It's a non-issue!

One of the challenges facing Intactivists is the often repeated claim, "It's a non-issue." ("Haven't you got something more important to occupy yourself with?" "With famine, poverty, global warming...?" etc.)
A related one is, "Female Genital Cutting is much worse."
Another is "It never did me any harm."

All three are requests not to challenge the status quo - and also not to discuss it or think about it.

But let's look at each of these a little more closely.


"A non-issue"

People say this because they don't want to think about it. Discussion of circumcision makes them uncomfortable because

  • It's painful
  • It calls into question their irrevocable decision to circumcise their son/s.
  • It calls their own sexuality into question.
  • They don't want to have to think about sex.
Together they make a vicious circle in which circumcision can be perpetuated.

As the connected pages indicate, circumcision is an issue (babies can die of it).

One short answer is:

"If it's a non-issue, no harm will come by not doing it."

Click here for more short answers.


"Female Genital Cutting is worse."

There is always something worse than any evil you care to name. As someone wittily pointed out, on a scale of benefit with "Saving the Universe" at the top, and "Feeding Rocks" at the bottom, ending FGC and ending MGC both fall somewhere about the middle.
While in general the remark is true, the mildest form of Female Genital Cutting is milder than the most extreme form of male circumcision.
Yet all forms of FGC are outlawed throughout the "Western" world (and the US law specifically disallows custom or religion as an excuse for doing it).
Considered as human rights violations, as invasions of a person's bodily integrity for permanent, unnecessary surgical sexual modification, they are very much of a piece.
Contrary to the implication of this remark, ending MGC will not hurt or hinder in any way the work of ending FGC. There is no need for either to wait for the other.
And at least one doctor in the US, a Nigerian, uses the practice of MGC in the US to defend the practice of FGC in Africa.

One short answer is:

"Yes, FGC is even worse, but male circumcision is done by supposedly civilised people like ourselves."

Click for a brief comparison of FGC and MGC and for an examination of the appropriateness of the word "mutilation".


"It never did me any harm."

This is always said in a characteristic blustering tone, more in hope than conviction. After all, if he was circumcised in infancy, how can he possibly know? The testimony of men circumcised in adulthood is not necessarily reliable, either. Those who needed it for some medical reason may have had substandard function before the operation, and the improvement was only relative to that. That improvement is not a reason for circumcising babies in good health. Those who had it done for conformity's sake may well be ashamed to admit that it did not give the benefits they expected. Conversely, many men circumcised in adulthood testify that it was detrimental.

One short answer is:

"Yes, and African women say that about their 'circumcisions' too."


And finally:

"It's only a flap of skin."

If the emphasis is on its supposedly small size, click here.
If it is on its supposed simplicity, click here.


Related pages:



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