Male Genital Mutilation: The Hypocratic* Oath and Circumcision the Euphemism (Part 3)

WARNING: Some URLs in this article contain graphic material (educational purposes) 

Previously, we spoke about circumcision rhetoric, examining evidence in its favor. Here, we touch on more aspects of this topic, and give final comments.

Genital cutting has grievous effects on doctor-patient relationships, creating conflicts of interest. Enter Circumcision Inc. — doctors as cold businessmen (not ethical practitioners), circumstraints, and cosmetics companies using foreskins.

Do the interests of the child matter? Do religious freedoms, parental rights, and profit take precedence over bodily integrity — children’s freedoms? No harm comes from children growing up to decide for themselves. Many alleged benefits of circumcision are sex-related, and shouldn’t apply to newborns. Even so, it is possible that it lowers sexual enjoyment (though pleasure can be subjective), is unnecessary to cure phimosis, and could cause psychological issues. With all data taken into account, circumcision is merely cruel cosmetic surgery for infants.

Image from Tatiana Vdb via Flickr, signifies the distress and agony that newborns can feel.

In Part 1, I mentioned doublethink regarding circumcision and female genital mutilation (FGM). Calling it cognitive dissonance would be a compliment as this entails an awareness of contradiction. FGM (immoral and illegal) has many different varieties, yet some are prone to make heinous false equivalences, stating that milder forms of FGM are the same as removing the entire penis (like a vaginectomy).

Though once supported, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now in condemnation of perhaps the mildest form of FGM, described as a prick with a needle. Their comparative apathy towards a more invasive and brutal circumcision, just as unnecessary, is disturbing. Is there a disparity in empathy towards male and female children? Are only adult women coerced into circumcision? Are we walking on eggshells to avoid offending parties with a vested interest?

The issue is trivialized and we are told: “it’s just a piece of skin”, “children won’t remember it”, that the risks outweigh the benefits, foreskin has no function, and various other fallacious statements. Productive discussions have been compromised, as those who dare speak for the autonomy of newborns could find themselves ostracized, mocked, and the topic avoided entirely. Not protecting the most vulnerable and voiceless among us makes us unworthy of being named a civilized society. Some say evil is done when good people are quiet; I say good people are not quiet about injustice.

Part 1, Part 2

Additional links:

Circumcision Video


Tribal Circumcision



*Title has a portmanteau (Hippocratic, Hypocritical)

Male Genital Mutilation: Bad Science (Part 2)

In Part 1, I spoke of faults in pro-circumcision rhetoric and attitudes that condone genital cutting. Now we will examine some evidence in favor of circumcision.

“Circumstraints” are used to immobilize infants during a torturous process: circumcision.
Image by James Loewen

The trials in Africa, conducted from 2005-2007 and often referenced, have been shown to use poor methodology. Brian D. Earp, who has written rigorously on this topic, familiarizes us with others who have done extensive research:

While the “gold standard” for medical trials is the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the African trials suffered [a number of serious problems] including problematic randomization and selection bias, inadequate blinding, lack of placebo-control (male circumcision could not be concealed), inadequate equipoise, experimenter bias, attrition (673 drop-outs in female-to-male trials), not investigating male circumcision as a vector for HIV transmission, not investigating non-sexual HIV transmission, as well as lead-time bias, supportive bias (circumcised men received additional counseling sessions), participant expectation bias, and time-out discrepancy (restraint from sexual activity only by circumcised men).

Gregory J. Boyle & George Hill (2011)

Other studies research HPV, urinary tract infections, and other conditions, indicating that circumcision helps with them. However, they tend to be insufficient to recommend circumcision, and the alleged benefits negligible due to already existing treatments. For example, urinary tract infections are uncommon in males and easy to treat, and standard safe-sex practices such as maintaining bodily hygiene and using condoms are far more proven than circumcision in terms of effectiveness.

Finally, one would expect worldwide statistics and medical consensus to be different. It appears that many health organizations again, do not find existing data sufficient to support routine circumcision. And while correlation is not causation, places such as Africa, where circumcision is prevalent, do not seem to see any real effect on STD rates, for instance. Circumcision is not the solution it’s made out to be, and misinformation is not a substitute for safe sex education.

Part 1 here

Click here for Part 3, where we will examine circumcision further, and give our final comments.

Male Genital Mutilation: Doublethink, Self-Deception, and Insecurity (Part 1)

A child bleeds from the genitals during an unnecessary surgery with adults in attendance, none batting an eye.

This is genital mutilation; however, we in the western world are immersed in a form of doublethink, considering our vehement disapproval of female genital mutilation (FGM). Is there such a difference between FGM and male circumcision that one is ok and the other abhorrent? The justifications given for either tend to be interchangeable.

