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Uploaded on Jun 12, 2009
While people frequently react with horror when hearing about the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, similar cries of alarm do not seem to be heard when the topic is male circumcision. Is this a double standard? The controversy surrounding circumcision provides a backdrop to examine what may be our own cultural nearsightedness. Are the medical, religious and social justifications, described in the upcoming segment, more or less convincing than those offered for female circumcision. Decide for yourself as we explore the practice of male circumcision.
At the tender age of one day, Darrel Hill is prepared for surgery. The operation in the course of a few minutes makes him like most American males in one respect and at the same time distinguishes him from most other boys and men around the world. Darrel Hill is having his foreskin cut off. Circumcision has been part of Jewish tradition for thousands of years, but it is only in the last century that the practice caught on in English-speaking former British colonies for anti-masturbation reasons. In the Us, that practice has persisted on, long after most other developed countries have abandoned it.
The intact penis is covered by a thin layer of skin (the underside of which is highly erogenous) that is cut off in circumcision, exposing the tip of the organ, called the glans. Many experts say that the amputation improves cleanliness and protects against disease. "We see a lot of young babies that have irritation to the head of the penis, scarring." Pediatrician Morris Sorrells quit doing circumcisions more than 20 years ago when he became convinced that circumcision was an overreaction to the medical problems it was supposed to prevent. "In other words we have decided, now that we want to do the procedure, then we have to find the reasons, instead of saying there's a problem, what is the best solution."
Circumcision friends and foes accuse each other of gross exaggeration. While advocates profess the ease of hygiene. Opponents say intact men and boys can easily keep clean. Proponents say circumcision may help protect against diseases including Urinary Tract and Foreskin infections, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Penile Cancer, but there is little to prove these claims. And what is more, is that these diseases are rare or minor to begin with and can successfully be treated. Infant girls get Urinary Tract Infections too, but no one dares suggest partial genital amputation as a form of treatment. Studies from Africa suggest that circumcised men are less likely to contract AIDS, but that has not been the case in the US where both circumcision and AIDS are well established.
Circumcision opponents say the foreskin has purpose both in protecting the glans and making intercourse more comfortable and pleasurable, but those claims are unproven say circumcision advocates who also dismiss the argument that many men feel emotionally distressed having been circumcised. "Only now are we beginning to talk about what we are doing to babies behind closed doors." Marilyn Milos founded the organization NOCIRC more than 15 years ago to denounce what she sees as cruelty to children. "Nobody wants to hear this message. What man wants to hear that a highly erogenous part of his penis was cut off and thrown in the waste basket in a violent act when he was too little to resist, fight back or escape."
Medical issues aside, circumcision is steeped in religious tradition, but neither the circumcision of Christ nor the Jewish Law that ordained it impresses Liev Schreiber, who is Jewish and is sorry that he was circumcised. "I think if people have faith, then they should practice the faith, but to mutilate children, whether your own or someone elses, for your own set of beliefs, is wrong." Few Americans regard infant boy circumcision as mutilation. "I think it is cleaner, and like I said it is something we just automatically do for a boy." Many are apparently persuaded with medical evidence that it is safe and with proper pain control, humane. "Well, I think we counsel a parent on circumcision the way we do on anything else. You try to present the facts to the parent and let them make up their own mind on the basis of facts." "How do you intervene in that? How do you get to the mother and say "Look, protect your baby. Your baby comes to you perfectly. The rest of the world doesn't do this. Nothing needs to be changed, corrected or made better. Your baby is just fine the way he is naturally."