Friday, July 6, 2012

My Views on Traditional Male Circumcision


For the record, I have been putting off writing this post for a long time. It is a subject that causes me a lot of anger and at the same time I know it will offend many of my readers. But this subject is so very important to me that I had to finally share my opinion.

Imagine you walk into a family's living room. The room is packed with family and friends. Everyone is smiling and having a good time. They are celebrating the birth of a new baby boy. How wonderful! Everyone is mingling, catching up and of course talking about the new baby boy. The proud parents are basking in the company of those close to them and showing off their son to everyone.
"Look how cute he is".
"Isn't he just perfect".
Everyone nods in agreement - that is except for his foreskin.

Than the mohel walks in and the ceremony begins. The baby is passed on a pillow between close friends and family. The designated god-father is the last one to be handed the baby. The mohel comes to the baby and opens the diaper and starts saying a series of prayers.
The mohel's objective is to remove the baby's foreskin as a sign of the covenant between the Jewish people and "god". The foreskin contains more than 20,000 specialized nerve endings, making it the most sensitive area on any human, boy or girl. The foreskin is fused to the penis glans, or head, much in the same way a fingernail is fused to a finger and must be torn off. Once the foreskin is separated, a clamp is often used to protect the glans so that the foreskin and all of its nerves can be cut off. After this there are a few things that can happen.

In the ultra-orthodox world, the mohel will use his mouth to suck some blood from the open wound, which he will than spit out. This practice is known as mitzitza be'peh, or sucking by the mouth. This is an extremely archaic and extremely dangerous (not to mention horrifyingly inappropriate and disgusting) practice. It causes the death of tens of babies every year, due to infections passed from the adult mohel, to the victim. This dumb practice that is only legal because it is part of a religious ceremony was dropped by most non fundamentalist streams of Judaism because it is so dangerous. Instead, the mohel will most often use a glass tube to draw some of the blood out.

After this blood sacrifice, the baby is given a name, making him a full member of the Jewish nation and everyone eats some more in celebration of this "wonderful" event.

In my opinion this is THE most horrific thing practiced in Judaism today. Simple facts: A baby just had the most sensitive part of his body cut off in sacrifice to some deity that he has not chosen. No one asked this young baby if he wanted to donate 40%-60% of the skin of his penis to a "god" of which he never heard. This baby will now live the rest of his life with a very much desensitized penis. The once internal and protected glans, which is the most sensitive remaining part, is now unprotected and over exposed. It will constantly rub against clothing for the rest of the baby's life and will develop a callus in a process called keratinization causing further loss in sensitivity. Many circumcisions, are cut very tightly causing discomfort during erection. When this baby becomes a middle-aged man, he will be 60% more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

I know many of you are thinking, "but I was always told it was healthy". Yes, we were all told that, but it was a lie. The main "health risk" of the foreskin is infection because the person did not keep themselves clean. In today's day and age, when we can all shower very often, it is very very easy to keep the body and the foreskin clean. Even if it was not that easy, you just don't slice off a part of a body because its hard to clean. And of course, the number one "health benefit" that people love to preach about is that it lowers the risk of catching HIV when having unprotected sex. But do you know what really lowers the risk of HIV? NOT HAVING UNPROTECTED SEX! But the Catholic Church and other religious fundamentalists are very anti condoms, so they would rather have people slice up their genitals than "god forbid" wear a condom.

Since the risks and damage greatly out ways any once thought to be real benefit, the only real reason to do this unnecessary procedure is religion. And it is wrong for the person who's foreskin is in question to not have any say in the matter. If an adult male is so dedicated to his faith that he would like to have his penis mutilated, he is free to do that. But the unnecessary mutilation of a baby's penis without his permission is simply wrong.

I know what a sensitivities subject this is to religious and non religious Jews alike. This is a core part of their Jewish identity. When I first came across these facts, I was encouraged to research the matter on my own so that I could prove all these claims wrongs. I was sure that all the new information I had just learned was part of sum anti-Semitic conspiracy. But the more I read, the more i learned it was all true and the more horrified I became by the practice.

 I always say that as much as I disagree with religion, everyone should have the right to practice the religion of their choice, as long as they are not hurting anyone. Well, in this case, every single boy comes out hurt, and damaged for life. This is a horrible practice that should be reexamined and stopped.

