To Cut or Not to Cut

from the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

Photo by K. Wachter

Photo by K. Wachter

We had protesters today here at the AAP meeting.  Three of them.  They were urging pediatricians not to perform circumcisions, likening the procedure to torture.  Given my gender (that’s Ms. Wachter, thank you very much) and my lack of male offspring, it’s not a subject that I had ever given much thought. 

So I did a little research.  Both AAP and the American Academy of Family Physicians seem to take the path of least resistance: the potential health benefits of circumcision–reduced rates of STDs and urinary tract infections, prevention of certain penile problems, and reduced risk of penile cancer–are not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision.  Instead, parents should make this decision in light of available information and cultural/religious considerations. 

Opponents of circumcision argue that the procedure inflicts unnecessary pain on newborn boys and may result in surgical complications.  And then there’s the sexual pleasure argument.  Purportedly, uncircumcised men enjoy greater sexual sensation than their clipped comrades.  At a purely scientific level, a more definitive answer would require studying men who have experienced both conditions.  A quick search on PubMed confirmed my suspicion that this sample size is fairly small.  But I defer to the medical professionals–yea or nay on circumcision?

—Kerri Wachter, @knwachter on Twitter

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Filed under Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Polls, Primary care, Urology

55 responses to “To Cut or Not to Cut

  1. Henry

    Coming from the UK where circumcision other than for medical or religious reasons is very rare, I have to say I am amazed that the pro-circumcision lobby in the US is so strong. Surely there is no other procedure where healthy tissue is removed from a child for no good reason, especially when the long-term effects are little studied? Altering a child’s genitals in infancy is not a minor procedure!
    At the very least, the decision has to be left to the individual, not forced on them by their parents. If a man wishes to be circumcised in later life – for whatever reason – that has to be his choice. We are (rightly) outraged by female circumcision for cultural reasons – isn’t it time that routine male circumcision is also questioned?

  2. PJ

    Females are legally protected from forced genital cutting in the U.S. Males deserve the same protection as females.

    If males were intended to have foreskins, they’d be born with them. The foreskin has protective and sexual functions. To learn more, see:

    The video “The Prepuce” describes in detail the anatomy and sexual functions of the foreskin. Christiane Northrup, M.D. explains how circumcision is a disservice to both males AND females, in her article “How Circumcision May be Affecting Your Love Life.”

  3. From the masculinist level, men who have had 3/4ths of their penile nerves removed aren’t asking for “another” reason to have sex, but rather the “original” reason evolution favored us with. And for the record, I’m just as opposed to removing 3/4ths of women’s nerves, too, especially on newborn girls.

  4. Mark Lyndon

    You may be interested in what medical professionals in other countries think:

    Canadian Paediatric Society
    “Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”
    “Circumcision is a ‘non-therapeutic’ procedure, which means it is not medically necessary.”
    “After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.”

    Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    “After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision.”
    (those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

    British Medical Association
    “to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.”

  5. Mark Lyndon

    “At a purely scientific level, a more definitive answer would require studying men who have experienced both conditions.”

    The study you quote is mostly about men who were circumcised for medical reasons, so didn’t have a properly functioning prepuce anyway.

    This study is probably more relevant:

    “The study included 373 sexually active men, of whom 255 were circumcised and 118 were not. Of the 255 circumcised men, 138 had been sexually active before circumcision, and all were circumcised at >20 years of age.”

    “About 6% answered that their sex lives improved, while 20% reported a worse sex life after circumcision.”

  6. Circumcising healthy non-consenting people (of any age or sex, and children cannot consent) is human vivisection, a crime against humanity, the very same one licensed German doctors were jailed after World War II for committing against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and others. [Nothing justifies] human vivisection, reckless endangerment of children, gratuitous permanent genital mutilation, manslaughter or any other despicable sex crime against innocent, unsuspecting children. Jail these criminals.

  7. Kerri Wachter

    Mark, regardless of the indication for adult circumcision (and I’m not sure that it really matters why adult men chose to be circumcized), both the study that I cited and the one that you cited are pretty small samples. I’m not arguing for or against circumcision but I do think that there should be more definitive evidence behind the sexual pleasure argument.

