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Talking Points for Intactivists – Part One

January 31, 2012

Over the many years I have been advocating for the rights of baby boys to their whole, intact bodies, I have engaged in countless discussions on the topic. Some people have never given circumcision a thought, but once they are asked to think about it they immediately “get” that circumcision is a human rights violation. Some react by vociferously defending circumcision, and put forth facts and arguments that they believe bolster their position, and others simply want to end the conversation. Not surprisingly, people from the latter group sometimes return with arguments, questions, or even agreement. As you can imagine, I have gained a reputation for being – depending on the crowd – either a fascinating guest or an unwelcome annoyance at social gatherings!

Even while, by now, I truly have no problem talking about the foreskin, penises, circumcision, sexual dysfunction, female genital cutting, or any related topic, I do remember how difficult it was at the beginning when somebody would challenge me with arguments I knew were wrong, but to which I hadn’t yet formulated a cogent response.

I know that other intactivists have the same problem. So I thought it might be useful to lay out some talking points, or simple answers to questions or arguments I commonly hear. Here’s part one. First you’ll see the question (or argument) in italics, and then my counterpoint.

There are so many more important causes. Why are you wasting your time on this? I see infant circumcision as a human rights issue, and wouldn’t you agree that human rights should top the list of worthy causes? Furthermore, protecting babies and children ranks among the highest of human rights causes because they are unable to speak out or advocate on their own behalf.

You people are really weird.  It’s strange to me that you think my position is weird. Frankly, when I first starting thinking about circumcision, I thought it just didn’t make sense that half of the human race “needs” surgical correction after being born. To me, it seems weird to chop off any normal, healthy body part – let alone, the end of someone’s penis.

You are obsessed with penises. Actually, I think it’s the people who want to cut off foreskins who are obsessed with penises. My belief is simply that baby boys should be left in peace. As a pediatrician I know says, “Don’t just do something – stand there!” In other words, leave that baby’s body the way God – or nature – made it.

You’re not a man. Why do you care so much about this? You don’t have to be a man to know that babies – all babies – deserve protection from forced surgery on their genitals. You don’t have to be Jewish or Cambodian or Sudanese to care about genocide, or African-American to care about racial equality. It is everybody’s business to stand up for people whose rights are being violated.

I’ll let my husband decide; he’s the one with the penis.  If you accept that a child cannot legally consent to a surgery that is unnecessary, then you must agree that the child’s right to be protected cannot be suspended on a whim by a Father, or anyone else. If your husband were missing a finger, would you let him make the decision to cut off your child’s finger, or would you step in to protect your baby?

What about religion? Circumcision is a Jewish thing. You must be anti-Semitic. Most people don’t realize boys from Jewish families represent a very small fraction (a few thousand) of the one million infant circumcisions that occur in the U.S. each year. In turn, only a few of those circumcisions are performed in keeping with religious ritual. The rest are carried out mostly by doctors in medical settings, even though the surgery is not medically indicated and violates the rights of the babies who undergo it. I believe all children have a right to bodily integrity, girls and boys, from families of any religious or cultural affiliation. Finally and not surprisingly, growing numbers of Jewish parents are choosing to forego the painful practice of circumcision and are leaving their sons intact.

Why are you telling other people what to do? Circumcision should be a personal choice.    You’re right! Circumcision should be a personal choice, and the person making that choice should be the person whose body will be permanently altered – and who will have to live with the consequences of the surgery.

A boy should look like his father.  You wouldn’t abandon your baby if his eye color was different from his father’s (or mother’s) eye color. You wouldn’t seek to surgically alter any other body part of your child’s to make it conform to his parent’s looks. So why would you be concerned that a baby’s “private” parts (with an emphasis on “private”) should match his father’s?

My next post will deal with some of the “hygiene” and “disease” arguments. Do you have suggestions for other questions or objections that you’ve found challenging and that have left you wishing you had a more compelling response? Let me know.

BY GEORGANNE CHAPIN

48 Comments
  1. February 1, 2012 6:58 pm

    Genital mutilation, whither it be wrapped in culture, religion or “research” is still genital mutilation.

    It is mistaken, the belief that the right amount of “science” can be used to legitimize the deliberate violation of basic human rights.

  2. Dr John Glazebrook permalink
    February 1, 2012 6:40 pm

    Langerhans cells are phagocytes that are present in the inner lining of the foreskin and actively absorb HIV particles and allow their entry into the body They are not a defense against HIV but a facilitator of infection !! In science this is called a “portal of entry ”

    Hence the widespread WHO programs in sub saharan Africa

    These are SCIENTIFIC FACTS !

    At least the WHO cares about millions of peoples lives and their future

    In view of the above, the moral and ethical standards of the Intactivists need to be seriously questioned

    Dr John Glazebrook

    • February 1, 2012 6:50 pm

      No, the Langerhans cells act as a BARRIER to HIV, additionally producing Langerin which DESTROYS HIV.

      Where are you getting your scientific facts?

      The WHO is a political organization, not a medical one.

      Let’s assume your fantasy was true. Is there a reason why scientists aren’t, instead, seeking out a way to deactivate the Langerhans cells to stop this behavior, instead of the usual solution of “circumcision?”

      Even if your hypothesis were proven true, I’m afraid circumcision is mad science.

      Would you suggest circumcision for women too, as the mucosa in their labia, inner lining, clitoris etc. is laden with Langerhans cells too?

      You rave, Morris.

      de Witte, Lot; Alexey Nabatov, Marjorie Pion, Donna Fluitsma, Marein AW P de Jong, Tanja de Gruijl, Vincent Piguet, Yvette van Kooyk, Teunis B H Geijtenbeek (2007-03-04). “Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells” (PDF). Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm1541. http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com/files/de_Witte_2007.pdf.

