Female Circumcision. Male Circumcision. Is There A Difference?©
by Karen Squires
"In looking at both Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Male Genital Mutilation (MGM), it appears that there is no equal protection under the law for male infants and boys under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Illegal to perform FGM, fine to perform MGM. Yes, willful destruction of the primary male sex organ is unethical. Or is it much more than unethical?" -Ken Derifield of The Intact Network
In the June 2, 2002 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune there is an article titled African Girls Suing Parents Over Circumcision. As I read it, I wondered how many others reading the article were reacting the same way I was. Did they see the same similarities between female and male circumcision. Were they wondering how we can be so blind as to not see we do the same thing everyday here in the U.S. to our baby boys?
Over the years I've read news articles, magazine stories and watched television documentaries on circumcision rituals in other countries. The images show boys, 12 years old, or around that age, being held down, legs apart, crying, as they are circumcised. I would look at the expression on the boys face and just cringe. How could the adults do that? How could the parents allow that to happen? My instinct is to protect my children. If anybody held one of my sons down like that, with a knife in hand, I'd be on top of them, attacking, saving my child.
When I read about, and see images of girls being circumcised, I react the same way. Some parents want their sons circumcised. If they had a girl would they want her circumcised? Genital mutilation is genital mutilation, male or female. A rose is a rose is a rose. Is there a difference between female and male circumcision?
Is there is a difference between our male babies being circumcised, and the older boys being cut in other countries. Lets talk about it and we'll see they are not so different.
Circumcision in the U.S. was started at the end of the 1800's in a vain attempt to stop or lessen masturbation which was blamed for dozens of diseases with unknown origins at that time.* Tens of thousands of girls were also circumcised (removal of the clitoris) for the same "reason." This was also recommended and found in U.S medical journals as late as 1959.
The goal in circumcising boys was to reduce sexual feelings. This was accomplished by damaging the penis as much as possible, without jeopardizing procreation. Most of the sensuous nerve endings were removed, exposing the remaining near surface nerve endings for destruction over time, and removing the natural mobility of the penile skin system. Changing the fully functional, sensuous, and mobile male sex organ into a desensitized, dowel-like organ was the desired result. Male circumcision remained very limited in the U.S. until new excuses were invented in the 1930's and 1940's.
In female circumcision, the goal is to ensure chastity by eliminating the girls' sex drive by removing the sensuous nerve endings in her external genitalia. The most common form of female circumcision is the removal of the entire clitoris, including the unseen shaft or root, creating a deep hole where the organ was located, and cutting away the labia minora (inner labia). The male foreskin is analogous to the female foreskin (clitoral hood) and labia minora. The loss of sensuous nerve endings and motion to the penis penile mobility is quite similar to this form of female circumcision. In some cultures one of the labia majora (outer labia) is also removed, the other outer labia is stretched over the wound, sewn, and holes punched through the now hidden female external genitalia for the passage of urine and menses. This is called infibulation.
Some girls have bled to death, died of infections or other complications. Some of our boys have bled to death, died of infections, gastric rupture or other complications. Damage is created in both cases.
Female circumcision is a custom. Circumcision of our baby boys is a custom. The American Academy of Pediatrics policy on circumcision concluded by saying "however, that it is legitimate for parents to take into account cultural, religious and ethnic traditions..." I disagree. In countries where girls are circumcised because of those reasons we shudder at the thought and consider the practice barbaric, so why is it okay to take those into consideration here.
Kenya has outlawed female circumcision. Anyone who circumcises a girl under age 18 years old can be fined $650 and may spend a year in prison.
This practice is obviously being carried out against the wishes of the girl. Why would anybody want that done to them? I would never agree to it being performed on me or my child. Would you? When we allow our baby boys to be circumcised should we be fined? After all, the baby is too young to be asked for their permission. If we waited until our sons were older and asked them if they wanted to be circumcised, what do you think they'd say? It's their body, not ours. The older boys we see are held down against their wishes. Our baby boys are strapped down on a board, their legs apart. They can't move. They are helpless.
When older boys and girls are circumcised it is often done without anesthesia or medication to ease the pain. Until recently our baby boys were not offered pain medication either. The pain is so intense that enough pain medication cannot be injected. Even a little Prilocaine or Lidocaine (and EMLA cream) given to an infant can result in nerve damage, brain damage or death (Canadian Nurse, Aug. 1994). Even now some Dr's perform the procedure without pain medication. If the baby does receive medication it is only during the procedure, and does not eliminate all the pain. The pain persists for days, and any friction, contact with urine and normal erections are painful for weeks. The baby gets nothing during the healing time.
Some believe there are medical reasons to circumcise our babies. There are none, not one single reason to routinely circumcise girls or boys, of any age. Today there is not one medical association in the entire world that recommends circumcision.
For every 100 circumcised males in the world there are 21 circumcised females. Routine circumcision is unethical to say the least, whether it's a girl, an older boy, or a baby. So before we all gasp in horror at what is going on over seas maybe we should look at what we are doing right here in our own country.
*A university of Chicago study (Journal of the American Medical Association) Found that males who are circumcised masturbate more often than intact males. More friction is necessary to excite the few remaining deep nerve endings of the desensitized penis. So much for that initial "reason." Like the masturbation myth, the later excuses have all been found to be false.
Find out more about circumcision by reading Complete, As Nature Intended. Available FREE via the internet in a pdf file. You'll need Acrobat Reader® to view this file. Acrobat Reader® is available free on the internet. Please email us for this pdf file and we'll email it to you. If you need a booklet please send $3.00 plus $1 S+H to: The Wise Mother, 1905 West 4700 South #402 SLC, Utah 84118
My deepest thanks to Ken Derifield of
The Intact Network for contributing to this article. He can be reached at the
following address; The Intact Network, 703 E. Walnut St. Washington, IN 47501
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