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Circumcision causes brain damage! - Have Satellite Truck, Will Travel.
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Circumcision causes brain damage!
Tampa, FL - Yesterday on Monroe Street at I-10 in Tallahassee, FL I saw the most unusual protester. After a double take to verify the sign does in fact say "Circumcision causes brain damage" I felt compelled to stop and see what this was all about. So with camera phone in hand went and asked.

He told me. He talked about MRIs, brain scans and intelligence tests that prove the uncircumcised are smarter, happier and healthier then their clipped counter parts. He said that circumcised males cannot comprehend what they read as well. He even talked about MRIs performed during circumcisions and the before and after difference in brain activity.

OK, some men are thought to do their decision making from crotch level. I have been accused of that more then once during my dance on this earth. But I always thought that was more of a metaphor. Perhaps this man is on to something I missed in anatomy and physiology. But his concerns don't stop with the physical effects.

He told me that Male circumcision was a matter of unconstitutional discrimination. Then he gave me the only part of his spiel that could be independently verified. He pointed out that female circumcision is illegal in the United States. That is true and as it should be under Crimes and Criminal Procedure - 18 USC Section 116. He told me that "The United States Constitution says congress shall make no law discriminating against religion, race or sex." (Funny, that isn't the way I remember those words in that document.)

I really do not believe this man understands the difference between male and female circumcision.

There are really good arguments on both sides of the circumcision argument. The most compelling argument for me is that circumcised males are less likely to pick up sexually transmitted diseases. But in all honesty I really don't lean one way or the other in the argument. It is a personal choice the family of the newborn male makes based on what ever cultural, religious and health reasons they have. In this case I don't think the government needs to have a say in what is done.

I know what all of you are wondering. Sadly, in all the time I talked to him, it never once occurred to me to ask him if he was circumcised. I was too focused on maintaining a straight face.



Well it's a drastic procedure by your standards and mine, but for the people who are living in desperation perhaps the best way to understand it is that it seems no more drastic to them than circumcision.
- John Money

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phecda From: phecda Date: June 11th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I appreciate that the story was uncut...
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: June 11th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
girlwithoutfear From: girlwithoutfear Date: June 11th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd be more likely to hope the guy had a vasectomy than worry about whether he was circumsised or not. He doesn't appear to be adding a lot to the gene pool.
laken_steeljaw From: laken_steeljaw Date: June 11th, 2008 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, that's funny... I've thought about this issue, but I'm not sure where to stand on it, since I'm not a male. Part of me wants to say that a parent has no right to make a possibly life-changing decision for a child like that, but at the same time, parents have to do that. They have to get their child medical care, put them in school, etc., that's all life changing.

So yeah. Undecided. It seems cruel and barbaric to me, but so do a lot of other things. *shrug*

In agreement, though, that this guy is a little nuts.
From: ml66uk Date: June 11th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do *you* understand the difference between male and female circumcision? I agree that removing any of the clitoris is worse than the most common form of male circumcision, but many forms do less damage, and one is the exact equivalent. Even making an incision on a girl's genitals is illegal though, whereas cutting off the most sensitive part of a boy's penis is commonplace.

Are you aware of how non-religious male circumcision became popular? See this link for what physicians were saying in medical journals at the time:
http://www.noharmm.org/docswords.htm

Personally, I regard cutting off the male foreskin as mutilation, and it seems fairly clear that it reduces sexual enjoyment. That was the original intention when doctors first started popularising it, though circumcised men have been looking for different reasons to justify it ever since.

Are you aware that the USA also used to practise female circumcision? It was never anywhere near as popular as male circumcision, but there are middle-aged white US American women walking round today with no clitoris because it was removed. Some of them don't even realise what has been done to them. There are frequent references to the practice in medical literature up until the 1950's. Most of them point out the similarity with male circumcision, and suggest that it should be performed for the same reasons. Blue Cross/Blue Shield covered clitoridectomy till 1977.

