I missed this entry about circumcision while I was on vacation, but there is a specific point worth addressing¹. I’m paraphrasing, but the author concludes that male circumcision is acceptable because it has medical benefits and that it is not comparable to female circumcision. The author is wrong on both counts, for the many reasons I’ve discussed over the last year. But that’s not what I want to address. Specifically, this jumps out as the key point:
I favor the elimination of severe female genital mutilation, including clitoridectomy and Pharaonic circumcision (infibulation). But conventional circumcision of male babies is simply not the same thing. The female homologue of this practice would be the removal of the clitoral hood, which would confer no medical benefit.
My short response is simple: Please provide proof that removal of the clitoral hood (and female circumcision, in general) would confer no medical benefit.
That short response doesn’t necessarily clarify why that’s enough to challenge the statement, so I’ll explain. The Auvert study hypothesized that Langerhans cells in the foreskin permit easer HIV transmission from females to males. Given that Langerhans cells reside in mucosal membranes, of which female genitalia has an ample supply, is it foolish to believe that an intact clitoral hood could provide a transmission path for the disease in women? Would it be objectionable to remove the clitoral hood of female infants if we could prove a connection between those Langerhans cells and HIV transmission? Has anyone studied this, or is the question too objectionable?
Bottom line: I agree that female circumcision is an abomination. Even though the qualitative analysis is significant, I can ignore it for the moment and disqualify most forms of female circumcision from my argument. But I’ll leave removal of the clitoral hood, since the author clearly agreed that it’s equivalent. If the potential medical benefits justify ignoring any human rights claims for male circumcision, what’s different about female circumcision? Shouldn’t we study the effect of removing the clitoral hood in preventing transmission of HIV? If the results show an unequivocal benefit, a criteria male circumcision has not yet met, shouldn’t we not only permit, but also encourage, removal of the clitoral hood?
I support neither male nor female forced circumcision, as I’ve said many times, but if the answer to either of my last two questions is “no,” that warrants an explanation beyond because. I’ve explained my position. Expecting the same from those who are willing to allow surgical alteration of healthy (male) infants is reasonable.
¹ I would’ve commented at the original entry, but I do not have a blogger account. I’m not interested in registering for a blogger account.