Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 3.27

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Wait, so the cloud leopards are a rare species because the male usually kills the female after mating and when he doesn’t, the female kills her cubs after giving birth.

    Endagered status: fix it your damn self.

    This is a terrible blow for natural selection.

  2. I sense a potential business goldmine for environmentally concerned bottled water consumers.

    I’m going to market bottles of water to be used to refill the bottles they’ve already emptied so they can be reused.

  3. Ok, I admit it, I buy water in bottles. Because I need a way to transport my water from home to work and to the beach and to the mall and to the movies…. So I buy a bottle and then I refill it with tap water. Each bottle lasts for about a week or so and then they get gross and no amount of cleaning will make me trust them and they get tossed and I buy a new one.

    Yes, I could do the same thing with a thermos.

    But that wouldn’t fit in my purse and plus I would have to clean it, thus using more water, which is wasteful, so really I am helping the environment… right?

    :P

  4. @MarlowePI: Actually raising the male and female together keeps the male from killing the female. That’s how these cubs came to be, their parents were raised together in captivity (but are not siblings). But you’re right that the problem is with captive clouded leopards.

  5. First and foremost genital mutilation of any sort on a person that has no say in it is wrong! So what if there might be a benefit when they decide to have sex. What if the study was reversed and they came to a conclusion that female circumcision helped to reduce S.T.D. infections would that make it right to slice of an infant girls labia? If someone is of sound mind and old enough to make the decision to mutilate their own body fine I have no problem with that. I have scared my body with inks and put holes in multiple locations all over my body but those decisions were made by me not my parents. The one decision to mutilate my body made by my parents is one I despise they decided it would be a good idea to remove my foreskin. In effect removing additional nerve endings and sensation from my penis. Do I really know what I am missing no! Should I have had the chance to know? YES! Forced mutilations of anyone is something that should never be tolerated.

  6. This whole business about STD prevention as a justification for circumcision is completely ridiculous and also nicely proves that people have no idea how to interpret risk.

    Yes, the studies do in fact show a reduction in STD transmission through circumcision. However, the reduction is slight. Compare this to, say, the reduction in STD transmission from using condoms, which is frickin’ huge.

    (That’s what she said.)

    One could potentially make a case for accepting a smaller overall risk reduction if the cost of the more effective prevention technique were greater. But circumcision is not only LESS effective than condoms, it’s also MORE invasive. It’s a fucking lose/lose.

    Unless, that is, you’re a patriarchal dipshit who’s blinded by religion into believing that babies are God’s punishment for sex, in which case anything that prevents conception is completely unacceptable, even if it serves the individual and public good by preventing STD transmission as well.

  7. @skep.vet:

    If it were a complete prevention for STDs, I think I could see a better argument in favor of circumcision. But, while it reduces the number of infections, it is far from preventative or even protective.

    If you give your kid a gun to play with, you haven’t really made him any safer if the gun has 4 bullets vs 6 bullets.

    I’m calling bullshit on the “for their own good” argument.

  8. I’m not sure why you guys are pooh-poohing the circumcision thing. If the data indicates a potential reduction in STD’s and it is only done on a elective basis…where’s the problem? There’s data to back it up, so why not fault on the side of caution? Specifically, what’s the argument AGAINST it? I’m sure condoms are much more effective, but how prolific are condoms in Africa? And how many people use them?

  9. OneHand
    If it is done only to people who chose to do it I have no problem that is their decision. When you do it to babies who have no say it is sadistic. once again would you condone female circumcision of infants to reduce the potential spread of STD’s?

  10. @OneHandClapping: Where do you get that it’s elective? Certainly, from the recipient’s end, it’s not. But also, given that it’s only a 25% relative risk reduction, it’s not going to have much of an effect unless you implement it on a non-elective basis, like vaccination. Only vaccines are way more effective than a piddling 25% relative risk reduction.