Male circumcision is awful in the best of circumstances, performed by professionals in sterile environments, with clean tools. It’s not always like this — in tribes, it’s often a rite of passage which unifies the community, and males are cast out if they “fail”, from seeking medical attention due to defects (for example). The operation can be done in questionable environments, with questionable credentials (even in the United States), and the results can be catastrophic.

Advocates of male genital mutilation often use poor rationale: he should look like his dad, girls will like him more, it’s what god wants — these are among many assertions that one might hear that don’t hold water.

An archaic practice of conformity, the by-product of ideals humanity ought to have outlived by now, considering advancements in medical science,  knowledge, and secularism. Image from Rachel Esther via Flickr

However, there’s an argument that appeals to objective thinkers – that genital mutilation provides health benefits. Arguments that are science-based provide strong rhetoric, even when contrary to scientific consensus. Yet the facts remain — both forms of circumcision (male and female) are mutilation, and alleged evidence to the contrary is inadequate.

Arguments which appeal to logic are particularly insidious as they are not disregarded easily — thinkers may be tempted to take any evidence that reassures them, as many will be circumcised, prefer circumcised genitals, or both. I would love to believe that my penis has been enhanced by genital mutilation, but the truth isn’t always so convenient.

Click here for part 2, where we will examine evidence in favor of circumcision.

The Sexual Freedom Project: Birds and the Bees

I’ve decided to offer my take on some of the media I have come across here. There are hundreds of Sexual Freedom Project videos to choose from, each with an important message. Everyone’s invited to join the cast by submitting your personal definition of or commentary on some aspect of sexual freedom.

In this video, the speaker Ying details her upbringing, and the sex education that she received in Catholic school, telling us of the limited issues that were addressed when it came to the realities of sex.

She and I share the idea that abstinence-only education creates sexual frustration. Not only that, numerous studies back up the correlation between lack of sex ed and high numbers of unwanted teenage pregnancy (in the American South in particular). Attempting to shut down the natural desire for sex is not healthy, and is considered by some a stealthy form of child abuse whenever and wherever accurate and complete sexual health information is intentionally withheld, or sometimes replaced with outright disinformation.

Ying even speaks of her parents’ relationship in which they avoided sex before marriage, detailing how this repression did no favors for their level of intimacy.

What was your sexual education like? Send us a video or essay detailing your story for a free VenusPlusX t-shirt.

More videos here

The Sexual Freedom Project: You Need To Explore

As someone new to VenusPlusX, I’m offering my thoughts on some of the media I have seen here so far, wondering if new readers relate to my views.

In this video, Scheyla raises an important point — exploration. In a world where some are eager to pass judgment on others (sometimes for political gain) regarding sexual preference, it remains important for people to explore and discover sexuality for themselves. It is our responsibility as individuals to pursue our own forms of happiness, ignoring false judgments that may come from others.  Be your own judge, and seize sexual freedom for yourself.

What do you think?

Is Scheyla right about exploration?

Should the government be involved at all in legislating matters pertaining to sex?

Send us a video or essay expressing your thoughts for a free VenusPlusX t-shirt.

More videos here

The Sexual Freedom Project: Breaking Down Taboos

I only recently started working with VenusPlusX, so I’m giving my take on some of the media I’ve been unearthing.

The man in this video talks about how important it is to break down taboos. It’s important to shatter taboos whenever we can in order to make way for open and honest dialogue, without being stifled by some of the unfortunate attitudes that prevail in our society.

What do you think? 

Have you ever wanted to talk about sex, only to find yourself stalling to avoid being ostracized? 

What can you do to end obstacles to a progressive, productive conversation? 

Send us a video or essay expressing your thoughts for a free VenusPlusX t-shirt.

More videos here

Human Rights in Perspective: Your Role in the Fight for Sexual Freedom (Part 3)

Image by Terence Faircloth via Flickr

In providing perspective on The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013, we’ve looked at some of the obstacles ahead, and took a closer look at two of the 200+ countries discussed in the Report. It’s hard to fathom the instances of discrimination that we aren’t aware of, but one thing is clear: The fight for freedom is something that must take place worldwide with people of all types and nationalities participating simultaneously.

It is good to see the United States paying attention to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues, but is that enough? Many of the countries listed in the Report (such as Afghanistan) have seen military intervention from the United States, making the state of sexual freedom even worse. Are we wrong to be suspicious of the US government’s ulterior and imperialistic motives when it comes their advocacy on behalf of sexual freedom?

