The Council of Europe’s recent resolution on "Children’s Right to Physical Integrity (1952)," which was passed overwhelmingly at the beginning of October, makes for a very enlightening read.
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Suppose they decided to trim the clitoral hood and labia in newborn
girls. Not clitoridectomy, not infibulation, but just a little trim and
tidying up, without an anesthetic. They would remove an comparable
amount of tissue as in the male, naturally (an adult prepuce is pretty
big, however). How would Americans or Israelis react? You cannot
blame Europeans for reacting similarly to make circumcision. There
needs to be a gender-neutral, culture neutral standard for slicing bits
from children's bodies. I don't care what your standard is, but it
must be non-discriminatory, and it cannot grandfather-in old practices.
Perhaps a merciful Haaretz staff will allow me to defend against insults
this time. Dear Mr. O.! The connection between crucifixion, circumcision
and anti-Judaism was shown in the study “Judenbilder”
(Jew-images) published by Jewish scholar Stefan Rohrbacher and Michael
Schmidt, and showed up in various accusations of ritual murder, for
instance in the case of Little Simon in Trento 1475 ending with the
extermination of Trento’s Jewish males. You deem me
“ignorant” about the “non-importance of religion in
Europe”? I happen to have lived in Germany for 58 years. Anyhow,
what counts concerning Jew-hate is not the question whether an adult is
member of a Church but what images he took up and stored in childhood.
How children learn to hate the Jewish tormenters at images of good
Jesus' crucifixion was described by Danish Protestant Soren Kierkegaard
in 1850 and Austrian Catholic Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in 1935, to
no avail since mainstream people are always quick in classifying things
they don’t get as “rubbish”. As to the European
court’s legalization of state-ordered classroom crucifixes, it was
already taken as a juridical standard in 2012 in a Swiss case of
objection against a classroom-cross. By the way: In my last German
eighth-grade classroom I had two neo-nazists. At any rate the boys were
more polite and wouldn’t tell the world that their old Jewish
teacher is talking rubbish.
Jews are notable voices in the anti-circumcision movement. For example,
late Brazilian psychoanalyst Moisés Tractenberg, author of
"Psicanálise da Circuncisão". He found from his
patients that circumcision often left men with a life-long mental state
similar to rape victims: a constant sense of anger, resentment,
mistrust, lowered self-esteem, and even suicidal tendencies.
I had never heard of the Council for Europe until it took this decision,
and assume that it is a debating club for adults. I do not support
making illegal the circumcision of minors simply because the parents
wish it. If it is made illegal, there should be a religious exception.
That said, I am fully confident that western culture is evolving in such
a way that circumcision will be increasingly seen as sexually incorrect.
Customs are not immune in fact or by right from cultural evolution. I
do not use any form of the verb "to mutilate" when talking
about circumcision, and would welcome if this became the norm.
"Furthermore, it is indicative of the continent’s continued
disposition towards cultural imperialism." Cultural imperialism as
you see it is inevitable outside of anarchy. The criminal code, the
police, family law, economic regulation are all cultural imperialistic
practices. That secular marriage does not exist in Israel strikes me as
a form of cultural imperialism. Palestinians label Zionism itself as a
form of cultural imperialism. Routine infant circumcision is the most
controversial practice in American pediatrics, the most hotly debated
topic in American mother groups in social media, and the biggest open
problem in the social psychology of USA sexuality. That circumcision
performed without anesthesia is traumatic, is received science. That
statement does not hold for all circumcisions. That circumcised men can
have a strong desire to circumcise their own sons is a fact made evident
by what many American mothers reveal in social media. It was also true
of my own father. "It is not uncommon to dismiss an unknown and
alien practice as dangerous or cruel." This opinion is obliquely
patronising. "However, in today’s society one would hope
that, rather than condemning difference, governments would look to the
wider international scene in an effort to understand the complete
picture." This is a rather pompous way of introducing a defence of
infant circumcision grounded in Realpolitik. Mr McDonald, you yourself
would not accept letting international opinion decide all sorts of
matters bearing on your personal life and economic situation. Likewise,
I am disturbed by the idea that the Fate of the American Foreskin should
be determined by geopolitics in other parts of the globe. The AAP's
assertion that "the health benefits of newborn male circumcision