  8. How about a sample size of one? I was circumcised at birth. I have since restored my foreskin. The difference in sexual pleasure and function is amazing. My wife used to get sore from sex and we needed lubricant. Now, she does not get sore and we don’t need lubricant. We both enjoy sex a whole lot more.

    Why should even one person have to suffer from reduced sexual pleasure and function? I would have preferred to have the choice whether to keep or have part of my sex organ removed. Let the owner of the body decide what happens to it. Let the adult decide.

    Many men are finding out that they miss their foreskin. They, like me, are or have restored their foreskin to regain what was taken from us at birth. See to read stories of men who wish they had never been circumcised and are doing something about it.

  9. Mark Lyndon

    With respect, I think it makes a huge difference why adult men chose to be circumcised. If someone doesn’t have a retractible foreskin, then circumcision will almost certainly improve their sex lives. There are usually more conservative treatments which will work better though.

    Similarly, people who have recurrent tonsillitis will benefit from tonsillectomy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea for everyone, and it is no longer routine.

    I also posted the position statements on male circumcision of the CPA, BMA, and RACP btw. You might want to check your spam folder if you have one, as I included three links.

  10. The foreskin houses somewhere between 20,000-100,000 specialized, erogenous nerve endings that encircle the opening of the foreskin (the latter number comes from a neurologist at the AAP convention). These fine-touch nerve endings, Meissner’s corpuscles, are the same nerves that are in the fingertips, feeling light touch and heat. In the foreskin, they act like an accelerator, allowing a male to ride the wave to orgasm. When they are amputated, a male is left with an off-on switch and, often , premature ejaculation. As C.J. Falliers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1970, “…the fundamental biological sexual act becomes, for the circumcised male, the satisfaction of an urge, and not the refined sensory experience it was meant to be.” Circumcision reduces the penis, the organ of pleasure and procreation in both sensitivity and size. Circumcision is designed to eliminate the pleasure part of the equation, which is why it was introduced into Western medicine during the 1800s in English-speaking countries, when it was believed that masturbation caused disease. Without a foreskin a male would be less inclined to “self-abuse.” What have we denied our males and isn’t it time we protected their right to genital integrity? Girls are protected by law and boys should be, too!

  11. David

    I was circumcised at the age of 19 for purely adolescent insecurity reasons, not for any physical problem. I immediately was aware of how uncomfortable the now-exposed glans was, but soon it calloused over (keratinized) and became much less sensitive (meaning sexually less pleasurable).
    Twenty years later I learned about non-surgical foreskin restoration, which I accomplished, and I was delighted that the re-protected glans regained its original soft and sensitive surface.
    Both my wife and I enjoy the renewed sensitivity as well as the loose skin — the way the penis was designed to be.
    I say that intact my sex life was a 10, circumcised it was a 3, and restored it is a 7. I’ll never be a 10 again (only God can design a perfect penis), but 7 is a heck of a lot better than a 3!

  12. Leonard B. Glick

    Male infant circumcision is the only medical procedure performed by physicians at the request of persons with no medical training and no medical qualifications. It’s a cultural fad, found in very small numbers or not at all in other developed nations. For more than a century circumcision of American infants has been a “treatment” looking for something to treat. The time for its complete abolition has long passed.

  13. John Geisheker

    Asking (American) doctors whether you should or should not circumcise your child is like hailing a cab to ask which # bus is the best to take.

    This is a $2 billion industry, when one tallies the downside costs of follow-up care and botches. Secondary ‘repair’ surgeries are so common they have their own acronym and their own billing code.

    John Geisheker
    Doctors Opposing Circumcision

  14. Paul Gaudet

    Another good resource on why Mother Nature provides a foreskin on human males can be found in “Sex As Nature Intended It” by Kristen O’Hara. As a married 59-year old, I was fascinated to hear testimonies of women who had experienced both types of sex partners, cut and uncut.
    Apparently, sex with a “natural” male allows for a gentler build-up for both parties, which can last longer than the stereotypical “slam-bam” that women rightly complain about.
    If circumcision has created all these problems (abrasive sex, premature ejaculation, painful erections, frustration, etc.), one wonders about the hopes for America’s bedrooms if tomorrow’s husbands could grow up INTACT and natural!

