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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've been attacked by "Intactivists" - Intrepid defenders of the male foreskin!

Male circumcision has proven health benefits. But it almost certainly causes some pain for the infant receiving it. It's really a six-of-one, half dozen of the other situation as to whether you have your male child circumcised. Circumcised males enjoy very, very, very happy sex lives without a thought to the long lost foreskin and its surrounding secretions. And I don't begrudge anyone their foreskin. May you and your children be covered in good health for all your lives.

Why am I even on this idiotic topic, you could rightly ask? Unless you're a urologist, what kind of person would waste so much time over something as unimportant as a foreskin?

There are a group of obsessed foreskin advocates who feel the need to swarm and harangue anyone who might publicly express the idea that male circumcision is not a major issue.

They have websites and  they are on a mission. I believe they prefer the term "Intactivists" although, I think they could probably take ownership of the more popular term "dickhead" and they would have to spend less time explaining what they are all about.

And let me make this clear, I don't think they're dickheads because they are opposed to circumcision, they have every right to be and they have every right to advocate against it.

But as anyone who has been circumcised can attest, it does not interfere with the ability to have amazing orgasms. It is nothing like female circumcision, a euphemism for clitorectomy, which has no scientifically established health advantage and is solely for the purpose of reducing female sexual pleasure.

And if you spend all your time obsessing about foreskins and forming Foreskin Action Committees or whatever, it strikes me as not just a waste of time, but indicative of problems that transcend the physiological. These people give the term "special interest" a whole new meaning.

I will not be responding to any of the comments on this post, as tempted as I may be, so go ahead, have your say, because I already know this will rub some of you the wrong way.


Mark said...

OK, I'll bite...

Why is that the only people that see a fundamental difference between cutting girls and cutting boys are the people that practise one, but not the other? The people that don't practise either don't see a difference, and neither do the people that practise both. The US doctors that used to promote cutting girls were always comparing it to male circumcision.

People drawing a distinction always compare the worst forms of female cutting (which are fortunately quite rare) performed in unsanitary conditions, with western medical male circumcision. The worst forms of male circumcision are far worse than the most common forms of female cutting in Egypt or Malaysia though.

Only last year, the AAP's bioethics committee proposed allowing what it called a "ritual nick" on girl's genitals, describing it as "far less invasive" than male circumcision, yet they were forced to withdraw the statement after six weeks. It's illegal even to make a pinprick on a baby girl's genitalia, yet cutting the most sensitive parts off a boy's genitalia is commonplace.

Okaay, this is going to take too long, and I have to go drink some beer. We're going to have to agree to disagree. Hope it's ok to cut and paste a comment from the other thread:

Female and male circumcision are more comparable than some people think. Firstly, in countries where female circumcision is done under unhygienic conditions, male circumcision is too (broken glass, no anaesthesia, etc). Many boys die each year in Africa from tribal circumcisions – 91 young men died last year in just one province of South Africa. In some countries though female circumcision only involves the removal of the clitoral hood - the anatomical equivalent of the foreskin - and is done to babies in sterile conditions, even with pain relief. Check out how it's done in Egypt, Malaysia or Brunei, for example. Circumcised women choose to have their daughters circumcised, citing how it's cleaner, good sexually, reduces secretions and smegma and is generally hygienic, and also mentioning studies showing circumcised women have lower infection rates. Basically the same reasons that people use to defend male circumcision. It's just a cultural difference.

Most people aren't aware that the USA also used to practise female circumcision. Fortunately, it never caught on the same way as male circumcision, but there are middle-aged white US American women walking round today with no external clitoris because it was removed. Some of them don't even realise what has been done to them. There are frequent references to the practice in medical literature up until at least 1959. Most of them point out the similarity with male circumcision, and suggest that it should be performed for the same reasons. Blue Cross/Blue Shield had a code for clitoridectomy till 1977.

One victim wrote a book about it:
Robinett, Patricia (2006). "The rape of innocence: One woman's story of female genital mutilation in the USA."

