Circumcision, now there’s a funny topic. The short version is “why?”
For those of you who are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, you may recall the tale of Abraham, and the foreskin being removed as part of a covenant with God. Is that not a little weird? “I will make you a father of nations. To prove it, cut off a portion of your penis.” -God
If that exchange were to happen today, I’d be like “Maybe we could do … Literally anything else? That’d be… You know… Nice?”
For as it says in Genesis Chapter 17: “10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.””
I don’t know what to say about that, it is oddly specific. Eight days old, and it is chopping time. You bought a slave? Chopping time. Your daughter married one not of your group? CHOPPING TIME! That is an odd way to enforce a contract. I don’t even know how to make that funnier, really. “Alright, looks like the mortgage paperwork is all in order. We’ve got your downpayment and… Oh, looks like you forgot to supply your foreskin. This contract will be voided if I don’t see a foreskin soon.”
I can’t even criticize the Bible, though; circumcision is much older than written record. There are anthropologists who believe that circumcision has been performed going back nearly 15,000 years (10,000BC is a common estimate), but we’ve lost the documentation as to *why* people did it back then. There are obvious advantages, I suppose, if you live in an arid wasteland wherein hygiene is a long-off afterthought to finding food. But there are tribes alive today that can give us some insight.
Circumcision in certain places in Africa is done as part of a ritual entry into manhood. Is it odd that you become a man by removing part of your manhood? That seems weird to me. Anyway! It is considered an act of bravery to chop-shop your own bits, and that part I certainly understand. It is indeed a brave man who does this.
Some tribes in Australia use seashells to chop (by my estimation, it would be more akin to “rip”) your bits, then staunch the bleeding by dangling your meat ‘n potatoes over a fire of eucalyptus leaves, because at this point WHY NOT?
So what’s the point of this post? Well, as nearly as I can tell, circumcision is a little silly. I don’t buy the “covenant with God” bit in Genesis, and I can’t see why I should have to prove my bravery by ripping skin off my rod n’ tackle. There are some concerns about hygiene, but in the modern world, with daily (or nearly daily) showers, the hygienic concerns are hardly worth being concerned about.
The W.H.O. estimates that there is a complication rate in circumcision of 1.5% to 6% in having circumcision done in infancy. This is actually higher than the chances that you will actually see a tangible benefit from circumcision, and some of the complications (though incredibly rare) can render your baby impotent for life.
Never mind the fact that the procedure is INCREDIBLY painful. Some children actually go straight into shock. You can’t anesthetize the child, either, they are too young and can’t tolerate that.
“But they won’t remember!” Thank you for pointing that out, hypothetical reader. That is the worst excuse. There are drugs that turn off your memory that can be administered to adults; what say you take enough of those to last ’bout an hour, and I beat the crap out of you for 30 minutes.
Is that cool? I mean, you won’t remember it! Never mind the fact that you are conscious the whole time, maybe screaming and crying. If you won’t remember, it is ok!
Hell, by the “you won’t remember” logic, roofies are a way to manufacture perfect consent. You won’t remember, therefore everything that happens in the intervening hours doesn’t even count!
I think I have preached my sermon, so time for a conclusion.
Don’t perform infant circumcision. If the child ends up getting an infection that requires it, do it then. If the child grows up and chooses circumcision for themselves, do it then. (I can’t think of a good reason that a person would look at their bits and decide “Yeah, I’d like to cut part of that off for fun,” but people have historically done things less intelligent than that.) If you are thinking of doing it for purely aesthetic reasons, I’d tell you to be less shallow.
Hey, did you know that circumcision, in the 1800’s, was considered a cure for paralysis? Guy comes into the hospital with a broken neck, and there were no small number of doctors that would, before checking anything else, go straight for the junk. ISN’T THAT WEIRD?!