  15. Daniel Strandjord

    I’m the guy in the photo holding the sign. I told every one who would listen that my sister is a pediatrician and a member of the AAP. She has been working in New Zealand for 6 months and has not seen a circumcised male. She see patients up to 16 years old. Forty years ago, New Zealand was circumcising about 95% of baby boys. Now, the rate is < 1% in their hospitals. It is very difficult to find a doctor in N.Z. who will even do a circumcision. Why can't American doctors stop?
    My sister is proud of my protest!

  16. Blake

    Why isn’t leave it up to the owner of the penis on the list. I wish someone had given me the choice..forget parents, forget doctors, this is a descision each man should make for himself.

  17. Karen Glennon

    There are so many angles to this issue.
    I agree with all the comments above regarding the negatives of infant circumcision. I am not going to repeat any of the above themes since they have been stated so well.

    I would like to say, as a mother of three children, my wish for each of my babies developing in my womb was to be born healthy. I think it’s reasonable to state that all women wish to birth healthy children.

    The thought that a piece of my baby would be severed and tossed into a medical waste bin is really incomprehensible to me. I didn’t work so hard to do all I could to bring forth a healthy child to throw a piece of him away.

  18. Surgery should only be carried out upon a consenting subject who is fully informed about its necessity and of the benefits and risks involved (except in emergency).
    The practice of infant circumcision which has no medically supporting criteria is a breach of this obligation.
    Whether it is carried out by doctors or religious practitioners it is an act of assault upon the infant with psychotic elements in play! These enable, what would otherwise be a rejection of unimaginable cruelty, to take place.
    Doctors, who by now should know better and act in bad faith, are included here.
    The ‘framing’ of this act within either a ritual or a medical setting belies its true nature which is quite literally both bad and mad! We must not shrink from making this declaration!
    The reasoning, compassionate and humane mind remains ‘somewhere else’ outside this frame and this appears to lend a permit of a disavowal of individual responsibility.
    The longevity of this traditional and cultural practice provides no excuse for those who carry it out nor for its supporters who are party to the circumcision of any child.
    Our paramount consideration should be the protection of infants and children and the saving of them from harm.
    Iris Fudge

  19. Maurice Maya

    I’m the other guy in the picture (back to camera).

    Kerri: You are right that there should be more studies on the loss of sexual function caused by circumcision. There would be if the (overwhelmingly circumcised) US medical establishment wasn’t trying to stifle discussion on the issue (as evidenced by how difficult it was for the first study to even get published in the mid-90s, ask Marilyn Milos above). This is another “inconvenient truth” that is being repressed.

    Studies asking subjects to compare sexual function before and after circumcision are flawed because their subjects have a need to justify their decision in order to avoid severe cognitive dissonance (buyer’s remorse) and therefore will tend to disregard evidence that circumcision did hurt their sexual function.

    It is simply enough to note, as Marilyn Milos indicates above, that the foreskin is full of nerve endings. No foreskin, no nerve endings, less sensation. Pure and simple.

  20. Gregor

    Regardless of how you feel or which medical practitioners you talk with, the biggest reason to NOT routinely mutilate children is ethical and universal: Nobody has the right to consent to unnecessary surgery on a child, especially an infant. Adults can decide for themselves what they want. Most of the world’s men are genitally whole; they are not lining up to mutilate themselves. I think that those facts say something about what most boys will want when they grow up. Keep them whole.

  21. I’m not sure why anyone today is still wondering if forced circumcision (without consent) is a good thing.

    Look at the history of circumcision. God said to do it, prevents or impedes masturbation, make the baby look like daddy, “treatment” or “prevention” of a very long list of unrelated and disproved ailments, surgical mishaps, botched circumcision, deaths. Why are people still scratching their heads and wondering, “To Cut or Not to Cut?”

