Circumcision is a widely-discussed topic in the United States and outside of the United States (with a heavy emphasis on many countries in Asia and Africa, see Africa’s female circumcision prevalence map to the left). It also happens inside the U.S. Some people think it’s necessary because of health. Others think it’s necessary because of culture. Some people think it’s unnecessary, or even more so, unethical. It is important for feminists to discuss this issue of both male and female circumcision because it deals with the removal of genitalia.
While the name male circumcision tends to stay the same and somewhat neutral, female circumcision has many names including those with negative connotations. Those names include: female genital mutilation, female genital torture, female circumcision, and female genital cutting. I would personally prefer to use female genital operation, but for this series it will be referred in many different names, including the ones listed above.
To catch those of you previously uninvolved in the circumcision debate up to date, here are some important articles/events that have recently happened in the realm of circumcision:
- Circumcision left boys ‘in agony’: Young boys who were circumcised in Essex, England left in pain after procedure from BBC News
- The Case Against the Case Against Circumcision: a thoughtful article about parents deciding whether to circumcise their children for cultural- or health-related reasons from New York Magazine
- Male Foreskin Can Affect Risk of HIV: Study finds larger foreskin surface area linked to higher risk of infection from Modern Medicine
- The Kindest Cut: about female circumcision reversals called “clitoralplasties” from Newsweek
The above articles are only from the past few months, and as you can see, the topic varies from article to article. We at GAB know that this is a heated debate, but believe that we can create an honest and constructively critical space for people to openly discuss their thoughts on circumcision.
So today we will bring to you three different perspectives on circumcision (see below): one article about the ethics of male circumcision; a post exploring feminist ethics and the Jewish ritual of male circumcision; and finally an article on female genital operations: ethics and feminist discourse. Read them, share your opinions, and discuss. We hope that this series can answer some questions you might have and maybe spark some new ones.
- Ethics of Neonatal Circumcision by Joseph Peterson
- Feminism and Brit Milah: Reconciling Faith and Personal Politics by Carrie Polansky
- Female genital operations: culture and health from a feminist perspective by Emily Heroy