THE ORIGINS OF THE PRACTICE
ROUTINE MALE CIRCUMCISION
3) Why did the practice continue?
How any practice becomes anchored in a culture
is that firstly it must become socially acceptable and normal. During the first stages of the development, some people may well have looked upon
the idea as a ridiculous or frivolous mutilation, while among others
it would become socially acceptable, desirable and normal. and it is
where this sense of acceptability and "normality" existed that the
practice became established.
Previous to the measure becoming established in a fixed cultural
form, it could easily have been discontinued, forgotten, reintroduced,
Distinct reasons for the continuation of this tradition are related
in the existing literature. Sometimes the operation combined with,
for example: initiation rites, religious ideas and celebrations, ritual
sacrifice, national identity, sexual identity; specific to some peoples
were associations such as reincarnation or high priestly distinction;
or often simply to continue the respected traditions because 'our fathers did it before us', and when any
of these associations occurred, the practice became anchored as part
of the culture's traditions.
Special note should be made of Bryk`s
ideas on the natural inclination to "denudation"
of the glans which offers a basis for all other developments.
Other factors which may have contributed to the continuation cover
such diversity as climate, sparseness or density of the population,
probably even local inter marriage customs, method of gathering
food (e.g. segregated male hunting parties). On the other hand:
Bettelheim's (5) menstruation
envy; and the modern psychologists "regression" may all
have played a part in why this custom became established among some
In fact probably the only theme which has nothing to do with the
continuation of the practice are foreskin conditions: then once the
foreskin was routinely removed, it no longer caused problems, and could
no longer have been a motivating factor.
Once it had become established, if there was no reason to stop using
a tried and tested method, then it would be continued, in the same
way as other customs, then survival and stability depended on such
Open to discussion - (as always)