by Timothy Chilman
The foreskin is the hood of skin which covers the head of the penis. When penises are discussed in formal circles, and let’s have more of that, the foreskin is called the prepuce and the penis head is the glans. Circumcision sees the removal of this piece of skin. According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, between 69 and 97 percent of males in the United States were circumcised in 1970. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, circumcision was carried out upon 56 percent of boys in 2006 but only 32.5 percent in 2009. These numbers do not include procedures performed outwith hospitals, and so do not include Jewish rituals or circumcision not covered by insurance.
Racially, circumcision in the United States is more common among white males than black, and more common in black males than Hispanic ones. Geographically, it is most common in the north central regions of the United States and least common in the western states.
The procedure is uncommon in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Asia. Circumcision was little-known in South Korea prior to the Korean War, but after the country hosted so many GIs, half of males are now circumcised. In Africa, things are a little more complicated.
In Kenya, it is estimated that 85 percent of men are circumcised, but it is less common in other countries: 70 percent in Tanzania, 35 percent in South Africa, 25 percent in Uganda, 13 percent in Zambia, 8 percent in Swaziland, and 4.5 percent in Rwanda.
Uncircumcised Xhosa males cannot inherit a father’s wealth,
preside over ritual ceremonies or marry. An uncircumcised male past the standard age of 18 could be overpowered by others and circumcised against his will. The Ndebele are similar. Legend has it that when an uncircumcised man was elevated to the cabinet, Ndebele men circumcised him against his wishes. The Abagishu people of Eastern Uganda circumcise males as late as in their twenties. The operation is very painful, which is considered an ideal preparation for marriage as it demonstrates courage. Among the neighboring Bukusu people, a man cannot be buried unless he is circumcised, and the operation will be carried out post mortem, if necessary.
Many males have died or lost their penises in botched circumcision operations in Africa, mostly in impoverished communities. Unregistered surgeons often carry out circumcision to make money. One with a dreadful safety record was given a suspended jail sentence of three years, but carried on chopping. In the last five years he killed almost 20 males and obliged another 15 to have their penises amputated. In 2009, there were 91 deaths from circumcision just in the Eastern Cape Province of Seth Effrika.
Circumcision in Africa is performed at initiation schools. Often, blunt and unsterilized knives are used. Severe beatings are given as punishment for forgetting parts of rituals, from which deaths have resulted. In 2004, officials met with traditional leaders to discuss the alarming number of deaths and injuries from circumcision-gone-wrong. The chairman of the National House of Traditional Leaders said, “We cannot just sit back and fold our arms.”
Are there any medical benefits from circumcision?
It is often claimed that cut dicks are cleaner, but an uncircumcised glans is more moist and sensitive. It has nature’s own lubricant, and this is not a dirty thing.
Circumcision lessens the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) tenfold. Four percent of boys suffer from this condition, mostly in the first year of life, and 55 percent of these are hospitalized. According to the Australasian Academy of Physicians, 111 circumcisions would be required to prevent one case of UTI, which is a lot of penis. Circumcision has been shown to reduce the incidence of penile cancer, but this affects less than one man in 100,000. Surveys in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia found circumcision to have no effect on the risk of sexually-transmitted infection. Some studies found that circumcision reduced the risk of prostate cancer, but the relationship was not consistent and was not confirmed by further review. There were widely publicized reports that uncircumcised males were 1.5 times more likely to acquire human papillomavirus (HPV), but the relevant studies examined only the glans, and ignored those sites which are associated with the greatest chance of infection. These studies also failed to take account of the greater risk of infection during recovery from circumcision. Researchers at the University of Washington found no connection between circumcision and HPV infection.
Circumcision does, however, provide protection against HIV. The World Health Organization stated so in 2007, based on three randomized clinical trials in Africa which found that circumcised men were 60 percent less likely to have HIV. The WHO panel charged with dealing with the matter said, “research evidence is compelling.”
Anaerobic bacteria are abundant in an uncircumcised penis, but almost non-existent in a circumcised one. It is thought that these bacteria can provoke inflammation in the genitalia, attracting Langerhans cells – immune cells – which can be infected by the HIV virus. Targeted antibiotics or antiseptics could be developed to afford protection in this case.
