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03 October 2007

Jewish "intactivists" in U.S. stop circumcising

What a bunch of sissy boys.. I was clipped when I was eight years old! It was a big party complete with live music, food, alcohol, a belly dancer, and lots o' cash for me!! Two men held me by my arms and ankles from behind, a bowl was placed beneath my crotch to catch the blood, all while my privvies were exposed to a large circle of gatherers, which included girls. I don't know which was worse- the fear of the pain or the humiliation of exposing myself.. Either way, it took a few days for my testicles to re-descend. I have pictures which I'll try not to post one day.. both in the fancy bed they set up in the center of the party hall, and just before the trim job, my face a terrified white.. Our little one was circumcised by a woman doctor on his 2nd day out of the womb. I wasn't too happy about it, chauvenist that I am.. A Jewish mohel was available and I would have rather had him do it, it's his specialty after all.. The lady doctor was not amused by my suggestion.. One Jew in southern California says:  "I see circumcision as a blood ritual that I can let go of..".. I beg to differ.
A Jewish settler from the Gaza Strip holds his eight-day-old son at the baby's circumcision ceremony, held in a tent outside Israel's Parliament building in Jerusalem, January 10, 2005. An increasing number of Jews in the United States have decided not to circumcise their sons, rejecting the traditional notion that it is a Biblically prescribed sign of the Jewish relationship with God. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen


Ardent said...

I tryed to get my son circumcised after he was born and prior to leaving the Hospital, but my Gynecologist told me off. She stated, 'that cicumcision was an outdated proceedure and it was a stupid suggestion coming from an Italian.' I did not bother to defend my request or point out the fact that I was Turkish.

My son ended up having the proceedure at 5 years of age, under General anaesthetic. My son has no complaints.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Good work Ardent. My younger brother did the same around the age of 7. Instead of the primitive method I endured, he was at the hospital for a few hours and that was it. Minimal pain.. and no complaints. Personally, I remember my "before and after", and as gross as this topic is.. let me just say I have no complaints either. Not for everyone, obviously.. but when Jews and Muslims begin to blow it off (no pun intended) the world's end must be closer than we feared.. some would say.. Besides, it's tradition! Elaborate ceremonies and celebration and monetary gifts! Passage into "manhood"! Why are people so against something which MOST boys look forward to, and which is clearly easier to take care of hygenically? if not proven to be healthier?! Jesus was circumcised for goodness sake..

Ardent said...

I find it contraditory that Doctors, Media and community workers are saying that it is a totally unnecessary proceedure, even though it promotes cleanliness.

Yet the same doctors are quick to perform cosmetic operations for vanity where the patient endures a lot more pain, like Liposuction, Breast enlargements, face lifts, etc. And the media are happy to promote the before and after shots.

Murat Altinbasak said...

You nailed it right there Ardent.. Of all the things in the world to be critical of, this ranks about as low as plankton..

Mitat Yerli said...

Nobody should have a right to mutilate a child in the name of religion. It has nothing to do with the child's being a man or a 'sissy' as you say. Eighty-two percent of the men in the world are not circumcised. Circumcision is not only a cruel procedure but also desensitizes the penis resulting in sexual dissatisfaction (well documented) not to mention the humiliation of being held against one's will and be exposed at the age of eight in front of everybody to have the procedure imposed upon... Subordination of men. I am glad that there is a group of Jewish people with some sense that is taking a position on the issue. More power to them. As a circumcised Turk, obviously who had no say in being 'clipped' as you put it, I support their movement. If someone wants to be circumcised as an adult that would be his business but no one should come near an innocent child with a knife to alter his body and scar him for life. I know I was and I resent it.

Anonymous said...

On the contrary Mitat . . .

There are (some) documented cases that say the exact opposite re: sexual satisfaction. And sexual drive may be enhanced, although the (hard) evidence is inconclusive.

Not only that, but the risk associated with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are very much lowered as a result of circumcision.

In fact, circumcision may reduce a man's risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex by half.

But for those wishing it never happened, there are procedures nowadays called 'foreskin restoration' to restore the psychological scarring.

You sound like you've resented a decision your parents made without your approval and 'scarred' for life.

In my humble opinion, parents also made decisions concerning a given name, as well as more importantly, the decision to have a child, or the decision not to have it aborted. So we can't blame them for everything. We have to take the good with the bad.

To sympathize with you, I also had my tonsils removed as a young boy. And nowadays, tonsil removal is not necessary and as not as common.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Mitat I didn't actually enjoy the assault upon my weiner either.. but the tradition which surrounded it, the morning visit to the mosque, the fancy clothing, the attention, the fussing over me, the party, the money, the happy day that it was, makes it quite worth it. As I said, we spared our son the humiliation and had it done when he was two days old.. We cringed every time we re-packed the bandages for that first week, almost hated ourselves.. but he will not be denied a proper "sunnet dugun" in a few years!
Metin you make a lot of valid points. Parents are not out to cause their boys suffering. I've seen mass circumcisions where most boys were eager and willing to get it done! It's a rite of passage. Yet I do feel that a more sanitary hospital setting with at least topical anesthetic should be a requirement. It's 2007, not 1977.