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 6:55 pm

      Once again, you have not bothered to read the study refuting your position. Langerin does absorb HIV particles, and then prevents their entry into the body (rather than facilitating it). Your assumption that no one but yourself is capable of reading and understanding this information demonstrates both wishful thinking and a contempt for others who disagree with you. The WHO is funded largely by the USA, and reflects American beliefs and values, not necessarily best medical or ethical practices. If the WHO really cared about protecting lives, they would research why at least six African countries have higher rates of AIDS among circumcised men, rather than rushing to judgement based on a few poorly done studies (http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/17469600.2.3.193). Now that I know you are associated with the circumfetishist Brian Morris (thanks Joseph4GI!), your positions suddenly become clearer…

    • February 1, 2012 6:56 pm

      Genital mutilation, whither it be wrapped in culture, religion or “research” is still genital mutilation.

      It is mistaken, the belief that the right amount of “science” can be used to legitimized the deliberate violation of basic human rights.

    • February 1, 2012 7:00 pm

      Eshu, according to USAID, it’s 10 out of 18 countries…

      “there appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher.”

      http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 7:09 pm

      Thanks Joseph! I stand corrected based on the new information, and am very glad to hear it!

  3. February 1, 2012 6:27 pm

    It’s interesting, as a Brit this doesn’t even come up. We don’t circumcise our children. Do you really think if there were significant health reasons to remove it that the UK would not be on board? Do you see a higher instance of HIV and AIDS in the UK versus the US? No. Do we have more STDs? No. I don’t think it makes a huge amount of difference if you have a foreskin or not, provided you keep the area cleaned properly. BUT I do think that a child should not be circumcised based on false arguments or based on the parents believing it is “healthier.” If I have a boy I will fight to keep him intact.

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 6:38 pm

      Thank you! According to every STD/HIV statistic, Western Europe and Great Britain are healthier than the USA, all without male genital mutilation; but circumcision advocates are like the Vancome Lady who used to be on “Mad TV” – they stick their fingers in their ears and say “La la la la” louder and louder so they do not feel compelled to give up (or even examine) their cherished mutilation (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme and http://circumstitions.com/meme.html). Also note the doctor’s comments below, repeating the canard about the foreskin “attracting” HIV particles, while continuing to resist the fact that the foreskin”s production of Langerin captures HIV to help prevent its entry into the body. You are very lucky you live in a country that believes in logic and reality, not voodoo “science”.

  4. Sean permalink
    February 1, 2012 5:10 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I hope someone who hasn’t thought about the implications of circumcision comes across it and actually thinks about it.

    As for the poster below me who has been arguing about the increased chance of STDs, why does that even matter in the developed world? Regardless of whether it’s true or not, it is the responsibility of the individual to protect themselves against STDs. This is why there are condoms. If a person wishes to have the added protection, why not allow them the adult (or even teen) to choose circumcision for themselves?

  5. Dr John Glazebrook permalink
    February 1, 2012 4:20 pm

    Joseph 4GI

    Readers of this blog will realize that i do not have to resort to personal insults and name calling to support my arguments as does Joseph 4GI

    In my experience those who do so have lost the debate already !!!

    A picture of the millions of fluorescein labelled HIV particles loacated and concentrated in the inner lining of the foreskin (published 10 years ago) should be compulsory viewing for all Intactivists Only then will they begin to realize what they are up against !!

    Constant denials of the scientific facts will get the Intactivists nowhere and seriously contribute to their lack of credibility

    Dr John Glazebrook

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 5:03 pm

      Oh I see, doctor – so your referring to as “intactivist deniers”, being meant as an insult, means you have lost the argument? I quite agree! Your hysterical all-caps illogical rants also contribute to the failure of your position. You repeat an old long disproved point: “the millions of fluorescein labelled HIV particles loacated and concentrated in the inner lining of the foreskin (published 10 years ago)” as if it somehow justified male genital mutilation. In fact, if you had read the studies cited in previous comments, you would know that the very presence of those HIV particles was an indication that the foreskin (and its product, Langerin) were doing their job, holding onto viral particles to prevent their entering the body. Nice try at obfuscation and denial, though. I have to give you credit for repeating the same lie, in the hopes that enough people will eventually believe it – didn’t they used to do that in Germany, in the ’30s and ’40s…? Here again is the accurate study, for your education:

      de Witte, Lot; Alexey Nabatov, Marjorie Pion, Donna Fluitsma, Marein AW P de Jong, Tanja de Gruijl, Vincent Piguet, Yvette van Kooyk, Teunis B H Geijtenbeek (2007-03-04). “Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells” (PDF). Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm1541. http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com/files/de_Witte_2007.pdf

    • February 1, 2012 6:37 pm

      Brian responds:

      “Readers of this blog will realize that i do not have to resort to personal insults and name calling to support my arguments as does Joseph 4GI”

      No, but you do have to capitalize like a moron.

      “In my experience those who do so have lost the debate already !!!”

      Which is why you’re back, right?

      “A picture of the millions of fluorescein labelled HIV particles loacated and concentrated in the inner lining of the foreskin (published 10 years ago) should be compulsory viewing for all Intactivists Only then will they begin to realize what they are up against !!”

      Instead, could you provide the scientific paper?

      “Constant denials of the scientific facts will get the Intactivists nowhere and seriously contribute to their lack of credibility”

      You keep talking of this “denial of science,” yet you fail to produce it…

      Do not think that we don’t have Google and see that your name is all over Australia, and is closely associated with Brian Morris, Wodak etc. We can see exactly where you are.

      Joseph4GI

  6. Dr John Glazebrook permalink
    February 1, 2012 2:03 pm

    For the information of the Intactivist deniers the HIV virus HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED REPEATEDLY to invade the inner lining of the foreskin as its first port of call when entering the body YES the Polymerase Chain Reaction reveals HOW MANY VIRUS PARTICLES are PRESENT and EXACTLY WHERE they are located !!!

