Arguments pro circumcision

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Pro circumcision activists have many arguments why the medically not indicated circumcision should make sense. This page tries to offer an almost complete list and a ranking of the pro arcuments. All arguments listed hereafter can be and already have been refuted, the religious arguments included.

Pseudo-medical arguments

  • Today, the foreskin has no function any more.
    This argument holds very persistently, often used by women who only know uncircumcised men, but even by urologists who earn a lot of money with circumcisions and therefore welcome any argument pro circumcision.
    A common stereotype of this argument sounds like this: "The foreskin was necessary when we lived in trees and crawled on all fours. The foreskin then had protected the glans. Now that we are running on two legs and men no longer grind their genital over the floor, the foreskin can therefore get away."
    During the Circumcision Debate 2012 in Germany, a single Muslim children's surgeon from Cologne was repeatedly quoted[1] who railed with exactly this stereotype and other abstruse arguments against an impending circumcision ban.
    For many years, the medicine knows that the foreskin is a very important organg of the body that not only contains a large number of very sensitive nerve cells and is very beneficial for sex, but also protects the glans against drying, keratinization, and sunburn.
  • "Then you may also not vaccinate children."
    This argument is often used by staunch opponents of vaccination who want to indicate that also the syringes which are used for vaccination, are 'weapons', 'injure the child' and can harm the child. Of course, each violation of the body is legally a body violation (sic!). However, this argument compares a preventive measure that has gotten sucessfully epidemic, often fatal diseases under control since the end of the 19th century, with a usually medically unnecessary amputation of a healthy body part. The decision to allow or not vaccinate a child is within the discretion of the parents. There are no more mandatory vaccines any longer, which were common in the early days of the vaccines.
    Vaccinations protect against (listed in historical sequence) smallpox, rabies, typhoid, diphtheria, whooping cough, tuberculosis, tetanus, influenza, yellow fever, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, encephalitis, chickenpox, pneumonia, hepatitis B, meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis A, severe diarrhea, cervical cancer, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal type B.
    Medically not indicated circumcision of children protects exactly against nothing.