Here are some links that you might find interesting:
50 Reasons to Leave it Alone
An Open Letter to Mohel Michael Henesch
Cut is a documentary about circumcision from a Jewish perspective. I highly recommend it.


  1. This may be true, but which do you prefer to see in a skin flick? C'mon... Be honest...

    1. Honest opinion is that prefer natural, uncut penuses in a skin flick as well. And if I can be so blunt, I always prefer it that way.

  2. an erect penis looks the same whether circumsized or not, so it shouldn't be a problem for skin flicks. Also I'm assuming most straight dudes aren't focusing on the penii when looking at such flicks.

    1. But as a gay dude, I will reiterate that I prefer undamaged goods.

  3. American Academy of Pediatric Circumcision Policy statement:

    In the summary at the end, it states: "In the case of circumcision, in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child."

    The Policy Statement was reaffirmed in 2004.

    Canadian Pediatric Society position statement on neonatal circumcision:

    In the conclusion, it states:

    "The overall evidence of the benefits and harms of circumcision is so evenly balanced that it does not support recommending circumcision as a routine procedure for newborns. There is therefore no indication that the position taken by the CPS in 1982 should be changed. When parents are making a decision about circumcision, they should be advised of the present state of medical knowledge about its benefits and harms. Their decision may ultimately be based on personal, religious or cultural factors."

    World Health Organization position on circumcision and HIV:

    "There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%. Three randomized controlled trials have shown that male circumcision provided by well trained health professionals in properly equipped settings is safe. WHO/UNAIDS recommendations emphasize that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.

    Male circumcision provides only partial protection, and therefore should be only one element of a comprehensive HIV prevention package which includes:
    - the provision of HIV testing and counseling services;
    - treatment for sexually transmitted infections;
    - the promotion of safer sex practices;
    - the provision of male and female condoms and promotion of their correct and consistent use."

    I've quoted the policies of major medical organizations, not advocacy groups for or against circumcision. Objectively speaking, I don't see any evidence to the support the conclusion that "every boy comes out hurt and damaged for life". Instead, these organizations are saying that there are both risks and benefits, with the Canadian Pediatric Society calling them "equally balanced". Thus, there is no reason to push routine infant circumcision for all boys in North America, but also no basis to state that the net effect is harmful. Circumcision is being advocated for areas with high heterosexual transmission of HIV and low circumcision rates, from a public health perspective. [Individual and public health perspectives will differ. An individual may say, "I know that I won't engage in risky behavior", while public health deals with the overall statistics, knowing that not everyone in real life will use a condom as directed and that they have been unable to prevent the current AIDS epidemic in Africa from continuing.]

    You are correct that metzitzah b'peh is a risky procedure.

    If parents do opt for circumcision, they should insist on proper pain relief. Recommendations include using a Mogen instead of Gomco clamp, not using a rigid restraint, allowing the baby to suck on something sweet, giving Tylenol before, using EMLA and giving a dorsal penile nerve block.

    1. I have to disagree. There is no justification to doing this to a person without their consent. It is not the parents body to decide. Plus non of the medical organizations would contradict any of the facts I wrote above since I got most of them from medical sources or places that sourced their information from medical sources.

    2. Medical reasons and moral reasons are two different things. I would say it doesn't matter if there are a thousand medical pluses, the real issue is the moral one. But, I would say an exception to that would be perhaps a part of the world where males are prone to getting STD's, it would be more moral to forgo consent and circumcise for the sake of the future.

    3. JRK you lie systematically and you know it. You start by omitting the strongest part of the AAP statement where it says data do not warrant circumcising. You end by stating EMLA is recommended when it IS NOT meant for mucosa, and IS NOT effective since it can't get to the inner foreskin until the synechial bonds have been painfully torn. In between you lie by by implying that "male circumcision" is the same as "forced circumcision of children" when in fact your sources relate to voluntary adult circumcision.

    4. Nature sends baby boys into the world with all the "parts" they are supposed to have. A baby boy does not arrive with a foreskin just so a parent can sign a consent to have it lopped off, that makes NO sense. I don't care how much Emla or other stuff is given to the baby, it doesn't make it right. Surgically altering the normal healthy genitals of an infant is offensive and should be outlawed. What are people thinking? I guess they aren't.