    Being scientific results and OBJECTIVE and REPRODUCIBLE these results will be the same regardless of whether I or Gorgeanne Chapman performed the tests

    It is NOT a matter of her opinion or my opinion THESE TESTS DO NOT LIE !!

    IT is time for the Intactivists to acknowlege the SCIENCE as these results are extremely valuable for prevention of infection and are not going to go away

    This is why the WHO is currently using circumcision to save millions of lives in Africa

    Over 1000 scientific and medical papers have been published on the preventative health benefits of circumcision over the past 10 years most of them in peer reviewed international journals It is these papers among others that the CDC and AAP are using to develop their new policy on circumcision

    The intactivists are entitled to their opinion but they should not try to force it down the throats of policy makers and parents

    Dr John Glazebrook

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 2:28 pm

      The nice thing about liars “doctor”, is that sooner or later their lies catch them out. Your latest post demonstrates that you are not a doctor, researcher, or even honest.

      There has not been one study – not one – on the foreskin attached to a living breathing man that demonstrates a mechanism by which HIV “invade(s) the inner lining of the foreskin as its first port of call when entering the body “. The only study you could possibly referring to was one in which severed foreskins, isolated with no other human tissue present, in a lab, showed HIV particles moving towards the foreskins. Prejudicial lab researchers automatically assumed this meant that AIDS was “attracted” to foreskins when in fact later research showed that Langerhans cells in foreskins attracted and bound HIV, preventing for as long as possible the disease’s entry into the body. That’s right, circumcision actually removes one of the body’s defenses against HIV.

      You further LIE, “doctor”, when you state “Over 1000 scientific and medical papers have been published on the preventative health benefits of circumcision over the past 10 years” – in fact, the number of pro-circumcision studies in the last decade can be numbered in the dozens – and are largely matched by other studies, mostly performed outside of the USA, that refute their findings. Give it up, “doctor” – your pretence at knowledge and objectivity fall apart in the face of your own inability to tell the truth.

    • February 1, 2012 6:46 pm

      “For the information of the Intactivist deniers the HIV virus HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED REPEATEDLY to invade the inner lining of the foreskin as its first port of call when entering the body YES the Polymerase Chain Reaction reveals HOW MANY VIRUS PARTICLES are PRESENT and EXACTLY WHERE they are located !!!”

      Last time I checked, there is no causal link.

      Could you please provide the scientific paper that visualizes HIV invading the body via the foreskin please?

      “Being scientific results and OBJECTIVE and REPRODUCIBLE these results will be the same regardless of whether I or Gorgeanne Chapman performed the tests”

      Please provide the scientific paper that clearly demonstrates HIV transmission through the foreskin. As far as I know, all you have is statistics and a “hunch.” There is no causal link between an increased HIV transmission rate and the presence of the foreskin.

      A thicker, keratinized inner lining does not keep HIV out, and the Langerhans cells actually behave as a barrier.

      What is the mechanism whereby HIV is absorbed through the foreskin? How does circumcision trump this?

      Why aren’t the results consistent amongst studies and empirical evidence all over the world?

      “It is NOT a matter of her opinion or my opinion THESE TESTS DO NOT LIE !!”

      Which tests please?

      “IT is time for the Intactivists to acknowlege the SCIENCE as these results are extremely valuable for prevention of infection and are not going to go away”

      Science that you can’t seem to produce…

      “This is why the WHO is currently using circumcision to save millions of lives in Africa”

      The WHO has approved circumcision because they have idiots working for them. No other medical organization in the world has come up with their “conclusions.”

      Tell us, why has Australia rejected the “evidence?” Every organization in the US? The CDC would like to go as far as recommending circumcision of infants, but it seems to stop short.

      WHY?

      “Over 1000 scientific and medical papers have been published on the preventative health benefits of circumcision over the past 10 years most of them in peer reviewed international journals It is these papers among others that the CDC and AAP are using to develop their new policy on circumcision”

      Actually, most of them produced by the exact same group of people. Wawer, Gray, Bailey, Moses etc.

      Other tests and studies don’t agree.

      Remember, that 1000 scientific papers can be wrong if they contain the exact same error and bias.

      “The intactivists are entitled to their opinion but they should not try to force it down the throats of policy makers and parents”

      The pot calls the kettle black yet again.

      Let’s say that the “science” were correct. Why don’t “researchers” look for ways to deactivate the MECHANISM, instead of full on circumcision?

      Incidentally, why does every study produced by the same group of people center around circumcision? Particularly the circumcision of minors?

      This is because they are trying to frame a cherished tradition with “research.”

      I’m afraid that this is the first sign that these “studies” are less than scientific.

      Joseph4GI

  7. February 1, 2012 11:26 am

    Intactivists have been needing these talking points for years! I hope you give these a permanent and prominent place on the website. Better yet, a PDF we can download.

  8. Erik Hawk permalink
    February 1, 2012 1:52 am

    We really need to address the “preventative health issues” in a clear and succinct manner with a list of studies that cannot be refuted. The whole thing that’s going on in Africa is entirely based on preventing an epidemic. We’ve seen the studies that say it works, where are the studies that say it doesn’t work? Common sense says that is shouldn’t work, but where’s the hard science. Without such studies our cause seems severely undermined. (Of course, if foreskins were such a bad thing we would have been a dead species a long time ago, ha.)

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 2:44 am

      There are actually plenty of studies demonstrating that circumcision doesn’t work to prevent AIDS or other STDs – the problem is, this research is often ignored by both the American medical profession (and its overseas wing represented by the Lancet), and by the US media, which tends to reflexively report every bit of pro-circumcision propaganda, no matter how flawed, in glowing terms while studies proving the opposite go unreported.

