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Talking Points for Intactivists – Part Two

This is the second in a series of talking points for intactivists. As I mentioned in Part One, I know how difficult it can be to have conversations about circumcision with people who defend it – for whatever reason. People often ask me how I deal with certain questions or arguments. The purpose of these talking points is to share some helpful facts and approaches that have worked for me.

Obviously, we each need to find our own voice in talking about why we oppose circumcision. Over time, it’s important to discover what helps you connect with different audiences, and it’s always helpful to try to find some common ground. To avoid triggering immediate defensive resistance, it’s also advisable not to personalize the conversation, at least initially.

You can say, for example, “Most Americans don’t give circumcision a thought; they probably don’t realize that doctors in other countries don’t routinely cut off the ends of baby boys’ penises.” The person you’re talking with might not know this either; but now he’s learned something important, without being told he’s ignorant.

Or you can say, “Most American women have never even seen a normal penis! Isn’t that amazing?” The American woman you’re talking with won’t feel singled out; rather, she can agree with you that most American women have never seen a normal penis. And that’s a good way for her to start thinking about her own biases.

Here are my responses to some of the medical and hygiene arguments often raised to rationalize circumcision.

The circumcised penis is cleaner. If you can teach your child to brush his teeth, you can teach him to wash his genitals. Girls’ genitals have lots of folds, and – by the way – girls have smegma, too! We don’t worry about whether they can learn to keep themselves clean, let alone talk about what to cut off to make it easier for them to wash themselves.

What gives you the right to talk about circumcision? You’re not a doctor. Gee, we talk about all sorts of medical topics all the time, don’t we? Thankfully, “consumer” empowerment is actively transforming the delivery of health care all around us, and for the better. Why shouldn’t circumcision be discussed openly by everyone, especially on behalf of those who don’t have a say in the matter? Even so, and for the sake of argument, if “routine” infant circumcision were a legitimate medical procedure, used to treat a serious or complex illness, then pointing out my lack of medical credentials might be relevant. But no physician organization in the world recommends circumcision. Also, by the way, I am a lawyer and I understand bioethics. I know that cutting off part of another person’s body – a person who has not consented – is legally, morally, and ethically wrong.

Adult foreskin is 15 square inches in sizeNewborn foreskin size of one quarterIt’s just a useless little flap of skin. (Other versions of this are, “it’s just a snip,” or “it’s a skin tag,” as a radio talk-show host once said to me.) With all due respect, these statements reflect Americans’ ignorance about the normal male anatomy. Yes, an infant’s foreskin is small, about the size of a quarter (so are his fingers and toes and his heart, for that matter); but in an adult male, the foreskin comprises 15 square inches (that’s the size of a 3 x5 index card or 15 quarters) of specialized skin, loaded with nerves, blood vessels and muscle. The foreskin is an integral part of the penis. It protects the glans (head of the penis) and keeps it moist and sensitive. It also plays an important role in sexual pleasure for both its owner and his partner. By the way, women have a foreskin, too; it’s called the “preputial hood,” and some cultures that practice female genital cutting remove it. We have thoroughly outlawed this surgery on girls in the United States.

I hear circumcision prevents AIDS.  This one is complex, but it’s important not to be intimidated by this subject. Obviously, the incidences of many diseases could be lessened by proactively removing healthy organs or body parts, but we pretty much don’t do that – and certainly not to people who aren’t old enough to understand and consent. The much-touted “African studies” that showed men to be at a relatively lower risk of contracting HIV from women if the former were circumcised found NO reduction in risk for male-to-male transmission, and circumcision actually increased the risk for male-to-female transmission.

  • There is a lot of evidence that much of the HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is a result of unsafe medical practices – not sex.
  • Most Americans don’t realize that European countries, where circumcision is extremely uncommon, have rates of HIV similar to or lower than the United States where circumcision is common. There is no epidemiological correlation between circumcision rates and HIV rates within the United States, or internationally.
  • There is no evidence that United States saw any benefit from its very high rate of circumcision in mitigating HIV; American cemeteries are full of circumcised men who died from AIDS.
  • The only way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV is to use condoms or practice abstinence.