Nowadays, it's illegal even to make an incision on a girl's genitals though, even if no tissue is removed. Why don't boys get the same protection?

Mark said...

Don't get me wrong. I'm totally against female circumcision, and I probably spend a lot more time and money trying to stop it than most people. If people are serious about stopping female circumcision though, they also have to be against male circumcision. Even if you see a fundamental difference, the people that cut girls don't (and they get furious if you call it "mutilation"). There are intelligent, educated, articulate women who will passionately defend it, and as well as using the exact same reasons that are used to defend male circumcision in the US, they will also point to male circumcision itself (as well as labiaplasty and breast operations), as evidence of western hypocrisy regarding female circumcision. The sooner boys are protected from genital mutilation in the west, the sooner those peoples that practice FGM will interpret western objections as something more than cultural imperialism.

Another thought - there is no other healthy normal living tissue that you could cut off a boy, and you can't cut any at all off a girl. Not even the tiniest little part of an earlobe. Why is the male prepuce the only exception?

OK, I'm done. To the bar...

StanB said...

"Infant male circumcision was once considered a preventive health measure and was therefore adopted extensively in Western countries. Current understanding of the benefits, risks and potential harm of this procedure, however, no longer supports this practice for prophylactic health benefit. Routine infant male circumcision performed on a healthy infant is now considered a non-therapeutic and medically unnecessary intervention." - College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia

Hugh7 said...

ml66uk has said most of it.

The claim that circumcision has "health benefits" is empty. Cutting any body part off will 100% eliminate all disease of that body part, but that's no reason to do it. Circumcision is claimed to "reduce the risk" of this or that disease by some impressive percentage difference, but when you look at from what, to what, it turns out that you'd have to circumcise scores, hundreds or even thousands of babies to protect just one. The risks, however small, are greater than that.

"But as anyone who has been circumcised can attest, it does not interfere with the ability to have amazing orgasms." - except the men for whom it does. And when "the ability to have amazing orgasms" is the beginning and end of one's sex life, that suggests they are sadly missing out on the pleasures of the journey. By removing ~20,000 specialised nerve endings in a unique rolling structure, circumcision deprives men of, not just "more sensitivity" but "a symphony of sensation", comparable to the difference between hearing in stereo or seeing in 3D or colour.

The claim that female "circumcision" = clitoridectomy is belied by this instrument (NSFW) invented by a US doctor in 1959, that includes a shield to protect the clitoris. Have a look around that page while you're there, and see if you can still talk about "a snip". Or watch the "procedure" itself in one of these videos - some from Stanford University, not a hotbed of Intactivism.

Oh, and the 91 Eastern Cape circumcision deaths were in 2009. "Only" 55 died last year.

Richard K said...

From Gerald:

LOL Richard. There is a vast difference between bedtime, and the unnecessary forcible removal of normal healthy genital tissue from an infant. Interns who were just learning how (they don't practice on dead babies) have made the extreme mistake of glans ablation and up to total degloving. So much for "accomplishing its original function" Anonymous. This happens more often than you think, and just how many have to die from the procedure before its considered dangerous? About 200 babies die every year, and you think "circumcision" of boys is harmless?

Harry Abrams said...

The Emperor of Japan advertises for a new bodyguard. Three swordsmen apply: one is Japanese, one is Chinese, and one is Jewish. To test him, the Emperor lets a fly loose in the room and tells the Chinese swordsman to kill it. The swordsman sweeps down his blade and chops the fly in two. The Japanese swordsman is given the same test. He swings his sword twice and manages to cut the fly into quarters before it hits the ground. The Jewish swordsman is then given a fly. He chases it around the room, swings his sword a few times, then sits down with the fly buzzing around his head. "Why have you stopped?" ask the Emperor. "The fly is still alive." "Yes," replies the Jewish swordsman. "But now it's circumcised."

Anonymous said...