One victim wrote a book about it:
Robinett, Patricia (2006). "The rape of innocence: One woman's story of female genital mutilation in the USA."
N.p.: Aesculapius Press. ISBN 1-878411-04-7.

Why should a girl be protected from the "personal choice of the family", but a boy isn't protected? If my son wants to be circumcised when he's 18 (16 if he knows what he's doing), I'll pay for it and help him find a good surgeon. Until then, he stays intact. His body - his decision. If he wants to be circumcised later, it's easy to fix. If we'd had him circumcised, and he wanted to be intact, it's a problem.
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: June 13th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Do *you* understand the difference between male and female circumcision?"

Yes. In fact I have more of an understanding then I did when I first posted this. (see comments below) Male circumcision is nothing like female circumcision.

You consider male circumcision mutilation. That's okay with me and you may very well be right. But lower incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in circumcised males is well documented in many peer reviewed medical publications.

Therefore the personal choice of male circumcisions should be left to the family. The public health issue over rides the argument to outlaw it.
From: tlc_tugger Date: June 12th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
^^ I really do not believe this man understands the difference between male and female circumcision. ^^
- - - - -

The difference is:

94% of the world's population lives where it's illegal to cut a girl's genitals for any reason.

100% of the world's population lives where the local national medical association (if one exists) DOES NOT RECOMMEND routine circumcision.

Illegal female cutting includes a ceremonial pin-prick to draw a drop of blood. How on earth can someone legally throw a party after having over half their son's erotic nerve endings amputated? The foreskin is the best part of the penis. Have a look at this video before you assume the wives' tales you've been told are valid: http://youtube.com/watch?v=r9DoCn3gATE

Cheers,
-Ron
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: June 12th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually I was referring to the physical differences, not the legalities. Even the most minor form of female circumcision greatly inhibits a woman's ability to achieve orgasm. The forms of female circumcision beyond that most minor form, cripple a woman's ability to feel pleasure.

There is no hygienic gain from from female circumcision. The only purpose is to stop women from getting pleasure from sex and wanting to have sex. It is strictly a control thing.

Hopefully you also see the difference now.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: June 12th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting. I must say, I would have been shocked if I'd seen this guy, just out of sheer surprise and the subject matter. But more power to him. I'm always tickled to see someone standing up for their beliefs regardless of if I agree or not.
That said, I think I learned in nursing school that circumcision really does cause some changes in pain tolerance and brain waves of babies who had the cut. I'm not sure that constitutes "brain damage", but some kind of changes at least temporarily. After I read this entry I googled the heck out of circumcision and pain/brain/tolerance. I came up with mostly links to an anti-circ site. I did find something on iVillage about circumcised babies "overacting" to pain after getting their shots. But I swear I read some sort of study to back that up while in college. So this man might be on to something.
I don't know. I only had girls so I never had to make this decision personally. But I will say that after seeing a few circumcision in nursing school, I don't think I could do that to my child even if I wanted to. Plus, my Jewish friend said her son's privates grew crooked after their Rabbi messed up her son's circumcision.
Just thinking about this whole subject makes me hurt! Please let your next entry be less painful to ponder! Ha ha!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 12th, 2008 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Taint so

"The most compelling argument for me is that circumcised males are less likely to pick up sexually transmitted diseases." Well, be de-compelled. The latest study, of a large birth cohort from New Zealand (where about 40% were then circumcised, but it has since declined to negligible levels), showed no difference for minor STDs and not enough major STDs to tell. That study got buried on the back pages, while another, weaker one that seemed to show a protective effect, got headlines worldwide.

As to male vs female, ALL female cutting (lacking pressing medical need), no matter how minor/token, sterile and anaesthetised is outlawed throughout the western world, explicitly with no letout for culture or religion, and in some jurisdictions, not even the adult woman's informed consent allows it. Whatever our friend's knowledge of the Constitution, this is not sexual equality.

If it were a new procedure, it would never get ethical approval. The bottom line: whose body is it? And please don't say "Parents make many decisions for their children, what school to go to, etc. etc" - they DON'T make a decision to cut any other healthy non-renewable part off their children's bodies. Why just that one?
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: June 12th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Taint so

De-compelled?