So where are we? So far we have we have established what problems we face, but what can we actually do?
The first step is to recognize your power as an individual. Embody the characteristics that you want to see in the world. Get involved and take charge. We can only predict the future by creating it — a brighter future for all, for our children, and their children and future generations. The world does not change for the better without individuals who are unafraid and willing to step up. Are you one of those people who will stand in solidarity against discrimination, here and abroad? Make yourself heard. Find your outlets and use them, whether writing, rallying, protesting — all non-violent methods of expression. Seek out like-minded individuals and find your strength in numbers.

The human mind is a dangerous weapon, but it is also the greatest tool there is. Through dialogue we can tweak and fix the errors in the human psyche — lack of empathy, hate, and countless other mental diseases, not just in places like Uganda, but in the U.S. as well. Whatever the cause of your reluctance, you must ask yourself whether it is worth considering against the battle for freedom.

Also see: Part 1 and Part 2.

Human Rights in Perspective: A Tale of Two Countries (Part 2)

In Part 1, I shed some light on the current human rights challenges we face, and in Part 3 I  offer a call to action, but here is a more in-depth look at two countries that are particularly interesting — Uganda and Sweden. What do the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 tell us about these places?


uganda_flagThis country has been on the map for a while now for it punitive laws against people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT). And, this year, since this report’s publication, Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act, referred to as the Kill the Gays Bill by the civilized world, was enacted, coming down hard on LGBT people, with long sentences, even for just knowing and not reporting a “known homosexual.” Here is how some of conditions in 2013 are summarized.

LGBT persons faced discrimination and legal restrictions… LGBT persons were subject to societal harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and threats to their well-being, and were denied access to health services… Police in Kampala arrested British theatre producer David Edwards Cecil for staging a play police alleged promoted homosexual activity…

Things in Uganda have gotten far worse, and the passage of the “Kill the Gays Bill” shows us that there are no signs of improvement. The bill was preceded by laws from the colonial era, crafted by British authorities to punish the unnatural sex observed among the locals, and Uganda is still under the choke-hold of western influence, with many of their most influential citizens promoting this awful doctrine. We must continue speaking out against these vicious attacks on freedom, avoiding the “out of sight out of mind” mentality which can muffle our efforts. It’s time to push back.


sweden_flagHuman rights in countries in the Nordic area are often considered a gold standard. When it comes to issues such as sex education and equality, many will not hesitate to praise this region. The praise is apt enough, as the region has been ahead of the curve for some time now. For example, all Nordic countries allow some form of same-sex marriage. However, it turns out that even Sweden, a Nordic country, has its issues.

During the year there were isolated incidents of societal violence and discrimination against persons perceived to be gay. The NCCP* reported 850 hate crimes in 2011 based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This shows us how deeply the roots of bigoted culture run. One of the world’s greatest models of progressiveness has these problems. We still have a very long way to go.  

Click here for Part 1, and Part 3, your part in the fight for freedom in all its forms, including sexual freedom. *Sweden’s National Council for Crime Prevention

The Sexual Freedom Project: A Culmination of Things

As a new addition to VenusPlusX, I would like to express my views on some of the interesting media I have come across here.

One video I found is particularly intriguing because the woman speaks of the big picture – the culmination of things that influence our sexuality.

Everyone is a product of their environment, and everything connects. Social mechanisms such as school, church, media, and upbringing tend to have a large impact on individuality.

What do you think? Are you free from the external influences that we all experience, or how are you still affected?

Send us a video or essay expressing your thoughts for a free VenusPlusX t-shirt.

More videos here

Not Your Typical “Driving While Black” Story

Black Youths Attending Princeton Conference Pulled Over by Police, Then This Happened


You are riding in a car with some friends, and you get pulled over by a cop. What do you do? A group of members from the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) responded to this predicament by exercising transformative justice, when they engaged in an enlightening conversation with the officer who stopped them as they left a campus event at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ). It was supposedly for a broken taillight that turned out not to be broken at all. When confronted by the carful of African-Americans who called this incident simply another case of Driving While Black, the officer said his feelings were hurt.

Turns out the officer was also African-American, proving the point that as people of color, we also profile against our very own, sometimes completely unaware of our prejudice. We must start accepting responsibility and treating one another with the respect that we wish other races would show more often.

Racial bias in any form is evil because it affects a person’s attitude and this plays a factor in the self-fulfilling, destructive behaviors that plague the black community. It’s time for us to stop passing the buck and reclaim our dignity.

What do you think? Was the officer in the wrong? Did the camera change the dynamic of the conversation? Is profiling ever justified?

Related – Mass Incarceration: Follow the Money