Insults Instead of Inquiry

Robert Stacy McCain blogged about Hanna Rosin’s first circumcision post at the Daily Dish:

She dares defend circumcision while guest blogging at the site of the world’s foremost foreskin fetishist, Andrew Sullivan.

“Male genital mutilation!” scream the connoisseurs of uncut, preservationists of the precious prepuce.

Get over it, people. Only porn freaks and gay men — having ample opportunity to comparison shop, as it were — obsess so fanatically over the difference. …

Is this typical of McCain’s writing? Rather than deal with the issue up for discussion, he smears Andrew Sullivan, which would be bad enough if Mr. Sullivan had any direct involvement in Mr. Rosin’s entry. That Mr. Sullivan is not involved in the post and yet is the direct target of the smear shows an appalling lack of class. But he was only having “some mocking fun”, as he writes in a follow-up post, because he “knew” Andrew Sullivan to be a foreskin fetishist. More on this in a moment.

… As I was taught in commercial design classes 30 years ago, form follows function, and familiarity with the fact of foreskinless functionality (i.e., I’ve fathered six kids) indicate my circumcised state is entirely adequate to the rigors of the task.

This proves what? I’m not aware of anyone making the claim that circumcised men can’t have sex or that humanity will die out because circumcision causes sterility. This is a pointless diversion. “My penis works after circumcision” proves nothing about the merits of infant/child circumcision because it’s a “comparison” of one data point specific to one individual.

The advantages in terms of hygiene are well-known, and tend to be especially appreciated by mothers who have a difficult enough time getting boys to bath, much less to wash their winkies with health-conscious care. …

The advantages in terms of hygiene are achieved easier with basic hygiene methods (i.e. soap and water), which are still required after circumcision. McCain’s error likely centers on his apparent ignorance of human anatomy. The foreskin adheres to the penis at birth and will not separate for many years. This protects the penis. The normal separation process may last late into puberty, long after mothers have ceased washing their sons’ genitals. Not only is there no need to go digging for dirt, it is potentially harmful to do so. Not that that stops parents from permitting doctors to forcefully break the natural adhesion in order to circumcise.

As for the throwaway point about circumcision easing the job of mothers, any parent who circumcises their healthy child to make their job easier is a bad parent. Child care is difficult? Don’t have kids. Choose to have kids and you discard your right to place your laziness first.

Back to his claim about fetishists:

… And it is certainly my impression — based on comments whenever the subject is raised — that women generally prefer what we might call the kosher pickle.

If there are fetishists, which side are they on? Is it those who advocate for each male to keep his normal genitals and choose for himself for his reasons or those who believe that parents may impose unnecessary surgery on their son’s genitals because they believe his future partner(s) will find his circumcised penis more sexually appealing? A woman can believe a man with a surgical scar on his penis is sexually preferable, yet it is those who state that the foreskin is a normal part of the penis, and each male should decide for himself, who are the fetishists? With this smear, McCain shows nothing more than an apparent character flaw deployed to mask his lack of curiosity.

He continues in his follow-up post (linked above):

Being quite happily married for 20 years, after having previously spent more than a decade as an equally happy and reasonably popular bachelor, I protest any suggestion that I really give a damn about anyone else’s penis but my own. While quite satisfied with my own equipment, I think it unseemly that I should boast of its merits, or to cast aspersions on the equipment of others.

What obtrudes here — and it obtrudes from only one direction in the present discourse — is the Foreskin Lobby’s repeated assertion that the circumcised penis is “mutilated” or in some other way inferior to the unmodified phallus.

I’m happy that he’s happy with his circumcised penis. I do not intend to waste my time trying to convince any circumcised male that he needs to be unhappy and wish that he hadn’t been circumcised. I’d gain nothing from such an endeavor, and it’s unnecessary to my logical and ethical case against circumcision. What each male decides for himself is what’s valid. No one is suggesting he has to give a damn about anyone else’s penis. But he needs to give a damn about the males who will give a damn about their own penises being altered by their parents without medical need.

McCain’s position, like most Americans, is that parents can decide and whatever they decide is fine, for whatever reason. It’s not. The child is healthy. He doesn’t need surgery. The legitimacy of proxy consent ends there. This should be blindingly obvious, especially when considering the inane, offensive reasons many parents give. As McCain highlights without awareness with his reference to women’s stated preference, parents circumcise based on nonsense. They don’t know what their son’s future partner(s) will prefer or whether he would want to have sex with someone who would reject him for having normal male genitalia. There is no possible defense for non-therapeutic infant male circumcision. That is the issue, not that Robert Stacy McCain likes being circumcised or that I hate it.

So, are those who derogate the foreskinless phallus as “mutilated” expressing some sort of religious bigotry? I hesitate to suggest such a thing, but sincerely wish that these barbaric aficionados of heathen penises would cease inciting unseemly debates over a subject so offensive to so many.

I am not surprised that someone who would trot out the fetish smear – in mocking fun, of course – would also attempt the more offensive smear that having a problem with infant circumcision is just a charade for anti-Semitism. There is no problem with circumcision as a religious rite, only with circumcision of children as a religious right. An adult may choose circumcision for himself for religious reasons or any other reason he deems worthy. And, yes, I’m aware of what the Old Testament says about circumcision. I also know what it says about slavery and adulterous women and so on. Civil society does not permit those, either, because we grasp that individuals have rights. What someone would choose for himself may not be what someone else would choose for him. The only valid option is to default to the individual’s choice. Hence, no circumcision of healthy children.


Because it’s there… He concludes his original entry with this:

Those who prefer the sword-and-scabbard setup are perfectly entitled to their preference, …

I’m not entitled to my preference, am I, because society allowed my parents to surgically entitle their preference on me? This is the point McCain seems determined to miss.

… without casting aspersions upon those of us who’ve forsaken the sheath and keep the blade ready. “Mutilation,” indeed!

Without casting aspersions… Fascinating. Those who resort to name-calling are always the most thin-skinned, aren’t they?

2 thoughts on “Insults Instead of Inquiry”

  1. What you say here is really important:
    “As for the throwaway point about circumcision easing the job of mothers, any parent who circumcises their healthy child to make their job easier is a bad parent. Child care is difficult? Don’t have kids. Choose to have kids and you discard your right to place your laziness first.”
    You understate the importance of this point. It’s not ‘throwaway’ at all. Ease of parenting could similarly justify foisting psychiatric medication on a child. The over-prescription of ritalin is an obvious example.

  2. This whole “makes hygiene easier” argument is just laughably stupid. It’s born of ignorance – both of normal male anatomy and normal male habits.
    I’m the mother of an intact 4 yr old, and I can tell you that getting a small boy to wash his penis properly is not difficult at all. Small boys generally like anything that involves touching their penis.
    Teeth brushing – now that’s another story. That is so much more difficult than teaching a boy to wash his penis. Funny how we never hear guys like McCain promoting removal of all teeth to make hygiene easier.

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