Cut or uncut: The circumcision debate rages on

While women’s rights to their own bodies are hotly contested in the media, it is a rare occurrence to see men have to grapple with similar issues.

Last week, the nations of Sweden and Denmark lobbied to restrict circumcision in their countries.

According to The Daily Beast, the Swedish Medical Association recommended 12 as the minimum age for the procedure to be done, while also requiring the boy’s consent, thereby putting the decision in the hands of the prospective patient.

 

 

Denmark made a similar move after the Danish College of General Practitioners declared the practice of circumcision as “tantamount to abuse and mutilation.” The Danish newspaper BT also polled its readers and found that 87 percent were in favor of a ban on circumcision.

In American culture, this might seem a novel idea, as the National Center for Health Statistics reported last year that 58 percent of newborn American males were circumcised. However, this percentage still indicated a decline from previous years. This is indicative of changing attitudes toward a seemingly unnecessary procedure, a view with which I agree.

Historically, the procedure is said to be useful for preventing urinary tract infections and reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases in men. But we no longer live in the Middle Ages; if uncircumcised men, and even women, have been proven to keep their junk clean and STD-free, what is the point of continuing it?

In examining the issue, I’m reminded that I myself am not a man, so how can I tackle an issue I know nothing about? It’s important to examine the historical context of the issue before proceeding.

In the Jewish culture, circumcision is routinely carried out eight days after the birth of the son. It’s also almost a universal practice in Muslim cultures.

“Ritual circumcision is a holdover from an era when religious identity was less of a choice or personal construction, and more of a socially sanctioned absolute,” said Michael Schulson of The Daily Beast.

However, there are individuals, even in America where circumcision has become the norm, who have remained both uncircumcised and happy.

The stigma against uncircumcised penises in this country ranges from the “It’s just weird!” to medical advice in the form of “Don’t you want him to get blow jobs some day?” (Newsflash: They still will.)

Ignoring how offensive and harmful these reactions can be, it’s time to review the public opinion by those in Europe and answer the bevy of actually relevant questions that arise: Is the operation really necessary? What are the ramifications of not having the procedure done?

“It seems somewhat infringing (to ban it), especially if it depends on your faith,” said ASU criminal justice sophomore Noah Suhr. “If that happened here, I wouldn’t be outraged, but I’d be a little disgruntled. I’ve never really heard anybody say, ‘I’m so upset I got circumcised.’”

While I understand the benefits of circumcision have become widely accepted by most individuals in this country as paramount to the happiness and overall health of men in the long-run, it has become an outdated and unnecessary procedure.

Short of an individual’s religion requiring the procedure, it seems to me that we have reached a point in our society where men no longer have to rely on a piece of their body being removed to maintain hygiene.

Some have drawn comparisons between circumcision and the practice of female genital mutilation that is still practiced in many parts of the world. While I would agree that the Western practice of circumcision has been rendered obsolete, I’d have to disagree with this sentiment.

Trying to make the best decision for your sons and their health in the long run can hardly be considered torture. That said, this procedure can be avoided and is now wholly unnecessary. It’s time to eradicate the stigma of foreskins.

Amidst raging debates over women’s bodies, it’s time to reintroduce the idea that men can be allotted some control over their own.

Reach the columnist at llonghi@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @lolonghi