Illegal Female Genital Mutilation Vs. Legal Male Circumcision.

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Ethics
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In recent news, there has been a major push for the reverse of legalized male circumcision, what some would call male genital mutilation. The arguments made are that it is similar to female circumcision which has been declared torture on women by the World Health Organization and that it’s based off from superstitions and old medical knowledge. Supporters of banning it feel it harms the child on multiple levels and should be illegal.

There are two main questions to this train of thought. The first is should male circumcision be illegal? The second would be is this similar to female genital mutilation?

The first thought of male circumcision being illegal was laughable to me. My views on circumcision had been grown from thinking it was normal, and that an uncircumcised penis is just different and unattractive. Then you have to question why? In which, my only response was because that’s not how America is. We have always circumcised boys at birth dating back to some religious idea that my recollection of was people putting foreskins above their door at night. As you can tell, my train of thought was not very educated and a mix of various differing sources from my childhood and friendships.

Then I reviewed from a more logic point of view; The two reasons people must often get their young boy circumcised in America are for religious purpose and for health. However,the argument of religious freedom is clearly not valid. I am very much obligated to the idea of religious freedom but when it interacts with dealing pain or anguish to another human being, I believe it is then void. This raises the question, if for religious purpose why not just wait until the child is older? Let it be a rite of passage that he can consent to.

The second reasoning is that it’s for better health and prevents various ailments. This argument is heavily outdated and under supported. Disputes about circumsision being for the prevention of cancer, HIV, HPV or urinary tract infections are widely disputed medically. Even with such a dispute, could one not just argue that there are other ways to prevent these ailments than to chop the skin off a baby?  In fact, the more I looked up information on the issue believing that it did have health benefits.. the more I found medical journals completely restating the fact that it was a thing of the past before our current medical technology.

The second thought came clearly to myself as a feminist, no!. Male circumcision is not the same as female genital mutilation. Let me back this up though with the facts. Male circumcision is a form of mutilation to the body but not to the degree of female genital mutilation (which is why I use the differing names). Female genital mutilation is the scraping of all external genital tissue from the body; This means the clitoris and inner and outer labia’s (labiums?). The female can suffer immediate health repercussions, often fatal. The main result of this circumcision is absence of any feeling in the genitals, no pleasure at all.  A male circumcision can result in some health affects, but most are often minor. They are desensitized by the circumcision but many men feel this actually makes them last longer as a lover, and they can still feel pleasure and orgasm. The male circumcision can also cause less lubrication but still the damage does not compare to female genital mutilation. In comparing these two acts; its like comparing a shade of black with a shade of gray, neither are white.  They both are wrong but on differing levels which in total makes them not equal and lack of a true comparison. Male circumcision would be better off standing alone as a subject that being put beside female genital mutilation in argumentation.

In the future, I do see this act being illegal. However, I believe it should be illegal without consent of the person it is being performed on. Anything that requires removing body tissue from the body should be solely the decision of the person to whom the body belongs regardless of others religions or ideals. (Yes, I do know that this statement can lead to many other discussions but let us let that lie for now.) There is no reason why these actions can not take place when the child is of an age of consent.

Controversial Annie

Resources (Some but not all):

  1. gabe says:

    I feel its a aesthetic/cosmetic change, and any aesthetic/cosmetic changes that require surgery should really be left until the child is older. The quest is how old? The law only really makes a clear distinction between minors and non minors, so who is to say 10 is good but..8 isnt? In fact with how parents brain wash their kids, if parents want their kid to have a circumcision they will just brain wash it into it.

    Thats not saying I have a better solution to it, its just hard to say “wait until later” because that means its not the parents choice (which I don’t think it should be anyways) but that the child would need to wait until not being a minor to do it (to make the legal distinction between who’s will is really being enacted).

    • I would say 16 years of age is the current age of consent. Parents can influence/brain wash a teenage but around the age of 16 is when they are known to have independent thought (proof of this is teenage rebellion). You never hear an adult speak of doing something at the age of 16 and being forced. Its always, yeah..I was dumb, I went out and did this or that.

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