I think not. I tend to follow hard hard science and numbers, rather then emotional argument. The majority of the medical community disagrees with you and they have hard science and numbers to go along with their statements.

Even in the study that got "mixed results" the numbers clearly show that male circumcision is a huge deterrent to deadly diseases such as HIV and Syphilis. One study went so far as to say male circumcision was almost as good as a powerful vaccine where HIV is concerned.

By forcing me to go back and research where I heard that circumcision was an edge against sexually transmitted diseases and to verify that what I heard was accurate, you are making lots points for the argument in favor of circumcision.

Here's some reading material to bring you up to speed. It appears you have been dangerously misinformed.
BJU INTERNATIONAL, Volume 83 Supplement 1, Pages 52-62, January 1999.
MSNBC: Circumcision cuts STD risk, major study shows
Clinical Trials: Trial of Male Circumcision: HIV, Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) and Behavioral Effects in Men, Women and the Community
Pediatrics: Circumcision Status and Risk of Transmitted Infection in Young Adult Males
National Institutes of Health: Male circumcision, sexually transmitted disease, and risk of HIV. A study of urban Rwandan men.
Medical News Today: Circumcision Status And Risk Of Sexually Transmitted Infection In Young Adult Males
LiveScience.com: Circumcision: Fact, Fiction and Hype
Uro today: Circumcision Status and Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infection in Young Adult Males
American Journal of Public Health: Circumcision and sexually transmitted diseases

I know that some of these articles reference the same study, but it is interesting to read the different takes on the same set of of data.

Edited at 2008-06-13 04:40 am (UTC)
From: ml66uk Date: June 14th, 2008 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Here's a link for that New Zealand study, but there are several others:
http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(07)00707-X/abstract

(it actually showed that circumcised men had more STD's, though the difference was not statistically significant)

That "vaccine" reference described circumcision as "comparable to a vaccine of high efficacy", which given the data seems far-fetched, and a sign of researcher bias. They appear to have been looking for a certain result, which may be why they finished the study early as the results were turning against them.

Did you know about the two studies which show that HIV+ men are more likely to infect their partners if they are circumcised? Or the six African countries where circumcised men are more likely to be HIV+ (Rwanda, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, and Tanzania)

You seem determined to believe that female circumcision always involves removal of part of the clitoris. This simply is not the case. I used to have an Egyptian girlfriend whose circumcision was merely a symbolic incision without removing any tissue. It was very rare when she had it done, but is now commonplace, and counts as one of the Type IV methods. It plainly does less damage than the usual male circumcision, but is still illegal in most western countries.

Did you know that female circumcision seems to protect against STD's? We wouldn't investigate removing women's labia though, and consider recommending it.

You are very wrong about what the "majority of the medical community" think. For example:

Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/fn/fn96-01.htm
"Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed"
http://www.cps.ca/caringforkids/babies/circumcision.htm
"After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions."

Royal Australasian College of Physicians
http://www.racp.edu.au/download.cfm?DownloadFile=A453CFA1-2A57-5487-DF36DF59A1BAF527
"After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision." (those last nine words are in bold on their website, and most of the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision in Australia in 1950 was about 90%)

British Medical Association
http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/malecircumcision2003?OpenDocument&Highlight=2,circumcision#Summarybestinterests
"to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate."

National Health Service (UK)
http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=649
"Many people have strong views about whether circumcision should be carried out or not. It is not routinely performed in the UK because there is no clear clinical evidence to suggest that it is has any medical benefit."


Are these organisations all "dangerously misinformed", and following "emotional argument" too?
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: June 16th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the link to the New Zealand study. As you and other pointed out, the numbers came in pretty much even. It would be interesting to see the raw data.

I looked through all the rest of the links you offered.