    5. TLC and Mare, thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Ami, i know many who hold the same opinion as you. I am pro brit milah though, for numerous reasons- but definitely against the sucking blood part as that evidently is dangerous in case mohel has herpes. Btw, what's your opinion of the recent ban in Germany? There was petition circling around stating it's a clear act of antisemitism, on which i disagree; i think Germany's Muslim are the target there and us merely the "collateral damage". (Btw, i fully support Merker's opposing the efforts to turn Europe into some kind of Shariah ruled medieval state.)

    1. As I wrote, I think it is an immoral, wrong thing to do. So I would support a band. I do not think it has anything to do with antisemitism. People need to be less paranoid.

  5. There are benefits to circumcision also.
    It decreases the risk of urinary tract infections. It decreases the chance of female sexual partners developing cervical cancer.

    Many reports written against circumcision have an agenda, and are completely one-sided, just like this post.

    1. Of course I have an agenda. I want to help stop babies from being abused and having their genitals mutilated for no good reason.
      It does not decrease the chance for urinary tract infections by any significant amount. And even if it did, that is not a reason to cut off the most sensitive part of the male genitals. We live in the age of antibiotics, so in the rare case of infection, it can be healed. Your ear is a lot more likely to get infected, should we cut that off?

      Cervical cancer rates are higher in countries like the US where circumcision is more common that in Japan where it is almost unheard of.

      If there was any merit to what you said, there would be one major medical institution in the world that recommends it, but there is not.

      You are just mindlessly repeating lies that you were told so that you do not have to deal with the harsh reality.
      What a dangerous way to live.

    2. would you also say that a shot (like a booster or other vaccinations) should not be adminsitered becasue they are painful to the baby or child?

      according to the WHO, as JRK mommy shows, there are large health benefits to doing this procedure.

      why is "There no justification to doing this to a person without their consent." ?? you are helping this child be healthier, no?

    3. The WHO says that there are some benefits. And despite this, they still do not recommend it. That should be your first hint. I never said that nothing good happens from it. I wrote very clearly that the damage and problems greatly out way the benefits.

      Vaccines do not do any damage, nor do they remove any parts of the body. Your analogy is not a good one.
      All the benefits of circumcision could be achieved in other ways without cutting a baby into pieces.

      Please reread the post. Pain is hardly the only reason I say it is a horrible thing to do.

    4. oh please. its like piercing a baby's ear.

      dont be so dramatic. its not that horrible

    5. If you really believe that than you are either in denial or your an ignoramus. Look up the facts. I didn't make anything up.

    6. Any claim of benefits do not outweigh the risks, especially when circumcision is a totally unnecessary surgical alteration of a normal healthy infants genitals! Urinary tract infections are NOT common in male infants, in fact, they are much more common in female infants but I don't see anyone advocating for her genitals to be cut. A course of antibiotics would be the remedy, NOT genital alterations! Why do people think that a boy is any different? the claim of STD's is shaky too, since a boy would not be at risk for that for likely two decades and by then, I would hope he has been properly educated in the use of safe sex which doesn't include circumcision, only proper and consistent use of condoms if he is going to be sexually active. The excuses to cut the genitals of babies are baloney and I hope people figure that out pretty soon! Please use common sense.

  6. Once again, as we've discussed before, it comes down to belief. I believe in God, and I believe that God knows what's best for me and my children, far better than you and I know. Therefore, I listen.

    You don't believe in God. Not because of science, but because Jewish philosophy disagrees with your lifestyle choices. Therefore, you think it's barbaric.

    I was circumcised at 8 days old, and I have nothing against my parents for it. I thank them for doing it. Why? Because I believe in God.

    1. Your belief is your own business. But do not pretend that circumcision is something medically healthy. Watch the documentary Cut that I placed a link for in my post. There you have a chassidish rabbi who is also a neurologist who says the only reason to do it is belief. Another charedi rabbi in the film says that any non Jew that does it to their kids should be jailed for child abuse. Because they know it is harmful but do it as a sign of there dedication to their religion.
      So do not pretend that any of the medical facts I listed above are wrong. And do not judge the Muslim that circumcises his daughter, or the Scientologest that wont take their kids to a doctor, because you yourself believe that religion is a good enough reason to hurt your children.

    2. I never said the facts you quoted are wrong, I only said that you only listed one side. You ignored the benefits. You make a big deal of the fact that the WHO won't recommend it. You don't say that they don't recommend not to do it, either. As I said, you're not being a neutral reporter here, you're only presenting one side.

