to save a life. Body modification should be avoided if the body is healthy. A boy with a normal penis is just as healthy as a boy with a circumcised penis. So there is no point whatsoever to perform an unnecessary operation. Saying that "it reduces the risk of STDs" is a silly argument, because you might just as well cut off the entire penis and claim that "this eliminates STDs by one-hundred percent".

Defenders of circumcision forget that circumcision started out as a religious act and still do this date continues as a religious act. We can be positive that that ancients from 3000 years ago did not worry about STDs, they had something else on their mind. When one says "circumcision reduces STDs" he diverts the attention from the real reason why circumcision is practiced. The real reason why circumcision is preformed is because Judaism (and other religions) hates sex, so they want to harm the act of sex as must as possible. Since the penis is the symbol of sex, Judaism cuts around this penis to symbolize that people should abstain from sexual enjoyment. This is the real argument behind circumcision, it has nothing to do with "reducing the risk of STDs". If one drops the whole "reducing the risk of STDs" argument because it is disingenuous then one is left with an ancient barbaric ritual to limit boys in having sex for enjoyment. This is why skeptics see circumcision as a barbaric ritual.

Finally, remember how circumcision used to be preformed and how it is preformed today. The chasidim are in line with the more traditional manner of circumcision. The way they do it is that there is a moel (the one who circumcises the boy) who performs (as Christopher Hitchens calls it) the genital mutilation without any modern equipment. After performing this, he puts his mouth on the bloody penis to take in the blood into his mouth. Let me repeat that for you again in case you did not pay attention: the moel preforms oral sex on the baby by sucking on his bloody penis! This is what circumcision has made people do, it has made normal people do barbaric things only because they believed that this is what God wants them to do. Modern day circumcision from the non-chasidim is very different from how circumcision was preformed in the past. Not to mention how many boys died from this historically unsafe procedure.

That is all I have to say on circumcision. I do also want to point to an interesting phenomenon. I make the statement that, what "morality" really means to the masses is simply what is social consensus and tradition. Circumcision illustrates the point very well. Imagine we lived in a world were there was no such thing as circumcision whatsoever. Then someone came along and said, "my religion is for the Rabbis to cut penises of boys and suck on their bloody penis". The whole world would be shocked. The world would call it "barbarity". However, in our world not so many call it that, because it is social consensus not to think of circumcision as something worthy of respect.

8 comments:

  1. If the boy is circumcised on the 8th day, it will be many years before he is sexually active. During that time, there may be cures or vaccines for HIV and other STDs. Regardless, the boy should be raised to practice safe sex.

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  2. Obviously it's a barbaric ritual born out of religion and other superstitions. However, it's probably not that huge a deal, like female genital mutilation is.

    Some other rationalizations I've heard:

    - He'll feel like something's wrong with him or be self-conscious if he's not cut like his father or friends.

    - Uncut penises are yucky and the girls won't like it.

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  3. Oral sex is something done for sexual pleasure. While I don't feel it's necessary for the mohel to go down (I mean, seriously!), I don't think that the mohels who do it that way are doing so for their sexual pleasure or the child's.

    As a woman, I agree with Jewish Atheist's second point, from personal experience. Whether, if I'd only encountered the uncircumcised variety, I'd find a circumcised one undesirable, who knows? But that's not the reality. Not that how much oral sex their son will get as an adult should be a reason for parents to cut their children's genitals if there is no medical need.

    You are painting with a very broad brush when you write: "Body modification should be avoided if the body is healthy." Among adults, that's really a personal decision. You make policy for you. I'll make policy for me.

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  4. I shall play the lyre for the presense of Jewish Atheist.

    s(b.): "Oral sex is something done for sexual pleasure." Really? Wow, I did not know that. Thank you so much for enlightening me on that. I think this statement alone deserves to replace all the works of Nietzsche. [I hope that is not an offending way to respond to your comment. I know it is hard to make a joke online. I only meant to imply that you had a funny opening sentence. I do not really mean anything bad to thee, I just like to take advantage of jokes when I can.] Then you say, "Among adults, that is really a personal decision. You make policy for you. I will make policy for me." There are two problems with your statement. First, you have confused "should" as a medical term for a moral term. Namely, when I say "should" I am talking about what is medically appropriate not what is morally appropriate. You mistook that sentence for a moral statement. Second, there is a difference between parents deciding for their children and adults deciding for themselves.

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  5. I agree with this: "Second, there is a difference between parents deciding for their children and adults deciding for themselves."

    Let me pretend my sarcasm detector isn't working. Why do you engage in oral sex, if not for pleasure (whether your own or your partner's)? (I'm writing to a dead guy; I can write anything I want. If you wish to relocate this discussion to a 3D forum, send me a note elsewhere.)

    As far as should, medical, Nietzsche and moral go, campus officials are erecting a statue of me to replace the one of Hippocrates in front of UMDNJ (Rutgers Medical School). :)

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  6. Actually your anti-sex explanation for the practice of circumcision is incorrect. Circumcision long predates the anti sex movement of the medievals and the Talmud. It is also practiced quite widely in Africa in environments that are not anti sex.

    In the bible circumcision is most probably in lieu of a sacrifice.
    In ancient Egypt (most probably the source of our ritual) circumcision ritual was thought to be a good omen for fertility.

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  7. "Actually your anti-sex explanation for the practice of circumcision is incorrect."

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that I am incorrect and you are correct. Under this assumption how do you defend circumcision? My post was arguing against circumcision. If you say that I am wrong about why circumcision is being done then you still need to defend circumcision.

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  8. "Boys are not supposed to be having sex without condoms (unless it is with someone they can entirely trust). So it is useless whether one is circumcised or not. As long as a condom is worn, it should be alright. We certainly do not want boys to be having unprotected sex with a circumcised penis. What we want is boys to be having protected sex, once it is protected it does not matter if the penis is circumcised or not."

    I would have to disagree with this reasoning here. Just because guys "should" wear a condom when having sex, doesn't mean they will. Saying that the positive effects of circumcision in helping to prevent spread of STDs is irrelevant because men shouldn't have unprotected sex is like the Pope saying the use of condoms in helping to prevent spread of STDs is irrelevant because men shouldn't have sex outside of marriage in the first place.

    Like it or not, not every man will have protected sex and while education and availability of condoms will help reduce unprotected sex it will definitely not be eradicated.

    I am not saying this means circumcision is ok or whatever, just pointing out how I disagree with this particular statement you made.

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