    More importantly, to the extent that circumcision is protective, it only protects men. That’s 50% of the population who get no benefit, since once a guy contracts something, circumcision no longer reduces transmission rates. And it will spread the belief that “Oh, I’m protected because I’m circumcised. I don’t need condoms.” I.e., it will increase risky behaviour by spreading a false sense of security. Combined with the fact that herpes and especially HPV can often be asymptomatic in men, this will actually put women at a higher risk than they are now.

    Not to mention, yet again, that it’s an invasive surgical procedure. Even performed in modern hospitals under clinical conditions, injuries and death happen from circumcisions. I’m not of the same the extreme “genital mutilation” viewpoint as skep.vet, but nonetheless circumcision is not some trivial thing. It’s invasive, it causes injury and death, and it really doesn’t offer much protection at all.

  11. Just to clarify my middle paragraph, my point is that circumcision can only reduce the chance that a man will contract an STD. Once he has one, it doesn’t reduce his chance of passing it on.

  12. @Kaylia_Marie: I still buy bottled water on occasion, generally when I’m on the run or whatever. I don’t think that is bad. Convenience sometimes wins out. I drink tap water at home, though.

    @OneHandClapping: “and it is only done on a elective basis”

    Who is electing to have the surgery done? Oh, yeah, the parents. Not the child who gets the surgery. It’s not elective.

  13. If female circumcision were done in the same way as male circumcision and in the interest of reducing STD’s in a population with few alternative choices, then yes. Parents make choices for their children all the time, including choosing which surgeries to have. The only reason that this is an issue is because it is preventive care.

  14. @Joshua:

    So, if 50% of the population is slightly more protected than the other 50%, it stands to reason that fewer men will get STD’s, which will in turn reduce the chances of passing said STD on to another female (that pesky other 50%).

    Silly, I know.

  15. @OneHandClapping:

    The thing is, it’s not “preventative care”, it’s “possible risk reduction”.

    Sure, I make decisions for my son all the time. Because he’s 19 months old. I have a responsibility to my son… and one of those responsibilities is to make informed decisions about his health, and not to put him through unnecessary procedures that are of little benefit to his health.

    If I were to find out that circumcision reduced risk of STDs by 95%, you bet I’d be carting Moose off to get snipped. But it’s not a vaccine, it’s a surgery. That surgery comes with all the risks and complications involved in having surgery, risks that aren’t going to actually prevent any future disease.

  16. whitebird

    I understand your point there is a difference between the two. But can you see my point that there is also some similarities? FGM is a much more brutal thing and I condemn the practice. I just can’t see how some one can condemn one and not the other.

    I understand that parents make decisions for the children and yes my parents made many of them for me when I was a child. But any decision to remove a part of a child’s body for any reason other than to save that child’s life is wrong. If it is an elective procedure it should be left up to the individual to make that decision when they come of age to do so.

  17. @OneHandClapping: Sure, but they made decisions that HAD to be made then, when I was in no position to make the decision myself. They tended not to make irreversible, unnecessary decisions that could easily wait until I reached the age of reason. They decided to get me vaccinated, because otherwise I would’ve been vulnerable to certain diseases as a very young child. They decided to put me in school, because they highly valued education and I couldn’t make an informed decision about it myself when I was five. They decided what I ate, because I couldn’t feed myself as an infant. They didn’t, however, decide where I would go to college, or who I would marry, or give me a tattoo.

    In the interest of full disclosure, though, they did in fact decide to circumcise me. To be fair to them, it was generally recommended by most doctors at the time. And they decided not to separate my webbed toes, making it my own damn decision whether I want to undergo the surgery to finally – FINALLY – allow me to experience the joy of toe-socks.

  18. Kaylia_Marie: “Excuse my ignorance having never had a penis, but isn’t it easier to clean/keep clean a snipped penis?”

    I think you’d want to ask a guy who had experienced it both ways. These are rare birds indeed.

  19. @OneHandClapping:

    I don’t know what I’d do if I lived in Africa. But it probably wouldn’t be an option any more than condoms.

    Does anyone have numbers on that? Access to safe and sanitary circumcisions vs access to condoms? Or the effectiveness of circumcision programs vs condom programs? I’d like to see that. I’d have to base my decision on those numbers.

