Friday, March 25, 2011

Toe Removal Has Health Benefits

A parody of routine infant circumcision and its supposed "health benefits."

"Toe Jam" on a baby

Toenails are a pain to keep clean. They accumulate dirt, and they take time to trim. If not properly washed, toe jam can develop between the toes and the foot will give off an unpleasant odor.

Toes Are Prone to Disease
The spaces between the toes are the perfect place to harbor bacteria that cause infection. Athlete's foot is such a problem in North America today that there is an entire industry based on foot hygiene products.

Athlete's Foot

The fungus that can and does grow underneath the toenails takes so long to get rid of. Fungal treatments like Lamisil and Lotrimin make a killing of money off of people with fungal problems.

Furthermore, toenails can become ingrown, requiring the need for surgery. Compound the hygiene and fungus products with the need for surgery, and having toes becomes very expensive, very fast.

Toenail Fungus

May Require Surgery Later On
When toenails become ingrown, they sometimes require medical intervention. I know quite a few guys that had to have part of their nail root killed because they had recurring ingrown toenails.

Ingrown Toenail

May Require Amputation in Adulthood
If your family has a history of diabetes, you may wish to consider removing your children's toes. If your child gets diabetes, s/he may develop a condition called "hammertoe," where poor blood circulation causes the toes to become necrotic, becoming a gangrene hazard, not only for the toes themselves, but for the rest of the foot. It is such a common incident, and there is a danger that the wound(s) may not heal correctly, causing the entire foot to be gangrenous. I know of a few cases where the wounds did not heal, and the gangrene kept spreading. The patients had to undergo surgery after surgery, until the gangrene had left them with a stump up to their thigh. Some patients simply died in recovery.


Consider Your Child's Elderly Caretaker
Caretakers for the elderly already have to deal with so much. They have to feed and wash old people, and sometimes, if the men are intact, they have to (gulp) pull back the foreskin and rinse! On top of that, they have to take care of their patients' feet. This means washing them, clipping their toenails (that never stop growing) and making sure there is no gunk between the toes or fungus under the nail beds. It would make elderly caretakers' jobs SO much easier if their patients simply didn't have any toes.

Health Risk
Babies' toes pose a specific health risk for a very common condition known as "hair tourniquet." A parent's hair wraps around the baby's toe, quickly cutting off circulation. If the condition becomes severe, the baby must be taken to the ER and have the hair removed immediately. Occasionally, the toe is lost. Clearly, parents may see that cutting off a child's toes is in the child's best interest. If parents can demand a doctor circumcise their son, then it only follows that they should be able to demand a doctor remove their child's toes.

Hair Tourniquet

And, because a parent believes it is for the best, a physician has the duty to oblige. Why, if it's done as baby, s/he won't remember it!

If they use enough anesthesia, the child will not even feel the pain.

Having your toes removed as an adult is simply no fun.

Especially if diabetes runs in the family, physicians should advise parents to cut off their babies' toes. After all, they may need to have them removed later in life anyway.

My girlfriend's cousin's boyfriend's aunt's baby had to have a toe removed because of a hair tourniquet. If I ever have a baby, I'm surely going to have his toes removed.

In short, having toes is a HEALTH HAZARD! Cutting off a child's toes has health benefits. The AAP should recommend that all doctors advise parents that they remove their child's toes in infancy. It is simply better to remove a baby's toes when s/he is too young to remember and won't know what s/he is missing later in life. Parents and doctors that choose not to remove a child's toes are denying him/her of potential health benefits.

Closing Note
These rationale for toe removal sound humorous don't they? These are actual, serious arguments used by people who defend circumcision. Use them with anything else, and the absurdity becomes obvious.

I'd like to thank peaceful parenting for hosting my original post at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Remember

Looking back, I remember seeing a circumcised penis for the first time in my life. I remember I was in kindergarten, and I distinctly remember rushing to the bathroom because I had to go real bad. The boy in before me had forgotten to lock the door, and I walked in to see a spectacle which was, in and of itself, interesting.
I was used to just undoing my pants, pulling it out and going. But I walked in to find this boy with his pants all the way down to his ankles, and his hands on his hips as he thrust out his pelvis to present his penis to the toilet to pee.