Medical Prophylactical Arguments

  • Circumcision supposedly protects against HIV/AIDS.
  • Circumcision supposedly protects against STDs.
    People refer over and over again to a study[2] of the WHO which should have determined that circumcision should have a 60% protection against HIV/AIDS. This study is sharply criticized worldwide by experts.
    A study by Bertran Auvert is used as a source, which supposedly wants to found an HIV infection risk reduced by up to 60%.
    There are several comments: Firstly, the study design was already distroyed with the start of the trial. The circumcised control group was circumcised directly at the beginning of the study. This means that the intact control group had a 'contagion lead' of six weeks which were applied until the circumcision wounds have healed. Secondly, the entire study was carried out in the region with the highest HIV rate around the world. Thus the results are not that meaningfull as if the study would have been carried out in areas with 'normal' infection rates. Orange Farm, the village in South Africa, is well-known for the high rate of HIV. A third criticism is that the study of Auvert comes up with mathematical legerdemain and was also canceled after two years, when the figures threatened to align themselves. Unfortunately, this study is also the basis on which the WHO performs worth millions circumcision campaigns with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Circumcision supposedly protects against urinary tract infections (HTI).
    Urinary tract infections are much more common in women than in men, which is due to the shorter urethra. It is entirely sufficient to treat a urinary tract infection with antibiotics.
  • Circumcision supposedly protects against penile cancer.
    Penile cancer is one of the rarest types of cancer worldwide. In addition, the cancer is one of advanced age. Men have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than penile cancer. Cancer of the penis is also a cancer of the foreskin and' the glans and quite well treatable. This cancer is no reason to force circumcision on boys.
  • Circumcision supposedly protects against cervical cancer / HPV.
    The aforementioned diseases were mentioned during the modern history of circumcision to somehow justify non-medical circumcision medically. For prevention of the diseases mentioned however, other non-destructive measures (such as hygiene, condoms, etc.) are more appropriate. America with the highest circumcision rate of all western countries has also still the highest HIV / AIDS rate in all Western countries. There are now also well-tolerated vaccinations against the infection with HPV, such as Gardasil.
  • Circumcision supposedly protects against phimosis.
    Of course you cannot get phimosis without a foreskin. So this argument is as silly as if you would say that aputation of the feet protects from athlete's foot. Circumcision for phimosis prophylaxis is pure nonsense. - There are actually medically indicated cases of phimosis. But more than 90% of them can be corrected without surgery. One must clearly distinguish between the physiological (natural) and the pathological phimosis. Boys usually have a so-called physiological phimosis: the foreskin is bonded to the penis and cannot be retracted. Only by changes in the hormonal balance of adolescent boys, the bonded membrane dissolves slowly and allows to retract the foreskin. The average age here is 10.4 years. Each phimosis diagnosis that is made in an otherwise healthy boy before the end of puberty that can urinate without a problem, is a misdiagnosis. Especially during the enrollment examination, phimosis is often diagnosed because some doctors still mistakenly believe that on the enrollment the foreskin must be fully retractable. As a parent, please ignore this diagnosis. If the child has no problems, you have to make him any problems.
    The Professional Association of Paediatricians in Germany has now canceled the phimosis investigations in the examination books for boys in early childhood.
  • "A cut penis is better protected against infections."
    The opposite is true, because an important protective function of the foreskin no longer exists after the circumcision.
    "While the outer foreskin layer is an extension of the penile shaft skin, the inner foreskin layer, which lies flat against the glans, is a mucous membrane. The inner layer is an extraordinarily complex tissue. It contains apocrine glands which produce Cathepsin B, lysozymes, chymotrypsin, neutrophil elastase, cytokines and pheromones such as androsterone. Indian scientists have shown that the subpreputial moisture contains lytic material which has an antibacterial and antiviral effect. The natural oils lubricate, moisten and protect the mucous membranes of both the glans and the inner foreskin layer. The tip of the foreskin is supplied with ample amounts of blood through important blood vessels."[3]
    The foreskin is naturally equipped with multiple defense mechanisms against infection. The foreskin in the infant and toddler has a pronounced peak with a sphincter, which is formed by a vortex of muscle tissue, and remains closed to keep foreign substances out there, but opens to allow the outflow of urine. The sub-preputial moisture contains lysozyme, a secretion that destroys harmful microorganisms. The foreskin contains Langerhans cells, provide protection against HIV infection. Fleiss, Hodges, and Van Howe[4] explain the immunological functions of the foreskin in detail, as well as Cold and Taylor.[5]
    "The foreskin has a number of tasks and functions. The glands which can be found in the inner foreskin, produce a secretion that keeps the glans soft and supple. The so-called smegma is used to obtain a stable bacterial flora in the genital area of ​​men and to protect them from diseases. It protects against infection, which may also affect the urethra, since its task is the natural hygiene of the glans."[6]

Hygienical Arguments

  • "A circumcised penis can be cleaned much easier."
    The cleaning of an intact or circumcised penis is equal and is not hampered by an intact foreskin.
  • "Uncircumcised penisses always smell."
    This argument assumes a flat rate poor hygiene for all intact boys and men and thus constitutes an indirect insult all intact boys and men.

Esthetical Arguments

  • "A circumcised penis looks nicer."
    That is not a valid measure of circumcision on children. With the same aesthetic argument, for example, Chinese girls feet were fueled in former times, so they could barely walk as adult women because of the deformation of the feet.

Sexual Arguments

  • "Circumcised men can cum later."
    In fact, many circumcised men have to work much longer for ejaculation, especially with age, because due to the lack of foreskin their glans is increasingly callous and unfeeling.