    But I don’t live in Africa. I live in the US… and to do it here as a preventative measure seems frivolous.

    @Kaylia_Marie:

    Yeah… in the same way a bald head is easier to wash than long hair. It’s not like uncut guys have to go through a whole ridiculous sanitation routine. It’s a little extra water now and then. No big deal.

  20. @OneHandClapping:

    Ok, so if they had allowed you to wait until the age of reason, at what age do you think you would have been mature enough to decide to have part of your penis cut off?

    Yeah, exactly. In sex ed class, if you present it to boys with these options:

    * You don’t have to have surgery, but you have to be careful to use condoms.

    * You can slightly reduce your risk of infection if you cut off part of your penis. But not enough to stop using condoms.

    Which would they pick?

  21. I myself would never have decided to have it removed. I can’t think of anytime in my life that I have ever contemplated even putting anything sharp down there. My penis is very precious to me. I do know one person who had there foreskin removed when he was in his early twenties. He was engaged and had never had sex with his fiancé and had it removed because he thought she would not like it. To me that was just insane!

  22. @OneHandClapping: Mature enough? Probably around the same time I started having sex, in my late teens. Chances are I would have decided not to have it done, because its potential preventative benefits were dwarfed by those of the condoms I was also mature enough to use.

    Basically, I think that if you’re mature enough to have sex, you’re mature enough to make these sorts of decisions for yourself. And if you’re a parent, and you’re more comfortable having a surgical procedure done to your child than teaching them about safe sex (or at least talking to them about the procedure itself, as an option) as an adolescent, then there’s a problem.

  23. My husband decided after a few years of scrubbing general surgery that if we have a son he will be circumcised. He has had to do far too many circumcisions on older men. Most of them were elderly and the skin had hardened to the point where it could no longer be pulled back and cleaned. A few other ones were because the guys were doing it for some girl and one was because the guy tried to do it himself. Now I don’t know what the relative risks are of developing an infection, the condition where the foreskin can’t be retracted or an STD but if it is greater than the risk associated with the surgery I think it would be a wise choice for parents to have their boys circumcised. The problem is the whole issue is very emotional on both sides and unbiased risk analysis is impossible to come by.

  24. @Elyse:

    From what I recall from sex ed class, STD’s didn’t scare me anyways so the point is moot. I was young dumb and full of … energy. My point is that we start having sexual encounters WAY before we are old enough to make a decision like that.

  25. @OneHandClapping: Uh, what? That’s circular and makes no sense whatsoever.

    A parent making the decision for their child to have invasive, possible dangerous, unecessary surgery means the child was not able to elect to have it — thus, not elective. If the parent decided to wait until the child was old enough to decide (again, I’d say around the time he became sexually aware, and if the parent gives him the information, “This is what your penis is, this is what that little piece of skin is, here is the information on STDs, here is the information on sex, etc”, and the teen decides to have the surgery (or wait ’til he is an adult), or NOT to have the surgery … oh, look! Suddnely elective.

  26. @OneHandClapping: Wow, what a lame, lame argument. You do realize that a woman has to clean her bits, too, and that it’s not always “easy” or “fun”? UTIs, yeast infections, etc., can come about if you aren’t thorough enough (and yes, sometimes even if you are).

    And um, “boys can be laaaazy!” is not a good excuse to decide to perform an unnecessary, invasive surgery. How ’bout being a parent and teaching your child proper hygiene?

  27. The assumption I assume you’re presuming is presumably correct: I live in the US and have all my life. I know, it’s easy for me to say such things from this comparative ivory tower. Still though, I feel that money and effort spent raising awareness (and possibly safety; I don’t know how safe it is to get a circumcision in Uganda) of circumcisions would be much better spent on condom awareness, which is far less invasive and far more effective.

  28. It’s important to bear in mind that, though the article focuses on STDs, there are other potential benefits to circumcision, including almost complete elimination of the risk of penile cancer and easier hygiene. Harriet Hall at SBM gave a great summary of the pros and cons a while back (did someone mention this already?).

