When you start to get interested in Objectivism, you begin to analyze nearly every aspect of life through an Objectivist "lense". I recently saw the Seinfeld episode where they attend the Bris ceremony with the wacky Mohel (hilarious episode, by the way), and I got to thinking about the practice of circumcision. Routine non-ritualistic male circumcision is a uniquely American phenomenon, despite the fact that not one major medical association believes its necessary (except when a specific medical condition requires it - which is apparently rare). What right do parents have to arbitrarilly slice up your member? Shouldn't this be something men consent to?
From what I've read, evolution's purpose for the foreskin is to protect your sensitive penis head from being scraped, sanded, etc. To keep a non-circumcised penis healthy, you just lightly pull the skin back and rinse. This shouldn't be done to children, its not really necessary until they can do it for themselves.
Yes, I'd say let the man keep his foreskin, and then once he is older he can decide for himself whether he wants to cut it off.
I asked about this on an Objectivist parenting list on Yahoo! Groups a few years ago. It got mixed responses, but generally we agreed we could not find a good medical reason to perform it. Whether it creates some of the "psychological trauma" on an infant some argue is another matter. I recall The Leonard Peikoff Show examining this and arguing that the procedure traumatizes males for life.
In any case, given how routine this procedure is, you will need to make explicit instructions to the doctors not to perform this procedure -- and then carefully examine your medical bills to make sure they did not charge you for it anyway. Years ago, a retired nurse said that her hospital's billing system was so sloppy that a bill listed a line item of foreskin circumcision for a female infant.
I have heard that the U.S. military used to make circumcision a routine practice on "uncut" recruits during boot camp. The idea was that the absence of hygienic soap and water in the field, combined with the increased risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases due to the foreskin folds, motivated this painful surgery. Can anyone corroborate or refute this?
While initially it stemmed from 'health' reasons, under guise of religious proscription, much in the same manner of eating pork and similar foods, and other practices, this must be taken in context - several millenias from then to the hygenicness of today's world, where the concept of cleanliness is multifold greater than was ever even dreamed of back then, and the 'reasonableness' of then does not apply today... to say nothing of incresed knowledge of illnesses, germ theory, anatomy, medical knowledge in general...
I always bring this up when people rave about the injustices of female circumcisions in certain cultures. What about male circumsucion? Half the time they themselves have male children who are circumcised. Granted I hear that female circumcision is far worse, but the principle remains.
Two coworkers were talking about this yesterday, one was telling how distrubing it was to have to hold his sons arms back while the doctor performed the procedure.
The other said his uncle when in boot camp was indeed forced to have his foreskin removed.
Personally I am circumcised and I do not remember it nor do I feel it 'traumatized me for life' If something traumatizes you for life its because you obsess over it and make it traumatize you for life. I am surprised such a thing was suggested by objectivists.
"A majority of boys born in the United States still undergo nonritual circumcisions. This occurs in large measure because parental decision-making is based on social or cultural expectations, rather than medical concerns"
"Major factors in parental decison-making are the father's circumcision status, opinions of family members and friends, a desire for conformity in their son's appearance, and the belief that the circumcised penis is easier to care for with respect to local hygeine."
Is another major factor the desire of parents to increase their son's appeal to the opposite sex? i.e. do women prefer their men circumcised? I would imagine so but maybe I'm off base here. Anyone care to comment?
An atheist woman of my acquaintance through an Orlando freethought group is in nursing school. Given her secular mindset and her medical training, she seemed a good person to ask about this. She said that the main benefit she perceived was the sexual enjoyment of the woman. In her experience, the circumcised penis simply feels better to her than the uncircumcised penis -- and she has experienced both kinds of partners.
Years ago in Dear Abby, I also read the testimonial of a woman who had experienced both types of partners and she said she consistently experienced bladder infections with "uncut" men. This anecdote is not enough to induce a conclusion but clearly points to hygiene issues.
Thanks for asking, Pete! As a young woman who grew up in the US, I only knew men who were circumcised... and then I started traveling! :-) And I can say with 100% certainty, that I'd rather be with a girl. No wait, that's another topic. I can say, with 100% certainty, that I prefer uncircumcised men.
Foreskins are fun! Uncut cocks feel different - less friction. You can have sex indefinitely without discomfort. You can have sex in water (without strange silicone-based lubricants!) Cocks with foreskins are way more sensitive - and everyone knows that if your partner is enjoying it more, you are also enjoying it more. After being with uncut guys it was hard for me to go back to the old way. Giving head to a guy with no foreskin is about as exciting as planting cabbage. This is the real trauma for boy children who are circumcised: they won't enjoy sex as much.
Interesting reply, Ashley. I wonder if there are studies somewhere surveying women to rank their satisfaction with cut versus uncut men. If the main detriment to the men is the dissatisfaction of their partners, that is still a detriment. How would one conduct an objective scientific study of this?
No way was I saying that the main detriment to the men was the dissatisfaction of their partners! I said: "Cocks with foreskins are way more sensitive" - that reads to me: the main detriment to the men was less satisfying sex for them! I think it would be hard to convince a guy who is circumcised that sex could be feeling a lot better, but my experience from the other end of it (so to speak) is that it's feeling a lot better to the guy with the foreskin (which does make it more exciting for me). The reaction is just so much more intense.
I'm betting that the answer depends on the individuals involved.
As for circumcision - well that's the parent's call really.
Luke & Ashley have convincing arguments as to why it's a bad idea. And remember that in the west, medicos have a disturbing habit (IMHO) of advocating lopping off "useless" appendages just in case. I've heard stories about doctors and dentists removing healthy wisdom teeth and tonsils just in case they get infected in the future. If I ever become a parent, I will punch any quack who advocated such pre-emptive action.
But let's just spare a thought parents. After having a kid you have to make a whole bunch of important decisions involving potential "acts of force" that will affect the kid's future.
-Should you feed them Flouride tablets? (I think that's a great idea - worked for me. Big tick for my parent's on that one.)
-Should you let them vege in front of the TV - or force them to read, play sport etc. (Again I think that's a great idea etc.)
-Should you send them to a crap school to toughen them up and let 'em learn about life? Or should you move heaven and earth to send them to the best academic school possible?
-Should you smack?
-Should you make your child eat its vegetables?
I think you have to be careful designating things as "acts of force." Firstly, you risk diluting the meaning of that phrase and secondly you run the risk of confusing harmful acts (ie those that would damage the child's ability to grow into an independent adult) and beneficial/benign acts that require a stern parental hand to make the child comply.
So yes, circumcision may be unnecessary, but I don't think it qualifies as an "act of force." To me, "act of force" denotes something that should be outlawed etc. & let's face it, I've never missed my foreskin and none of the ladies I've been with have any complaints. So what's the big deal?