Finduk O. said...

I find this whole topic very interesting. Not being a male myself, and not having grown up in Turkey, and also because I am very against female circumcision---which has zero sanitary benefits and has long-term problems associated with it. I don't know about the pros or cons of male circumcision but I greatly resent the fact that in this past month (I guess before school/classes start) I have seen dozens (DOZENS) of little boys paraded around the streets of Izmir in a convoy of honking cars. And the kid sits like a king on the back of a convertible, with a staff in hand and a king's outfit, and people are celebrating the fact that he is no longer a little boy.

On those same streets that this boy is being driven through, are girls who have their first period, perhaps on that same day. And instead of being paraded around like a Queen and celebrated with horns and drums, they are hidden. It's not a point of pride to be a young woman.

So in that sense I personally do not think this is a thing that should be cherished. Unless you can come up with the same sort of celebration for a girl's first menstration. And I don't see that happening any time soon...

Anonymous said...


I too am against female abuse and female circumcision rituals.

As to your other point, I suggest we start a movement for young girls coming of age. I am sure Turkey can use another reason to celebrate anything right about now.

We can even call it the new and improved period of the female movement.

RD said...

Over the past 20 years, the number of American Jewish couples who have refused to circumcise a son may number only a few thousand. Many of who have done this have remained very quiet about it, out of respect for a son’s private parts. However. a few who have taken this radical step have justified their decision publicly and eloquently. If the parents are atheists, or deny that the Jews are a Chosen People, or deny that there exists a Covenant, consistency requires that they forego ritual circumcision.

After World War II, a substantial and growing number of European Jews have not been circumcised, especially when the parents are irreligious. Refusing to circumcise is not unheard of even in Israel. The notion that a Jew absolutely must be circumcised in infancy is primarily true of the English speaking countries, which have all (Ireland excepted) at one time or another, believed that circumcision has medical advantages.

The cutting edge of intactivism is North American Christians. Last century, American routine neonatal circumcision was always done without any anesthesia whatsoever, and that was utterly barbaric. Even now, a majority of baby boys are done without lidocaine. This is a major failing of American medical ethics.

If a boy or man takes a daily shower, keeping clean under the foreskin is utterly trivial. Rinsing off the tip of his penis in a sink, just prior to making love, is likewise extremely easy.

The circumcised USA has substantially higher rates of STDs than intact western Europe. Circumcision might blunt the African AIDS pandemic, where AIDS is transmitted by promiscuous sex between men and women. Circumcision is of no value against AIDS in the USA, where it is transmitted by homosexual activity and needle drugs.

Only in 1986 did someone finally come up with an argument concluding that circumcision was best performed right after birth. Before then, the English speaking middle classes circumcised newborns because Jews have done it for 2500 years, and because infants do not remember it. From the standpoint of minimising botched procedures, it would be better to wait until after puberty, and after the foreskin has naturally detached from the glans. In most cases, this is what South Korean families do.

The UK middle class gradually abandoned circ in the 1950s. New Zealand followed suit in the 1970s and 80s. In Australia, the rate is down to 15%; Canada, 10%. In the European Union nowadays, circumcision is generally confined to persons of Islamic heritage. In the USA over the past 30 years, the rate has fallen from 90% to 55%.

In most – but not every -- cases, circumcision has no adverse medical or sexual consequences. But a small fraction of men circumcised as infants become sexually damaged adults. Not infrequently, the sexual damage from circumcision takes several decades to gradually manifest itself. Hence the problem is seen as a natural consequence of aging, and not as an iatrogenic consequence of infant circumcision. A major problem here is that most research on human sexuality has been carried out by circumcised Americans and their spouses.

RD said...

The male bits excised by circumcision can contribute much to sexual activity. Our understanding of this only began about 20 years ago, and is still evolving. As the owner of an intact penis, I can assure you that the bits circumcision removes make a substantial contribution to my experience of sex. There are North American women who, as a result of disregarding Abrahamic tradition and common sense about condom use, have had premarital sex lives enabling them to compare both flavours of men. In quite a few cases, these women warmly favour intact.

Islamic circumcision can be performed in a medical setting, under local or general anesthesia. Common sense and humanity dictate a prompt move in that direction. I also see no reason why circumcision could not be delayed until an age when the person could consent to it. In my opinion, to circumcise a boy when he is 5-7 years old (worse yet, 1 week old) cannot have any religious value. On the other hand, to get circumcised after getting engaged to a Jewish woman would have immense would be a major sign of religious devotion and of loyalty to the Jewish nation.