Trivializing arguments

  • "I've never heard anyone complain about being circumcised."
    Chances are that a man does not talk about his sexual or other (genital) issues to others at all. There are many personal stories of men who did and do complain. There is an organization named Men Do Complain, there are books with case histories of many men who do complain. But it is not the question if men do complain. The question is: Is circumcision of children an illegal intervention in the physical integrity? That is continuously asserted by lawyers. The question for victims does also not arise here, because circumcision of children basically violates the fundamental rights of the child.
  • "Circumcision is similar to removing a patch."
    All published circumcision videos show that those who are circumcised without adequate anaesthetic treatment (anaesthesia or anaesthetic), suffer immense pain. Infants fall regularly in shock as a reaction to the pain, when being circumcised without effective anaestesia. This shock is often misinterpreted and the parents believe that their baby would have simply slept through.
    Actually, in some traditional ritual forms of circumcision not only the outer foreskin} is cut up or off, but rather even the (inner) foreskin is torn down. The comparison with pulling off a patch is safe only from the point of view of the person who tear down the patch or the foreskin, but not from the point of view of the child who suffers the pain. It is at least not a single case known in which a mohel fell in shock after circumcision, while it is regularely in only a few days old boys. Therefore, this comparison is more than cynical.
    The foreskin of an infant firstly is connected with the glans and thus serves to protect it from everything. One can compare the state of the physiological connection between internal foreskin and glans with the way how fingernails are connected to the underlying tissue.
  • "Babies feel no pain yet, therefore should be circumcised at an early stage."
    This assertion is completely obsolete and refuted in many studies. The discussion is also quite schizophrenic. It is fiercely debated whether embryos that are to be expelled, should be stunned before. But you can easily cut off a body part without anesthesia on born babies because they do not feel pain? The reserch situation is however quite differently here: boys who were circumcised as infants, show even stronger reactions to pain (e.g. vaccination)) as intact ones.[7][8]
  • "Circumcision is comparable with ear piercing or other piercings."
    Apart from the fact that earlobes and piercings are bodily injury, usually any sensitive tissue or even functional body parts is removed when doing earlobes and piercings. Also earlobes and piercing holes can grow again. Therefore, this comparison is completely untenable. Children are no dolls that you can surgically change at will. The body belongs to the child alone, that alone should decide when and where permanent changes in their body are made. As long as the child is too young to make the appropriate statements, you should forgo any body modification.
  • "Circumcision is like cutting fingernails or hair."
    Fingernails and hair grow by themselves. This trivializing comparison of foreskin amputation with normal personal hygiene is untenable.
  • "The baptism of a baby with ice cold water is also brutal and puts a shock to the child."
    This argument is not only wrong, it's downright silly. First, it is common nowadays to use warmed water for infant baptisms, because you just do not want to scare the often only a few days old child. Second, here the actual gentle wetting of the head (or forehead) is compared cynically with the amputation of a healthy, important body part of a healthy baby body without adequate anesthesia. And third, there is no right in the wrong. If baptism with water would violate the fundamental right of the child to physical integrity to the extent that circumcision does, then still no equal (un)right to circumcision can be derived.
  • "He should look like his father; you can't tell the child why he looks different there."
    Probably one of the worst arguments, because where is the limit? So you can't also explain to the child why the father is sitting in a wheelchair and the child doesn't, so you have to cut his spinal cord? Maybe the father is blind or has scars on his face - does the child have to compensate the father, too? Of course not. The argument serves to protect the father's peace of mind, but not the child that must be protected against 'conflicts'.
  • "I like my penises circumcised."
    Often voiced by mothers who could not imagine who an intact penis looks like or works. The argument is not only dangerously close to a sexual assault, but has already exceeded this limit. Any man who would express himself this way about the genitals of his daughter, would have major problems with the DCFS and would expose himself to criminal prosecution.
  • "You can't teach a boy to wash there. Thus he will be circumcised."
    Parental education failure should not be borne on the backs of the boys. If parents do not feel able to educate their son to proper personal hygiene, they should take help from official aid agencies rather than to impose the son on an operation that has no other justification than parental laziness.

Exclusionary arguments

Exclusionary arguments often try to either push the discussion partner in the corner of a minority so that he must not talk when the majority discusses something - or to ascribe themselves to a special group, whose group rules forbid that outsiders may join in the discussion at all.

  • "Those who are not circumcised, can / may not talk!"
    An argument of an impressive logic. Then women and men who were not raped, must not be against rape. Who was not already executed, may or may not then have a say even on the death penalty.
  • "This is a purely Jewish / Muslim topic - not your affair!"
    Here the attempt to take out the genital mutilation which is practiced worldwide for the most diverse reasons, from the discussion, is doubly insidious: One is pretending as if there were only the religious ritual of a single religious community. On the other hand discussion partners are identified here automatically as unwanted outsiders of communion who had better not to interfere in the intra-Community discussion.

