THE PRO-ANTI CIRCUMCISION DEBATE
Bryk (1931) wrote (p.
"The problem of circumcision is stated and answered according
to the subjective attitude of the author or the peoples in question,
... on the one side, it is praised as something well-nigh divine,
and on the other, rejected as being somewhat barbaric."
The question: should all boys be circumcised or not, is an extraordinarily
misleading question. (Its not the answers - its getting the questions
right which is the tricky bit!)
The debate for and against circumcision is not new to the world,
it has probably been going on since the operation was first introduced.
Modern times and Internet has merely exaggerated the fronts, so
that nowadays instead of partial circumcision being debated, the
pro circs. want full circumcision, and the anti circs. want nothing
Both sides are so sure they know the truth, and both sides feel
so right in their assumptions that they feel justified in ignoring
Before getting on line I had never seriously considered the question
"Should all boys be circumcised or none?" It seemed (and still seems)
a totally irrelevant question for a culture which has the intelligence
and eyes to make a specific ands individual diagnosis, checking young children and in the individual
cases where something was wrong to treat accordingly and specifically.
The debate between those who support circumcision and those who
are against it, is the singular most destructive factor to clear thinking
about circumcision. It misleads parents and every ordinary listener
to believe that there is a routine answer which applies to every boy,
and it misleads concerned parents to an uncertainty and unnecessary
worry about if to circumcise or not.
The real problem is actually the question - not the answer!
A BLESSING or a MUTILATION?
On the one side the pro-circers say with irrefutable logic "if kids
were all circumcised, they wouldn`t have any problems" (cut off
their heads and they never get headaches) ... this perversion of the
normal sense of preventative medicine is balanced on the other hand
by the anti circers who, basing there arguments on simple civil rights, they go to the extreme of maintaining foreskin problems are a rarity,
which heal spontaneously, or can be treated as an adult if any individual so chooses. (which I as well as the pro circs. who are as aware of the problems as I am, find simply too late sometimes after years of embarrassing problems, arguing that a child needs early care).
The pros emphasise infections, - they tend to leave foreskin conditions
out of the argument (probably because they realise that such can be
cured without full circumcision - infections cancer and aids are the
only possibly valid arguments for full circumcision). The antis prefer
to minimise all and every problem with the foreskin because it could
indicate a reason to operate, and so are happy to comply with ignoring
foreskin conditions - and so has followed years and years of irrelevant
debate about irrelevant infections.
While the pro-circers generally approve of checking boys (and
then circumcising any with possible problems), for the anti-circ.
sources checking implies medical interference and as phimosis is
(supposedly) a rarity and doctors checking the foreskin causes "iatrogenic"
problems (i.e. problems caused by a doctor), they recommend that
foreskins and the penis are best to leave alone or ignore (23, 24) and eventually around
the age of 17 most of the problems will somehow have resolved by
(If you check, all references to this theory about problems resolving
spontaneously at 17 are referred to and based on one medical study
by Øster, however the interpretation given is always the surface
one. Øster himself describes how
he educated and monitored his youths for 7 years and it was only after
this care and education that he was able to record the lowest phimosis
statistic in available medical history.)
Almost everyone who is actively involved with this subject has either
an anti or pro circumcision bias. And though scientific arguments are
presented it is obvious that a personal experience
lies at the basis of a rationalisation : some men were circumcised as babies and
not infrequently the operation was done badly; on the other hand some
men needed circumcision and were thankful once they received it mostly
as adult. For some circumcision was a mutilation; while for others
it was a blessing.
Both groups have a number of medical doctors and university trained
men writing studies and papers which provide the necessary scientific
"proof". And I wish to note again my astonishment that so many doctors
support one or other of these extremist diametrically opposed opinions.
Writing now in 1998, Schöberlein in 1966 was the last doctor to
emphasise the wisdom of pre puberty checks.