But I specifically remember seeing his penis and wondering “what the hell happened to you???” It was very brief. I remember the boy looking back at me giving me a dirty look, and rightfully so. (Who wants another boy staring at his dick while he pees?) I just got out and closed the door again. The boy finally got out and I was able to do my business.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had just seen a circumcised penis for the first time in my life. It was an impression that stayed with me for my whole life for many reasons. First, it was probably the first time I had ever seen another boy naked, peeing for that matter. But I distinctly remember wondering for the rest of that day what I had just seen in the bathroom. First of all, who teaches their son to pull their pants all the way to the floor like that! And how can you aim with your hands at your hips? And why on earth was the end of his penis all misshapen like that? Maybe some boys have different shaped penises, just like we have different shaped belly buttons. I have an innie, other boys have outies, so this must also apply to our penises. Or so I thought...

Now, I imagine that if a circumcised boy had never seen an intact penis before in his life, his reaction might have been the same as mine. He might be wondering what the hell happened to MY penis. What's wrong with that boy's penis? Why was it shaped like that?

But herein lies the rub:
Something DID happen to his penis, and nothing to mine. While “what happened?” might be a valid question to ask for the both of us, it only applies to me, as I have organs that were left as nature had intended them to be; it is the circumcised penis that is the artificial, contrived, forced phenomenon, and not the other way around.

That men have to live with a mangled penis  for the rest of their lives whether they wanted it or not is such a sad thought... In retrospect, what a sad, sad memory...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Who am I? Why am I so against circumcision?

I am but a citizen concerned for the rights of minors and the individual. I am against circumcision, specifically the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors because it is wrong on so many different levels. Nevermind the ethical repugnancy behind reaping profit for performing elective, non-medical cosmetic alterations on healthy, non-consenting minors; circumcision is a permanent, irrevocable alteration that changes the way a person's genitals appear and function for the rest of his life. Because it is performed on healthy individuals who are unable to speak for themselves, it is abuse. It is abuse of a child who is unable to fend for himself, and it is the abuse of parents who have given doctors their trust. I am against infant circumcision because it is nothing less than genital mutilation. It is a violation of basic human rights.

When Did I Take This Position?
Coming to the conclusion that I have was a long, drawn-out process. I wasn't immediately against circumcision; it didn't happen overnight. Actually, I myself am not circumcised, and I came to learn about circumcision out of a desire to get circumcised. I grew up in America, and when I was in highschool, I was brought under the impression that all American men are circumcised at birth. I didn't know then what I know now. I started reading on the internet about all the medical "benefits" that circumcision is supposed to afford the owners of circumcised penises, how it's much more "prettier-looking," and how most (American) women prefer it, and I felt short-changed. Back then, I started feeling a sort of disdain for my parents. "Why wasn't I circumcised as a baby like all the other boys, so I wouldn't remember?"

I'm 29 today, but back when I was maybe about 15, 16, the first websites that came up when you typed "circumcision" in say, Altavista, were those pro-circumcision websites who talked about circumcision like it was the best thing since sliced bread. That's how I started to learn about how most men in this country are circumcised, and that if you're not, you're doomed to a life of ridicule and rejection by women. At those websites, they talk about all the virtues of being circumcised. It's cleaner, "prettier" (to WHOM, now that I think of it?), and anyone who's anyone is circumcised. I was exposed to nothing but "positives." I also started reading about those "awful anti-circumcisionists" who had nothing better to do than infringe on "religious freedom" and "parental rights." Whenever I would read about people against circumcision, there would be this unexplained hateful, disdainful tone. But why? Why would anyone be against circumcision with all these positives? Why would anyone go as far as to condemn a religious practice, and why shouldn't parents have this right to "choose" what they want for their children?

You can't just read up on one side of the argument and have a "fair and balanced" conclusion; you need to read on what BOTH sides have to say. There's got to be a reason. People don't just wake up one day and think to themselves "to day is a good day to hate Jews and meddle in parental choice." Are those even the reasons people oppose circumcision? What is it about circumcision that these people euphoric about cutting babies' genitals aren't telling me? What is it they don't want me to know? Why do they warn me about not listening to "the other side?" I decided I was going to find out.

Little by little, I was beginning to see WHY people are against circumcision. Look on pro-circumcision websites and there is absolutely no mention about the ethics of circumcising a healthy, non-consenting newborn. No one talks about the fact that circumcision changes the way a penis functions and its appearance for the rest of a child's life. A circumcised child must grow up with an altered organ; a "beta penis." When you give a gift to someone, say a box of chocolates, do you open the box and take a couple of bites off the chocolates you like? How do you feel if you get a toy, and you realized your older brother opened it and played with it first? Just the same, how is it right that a child has to live with mutilated organs for the rest of his life? If a man grows up to like his organs that way, hey, more power to him. But what about those men who wish they would have had a choice? They must live with a scar that serves as a constant reminder that their bodies are not their own. Day to day, they are reminded that their bodies were mutilated every time they take a piss.

