Circumcision: Foreskin or against it?

Cathryn Frear, Staff Writer

These days, body modification is relatively commonplace.  By its most basic definition, it’s likely that more than half of the people you know have modified their bodies in some way.  Even every day ear piercings are a popular and widely-accepted form of body modification.

There is one other form of body modification which is also considered “the norm” in America but which 85% of the world does not undergo: circumcision.

The thing about circumcision is it’s not solely a simple change to one’s body, it’s mutilation.  Generally speaking, Americans think circumcision is fine to do to boys.  Here is a fun fact: there is no anesthetic involved because it’s considered too dangerous.  Yes, you read that right.  The doctor uses a scalpel to slice off and permanently remove a piece of skin—which is not causing any health problems whatsoever—off of a baby and it’s not considered dangerous.  But anesthetic is.

This is a decision made by the parents of an individual before that individual even has the chance to object or otherwise decide for himself.  And I don’t know if you’ve heard, but penises are pretty important to males.  As they should be: they are used to make other people.  So this is a big decision which started out back in the day as a way to keep men from cheating on their wives, as it reduces sexual pleasure for men.  Nowadays it’s generally argued circumcision is for hygiene.  But, really, how hard is it to move a little piece of skin for a second to wash?

Admittedly, a lot of the research I have done about circumcision is documentary-based.  If you want to hear a horror story or two, watch documentaries on this.

Specifically, watch “Dr. Money and the Boy With No Penis,” a documentary done by BBC Horizon.  It’s heartbreaking.  Basically, a Canadian boy named Bruce Reimer was having a circumcision in which a machine was used to burn the foreskin off of the tip of his penis when something went wrong and his entire penis was burnt off.

His family was advised by psychologist Dr. John Money to raise him as a girl.  Although Money reported this case a success story, Reimer never identified as female and when his parents told him what had happened, he immediately wanted to begin living his life as a male.

Regardless of the turnaround, the damage was done and Reimer eventually killed himself due to depression.

Circumcision in females is something just about everyone in the U.S. will stand up and give a resounding “NO!!” response to; however, it happens all over the world all of the time.  In certain countries and cultures, women are forced into having their labia minora and clitoris completely removed to prevent the women from being sexual beings.

While that is the most commonly referenced occurrence of female circumcision, there are times when such actions are actually voluntary.  This usually doesn’t involve the clitoris, but rather a trimming of the labia minora.  As it turns out, women are afraid their genitalia are ugly, so they get local anesthetic and—while awake—have a doctor remove what they consider to be excessive, unnecessary amounts of their labia.  If anyone ever tells you your vagina is ugly, ladies, punch them in their probably circumcised penis and leave.  To see an example of female circumcision done by choice, watch “The Perfect Vagina,” a documentary by the UK’s Channel 4 on these types of procedures.

There are certain religions which require circumcision be done as a religious rite.  And I’m not going to touch on that because it’s a whole other topic of discussion.  But I stand by the belief this is unjust and immoral.  If we don’t cut off a man’s nipples, why do we cut off part of his penis?  It’s barbaric and wrong and it needs to be stopped.