      As for other religions, for the most part, I say let them do what they want. It bothers me when people go outside their religion trying to appear more pious - and that includes Judaism. I don't believe that Islam believes in female circumcision. It definitely isn't done as a covenant with God. It's purely to prevent the girls from enjoying sex.

      My belief is also saving a life trumps pretty much anything, so Scientologists not taking their kids to the doctor is just plain stupid. Scientology as a whole is just plain stupid, but that's a different discussion. (I'll make one point on it here. A guy is a science fiction writer. In an interview, he says that he doesn't make a lot of money from writing, and says "If I want to make money, I'll invent a religion." Later, he does invent a religion, the basis of which sounds like a sci-fi novel. Oh, and a central part of the religion is paying money to those who run it. How can anyone believe it to be true?)

    3. I never claimed to be neutral. I am many people including many medical experts believe that it is a harmful act. Simple as that. The vast majority of men in the world are not circumcised and they are no less healthier. In fact Japan is one of the healthiest countries in the world and the practice is almost unheard of there. So if there are any health benefits, they are minor. There IS major damage (again see the links in my blog). So you cannot just ignore that damage. And yes more and more national medical associations are recommending NOT doing it to children (mostly in Europe).

      Again, my point is that there is damage and no one (not even a parent) has the right to damage another person. Simple as that.

      As far as Scientology, I agree it is dumb, but only slightly dumber than other religions. Virgin birth? Flying horses? Talking snakes and donkeys? Raining frogs? Seas splitting? Why should anyone believe these things?
      And if you had not been taught it as a kid, you would not believe it either.

    4. In response to the link you posted on my other post (
      my mind is not changed. They still do not recommend it. Second the article listed many studies that showed the opposite. Third, as stated before, around 80% of the worlds men are not circumcised and there is no significant death rate, or illness rate whatsoever in countries where circumcision is less common than in those countries that it is common.
      Fourthly, just because there are some benefits, it does not mean there is no harm (significant harm at that). It should be up to each adult male what he wants to do with his body. Period end. In the US (according to the article you provide) around 117 babies die every year from the procedure. Ive never heard of a baby getting penile cancer.

  7. The WHO does in fact recommend circumcision in certain regions, where there is a high prevalence of HIV and a low incidence of circumcision.

    The position statements that I cited above do not say that the damage "greatly outweighs" the benefits. To the contrary, the Canadian Pediatric Society actually describes them as "equally balanced".

    Reducing the spread of HIV in high prevalence areas, such as southern Africa, would hardly be "minor". Yes, there are other methods by which an individual could avoid contracting or spreading the virus, but from a public health POV, these are clearly not being used effectly in those regions.

    1. If you cut off the whole penis and that would stop the spred of HIV as well. Or, we could stop with the religious bull and teach people about safe sex. The ends DO NOT justify the means. If an adult wants to have his own penis cut up, that is his choice. But no one gets to make that choice for him. End of story. There is nothing to discuss. One person does not get to chose to remove a part of another person's body. I cannot even believe this is a discussion.

  8. There has never been a careful study of a random sample of adult penises, conducted in a society where there is a good mix of cut and uncut (the USA is NOT such a society). Hence medicine does not know the extent to which infant circumcision can result in complications for the adult penis and its sex life. Hence doctors who circumcise cannot live up to the motto "first do no harm." Hence the AAP and WHO are talking through their respective hats when they opine on circumcision. They ignore the possible sexual downside of circumcision, because that downside has never been researched.

    People, I am an intact male and can assure you that circumcision would have cut off the most sensitive parts of my body, parts that come into contact with my wife's body when I pay her my marital respects. The moving foreskin greatly facilitates foreplay and masturbation. It interacts nicely with my and her natural lubricaction. Foreskin motion cushions the forceful of sexual penetration. American women married to circumcised men have been known to complain that vaginal intercourse is distressingly rough for them. But if he goes about it more gently, he cannot climax.

    The benefits and harms appear "equally balanced" only if you close your eyes to a laundry list of possible harms.

    While I have never engaged in male homosexual acts, I have talked with gay men about the role of foreskin in their intimate lives. Gay men can be in the unusual situation of having experienced many men of each kind. And these gay men have shared with me that intact is more sensitive and more thrilling. There are free spirited women who have come to the same conclusion, and shared it with all humanity via the internet.