Again, I see no reason to either outlaw or promote male circumcision. The very material you linked added yet another reason not to outlaw it. Let me quote from just one of them:
An association between an increased incidence of UTI and uncircumcised status has been reported. In 1982 Ginsburg and McCracken reported a case series of 109 infants in whom UTI developed between 5 days and 8 months of age. Male infants predominated in their series; of these, 95% were uncircumcised.

In 1985 Wiswell, Smith and Bass reviewed a cohort of 5261 infants born at an army hospital and found a higher incidence rate of UTI among the uncircumcised male infants (4.12%) than among those who were circumcised (0.21%). A subsequent review of the records of 427 698 infants (219 755 of whom were boys) born in US Armed Forces hospitals from 1975 to 1979 supported these findings, showing a 10-fold higher incidence rate of UTI among uncircumcised boys (1.03%) than among circumcised boys (0.10%). By comparison, the incidence rate among the female infants was 0.52%. In addition, the investigators reported a temporal association between a decrease in the circumcision rate and an increase in the UTI rate among boys in the early 1980s. There was no concurrent change in the incidence among girls, and the ratio of the incidence of UTI among boys to that among girls during early infancy shifted toward a predominance among boys.

Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS): Neonatal circumcision revisited

All but one of your links reference the ten fold increase in urinary tract infection increase in uncircumcised males. I hadn't heard about that until now. And all but one of your links acknowledge a significant reduction in sexually transmitted diseases.

Medical societies may not recommend circumcision, but that is no reason to outlaw it. The documented health benefits alone are enough to keep it legal for those parents that choose male circumcision for their children.

I don't know of any medical society that recommends body piercing either. But parents routinely allow minors in the US to get ears and other parts pierced. Even toddlers are running around with pierced ears.

A law against male circumcision is government intrusion into private citizens life choices. That fact alone combined with the health benefits is reason enough not to outlaw it.
From: ml66uk Date: June 16th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Firstly, it's likely that the next revision of the CPS advice will be more anti-circumcision. Medical opinion has moved further away from promoting circumcision in the last ten years. "Routine" circumcision is actually *banned* in public hospitals in all Australian states except one now, despite the fact that the circumcision rate in Australia used to be 90%. That means that circumcised doctors and legislators are actually trying to end the practice. The Tasmanian Children's Commissioner wants a complete ban on non-religious non-medical circumcision, and he has the support of the Tasmanian president of the AMA.

Circumcised boys get UTI's too. Girls get about four times as many UTI's as boys, but no-one considers intact genitals the automatic cause, or circumcision the default treatment. The Wiswell studies in particular failed to take into account the fact that some of the intact babies were only intact because they were premature. Preemies tend to have lots of tubes stuck into them, and have a much weaker immune system. Even then, it still appeared that 90 circumcisions were needed to prevent one UTI.

It's worth remembering that we wouldn't even be looking for reasons to justify non-religious circumcision if it weren't for the fact that 19th century physicians thought masturbation was physically and mentally damaging, and that circumcision would stop it. Wrong on both counts, but ever since then, circumcised men have been looking for new ways to defend the practice.

The gentleman you spoke to probably isn't the best ambassador for the intactivist cause (and I don't believe that circumcision causes brain damage), but there are very real concerns here. It's not as if cutting off part of someone's genitals is something minor. The most sensitive part of the penis gets removed too - the foreskin isn't just there to protect the glans.

It's highly likely that cutting the labia off baby girls might lead to reductions in some infections or STD's if we looked hard enough. Would that make it justifiable though? Female circumcision has already been linked with a lower rate of AIDS, so this isn't a hypothetical question:

http://www.ias-2005.org/planner/Abstracts.aspx?AID=3138

I agree that removal of any of the clitoris is worse than regular male circumcision, but some forms of female circumcision do less damage than male circumcision, and one is the exact equivalent.

I happen to disagree with piercing children's ears without their consent too btw, but nothing actually gets removed, and it's hardly comparable to genital surgery.

It's worth remembering that STD's don't strike people down at random, and practising safe sex is a much better way of avoiding them than surgery. As the British Medical Association put it, "to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate."
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 20th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
My apologies for the bluntness but, uncircumcised penis's are just gross.
From: ml66uk Date: June 29th, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
"My apologies for the bluntness but, uncircumcised penis's are just gross."