    Personally, given the current evidence, I feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, assuming circumcision of infants under sterile conditions (whereupon risk of complications is minimized). Furthermore, I consider the potential benefits great enough that a parent would be fully justified in having their child circumcised early, when risk of complications are at a minimum.

  29. Of all the topics out there I find it odd that circumcision is one that stirs up so much contriversy in the skepics forums. Especially since when I look at it from a skeptical/scientific angle I find myself squarely behind it.

    Benefits of circumcision:
    Reduced penile infection rates- during a conversation on this topic in the past a doctor wrote in to skepchick to say that over his career of many years, ALL penile infections he treated came from uncircumcised males. Yes, infections are preventable by washing behind the foreskin but that just doesn’t get done. Worse is in infants and toddlers he need parents to do it and again it just doesn’t get done, circumcision eliminates this problem. When men become elderly and if they suffer from dementia, a care taker has to fold back and wash behind the foreskin, again this just doesn’t get done and infection rates are higher amongst the elderly uncircumcised.

    Reduction in sexually transmitted diseases- read the attached article. I don’t understand how you are trying to not make these clear results to legitimate peer reviewed medical studies irrelevant. If it reduces risk of STD’s, then it reduces the risk of STD’s. Trying to say that having a circumcision will make people more promiscuous and take more risks is beyond ridiculous. You sound just like those who are against sex ed and making contraceptives available to teenagers because they think that it will make teenagers think they are invincible, and thus take more risks. Best to take away all researses and thus scare them into not having sex before marrage.

    So much more to write but back to work for now,

  30. @Joshua: You’re talking about relative risk vs actual risk. Let’s agree that absolute risk is low. But were I disagree with you is on relative risk. For infection, everything I have read on the subject indicates is that relative risk for infection is substantially higher amongst the uncircumcised. Also when it comes to HIV and now we know all STD’s, 25% is substantial and well worth circumcision.

  31. @skepticalhippie: And if said child decides at an appropriate age that circumsision is the way to go, then he can make that decision.

    I’ve known PLENTY of men who wish their parents had made a different decision in regards to THEIR penis. And they can’t exactly reverse it.

  32. @OneHandClapping: @skepticalhippie:

    Let’s all stop to read Ben Goldacre’s article about relative risk before we continue. Kthx.

    Female-to-male transmission of STDs certainly happens, but the risk is lower than going in the other direction. That triggers my BS detector where relative risk is concerned. What actually matters is the absolute risk. The raw number of men injured by circumcision versus the raw number of men who avoid an STD by getting circumcised. And to be completely thorough, you’d have to do research to determine how many men will avoid using condoms because they don’t “need” them.

    I haven’t seen the numbers about this, but they have to be considered. My suspicion is that ultimately, given 25% relative risk plus the lower risk of contracting STD going from female-to-male plus the effect of false security, it’ll be a wash.

    ALSO, note that the original article is actually talking about using the data from Uganda to decide policy in the US. So the condom scenario is relevant. And from a cost perspective we’re better off putting money into getting people in Africa to use condoms than getting them all snipped, because of the HUGE risk reduction involved from condoms versus the small (not non-existent, but nonetheless fucking SMALL) risk reduction from circumcision.

  33. This idea of choice is garbage. If a circumcision is to be done, it really needs to be done at infancy. Period

    Why you may ask.
    A circumcised baby cries itself to sleep, wake ups and is fine.
    The baby is a bundle of stem cells, quickly healing with no ill lasting effects.
    Wonder why a baby doesn’t die from stress and shock from being squeezed through a vagina. It’s because a babies nerve endings aren’t all hooked up at birth. They physically feel less pain.

    After infancy nerves finish attaching, blood vessels are well established and circumcision is no longer a quick nick of the prick taking under a minute, often preformed by a nurse without painkillers. Now it’s a serious surgery involving being put under and recovery time in the hospital.