Sometimes I ask rhetorically, “You’re circumcised, right? Well, would you have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman, figuring that you’re protected from getting HIV?” (This one violates my rule about not getting personal, but it’s worth it.)

Have you BEEN to AFRICA? This question – usually asked loudly with a look of great significance, implies that if I had seen first-hand the misery that HIV is causing in sub-Saharan Africa, I would say “try anything and everything” to prevent AIDS.”  Instead, I usually say, “No, I haven’t been to Africa.” But … (I then go to the points on HIV immediately above).

Doesn’t circumcising men prevent cervical cancer in women?  First, keep in mind that cutting off one person’s body part to protect a hypothetical future sex partner is unethical; that’s a straightforward bioethical principle that should not be dismissed. As for the prevention claim itself, this myth arose from observations that Jewish women had lower rates of cervical cancer than some non-Jewish women. No studies were done to determine the circumcision status of Jewish women’s sex partners; it was simply assumed that they were Jewish, and thus circumcised.  However, there is no correlation between a woman’s risk of cervical cancer and her male sex partner’s circumcision status. Human papilloma virus (HPV) and smoking are the leading risk factors for cervical cancer.

What about penile cancer? Penile cancer is exceedingly rare. The rate of penile cancer in the United States, where most adult males have been circumcised, is similar to that in most European countries, where men are intact. Breast cancer is hundreds of times more common than penile cancer. What would you think about a proposal to remove the breast buds of young girls, to prevent them from developing breast cancer in the future?

What about urinary tract infections? UTIs occur in both intact and circumcised boys (and in girls, too). These can be easily treated with antibiotics, a much safer and more humane option than the permanent surgical removal of a body part.

I look forward to getting your feedback on what works for you, when promoting intactivism!

By Georganne Chapin



  • Mary Aspinwall

    February 26, 2012 6:10 pm

    Good luck with your campaign. I would suggest that you encourage the use of condoms rather than state the antibiotics can easily get rid of UTIs and STIs. The overuse of antibiotics leads to deadlier forms of bacteria and puts us all at risk. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antibiotics/FL00075

    • Georganne

      February 26, 2012 7:24 pm

      Thanks for your post, Mary. I agree with you that condoms should be used as protection from sexually transmitted infections – in sexually active persons, of course! But I was talking about infants, when I said that UTIs (in girls and boys) can be treated with antibiotics. I don’t think weaing a condom ever helped a baby! (smile)

    • Shuggy

      February 29, 2012 1:39 am

      I am also nervous about recommending antibiotics, but that is only for the ~1 in 100 boys who actually gets a UTI – fewer than girls.

      If you understand the mechanism of resistance, it’s not magic, and they can be used safely. Bacteria do not actually “become resistant” to antibiotics: Antibiotics kill the bacteria, the less resistant first. If you stop the antibiotics before they have killed them all, the more resistant bacteria survive and become the next generation. Do that repeatedly and you have artificially selected for resistance. The solution is to follow the directions, complete the course and kill them all.

  • Maria

    February 26, 2012 6:38 pm

    Another GREAT post, Georganne! I too have found one has to be very careful when discussing this topic, especially with circumcised men. Most cut men don’t want to believe they are missing anything important, or that someone wouldn’t want to be circumcised. After all, every man they know is ‘glad to be circumcised,’ right?

    In a recent conversation with a cousin of mine and her husband, I was able to refute and educate on all the misinformation and defensiveness that came from them in a very productive, non-emotional way. In explaining the functionality of the foreskin and all its wonderful properties, as well as its function in sex for both partners, I found that saying something along the lines of, ‘Think about how good sex is, and it’s supposed to even better than that!’ was helpful in affirming their sex life while simultaneously expressing the awesomeness of the foreskin.