      The amount of research on our side is huge; you can find references, links, and interpretations at the sites below (there are far too many studies to list every positive bit of research available in this one post, but do see some of those listed below in my responses to “Doctor” Glazebrook).

      It’s worth looking through these anti-circumcision sites for links to original research; next time you see yet another pro-mutilation article pop up, you can refer directly to source material in your response.

      http://www.cirp.org/library/

      http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/

      http://www.cirp.org/library/statistics/

      http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/

      http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/

      http://circumstitions.com/Utis.html

      http://circumstitions.com/STDs.html

      http://circumstitions.com/HIV.html

      http://circumstitions.com/Cancer.html

      http://circumstitions.com/Cancer.html#cervical

      http://circumstitions.com/meme.html

    • February 1, 2012 5:43 am

      “We’ve seen the studies that say it works, where are the studies that say it doesn’t work?”

      What “studies” are you referring to?

      Yes, a “decrease” in HIV transmission can be “observed” in three hopelessly flawed, heavily skewed “studies” that fail to correlate with real world empirical evidence. That this “decrease” was indeed caused by circumcision, however, is a far-fetched belief that “researchers” have yet to substantiate.

      DO you know that there is not a scientist, researcher or doctor that can demonstrate that anything in the foreskin facilitates the transmission of HIV? I encourage you to challenge other pro-circs that supposedly “lean on science” to produce a causal link from their (far-fetched, irreproducible) statistics to circumcision.

      They cannot provide a one.

      At best, the “studies” being used are carefully concocted statistics, with a strong belief that they were caused by circumcision. But there is not a single person that can provide to you the scientific proof that this is the case.

      For this reason, advocates will try to draw attention away from this, and try to focus on “How good our programs are. Don’t you see? The men are lining up!” (Shhh, don’t pay attention to the evidence, don’t analyze it. Everybody knows it’s true…)

      There is no hard science that can demonstrate that having a foreskin facilitates HIV transmission, and that removing it “decreases” it. It is pure, unsubstantiated belief.

      The myth that circumcision prevents HIV was invented by Aaron J. Fink in 1986, with no scientific proof whatsoever. To date, “researchers” have yet to provide evidence of a causal link between the foreskin and HIV transmission.

      One of the hypotheses that was posited to explain how circumcision “reduces the risk of HIV transmission” was the theory that the hard and toughened glans of the circumcised male resisted infection, while the soft and sensitive foreskin and glans mucosa of the intact male were ports of entry. Recent studies, however, disprove this hypothesis. One study found that there is “no difference between the keratinization of the inner and outer aspects of the adult male foreskin,” and that “keratin layers alone were unlikely to explain why uncircumcised men are at higher risk for HIV infection.” Another study found that “no difference can be clearly visualized between the inner and outer foreskin.”

      —————————————

      Dinh, MH; McRaven MD, Kelley Z, Penugonda S, Hope TJ (2010-03-27). “Keratinization of the adult male foreskin and implications for male circumcision.”. AIDS 24 (6): 899-906. PMID 20098294. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20098294.

      Dinh, Minh H; Sheila M Barry, Meegan R Anderson, Scott G McCoombe, Shetha A Shukair, Michael D McRaven, Thomas J Hope (2009-12-06), “HIV-1 Interactions and Infection in Adult Male Foreskin Explant Cultures” (PDF), 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Montreal, Canada, http://retroconference.org/2009/PDFs/502.pdf.

      After the first hypothesis failed, they tried to posit that the Langerhans cells were the prime port of entry for the HIV virus. According to the hypothesis, circumcision was supposed to prevent HIV transmission by removing the Langerhans cells found in the inner mucosal lining of the foreskin.

      deWitte found that not only are Langerhans cells found all over the body, but also that their complete removal is virtually impossible. Furthermore, deWitte found that Langerhans cells that are present in the foreskin produce Langerin, a substance that has been proven to kill the HIV virus on contact, acting as a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells. Additionally, the Langerhans cells are found in both male AND female mucosal tissue, which raises the question as to WHY “research” wasn’t conducted on female genital cutting to reduce the acquisition of HIV.

      —————————————-

      de Witte, Lot; Alexey Nabatov, Marjorie Pion, Donna Fluitsma, Marein AW P de Jong, Tanja de Gruijl, Vincent Piguet, Yvette van Kooyk, Teunis B H Geijtenbeek (2007-03-04). “Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells” (PDF). Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm1541. http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com/files/de_Witte_2007.pdf.

      I reiterate, there is no “hard science” that clearly demonstrates that circumcision prevents the transmission of HIV. Instead, the “researchers” try to sweep their listeners past this little problem with their studies; the lack of any kind of working hypothesis.

      Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the supposed “studies” were infallible (and they’re highly flawed). Circumcision would only “reduce the risk of HIV by 60%,” only in men, and only for the time period of the studies (which were cut short). Women would still be at risk for HIV transmission, 50% more likely to get HIV from a circumcised partner, according to Wawer, and this wouldn’t prevent other STDs or even pregnancy. Circumcision would FAIL, which is why even the so-called “researchers” cannot stress the use of condoms enough.

      And let’s assume for the sake of argument that the “studies” were 100% accurate, and we’re not getting a skewed inflated number. One must ask, doesn’t this 60/40 ratio manifest itself in other parts of the world where circumcision is near universal? Why do these “studies” fail to correlate with real world data? And why do other studies fail to reproduce this 60/40 ratio? These “studies” are complete bunk, and sooner or later the WHO is going to have to swallow its pride and retract the statement they should have never made.