    There is no need to wonder about why circumcision continues. It’s been studied in depth by many dedicated scholars. Alice Miller, one of the world’s most respected researchers into childhood abuse is frank, calling circumcision “ritual child abuse.”

    Any discussion about cutting the genitals of children that does not include consideration of human rights is lacking in candor.

  22. The blog states, incorrectly, “At a purely scientific level, a more definitive answer would require studying men who have experienced both conditions.” Scientists can study the subjective realities involved, and have, but they are probably better at studying the objective realities, and have. The subjective and objective studies confirm each other. The objective studies were done in the 1990s. They were published by the British Journal of Urology in 1996 and 1999 and are available through Click on “Links” to go to the actual studies. What they discovered is a highly complex human sense organ new to science at the time, containing the highest density and greatest number of nerve endings yet discovered in the penis, located in the inner distal foreskin. It’s destroyed by circumcising.

    In 2007 the best subjective study yet done on penises with and without foreskins was published, again in the BJU. The highest sensitivity reported by the subjects of the study was found where the highest density of nerve endings is located, not that surprising. Here’s the study:

    Don’t chop off people’s normal, healthy sense organs without their informed, adult, written consent. How difficult is that?

  23. hugh7

    I designed the logo on Daniel Strandjord’s hoodie. They’re at (Now all we need is for the baby to write in! Maybe that photo’s old enough.)

    People who write about circumcision often head it “To cut or not to cut”, but that is NOT the question. They are not equal and opposite (the original alternatives weren’t for Hamlet either, he was a troubled lad). When the question is phrased properly, “To cut an integral, healthy, probably erogenous part of his genitals off, or just to leave him alone?” the answer should be obvious.

    And it should certainly be the default assumption that the foreskin is erogenous: if it isn’t, what was evolution/God thinking?

  24. Carl Smelko

    I am amazed that anyone believes that they have the right to cut off any part of another human’s body because it is “their” belief.
    I was my body and should have been my right to make “any and all” decisions about what body parts I keep or have pierced, tattooed or any other form of disfigurement I want to have done.

  25. Brant31

    Regarding Ms. Wachter’s comment: “I’m not arguing for or against circumcision but I do think that there should be more definitive evidence behind the sexual pleasure argument.”

    Point taken. But the fact is inescapable that since the physiology of the prepuce is well-documented, the burden of proof that neonatal circumcision does not interfere with natural function or sensation is not on those who question the wisdom of circumcision. By all logic it must be on those who wish to change the normal condition of the human body, and that burden of proof has never been met. In fact, the questions surround not only sexual pleasure and function, but also original nerve function and blood circulation, both of which appear to be objectively affected for the worse by the surgery.

    And as has been said often, a “normal” penis has moving parts.

  26. George

    Kerri Wachter seems not to realize how totally unethical is non-therapeutic circumcision of children. I urge her to read this report from Doctors Opposing Circumcision.

  27. Why would we have to assemble a panel of subjects circumcised after sexual maturity to find out if the foreskin is sexually valuable? Can’t we just ask men: “Does your foreskin feel really good?”

    Since only about 2 in 1000 intact adults choose circumcision I think we know the answer. Foreskin feels REALLY good.

  28. Mark Lyndon

    To Michael Warrior of Love:
    I’m 100% against anyone having parts of their genitals cut off without their informed consent, but your message is way over the top, and counter-productive. You’re not going to convince anyone to change their views by being so hostile. Many people will just dismiss you and other intactivists as being crazy. I understand how strongly you feel, but please don’t post stuff like your last comment on a public forum.

  29. To Mark Lyndon:

    I’m rather dismayed to see Michael Warrior of Love’s comment has been removed. (Since I’ve subscribed to this thread I have his comment in my email and have reread it.) I don’t agree that it was “over the top” or “counterproductive.”

    Michael’s comment was very clear. Many people hearing dissent about circumcision for the first time are shocked to hear anyone refer to circumcision of children as “child abuse” or “rape” but when you look at it without the cultural filters of “healthy” or “therapeutic” or “religious” I ask you, what is infant circumcision?