    I have had the opportunity to have both intact and cut partners, so I feel that also aids in ‘normalizing’ the foreskin. Especially in this case, where my cousin happened to know the particular intact ex-boyfriend. (See, we all DO know an intact man who has somehow managed to maintain personal hygiene and isn’t a walking disease.)

    My cousin later asked to see my intact infant son as she had never seen an intact penis before, so during a diaper change she was able to witness how healthy and clean the natural penis really is.

    Also, so many Christians seem to think that God has no opinion, or that circumcision is a neutral issue. This is just not the case, so when discussing this issue with Christians in particular I point out the following:
    1. God doesn’t make mistakes, this includes the foreskin. Cutting it off desecrates his creation and spills innocent blood (both of which are sins.)
    2. The Bible mentions circumcision over 50 times (compared to homosexuality which is mentioned twelve)
    3. The book of Galatians is the Biblical case against circumcision, and chapter 5 has some of the strongest statements in the Bible including 5:2-4, if you receive circumcision Christ is of no benefit and you are severed from him. 5:7 this persuasion to circumcise doesn’t come from him who calls you and 5:11-12 Circumcision renders the sacrifice of Jesus worthless and those who would trouble you should mutilate themselves

    • Georganne

      February 26, 2012 7:27 pm

      Maria, I love your approach (“It could be even better!” ) to discussing sexual pleasure.

    • Vic

      February 28, 2012 5:18 pm

      Unfortunately the “It could be even better!” statement will leave the mutilated husband of your cousin forever wondering with no recourse.

    • Maria

      February 28, 2012 11:35 pm

      Perhaps he will be wondering, but since he is a kindhearted, loving, wonderful man who will no doubt take the conversation, the witness of my son and future nephews, and keep his own unborn sons whole. After all, isn’t intactivism about righting the wrongs by saving future sons?

    • eshu21

      February 29, 2012 12:36 pm

      Vic, hopefully science will soon allow those of us who were genitally mutilated to recover, without having to wonder with no recourse. Along with supporting Intact America, I also donate to http://www.foregen.org/ They are raising funds to run a study to see if the amazing breakthroughs in medical technology that are allowing regrowth of body parts can be used to regenerate male foreskins, and hopefully also help those women who have undergone female genital mutilation or FGM. They are about $178,000 away from their goal to run the study, for those who are interested in the subject.

  • adam

    February 26, 2012 9:54 pm

    Once again the anticircs have decide to ignore the scientific facts !!!

    They would prefer to leave millions of men in Africa uncircumcised and to die from HIV AIDS
    So much for their moral and ethical standards !! Fortunately the WHO does not agree with them and is carrying out mass circumcisions in many countries

    Millions of women will also contract cervical cancer from having sex with uncircumcised men who carry oncogenic strains of the HPV virus

    Another reminder : THE SCIENCE DOES NOT LIE !!

    Interesting that some of the anticircs believe in antiobiotics (discovered and developed by Science),so they are not complete FLAT EARTHERS, just very selective in what they choose to believe in

    • Stormwatch

      February 26, 2012 11:27 pm

      Science lies all the time, when obviously flawed experiments are designed by biased researchers to give the result they want. Like the circumfetishists who did those African HIV studies that contradict real life numbers.

    • eve

      February 26, 2012 11:39 pm

      *sigh* Since you can’t be bothered to cite sources…

      WHO’s HIV/AIDS Male circumcision for HIV prevention: topic guide and publications.

      The topic guide points out that…

      Male circumcision provides only partial protection, and therefore should be only one element of a comprehensive HIV prevention package which includes:
      – the provision of HIV testing and counseling services;
      – treatment for sexually transmitted infections;
      – the promotion of safer sex practices;
      – the provision of male and female condoms and promotion of their correct and consistent use.