Ronald Gray, one of circumcision’s most forceful advocates, said that part of the protective effect of circumcision upon HIV is that, without a foreskin, a penis grows extra layers of skin, which reduces the amount of cells which can be infected with HIV. What effect will these extra layers of skin have upon sexual sensitivity?
Two of the most common anaerobic organisms found in uncircumcised penises are prevotellaceae and clostridiales. These are associated with bacterial vaginosis, an uncomfortable condition which is the most common vaginal infection in women of child-bearing age. Rather than cut away a section of somebody’s penis, it might be considered preferable for a woman to avoid the condition by not being a skanky ho: douching reduces the risk of this condition, while multiple sex partners increase it.
It is accepted that complications arise in between 0.2 and three percent of circumcisions, usually minor bleeding and local infection. One of these was two year-old Jamaal Coleson, Jr., who died at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital in 2011. The boy awoke from anesthesia, and asked for food and a drink before complaining of stomach pain. He died ten hours later. The boy’s uncle told the New York Post that he had been given a general analgesic instead of a local one.
Some Orthodox Jews practice metzitzah b’peh, the suction of blood from the cut penis by the mohel who performs circumcision. In 2003 and 2004, a boy in Staten island and twins in Brooklyn contracted Type 1 herpes after being subjected to the practice. One of the twins died. Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, the mohel in all three cases, was the subject of a court order to not perform the ritual in New York City.
Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization said the Orthodox community would continue to use the technique and there has been a clamor that it is a “commandment from G-D!” It is thought that metzitzah b’peh is performed more than 2,000 times every year in New York City. Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a professor of Talmud and a microbiologist, countered that one of the foremost rules of the Torah is that a risk to health cannot knowingly be taken unless it is truly justified.
Dr. Phillip Leveque, the medical adviser of the Salem News newspaper, told of an incident of electric cautery where the machine was inadvertently set to “high” rather than “low,” and fried the penis of one young male. He said if he undertook circumcision in this manner, he would have to be extremely careful, “…or some young man in about twenty years would be looking for me with fire in his eyes.”
One alarming drawback of circumcision is the phenomenon of the “hidden penis.” It is normal for chubby baby boys to have a roll of fat above their genitals, which causes a circumcised penis to be sucked in. The condition disappears with age, but is greatly disconcerting to parents until then.
While chopping off the foreskin has been put on a par with female circumcision, this is something of an exaggeration. Douglas Diekema, director of education for the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said, “The anatomic female equivalent of the male foreskin is the clitoral hood.” Who would obey if they were instructed to cut off their daughter’s clitoral hood? Diekema continued: “Most forms of female genital cutting involve excision or far more than the clitoral hood, often excising the clitoris with or without portions of the labia. The male equivalent of those would be removal of the penis with or without the scrotum.”
But circumcision is still genital mutilation, and that is plenty bad. It desensitizes the penis. The study, Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis, published in the British Journal of Urology, used a device known as a Semmes-Weinstein monofilament touch-test sensory evaluator, which yields the most accurate, non-invasive evaluation of skin sensation. 163 subjects were studied, both circumcised and not, all 18 years-old or more. The most sensitive parts of the penis were found to be the tip and the inside surface of the prepuce, parts which are lost to circumcision.
Another study published by the British Journal of Urology in 1996 stated: “The foreskin contains 85% of the sexually receptive nerve endings of the penis.” It also said that the end of the foreskin, the preputial sphincter, is the most sensitive point of an unmutilated male’s body, holding 20,000 Meisner’s corpuscle nerve endings, the nerve endings which sense light touch, and are found in the anus or lips. They also occur in very concentrated patterns on the the sole of the foot and the palm of the hand and. The study said that the difference in feeling between an uncircumcised and a circumcised penis was like gently sliding a finger over the palm and the back of the hand.
Another study was conducted in South Korea by JoongAng University professor Bang Myeong-geol and Seoul National University professor Kim Dae-sik. Bang said, “We can make the conclusion that circumcision poses a negative impact on [enjoyment of] sex by damaging peripheral nerves.” It has been proven that circumcised men last longer in bed, and this is surely because they experience less pleasure.
Circumcision is the result of a conspiracy by the plutarchical rulers of the United States to reduce male sexual pleasure. As the otherwise lunatic conservative website, henrymakow.com, put it, thanks to circumcision: “The minds of men would be free to study the law or learn war.” America’s ruling class is attempting to protect itself because it knows just how many politicos got into trouble because they were thinking with their cocks.