    @Joshua:
    “invasive surgical procedure. Even performed in modern hospitals under clinical conditions, injuries and death happen from circumcisions. ”
    Clearly we have different definitions of invasive procedure. Where is your data of injuries and deaths. Injury and death related to injury is so statistically insignificant that it’s not even an issue in most debates.

  34. @marilove: Aren’t there also a whole lot of men who are glad that they were snipped young and thus don’t have to make that choice, pay for it, or undergo it as an adult?

    I am with skepticalhippie… it seems to just make more sense to get it done.

    But I am a woman and child-free and thus not really sure if my opinion is relevant.

  35. @Joshua: “The raw number of men injured by circumcision versus the raw number of men who avoid an STD by getting circumcised”
    Yes let’s look at this, given that almost no men are injured by circumcision (numbers are kept on this, so low that’s it’s statistically insignificant), verse men who avoided STD’s by circumcision which incalculable by it’s very nature. This new study is important because it highlights that it reduces not just HIV, but other STD’s that we do, in fact, have here in America.

  36. To prevent TMI, I will give you multiple choices and allow you to pick the truth.

    People, people, PLEASE! Let’s not argue. I [was, was not] circumcised as a baby, and I’m [perfectly happy, violently resentful] of my parents’ decision. I [am happy, wish to God] that I was able to wait until I was older to choose for myself.

    I’ve [had, never had] unprotected sex with [girlfriends, multiple Eastern European prostitutes] having [never, frequently] caught STDs, and I have my [foreskin, lack of foreskin] to thank for it!

    It’s so [easy, unbelieveably complex] to clean my [schwanz scabbard, one-eyed purple people poker], and I’m sure I’ll [never, eventually] get [an STD not previously found in humans and subsequently named for me, a clean bill of health] because of the [extra, slightly smaller degree] of hygiene I have to use.

    Would condoms work [better, worse] than my [windsock, uncovered fireman’s helmet] ? Who can say? I’m [less, more] likely to use a rubber knowing that [penile mutilation, this perfectly safe surgical procedure] helps lower my [chances, meaningless relative risk] of contracting [herpes, crotch rot]!

    And so what if condoms [carry additional benefits such as preventing pregnancy and stopping any STDs I may already have from infecting partners, make sex unpleasureably numb]? I’m still [never, always] going to use them, and think that [education and condom distribution, risky surgical procedures in questionably sterile environments] are the right way to help the [third world, ignorant savages]!

    Thanks for your time! I hope you all [enjoyed this, die in a fire]!

  37. Condoms and circumcision, it’s not one or the other, to paint it that way is ridiculous. A safe person will always use a condom when called for. A circumcised male, and the partner, have an extra lair of protection.

    In case you haven’t noticed Africa is having a really hard fuckin time getting their people to wear condoms. In Africa the circumcised have much lower rates of HIV period, regardless of how you try to twist the logic, the circumcised have a lower rate of HIV.

    STD’s aside there are other good reasons to have your kid circumcised.

    All I want, and I think what must people want, is for parents to make informed decisions about their children’s health. Circumcision, for all practical purposes, should be preformed as an infant, thus a parent needs good information. I feel that the anti-circumcision movement is mudding the situation and facts based upon some weird idea that it’s mutilation.

    It’s removing a vestibule appendage (became so on the innovation of pants) that is removed at the optimal time (infancy) to prevent any problems that could potentially arise in the future.

  38. Did you know that cutting off a baby female’s breasts reduced the chances of breast cancer in that child by 100%? How can we not do this procedure? Its one of the biggest killers of females out there! 100% reduction!!!

    I am very much against circumcision for moral reasons, and I’d be against it even if it reduced STDs by 200%. Why should babies be mutilated as such because a small percentage of adults are irresponsible with sex? There is evidence that men who go through this procedure lose a lot of nerve endings in their penis, which can have a negative effect on their sex life. I have a hard enough time keeping my sex life bearable as it is…anything that reduces its pleasure any further is definitely not welcome.