      So basically, while circumcision is being used in Africa to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, it’s not the only tactic being used.

      Here are some rebuttals which are worth looking at:

      Joseph4GI has a well-worded and researched article which compares the rates of circumcision and HIV/AIDS among nations within Africa and outside of Africa. He called the comparison of Africa’s rates to the US’s, “the most obvious smoking gun,” saying that circumcision hasn’t stopped the rise of HIV/AIDS in our own country.

      Doctors Opposing Circumcision point out the things which stack against the veracity of the claimed benefits of circumcision, such as the flaws in the research, cultural practices which perpetuate HIV/AIDS, and poor medical conditions which spread the disease.

      I’m certain there are more flip-side comments to consider – these were the ones I found with a simple google search and a few minutes. Point being, there’s more to consider, here, than just the WHO’s recommended approach to solving the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa.

    • Joseph4GI

      February 27, 2012 12:18 am

      This post and the way its worded, complete with capitalization and going on about “science” sounds just like that “doctor…” what was it… Glazenbrook or whatever? Is this another one of your incarnations, Brian Morris?

      “Once again the anticircs have decide to ignore the scientific facts !!!”

      Note the emphatic exclamation points.

      This is simply projection; the “facts” are completely addressed in this post. This person is ignoring this.

      And anyway, it is rather silly to think you can justify genital mutilation in healthy children if you throw enough “science” at it.

      “They would prefer to leave millions of men in Africa uncircumcised and to die from HIV AIDS So much for their moral and ethical standards !! Fortunately the WHO does not agree with them and is carrying out mass circumcisions in many countries”

      Argumentum ad verecundiam.

      The WHO has been wrong before, and it is wrong here. Circumcision DOES NOT prevent HIV. There is no scientific evidence that it does, just cherry-picked “studies” that don’t correlate anywhere else.

      I invite “Adam” or Dr. Glazenbrook, or whoever to produce the scientific paper outlining how the foreskin facilitates HIV transmission, and how cutting it off “reduces the risk.” Much to Brian’s chagrin, this cannot be scientifically demonstrated. On the contrary; it shows circumcision doesn’t make a difference.

      “Millions of women will also contract cervical cancer from having sex with uncircumcised men who carry oncogenic strains of the HPV virus”

      This statement relies on the dubious premise that all intact men carry HPV. It also relies on the dubious premise that circumcised men are incapable of transmitting HPV; studies show that they are actually MORE LIKELY to transmit the virus. This is confirmed by anecdotal stories from women on Facebook who tell of getting HPV from circumcised partners.

      Additionally, there are already a few vaccines for HPV, rendering circumcision a moot point.

      “Another reminder : THE SCIENCE DOES NOT LIE !!”

      No, but “scientists” often do. Especially when they’re trying to sell their solution.

      “”Interesting that some of the anticircs believe in antiobiotics (discovered and developed by Science),so they are not complete FLAT EARTHERS, just very selective in what they choose to believe in”

      No, we simply believe that there are better ways to prevent disease that do not involve genital mutilation.

      Medical science is supposed to find newer, better ways to prevent disease, not keep us in the stone-age and preserve cherished customs and beliefs.

      Thanks to true science, any disease you can name here can already easily be averted by better, more effective ways of prevention.

    • Ron Low, Chicago

      February 27, 2012 11:55 am

      Wow, that is quite a leap to say someone is ANTI science just because they don’t wish to apply research done on adult volunteers in AIDS-ravaged places to non-consenting child victims in places where HIV incidence is low.

      In fact the medical bodies in Australia/New Zealand, Holland, UK, Canada, South Africa, and Sweden HAVE looked closely at the HIV data and concluded that the supposed benefits to sexually active adults don’t warrant routine infant circumcision. The risks and drawbacks of foreskin amputation outweigh reduction in HIV incidence (even if the Africa numbers were reliable) because AIDS is already rare, so the number of cases prevented would be low, and the obviously the loss of healthy normal sexually valuable tissue would be high.