outweigh the risks" is flat out wrong, because the long term risks
of infant circumcision for adult sexual function (never mind pleasure)
are unknown, because unstudied. "As a native New York Jew, I can
emphatically state that I have never felt trauma, shame or low
self-esteem from the procedure." One swallow does not make a
spring. The vast majority of circumcised American men are neither
Jewish, nor from New York. "I have never felt it to be an
impediment to me sexually and never have I come across circumcised
individuals who feel differently." Rest assured that a growing
number of North American men are of another view. "This, I
believe, is rooted in the fact that I was raised in a society where the
majority of men are circumcised." Do you agree that that fact
greatly reduces the significance of your high comfort level with your
own circumcision? Your Scottish experience with circumcision as a
conversational topic parallels that of Francelle Wax in London 10 years
ago. But her reaction to the London reaction was to become a firm
defender of the intact penis. "Aversion to the practice is
absolutely ingrained in Europeans..." To generalise from Scottish
casual conversations to all of Europe is to draw a long bow. "In
the United States, I never thought twice of the fact that I was
circumcised..." This is no longer true of many Americans,
especially a growing number of young women. "...and someone in
need of sympathy, a trauma victim." I am sceptical that the typical
Scot goes that far. "... the decision to circumcise or not carries
with it both positive and negative effects." And American medicine
and sexology are not honest about the negative effects. They won't even
look for them. Nearly all that is known about the negative effects is
known thanks to anecdotes revealed via social media.
"...insecurities and anxieties over circumcision thrive in an
environment where cultural minorities alone participate in the
practice." Even though about 80% of adult American men are
circumcised, the practice has nevertheless attracted considerable
insecurities and anxieties in the USA. "...to seek a complete ban
on the practice is an attempt at enforced cultural homogeneity that is
fundamentally at odds with Europe both as an idea and in practice."
No one calls for a complete ban. All that the COE and others have
advocated is for requiring that only males who have attained their
majority can be circumcised. "...what consequences that will have
on their mental well-being." Men who develop psychological
difficulties with their own circumcisions because of the ongoing
struggle against RIC in the USA are regrettable collateral damage. The
best way to reduce that collateral damage is for USA maternity wards and
pediatricians to stop circumcising babies, and for American medical and
popular culture to recognise that a man should decide the fate of his
own penis. "... than a controlled..." There is ample
anecdotal evidence that the belief that American RIC is
"controlled" amounts to wishful thinking. "...and
relatively minor neonatal procedure." Circumcision is not minor,
because it is a major alteration of the tip of the penis, most sexual
part of the male body, and the part that interacts most directly with a
woman's vagina during intercourse. Ask women who've slept with both
kinds of men whether the difference is minor. Circumcision can detract
from normal marital sex and foreplay. Europeans now appreciate this
fact, and that is why they are growing more dismayed by circumcision.
authors assertion that american men think it's normal to be mutilated
and attempt to downplay it are wrong...i'm circumcised and absolutely
enraged about it, i think about it every time i shower or go to the
restroom. this practice is child abuse and plenty of victims in america
Get rid of the knives. We should have a "Shalom" ceremony to
welcome girl and boy babies into the tribe. Get rid of the tribal ritual
of circumcision. It's barbaric.
It was the act of Jewish circumcision where blood is drawn from the male
penis by another grown male that was the cause of the law changes.
Surgical circumcision is more hygienic and less barbaric. This is
2013...not the dark ages.Having never been circumcised it did not stop
me siring three healthy strong male children.
Circumcision is a "hot topic" in Europe by a reason which the
rather profound essay unfortunately conceals: the connection between
circumcision and crucifixion. Garfalo's 16th century painting shows a
Christ child threatened by an old Jew with knife, almost like an old
bearded Jewish King Herod threatened the newborn Jesus's life (and
killed hundreds of innocent toddlers) and the old bearded Jews of the
Sanhedrin not only threatened but killed the Christ child thirty years
later on the cross. Of course it's been the Romans, but the crucifix
meanwhile (thanks to Mr.Berlusconi and his helpful lawyer Joseph Halevy
Horovitz Weiler) is sanctioned by European court as the constitutional
classroom standard in Europe. So how should grown-up European children
not fear bearded Jewish father-figures?
