It may offend women, if one compares male circumcision with female circumcision. I believe them to be comparable practices, though it is inarguable the extent of damage inflicted on a woman, who is circumcised, far outweighs the damage done to a man. They do however exist on the same spectrum and thus I would contend that male circumcision is a feminist issue.
Research has shown, that the practice of removing the foreskin, has been in existence since as far back as the Stone Age. Today approximately one in six males are circumcised. Indeed it is a multi billion dollar industry in the Unites States. The reasons for this practice vary from, cultural and religious to the enhancement or the reduction of sexual pleasure. For some, circumcision is a ritual of initiation into adulthood and for others it is the removal of the feminine part of male genitalia.
In all these cases, this elective cutting of a man’s penis, is done without any rational basis. It is in fact an irrational and uncivilised habit which is allowed to continue only because of our Western fear of commenting negatively on other people’s cultural or religious mores. This cultural cowardice is just the environment required to allow female circumcision continue.
Before I continue, I should quickly point out the medical benefits of male circumcision. There are none. Laboratory studies have shown that the inner mucosa of the foreskin is more susceptible to the HIV virus. So advocates of circumcision are using the logic that, if one is to indulge in unsafe sexual practices, then circumcision can take the place of a condom. It is a ridiculous and facile argument.
The biggest problem, presently, with dismissing circumcision, as the barbaric practice of religious fanatics, is that circumcision is the norm in the West’s strongest nation, the United States. As mentioned, it is a multi billion dollar medical industry that created and captured a market, way beyond the relatively small Jewish and Islamic populations. Taking on the religious may not be easy, but attacking a profitable business is even more difficult.
Unfortunately however, unless the United States criminalises infant circumcision, then tackling it worldwide is worse than futile. For the US to do this however it would have to tread on the toes of the medical profession and take on the religious lobby. I wish I could say that this was likely to happen. The opposite is more likely. At some point it will be decided that female circumcision is so dangerous, it should be done by doctors. There is a logic to that proposal, a tortured and sick logic, but it exists.
If the moral argument against male circumcision does eventually win the day in the West however, then we have the levers of Aid to advance that argument throughout the World. Only with the eradication of male circumcision, can female circumcision be finally ended. To this end we should employ language in our efforts. Female circumcision is rightly referred to as genital mutilation. We must begin to employ the same terminology to describe male circumcision. It may take a generation, but once mutilation becomes accepted as the description of circumcision, then the battle will have been almost won.