Saturday 30 July 2011

Why the Question of Circumcision Has No Place in the Voting Booth

It's called the tyranny of the majority. And when it comes to the rights of a disenfranchised class of people, the majority cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

When someone's basic human right to the healthy, functional body they were born with is being trampled, the ballot box is not the place to decide whether that person's rights matter.

The place to decide this matter is the same place where the ban on female genital mutilation was decided. If legislators do not have the courage to do what is right and what is constitutionally sound in the case of infant male circumcision, without the support of the majority of voters, then maybe it's time to sharpen the pitchforks.

This is indeed a question of religious freedom--the freedom of an infant to not have an irreversible religious ritual performed on him before he's even old enough to see in color, let alone choose to make a covenant with any god, whether Judaic or Islamic. Any argument in favor of circumcision on religious grounds is an argument against religious freedom, and in favor of being able to force a non-consenting, helpless human being to endure permanent, life altering and occasionally dangerous consequences simply by being born into a family which practices a certain religion.

If you need convincing, ask yourself whether we, as a society, would allow someone to force a man who was mentally incompetent to make a covenant with a god not of his conscious choosing--a god he was unaware of--by having part of his dick cut off. Would we? Really?

To be anti-circumcision is not the same thing as being anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic. It is simply to be in favor of all people's right to choose the religion they wish to practice. By circumcising an 8 day old infant, Jewish parents are denying their sons this choice--to make a covenant with god of their own free will. Of what value is our dedication to freedom of religion if we deny that very freedom to our society's most helpless members? Of what value is any covenant with any god, if that covenant is forcibly enacted upon a baby strapped to a table?

It has been largely accepted in progressive circles that a woman's body is her own, and therefore it is her right to choose abortion if that choice is right for her. Yet this choice--to do with one's body what is right for a person--is denied baby boys every single day all over the world, even here in the "progressive" west. It is denied in the name of religion. It is denied in the name of "preventive medicine". It is denied in  the name of "customary practice". It is denied in the name of a lot of things that shouldn't hold a fucking candle to a human being's right to decide for himself what potentially life-threatening, irreversible, painful and unnecessary surgery ought to be performed on him.

We deny parents the "right" to inject botox into children. We deny them the "right" to give breast implants to pre-pubescent girls. We deny them the "right" to carve away pieces of their daughters in the name of custom and tradition. We do this to protect those who are unable to protect themselves, from decisions made by their parents without any consideration of the personhood of their own children. We do this even though it makes individuals and interest groups angry, because it is the right thing to do.

And yet we allow parents, religious or not, to carve away pieces of their sons. To make an involuntary covenant with god. To make bathing them easier. To "protect" them from rare medical conditions, or from a sexually transmitted disease that is both uncommon and easily preventable.

I can only think of one thing that makes infant male genital mutilation acceptable--so acceptable that it's been widely practiced by us western "progressives" for a hundred years, and has been blocked from the voting booth by its defenders--when female genital mutilation has been outlawed in the US since 1996, not even a decade after we, as a society, were made appallingly aware of the practice.

And that's that we're willing to protect our daughters from these atrocities, and yet we're all too happy to subject our sons to them. How disgustingly sexist is that?


  1. You are totally correct that ritual circumcision should be delayed until after the 21st birthday. The only covenant with God worth making is one made by the free will of the person connected to the foreskin to be discarded. Judaism can make this change, just as it abandoned animal sacrifice 1800 years ago.

    You reason more clearly and sensibly about the most masculine thing there is, the tip of the penis, than hundreds of million men around the globe. Than the entire California legislature.

    The USA chattering class is overwhelmingly circumcised or married to circumcised men. Therefore vast numbers of Americans cannot think clearly about the horror being inflicted on American baby boys, and about the damage being done to normal adult sexual pleasure and expression.

    You are one tough woman. I am greatly relieved that we agree on much, because I lack the courage to debate you.

  2. This one hits home with me as I have many Jewish friends, including a number of Orthodox, and I respect their faith very much, and hate the persecution their people have been put through for thousands of years, yet, the immorality if this is beyond belief. It's barbaric. It should never be allowed on infants and adult males should be fully educated on just how damaging it is.

    Yet you know, I wouldn't object to a first step of banning it for all BUT religious reasons, and then trying to find ways in these religious communities to get them to start accepting changes to the customs.

    Here's an area for example where some self-proclaimed "feminists" did some bad: in Europe, a few years ago, there was a doctor who managed to get Islamic scholars to agree that you could make a tiny surgical pin-prick with a sterilized needle through an infant girl's clitoris and still call it "female circumcision" and meet all the religious requirements of tradition. Tiny tiny hole, very small, less than an earring. Still arguably not-cool? Yes, but guess what, when in outrage "feminists" said this was not enough and should be totally outlawed, they wound up forcing underground the still-barbaric practice of the horror of removing their fucking clits and most of their labia instead. Hey how's that for progress, dipshits?

    If you look into the Jewish communities, there is a growing anti-circumcision movement, and there's a subset of it which points to Jewish customs from 2000 years ago that practiced circumcision but removing a MUCH MUCH MUCH smaller part of the foreskin (that as it happens did not touch the erogenous tissues either). That's the sort of work-toward-compromise stuff I could live with.

    BTW, still resent that I was circumcized, and refused to let it be done to my boys. No boy should be put through it, for almost any reason. Even the excuses they give like phimosis and whatnot have much more reasonable treatments than that!

  3. In case you haven't read it already (via Reddit), here's my latest.


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