I've never heard anyone make the connection between crucifixion and
circumcision before. It is an odd connection to make because not only do
you have to make the false connection between crucifiction and the Jews
(as you point out) but also you have to associate it with one of
countless rituals observed in Judaism. It is far-fetched enough without
including a 16th century painting that most Europeans have never even
seen... Oh and the crucifix is not a "classroom standard" in
Europe, you are referring to a verdict that rejected the ban of a
crucifix in an Italian school. There is quite a difference between that
and your description. By and large Europe is very unreligious, compared
to say the US or Israel. Quite frankly you seem rather ignorant of the
(non-) importance of religion in Europe.
Konrad if you think seeing a crucifix in a classroom triggers anti
semitism I must respectfully disagree. The Italian case was brought
about by a Norwegian atheist (nothing wrong with that) who chose to
demand that crucifixes were removed from all schools. Circumcision
isn't a "hot topic" rather symptomatic of a raft of concerns
relating to our ability to empathise with the (imagined) suffering of others.
I live in Germany and followed the discussion after the famous
"Salomonic decision" of the minor court in Köln. It was
very emotional and hurt on the Jewish side and just dirty and under the
belt-line on online boards of major newspapers. I finally came to a
theory I discussed (because I am religious and my lack of practical
experience)with a Christian friend. She is a tough business woman,
leader of international projects. When I told her that I think, that
this circumcision discusson is all about the fear of "normal German
men" (that is: not circumcised) that the "Jewish/Moslim
stallions" (sorry guys, you'll understand the reason why I choose
this word later) take away their females- she blushed. Not only the
cheeks, but also the ears. Completely. This tough woman blushed,
muttered something like " Hmm, yes, hmm, you know, hmm, you might
be right. One of my boyfriends....." So? My advice to the author of
the article: just forget what the guys tell you. There is so much
subconscious fear in the guys, that's just basic Neandertal. You can't
reason on this level. Just relax, lean back in your seat. Smile, And
tell them, "You are so right. I am so traumatized. You can't
It is an amusing theory, but it doesn't seem to be based on any kind of
fact. Also I think I see something of a flaw: if the "normal"
German men had knowledge of how "stallion-like" circumcision
makes the Jewish and Muslim men (enough so that they fear them) why
would the German men not simply have a circumcision and thus also become
stallions? It would seem like a much easier way of levelling the
playing-field given that regardless of German law there will still be an
amble supply of stallions around. In all seriousness though this theory
doesn't seem very credible and it doesn't seem reasonable to use it as
an excuse to continue the archaic practice of cutting pieces of children.
It's a well documented fact that American and Israelis consume the most
Viagra in the world. I wonder why these "stallions" need to be
chemically enhanced in order to function?
makes male children victims with no choice to decide about the topic,
the authentic act that include oral blood socking from infant penis
makes it barbaric and more, whereas 'scientific' post factum
justification for doing it is cynical. However, everyone is entitled to
exercise his/her culture and doing genital mutilation should not be
forbidden if the law stipulates it is within parent rights as well as
within the right to freedom of religion, which is the case for two
religions and it should be respected.
You conflate American, Jewish and Muslim tradition. (The reason why it
was promoted in America by the way, is because it supposedly made
masturbation more difficult. A Puritan inheritance.) But all that said,
male circumcision does not seem to be very harmful. Weighing the medical
side against what it would do to tolerance in society if it were banned,
I would definitely oppose a ban.
Female and male foreskin is identical. Textbook facts. Do you think it
should be legal to cut away the girls foreskin, clitorishood.
As a non Jewish European I must admit to a shudder when this topic is
raised, even though my brother was circumcised. Odd as it may seem if
this was done with anaesthetic I wouldn't mind a bit. (Perhaps it is!).
Neonatal circumcision does not utilize anesthesia (it is assumed less
than 40% of the procedures use any pain blockers) so the infant feels
the full brunt of the procedure. Hyper-sensitivity in newborns is well
known now and the stress and pain observed during circumcision are well
documented and studied. Shock occurs, hear palpitations, blood loss, and
at times death (it's been recorded on average 100-200 newborn infants
die in the US annually due to the complications during circumcision.
