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Lipstick on a Pig

March 29, 2012

One way societies justify the inexcusable is to cloak it in euphemism. Dress it up. It’s interesting to see some of the ways this happens with circumcision.

A private insurance company serving the United Arab Emirates has joined the United States in medicalizing and hyping the value of infant circumcision, a non-therapeutic mutilation, by making it a health insurance “benefit.”

As Dr. Sven Rohte, Chief Commercial Officer of the UAE’s Daman insurance company, extolled: “We are glad to be able to include circumcision coverage to the list of premium benefits our members enjoy…. [I]t is clear that we have created a special set of services to support families that are preparing to welcome a new member. We anticipate that 2,500 newborn baby boys will benefit in the first year alone.”

Premium. Enjoy. Welcome. Benefit. … words meant to mask what is nothing more than a cynical business decision to pander to an unethical cultural practice by commodifying a medically unjustifiable surgery for profit.

When religious, physician, and “human rights” groups joined to get the proposed restrictions on the non-therapeutic circumcision of minors struck from the ballot in San Francisco, they employed similarly grandiloquent rhetoric. In an Amicus brief filed with the Court, the ACLU of Northern California characterized infant circumcision as an opportunity for a baby to “participate in an essential religious ritual.”

Participate. Essential. … aspirational language that denies the autonomy of an individual unable to choose to partake in such rituals, nor to even be conscious of them as such – except in the worst way, as unjustifiable physical abuse.

In Colorado, where the legislature is attempting to restore circumcision to the list of covered services under Medicaid, Senator Irene Aguilar says: “It [is] about giving people who live in poverty the same choices that people who have money get…that is why it is such a social justice issue to me.”

Choice. Social Justice. … Righteous words on the surface, but applied in gross denial of the rights of the person who should be entitled to benefit from them. 

Lipstick on a pig.

Georganne Chapin

18 Comments leave one →
  1. jaytuohey permalink
    April 20, 2012 8:13 pm

    Great comments again,glad to hear common sense comments from informed people of America.
    This is your country,make everyone proud of it.
    Leave your sons the way they were born.

  2. Howard Smith permalink
    April 11, 2012 5:44 pm

    I find it particularly galling that so many people demand the right to circumcise their little boys under the excuse of “religious freedom”. How is it that they can’t, or won’t, recognise the fact that this “religious ritual” has absolutely nothing to do with the religion of the victim…er..participant? Babies have not chosen a religion. The concept of religious freedom would (should) dictate that when the child is of legal age, they may choose,or not, to become a member of a religious organization and participate in whatever rituals that membership entitles them to. Forcing a physical mutilation on a child who has no concept of what is going on, and has no capacity to choose or reject it, is a human rights violation of the worst kind.

  3. Jim permalink
    April 11, 2012 1:00 pm

    Absolutely, Georgeanne. Words are indeed misused, even unintentionally. Your examples are all too commonly seen. I’m particularly ashamed that the ACLU, which has done brilliant work for American civil liberties, hasn’t taken the effort to do research into exactly whose rights are at stake- the assumption being parents should have the unchallenged ‘right’ to modify their son’s body in the name of ‘religion’. Grotesque. Religious practice trumps a child’s human rights.
    And on the topic of word-use, the term ‘circumcision’ refers to a surgical procedure, an act- not an appropriate label for a person: someone is ‘appendectomied’? ‘Mastectomied’? ‘Tonsillectomied’? ‘Circumcised’? I’ve BEEN circumcised– but I am not my circumcision any more than a person who’s been raped is forever ‘raped’.

    • April 14, 2012 5:04 pm

      Good point. Terminology goes to straight to the issue of stigma. For example, as a parallel example, one who suffers from schizophrenia should not be labelled as a schizophrenic.

  4. Alfred C. Schram permalink
    April 8, 2012 1:33 pm

    Thank you, Georgeanne. You are so right!

  5. jaytuohey permalink
    April 1, 2012 6:15 pm

    Would any child wish to “participate” in such a bloody awful procedure if they were aware of what was about to happen to them?..
    I’m thinking no!!..

  6. jaytuohey permalink
    March 30, 2012 6:19 pm

    More bollocks propaganda from pro-circ mutilation fans.
    Thank you Georganne.

  7. March 30, 2012 2:45 am

    “Enjoy. Participate. Choice. Social Justice.”

    I find it ironic that circumcision is being marketed with language that describes the complete opposite of what it is from the point of view of the subject.

    No, children don’t “enjoy.” No, children don’t “participate.” No, children don’t “choose.” Now mutilation for one sex but not the other is not “social justice.”

    A healthy child doesn’t “benefit” from non-medical surgery.