      Foreskin feels REALLY good. HIS body, HIS decision.

    • eshu21

      February 27, 2012 3:57 pm

      Nice try, adam, making a statement with no facts or references to back it up, merely a ripe piece of invective. Just because the US cannot resist running another “Tuskeegee Experiment” among the desperate peoples of Africa, is no reason for us to ignore reality and pretend that circumcision is a “magic bullet”, when its proponents carry so much sexual and cultural baggage (http://www.circleaks.org/index.php?title=Gilgal_Society). Further, your diatribe does nothing to explain why ten African countries have LOWER rates of AIDS among intact men, higher among the circumcised: http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf and http://www.circumstitions.com/HIV.html#doesn%27t . it is the pro-circs who are really in denial, desperate to protect their mutilated status by normalizing this barbarity worldwide? The urge to circumcise is not an expression of a medical need, but rather that of a psychological deformity. Science, real science, conducted around the world does not lie – but emotionally bent pro-circers do.

    • Dan Bollinger

      February 27, 2012 5:28 pm

      Adam, Brian, whatever your real name is, you have it wrong. We are not anti-circ, but rather pro-intact.

      We are not opposed to an adult giving informed consent for his circumcision, or for parents giving consent to deal with their son’s diagnosed medical condition.

      Now that you know I trust that you will be more respectful of our position from now on.

  • Scott

    February 26, 2012 10:53 pm

    Wonderful post Georganne! I would like to point out further that the so-called protective effect of circumcision as it relates to lower rates of cervical cancer among Jewish women is pure bunk; these lower rates only exist among Jewish women in specific regions and is not universal. Some Jewish women have lower rates of cervical cancer, but HIGHER rates of breast cancer; does that mean sex with circumcised men causes breast cancer? According to the study “The Low Incidence of Cervical Cancer in Jewish Women: Has the Puzzle Finally Been Solved?” by Joseph Menczer MD
    (Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel Affilated to Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel), found at http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/cancer/menczer1/ :

    “Stewart et al. [12] proposed that the similar incidence rate in the various groups of Jewish women studied in New York and Israel support the assumption that the disease is infrequent because of a genetically determined lack of susceptibility. (…) .In 1998, Storey and associates reported that the presence of homozygous arginine polymorphism at codon 72 of p53 represents a significant risk factor in the development of HPV-associated cervical carcinoma. If this observation is valid, then a low prevalence of this polymorphism in Jewish women might constitute the genetic basis for the low incidence among them.”

    “These findings support the possibility that the low prevalence of the homozygous arginine polymorphism may play a role in determining the low incidence of cervical cancer in Jewish women and may also explain the differences between the ethnic groups. If these observations are confirmed, then the low incidence of cervical cancer in Jewish women is genetically determined, and an explanation for the ethnic incidence pattern of cervical cancer in Jewish women has also finally been found.”

    “Although the dispute over the association of circumcision and cervical cancer in various populations is still ongoing, there seems to be no hard evidence that circumcision prevents its occurrence in Jewish women, and it is no longer considered to play a protective role.”

  • Petit Poulet

    February 27, 2012 12:27 am

    My recollection was the Adam in Genesis had a foreskin, but that didn’t get him into as much trouble as Eve and serpent did. It is nice to know that this blog is troll bait. Keep up the good work.

    You might want to add that UTIs are treated with an $18 oral antibiotic. If the numbers put out there are correct, and there is ample evidence to believe they are not, you have to circumcise 250 boys to prevent one UTI. At $200 per circumcision you would spend $50,000 to avoid having to spend $18 on an antibiotic. No wonder that the White House doesn’t want to pay for circumcisions.

  • Dan Bollinger

    February 27, 2012 2:54 pm

    Let’s face it, these spurious “reasons” are a smokescreen. Cutting off the end of a boy’s penis is demeaning and ridiculous.

