Circumcision is a surgery performed on boys, usually at birth, which removes the foreskin (a hood of skin that normally covers the glans). The decision to circumcise or not is left to the parents; the surgery can be done later in life, but almost never is. Most countries have made up their mind, culturally, whether they do circumcisions or not: they’re the norm in the USA, but not in Britain. Very few people put any real thought into it; it’s just something that’s done as a routine.
The foreskin is not a necessary part of the penis — in the sense that it doesn’t actually affect the man’s reproductive function — but cutting it off is entirely unnecessary. In fact, it goes beyond being unnecessary. Circumcision in this day and age is flat-out stupid. It’s not a big deal, no, but it gets way less controversy than it deserves.
There are five horrible arguments I see people make in support of circumcision: let’s rip them to shreds.
5) “My religion says that men need to be circumcised.”
This is probably the best reason to get your son circumcised, I’ll admit. It’s stupid, but at least it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a vague excuse. Saying “my religion says so” is the equivalent to plugging your ears and humming, really.
But really, who cares about your religion? It’s always annoyed me how religious people like to pick and choose things to believe. Whenever something makes no sense or gets thoroughly disproven through science, the religious have a tendency to excuse whatever conflicting dogma they have — so it’s an allegory now? Fair enough, but if you’re going to ignore bits of your religion anyway, just ignore the part about circumcision as well.
I’ll be honest: I hate religion. Can’t stand it. Even so, I accept that people have a right to believe what they want. What I don’t accept is using your beliefs to circumcise your son, who might not even have the same beliefs as you. It’s not like you’d know.
4) “The foreskin can cause health problems.”
This is the most infuriating, but it’s low on the list because it’s not as common as it used to be. Still, I do occasionally talk to people who labour under the impression that circumcision is “good for you”. IT ISN’T! And some people just refuse to accept this fact. How hard is it to understand?
Yes, it is technically true that circumcision at birth can prevent certain medical problems such as phimosis. But how common is phimosis? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not! No matter what all the over-diagnoses from paranoid parents and ridiculous old wives’ tales say, the vast majority of men do not have a hard time retracting their foreskin.
That applies to pretty much every medical myth about circumcision. There’s no significant medical benefit to circumcision, and anyone who says otherwise — based on some urban legend — is woefully misinformed.
3) “Circumcised is easier to clean!”
This argument is just baffling to me. Are uncircumcised penises really that hard to clean? According to a lot of people who aren’t uncircumcised men, yes they are. According to everyone else, what the hell are you talking about? That makes no sense. Do you have a hard time cleaning under your arms, too?
There’s no greater way to say “I have no confidence in my son whatsoever” than to get him cut at birth. You don’t even know him yet and you already think he’s a slob! Seriously, it might be uncomfortable if you have to remind your son to wash behind his
ears penis, but that won’t even be necessary. He can figure it out on his own, I’m sure.
2) “It feels better for a woman!”
And gay men, presumably, but nobody ever mentions that. All I can say to this is, how the hell do you know? Most countries aren’t split evenly: either a huge number of people are circumcised, or almost no one is. It’s very unlikely for someone to have experience with both cut and uncut penises, in significant enough numbers to actually be able to have a non-bullshit opinion on the matter. And even if you do have the credentials necessary to shout your opinion, it doesn’t even matter. That’s still just your opinion. If there were an obvious winner in the war of “what penises feel better”, it would be common knowledge. Yet people give different answers to the “what feels better” question, usually in direct relation to what is more common in their country.
Beyond your son’s hypothetical future partner, there’s also his sensation to think about. Some people who have had circumcisions later in life say the sensation is worse, and some say that it’s the same. No one says that it’s better, except for the people who have no way of telling. So the option you’re given is thus: have no effect on the sensation whatsoever, rendering the surgery pointless in that regard, or have a negative effect on the sensation, which is a bad thing. Unless you want your son to have less sensation.
I’ve heard the excuse that being less sensitive is a good thing, because then the man can last longer and let his partner have an orgasm first. The people who honestly think this have a) no confidence in their son again, and b) an intimate knowledge of old sitcom cliches. Just shut the hell up already, please. That whole “women are hard to please” shit is getting more annoying by the day.
1) “It looks better circumcised!”
So what, you’re a penis connoisseur? People’s opinions on the aesthetic show the same pattern as above: their preferences depend on what’s most common in their country. So yes, most people in the USA would say they like cut penises better. That could be a valid reason to get your son circumcised: you want him to be accepted by his future lovers, you don’t want him to be ugly, or “different”, or whatever. That’s a good thing for a parent to think about. But you still have to take a risk with it: what if the surgery goes wrong?
It’s not likely in this day and age, but it’s certainly possible. And is it really worth it to take a risk just for the sake of looks? Would you support his expensive plastic surgery, too? Getting it cut just because you think it looks better is a silly reason; a silent way of saying, “Yeah, I don’t really have a reason. I’m just going with the crowd because I’m too lazy to resist.”
Circumcision represents something. Whether your country makes it the norm or not, making your decision based on that fact alone shows that you can’t be bothered thinking for yourself, and you have a disregard for your son, however slight it may be. You should do research and make an educated decision, because myths and misconceptions are rampant when it comes to routine practices like this.
Many circumcised men won’t want to think about it, or they’ll fudge up an answer so they don’t have to think negatively about themselves. But really, it doesn’t matter if you’re circumcised or not. Just because it’s something we should stop, doesn’t mean it’s something we should be ashamed of.
I bet my mother didn’t think I’d ever write 1300 words about penises. Your children can surprise you.