      Check out other places where circumcision fails to prevent HIV here:

      http://joseph4gi.blogspot.com/2011/05/where-circumcision-doesnt-prevent-hiv.html

    • February 1, 2012 6:02 am

      One of the most thorough demolitions of the WHO “studies” can be found here:

      http://circumstitions.com/HIV-SA.html

      And there have been three different papers that thoroughly and conclusively destroy them. One must wonder what kind of boobs do they have working at the WHO, that they managed to pass such highly flawed rubbish off as “science.”

      How the circumcision solution in Africa will increase HIV infections

      http://www.publichealthinafrica.org/index.php/jphia/article/view/jphia.2011.e4/html_9?mid=54866

      Not a surgical vaccine: there is no case for boosting infant male circumcision to combat heterosexual transmission of HIV in Australia

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-6405.2011.00761.x/full

      African clinical trials into male circumcision and HIV transmission: Methodological, ethical and legal concerns

      http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/23477339/1441224426/name/JLM_boyle_hill.pdf

    • February 1, 2012 6:15 am

      Make no mistake, the science is on OUR side.

      If the pro-circs have managed to make it look like it’s on THEIRS, it is through vigorous and myopic cherry-picking. Back up and consider ALL of the evidence, and their whole argument falls apart.

      But here’s the thing; we’ve got to stop buying into the idea that human rights can be bargained with “science” and “research.”

      When was the last time we saw the same vigor poured into male circumcision “studies” in trying to find the “benefits” of female circumcision?

      Even IF we lent any credibility to the latest twaddle some people dare to call “science,” we have got to ask, why is the solution always circumcision?

      Let’s just assume for a moment, that the Langergans cells, as they claim, “presents HIV to the immune system.” Is there any reason why the so-called “researchers” aren’t looking for ways to deactivate Langerhans cells, as opposed to cutting them off?

      Is there any reason why “researchers” are not looking for non-destructive ways to prevent HIV transmission, and instead facilitating male circumcision which just happens to be a cherished ritual tradition?

      Assuming the Langerhans cells behave the way circumcision advocates claim, is there a reason why “researchers,” PREPEX etc. aren’t looking into FEMALE CIRCUMCISION? It is irrefutable scientific fact that Langerhans cells are found in the genital mucosa in BOTH sexes. If the Langerhans cells “facilitate” HIV transmission for men, then it would also do so for women. Circumcision, would only be offering “benefit” to men; women would still be vulnerable to the viral load in semen.

      Consider this: There would never be enough “science” or “research” to endorse the promotion of female circumcision to prevent ANYTHING.

      It wouldn’t matter if female circumcision were made “painless,” “bloodless,” and it didn’t affect a girl’s sexuality. It wouldn’t matter if female circumcision were performed in the clean environment of the hospital, by a trained professional, using pain killers and the most pristine, and most “advanced” utensils. Why do “researchers” grope for reasons to promote male circumcision?

      The Bottom Line
      The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genetic anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. Neither is it a medical condition like a ruptured appendix or diseased gall bladder. Neither is it a dead part of the body, like the umbilical cord, hair, or fingernails. The foreskin is normal, natural, healthy tissue with which all boys are born.

      Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting individuals is a deliberate wound; it is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue, the permanent disfigurement of normal, healthy organs, and by very definition, infant genital mutilation, and a violation of the most basic of human rights.

      Genital mutilation, whither it be wrapped in culture, religion or “research” is still genital mutilation.

      We’ve got to stop giving credibility to the idea that deliberate child abuse and the violation of basic human rights can be justified with “science.”

  9. Dr John Glazebrook permalink
    February 1, 2012 12:01 am

    What utter garbage !!

    if infant circumcision was such ” a violation of human rights” the why are there not millions of men demonstrating for the restoration of their foreskin

    My educated guess is that they are VERY HAPPY with their very significant reduced risk of of contracting major STDs such as HIV and HPV (which causes cervical cancer in women) and in the complete absence of smegma from their penis

    The SCIENCE IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY even though the Intactivists would very much like it to !!

    The Intactivists COMPLETELY IGNORE the PREVENTATIVE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CIRCUMCISION and that millions of lives are and will be saved by this simple procedure

    STDs are REAL and LETHAL !!!

    Dr John Glazebrook

    • February 1, 2012 1:00 am

      Somebody has a myopic vision…

      Maybe not millions, but there are THOUSANDS of men demonstrating, and they ARE restoring their foreskins, much to your chagrin.

      Or is there a specific number of men that would make you change your mind? I would think not.

      MY educated guess is that men that AREN’T unhappy feel they can’t SAY anything because of silly idiotic doctors lie YOU belittling their feelings.

      I think most men who resent their circumcisions couldn’t care less about the supposed STDs like HIV and HPV. I think they would be more than happy to wash the smegma out of their foreskins like women do out of their labia.

      “The science is not going to go away?”

      I’m afraid the science is on OUR side, dear.

      I’m afraid that no medical organization in the world recommends circumcision for infants. They all state that the benefits DON’T outweigh the risks. The trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is so overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations that it would be quite surprising were male circumcision to be recommended in the United States. No respected U.S. based medical board recommends circumcision for U.S. infants, not even in the name of HIV prevention. They must all point to the risks, and they must all state that there is no convincing evidence that the benefits outweigh these risks.

      YOU sir, are taking an unfounded position against the best medical authorities of the West, within and outside of the United States.

      “The Intactivists COMPLETELY IGNORE the PREVENTATIVE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CIRCUMCISION and that millions of lives are and will be saved by this simple procedure.”

      No, we don’t “ignore” anything. The supposed “health benefits” are dubious, but even if the science were true (which it is full of holes) these same “benefits” can be achieved WITHOUT circumcision.

      Don’t you know? The whole point of medical science is to find better, more effective, less invasive solutions to problems. To replace the old with the new and better. To outmode surgery, not preserve it.

      Effectively, what problem are male children born with? Are they all born sick out of the wound in need of medicine? Absolute quackery!

