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.