    Way to market snake oil. Way to stuff it down people’s throats.

    Here is some other language used to sell MALE circumcision, but the same could not be used to sell FEMALE:

    “Medicine. Study. Research.”

    Not to mention “tradition, custom, religion.”

    Genital mutilation, whether 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.

    This insurance company should be ashamed of itself for capitalizing at the expense of basic human rights.

    May the men that don’t see their forced genital mutilation as “benefit” one day rise up and sue the pants off these disgusting charlatans.

  8. Dr. Christopher Guest permalink
    March 29, 2012 9:20 pm

    Senator Irene Aquilar fighting for “social justice” in Colorado, ensuring that even children born into poverty are given an equal opportunity to have their genitals mutilated by unethical and ignorant physicians…only in America, the land of opportunity!

    If this is confusing to a Canadian like myself, think about how confusing this is to the 1.5 billion Chinese people reading this story online, most of whom have never encountered a circumcised penis, most of whom experience an innate sense of revulsion at the thought of actually cutting their children’s genitals…how do you translate this type of insanity into Cantonese?

    • eshu21 permalink
      March 29, 2012 9:40 pm

      Don’t worry Doctor! The CDC, WHO, the Lancet and a tireless cadre of “experts” (Gray, Wawer, Halperin, Bailey and Morris) are working to ensure all cultures see the value of scar tissue, pain, loss of erogenous tissue, emotional dysfunction (http://www.mensstudies.com/content/2772r13175400432/?p=a7068101fbdd48819f10dd04dc1e19fb&pi=4 and http://intactnews.org/node/107/1312500322/circumcision-harm-and-psychological-factors-ignored), loss of personal rights and autonomy, and death, as a preferable alternative to the healthy functional reality of intact male genitalia.

      Unless of course, other peoples like the Chinese and you lucky Canadians see through this imperialist attempt to make mutilated Americans feel psychologically secure (by our forcing this illogical perversion on nations who have a healthier, more realistic view of the value of intactness, and of their children’s rights). That is why together we must continue to fight this barbaric sickness, wherever and whenever it appears, combating it root and branch…

    • jaytuohey permalink
      April 1, 2012 6:31 pm

      Nice one eshu21.
      This inherent,harmful,needless invasion of infant genitalia can no longer be accepted as a “normal” choice for parents.

    • eshu21 permalink
      April 1, 2012 8:04 pm

      Thank you Jay! we should all be ashamed to leave the world until we have won a victory for the human race; I can think of no greater triumph for me than to fight for the end of child genital mutilation, and to live to see it happen.

  9. eshu21 permalink
    March 29, 2012 7:55 pm

    Thanks Georganne for covering this when mainstream media doesn’t! Do you have any contact information for those in Colorado (including but not limited to Senator Aguilar) supporting this barbarity that we could send protests to? When it comes to tax money funding coercive infant genital mutilation my keyboard’s on fire! Also, I wonder if The National Health Insurance Company (Daman) gets any funding or financial support from the USA? If so, we need to protest there too! Thank you again for your tireless efforts in this cause!

  10. March 29, 2012 6:44 pm

    I always find it so ridiculous that insurance and medicaid DO NOT cover a circumcision for an adult male, who, after being informed and deciding that there would be health benefits to him and chooses to have this done to himself, cannot get it covered because “he doesn’t have any disease”. They only want to cover this for an infant, who also does not any disease. It not much of a social justice to cover something unnecessary like infant circumcision merely because it’s easier and cheaper to perform it on an nonconsenting baby!

  11. Heidi M. permalink
    March 29, 2012 5:39 pm

    Ms Aguilar’s use of the term “social justice” only makes her look good to the uninformed. For the rest of us, we must ask her, “Where is the social justice for the infant male?” Her justice applies to the continuation of the rights of the parents, and the rights of the medical community to keep those parents uninformed.

  12. Jerrold permalink
    March 29, 2012 5:28 pm

    You’re SO right about all of this, but just one little point to bring up:

    You meant “INSPIRATIONAL language”, right?

    • March 29, 2012 5:35 pm

      No! I meant aspirational – in other words, denoting positive things to which we aspire. Thanks so much for checking in, Jerrold.

  13. Dan Bollinger permalink*
    March 29, 2012 5:25 pm

    If I was a pig I’d be insulted by being compared to something as low and despicable as circumcision! The “C” word itself is a euphemism created so that parents, nurses, and doctors don’t have to use the correct term: Baby Mutilation.

    More than one million baby mutilations occur in the U.S. each year. We have a law protecting an estimated 30,000 girls from it, but when it comes to those 1,200,000 boys doctors are free to go hog-wild.

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