Don’t worry. Lawsonry isn’t reversing it’s stance that men don’t have any say in what a woman can do with her body. What all men should have the right to, however, is what happens to their body.
Roughly 75% of American males are circumcised well before they have any ability to consent or understand what’s happening to them. The vast majority of American men are circumcised right after birth. There are many arguments in favor of the practice -relating to health, cosmetic purposes, or religious/cultural rituals – but none are very convincing. A parent movement called “intactivism” supports educating and enlightening other moms-to-be about all aspects of circumcision, and there are support groups of men who feel robbed of both an essential part of their penis as well as the ability to choose whether or not it would be beneficial to have it removed.
In Europe a far off land that is more advanced than America (I know, blasphemy) in areas like infant well being, health care, human rights, and all around not being a douche to our fellow human beings, the circumcision rate is less than 20%, many countries boasting under 10%. The practice is practically unheard of in Finland.
“The health benefits outweigh the risk”
Contrary to common sense and science, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has just revised it’s stance on circumcision from a neutral position to a pro-cutting one, in a 28 page, repetitive diatribe that at times reads like the authors were trying to convince themselves that circumcision was a step in the right direction. Sources included questionable studies of the reduction of AIDS transmission in Africa – obviously very pertinent to US statistics – and a 17 year old high school girl who thinks “foreskins are icky looking”. Of course, the lower rates of STD transmission from circumcised penises is much higher than using barrier methods of birth control, which are readily available in the US. And the vast majority of uncircumcised men in developed nations have no more problems with hygiene than cirumcised men.
In fact, it’s likely that the AAP’s report was politically and financially motivated. Currently, doctors who perform circumcisions are missing out on payment for the procedure because it is not covered by Medicaid in all states. This means that many low-income parents will simply opt out of circumcising their infants. The AAP is obviously hoping that this misleading report will give them the leverage to push states to include routine infant circumcision in their coverage.
Their Body, Their Choice
So why do I care? I don’t have a son, and I don’t have a penis. My husband was circumcised, but we lucked out and there was no lasting damage, either physical or mental. So, why bother writing about it?
Because of one word: consent. Consent, above all other things. We are raising our sons and daughters in a culture that teaches boys and men to push the boundaries on consent for a myriad of reasons, and it needs to stop. We need to tell them that even though it may hurt more now, they deserve the ability to consent to genital cutting. The AAP doesn’t have a very good track record on this; twice, in 1996 and 2010, the organization approved a “genital nick” on infant girls whose families had cultural beliefs that involved female circumcision. Both times, public outcry forced them to change their position.
Yes, most men are fine after the procedure, and sure, there is a slightly reduced risk of infection – which can be mitigated if we (god forbid) teach basic hygiene and comprehensive sex ed. But contrary to what the AAP has decided to say, he benefits of circumcision do not outweigh the non-consensual, allegedly prophylactic genital mutilation of our youngest and most vulnerable.
The benefits and risks are far more than medical: they are social, psychological, and cultural. We must strive to become a culture of respect for the bodily integrity of others, and that includes our infant boys, who will grow to be the men of my daughter’s generation.