This site was the first "not strictly" anti-circ. site on line,
and regardless the logic that I wanted boys checked and therefore I
didn`t want them automatically routinely circumcised, just the mere
mention that individually a circumcision could be necessary, prompted
a lot of extremely horrible letters from anti circers, and a lot of
inappropriate support letters from pro circers. (there are now around
12 real pro circ. sites, and my hate mail from the antis and my pro support mail
has diminished accordingly).
How very confusing it all was, - the only
people talking "openly" about male circumcision were extremists lost
in an all or nothing, for or against, black and white question. Even
so called moderates would define themselves in these one dimensional
terms, saying they tend towards being anti. or pro. - clearly recorded
on the Deja NewsGroups one man (a qualified psychologist and anthropologist) who wrote he started
out pro then became anti and is now more pro again!
If it wasnt so sad, it would be fascinating how both extremes
suggest routine approaches with no consideration for appropriate individual
measures. And it is here I believe that the antis are making the big
mistake in their thinking - they play into the pros hands exactly by
trying to minimise the problems and present a routine answer, - instead
of emphasising individual solutions to individual problems depending
on the degree of severity etc., as in other branches of modern medicine:- individual patient related treatment.
The anti circ Theory
My discussion with the PRO-Circers. in some detail
The pro-circumcision argument is that infant circumcision provides
a valid prevention against infections and diseases. They are generally
aware that foreskin conditions dont require full circumcision, it is
probably for this reason that they emphasise disease infection even
cancer and AIDS arguing that a full circumcision is the best prevention
of these. Even for foreskin conditions individual treatment is not
considered, the modern options of corrective stretching, betamethasone,
frenoplasty and/or the traditional cures of partial circumcision, a
dorsal slit, or frenular incision are rarely recommended.
Modern technical engineering and plastics have enabled pro circ
doctors to develop modern methods for performing full circumcision
on even the tiny infant penis. The Tara Clamp has recently been added
to Plastiibell and gomco clamp and is praised as being able to perform
the perfect infant cut.
It is often argued that UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) happen 10%
more in uncircumcised boys. What does 10% more mean?
Are we talking about 10% more than 1 in 6 or 10% more than 1 in
60,000. - What does "10% more" actually mean in terms of how often
problems of this sort are occurring?
This question has been on-line since 1996 and no pro circ. source
has responded. When confronted, the only answer I have received has
... "Its AIDS, penis cancer infections etc. all added together."
I writhe in agony, please give a reliable answer which you can argue
in some way. The important question to me is: Do foreskin related infections
and diseases occur more than 1% of the total time?
I have never seen any reliable statistics. I have never found a pro-circumcision
doctor or supporter who can give an answer, - is this true? are there
no reliable statistics? - I know pro-circers read this, if you post
me some sort of reliable figures then I`ll print them or link up with
them! - (It is now 2005 - I have still received no answer)
Again I have never seen, read or heard any reliable statistics -
and this is ridiculous when considering child health care.
On the other hand every pro circer who I have corresponded with has freely expressed
their agreement that 10% of the uncircumcised male population have
phimosis. - Such statistics are confirmed in The
Encyclopedia of Phimosis Statistics, which is my collection of all
the statistical studies on phimosis since 1920.
Surely if care for children is foremost in our thinking it would
be appropriate to help make our culture aware of these common conditions
which can be checked for. Surely you can continue any debate about a possible
general advisability of circumcising every child or none as a prevention
against infection for further centuries, once these proven actual common
problems have been resolved.
In countries which are limited in their health care possibilities
it would seem practical for pro circumcision sources to recommend a
routine dorsal slit, - a dorsal slit would be most efficient cheap
quick and practical, requiring minimal after care or expertise from
the operator, allowing the glans to harden early against infection
to comply with your apparent main caring intention, protecting children
Some pro-circers have complained of the price of checking children,
In this respect note that a dorsal slit would again fulfil your arguments.
One significant comment came from a pro-circer who told me
that the circumcised penis turned him on. This might well be a secret
truth and also one of the most valid reasons for performing the operation.