      “STDs are REAL and LETHAL !!!”

      And easily prevented using safe sex practices and condoms.

      A boy needs a circumcision like a fish needs a bicycle.

      “Dr John Glazebrook”

      Is this your real name? Are you sure it’s not…

      BRIAN MORRIS???

      “Saving lives.”

      Where is your scientific evidence, sir? Why aren’t STDs rampant in Australia, the UK, Japan, Germany and on and on, where the men aren’t circumcised? Why are they the highest in the US, where 80% of the men are circumcised?

      You simply have no leg to stand on.

      The science, the empirical evidence and the truth is on OUR side, not yours.

      Go play with your circumstraint.

    • February 1, 2012 1:04 am

      The Bottom Line
      The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genital anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. Neither is it a medical condition like a ruptured appendix or diseased gall bladder. Neither is it a dead part of the body, like the umbilical cord, hair, or fingernails. The foreskin is normal, natural, healthy tissue with which all boys are born.

      Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting individuals is a deliberate wound; it is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue, the permanent disfigurement of normal, healthy organs, and by very definition, infant genital mutilation, and a violation of the most basic of human rights.

      Doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals, much less stoking a parent’s sense of entitlement.

    • Dr John Glazebrook permalink
      February 1, 2012 1:21 am

      Joseph 4GI

      Obviously you do not read The Lancet or the New England Journal of Medicine

      SCIENCE WILL PREVAIL and no amount of emotional diatribe from the Intactivists will make any difference whatsoever !!

      Once again the Intactivists choose to completely and totally ignore the preventive health benefits of circumcision This is because they have absolutely NO DEFENSE AGAINST THE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

      According to them millions of lives aern’t worth saving !!

      So much for their moral and ethical standards !!!

      Dr John Glazebrook

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 1:37 am

      Why you think it is intactivists who are involved in an emotional diatribe makes no sense, coming from someone whose every sentence has to shriek with CAPITAL LETTERS to make a point (rather like an insane woman who used to post similar extremist views on Salon.com). Do you really believe the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet are the world’s only medical journals and resources? And that they (and by extension you) are the only arbiters of scientific and moral correctness? Here are some articles from around the world:

      Future HIV Therapy
      May 2008, Vol. 2, No. 3, Pages 193-199 , DOI 10.2217/17469600.2.3.193
      (doi:10.2217/17469600.2.3.193)
      Male circumcision is not the HIV ‘vaccine’ we have been waiting for!

      http://www.publichealthinafrica.org/index.php/jphia/article/view/jphia.2011.e4/html_9

      How the circumcision solution in Africa will increase HIV infections

      http://www.mensstudies.com/content/2772r13175400432/?p=a7068101fbdd48819f10dd04dc1e19fb&pi=4

      Alexithymia and Circumcision Trauma: A Preliminary Investigation

      http://sciencenordic.com/male-circumcision-leads-bad-sex-life

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-6405.2011.00761.x/full

      Not a surgical vaccine: there is no case for boosting infant male circumcision to combat heterosexual transmission of HIV in Australia

      There are similar studies showing no health benefits in New Zealand and Great Britain.

      http://sti.bmj.com/content/79/6/499.full

      Male circumcision in Britain: findings from a national probability sample survey

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280846?dopt=Abstract

      Circumcision and risk of sexually transmitted infections in a birth cohort.

      http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/cancer/menczer1/

      The Low Incidence of Cervical Cancer in Jewish Women: Has the Puzzle Finally Been Solved? Joseph Menczer MD THE ISRAEL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION JOURNAL, Volume 5: Pages 120-123,
      February 2003.

    • eshu21 permalink
      February 1, 2012 1:53 am

      Of course, the good “doctor” is well aware that the non-circumcising countries of Western Europe have lower rates of all STDs than we do here in baby-cutting America; perhaps he can’t see all the international evidence over all his GIANT CAPITAL LETTERS…

      “2010 ROYAL AUSTRALASIAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS
      “Ethical and human rights concerns have been raised regarding elective infant male circumcision because it is recognized that the foreskin has a functional role, the operation is non-therapeutic and the infant is unable to consent. After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand.”

      “The foreskin has two main functions. Firstly it exists to protect the glans penis. Secondly the foreskin is a primary sensory part of the penis, containing some of the most sensitive areas of the penis.”

      “The potential harms include contravention of individual rights, loss of choice, loss of function, procedural and psychological complications. . . . A boy circumcised as an infant may deeply resent this when he grows older; he may want what he cannot have – not to have been circumcised. . . . The option of leaving circumcision until later, when the boy is old enough to make a decision for himself does need to be raised with parents and considered. . . . The ethical merit of this option is that it seeks to respect the child’s physical integrity, and capacity for autonomy by leaving the options open for him to make his own autonomous choice in the future.” ”

      “2006 BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
      “The BMA does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view. Parental preference must be weighed in terms of the child’s interests. . . . The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it. . . . Some doctors may wish to not perform circumcisions for reasons of conscience. Doctors are under no obligation to comply with a request to circumcise a child.” ”

      “2002 CANADIAN PAEDIATRIC SOCIETY (REAFFIRMED 1996 POSITION)
      “Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.” “

    • jimfromcalif permalink
      February 1, 2012 2:20 am

      You are living in fairyland Dr Glazebrook! Ever hear of http://www.norm.org? The number of men living with the pain of having been surgically altered is impossible to number, but there are hundreds of thousands who are doing something about it by becoming vocal and through restoration of their own foreskins.