    Take the penile cancer reason. To prevent the death of one elderly man from penie cancer you’d have to circumcise 10,000 boys. One boy in 10,000 dies. So, what to do? Kill a boy or let a man who has lived a long life die?

  • Dan Bollinger

    February 27, 2012 2:59 pm

    Let’s face it, these spurious “reasons” are a smokescreen. Cutting off the end of a boy’s penis is demeaning and ridiculous.

    Asking for a person’s credentials, like being a doctor, is just a cheap shot. Everyone has an opinion based on our life’s experiences and a physician’s is no more valid than a psychologist or lawyer, mom or dad, or intact or circumcised man. The question also predisposes that this is a medical treatment. IT IS NOT! There is no diagnosis, and the parent, not the doctor, is “prescribing” it. In that case, the doctor’s opinion is LESS important.

  • Georganne

    February 27, 2012 9:42 pm

    I would like to ask the readers of this blog not to get distracted by individuals who are intentionally trying to waylay productive conversations and dialogue. Responding to “trolls” simply gratifies their desire to disrupt. I would love to hear more of what works for YOU when you talk about intactivism with friends, family or strangers.

  • R. Grunke

    February 27, 2012 10:13 pm

    This is the imbalanced type of radio journalism that is flooding the airwaves.
    I would hope that IntactAmerica would contact NPR and give a rebuttal.

    • Maria

      February 29, 2012 12:42 am

      I plan to send an email asking for balance, exposing the misinformation, and suggesting they invite Georganne on the show. If many people do the same, our voice can be heard

  • Jason tuohey

    March 2, 2012 8:17 pm

    Great comments,here’s to the future of all beautiful,perfect baby boys.
    No amount of propaganda,”tradition”,or misguided influence should determine the fate of a human being.
    The fact that a human is born into this world is already a miracle of evolution.The subsequent ritual of mutilation of that human is a crime against humanity.

    • D

      March 6, 2012 4:31 pm

      Thats right. You don’t cut off a vital sensitive functioning protective part of a newborn and call it anything but pure quackery. Common sense has to come into play somewhere.. A girl has the same issues as a boy overall but we don’t cut it off like the child is a plant and it will grow back. It just disfigures the baby for no reason, ( disease spread is not the babies fault) That foreskin fascilitates sensual movement and makes sex comfortable for the woman. You can cut off an infants breasts and she likely won’t get breast cancer, but what a stupid idea. DON’T CUT a baby for chirsts sake TO PREVENT diseases spread by bad behaviour!!! I am surprised this punishment is inflicted on babies. DON’T CUT OFF BABY SKIN PLEASE. They need that cover for a lifetime and sex is a vital component of a mans life. This isn’t however about sex, its about the rights of a newborn to decide if he wants his penis skin cut off to compensate for bad social behaviour.
      BAD THINKING. Condoms, common sense, and safe sexual behaviour prevents disease spread. Soap cleans up that baby (and daddy) squeaky clean. Medical cutting should make sense. One baby cut is too many and it should already be stopped.

  • locutadebjorg

    March 14, 2012 4:52 pm

    “The much-touted “African studies” that showed men to be at a relatively lower risk of contracting HIV from women if the former were circumcised”

    Do not concede this point as it is a false result. Giving this study any credibility or legitimacy is not a wise move.

  • D

    March 18, 2012 6:02 pm

    Ok, routine infant circumcision has to stop. I can’t believe it is still happening.
    The definition of privacy is:

    1.The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
    2.The state of being free from public attention.

