In an attempt to defend the indefensible (i.e. circumcising his healthy son), Jeremy Kuper writes a rambling, disorganized essay at Comment is Free that skims only the surface on each aspect of the debate. Moreover, he includes the euphemism “member”, so the weight of his position automatically suffers according to my rule on penis euphemisms. You can read the essay, if you’re interested, but I already wasted enough time for all of mankind. Consider it not worth your time. And as proof, Kuper writes this near his conclusion:
Possibly the worst effect of circumcision for Jewish people, is the accusation that it is a form of mutilation, and cruelty to a small baby who is unable to give his consent.
Merriam-Webster defines mutilation as “to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect” or “to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of”. Someone takes a blade to a child’s healthy genitals and removes a functioning part of the body. Are we going to quibble over “essential”, because in the context of the foreskin, the clitoris holds no greater objective essentiality. I am not making an accusation that circumcision is a form of mutilation. I am stating the obvious truth that all forms of genital cutting on healthy, non-consenting individuals is mutilation.
Some uninformed critics even appear to confuse it with the horrendous practice of female circumcision, and the removal of the clitoris in some cultures, which is now largely banned. Dr Nahid Toubia argues that the term female circumcision “implies a fallacious analogy to non-mutilating male circumcision”.
Kuper is the uninformed individual in this debate. I “confuse” male and female genital cutting because they are the same act: medically unnecessary genital cutting on a non-consenting individual. That’s not a complicated analysis to arrive at. A few minutes spent objectively considering the act of circumcision could get to that understanding, even if he was unwilling to accept the comparison.
A few more minutes spent researching female genital cutting would demonstrate that removing the clitoris is FGM, but FGM is actually a spectrum of offenses that involve surgical alteration of the female genitals. A quick trip to Google reveals the four recognized types. At least one type is no more damaging than male genital cutting, yet all non-medically-indicated female genital cutting is illegal in Western societies. If I am to be the person who is wrong in this debate, then Kuper must defend the position that legislative bans on all female genital cutting are too broadly defined.
He must also reject the Western liberal tradition of gender-neutral equality under the law, but I’ll accept one concession to facts and modernity if his ego can’t handle an honest, complete exploration of the topic.