That's when I began to move away from a position of "WHY wasn't I circumcised?" I stopped having disdain for my parents and I started to appreciate not having been mutilated at birth. Still, the realization that 1.3 million boys a year, about 3,000 a day, get circumcised in hospitals across the country is something you can't quite get out of your mind. The cat's been let out of the bag, so to speak. I began to try and reason it out.

"Well, circumcision just might have all these benefits, and I guess even though it's not medically necessary, I guess it's each parent's choice then. Others chose to have their children circumcised, mine didn't, and that's just the way it is." Or so I thought to myself. I tried very hard to stay in a "neutral" position for the longest time, but I just couldn't. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, some new realization kept bothering me. For example, for the longest time the idea of inflicting unnecessary pain on a healthy, non-consenting child bothered me. I tried very hard to reason "well, at least babies won't remember." But then, is "not remembering" what is supposed to make circumcising healthy children OK? If a man uses a drug to have his way with a woman, does it make it OK if she "can't remember?" Does this rationale work in any other context? Would we ever advocate circumcision in a girl if it were done in infancy when she can't remember? With pain killers? Is stealing from a blind man better than stealing from a man that can see because "what he doesn't know can't hurt him?" Or is stealing wrong in principle?

One thought lingered in my mind; if there is no medical necessity, how is it parents can even be allowed to "choose" this for their children? There's no medical condition in a healthy child, so how is it even a "choice?" Can doctors even be performing circumcisions in healthy minors, let alone pander to a parent's sense of entitlement? Are doctors obliged to perform medically unwarranted procedures in children if parents asked for it? What's the limit? What other parts of the body are doctors obliged to chop off to honor a parent's wishes? To protect against some rare disease that a child isn't even likely to get, and that is already quite preventable by other less invasive means? Or is a doctor's duty to perform only that which is medically necessary in a child with a legitimate problem?

No. I arrived at the conclusion that doctors that perform circumcision in healthy, non-consenting children are getting away with medical fraud. They only get away with it because it isn't perceived as such by the American general public; it is perceived as "parental choice," even though it is quite clear that there is no "choice" to make in healthy children. Doctors have no business performing circumcisions in healthy children anymore than parents have any business asking for a doctor to do this. Doctors have a duty to refuse to perform these procedures because it is medical fraud to be reaping profit for performing elective, non-medical procedure; because performing circumcision in healthy newborns is not only outright charlatanism, it is a violation of basic human rights. There is no way around it; circumcision violates the same principle in boys as it does in girls. That one is more "severe" than the other is irrelevant.

It's Not That Simple
Arriving at this conclusion didn't end the conflict in my head regarding circumcision. I was raised in a very old-fashioned, very conservative, very pro-Israel Christian church. Since I was a child, I was taught that Jews were "God's people," they were the smartest, most intelligent people on earth, and they could do no wrong. I was taught about the holocaust, and I was shown Hitler movies from a very young age. I was taught that the Jews were the most oppressed people on earth, and governments through-out time did what they could to limit the practice of their religion. Our church would often invite rabbis to speak. We would hold menorah lightings for Channukah, and we were taught about many Jewish customs. We learned about the metzuzah, kosher food, yarmulkas, dreidels, Purim, Yom Kipur, Rosh Hashanah, you name it. Every one at my church wanted to be Jewish! It's funny, thoughout that whole time, we were never taught about that one little procedure around which Judaism is centered around.

I was torn. I AM torn; on the one hand, I think that doctors shouldn't be circumcising children, that since there is no medical necessity, parents don't have this "choice" to make. But on the other hand, I don't know how to reconcile my position against the circumcision of infants with a culture with which I was very close to in the past. It is hard to be against circumcision when it's easy for others to label you as "anti-Semite." I kept reasoning to myself, "Well, it's an important tradition for Jews. Doctors have no business performing circumcisions on healthy infants for sure, but what about Jews and their traditions?"

When Did We Decide What Is "Tradition" and What Is "Torture?"
This is where female circumcision comes into the picture, because as a nation, we have decided that in no way shape or form will we tolerate female circumcision, or "female genital mutilation" as we so brazenly call it, in this country. In May of 2010, the AAP tried advocate for a "ritual nick" for girls, on the premise that "it might deter parents from taking their daughters to other countries to have more severe procedures done." This caused an uproar across the globe. The month of May didn't pass before the AAP had retracted their position; under no circumstance was the West to accept a position from a professional medical organization that advocated female genital "cutting," not even a "ritual nick." A "nick," mind you, wouldn't remove anything. In this case, it would be MALE circumcision that would be "worse." So when people argue "well, female circumcision is WORSE," what do they really mean? In countries where girls are circumcised, it is thought of as an important religious and/or cultural "custom." But isn't it a double-standard to be advocating for "freedom" for one ethnic group and their traditions, but denying it in another? Why are cultures that circumcise girls less important than cultures that circumcise boys?