I regularly read your blog and usually am in agreement with you in the items of interest you choose for discussion. However, regarding this topic you display a stunning ignorance. I am not going to elaborate and I am posting anonymously, because I do not want to get into a flame war with you or anyone else.

Oh yes, to Harry Abrams, if there is any truth to the adage that the ignorant are blessed, you must be a living saint.

john S. said...

I see you all have decided to ignore the scientific evidence that circumcision has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting aids...Oh well, no big deal eh? On another note, i have never read such a jumble of confused arguments. Half of the time you are trying to tell us the female circumcision is not so bad because a full clitorectomy isnt always required and the othe half you are crying about how removing a foreskin is mutilation. Get it straight guys, then get over it, really. Is this what the fall of western society looks like? A people so underchallenged that they have time to obsess (ie write more than twice) about the presence or absence of their foreskins? Just saying, some people actually have lives.

Mark said...

For someone who says that people who disagree with him are obsessed, you sure post a lot.

A lengthy report "Levels and Spread of HIV Seroprevalence and Associated Factors: Evidence from National Household Surveys" by USAID contains the following:

"There appears to be no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence. In 8 of 18 countries with data, as expected, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries HIV prevalence is higher among circumcised men".


"Findings from the 18 countries with data present a mixed picture of the association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence (Table 9.3). In eight of the countries (Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, and Uganda), HIV prevalence is higher among men who are not circumcised, although the difference between circumcised and non-circumcised men is slight, except in Kenya, where the difference is substantial (HIV prevalence of 11.5 percent for non-circumcised men compared with 3.1 percent for circumcised men) (Figure 9.1). In 10 of the countries (Cameroon, Guinea, Haiti, Lesotho, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe) HIV prevalence is higher among circumcised men."

You're probably not interested in that though, because you're circumcised, so it's not news you want to hear.

There's actually better evidence that female cutting reduces HIV rates in the real world [Stallings, 2005]. Would that make it acceptable?

Mark said...

Your comments seem like a "jumble of confused arguments" btw. You switch between claiming health benefits, to insulting us, to saying it doesn't matter.

More stuff on male circumcision and HIV:

"Conclusions: We find a protective effect of circumcision in only one of the eight countries for which there are nationally-representative HIV seroprevalence data. The results are important in considering the development of circumcision-focused interventions within AIDS prevention programs."

"Results: … No consistent relationship between male circumcision and HIV risk was observed in most countries."

This 1993 study found that "partner circumcision" was "strongly associated with HIV-1 infection [in women] even when simultaneously controlling for other covariates."

This is the Wawer study that showed a 54% higher rate of male-to-female transmission in the group where the men had been circumcised. The figures were too small to show statistical significance, but there will be no larger scale study to find out if circumcising men increases the risk to women. Somehow that's considered unethical, yet it's considered ethical to promote male circumcision whilst not knowing if the risk to women is increased (by 54%?, 25%?, 80%? - who knows?)

Richard K said...

Someone calling themself "ChildProtector" left the following comment.

"If circumcision were as dangerous or harmful as you say, then doctors in advanced, western countries simply would not perform it, the way they refuse to perform female circumcisions." Richard, 2011 "Your idea is preposterous. If computers could be of any use to people they already would have been invented." Dick 1920 "This is a Christian nation. If slavery were wrong it already would have been abolished." Nut Job 1850

Here is "ChildProtector"'s website: http://www.montagunocircpetition.org/

Richard K said...

An anonymous (and unbalanced) comment was left on another post that belongs here:

Richard said... "Seriously, you dickheads need to find something to do with your lives beside obsess over foreskins." Richard is a fucking idiot - an idiot about fucking - but it isn't all his fault, or hasn't been up until now, when he has a choice to stay that way or show us that he's a real man and educate himself about normal penises. His isn't one, by the way.

ChildProtector said...

"Male circumcision has proven health benefits."