    If I were to hold my ancient father down and cut his foreskin off because it would look better to me, or make it easier to clean him, or just that I wanted our penises to “match” I would be considered irrational, yet this society says it’s perfectly ok for a father to permanently wound his son’s penis for such irrational reasons.

    All of us who come to understand exactly what circumcision is grapple with how to get others to see this also. We choose our words carefully so as not to offend anyone, to hopefully be effective.

    We live with a belief that we have freedom of speech but this issue is one that reveals that freedom of speech is often squelched to maintain the illusion that circumcision of children is acceptable.

    I support the right of free speech, even if the honesty and passion behind someone’s expression may “offend” someone else.

  30. James Loewen’s regret is shared by me and although
    Mark Lyndon was right to appeal to Michael Warrior of Love for the use of moderate language in argument, he acknowledged the passion behind it.
    I was attempting to highlight the psychotic elements
    at play in the circumcision of infants which assist
    the practitioner in the denial of wrong doing.
    Those of us who share revulsion at this practice are
    active in constructive ways to end it.
    Which is why I am a member of:- where men and women
    have come together to further the right of all
    children to remain genitally intact.
    In her column “Circumcision-above the law?”
    Rosa Freedman who followed the law of Judaism
    to circumcise her son states quite correctly ‘make
    no mistake, a circumcision is the mutilation of
    genitals’. Thus denying his freedom to choose later.
    printed Thursday 1 October 2009 BST

  31. Someone said what I was expressing is over the top. All I can say is: “What Circumcisers do to helpless children hurts them immensely and it is more over the top than what I said! It may have sounded uncivilized but I truly expressed my immense and growing anger in an uncivilized and genital torturing society.”

    In a real human or angelic society that we are supposed to be where we would have never heard of circumcision and we would hear that just one deranged person would have inflicted such terrible and torturous assault on just one baby boys’ penis with the obvious result that this child then has an altered and mutilated penis for life, we would see this as an outrageous sex crime that is way over the top of all crimes and we would recognize that this person must be a brain sick sadistic psychopath that has to be locked up so he can never perform such crime on a child again. The case would make the headlines of every Newspaper and it would be aired in the News on every TV station.

    Also seeing otherwise normal child loving people or half of a nation falling into the traps of a whole bunch of those misguided and misguiding psychopaths that torture and mutilate children for profit and to gain religious and therefore also political power is way over the top and can be classified as insanity.

    Seeing the insane ones daring to propose that all the baby boys of a whole nation should get tortured and mutilated in their genitals is way way over the top and it is insanity out of control.

    I am just one of thousands if not millions of angry men and women that now join together as we have had enough to be silent bystanders or even just obedient slaves or victims of this despicable crime. Like more and more people I express myself the way I truly feel and I can assure everyone that believes he or she has the right to cut up children’s genitals for whatever reason, that our anger against them is growing and accumulating from day to day. The only way our anger can be stopped is by seeing those who mutilate drop their knives immediately and show remorse for the mistakes they have done.

    I just know that we will protect our children from now on no matter what it takes and we will bring to justice all those that think they can continue to break our existing laws against child abuse, rape, mayhem, torture, mutilation and in many cases even murder!

    You may delete this post now if you don’t like it. It will not change the fact that millions of defenders of children around this globe are getting more and more angry, not against the people who became the victims of the lies, but against those who spread those lies and those who hold the knives. We will get louder and louder and we will not rest until this ancient deception and brutality has come to an end.

    Even those who mutilate because they have been mutilated may eventually find themselves in a more peaceful and more happy world if they allow themselves to get enlightened now and therefore drop their knives and torture instruments immediately; if they no longer mutilate our roots and no longer attack our children’s root chakra which are our centers for happiness and centers of love. If they won’t comply now then they will be stopped with immense anger against them as we no longer will watch them to hurt our children.

