|Last night (26 August) 60 Minutes ran a program advocating routine circumcision.|
There are a lot of sociological issues surrounding circumcision that go unquestioned.
In the years when circumcision among girls and boys was popular (women would have clitorectomies), the sexual organs were primarily considered evil, dirty, a source of sin and disease. The pain of circumcision was seen as a way of atoning for sins in advance, of chastening sexual desires. Some in feminism see it as a way of punishing all males, including their own children.
This "sex is evil" Puritanism is still alive and well in the US, where circumcision is still prevalent (as are sexually transmitted diseases, by the way, in spite of circumcision).
Most of the doctors who promote circumcision retain a lot of these unhealthy and unreasonable attitudes to sexuality, a psychological issue that has also been heightened in such people as a result of the trauma of the act of circumcision itself.
Circumcision also can lead to an unhealthy fixation on the sexual organs and an association between sex and pain, abuse (infant circumcision involves the restraint of a child at the hand of a doctor and nurse).
The broader "safe sex" message is being lost in the debate on circumcision - the need for the use of condoms, for improved health awareness, for universal health care, and for the lifestyle changes that will truly result in the reduced transmission of sexual diseases.
Moreover, the fact that a renewed circumcision industry would be a billion dollar medical industry should not be forgotten. Particularly in the US, medicine is becoming primarily a commercial operation, and the removed foreskins are on-sold for cosmetics, etc.
Medicine has been keen in the past to intervene wherever unnecessary - to remove things just in case (appendix, breasts, uterus, tonsils, etc) - often without the prior approval of the amputee. They therefore deserve to receive a lot of scrutiny when they are advocating yet another intervention.
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