    • February 1, 2012 4:52 am

      Brian, this from the Lancet:
      Circumcision removes the most sensitive part of a man’s penis. The five most sensitive areas of the penis are on the foreskin. The transitional region from the external to the internal foreskin is the most sensitive region of the fully intact penis, and more sensitive than the most sensitive region of the circumcised penis.
      —————————-
      Fine-Touch Pressure Thresholds In The Adult Penis
      British Journal of Urology International,
      2007, Vol. 99, No. 4, 864-869
      Sorrells et al.

      This is from the New England Journal of Medicine:
      The prevalence of HIV infection within some U.S. populations now rivals that in some sub-Saharan African countries. For example, more than 1 in 30 adults in Washington, D.C., are HIV-infected — a prevalence higher than that reported in Ethiopia, Nigeria, or Rwanda.
      —————————
      Wafaa M. El-Sadr, M.D., M.P.H., Kenneth H. Mayer, M.D., and Sally L. Hodder, M.D. N Engl J Med 2010; 362:967-970, March 18, 2010

      We read other things too:
      The Langerhans cells found in the foreskin act as a natural barrier for HIV, they actually secrete Langerin, which destroys HIV on contact.

      de Witte, Lot; Alexey Nabatov, Marjorie Pion, Donna Fluitsma, Marein AW P de Jong, Tanja de Gruijl, Vincent Piguet, Yvette van Kooyk, Teunis B H Geijtenbeek (2007-03-04). “Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells” (PDF). Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm1541.

      Once again, like the typical pro-circ, you like to pick and choose. That’s not how science works. You have to look at ALL the evidence, not just what suits you.

      Genital mutilation, whether wrapped in “science,” “research,” and feigned interests in public health, is still, in the end, genital mutilation.

      The bottom line is that there are better, more effective, less invasive ways to prevent disease, thanks to REAL science.

      Yes, I have faith that science WILL prevail.

    • February 1, 2012 4:58 am

      I’d like to make a correction, the first study was NOT from the Lancet, it was from the British Journal of Urology.

      Still, I believe, worth reading. As eshu21 says above, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet aren’t the world’s only medical journals and resources.

      Isn’t science grand?

    • February 1, 2012 11:24 am

      The foreskin is NOT a birth defect. Even if there were “health benefits” from cutting off the end of baby boys’ dicks (actually, the evidence is inconclusive), the child’s inalienable right to a whole body trumps his doctor’s opinion. Doctors are no long Gods, but they do earn an income from circumcision. The circumcision industry is huge. When you add the cost of repairs the total comes to almost $2 Billion.

    • Eddy permalink
      February 1, 2012 12:49 pm

      Preventive health benefits of circumcision? Is that true that in medical science you can say preventive health benefits from a surgery act that cut off and eliminate a normal and healthy part of the body?

      STDs are real and lethal. Yes, but how do you so sure that circumcision without condom will avoid STDs in risky sexual activities? Please be careful, because there are so many circumcised men now think that they are safe to do any sexual activities without condoms with this information.

      I think the best preventive act that will save million people is still the right education and information. All men, circumcised and uncircumcised, have to use condoms in risky sexual activities, and uncircumcised boys should be educated about the role and functions of foreskins and how to treat the foreskins..

      Yes, science is not going to go away, because people in this world still have to learn and learn about human body and the life, studies and researches are being done and still will be done in the future throughout the world. The results of the studies and researches might differ from time to time. We will know better and better and more detail about the incridible parts of our body. Just thank to God who have designed this great human body.

  10. Michelle permalink
    January 31, 2012 9:31 pm

    Good job, Georganne!

  11. margaret joyce permalink
    January 31, 2012 8:46 pm

    can’t wait for the “disease” defense, since this seems to be the most common bogus argument that comes my way. surprisingly, i’ve also heard fairly often that the main reason to circ was simply that “it looked better”…..which usually leaves me speechless.

    • January 31, 2012 11:12 pm

      The “disease” defense exists because “religious freedom” and “parental choice” don’t cut it anymore.

      The litmus test is female circumcision, and that’s why everybody hates it when you bring it up.

      Ask “is there any amount of study, any number of ‘medical benefits’ that would make you consider circumcision for your daughter?”

      The answer is, of course, no. Never.

      There would never be enough “medical benefits.” No amount of “studies” would EVER cause us to consider it.

      Male circumcision is the one instance where we put the cart before the bull, where we try to legitimize the solution, instead of realizing that there’s no problem.

      The bottom line is this:

      Genital mutilation, whither it be wrapped in culture, religion or “research” is still genital mutilation.

  12. January 31, 2012 7:51 pm

    “There are so many more important causes. Why are you wasting your time on this?”
    This one’s annoying, because it could be said about any cause named. There will always be a “more important cause.” You don’t just abandon rape “because murder is worse.” It all boils down to, it’s a violation of the most basic of human rights. People fight for the genital integrity of girls and women, and boys deserve the same protection. To say “female circumcision is worse” is a self-serving, sexist position.

    “You people are really weird.”
    A problem I find very often in circumcision advocates is an incorrigible sense of projection. Of course there’s nothing EVER “weird” about being obsessed with cutting part of a child’s penis *off,* but don’t you dare stand in the way! Huh???

    “You’re not a man. Why do you care so much about this?”
    This one’s easy. You don’t have to be a woman to be against female genital cutting. Just the same, you don’t have to be a man. Or a child.

    “I’ll let my husband decide; he’s the one with the penis.”
    Makes about as much sense as “I’ll let my wife decide, she’s the one with the vagina.” It would never fly. If the husband was missing a testicle there is no way in HELL a woman would allow him to “decide” the child needs to have one missing too.