  32. I am always amazed by those who “kill the messenger” and, now, people are opposing your (Michael, Warrior of Love’s) angry language and use of expletives, none of which equal the horror of what circumcisers do to babies. If people focused their opposition on those who perpetuate the torture and mutilation of children, challenging their right to violate the human rights of infants and children, perhaps we’d eliminate these harmful traditional practices all the sooner. That said, it’s always wise to listen to these comments and to temper our message so that we are acknowledged and heard. Many of the people who subject their offspring to circumcision are attached to religious beliefs and mainstream mentality, so use of language that they understand may serve to get us to our goal. For those who are offended, I hope they understand that people have been patient for millennia, while babies have suffered, and they are pissed! It’s understandable. What is the purpose of what we’re trying to do? We’re protecting babies and genital autonomy–the right of every person to make personal decisions for themselves. Let’s all be tolerant, understanding, and work together to protect infants and children from unconscionable torture and mutilation! If we don’t protect them, who will?

  33. ” this is a descision each man should make for himself.”

    But for serious medical reasons, this procedure is undeontological and indign of a physician.

    Indeed, whereas the clitoris, a mini-penis organ for feminine autosexuality, is the feminine phallus, the foreskin, a mini-vagina, organ of masculine autosexuality, is the feminine part of man. Both must be protected and valued.

  34. Readers of the book of the Exodus know that circumcision was not performed during these fourty years of nomadism.

    The Second Commandment says:

    “… I am a jealous God, who prosecute the crime of fathers upon children…”

    it does not say “the crimes of fathers” nor “the crime of the father”.

    Therefore it merely means:


    Every other interpretation is intellectual falsification (cf.

  35. Gary Burlingame

    It is a mistake to “defer to the medical professionals”. Do you mean the ones that as late as 1959 promoted female circumcision? Look in medical texts, and you will see that medical students don’t learn anything about the foreskin, so how can they be “professionals” about it? If you want to see how “professional” they have been over the years, view the slide show at
    Circumcision is unnecessary amputative surgery, and has no place in modern medicine.

  36. To Mark Lyndon:
    I’m 100% against anyone having parts of their genitals cut off without their written, informed, adult consent, but your message is way over the top, and counter-productive. You’re not going to convince anyone to change their views by discouraging vigorous, principled objection to this hideous sex crime. Many people will just dismiss you and other intactivists as being weak in our objections and crazy. I understand how strongly you feel, but please don’t post stuff like your last comment on a public forum.

  37. Rich from New Hampshire

    I’ve been doing non-surgical foreskin restoration since 1990 (see The improvement I’ve experienced as a result of having a covered and protected glans and a moveable sheath is all the proof I need of the inherent harm of circumcision.

    If I wanted to be circumcised, I’d have asked for it.

  38. I’m afraid, Rich, that your experience does not prove anything. Meta-analysis has shown that, among circumcised as adults because they had serious medical resaon to be operated, 1/3rd is sexually satisfied, 1/3rd is indifferent but the last 1/3rd is dissatisfied.

    You have been lucky but I would never run such a risk without very serious medical reason, would you?

  39. James E Peron


    In Pennsylvania , RIC is ILLEGAL!!
    We discovered a satute in the Ccommonwealth law
    that makes RIC a Criminal Offense! Every RIC since Sept 1978 has been a criminal assault against the childl A Class action Law Suit will be filed this week. More info on this will be posted!!

    Jim Peron

  40. Jerry Warner

    I am proud to be one (of many) that are educating against this horrible practice of “routine infant circumcision” and we have made a difference in the world. It is simply unbelievable that one of the most inportant parts of the male’s sexual apparatus is cut off and thrown away (now used for skin harvesting for various profitable business ventures) and the public was lead to believe that it (the male foreskin) was useless and not necessary.

    As with some many things, this myth has been exposed for the falsehood it is. I wish to thank all
    the wonderful people that have given and worked so hard and so long to try to right this wrong.