(For those of you interested, not all female circumcision is the same. In Malaysia and Indonesia, girls undergo a procedure that doesn't remove that much flesh, and where they don't sow up the vulva as often described. You can read up on these traditions in a NYTimes article called "A Cutting Tradition." Please google it and educate yourselves.)

The Catalyst
I think the experience that actually pushed me over the edge was actually watching a video of circumcision being performed. Never again will I think of male infant circumcision as "just a snip." Male circumcision isn't a "snip," anymore than female circumcision is just a "nick." People who keep insisting that circumcision is a "harmless snip" either don't know what they're talking about, or they honestly think people are really that stupid.

"Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all." ~Sophocles

So there you go. I went from a completely "for" position, to a gradual, but complete "against" position. I have tried to reason this out every which way possible, and I always manage to arrive at the same conclusion; circumcision is unnecessary in healthy children. Doctors have no business performing non-medical procedures on non-consenting individuals, and parents have no business asking doctors to perform them. Male circumcision may be an important religious tradition for some peoples, but if we respect and protect "religion and culture," why is it we protect only male circumcision on those grounds? When did we decide that cutting the genitals of one sex was "tradition", but cutting the genitals of the other sex is "mutilation?" It's a double-standard that I think this country needs to do some soul-searching on.

The Bottom Line
The foreskin is not a birth defect. Nor is it a congenital deformity or a genetic anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. The foreskin is normal, healthy tissue found in all males at birth. Circumcision in healthy boys is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue. It permanently alters the appearance and mechanics of the penis, and it puts a child at risk of infection, disfigurment, complete ablation and even death. Thanks to research and modern medicine, we now have better, more effective, less-invasive ways to prevent disease, so that circumcision is not needed anymore (actually, it was never needed). Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting individuals is by very definition infant genital mutilation. Doctors have no business performing it in healthy, non-consenting individuals, much less giving his parents any kind of "choice."

Lingering Ambiguity
I'm still kind of on the fence when it comes to the "religious" circumcision of infants as performed by Jewish families, but there is not a doubt in my mind that reaping profit from it by disguising it as "medicine" and performing it in hospitals on children whose parents aren't even Jewish is medical fraud. Circumcision may be an important "religious ritual," but doctors have absolutely no business performing magical blood rituals for anyone, especially children. Their duty is to medicine, not cultural custom or religious superstition.

It gives me heart to know that this day in age, there are Jewish groups that are viewing circumcision as the violation of basic human rights that it is, and deciding to abandon the custom. Prominent Jewish figures are speaking out against the practice and calling for it to end.

In closing, it must be made clear that I am not against circumcision when actually medically indicated. I'm also not against circumcision if that is what a fully consenting man wants to do with his body.

Furthermore, I do not judge parents that have gone ahead and agreed to have their children circumcised; it is my belief that deep down, all parents really want is the best for their sons, and if they knew any better, they would have decided against it. Circumcising American doctors dispense misinformation either inadverdently or deliberately, and parents can't be blamed if they're asked to make a decision not being given the full picture. Being told that circumcision prevents HIV, penile cancer, and a myriad of other diseases, and that not circumcising guarantees a man a life full of disease, what parent WOULDN'T choose circumcision for their sons? Would that doctors adhered to the first dictum in medicine, "First do no harm," circumcision wouldn't even be this "choice." It is my hope that through education, this country becomes enlightened, and I live to see the end of this mutilation, this medical fraud, this deliberate and blatant violation of basic human rights.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Circumcision Just After a NICU

It's bad enough that healthy babies are being circumcised. What I can't wrap my head around is how could they do this to babies that are in a delicate condition?

I've read blogs where women practically brag about having their children circumcised just after getting out of the NICU, as if this is something of a prize for a child after struggling for life. I mean really? I just don't get how anybody can do that. What goes through their heads? Am I to believe that they were actually concerened for their child's well-being? Just what are they thinking? "Oh my poor child, he's suffering and he could die... I can't wait to make the situation worse by circumcising him..." I mean really. WHAT ARE these people thinking...

On these same blogs, other people chime in with the same concern that I have. We are concerned for the child, because the child is in a delicate state as it is. And how do people respond?

