Frankly, since I was old enough to understand the practice of circumcision, I have been appalled by it. But this information, if it bears out (and not later found to be another example of finding justification for a "societal norm"), may finally offer a decent reason for this practice:
Circumcision appears to reduce a man’s risk of contracting AIDS from heterosexual sex by half, United States government health officials said yesterday, and the directors of the two largest funds for fighting the disease said they would consider paying for circumcisions in high-risk countries.So why do I oppose circumcision or, at least, have until reading this?
The announcement was made by officials of the National Institutes of Health as they halted two clinical trials, in Kenya and Uganda, on the ground that not offering circumcision to all the men taking part would be unethical. The success of the trials confirmed a study done last year in South Africa.
AIDS experts immediately hailed the finding. “This is very exciting news,” said Daniel Halperin, an H.I.V. specialist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development, who has argued that circumcision slows the spread of AIDS in the parts of Africa where it is common.
Quite frankly, I oppose it because there is no medical reason for this procedure. Except for Jews who observe the ceremony of bris for religious reasons, circumcisions have been performed almost exclusively for cosmetic reasons.
When I worked in hospital administration in my early 20s, I asked a number of doctors about this and all defended the practice only in as much as they thought an uncircumcised penis would make males feel "marked" or "less attractive" and that performing the removal of the foreskin while the male child was just a few days old was far less painful and traumatic than waiting until the child grew up, already experienced "rejection" because of the hooded member, and underwent the procedure in his late teens or older.
Relatively few doctors I spoke with perpetuated that time-honored bug-a-boo claim that an uncircumcised penis made it far more difficult to keep the organ clean, although non-physicians cite this frequently.
But to me, removing a part of the body just to make it "look" better or to prevent infection seems poor justification. With that rational, a uterus should be removed while a girl is quite young to save her from years of cramps, the "mess" of menses, etc. But we don't.