    Jerry Warner

  41. pat

    kerri, you say, “I defer to the medical professionals–yea or nay on circumcision?” may i ask why you choose to trust someone who profits from something to give you honest counsel? why would you not trust your own intuition?

    can you put yourself in the baby’s position? i can. it’s easy. i’m a circumcised female – WASP from kansas – blue cross blue shield insurance covered clitoridectomies until 1977. can you imagine what that would be like for you? this is called ‘practicing compassion’ – putting yourself in the shoes of the child who is being cut… try it.

    it is mysterious how circumcision of females and males became a taken for granted, unquestioned procedure in the USA. if you really, seriously consider it for a moment, you will be horrified.

    doctors don’t want to stop and think about it, because if they did, they wouldn’t be able to stop crying… what have they done to our country? it’s abominable. absolutely abominable. most of the males in our culture have been sexually abused as children… sexually aroused, skin separated from skin by force, clamped, cut… a quick way to say it is ‘mutilation’. MIGHT this have something to do with why men (and some of us women) ‘act out’ so dramatically?

    a revised version of my book ‘the rape of innocence’ will be out within a week or two. find it on amazon. it goes into the deeper effects of circumcision – trauma – on the mind and life of the child and the adult s/he becomes. a huge crime has been perpetrated on the american people… a crime against humanity. and yes, as james person said above… the time is ripe for circumcision law suits. watch as it all unfolds.

  42. As other commenters may or may not have mentioned, if you’re interested in a purely scientific perspective, perhaps evaluating what tissue is cut off during female genital mutilation, and what tissue is cut off during male genital mutilation (aka “routine infant circumcision”) and comparing the two would be another way to see just how *wrong* RIC is. Imagine if FGM were left up to the parents. Imagine if doctors assumed you wanted to have your daughter’s (daughters’?) clitoral and labial tissues cut off, and you not only had to convince them that was NOT what you wanted, but that you were not crazy or weird for preferring to leave your child whole. Imagine that if you did not allow your daughter to be genitally mutilated, you had to maintain constant vigilance in the presence of doctors to assure that no one decided to violate your daughter sexually (as in the case of a forcibly retracted foreskin on a male child) under the guise of routine medical care.

    It’s wrong to violate males this way. Learning the truth about the physiology involved makes that glaringly obvious. It’s easy and quite common to ignore the problem as a woman or parent of girls, but genital integrity should be a given right of every man, woman, and child in this and every country.

    “When you know better, you do better.”

  43. PJ

    Since Elsevier publishes “Grey’s Anatomy,” used to educate physicians about the human body, the time is long overdue to include in upcoming editions information about the anatomy and functions of the foreskin. I understand that this is lacking in this reference book.

    How can doctors learn to have a healthy respect for all healthy parts of the human body if they don’t know why a given body part is there? The functions of the foreskin have not been taught in medical school, and future doctors need to be educated far better than doctors were in the past. The foreskin is there for a reason.

    Elsevier, let medical professionals know the function of the foreskin on the male body so that doctors will no longer be ignorant and think that the foreskin is meant for amputation. There are consequences to amputating healthy body parts, and doctors need to understand what those consequences are.

  44. Gerald David Coleson

    “Circumcision” is a euphemism for the cyclical sexual abuse and scarification of male babies. This issue is only being debated mostly in America by those with genital scars, and their placement of scars on children. They are desperately seeking justification. Eighty five percent of men worldwide are intact and living proof that “circumcision” is a lie.

    Why do we have to prove that there is sexual sensitivity loss? If one removes half of their taste buds from their tongue will he/she taste less, or curb appetite? Why does anything have to be analysed or debated when it comes to a violation of basic human rights? This is proof of the same overactive imagination that vilifies the skin on the penis. “The foreskin” is a myth as skin is a continuous part of the same organ. Duh!

    Until males are liberated from the patriarchal rule, which implies that we are expendable objects, or products of the father’s psyche and not treated as equally valuable as women, then this travesty will continue in some form somewhere.

  45. Kerri Wachter says, on October 20, 2009 at 9:42 am,
    “… there should be more definitive evidence behind the sexual pleasure argument.”
    Before we stop circumcising boys? Let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. Suppose we were cutting off girl’s foreskins in this sexist country, and not boys’ foreskins, and Kerri was campaigning for girls rights to equal protection of the law to be respected and protected, and I said that I didn’t think girls really needed any more encouragement to be chasing boys for sex, and that before girls could have equal rights Kerri and her fellow feminist intactivists would have to come up with more definitive proof that girls with foreskins have more sexual pleasure than girls whose foreskins were amputated when they were infants. Would Kerri be screaming at me and would I be deleting her irrationally angry posts?