Think of the dozens of political sex scandals there have been in the last decade. Philip Giordano, the mayor of Waterbury, Conn., was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls of eight and ten years-old.
Sen. Larry Craig was arrested by an undercover police officer during an investigation of salacious goings-on in the men’s restroom of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. It was humorously suggested by the cartoon strip, Doonesbury, that this was a ploy by the right-wing to either unalterably associate homosexuality with public sex, or to show that the GOP was the only place for self-hating homosexuals. Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Mark Sanford both called for Bill Clinton to resign in 1998 over his extra-marital naughtiness, but declined to do so when their own came to light. Senate candidate Jack Ryan’s former wife, Jeri, alleged that he compelled her to attend sex clubs and have public sex with him, although the allegations have not been corroborated. After his little bastard was revealed, Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger proved as impervious as his various screen personae would suggest. Herman Cain was a frontrunner for the Republican nomination to president until four wimmen claimed that he sexually harassed them during his time at the helm of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. His fate was sealed when a further woman came forward to tell of her 13 year affair with Cain. He “suspended” his run for the Republican nomination.
The circumcision conspiracy is not only the work of politicians anxious not to lose colleagues. The medical profession is in on it, purveying an unnecessary surgical procedure to rake in more cash now that “elective tonsillectomies” have been outlawed. The lawyers are in on it, too. A measure to criminalize the severance of part of an unconsenting baby’s penis was present on a ballot in San Francisco after resident Lloyd Schofield and a group of “intactivists” collected the required 12,000 signatures. The measure was removed because it would violate a Californian law which leaves regulation of medical procedures a state, and not a city, matter. In Sacramento, Calif., Governor Moonbeam signed bill AB768, a bill which prevented local governments from banning male circumcision.
The association of circumcision with Judaism goes back several millennia, to Genesis 17:10: “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.” Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), known to Jews as רמב“ם, the Rambam, was a Torah scholar who is one of the key figures of Jewish history. He revealed the reason for circumcision: it reduces sexual pleasure and hence masturbation.
This torch was picked up in the West at the end of the 19th century. In 1891, the Royal College of Surgeons of England released On Circumcision as Preventive of Masturbation. It was said that as well as masturbation, the foreskin caused incontinence, epilepsy, and hysteria. Another doctor, P.C. Remondino, said that ‘Circumcision is like a substantial and well-secured life annuity …it insures better health, greater capacity for labor, longer life, less nervousness, sickness, loss of time, and less doctor bills.” Female masturbators were given cliterodectomies. This was still recommended as late as 1936 by L.E. Holt, author of pediatric textbooks.
In the United States, William Kellogg of Cornflake fame made the case for circumcision to reduce masturbation. He was a major philanthropist, and very powerful. He said that circumcision would leave the skin covering the penis tight, which would hamper or even eradicate masturbation. He recommended that the operation be performed without anesthetic “so that pain during an operation may affect the mind.” In the real world, this would cause post-traumatic stress disorder. He advised that clitorises be cauterized with carbolic acid so that women could “combat the perverted ways of getting sexual pleasure.” He also said that eating Kellogg’s Cornflakes would reduce the dreadful toll of self-pleasuring.
Circumcision is described as elective surgery, but baby boys do not give consent. As a result, KNMG, the Royal Dutch Medical Association, called circumcision “a violation of human rights,” and encouraged the country’s parliament to ban it.
If a man has been circumcised, all is not lost. Ron Miller is a
member of the National Organization for Restoring Men. He said, “I’m pissed off about the 40 years of wasted sex I’ve had,” and addresses meetings of the increasingly popular Organization. One of the most popular methods of foreskin restoration propounded by the group is known as T-tape. Tape and paper are employed to create a sleeve which covers the end of the penis. The sleeve is secured to the middle of the penis shaft using around an inch of surgical tape. The sleeve’s open end if closed with the clip of a suspender belt. Tension is applied to the penis to stretch it. The procedure should be discontinued if the penis changes color or temperature. Further down the line, weights can be used. Surgical procedures are available, but are not popular.
Miller took an interest in foreskin restoration when he felt he had lost all sensation during intercourse. Viagra was no help. He said circumcised versus uncircumcised sex is as different as an old black and white television set is from HDTV.