    Doesn’t this right come into the equation along with babys consitutional right to not be seriously injured at birth? CIRCUMCISION IS NOT A PIN PRICK!!! Babies die from it.
    So, if a baby has rights to privacy in the US, how is cutting most of the skin muscle and nerve receptors from his genitals while he is spreadeagle and awake anything but humiliating and disturbing him? Anyone who had the displeasure of watching the disturbing video of a baby getting it, , we know clearly he objects to this disfiguring disgrace and his privacy is being grossly ignored as are his cries for help. I don’t sleep well knowing a babys rights are trampled on like this because some checks and balances are out of place somewhere.
    How is this mass practiced procedure not violating an infants right to privacy? Does privacy mean something else where objections are shrieks of terror and pain? (THAT MEANS NO ON ANY PART OF THE GLOBE)
    (although I wholeheartedly think it is a violation of his human rights, and iit it isn’t, what the hell is)

  • Susannah Carlson

    April 19, 2012 3:42 am

    I would really appreciate links to scientific studies, statistics, anything quantifiable. They bolster what for me is an emotional argument and bring it into antiseptic fact, which is what convinces many unconvicible people. Surely there are studies we can refer to when arguing on the behalf of these infants and children. I would REALLY appreciate that resource when discussing this with my academic friends who just don’t get it, and they aren’t going to accept my view if I can’t give them that.

    • Georganne Chapin

      April 20, 2012 12:09 pm

      Susanna –

      Of course, Intact America’s position is based on ethics and human rights. It is a violation of well-accepted principles of bioethics to cut a healthy body part off another person who cannot consent. That is not an emotional argument. It’s a logical and ethical argument. Ask them if they would allow a doctor remove their daughter’s inner and outer labia, and sew her up except for a small hole, if it would keep lessen her chance of getting HIV 20-30 years later if she practiced unprotected sex with an infected partner! Cultures that genitally alter girls use the rationale that it’s cleaner, more healthy, prevents STDs, and makes the girl more marriageable – just what pro-circumcision Americans say about infant male circumcision.

      The Intact America website (www.intactamerica.org) has links under the Resources page to information and statistics about the harms of circumcision. Also, check out circumstitions.com for statistics and documented harms. Dan Bollinger’s recent peer-reviewed article estimates that more than 100 babies die in the U.S. each year from circumcision. Many of these cases are covered up – but we know of two in New York City alone last year. It has also been well-documented (and is ludicrous to assert otherwise) that circumcision is excruciatingly painful, and there is NO EVIDENCE anywhere that infants feel pain less than adults do. That is an absurd contention, and one that your opponents cannot document.

      Penile cancer: extraordinarly rare. The only way to totally prevent it is to remove the entire penis. We could prevent breast cancer entirely if we removed girls breasts.


      If you get dragged into the weeds on the UTI argument, on the cervical cancer argument, etc., then you are on the defensive against people who have no idea what they are talking about.

      Stick to the ethics and the analogies. And tell the arguers that infant circumcision is virtually unknown in sophisticated European countries, and those men are at least as healthy as American men, and STD rates in Europe are generally lower than those in the U.S.


  • Gordius Knot

    May 3, 2012 11:39 am


    On May 1, 2012, Misty, a mother of-a-son-to-be, posted this (verbatim) at another “Male Genital Mutilation” Site…

    “I have read and tried to learn as much as I can about both male and female circumcision, and from my understanding ancient Egyptians first circumcised due to penal safety and hygiene in the desert (think sand gettin’ in there). From there, it was picked up by the hebrews. I think if an adult wants to be circumcised, that’s his (or her) business. However, a baby should not have to undergo such a horrendous procedure.There are a small amount of cases where it’s necessary, for example if a boy is born with a crooked penis(hypospadias).
    Up until March of 1997, female circumcision was LEGAL in the the U.S., until a law was passed to illegalize it.That didn’t happen until the Women’s Health Organisation spearheaded it. But what about boys? My son will be born in less than 3 months, and if he wants part of his junk cut off, he can do it when he is a consenting adult.It’s not my or his father’s penis, so we can’t say what he wants for HIS penis. Until then, I will strive to teach him personal hygiene just like I do with my daughter. It’s not like getting your teeth cleaned.”