What circumcision is alleged to have by avowed mutilationists is "POTENTIAL health benefits". There are NO benefits at the time of the crime when it is committed against healthy, non-consenting parties, especially children. There are only harms then. Whether there will be benefits LATER is entirely speculative and USUALLY there are NONE. ALL of the diseases this prophylaxis is aimed at are scarce to rare, especially cancer of the penis, which is the rarest cancer that humans get. More infants are killed by circumcising than old men are by cancer of the penis. Richard is a mutilationist. Mutilationists should mutilate themselves, not others.

"I only wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate [or castrate] themselves."
St. Paul, Galatians 5:12

Anonymous said...

Richard claimed "ive-been-attacked-by-intactivists". As you can see from his comment above and from his post at ttp://eyecrazy.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-oise-ma-thesis-says-western.html, Richard is the one who started attacking intactivists by calling them "dickheads". Could this be because he was first attacked, traumatized and mutilated for life by a mutilationist who cut off the best part of his penis and he won't or can't confront the original attack and attacker and the serious, permanent damage done to him and so he now attacks those who have more courage than he does because they do have the guts to confront and point out the real enemy, which is not Richard and the other mutilationists and mutilators, but their inability or refusal to confront the truth about the mutilation? The real enemy is within Richard and the rest in the society who are too fearful to see blatantly obvious reality. The only thing we have to fear is their fear itself.

"The obscure we see eventually, the completely apparent takes longer."
- Edward R. Murrow

Richard K said...

From someone called "Ron" who posted in a post where I wrote that I would move such comments to this one:

As the posting does mention male circumcision, comments about the outrageous tolerance for hacking males but not females belong HERE! There is no culture cutting females that does not also cut males. Even a pin-poke to draw one ceremonial drop of blood is illegal for 94% of the world's population. Most FGM affects the hood only, making it the EXACT analog to male circumcision. The AAP said last April that male circumcision was more destructive than hood nicking, then a month later they said that female nicking must NOT be allowed under any circumstances. Foreskin feels REALLT good. HIS body, HIS decision.

Hugh7 said...

@John S: "I see you all have decided to ignore the scientific evidence that circumcision has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting aids...Oh well, no big deal eh?"

We don't ignore it, we rebut it. A study from USAIDS, (http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf) found "There appears to be no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence. In 8 of 18 countries with data, as expected, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries HIV prevalence is higher among circumcised men"

There was on the other hand a clear correlation between HIV infection and recent medical injections in every country. Did the circumcision studies control for that?

"Significant" has a special meaning in statistics; it just means "unlikely to be the result of chance" not "worth doing". For that, medical science uses the Number Needed to Treat vs the Number Needed to Harm. By those measures, circumcision fails badly in the developed world, and probably in sub-Saharan Africa too.

"A jumble of confused arguments"? The confusion is all yours. "Half of the time you are trying to tell us the female circumcision is not so bad because a full clitorectomy isnt always required and the othe half you are crying about how removing a foreskin is mutilation."

Absolutely nobody is saying FGC is "not so bad". We are saying that not all FGC is the worst form, and the milder forms are about the same as MGC - but they're still illegal.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say that I am a very strong advocate for ending the circumcision of infants (boys included) and, while I don't hold back in sharing my perspective with others, I do have a problem with Intactivists who bash and attack. I have received my share of bashing and writing off from others, being labeled "liberal" or "antisemitic" or "having problems" simply for being against RIC. I assume that people have a difficult time understanding why a sound-minded, rational person would be a part of such a cause but I suspect it has a lot to do with it being instilled in the minds of others, for all of their lives, that what they have experienced or watched others experience is "no big deal" and "medically essential". Neither are true, in my opinion. I'd like for those who are interested enough to conclude that this is a ridiculous cause to watch several online circumcision videos. It may shed some light on the topic.

Lindsay said...

I just wanted to post a link to this site. Although it is promoting a class action lawsuit, the testimonies from men who suffer from circumcision are very real. At the very heart of this issue is amputation of healthy tissue from an individual who has no say in the matter. The decision for such amputation, whether of foreskin, labia, earlobes, lips, nostrils, limbs etc, is only legally made by the owner of that body part. Period.


