Circumcision as genital mutilation?

I don’t have much of an opinion on circumcision. I don’t subscribe to any religious beliefs that mandate circumcision, and I’ve been with men of both varieties and it didn’t really make a difference to me. I’ve never become particularly interested in the topic, so I haven’t bothered to learn much of anything about it.

However, Massachusetts will be voting on a bill on March 2 that would make illegal any “genital mutilation” of children under the age of 18. It would outlaw circumcision, without any exceptions granted for religious purposes.

My first instinct is simply that this can’t be legal–freedom of religion is one of the major rights, which this bill would be flagrantly contradicting. On the other hand, there’s also the right to bodily integrity.

The thing is, I firmly stand against female genital mutilation, and as soon as you start making laws that apply to only one gender, you stand on shaky ground. It becomes easier and easier to undermine something the more stipulations you put on it.

Admittedly, I don’t suppose we have a very high rate of FGM in Massachusetts. (Then again, now that I’ve said that, I will probably regret it, as I will discover depressing statistics or something.)

I don’t know. I can’t really come to a decision on where I stand about this issue, but it’s certainly an interesting one to turn over in my head. Again and again and again. There’s a lot of ways to look at it, and a lot of issues interconnected with it. I’ll keep thinking on it.

[original article]

02/12/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.


  1. H replied:

    I have mixed opinions about both male and female circumcision. I don’t agree with either, but I also don’t agree that we should interfere with other cultures’ customs and beliefs as long as they aren’t knowingly and intentionally harming others. I cannot imagine that female circumcision is common in Massachusetts and it seems like a pretty unnecessary law. Don’t they have more important matters they could be focusing on? People are just going to go to other states to get the procedure done if that’s what they believe.

  2. Jennifer replied:

    Hi, I recommend you do some more research on this. I did and was blown away by what I discovered and became quite staunchly anti-circumcision (for infants, adults can make their own choices). I hope you’d come to a similar conclusion as you seem very logical and we seem to agree on most other stuff.

    I found out circumcision was originally promoted in the West to stop masturbation, that it’s not really common anywhere in the West any more other than the USA, that no medical organisation anywhere recommends it, that there’s serious evidence it can have a negative effect on male sexual pleasure, and that it has a lot of risks and complications. True, they’re mostly rare, but for something unnecessary in the first place? We shouldn’t be having boys dying and/or losing their penis each year for a parental whim. The more I researched it the more horrified I was, basically. I was careful about my sources and tried to stay away from anything biased, medical organisations are a good starting point as they’re generally very well-considered from a lot of doctors.

    From an ethical perspective, I realised that with circumcision not being a medical necessity or even a medical recommendation, there’s no pressing reason to do it. It basically becomes cosmetic surgery if it’s not medically recommended. Should parents be able to do cosmetic surgery on an infant’s genitals? I realised I think no, for both males and females. It’s scary how a lot of the arguments for FGM are recycled for male circumcision (e.g. the opposite sex finds it more attractive, it’s more hygienic). They’re all myths. I basically realised that I don’t think anyone should be able to peform religious or cultural practices on another person’s body if it harms them – and cutting off part of their genitals without permission takes away sensation and risks infection and death – doesn’t seem right to me. Somebody should have the rights to their own body.

    A good site is and it links to some others. I hope I gave you some food for thought.

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