If they're hard, I don't think most people can tell the difference anyway. Women from countries which don't circumcise tend to think that circumcised penises are "gross". In some countries, both men and women regard intact female genitalia as "gross". Does that mean the girls should get cut? Scrotums are kind of weird too, so let's get rid of those as well, and we can all be like Ken and Barbie.

Whose body is it, and why shouldn't they be albe to decide for themselves?
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From: (Anonymous) Date: July 1st, 2008 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Inciting sexual violence

People who are urging other people to chop up the healthy sex organs of children are guilty of inciting always injurious and sometimes lethal, medically unjustified sexual violence against children. They need to be in jail where they can't hurt people as easily.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 2nd, 2008 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Circumcision excises healthy genital tissue

No one had the right to remove not a single nerve from my body, ESPECIALLY from my penis! What are you people thinking! I'm cut and I'm angry about it because I know what they removed. No one had the right to cut healthy normal body parts from YOU when you were born, did they?? From anyone? Foreskin IS the penis, and nature makes one for every mammal on this planet, male or female. Take the time to learn basic anatomy, especially if you're a cutting doctor.
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: July 2nd, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Circumcision excises healthy genital tissue

"The foreskin is the penis..."

Someone changed the definitions since I took anatomy and physiology in school.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 20th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Just stumbled on this. This is an interesting debate though this bearded guy does nothing for the cause. It may or may not cause brain damage but this isn't really the main issue at hand

On the male circumcision vs. female circumcision debate. One thing that is similar between the 2 is that they are both denying the person the option of keeping a part of their body to him/her self. That is unethical - so on that reason it should be banned. It might be a big hurdle for people in the United States to get over, but it is one they should get over.

Uplinktruck I have looked at the evidence. An intact penis is natural so I doubt it carries any health risks. Females produce more smegma than men for instance.
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: November 20th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
As outlined and referenced to the point of exhaustion above there is a significant advantage to the circumcised male when it comes to sexually transmitted disease. The fact is that nature's hood apparently gives some of those nasty little bugs a place to hide while they burrow in and make themselves at home. That is the only reason I favor keeping government out of this personal decision.

Again, as explained at length and repeatedly referenced above, there is a significant difference between male circumcision, which is the removal of the foreskin, and most forms of female circumcision. Those forms of female circumcision inhibit the woman's ability to achieve orgasm or even feel sexual pleasure. Male circumcision does not come close to that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 16th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

CIRCUMCISION

I WAS TALKED INTO BEING CIRCUMCISED AT 24 AND I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. MY INSTINCT WAS THAT IT WAS WRONG, BUT HOW COULD 1.2 MILLION AMERICANS BE WRONG. WELL THEY ARE. ONLY AMERICAN,S SEEM TO HAVE MORE FORESKIN PROBLEMS THAN ANY OTHER SOCIETY. HOW CAN THAT BE. AMERICANS HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED THROUGH TIME TO BELIEVE CIRCUMCISION IS THE BEST WAY TO GO.
uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: May 16th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: CIRCUMCISION

Wow! What's with the capital letters? Are you shouting at me because you made an irrevocable life decision?

Of all the people writing here, you have the least amount of sympathy from me. Unlike those who were circumcised at birth, you were old enough to have a say in what happened to you. At 24 you are an adult, old enough to do the homework and free to make your own decisions.

Most of those complaining about my post do have a quasi-legitimate complaint in that as infants they had no choice in the matter. You don't even have that excuse.

This life is filled with with life lessons. The thing that makes some life lessons indelibly memorable for the rest of our days is the pain that comes with the lesson. Take your life lesson and move on with your life a little wiser for the wear.

Look at the bright side. At least you didn't under go a complete sex change and then find out you didn't like it.
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uplinktruck From: uplinktruck Date: July 21st, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: beginner

Sorry, can't help you with any one on one advice.
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