I once posed the question to some colleagues of mine: do you consider circumcision genital mutilation? The question followed a lengthy conversation about genital mutilation that takes place in some unspecified African cultures across Africa. My colleagues couldn’t name any of these cultures or ethnicities but they just knew. And they weren’t wrong, technically. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), which received its information from The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as many as 80%* of girls in 8 countries in Africa experience genital mutilation. Data is collected with a Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) available online, though The Juncture Magazine has yet to access them. (*As an aside, it’s always important to question statistics. 80% of how many girls? And is that number an accurate representation of how many young girls live in these countries?) The circumcision question to my colleagues was met with bewilderment, amusement, and embarrassment that I would ask such a question. Of course not, was the overwhelming response.
At Pride Fest, a man who shall remain anonymous held up a sign that read “I’m Jewish, and I wish more than anything that I still had my foreskin.” He consented to his photograph being taken then handed me a fact sheet about circumcision. So I ask again, to a larger audience: do you consider circumcision genital mutilation? If the answer is no, it may be time to reconsider. The prevalence of circumcision within the United States has obscured the very nature of the procedure. Without giving consent, a baby’s foreskin is forcibly, painfully removed. Though the CDC promises the benefits outweigh the risks, studies like the one conducted by Brian Earp (no relation to Wyatt or Wynonna…we think), conclude that the CDC is exaggerating the benefits while downplaying the risks.
Regardless of whether you think the benefits outweigh the risk, vice versa, or you’re somewhere in the middle, perhaps the biggest issue surrounding circumcision is the lack of consent. Babies can’t consent to having a piece of their body stripped away. And sure, this may open the door for other debates to be had (good), such as ear piercing consent, but the focus right now is genital mutilation. Removal of the penile prepuce in infancy is genital mutilation, particularly if there aren’t immediate risks with retaining the foreskin. Your child can decide for themselves if they want the skin removed.
The Juncture Mag staff