    I think as soon as you start doing something like this to all unborn babies just incase a small number of them go on to do something undesireable (and thats not even going into the fact that its only a 25% reduction…not an elimination) you start to set a bad precident. We could go anywhere with it, as per my ludicrous example at the top. cutting off hands reduces carpel tunnel, removing a lung reduces chances of lung cancer by 50%, etc.

    If people want to do it, they should decide when they are adults that they want to be circumcised, and get it done and reduce their STD rates. I think its just a carry over from our religious past.

  39. @Fat_Anarchy: Moral reasons? Like what?

    As for the medical stuff, I refer you to @skepticalhippie: again.

    We are talking about greatly reduced risks of all sorts of things (not just STDs). right?

    And a stupid question…. What are the benefits of keeping the foreskin?

    Also, if it were possible to remove the appendix without invasive surgery or any real lasting negative affects, wouldn’t we all just go ahead and do it when we are young?

    (Maybe not the best analogy but if people are going to compare snipping to breast removal or other extreme things, why not.)

  40. Circumcision is a very interesting topic for skeptics to consider. The interplay between science, ethics, and policy are intricate.

    The science is difficult, because human behaviour is complicated and valid studies are limited by the ethics of experimenting on humans. Still, as skeptics, we have a fair chance of converging around a consensus on what the science does and does not tell us.

    On ethics and policy, it’s more complicated. Notice how the authors and others involved in these studies immediatly, without passing go or collecting $200, in the same journal publication as the study start using the data to recommend public policy, applying their personal (and cultural) ethics.

    In this case, it’s troubling, and in my view, wrongheaded.

    These results were from adults who volunteered to be circumcised, in Africa. There are numerous reasons why one cannot extrapolate to infant circumcision in the first world, but that’s exactly what the do without compunction. Notice that experts from the United Kingdom, where they dropped their cultural preference for circumcision half a century ago, views the policy implications of this data very differently.

    Note also that much more applicable studies, from the first world and involving males circumcised as children, have failed to show any difference in these infections.

    Skepticism gives us the tools to evaluate the science, but what about the ethics?

    I’d guess we all agree that adult male volunteers choosing circumcision is a personal choice.

    What about the ethics? Clearly skeptics don’t share a set of ethics, but we should have the tools spot ethics inconsistencies. From this standpoint, we should be able to detect our own cultural biases.

    So think about it this way. If trimming the labia of a female were found to reduce the rate of some infection from 10% to 8% (20%!), would we even entertain the idea that it’s ethical to do this to newborn girls to get this potential benefit? Not a chance, and that is our cultural bias.

    It should be obvious that we are ethically inconsistent if we allow such potential benefits to justify removing parts of a boy’s genitals before he can consent.

    But cultural biases, especially on this topic, can be very VERY difficult to break through.

  41. @Aaron: Wow, I just finished reading that article on Science Based Medicine, that said everything better then I could about circumcision.

    Again the article is at: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=269

    @MarlowePI:
    @Joshua:
    @marilove:
    @skep.vet:
    @Bealzebubb:

    Read that article, if by the end of it you’re not convinced, then fine. I for one would like medical decisions related to children’s health be based off of science and medicine, and what ultimately keeps them healthier. If you disagree and think medical decisions should be based off of morals, regardless of what ultimately makes them healthier, then fine, we agree to disagree.

  42. skepticalhippie

    I read the article. To me it really didn’t make a much better argument for the procedure on a baby than you did. I actually enjoyed yours better. All statistics where very slim on the advantage side. Actually since my last post I have read more on circumcision than anyone should have to that is not a doctor. I agree that it does have some benefits but I personally don’t see why those cant be weighed by the individual latter in life. If it does need to be removed latter in life it will be more painful yes. But I still believe it should be the individuals choice. This has been fun.

  43. @skep.vet: So your saying that a parent should avoid making a beneficial decision on behalf of their child, just so you can satisfy some ideological ‘free choice for oneself on everything’ position?

    Or am I misunderstanding the core of your final stance on that topic?

