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OMFG I'm famous!

Ok, so Andrew Sullivan made this post calling male circumcision male genital mutilation. It pissed me off, so I wrote him about it and he posted it on his website! Woot! here's what I wrote:

"I realize that you may find male circumcision to be heinous and unnecessary, and for the record I agree with you, but I find your use of the term MGM to be completely distasteful. By using the term MGM, you're piggy backing on the FGM (female genital mutilation) cause and comparing male circumcision to FGM, which is dishonest to say the least. While male circumcision may diminish male pleasure, the vast majority of FGM results in the complete removal of a woman's clitoris and in the most serious case, infibulation, the removal of clitoris, all labia, and the closing of the wound into the size of a matchstick. As a result, both menses and urine pass through this hole and infection is often the result.

Childbirth results in severe tearing, and, unlike male circumcision which decreases the rate of HIV transmission, infibulation increases the risk. In short, one cannot compare male circumcision with FGM, because by doing so, you're merely making FGM look more innocuous. I urge you to find pictures and compare the two, you'll probably regret the comparison you're making."

The link is here if you don't believe me.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2006 11:38 am (UTC)
Is that to say that if I was uncut I'd be even hornier? I would NEVER get anything done.
Aug. 17th, 2006 04:14 am (UTC)
Sex would be more enjoyable
Aug. 16th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
i personally feel as though i would not circumcise my child as i don't think it's necessary, and about 8 of my uncut friends tell me if i ever have a son, not to do it.

but i don't think you can compare it to female genital mutilation! good LORD! i am so with you on this one.
Aug. 17th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC)
agreed. See below for someone who magically stumbled upon me and seems to disagree.
Aug. 17th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
My response to Sullivan's response
This is part of what I wrote to Mr. Sullivan this morning, after reading that post.

"You state that 'FGM is exponentially morally, medically and psychologically worse than MGM.' The quantitative difference in the usual practice of each bears out your statement that FGM is exponentially medically worse. However, both involve the removal of healthy tissue from an unconsenting individual, which makes them qualitatively the same. MGM is as morally egregious as FGM. We do not diminish the crime of FGM by equating the two. The human right to bodily integrity is not exclusive to females."

I stand by that. Consider Type I FGM without excision. It's illegal in the United States but does far less damage than male circumcision. Should we allow Type I for those parents who wish to impose it on their daughters, or is it still wrong because it's on girls, who we're not accustomed to circumcising? Why shouldn't boys receive the same protection?

- Tony
Aug. 17th, 2006 04:11 am (UTC)
Re: My response to Sullivan's response
Your arguments are so misleading. Type I FGM is NOT only the removal of the prepuce, which would be similar to male circumcision, it also includes, according to the WHO "excision of part or all of the clitoris.” Not only that, but Type I FGM only accounts for about five percent of all FGM worldwide, as per this quote,

The most common type of female genital mutilation is excision of the clitoris and the labia minora, accounting for up to 80% of all cases; the most extreme form is infibulation, which constitutes about 15% of all procedures.

There are now proven health benefits to circumcision. There are NO health benefits to FGM, and this is why it is ok to make one illegal in this country and leave the other up to the choice of the parents. I personally am against male circumcision, but I do understand why parents would make the decision to have their son circumcised. There are numerous medical procedures, often with effects lasting into adulthood that parents can administer to their unconsenting children, but it's a simple necessity. I may have received a vaccine of dubious effectiveness that now wish I hadn't, but I'm thankful that I didn't have to wait until I was able to consent to receive the vaccine for polio etc... Not everything works in such a way that the consent of the child can be considered. The system in place in the US, where parents can choose circumcision for their child seems a fair way to go about it. It's certainly better than the government violating both the rights of the child and the parents by mandating circumcision for all males.

You seem to conveniently package your argument in "bodily integrity" when it comes to FGM and male circumcision, but can you honestly say that one violation of bodily integrity is equal to another in other situations? Do you truly believe that the removal of foreskin without consent is as morally repugnant as the removal of a kidney or lung under the same circumstances? I think that if you do, you're walking down a path that places a number of things with very different physical effects on the same plane--to the detriment of millions of women and children.

FGM should not be compared to male circumcision in the same way that people should take great care before comparing anything to the Haulocaust, because by invoking it for your cause, you're trivializing it.
Aug. 17th, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC)
Re: My response to Sullivan's response
From the World Health Organization's definition (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/):

"Type I - excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris;"

My argument is not misleading. My explanation clearly fits the facts. I did not state that it is a common form of FGM, only that it is quantitatively analagous to MGM. Again, we don't let parents choose FGM for their daughters, while we let parents choose MGM for their sons for any reason. Those last three words are the key, for any reason. There is a clear double standard.

There are potential medical benefits to male circumcision, but no medical society in America believes they're sufficient to justify male circumcision. Specifically, those benefits are potential. Yet, they still suggest it's parental choice. Name one other surgical procedure that doctors agree to perform on children at the parents' whim, absent any clear medical indication. Male circumcision is the only surgery we perform on children without medical indication.

Are all potential benefits valid? Try this: Breast cancer is much more common than penile cancer. Should we let parents excise the breast tissue of infant girls to provide them a lifetime of protection? If not, what's the difference between that and circumcision? Neither body part is essential for health or reproduction. Let's start routine mastectomy. If it were easier to do, as male circumcision is, people would advocate it. Not a lot, probably, but people would. And we'd rightly think they're crazy. Potential benefits are not acceptable science if the surgery involves a non-consenting child.

To make the specific comparison for females and males, though, the same arguments we use for medical benefits of male circumcision are used in cultures that practice FGM. What if the only reason we don't know about potential benefits is that we don't study it? Shouldn't we study it to know? Maybe FGM cuts down the risk of HIV? Or UTIs, which affects far more girls than boys every year? Or can we not even study the procedure because FGM is just wrong?

The comparison of circumcision and vaccination is a diversionary tactic that has no basis in reality. Vaccination are against communicable diseases, not lifestyle diseases and symptoms. The former is a public health issue (although we still allow parents to decline), while the latter is purely individual. As such, there is a reasonable explanation for parental decision on vaccinations. Many of the alleged protections for male circumcision have less invasive solutions (i.e., the same ones we use for females), but they also have an element of parents educating children about responsibility and consequences. But it's easier to cut.

A complete debate of the potential medical benefits of male circumcision is beyond the scope of a single e-mail, but the proper analysis requires a discussion of actual medical risks should a male remain intact. More commonly, percentage reduction in infection, cancer, etc. is used. Cost/benefit analysis of universal circumcision reveals a significantly different conclusion. If intact men have a 2-fold increase in risk of disease X, it matters whether the 2-fold increase means 3 cases instead of 1 of disease X or 300,000 cases instead of 100,000 of disease X. Circumcising 1,000,000 boys annually would not make sense in the former.

I don't understand the kidney/liver argument. I haven't argued anything like that, only stating that the sanctity of genitals is not gender-specific and that elective surgery without the child's consent is ethically wrong. That does not trivialize FGM, for I have not said there are conditions where it's acceptable. Are you equating female genitalia with a vital organ, while male genitalia is an afterthought? Again, I do not understand this.

Which gets back to my original question. Should we allow Type I FGM without excision in the United States? It is no more damaging than male circumcision. If not, are you ready to state that girls deserve more protection than boys? If so, and your argument is potential medical benefits, then shouldn't we change the law to prevent any male circumcision done for a reason other than its potential benefits?

- Tony
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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