Complications that did not have to occur).
The author raises an interesting point. Reactions to male circumcision
are culturally generated. In cultures where circumcision is rare, there
is a tendency to view it as mutilation. In cultures where it is common,
most people accept it as the norm. I also think that whereas Europe is
less religious, America is more so. Americans follow the Bible more,
Europe not very much.
Now that you have mentioned Americans, here is something really strange
about them: they are reading the wrong Bible. For a Christian, the New
Testament overrides the old one, right? Well then: in Galatians 5, Paul
the Apostle speaks in very clear terms against circumcision. He calls it
"a yoke of slavery" and a partial emasculation; to put any
faith in it makes you "alienated from Christ" and "fallen
from grace". So, a Christian who circumcises violates his own faith.
American doctors betrayed generations of moms & dads, and kept them
in the dark about the cruelty of Genital Surgery on baby boys.
Circumcision is a social disease that infects the human conscience,
destroying our ability to recognize our own malice and cruelty. It is
not a poetic metaphor to describe the surgery in America as the
Circumcision Experiment. In the broad scope of human history, no other
people have practiced genital disfigurement in secret, upon an infant in
the cradle, and then gone on with life as though nothing had been done
to the child. All other peoples who perform genital disfigurement on
their boys and girls incorporate the experience into the child’s
upbringing by public, ceremonial repetitions of the surgery on others,
making it a conscious reality that the society acknowledges among
themselves, and teaches to their children. In America, however, it has
been performed in secret for over a hundred years. Our men grow up
without awareness that their penises are abnormal, unlike those of
European, South American, and Asian men, in fact, unlike men throughout
world history. Our women grow up thinking that a disfigured penis is
normal, the equivalent of ten fingers and toes on our limbs. So the
Circumcision Experiment goes on behind closed doors, never revealed to
its subjects, who grow up believing in their personal freedom, never
knowing that the most intimate aspect of their lives has been
irretrievably altered and disfigured, with unknown results, for the most
important aspect of the Circumcision Experiment is that no records may
be kept, no statistics may be compiled, no conclusions may ever be
reached. The Circumcision Experiment is meant to be a permanent
experiment on American men, an experiment that seeks no other result
except that it must continue forever. If our nation was strapping down
baby girls, penetrating & ripping open their vaginas with metal
tools, crushing & slashing their vaginas with other shiny tools,
would we use a polite euphemism for the horror?... I admire men and
women who stand up for our nation's sons... the others who turn away
from the horror, or minimize it, or even deny it... one question, how do
YOU live with yourselves? All human beings have an inalienable right to
refuse genital surgery. Most Americans don't even know what a normal
penis is, or how it functions.
The number of newborn boys undergo genital mutilation has dropped a lot
over the last 10 years. Largely because today's parents have found out
what the foreskin is and what circumcision entails. A big reason for
physicians in the U.S. to proceed with genital mutilation is that they
get paid extra. Genital mutilation in the U.S. sales of almost one
billion U.S. dollars. Are religious circumcision free? Female and male
foreskin are identical and one purpose of removing it is to reduce
sexual desire. In the 1150's. Rabbi Maimonides already wrote about
that. Female genital mutilation occured in the U.S. until the late
1950s. In order to reduce sexual desire. And it's probably even today a
reason to genital mutilation of boys. A Rabbi in a radio program said
circumcision prevent boys from becoming misfits in society.
This article is full of contradictions. The author states himself that
there is an abusive cycle in circumcision and that many circumcised men
reverse the procedure: "A father is abused as an infant, and
therefore inflicts the same abuse upon his own son. ... And it is true
that there are men who, later on in life, undergo reverse circumcision
in an effort to undo the procedure.", and yet he claims that
circumcision is not traumatic and generalizes from himself: "I have
never felt it to be an impediment to me sexually and never have I come
across circumcised individuals who feel differently." But at the
same time, he acknowledges that there are men who feel their
circumcision is an impediment. Also, he states that circumcision does
not seem cruel because it's the norm in certain places, but at the same
time he denounces FGM which is also the norm in certain places. And
finally, the report from the European Council nowhere mentions a ban on
circumcision. So, the author has misunderstood the report and
nonetheless he agrees with its main conclusion: "It is important,
as the EU resolution states, to ensure that the conditions within which
the procedures are performed meet necessary standards." Overall,
the author is lauding the report from the council but he is trying to
make a point about something that the report does not state.