  44. @skep.vet: Well, I’ve known (in both senses) many circumcised males, 0% of them had any problem (emotional or physical) with being circumcised, and any of them that I’ve asked have said that not only would they not want to be uncut, but would also have their hypothetical sons cut.

    Now, I know that FGM is a cultural thing and if you aren’t missing your clitoris/have your vagina sewn up in certain parts of the world, you are considered unmarriagable, so, I could possibly see how certain women would “want” to be GM’d…

    But the guys I know have no social reason to want to be cut really…I’ve also known (again, both senses) uncut dudes and comparatively (anecdotal evidence alert!!), there’s not much of a difference in, uh, performance capacity. In fact, and this is totally just a coincidence, I’m sure, they tended to be way more neurotic!(Probably results of hippie parenting in general)

    Also, I think that circumcision performed on males older than infancy is pretty crazy…aren’t there significantly more risks?

    If FGM were truly “circumcision”, a tiny little piece of skin (that, on an infant girl I don’t even think would be accessible w/o quite a bit of intrusion) – a snip off the clitoral hood – would be all that would be cut..

    I’m not pro- or anti-circumcision (ok, I guess I like ’em cut a little better), but I can at least see what those desert kooks were thinking when they started the practice (kind of, sort of…), and the fact that there is solid evidence in support of the practice kind of validates it for me.

    However, cutting off a girl’s clit (not to mention labia and/or sewing up of the vaginal entrance) not only has zero benefit, but is dangerous (infections, death, fucked up birthing, etc..) and takes away something that is essentially the primary female erogenous zone.

    I’ve never been with a cut guy who had one single problem due to being cut in any way.

    Fortunately none of them had a bris with that orthodox mohel who has herpes (remember that lovely story?).

  45. @Fat_Anarchy: “Did you know that cutting off a baby female’s breasts reduced the chances of breast cancer in that child by 100%? How can we not do this procedure? Its one of the biggest killers of females out there! 100% reduction!!!”

    OMG!! I never thought of it that way, that is like totes a great analogy! It’s not like human female breasts serve any purpose, and yeah, it’s just as easy to give an infant a mastectomy (you know, of the breasts that won’t actually begin to come in for 10-13 years..) as it is to circumcise!

    Thanks for inlitinin meh!

  46. Quite the sensitive topic. For the general info of all of the interwebs out there, I am a circumcised male. Anecdotally, I’ve never missed having a foreskin, but heck, would not really know what it’s like to have one. I would throw two comments out for discussion, though.

    1) Is there some sort of anti-semitism about circumcision (coming from a 1970’s U.S.A male rather than a religious point of view)?

    2) What is the big deal about circumcision of infants?? I certainly don’t remember it. I doubt that there is any significant effect on sexual pleasure (the few study reports that I have now googley-read suggest that there is none, and I can think of numerous specific benefits to being cut–which I will not go into here so as not to make this a smutty post–). To claim that it is some sort of mutilation, the proponents of such claim should show that there is a definite detriment to infant circumcision (outweighing the various benefits).

  47. I skimmed through the SBM article on male circumcision, this is what sticks out for me:

    “What all this really boils down to is that there are no compelling scientific arguments for or against neonatal circumcision.

    There are small risks and there are small benefits. The decision is not a medical one. Medical organizations are not “pro” circumcision, but they’re not “con” either. ”

    It’s hard to get past cultural biases. I cover this topic in my cultural anthro class, when we talk about the concept of cultural relativism. First we talk about FGM (note: there are different types:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/index.html). Then I bring up male circumcision. Generally the discussion gets pretty interesting. In one recent class I had one male student who was very much against routine male circumcision. He was _very_ passionate about the topic.

    I think that might have been the same class where a female student very tentatively asked what the difference was between a circumcised and uncircumcised penis. I wasn’t sure if I should try out my art skills on the board, give the firefighter’s hat/turtle neck analogy, or what. Fortunately another student stepped in.

    So, no compelling medical reason to do it, no compelling medical reason not to do it. Generally speaking, it’s a cultural decision more than a medical one; and that’s hard to get past.

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