    1. RD, thank you for your very forthcoming comment. I don't know if those that are blindly pro-circumcision will internalize what you have shared.
      And as a gay man that has been with a number of guys both cut and uncut, I can confirm what you wrote about that. Hence, my comment to jglyn above about my own personal preferences.

      I hope you will continue to read my blog. And thank you again for sharing.

  9. you know how many women terminate births in the US? globally? you know how many actual potential human beings lives were snuffed out becasue a woman chose to abort? dead. death. no life.

    does that bother you? or does it only bother you if someone pierces their kid's ear, or snips off a piece of un-needed skin, has no impact to the person's life whatsoever, and can actually have a real benefit (as the WHO explains)?

    your priorities are screwed up

    1. Ksil, you are a crazy lunatic. The facts are not important to you. You have some crazy religious dogma that you bought into and that is all you can see. The foreskin is not some "useless piece of skin". And you did not understand what the WHO explained because they never said it was useless.

      And like all crazy religious fanatical nutcases, once you are presented with facts that you cannot argue with, you change the subject, in this case abortion.

      You can either acknowledge the facts, or you can continue drinking the cool-aide. I just hope you don't have any sons.

    2. i have 2 sons, both snipped.

      i am not changing the topic, i simply do not get what the big deal is. would you support outlawing piercing your daughter's ears?

      also, i didnt say "useless" i said un-needed. It is clearly uneeded, and according to many actually a GOOD THING to do. so why in the world would someone be against it? It makes no difference to someone's life if they are snipped or not. none. zero. nada.

    3. If I cut off your ear you could live well as well. Also your pinky finger. Doesn't mean you should cut it off.

    4. there is no benefit, or possible benefit to cutting off my ear, or my pinky.

      what if doctors said there was a material reduced chance you would get cancer if you snipped off the bottom part of your would screaming against it? no! earlobe is a meaningless part of the body (unlike entire ear or finger)

      and again, there are things people do all the time that REALLY are bad and do it to other people....but you choose this, which is no biggie whatsoever....i dont get it

    5. You don't get it because refuse to get it. It is a big deal. It is the most sensitive part of the body. But you keep ignoring the facts. You have obviously done very little research on the topic.
      Even if it wasn't such a big deal, a person has the right to chose what will happen with their body.

    6. jeez, your worse than a frum jew - or rather, you decided to keep the bad traits from your community (and drop the good ones)

      curious, whats your position on abortion?

    7. How am I like a frum Jew? Because I do not agree with you?Because I went and researched a topic and came to an independent decision. You simply ignore everything you don't want to be true and than attack me.
      My position on abortion is like this. I am pro choice. However, I have a do not agree with late term abortions when the fetus could live on its own outside of the mother's womb.

    8. Ksil, from here on, comment all you like. Your are not interested in an actually discussion and I don't want to waste anymore time going back and forth when you simply dismiss everything I say without bringing any facts or sources to back up your claims.
      Everything in my post is sited and there are links to the info.

  10. Ami - if you have a son at some point and decide not to have him circed, based on what you've read, that's your decision.

    I just have a pet peeve against anyone citing "proof" in the form of web pages, which themselves aren't necessarily reliable and which contain claims which are not backed up solid evidence and reference to original sources. It's not just on this issue, btw - I see people do this all the time, and then have to explain why I consider a link to the New England Journal of Medicine more reliable than random blogs on juice fasts, unassisted childbirth, etc.

    Has anyone done a study of men who were circumcized as adults for non-medical reasons? They would be the best source of information on the difference, if any, in sensation.

    1. Lots of my research has been done by simply talking to people. I have spoken to 3 different people that were circumcised above the age of 18. Each of them said their level of sensitivity dropped by 70 percent.
      I am not aware of any academic research along those lines. I am sure as the topic becomes more discussed in the US over the coming years, such research will be done.
      Also, as a gay man that has been with both cut and uncut guys, there is a clear difference in the sensitivity. Uncut man cannot be touched as roughly. There glans are smooth, shinny and healthier.
      I am sure you can look up on any medical site you want the fact that the foreskin contains around 20,000 nerve endings. You can look up that the female clitoris contains around 7000 as a point of comparison. Than you can come to the obvious logical conclusion that removal of the foreskin greatly affects sensitivity.