Anonymous said...

Well, once again another site swarming with the foreskin defenders. You guys should be barging into hospitals and swatting those dangerous scapels away from that poor defenseless babys. Or better yet go back in time rewrite the Bible and stop religious castration er I mean multilation oops sorry "circumcision".
I've been circumcized since birth cause of my dad. No complaints here. However I'm tired of meeting uncircumsized pricks online and in real life that act like my dad held me down whilst laughing and wildly hacking away at my genitals.
If anything the more "Intactivist" I meet the more I side with slice and dice lol cause who want my kids growing up to be whiny little pricks.

Mark said...

We protect poor defenseless girls, even though some folks think it's their religious right or obligation to have their daughters cut. I don't see why boys shouldn't get the same protection.

You might have no complaints and that's fine, but the majority of male intactivists are circumcised themselves. What's wrong with letting people choose for themselves whether or not they want parts cut off their genitals? It's their body.

Right after the Bible says to circumcise sons, it also says to circumcise male slaves btw, but that doesn't mean slavery is OK.

Genesis 17:13 (New American Standard Bible)
"A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."

The Bible also says this:

Galatians 5:2 (New American Standard Bible)
"Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you."

Corinthians 7:18-19 (New American Standard Bible)
"Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised.
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God."

90% of Christians worldwide do *not* circumcise. In the most Christian countries in the world (places like Mexico, Poland, Brazil, Spain, Italy), the practice is almost unknown.

The Catholic church has been opposed for centuries:
The Holy Roman Church "...commands all who glory in the name of Christian, at whatever time, before or after baptism, to cease entirely from circumcision, since, whether or not one places hope in it, it cannot be observed at all without the loss of eternal salvation."

From Cantate Domino (http://catholicism.org/cantate-domino.html) , re-affirmed by Pope Pius XII in 1952:

"From a moral point of view, circumcision is permissible if, in accordance with therapeutic principles, it prevents a disease that cannot be countered in any other way."

Anonymous said...

There's simply no talking to an intactavist. They have circular logic, and when all else fails will basically resort to plugging their ears and yelling "LALALALALA". It's pointless. There's so many more deserving causes out there for people to be passionate about, I would really prefer they not be passionate about my son's penis. That's for his wife to be passionate about, tyvm. Oh, and all the biblical references are invalid. They're not talking about cutting the foreskin, they're talking about the entirety of the Jewish law. Derp.

Anonymous said...

Aww. Look. Same crazies who've been salivating over my blog. Really it's so...uncomfortable to be right about how eerily obsessed these sick shits are.

Ron sells a "restoration device" and has a financial Interest in making men feel inadequate or poorly about himself. As hard as he fights he'd actually suffer financially if circumcision ceased.

Hugh maybe a shared pseudonym or else is just the absolute most obsessed intactivist.

The rest of them are little peons who are used to artificially amplify numbers in Internet arguments, which are the absolute bread and butter of their existence.

Even using the exact same bullshit arguments, which after years of the same repetitive, boilerplate arguments, have to be obviously wrong even to them. Deaths maybe 0-5 while the lives saved from HIV contracted.through heterosexual intercourse that have been saved number in the thousands. Same old same as fgm bullshit argument. Same misplaced passion and self righteousness.

And of course, they're escalating. Threatening death is now commonplace, and even the ones that don't do it are excusing it.

Typical and disgusting.

Anonymous said...

(partial list)

1832 Dr. Claude François Lallemand: nocturnal seminal emissions.

1845 Dr. Edward H. Dixon: masturbation.

1855 Dr. Johnathon Hutchinson: syphilis.

1865 Dr. Nathaniel Heckford: epilepsy.

1870 Dr. Lewis A. Sayre: epilepsy, spinal paralysis.

1871 Dr. M.J. Moses: masturbation.

1873 Dr. Joseph Bell: bed wetting.

1875 Dr. Lewis A. Sayre: curvature of the spine, paralysis of the bladder, clubfoot.

1879 Dr. H.H. Kane: nocturnal emissions and abdominal neuralgia.

1881 Dr. Maximillian Landesburg: eye problems; masturbation.

1886 Dr. William G. Eggleston: crossed eyes.

1888 Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: masturbation.