  46. Frank OHara

    Kerri Watchter wrote: “I’m not arguing for or against circumcision but I do think that there should be more definitive evidence behind the sexual pleasure argument.”

    Imagine if we were discussing making female circumcision legal once again. If there was evidence that it was beneficial and non-beneficial but no consensus, should we once again legalize it or should we continue to make it illegal until there was a strong consensus that there was definitive benefits and no harm?

    Why should we continue to perform infant male circumcisions when there is such evidence against it? There is certainly evidence. Two studies show that circumcision changes the mechanics of sex. Two studies show that circumcised men engage in alternative sexual behaviors more than uncircumcised men and the difference is up to 40%. Two studies show that circumcised men suffer impotency years before uncircumcised men. Any health benefit is statistically insignificant. In a study conducted in 1991, it was found that 20% of men who had been circumcised wished that they hadn’t and of those who were not circumcised at birth, 97% were entirely happy with their condition.

    Like female circumcision, male circumcision should be made illegal until a consensus can be determined that it either has significant health benefits or that there is no significant harm. The AAP’s Taskforce on Circumcision has already evaluated the subject. At it’s last meeting, they reviewed 672 research projects and could not find significant health benefits and therefore they do not recommend infant circumcision for any health benefit.

    Once there was a some justification for recommending infant circumcision for social reasons but those reasons are now archaic. The infant circumcision rate is approximately 50% so there will be no locker room teasing.

    It’s time to stop the insanity until actual benefits can be identified and quantified if there are any.


  47. Rood Andersson

    Having, as a young man, succumbed to shame and the then unquestioned authority of any number of doctors, I am one who has ” … experienced both conditions”. As such, I can state without reservation that male genital mutilation is male genital mutilation.

    Having suffered now decades of loss, I have educated myself as to the anatomical complexity and manifold functions of the intact penis. And though my foreskin restoration group ( is now in its fifteenth year, nothing will quite equal the gift proffered by birthright and due every man by natural right.

    Nevertheless, it continues to amaze me that the group most ignorant and unaware continues to be doctors belonging to the American medical establishment. It’s scandalous how little they know. Is it a consequence of having themselves suffered genital mutilation as infants?

  48. George

    Rood is absolutely correct. American doctors, most of whom are victims of circumcision since birth, know next to nothing about the anatomy and physiological functions of the foreskin. It is time for this information to be included in the curricula of medical schools and textbooks to be updated.

  49. Most of the issues have now been canvassed here, except how non-therapeutic circumcision breaches existing human rights declarations. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia’s resource manual (September 2009) at says:

    ”  Human Rights Considerations 
    The matter of infant male circumcision is particularly difficult in regards to human rights, as it involves consideration of the rights of the infant as well as the rights of the parents.
    Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an infant has rights that include security of person, life, freedom and bodily integrity.  Routine infant male circumcision is an unnecessary and irreversible procedure.  Therefore, many consider it to be “unwarranted mutilating surgery”. ”

    As for the rights of parents, parents have not, in recent times, been considered to have any right at all to cut any other healthy, functioning, non-renewable tissue off their child’s body. The genital tissue of females gets particular and total protection in law. Why the double standard?

  50. KathleenP

    Circumcision done to infants or any unconsenting individual is evil!

  51. Sigismond

    “Sexual mutilation and the moral order (problematics and basic concepts of the struggle against sexual mutilation) ”

  52. Sigismond

    “An erogenous and protective-of-erogeneity lip, the foreskin is a sexual organ; its ablation is mutilation”

  53. Daniel Strandjord

    Kerri Wachter: It has been almost 6 years since you wrote this blog item. It came to my attention again because I was notified of a new comment today. I wonder if you would write a new blog entry about your thoughts on male infant/child circumcision now.

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