... and from
this perspective I could imagine the pro-circ movement would have some
success, indeed from this perspective I would wish them success, ... the denuded penis is more interesting with more diversity of forms and texture of skin surface and thus a more interesting symbol of maleness, ... but in a modern culture which respects individual rights this choice must be made as an adult and
NOT simply routinely peformed on infants.
Dr. Gerald N. Weiss, M.D. has written countless
pro-circumcision publications and argues that babies do not feel pain
when circumcised without anaesthetic, and masturbation (which often
requires lubrication among the circumcised) is an unnatural substitute
for intercourse. When one man stands at the head of the pro-circumcision
campaign it is this doctor.
He proudly posted me the following story (a support letter he had
received) 3 times, the third time in public on ARC Forum1 on 05 August 1999
.... >An E-mail message received from a medical student in Germany this
>month illustrates the point:
> “Congratulations on your research on circumcision! I find it really
deplorable that this uncomplicated but thus so beneficial operation
is losing population so rapidly in our days. I am a 24 year old medical
student from Germany and I have spent 18 years of my life with a foreskin...and
with it with a great many problems. I am circumcised now and more than
happy about it. I wish circumcision was the norm here in Germany, because
it is - as you might know - very unpopular here. In my med school here
circumcision is not even taught. Wish you all the best for your research,
"... the importance of this anecdote cannot be overlooked - This potential
doctor suggests a routine procedure ("I wish circumcision was the norm")
on account of his personal experiences. We see very clearly here how
personal prejudice on this subject can influence medical opinion and
Dr. Weiss made no answer to this comment and also made no answer
to the (above) question of statistics.
(shame ... I am open to answers)
If any pro-circ. site or source feels they can answer these questions
and ideas please notify me and I will link up, - until that time I
can only deduce that all your argumentation is based on the personal preference,
i.e. basicly that you like the look of the circumcised penis.
Address to the ANTI-Circers.
From an ethical or moral standpoint, RIC - Routine Infant Circumcision
is certainly an infringement of personal rights. And where anti-circ
sources are most certainly correct is when discussing their own field
of experience: RIC - Routine Infant Circumcision.
Unfortunately often anti-circumcision sources make assumptions about the value of the foreskin thereby minimising any problems.
I would love to communicate and link up to a site which was against
RIC without being against circumcision or other foreskin and frenulum
operations. At present all anti circ. sites proliferate the idea
of ignoring foreskin problems (24) or leaving a growing boy's penis alone (23).
(Please give any new links - I stopped online research in 2000)
While I agree with your goals, your reasoning and approach are unrealistic.
I am afraid that because you feel morally or ethically correct you
are making the various mistakes of the self righteous where any means
justifies the end.
It is ironical
but anit-circ sources appear to be damaging their own cause by developing and spreading new
myths and untruths - and thus maintaining the taboos and ignorance.
Please see Anti-Circ Theory
for a summary text which is easier to read than the following
NEW FANTASIES to CONFUSE me MORE and MORE
I believe if your information had been planned to prolonge the
chaos for doctors and patients for another hundred years, then it could
not have been better planned.
It is often totally irrational - and it is frustrating to try and argue rationally against such angry emotions.
Most anti circers will admit that they have never experienced a
foreskin and know little about how they work, - however they have "researched"
and present a set of ideas on how the "normal" foreskin works, and
then present theories and advice for parents on how to care for the
People must learn to think about this subject clearly and with common
sense, not with mumbo jumbo.
Please see The Anti-Circ Theory which discusses Taylor`s "highly sensitive" ridged
band. Information for parents and
children in more than a hundred internet sites is based on this one study
of 22 dead bodies.
The phimotic ring is referred to by many anti circumcision
www sites as either Taylors ridged band or the frenar band. The word frenar can easily be
confused with frenulum. How can this help clarity and education?
All anti circ sites I have seen ignore refences to all 26 collected studies on
the frenulum - all except for one by Paul M. Fleiss, MD 90 this is still referenced and quoted by every important anti-circ. site.
... The foreskin's frenulum holds it in place over the glans ...
A frenulum which when flaccid holds the foreskin forward, is going to be really very very short on erection - actually the condition is impossible.
