Thought Experiment

In the past I would probably apologize for this week’s plethora of circumcision posts, but a wise friend reassured me that I shouldn’t be concerned with posting too much on any one topic. The message I took was that I should write what’s relevant and what I’m passionate about. Still, I try to keep the pace slower than “All Circumcision, All the Time.” I won’t pass up discussing the topic, though, when I can illustrate some useful facet or put some context on a point by making a comparison with another story. For instance:

A man who police said entered into a sex pact with his girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter pleaded no contest to felony sex charges.

Authorities say Fitzgibbon’s girlfriend was afraid of losing him while she recuperated from gastric bypass surgery, so she arranged for him to have sex with her daughter for two months.

All three of them allegedly signed a contract that allowed the girl privileges such as piercings and hair dye in exchange for the sex acts. She testified earlier that she and Fitzgibbon had sex two to three times each week for two months last summer.

The girlfriend, whose name is not being made public to protect her daughter’s identity, is scheduled to stand trial in February on three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Nothing needs to be said on this case specifically because the disgusting nature of both adults’ (alleged) actions is readily apparent. While everyone is focused on the behavior of the man involved, the mother’s behavior is equally appalling. But if her action didn’t involving pimping her daughter, would we be outraged? Since her (alleged) action did involve pimping, should we be outraged?

The answer to at least the latter question is simple for most people. It is for me. The distance between what would be allowed with the former versus the latter is not as great as it might appear. With infant circumcision, our societal desire to preserve a non-existent parental right pushes us close to the idea that children are property. I’ve heard parents make that claim to me, that they have the right to circumcise their children because the child’s body belongs to them as they see fit. Most people don’t circumcise from this extreme stance. Unfortunately, the outcome is the same for children boys.

I’m stuck, though, because circumcision is not medically indicated in the overwhelming majority of cases. With respect to surgical need, there isn’t one. Preventive intent is worthless because the protection can’t be known. The surgery is purely cosmetic in its effect. We disregard that and leave this non-essential decision to parents. Because it is non-essential, it should be unacceptable. It’s not viewed as such. Whether we intend it or accept it, boys are treated as property. What other actions would be logical extenstions with that realization? If children are property, why should sex be any less acceptable than circumcision or ear-piercing?

Does the answer change because the story is about a parent pimping a daughter? Would we have the same reaction if a father pimped his daughter to his (the father’s) girlfriend? The answer should be yes, so the question is mostly rhetorical, but can I expect that reactions to my scenario would resemble the distinctions provided when comparing male and female circumcision?