Circumcision: One Woman’s Piercing Commentary

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

When Enedina Vance posted a photo of her smiling baby with a pierced cheek on Facebook, she expected — and wanted — a reaction. She probably didn’t expect the reaction to be so vehement.

She received death threats. Some commenters claimed to have called government “child protective services” to come take the child away from an “abusive” mother.

When Vance revealed that the photo was fake (no, she hadn’t really had her child’s dimple pierced) and intended as social commentary, the hate level seemingly went up rather than down. Her target topic: Circumcision. If her goal was to fire up debate on the issue, mission accomplished.

Statistics vary by area and timeframe, but  the bottom line is that more than half of American male infants are subjected to circumcision, a painful genital mutilation ritual in which part of the penis (the foreskin) is amputated.

In some cases, the ritual is religious. In America the justification usually goes back to the Old Testament covenant between God and Abraham. Religious Jews practice circumcision, and many Christians, because our religion is an offshoot of Judaism,  consider it non-controversial (we’re not so tolerant of Muslim equivalents as applied to female infants).

In most cases, the ritual is medicalized — conducted at a hospital, by a doctor, based on one or more sketchy claims of health benefits. That started in the 19th century when masturbation was considered unhealthy and circumcision was thought to minimize it. In recent years, circumcision advocates cite research claiming benefits from reductions in penile cancer (which only affects 1-2 males per 100,000 anyway) to reductions in HIV transmission (that claim remains in dispute) and so forth.

If I started a new religion which required its adherents to cut each infant child’s left little toe off, those adherents would go to prison if they tried to live their faith.

As for the medical excuses, hey, I know how we can eliminate carpal tunnel! All we have to do is amputate each newborn’s arms right below the elbows! I’m kind of guessing that suggestion’s not going to fly with the American Medical Association.

The reason — the ONLY reason — infant male genital mutilation is tolerated (even justified and promoted!) in America is that it’s a millennia-old custom, “grandfathered in” to our culture. If we set aside the age of the habit, it stands revealed as nothing more than a brutal assault on a helpless victim.

Let’s cut circumcision out.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

Facebook Comments

4 thoughts on “Circumcision: One Woman’s Piercing Commentary

  1. I guess that should be an individual choice. But an infant can’t make an informed choice. The medical benefits I heard of are supposedly no uterine cancer among the faithful wives of Jewish men, and “easier to keep clean with greatly lowered risk of penile cancer.”
    Now I worked with an uncircumcised black guy in his late twenties in central Florida who had recurrent, vicious “yeast infections” and decided he would get a circumcision to make for a less hospitable environment for fungal and other growth. He described being in a lot of pain when the anesthetic wore off, and was off work for a couple of weeks praying for no erections. You can imagine his disappointment when he discovered that it was not yeast infections plaguing him, but genital herpes, and the circumcision made no significant difference. But he maybe had a prettier (although slightly scarred) penis afterward? I know women who are disgusted at the mere thought of an uncircumcised wiener. And at least one of them is not Jewish. I don’t have experience with Willys other than my own, and don’t care to change that, but I wonder if some gay guys or well experienced hetro women will comment on the topic?

    1. I haven’t come across the uterine cancer claim before, but as to the penile cancer claim, the GENERAL incidence of penile cancer is 1 or 2 per 100,000 males.

      For the sake of comparison (I hint at it in the column), incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome is between 2.7% and 5.8% — so at least 2,700 per 100,000 people, more than a thousand times as likely as penile cancer. We could virtually eliminate carpal tunnel by amputating babies’ arms above the wrist at birth, but we don’t.

  2. I could not agree more. Way I see it is if for religion reasons then we are saying god screwed up making us. The skin has a purpose to help with entry. Only reason it continues is because the doctor makes extra money. Am reasonably sure it must hurt like hell for an infant and with no pain killer can only imagine how bad it hurts. In time we will see an 18 plus year old boy file a law suite on the doctor and hospital for performing an operation for no reason. Maybe that would stop it fast after they pay out a few million. Do think in the USA the number cut is likely close to 90 %. Often when it is not done it is because it was a welfare case so no money. Have no way of knowing if it helps or hurts sex wise. Only one that could tell would be an adult that had sex both ways. Can not see it helping. Not sure how or if the practice could be shut down. And yes it is like saying cut a finger or toe off for no backed up medical reason. So 1 or 2 out of 100 k have reduced cancer. Now that is a number guessed at. It might be 1 or might be 2 but that is a huge difference. Not much an adult can do about it other than find a lawyer willing to invest in it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.