History of circumcision

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Many Americans are surprised to hear that circumcision (the surgical removal of the foreskin) is uncommon in the western world. Foreigners are often shocked when they first hear that the practice of circumcision even exists in the United States. Circumcision was first introduced in the United States by an anti-sexual Victorian initiative which began during the 1830’s. Numerous publications from the 1830’s to times even as late as the 1970’s had advocated for circumcision as a means to prevent masturbation, and to permanently desensitize, denude, and immobilize the penis.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

From Historical American Female Circumcision medical papers

Circumcision advocates quickly moved on to manufacture a number of outrageous health claims. These claims were tailored to the fears and anxieties of the day. Circumcision has been claimed to cure epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, eczema, bed-wetting, hip-joint disease, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, wet dreams, hernia, headaches, nervousness, hysteria, poor eyesight, idiocy, mental retardation, insanity, strabismus, hydrocephalus, clubfoot, cancer, STD’s, UTI’s, etc.[12] Doctors were eager to claim that they could prevent and cure many of these aliments, conditions and diseases because there were no treatments available then. Even though all of these claims have been throughly discredited, circumcision has remained a solution in search of a problem ever since. Many Americans are surprised to find out that female genital cutting (FGC) shares a strikingly similar history in the United States. [4] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] FGC was even covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield until 1977. Nowadays, many forms of FGC are now considered forms of female genital mutilation (FGM), which are banned in all western countries.

History of circumcision in the western world

19th century

  • 1873 Joseph Bell announces his discovery that circumcision cures bed wetting.[23]
  • 1875 Lewis A. Sayre declares that foreskin causes curvature of the spine, paralysis of the bladder, and clubfoot.[24]
  • 1879 H.H. Kane 'discovers' that circumcision cures nocturnal emissions and abdominal neuralgia.[25]
  • 1893 Mark J. Lehman demands immediate implementation of mass circumcision of all American boys.[30]
  • 1894 P.C. Remondino says circumcising blacks will help prevent them from raping whites.[6]
  • 1894 H.L. Rosenberry publishes paper 'proving' that circumcision cures urinary and rectal incontinence.[31]

