Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Penis in peril! or, an examination of circumcision.

I couldn't find an image of circumcision that didn't make me
weak, so here is Black Square, which sums up my feelings.

I've anticipated writing this post over the past couple of days as I learned about the impending vote on circumcision in San Francisco. [San Fran, a cesspool of sexually deviant capitalists.] But I've prepared for it my whole life, perhaps not when I was a little third-world baby, but very soon after I was aware that one day my penis “condition" would simply be another idea others will use to evaluate me. Someday, another human being might see it and the cat will be out of the bag [or rather, the snake will be out of its box?]

But whatever insecurity that might arise from the non-condition I don't suffer from is not one of the reasons I support the proposed amendment in San Francisco [], which aims to ban circumcision within city limits. My endorsement [does an endorsement from Bema count for anything?] stems from the unnecessary harm to the baby and the removal of adult choice in the future.

We have here a system that creates two distinct categories of men, the circumcised and the uncircumcised, although I've never understood why the latter needs its own special qualifier regardless of what it is, in part because I have the unusual habit of calling unpeeled bananas, just "bananas". In keeping with the Western tradition of making people feel bad about their bodies, there's even all sorts of myths and ideals that float around that equate having a normal penis to medieval torture and most of all, a failure on behalf of the parents.

A failure that any good or wholesome parent would not want to make associated with a litany of reasons. Some people feel social pressure, others an obligation or even a "consideration" to the baby to not leave him with a defective penis, and best of all, a covenant with figures out of creationist mythology. All three of these motivations could be easily corrected with social pressure and the demonization of circumcision, and a ban on it is the right first step to take.

Suppose San Francisco bans circumcision: there will be more normally endowed children frolicking around the city making those kids who might in the past have been made to feel "weird" maybe, just maybe feel a little better. At the same time we'd have people, who'd usually be so willing to honor a covenant with God with a penis they don't own, reconsidering whether this time-honored tradition is still worth the extra expense and legal castigation of having it done elsewhere [although I suspect a "Snip City" would soon develop across the Golden Gate bridge, hell, "Snip Tourism" would not be a too far off concept. Why have it done in a hospital when you can have your baby boy circumcised at an all-inclusive resort? Buy one, get one free.]

The religious caucus of Abrahamic faiths is decrying this as an attack on their freedom of religion, but I'm calling their bluff. Freedom of religion is still a limited concept, and one that shouldn't apply to making bodily modifications of a newborn. If bodily harm is covered by the constitution, then the next step is to take the universally loved concept of "eye for an eye" and apply it in real life lest anyone feel their right to practice their outdated convictions is being restricted. I have a feeling that somehow, the newly restricted belief systems will find a way to get around this ban using the other time-honored Western tradition of rewriting your religious laws in response to changing social mores. But not only are the religious committing unnecessary harm to their infants, they're also fraudulently investing in their children a commitment to their religion that comes way too early. Since the ban only covers minors, it in no way stops adults who would gladly have their penis modified in order to maintain the religious traditions of their parents. The real fear of the supposedly pious is that without the circumcision, there will be even less reason for their children to be free thinking citizens and not mindlessly conform to their parents’ religious baggage.

Then you have the false prophets of science, screaming from their research that we must get teh snipz because of a reduced rate of STDs and a higher order of cleanliness but even that's not a unanimous voice from the scientific community. True, there are complications that arise from being intact, and perhaps they must be dealt with by circumcision when the affected ages, but that is the most humane alternative: allow the small minority of people who do need circumcisions to get them as a consenting or at least consciously aware person, rather than restraining almost half of infants against their will.

And let me just wrap this up now before I say something stupid or a phrase that could be confused for anti-Jewishism [can't this whole article be construed as anti-Semitism?] It might seem with such fervent opposition to circumcision that I have an intense hatred of anyone that elects to harm their child, but I don't, I can just really hope for the kind of social evolution that will make a democratically decided ban on circumcision acceptable, or at least debatable in terms outside of "targeting religion".