"You should be more compassionate of this poor, poor mother/father. How can you be so cruel and accusing?"

As if something is wrong with US, we who feel for the child, and nothing wrong with them, for not wanting to wait to cause a purposeful wound. The poor child is going to be put in unnecessary danger, the child might DIE, but somehow, something is wrong with US, those who are against circumcising the poor child. Nothing is wrong with those who simply can't wait for the child to get out so that they can cut off part of his penis.

Has the world gone MAD???

"Oh poor parents... oh woe is them..." But poor child? I mean REALLY??? It's the CHILD who is going to undergo the needless mutilating procedure that puts him at risk, but somehow, we have to be careful not to bruise the mothers' feelings... oh no...

Well I don't care.

"My child is suffering, I can't wait to get him out of the NICU so that we can circumcise him" has got to be the sickest, most disgusting train of thought that I have ever heard of.

I can't believe the nerve of some of these parents. Do they really want a child? Or do they want just an accessory?

But what I can't believe the most is the nerve of the so-called "doctors" that would actually go through and do this. Parents, I can sort of forgive, because really, most simply don't know any better. But doctors. They're the ones who supposedly went to med school for 10 years or so. They're the ones with the professional license, and who are supposed to know better. That's why they get paid the big bucks. To actually stoke a parent's sense of entitlement to perform needless surgery that puts a child at needless risk??? And actually go through with the procedure? And then something happens and "oops, it's not our fault, the PARENTS made me do it..." Shouldn't the doctor be trying to convince the parents OTHERWISE???

This reminds me of a case that happened last year... A mother posted her entire son's life story for the world to see... her son was in the NICU because of a congenital heart problem, and she was posting about how she couldn't wait to have her son out of the NICU to have him circumcised... to be clear, the doctors were also not helping, saying that "the time to circumcise is now." It was all written down in her blog... we told her... intactivists told her... "don't do it..." Shortly, she begins to write for prayers because her son is in critical condition... a brouhaha ensues, because rumors surge, saying that intactivists were going to storm her child's funeral Westboro style... (In all the history of intactivism that has NEVER happened...) Turns out her son bled for 7 hours before doctors finally discovered the child needed a suture... But she assures to everyone that the doctors told her her son's death had absolutely nothing to do with the circumcision. (I mean, this after her detailed blog.) She takes down the blog, copyrights it, and even has her son's body cremated. Yet another circumcision death is quietly swept underneath the carpet... AND ALL FOR WHAT. UGH.

Bottom Line
But I'm through ranting about this crap. Here's the bottom line: Unless there is medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery on a healthy, non-consenting newborn, much less pandering to a parent's sense of entitlement. Reaping profit from non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals is nothing less than medical fraud. Because children in NICUs aren't healthy, this is a totally new level. Infant circumcision is a violation of basic human rights, a crime against humanity, and doctors are complices. The day is coming when they will have to face consequences for what they do.

When doctors and parents start getting sued for infant genital mutilation, there should be an extra penalty for boys in NICUs.

Alright, I'm done.

My First Post

I am by no means a blogger; this is my very first attempt. I've ranted and raved about circumcision long enough, that I thought it was time to start posting my thoughts on a blog. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, I'm just going to learn as I go along.

From The Get-go
I don't pretend to have any kind of "neutral point of view" when it comes the subject of circumcision. I'm going to come straight out and say that I am dead against the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors. I make no exception for "religion" or "culture." The only time that a child should undergo surgery is when there is actual medical or clinical indication, and all other methods of treatment have failed. But then again, isn't this how it's supposed to be for all manner of surgery?

On "Opinion"
There may be some that would like to retort to saying "oh well, this is just your opinion and you're entitled to it." Well, I'm sure that little boys shouldn't be circumcised is "my opinion," but saying that "little girls shouldn't be circumcised" is also "opinion." For whatever reason, there seems to be no problem with people organizing and taking that "opinion" as far as villages in Africa. If your mind's "made up," then there is no reason for you to be perusing my blog. If circumcision is such a "non-issue" to you, and you have just so many better things to do, then perhaps you should go and do them. I'm tired of reading pages and pages about how circumcision is this "non-issue." Apprehension always, always betrays apathy.

Mission Statement
Genital integrity, autonomy and self-determination are inalienable human rights. I am against the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors because it violates these rights. Please do not conflate my disdain for the forced circumcision of minors for a belittlement of circumcised men, or a hate for Jews. I am against the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors no matter what age, sex, ethnic group or religion. It is the violation of basic human rights no matter who does it, and where.