If my parents had neglected to have me circumcised, I would have been
furious with them when I reached adulthood to have to go through the
procedure then. No one is forcing non-Jews (or non-Muslims) to
circumcise their male children. I can't really believe antagonism to it
is motivated by concern for Jews, even infant ones. I suspect the real
reason is to make Jewish life impossible so Europe can rid itself of its
I rather think the point is that someone *is* forcing Jewish male
children to be circumcised.
Where is it stated that you would require a circumcision later in life ?
Statistics show that only 1 in 17,000 men require a circumcision later
in life and even that can be prevented. If you're going to argue that
this effort is anti-semetic in nature then surely you feel Europe's
resolution to ban female circumcision was also anti-Semetic and utilized
to cut down on the rate of Somalian immigrants moving to
Europe...surely..As for forcing circumcision..I think the child being
circumcised is having circumcision forced upon him, not to mention it is
quite a large deal in Semetic families with the risks of being shunned.
Circumcision particularly in the religious contexts denies everyone of a choice.
In Europe, most Jews are secular, if only because European rabbis are
almost all Orthodox. To delay brit milah until 18-21 years of age, will
not matter much to most European Jews. Only the orthodox will leave. I
am very glad that my mother stood up to my father, and vetoed getting me
circumcised. There are men circumcised in infancy who are angrier than
you are, because what was done to them cannot be undone. 10 minutes of
minor surgery can undo Nature at any age.
It's pretty hard to feel sympathy for someone who mutilates his
children. At one time it was common, but the world has moved past that.
Training as an MD in Canada in the late 80s and working here since, I've
yet to actually SEE, let alone DO, a circumcision. My father was
circumcised and, in 1952, I was not. The 'he has to look like his dad'
argument falls flat with me. That said, my Jewish and Islamic Canadian
friends usually do circumcise.... I've yet to attend a Bris!........ and
I support their choice for their child even though the need for added
cleanliness in ancient desert culture has long past.
The author asserts that male circumcision is a "relatively minor
neonatal procedure." This procedure removes a complex part of male
genitalia - the adult prepuce is about 15 square inches; it has 20,000
specialized nerve endings, mucosal tissue and lubricating functions.
Most cut men have no idea what they're missing. The Council of Europe
is attempting to protect the genital autonomy of infant males. My body
belongs to me!
Unlike Mr. McDonald I don't think the feelings of an existing
circumcised man about his own genitals are relevant to the discussion of
an infant's rights. Every healthy person can be left intact to make a
rational adult informed decision about whether to have cosmetic genital
reduction surgery. "Circumcision alters sex dramatically.
Foreskin feels REALLY good." If I was worried about Mr.
McDonald's feelings I might not proclaim that, but not speaking the
truth would be a disservice to defenseless infants.
An animal spends it's whole life standing up in a crate so that it's
meat will be lean, and Europe doesn't consider this cruel? Whereas both
Islam and Judaism tells us to look after our animals' well being before ourselves.
you have scientific evidence that the Jewish/Islamic way of slaughtering
an animal is better for the animal than the European way??
considering the barbarity of kosher slaughterhouses.
Now tell me: who has better animal protection laws, Europe? Israel? USA?
I would wager that it is the EU and if that is so you do not seem to
have much of a case here. For example your kind of "Crate
Veal" is banned by EU directive 2008/119/EC (sets a compulsory
minimum standard for all EU states). "Pens must be constructed in
such a way as to allow each calf to lie down, rest, stand up and groom
itself without difficulty. From the age of eight weeks, individual pens
are prohibited except in the case of illness."
Veal crates are banned in Europe and in six US states: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veal#Veal_crate_bans
In practice, this is likely not the case. Numerous Kosher
slaughterhouses have been shut down for animal welfare violations.
During Islamic festivals, the un-professional killing of animals by
individual families creates a well-noted bloodbath, shocking native
Europeans. The only thing that ensures humane behavior at the cost of
profit is strict laws and punishments, not vague religious obligations.
Exempting anyone from the laws is a bad idea.
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