    “What about religion? Circumcision is a Jewish thing. You must be anti-Semitic.”
    Mention that female circumcision is also a “religious thing” and all of a sudden it’s “different,” and out come the arguments of “medical benefit.” This is always an argument of special pleading. It must be pointed out that you can only go so far using religion as an alibi. It doesn’t stop at female circumcision. There’s also ritual scaring, tattooing, and slashing children’s heads on the day of Ashura. Being against female circumcision doesn’t render one anti-African, or anti-Malaysian, or anti-Indonesian; calling people against male circumcision “anti-Semites” is a case of special pleading. What’s more people need to be reminded that child circumcision isn’t exclusive to Jews. Only 3% or so of circumcisions that happen in the US are Jewish brisim; the rest are secular circumcisions that happen to gentiles at hospitals. We’re against ALL of it.

    “Why are you telling other people what to do? Circumcision should be a personal choice.”
    Of course, again, only when it comes to *male* circumcision. Here’s the bottom line; without medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery on newborns, much less giving parents any kind of “choice” in the matter. It should strike people as odd that with no other surgery do doctors try and stoke a parent’s sense of entitlement.

    “A boy should look like his father.”
    This one is old and silly, but it continues to be used. There are so many things wrong with this. First off, when are father and son EVER going to sit around comparing penises? It should worry a man to hear a woman tell him “Wow! You look just like your dad!” Bottom line is, a child will NEVER look like his dad. He is his own different person. Using the same logic, if the father lost a testicle to an accident, or cancer, the doctor would have to agree o remove that child’s testicle. What if the father lost his eye? A hand, or a foot? Absolutely silly logic that doesn’t work with anything else. This is, again, special pleading.

    • Scott permalink
      January 31, 2012 9:41 pm

      Thanks Georganne, this is wonderful! And also thanks to Joseph4GI for continuing the analysis of these ridiculous “reasons”.

      One of the biggest problems we have in America when it comes to ending male genital mutilation is a lack of reflection (on the part of circumcision’s proponents) about how very bizarre a preference it is. For men, the real basis for supporting circumcision is fear of “lacking” something important genitally. One man I know cannot resist bringing up “smegma” every time the issue is raised – rather like continually saying “waxy buildup” to justify cutting off babies’ ears.

      For women, the issue seems to be associated more with familiarity. I recently had an acquaintance bring up the issue to me, and her only justification (for wanting both her husband and sons to be mutilated) was the “ick” factor; no arguments about the cultural basis for her squeamishness at the sight of intact male genitalia could sway her from thinking that scar tissue was more attractive than reality.

      Presumably the men and women lucky enough to be raised in cultures that preserve all children’s genitals intact find our obsession with the “prettiness” of infant penile scar tissue to be absurd and grotesque, as it truly is.

    • January 31, 2012 11:03 pm

      Now the smegma thing is really weird…

      Women get it too, and they also tend to have a smell about them that everyone knows about.

      But let’s not talk about THOSE…

      ::rollseyes::

  13. Molly deGroh permalink
    January 31, 2012 7:14 pm

    Thank you! I am an obstetrical nurse and am noticing a decline in the circs that we do. Unfortunatley the ones that are being done are under unanesthetized barbaric ways. To add to the look like your father argument; I am female and don’t look like my mother, I am quite large chested and she rather small. It hasn’t impacted me to want to chop of my breast tissue or dye my hair red to look just like her. I look like me.

    • Dan Bollinger permalink
      February 1, 2012 3:57 pm

      Molly, A study presented at the AAP conference in Boston last year reported that the complication rate of circumcision is skyrocketing. In one hospital the rate increased 1100%. Clearly, it is time to “Put Down The Knife!”

  14. stephanie permalink
    January 31, 2012 7:09 pm

    As for “A boy should look like his father”… I have recently begun to suggest to new fathers that this should only be a concern to them if they themselves care what their own father’s penis looks like. That always stops them in their tracks. They get this peculiar “my dad’s penis… ewww…..” look on their face, and suddenly realize what absurd logic it is; that they have never cared about that for a moment of their life.

    I struggle with those who are either Christian or identify themselves as Christian but aren’t very devout or knowledgable saying, “Well the Jews have been doing it for thousands of years…” and “It’s biblical.” They seem to be making some loosely based Judaeo- Christian connection based on a poorly thought out assumption of some kind. I admit I was guilty of the same thing before I became better informed.

    • January 31, 2012 8:27 pm

      That’s an excellent point! One must ask a father that gives you this, do you remember what YOUR dad’s penis looked like?

      Not sure about everyone else, but I’m 30 years old, and I NEVER saw my old man naked. And I don’t want to, either.

      The Christian thing always bothers me; it is rather clear in the bible that for circumcision profits the Christian nothing, according to Galatians 5. Many that defend circumcision on “Christian grounds” have never even picked up their bibles, it seems…

  15. January 31, 2012 6:34 pm

    This is perfect. Thanks Georganne for the talking points, I am going to print them out and keep them with me!

  16. Marj Chapn permalink
    January 31, 2012 6:18 pm

    Your clarity and succinctness are perfect. I haven’t developed the courage yet to bring it up in face to face situations or with Jewish family and friends, but I want to work on this fear-based hesitation, because it’s so obviously a human rights issue. If not me… who? GEORGANNE! That attitude won’t do. I’ll try one person at a time.

    By the way, I so regret having my son, now middle-aged, circumcised. He cried really hard and long in that hospital nursery. I don’t recall seeing girl babies howling their heads off.

    Marj

  17. January 31, 2012 3:29 pm

    Do you take requests?
    Infants can’t decide and we can’t wait till he’s older, too traumatic you know. It’s best when they’re young. He heals faster and won’t remember.
    Venice Beach dave

    • Georganne Chapin permalink
      January 31, 2012 4:24 pm

      It’s on the list! Thanks, Dave.

  18. RewriteLady permalink
    January 31, 2012 1:48 pm

    This is helpful, Georganne! I’m looking forward to the next installment. I’ve always believed that the practice of circumcision thrives on secrecy and denial. It ends when people are courageous enough to talk about it freely.

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