In this article and the ones that follow, I will try to expose the crime of male circumcision that is constantly committed in our hospitals and elsewhere, for no real medical reason. My goal is to speak up against the silence of the lawmaker, the medical and religious authorities, and the intellectual media, and to stop this crime that claims innocent children as its victims.
We vehemently condemn female circumcision, but keep totally silent in face of male circumcision. National and international campaigns are launched regularly against female circumcision, but nothing against male circumcision. The first question that arises is if such a distinction between the two circumcisions is justifiable.
1) Distinction on the basis of the severity of the procedure:
We often read that female circumcision is a severe operation, while male circumcision is benign. But such a generalization is inaccurate. We need to know that male circumcision and female circumcision each cover four types of operations. We will start with male circumcision.
There are four types of male circumcision:
- Type 1. Consists of partially or totally cutting the skin of the penis that goes beyond the glans. This skin is called the foreskin.
- Type 2. The form of circumcision that is practiced by Jews. The circumciser starts by pulling the skin of the penis forward, and cuts all of the part that surpasses the glans. This procedure is called milah in Hebrew. Next, he pulls the skin back behind the glans, and cuts the part of skin that remains between the cut and the glans (the folding of the foreskin), using the nails of his index and thumb, or a pair of scissors. This procedure is called in Hebrew periah.
- Type 3. Consists of completely flaying the skin of the penis and sometimes the scrotum (skin of the testicles), as well as the pubic skin. This form or circumcision, called salkh in Arabic, existed among southern Arabian tribes (and may still exist today), as well as certain tribes in black Africa.
- Type 4. Consists of slitting the urethra, creating a long opening that resembles the female vagina. It is called subincision and is still practiced among Australian natives.
Facing these four types of male circumcision, there are four types of female circumcision as well:
- Type 1. Excision of the prepuce (clitoral hood).
- Type 2. Excision of the hood and the clitoris, totally or partially.
- Type 3. Excision of the hood, the clitoris, and total or partial excision of the labia minora.
- Type 4. Total or partial excision of the outer sexual organs and sewing/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).
We cannot say, therefore, that female circumcision is generally more severe than male circumcision. It depends on the type of circumcision. We will also add that both male and female circumcision, to whatever degree, carry risks of hemorrhage, infection, deformity, and death. Certain male circumcisions went so bad that doctors were forced to change the boy into a girl by completely removing his sex organs and creating a vagina in him.
2) Male and female circumcision and sexuality
We often read that, contrary to female circumcision, male circumcision has no effect on the man’s sexuality.
Any generalization on this topic is false. Indeed, it all depends on the type of circumcision we are talking about. Even if we refer to the first or second type of male circumcision, Jewish authors, such as Philon or Maimonides, Christian authors, like Thomas of Aquin or Ibn-Assal, and classic Muslim authors, such as Ibn-Qayyim Al- Jawziyyah or Al-Mannawi, state that the procedure’s goal is to reduce male sexual pleasure. Indeed, the foreskin is considered to be the most sensitive part of the male sex organ. By removing it, we also remove the glands that produce lubricant, and we deprive the glans of its protection. This turns the sexual organ less sensitive and less moist, and intercourse becomes more difficult and painful. Circumcised men use artificial lubricants more often in order to moisten the penis, which is not necessarily good for the health of either the male or the female. On the other hand, female circumcision certainly affects pleasure if it involves the clitoris. But, it is recognized today that even the most drastic form of female circumcision does not totally deprive women of sexual pleasure. Sometimes, the clitoral hood is excised in order to have more sexual pleasure by leaving the clitoris free. These procedures take place in Western societies, on white women, in order to treat frigidity and increase sexual pleasure.
3) Medical advantages of male and female circumcision
We often read that male circumcision confers medical advantages. Actually, if we examine western medical literature from the 19th century onwards, we confirm that doctors used to think that both male and female circumcision had medical benefits. Also, the first reason why westerners started circumcising men and women was to curb masturbation, which was believed to cause numerous untreatable illnesses. Hygienic reasons were also pushed forward. This reason is valid for both men and women. Male and female circumcisions were also considered as a means to fight epilepsy, urinary tract infections, or cancer. Lastly, we pretend that male circumcision protects against AIDS. But if this were true, Americans would be less infected by AIDS than Europeans, but in fact the opposite is true. On the other hand, since circumcision deprives the male sexual organ of a part of skin and makes it tighter and dryer, there is more risk of tearing and, therefore, an increased risk of infection. We also estimate that circumcised men engage more frequently in oral and anal relations, which increases the risk of AIDS.
Actually, circumcision only has two certain medical benefits: it reduces infant weight and grows the doctor’s pockets heavier. All of the other reasons are fallacious, with the exceptions of extremely rare cases of deformities and infections that resist antibiotics. Consequently, there shouldn’t be any more circumcisions than there are nose or leg amputations. One of the reasons male and female circumcisions continue is the financial gain. In the United States, if you tell a doctor not to circumcise, he will understand that you want to circumcise his salary. We asked a pro-circumcision doctor named Wiswell what would it take for him to change his mind, and he answered: ”One million dollars.”
4) Men don’t complain
We often read that we don’t hear men complaining about male circumcision. In fact, if a man complained this would mean accepting problems with his virility. Hence, the very small number of complaints from men. Also, men who were circumcised as infants cannot compare, since they have always lived with mutilated penises. But, it must be noted that, in the United States, there is a growing movement of men and women, both Jews and Christians, who oppose circumcision and consider it an attack upon physical integrity of men and sexual pleasure. Circumcised men are turning to systems of foreskin restoration. They pull on the skin of their penis for several months, until they are able to cover the glans. Those who have tried this method, thoroughly described on the Internet, claim they have gained sexual pleasure. Some say they now make love in color, and before it used to be it in black and white. Studies show that male circumcision affects the person’s psyche and, therefore, society itself. Some claim there is a link between violence, rape, and pedophilia in the United States and male circumcision. This theory has been especially developed by a Jewish psychologist named Ronald Goldman, on a doctoral thesis about the trauma caused by male circumcision in the United States.
Here are my three books in French and in English:
Circoncision masculine – circoncision féminine: religious, medical, social and legal debate. L’Harmattan, Paris, 2001, 537 pages.
Circoncision: Le complot du silence, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2003, 244 pages.
Male and female circumcision among Jews, Christians and Muslims: religious, medical, social and legal debate, Shangri-La Publications, Warren Center, PA 19951, USA, 2001, 400 pages.