    And this is my reply……

    Misty, I am a guy…let me make a few comments…

    1. First, let me correct your knowledge regarding the male hypospadia. This (in the male) is a congenital (born with it) condition whereby during his fetal development the end of the urethra opens not at the tip of the penis but rather (usually) on the underside of the penis (somewhere between the tip of the glans and the beginning of the scrotal sac.) Male hypospadias are never circumcised at birth because often the foreskin is to be used to surgically correct the condition when the boy is older.

    2. I laud and greatly approve of your (and your husband’s) decision NOT to circumcise your new little critter…regardless of what the Jews, Egyptians, Muslims and all the other religious fanatics say…leaving him as Mother Nature delivers him, is the only civilized thing to do. The “procedure” (medical gobbledegook for little boy butchery) has been shown to be extremely painful and traumatic to a newborn with effects lasting for months if not his lifetime. See:http://www.circumcision.org/brain.htm

    3. Do not EVER allow your “Medical Adviser” to tell you, it is so much easier to have “it” done as an infant than “if he has to have it done later as an adult”. He or she is dead wrong…and woefully behind in his/her professional knowledge. GET A DR. WHO KNOWS WHAT HE/SHE IS TALKING ABOUT!! For an adult male circumcision now days, there is no cutting, no stitches, no pain, no healing time, no hospital stays, no missing of work….nothing like what the new little guy will experience at his circumcision. See:http://www.prepex.com/Device.aspx

    3. For you, nursing the little guy will be fraught with much less fussiness on his part. Take the mother of the circumcised infant…that little guy will be trying to suckle as well as to bond with her with an extremely painful penis. His mind just won’t be 100% on his new job of getting nourishment while getting to know her…(As a guy, I just can’t understand why any thinking, feeling mother in her right mind should want her infant son to associate the pleasures of suckling at her breast with the very painful displeasure of having his foreskin cut away with little or no anesthetic.)

    4. Ma Nature makes the care and cleaning of intact little boys so much easier than that for the ignorant mother who has sent her infant son to the circumciser. These is no open wound to become infected (bowel movements do occur pretty close to the penis). No bleeding dangers. No special bathing care is needed around a denuded penile corona. (Most baby books devote paragraphs if not pages to the cleaning and care of the newly circumcised penis).
    Bathe or wash JUST what you see and NO more.. do NOT try to pull the foreskin back manually to “clean” his penis. After all, would you attempt to broach your infant daughter’s vagina, to “clean” it?
    Peeling back a baby boy’s foreskin is harmful, unnecessary, and hurts like hell. This is the way all neonatal circumcisions begin, by this painful “separating” of the normal natural adhesion between the prepuce and the underlying glans. This is the moment, his wailful screams begin…it is exactly the same as you having a complete fingernail lifted (“separated”) from its underlying nail bed, to be cut off…WITHOUT anesthetic.
    But be assured, AGAIN Ma Nature will let you and him know, when his foreskin can be safely retracted. You won’t have “to strive to teach him” how to clean his penis…the time would be best served teaching him how to wash his back side. When the time comes to “cleaning” his “junk” your husband (i.e. his father) should be taking over. Even if he is circumcised, he’ll still know intuitively a hell of lot more than you will or can.

    5. Hope this helps and encourages you both…but I’d sure like to have your husband’s input…I could relate to him…after all he has a penis…but if he has left the circumcision decision of his son up to just you, a woman, I’m not sure of his balls.

    Gordius Knott.

  • John Westwind

    November 18, 2014 7:31 pm

    When are you going to give up Talk about preaching to the converted THE SCIENCE IS IN !!!!

    • eshu21

      November 18, 2014 7:54 pm

      Yes, I agree the science worldwide is definitely in, that circumcision is a useless Bronze Age relic that harms babies and adults alike, and is utterly pointless for “health” related issues. But we continue to talk, to convince other people, day by day, to leave all children intact…

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.