Australia Imports American Nonsense

Arguing in favor of circumcising male infant to reduce their risk of HIV infection is flawed thinking, even in places like Africa. It’s exceptionally ridiculous when looking at the extent to which pro-circumcision advocates bypass logic. From a recent Reader’s Digest Australia article on male circumcision, included in the section labeled “Verdict”, this quote:

“‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is the understandable attitude of many Australians,” says [University of Melbourne] Professor Roger Short. Yet he questions this wisdom. “Australia is blessed with a low prevalence of HIV infection, but parents need to remember their children will encounter high rates in many countries they visit.”

How does he know male individuals will visit other countries? How does he know that those countries will have high rates of HIV infection? How does he know male individuals will have vaginal intercourse with HIV infected women? Where logic demands a different conclusion, Professor Short relies on propaganda. He began with his conclusion and grasped for assumptions to build around that to defend what is objectively indefensible.


That’s unsurprising because the article is structured to reach one conclusion. Among the arguments offered in favor of circumcision, the article includes “Appearance”:

Research by Professor Marvel Williamson from the School of Nursing at Oklahoma City University found women prefer the look of a circumcised penis. “Generally women said it is more sexually appealing,” says Williamson. “Ninety per cent of women said it looks sexier and 85% said it’s nicer to touch.”

This is a non-medical argument used to excuse surgery on a non-consenting, healthy child. It’s also a subjective criterion that will be irrelevant to the 10% and 15% of women, respectively, who disagree with the majority. It will also be irrelevant if the male is gay. This conclusion also demands that we accept an external locus of control for all male sexuality. What the society wants matters more than what the individual wants for himself. Human rights belong to the individual, so we must reject all of this.

But look at what the article explicitly ignored. It’s obvious by the location of the research. A quick scan of the study reveals the omission.

This study clearly support the hypothesis that American women prefer circumcision for sexual reasons. The preference for circumcision does not necessarily come out of ignorance nor from lack of exposure to uncircumcised men.

Yeah, noting that the conclusion concerns American women might help Australian parents, except Australian statistics look nothing like American statistics in 2009. Also, this assumes that the mother’s preferences – or the father’s opinion about his own penis – matters. We’re not assuming that because it doesn’t matter. Professor Williamson incorrectly thinks it does, as shown in the design of her study:

Of 145 new mothers of sons responding to this survey, …

Are we really so stupid that a parent’s opinion on the sexual aesthetics of a child’s genitals is considered a valid reason for surgical alteration? I want to believe we are smarter, but the evidence is very clear that parents can and do use this excuse. That position is indefensible. Remember that all tastes and preferences are subjective, unique to each individual. The choice on whether or not to allow the subjective tastes and preferences of his future sexual partners to influence his decision regarding cultural, medically unnecessary circumcision must be left to him. Ethically, parents may offer proxy consent to circumcision only when medical need exists, and then only when less invasive solutions are insufficient.

3 thoughts on “Australia Imports American Nonsense”

  1. You might also want to check out the following:
    Canadian Paediatric Society
    Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.
    Circumcision is a “non-therapeutic” procedure, which means it is not medically necessary.”
    “After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.

    RACP Policy Statement on Circumcision
    “After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision.”
    (those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)
    British Medical Association: The law and ethics of male circumcision – guidance for doctors
    “to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.”
    National Health Service (UK)
    “Many people have strong views about whether circumcision should be carried out or not. It is not routinely performed in the UK because there is no clear clinical evidence to suggest it has any medical benefit.”
    The College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia
    “Circumcision is painful, and puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in mild local infections, to more serious such as injury to the penis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, urinary tract infection and, rarely, even haemorrhage leading to death. The benefits of infant male circumcision that have been promoted over time include the prevention of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and the reduction in risk of penile and cervical cancer. Current consensus of medical opinion, including that of the Canadian and American Paediatric Societies and the American Urological Society, is that there is insufficient evidence that these benefits outweigh the potential risks. That is, routine infant male circumcision, i.e. routine removal of normal tissue in a healthy infant, is not recommended.”
    See also:
    Canadian Children’s Rights Council
    “It is the position of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council that “circumcision” of male or female children is genital mutilation of children.”
    drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 14%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

  2. That whole piece was disgusting. Propaganda from front to back with no substantial discussion. But look who the quote, Short, Morris, and Schoen. All three known circumfetishes. Short is using that ‘what if he travels’ nonsense because he knows the authorities have already said that circumcision has no place in the Australian HIV epidemic. But that didn’t get mentioned in this article. Disgusting.

  3. Interesting that “he might travel” suddenly becomes a reason to circumcise, when the possibility has never been considered that American men might travel to countries (most of the world) where women (and men) are not disgusted if they still have all their genitalia.
    Contrary to Marvel Williamson’s claim, only 24 (16.5%) of the women had any experience with intact men. The others didn’t know what they were talking about.
    Interstingly the readers aren’t buying it: 93% in the associated poll “disagree with circumcision”. Could it be the tide is turning?

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