Dr. Leo McCafferty, a plastic surgeon at the UPMC Shadyside hospital in Pittburgh, said, “One snowflake doesn’t make a winter. It’s hard to draw conclusions from anecdotal experiences” – although anecdotes can be highly persuasive, as in this case. He also said that the matter was subjective, as pleasure cannot be measured – although as has been seen, sensation can, and circumcision reduces it. Dr. Carl Bruning, a urologist in Monroeville, near Pittsburgh, said that erectile dysfunction is usually caused by pelvic surgery, diabetes, and artherosclerosis rather than by loss of sensation.
The truth of the matter is that circumcision reduces a penis to a dried, insensate husk. It is not needed by men who do not reside in Swaziland, with the world highest rate and HIV, and who steer clear of intravenous drug-using ladies of negotiable affections.
“’We want answers': Devastated parents accuse hospital of botching simple circumcision which led to two-year-old son’s death.” Daily Mail. 5 May 2011. 31 October 2011. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1383844/Jamaal-Coleson-Jrs-parents-accuse-Manhattan-hospital-fatal-botched-circumcision.html.>
“AFRICA: Tracking the male circumcision rollout.” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. n.d. 31 October 2011. <http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=88286.>
“Circumcision in Africa.” Economy News. n.d. 31 October 2011. <http://www.economynews.us/economy/circumcision-in-africa/.>
“Circumcision of Infant Males.” Royal College of Australasian Physicians. 1 September 2010. 31 October 2011. <http://www.kids.vic.gov.au/downloads/male_circumcision.pdf.>
“Circumcision reduces sexual satisfaction: study.” Hankyoreh. n.d. 31 October 2011. <http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/180947.html.>
“Circumcisions kill 20 boys in South Africa.” BBC. 18 June 2010. 31 October 2011. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10350471.>
“In Sex Scandals, GOP Trumpts Democrats.” The Daily Beast. 29 March 2010. 31 October 2011. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/03/30/which-party-has-more-sex-scandals.html.>
“Mass circumcision: cornflakes magnate vs. masturbation.” Pravda. 27 March 2006. 31 October 2011. <http://english.pravda.ru/health/27-03-2006/77873-circumcision-0/.>
“Ridged Band.” Doctors’ Medical Opinion. n.d. 31 October 2011. <http://www.doctorsmedicalopinion.com/wiki/Ridged_band.>
“South Africa circumcision deaths.” BBC. 15 July 2003. 31 October 2011. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3069491.stm.>
Conley, Mikaela. “Proposed Circumcision Ban Struck From San Francisco Ballot.” ABC News. 28 July 2011. 31 October 2011. <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/san-francisco-circumcision-ban-striken/story?id=14179024.>
Esman, Abigail R. “Circumcision Makes You Crazy. So Holland Moves To Stop It.” Forbes Magazine. 19 September 2011. 31 October 2011. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/abigailesman/2011/09/19/circumcision-makes-you-crazy-so-holland-moves-to-stop-it/.>
King, Tim. “Circumcision is a Real Killer in America.” Salem News. 17 October 2010. 31 October 2011. <http://www.salem-news.com/articles/october172010/circumcision-madness.php.>
Newman, Andy. “City Questions Circumcision Ritual After Baby Dies.” New York Times. 26 August 2005. 31 October 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/26/nyregion/26circumcise.html.>
Pheneth, Victoria. “SA considers circumcision dangers.” BBC. 25 May 2004. 31 October 2011. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3745513.stm.>
Snowbeck, Christopher. “Local men restoring their foreskins.” Post Gazette. 25 April 2000. 31 October 2011. <http://www.post-gazette.com/healthscience/20000425hnorm2.asp.>
Sorrells, Morris L., Snyder, James L., Reiss, Mark D. Eden, Christopher, Milos, Marilyn F., Wilcox, Norma, and Van Howe, Robert S. “Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis.” National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers. 22 October 2006. 31 October 2011. <http://www.nocirc.org/touch-test/bju_6685.pdf.>
Storrs, Carina. “Clean-Cut: Study Finds Circumcision Helps Prevent HIV and Other Infections.” Scientific American. 13 January 2010. 31 October 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=circumcision-penis-microbiome-hiv-infection.>