1890 Dr. William D. Gentry: blindness, deafness and dumbness.

1891 Dr. Johnathan Hutchinson: masturbation.

1894 Dr. P.C. Remondino: blacks raping whites.

1894 Dr. H.L. Rosenberry: urinary and rectal incontinence.

1895 Dr. Charles E. Fisher: nerve tension, derangement of the digestive organs, restlessness, irritability, chorea, convulsions, paralysis.

1897 S. G. A. Brown, Medical World, vol. 15 (1897): pp. 124-125.: tuberculosis.

1900 Dr. Johnathan Hutchinson: the pleasure of sex; sexual immorality.

1901 Dr. Ernest G. Mark: masturbation.

1902 W. G. Steele, Importance of Circumcision, Medical World, vol. 20 (1902): pp. 518-519.: convulsions, constant crying in infants, simulated hip joint diseases, backwardness in studies, enuresis, marasmus, muscular inco-ordination, paralysis, masturbation, neurasthenia, and even epilepsy.

1902 Dr. Roswell Park: epilepsy.

1912 Lydston G. Frank: sexual irritability, evil sexual habits such as masturbation.

1914 Abraham L. Wolbarst: nervous phenomena, convulsions and epilepsy, masturbation, nocturnal pollutions. "It is therefore not at all improbable that in many infants who die in convulsions the real cause of death is a long or tight prepuce."

1914 Dr. Abraham L. Wolbarst: tuberculosis.

1915 L. W. Wuesthoff: passion, rape, separation and divorce, unhappy marriage.

1915 Dr. Benjamin E. Dawson: "many neuroses" (female circumcision).

1918 Dr. Belle Eskridge: masturbation (female circumciqsion).

1920 I. Solomons: hernia.

1926 Dr. Abraham L. Wolbarst: penile cancer.

1930 Dr. Norton Henry Bare: epilepsy.

1935 Dr. R.W. Cockshut: sex.

1941 Alan F. Guttmacher: "[Routine Circumcision] does not necessitate handling of the penis by the child himself and therefore does not focus the male's attention on his own genitals. Masturbation is considered less likely.".

1941 Dr. Allan F. Guttmacher: "male sexual sensitivity". He also spreads the false claim that a baby's foreskin must be forcibly retracted and scrubbed daily.

1942 Dr. Abraham Ravich: prostate cancer.

1949 Dr. Eugene H. Hand: venereal disease, cancer of the tongue.

1951 Dr. Abraham Ravich: cervical cancer.

1953 Dr. R.L. Miller and Dr. D.C. Snyder: masturbation; "immunity to nearly all physical and mental illness."

1954 Dr. Ernest L. Wydner: cervical cancer.

1958 Dr. C.F. McDonald: "the same reasons that apply for the circumcision of males are generally valid when considered for the female."

1959 Dr. W.G. Rathmann; among the many benefits of female circumcision is that it will make the clitoris easier for the husband to find.

1969 Dr. Morris Fishbein: nervousness, masturbation.

1971 Dr. Abraham Ravich: bladder cancer, rectum cancer.

1985 Dr. Thomas E. Wiswell: urinary tract infections.

1986 Dr. Aaron J. Fink:s AIDS.

1988 Dr. Aaron J. Fink: neonatal group B streptococcal disease.

1991 Dr. Aaron J. Fink: sand.

2005 Dr. R.Y. Stallings finds that HIV rates are significantly lower in circumcised women.

2007 Dr. R.C. Bailey ends his study early with the conclusion touting circumcision as a 'vaccine' that prevents HIV infection.