20st century

  • 1900 Johnathan Hutchinson advises circumcision as way to decrease the pleasure of sex, and hence to discourage sexual immorality.[32]
  • 1901 Ernest G. Mark notes that the "pleasurable sensations that are elicited from the extremely sensitive" inner lining of the foreskin may encourage a child to masturbate, which is why he recommends circumcision since it "lessens the sensitiveness of the organ". [33]
  • 1902 Roswell Park publishes paper 'proving' that foreskin causes epilepsy and that circumcision cures it.[34]
  • 1914 Abraham L. Wolbarst claims that circumcision prevents tuberculosis and demands the compulsory circumcision of all children in America.[35]
  • 1915 Benjamin E. Dawson says that since the clitoral hood is the source of many neuroses, female circumcision is necessary.[15]
The Gomco and Mogen clamps.
  • 1935 R. W. Cockshut demands that all boys be circumcised in order to desensitize the penis and promote chastity.[7]
  • 1941 Allan F. Guttmacher promotes mass circumcision as a means of blunting male sexual sensitivity. He also spreads the false claim that a baby's foreskin must be forcibly retracted and scrubbed daily.[8]
  • 1949 Eugene H. Hand declares that circumcision prevents venereal disease and cancer of the tongue.[40]
  • 1949 Douglas Gairdner points out that the previous years cases of infant circumcision deaths were not necessary given the lack of medical justification for circumcision.
    (Note: This paper helped encourage the National Health Service to drop coverage for infant circumcision which led to the practical elimination of non- religious circumcision in the United Kingdom.)[41]
  • 1951 Abraham Ravich invents claims that circumcision prevents cervical cancer in women.[42]
  • 1953 R.L. Miller and D.C. Snyder unleash their plans to circumcise all male babies immediately after birth while still in the delivery room to prevent masturbation and provide "immunity to nearly all physical and mental illness."[9]
  • 1958 C.F. McDonald says "the same reasons that apply for the circumcision of males are generally valid when considered for the female."[17]
  • 1959 W.G. Rathmann finds that among the many benefits of female circumcision is that it will make the clitoris easier for the husband to find.[18]
  • 1966 Masters and Johnson erroneous claim that there is no difference in sensitivity between penises with and without foreskin.
    (Note: Their work helps propagate the medical dogma that circumcision has no effect on sexuality go practically unquestioned for nearly the next four decades.)[45]
  • 1971 Abraham Ravich claims that circumcision prevents cancer of the bladder and the rectum.[46]
  • 1971 The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn issues a warning to the Nation that, "There are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period."[47]
  • 1975 The American Academy of Pediatrics Task force on Circumcision declares, "There are no medical indications for routine circumcisions and the procedure cannot be considered an essential component of health care."[49]
  • 1976 Benjamin Spock, after recommending circumcision for thirty years, revises his best-selling parenting book: "I strongly recommend leaving the foreskin alone. Parents should insist on convincing reasons for circumcision — and there are no convincing reasons that I know of."[50]
  • 1988 Aaron J. Fink invents the falsehood that circumcision prevents neonatal group B streptococcal disease.[53]
  • 1991 Edgar J. Schoen tries and fails to convince European countries to institute mass circumcision.[55]
  • 1991 Aaron J. Fink declares mass circumcision is necessary to prevent sand from getting into the soldiers' foreskins.[56]
  • 1996 J.R. Taylor finds that the average amount of amputated foreskin was nearly half of the total penile skin.[57]
  • 1997 Edgar J. Schoen tries and fails once again to convince European countries to institute mass circumcision.[58]
  • 1997 Janice Lander discovers that circumcision without anesthesia is traumatic for babies.
    (Note: Before this, almost all infant circumcisions were done without anesthetic due to the prevalent belief among circumcisers that babies are not capable of feeling significant pain and if they could it doesn't matter since they won't be able to remember it.)[59]
  • 1998 Howard J. Stang, inventor of an upright circumcision restraint fails to mention this conflict of interest in his article promoting infant circumcision.[60]
  • 1999 John R. Taylor, after studying the foreskin's specialized innervation, concludes that it is the "primary erogenous tissue necessary for normal sexual function."[61]
  • 1999 The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision, after reviewing 40 years worth of medical studies, concluded that the "potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision... are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." This report is also the first time the AAP has acknowledged (after decades of doctors mindlessly repeating the belief that babies don't feel significant pain) that circumcision without anesthesia is traumatic and if circumcision is to be done, anesthesia should be used. Here are some highlights from the report:
Role of Hygiene: "there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimum penile hygiene."
STDs including HIV: "behavioral factors appear to be far more important than circumcision status."
Penile Cancer: "in a developed country such as the United States, penile cancer is a rare disease and the risk of penile cancer developing in an uncircumcised man, although increased compared with a circumcised man, is low."
Urinary Tract Infections: "breastfeeding was shown to have a threefold protective effect on the incidence of UTI in a sample of uncircumcised infants. However, breastfeeding status has not been evaluated systematically in studies assessing UTI and circumcision status." meaning that the earlier UTIs studies results were confounded. Even if their numbers were accurate, in order to prevent one UTI during the first year of life by circumcising a baby boy, approximately 195 babies who will not get a UTI would need to be circumcised. Also infant girls commonly develop UTIs(in some studies at even higher rates than infant boys) and the standard treatment for them is antibiotics which works just as well for infant boys with UTIs. The AAP concludes this section noting that "the absolute risk of developing a UTI in an uncircumcised male infant is low (at most, ~1%)".
Ethics: Here they say while even though cutting off part of your baby's genitalia "is not essential to the child's current well-being" they are perfectly fine with parents and doctors using cultural tradition as justification.
(Note: The report does not mention whether they also think cultural tradition is an acceptable reason to anesthetize infant girls and then cut off their clitoral hoods(which are biologically analogous to foreskin)).[62]

21st century

  • 2002 W.K. Nahm extends the storage life of specialized cell cultures derived from "freshly harvested neonatal foreskin tissue."
    (Note: Since the 1980s, some amputated infant foreskins have been sold without the knowledge of the parents to biomedical companies for research and even use in commercial cosmetic products such as anti-wrinkle creams.)[63]
  • 2005 R.Y. Stallings finds that HIV rates are significantly lower in circumcised women.
    (Note: There was no WHO call for mass female circumcision to help prevent AIDS.)[65]
  • 2007 Robert C. Bailey ends his study early with the conclusion touting circumcision as a 'vaccine' that prevents HIV infection.
    (Note: This and other similar studies were widely reported throughout the American media.)[66]
  • 2007 L. de Witte finds that Langerhans cells found in the foreskin are a natural barrier to HIV infection.
    (Note: This and other similar studies were widely ignored throughout the American media.)[67]
  • 2007 Morris L. Sorrells et al. tests the relative sensitivity of the penis and finds that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis and the glans is the least.[68]
  • See also

External links

  • REFweb Hely, Lou. History, Intact Australia. Retrieved 4 June 2020.


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