(Reasons Given for Circumcising a Male)
cries out for explanantion"
- Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves, p183
The variety of reasons given for male genital cutting (and the irrationality of most of them) is amazing. Put them all together and your mind will boggle. When I started collecting them, I thought I'd find about 30 "reasons", and that seemed strange enough. But between 1998 and 2001, this list grew to 300, and the differences between many of them became too subtle to be interesting. You may see the complete list, but here are the major categories, in approximate order of frequency, with some choice examples.
Because "a boy should look like his father"
To prevent or cure alcoholism, arthritic hips, asthma, balanitis, blindness, boils, cervical cancer, chicken pox, epididymitis, epilepsy, gallstones, gout, headaches, hernia, HIV, hydrocephaly, hydrocoele, hypertension, insanity, kidney disease, kleptomaina, leprosy, moral depravity, paraphimosis, penile cancer, plague, phimosis, posthitis, prostate cancer, rectal prolapse, rheumatism, schistosoma, spinal curvature, stomach infection, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections and/or yeast infections.
To draw down the Divine light, bring down the soul of holiness into the body...
Because his mother and her friends prefer circumcised men for sexual pleasure.
Because it makes it uniformly pink.
Because the foreskin will fall off if a baby is put into a hot tub of water for a bath.
To teach him that the world is a painful place.
Because his master ordered it.
Because it will have to be done sooner or later.
To provide collagen for cosmetic surgery on lips and cheeks.
To stop him dribbling when he pees.
"Because [my sister's] doctor said having his glans exposed would help calm him down a little".
Because his mother had an episiotomy. ("I was cut, why shouldn't he be?")
Because a military surgeon "wanted to get back into practice because she could get $100 apiece for them in private practice."
To prepare him to receive tribal secrets.
Because he belongs to the upper class.
To pass as a Muslim.
To spite his absent/divorced father.
To make the penis look like that of a kangaroo.
Because he will be prevented from speaking in public if his (Samoan) father is intact.
To prevent infertility.
To use his foreskin for a dowry.
Because "we just do it. It's better this way." (to a man being operated on for kidney stones)
To treat paraphimosis caused by improper insertion of a catheter.
To make his penis bigger.
Because of an "accident on medical records..." According to the "paperwork guidelines, I was not supposed to be Circ."
Because the father "just didn't want to argue with her after she'd been through all that suffering."
Because his mother thought that cleaning him was too much like masturbating him.
To give him the appearance of permanent arousal.
"She's not even clear on [it]. She just wants it, you know."
(All of these reasons have been seriously offered, or even led to circumcisions. All spelling and punctuation is sic.)
See also Circumcision as a Memeplex for an attempt to impose order on this list.
Back to the Intactivism index page.