Moral Arguments

  • "I want to keep my boy from masturbating."
    Masturbation is something completely natural and part of the right to sexual self-determination. The excessive fight against the natural masturbation was the main motivation for the american doctor and rassist John Harvey Kellogg to propagate circumcision all over the United States of America.
  • "If we ban it here, it is done illegaly or abroad."
    This so-called 'backyard' argument can be applied to almost all statutory, punitive bans and is just absurd. It is also listed in debates about drug addiction, abortion and female genital mutilation. During the Circumcision Debate 2012 in Germany, the author Harald Stücker has explained in a recommended article[9] why the backyard argument is not accessible.
    Cases are already on record in Germany, in which courts have eluded parents the right to determine residency of their children when it was to expect that they wanted to take a child abroad for a circumcision and the court ruled for the benefit of the child.[10]
    They who still want to do something legally prohibited, will not be quenched by law at all. Arguing that legal banning would lead to dodging into illegality, should result in a situation where all criminal laws could be abolished.

Religious Arguments

Jewish Religion

  • "Circumcision is required by God."
    This argument is brought by the Jewish communities, with respect to a Bible text where God ordered the Israelic forefather Abraham to have all male descendants circumcised. But in fact it is not a religion-giving, but a religion-confirming ritual act that can therefore be postponed to a later date without any problem.
  • "Only the circumcision makes a boy a real Jew."
    Refutation: In the Jewish-religious culture, a boy becomes a Jew automatically when he is born by a Jewish mother.
  • "There is no internal Jewish debate about circumcision."
    The many Jewish movements against the ritual circumcision, founded in the Internet age, which also search for alternative rituals, clearly show that an intra-Jewish debate exists very well.
    But the ritual was repeatedly questioned in inner-Jewish debates even earlier. Walter Otte wrote about it in the HPD: "The combination of medicine and religion refers to the great decade-long intra-Jewish debate of the 19th century, brought in mainly Jewish doctors objection made against the circumcision of boys. In the middle of the 19th century, there were Jewish reform groups, Jewish doctors and rabbis, who entered intense discussions, which dealt with religious but also to health aspects of the Prepuce circumcision of boys. In debates or reform Rabbi and Jewish doctors (which even claimed the abolition of the Boy circumcision), the hospital doctor Gideon Brecher called the procedure a "bloody operation". The Dessau doctor Adolf Arnhold presented extensive arguing why circumcision is outdated as a "binding ritual of the Jews". He was based on religious considerations, called the biblical circumcision formations only of importance for "unbiased believers" and came to the conclusion that the material act of circumcision had become "a redundant and useless shell of the mentally bare core". Philipp Wolferts from Lemförde and the Hamburg doctor Moritz Gustav Salomon emerged with medical arguments, where Salomon came to the conclusion that circumcision was not religious but merely a political meaning in the 19th century at all."[11]

Islamic Religion

  • "Circumcision has been recommended by the Prophet Mohammed."
    This argument is brought by the Muslim communities, with respect to a Hadith of one fellow of the prophet where the male circumcision is required. The Quran itself neither mentions nor requires the circumcision. Although Ibrahim (Abraham) himself is mentioned in the Quran at least 67 times, his circumcision is not mentioned there. Instead, many places in the Quran describe that Allah created man "in great shape" [12], "completed" [13] and "complete" [14], and "made your bodies perfectly" [15]. "No mistake you can see in the Creation of the Most Gracious." [16] The circumcision itself would have to be an insult for Allah.[17]
    The recommendation for circumcision goes back to Abū Huraira, who reported that the Prophet should have said: "To fitrah (at creation of man) five things are required: The circumcision, the shaving of pubic hair, the short-cutting of the mustache, cuttin the (finger and foot) nails, and plucking the armpit hairs." [18]
    Since this is five body treatments that have to do in the broadest sense with hygiene, one can understand even in temporal and spatial context of Islam in the 7th century AD, that circumcision was mentioned, too. But nowadays, circumcision is unnecessary for hygienic reasons. Hygiene can be no religious argument, too.

See also

Ironic confrontation