In the flaccid state, the foreskin covers
the glans from the weight-bundle of its own skin. This is the case among both those men
who are born without frenulums and those who have had it removed, the
foreskin covers the glans of its own accord, by its own "weight-bundle".
It is obvious that during erection a healthy frenulum does not hold the foreskin forward. ...
What is the good doctor talking about? why do so many blindly follow?
and look how one short irrational sentance takes ages to disprove rationally
Anti circ. sources maintain that phimosis is a rarity occurring
at a frequency of only 1%.
Only someone who has done no unbiased
research could maintain such ideas. Between 2.4% and 14% of uncircumcised
youths have phimosis. This is obvious from every study on statistics
since 1920. You cannot use only one study on statistics (Øster);
ignore Schöberlein (28), Osmond (86),
Bokström (91) and Parkash (88),
AND claim any validity for your statistics. - Neither Øster
nor anyone else in a phimosis study has ever measured statistics
of 1% in an unselected group.
Øster is essential reading for any anti-circer, it is recommended
by all important anti-circ. sites and referred to by many other
medical studies - however the interpretation given is always the
surface one, that phimosis cures by itself over time.
Øster himself describes how he educated
and monitored his youths for 7 years it was only after this care
and education for this selected group, that he was able to record
the lowest phimosis statistic in available medical history. This shows the validity of monitoring and educating boys, not of
ignoring foreskin conditions (24)
A surface interpretation of Øster is not only untrue but harmful - with such info. the next generation
of kids could all grow up with foreskin conditions.
So, to summarise, while I agree with your intentions far more than
the pro routine circumcision movement, you are doing far far more damage
to clear thinking and open mindedness on this subject ... this is more
than ironic.... it is tragic ...
I would ask those who are campaigning to end RIC to learn about
foreskin conditions and help educating about them, covering up their
existence only perpetuates the taboos.
Until foreskin conditions and their effects are acknowledged, at
least one aspect of the basic fear and mystery about circumcision will
justifiably remain, and almost logically and understandably, this mystery will continue
to have irrational consequences - (e.g. baby boys being circumcised
for no reason).
If routine circumcision or no circumcision is more ridiculous or even
dangerous is an irrelevant and bizarrly misleading question. Because,
A diagnosis of any malformation is possible and advantageous
before puberty, before the majority of the problems have occurred.
If boys were monitored, the anti-circers idea of conservative treatment
would then have a realistic basis, and instead of a hurried operation, there would be ample time to encourage
preventative stretching - use of steroid creams - educate about paraphimosis
- previous to the last operative resort.
If any anti.circ source feels they can respond to my criticism
I will link up with or print your ideas ...
Other Related Files: Foreword on Routine Circumcision
and The different
Psychological Perspectives of anti and pro circumcision mentality appear
to be related to their presonal experience
Quaintance a pro-circ site manager - wrote
"I am wholeheartedly in favour of checking boys well before puberty
to give them the best chance of entering puberty with a fully functioning
"Quite apart from the specific need to check for genital development
and knowledge before puberty, I have long felt that all children should
have regular complete medical checkups (at least every 2-3 years).
Detailed examination of the genitals should be included in these checks
and the opportunity taken to get corrective action as early as possible
when any problems are found."
Occasional individual anti circers have said they have nothing against
checking, some have said they favour checking but that I should
include the checking of circumcised boys.
I agree and have now
started collecting information on this subect. I feel I still
do not know enough about the problems of a circumcised penis to
be able to advise parents on this, so please tell me your personal
I would find it far more appropriate for one of the anti circ sites
to consider a section on the subject of checking circumcised boys,
I would happily link to such a site.
And just a closing note from 2007 - The antis are far more emotionally involved; the pros are cool and rational and really enjoy winding the antis. up, which drives the debate to extremes which suits the pro-circ. cause far better. I always wished the antis would see that the simplest way to break the circle is to demand individual treatment, (even if this occasionally means an individual circumcision) ... but im a dreamer ...