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19

libre_dev wrote

Obviously child abuse if done to children (who can't consent)

-4

Dumai wrote (edited )

better think of a way to rephrase that or else you're accusing every jew and muslim of child abuse along with most african countries, muslim or otherwise

19

libre_dev wrote

Well that's good because I am accusing them of child abuse.

-6

Dumai wrote

nice

have fun with your incredibly paternalistic colonial rhetoric

14

amongstclouds wrote (edited )

Lack of consent = child abuse.

Am I calling these people child abusers? NO. But is cutting off a part of a child's body without their consent child abuse? I think so.

2

Dumai wrote (edited )

if you are calling it child abuse then it kind of does naturally follow that they're child abusers

but, for example, seeing as there are compelling medical reasons for the procedure in much of sub-saharan africa it feels a little bit tone-deaf to accuse parents of abuse for making the decision to lessen their child's chances of contracting hiv

11

amongstclouds wrote

Fair point. I still wish I would've had a choice in it. If I hadn't been circumcised I'd have more skin to work with when I finally get bottom surgery.

5

Dumai wrote

this isn't necessarily even an argument against opposing circumcision in the west i'm just a bit concerned about the use of language here

4

amongstclouds wrote

I totally understand and you're correct. Child abuse might not be the best term for it because there are many reasons for choosing to do this -- but I think that modern western countries have very little need for this procedure.

5

libre_dev wrote

This is your brain on cultural relativism

0

Dumai wrote (edited )

oh and now you're bringing the language of political reaction into this, nice one let's see how racist your rhetoric can get

but you may notice i did not make a moral argument for or against circumcision, i just objected to you naming a practice with a complex cultural and medical history as abuse because i can't help but notice how it mirrors colonial ideology

2

libre_dev wrote

If you say so

2

Dumai wrote

well you shouldn't need my say so to avoid accusing literally every muslim and jew alive of child abuse and parroting reactionary memes

1

libre_dev wrote

You know, I was going to apologize for snapping at you after looked at what else you wrote and having slept on it. Like the HIV thing which is quite interesting. But you seem intent on defending circumcision for no other discernable reason than "a lot of people do it"

1

Dumai wrote (edited )

well that's weird because i wasn't even arguing in defence of it and i namechecked a few reasons to dislike it elsewhere in this thread

i'll say again, i just objected to your language, for reasons more complex than "well lots of people do it!" if you aren't going to put the effort in noticing why then do me a favour and never talk about cultures other than yours again

1

selver wrote

Dumai you are too reasonable for the internet.

2

Dumai wrote

i sincerely hope that is sarcasm haha

5

selver wrote

Well, you just seem to change my mind a lot with some nuanced answer after I initially vehemently disagreed with you.

3

____deleted____ wrote (edited )

They are permanently disfiguring their child's body without the child's consent. It is almost as deplorable as other forms of mutilation as flower bowl shoes.

3

Dumai wrote (edited )

oh my god are you serious

please do not compare penile circumcision to flower bowl shoes, i can't think of an easier way to trivialise foot-binding and erase its nature as a form of gendered violence

anyhow even if you do oppose circumcision that's not an excuse to echo colonial tropes that portray africans and arabs as barbaric and perpetual victims of their own cultures

4

____deleted____ wrote (edited )

I stated it was lesser; 'almost' was certainly wrong to say entirely. Flower bowl shoes are another tier and a bad comparison to make. The intent was only to highlight it's nature as permanent shaping of the body.

I live in America. I was circumcized. All my male partners have been circumcized. I speak not of other continents.

1

Dumai wrote

if youre talking about a practice that has a loooong cultural history in africa and the middle east then you are speaking of other continents

5

____deleted____ wrote (edited )

Bloodletting had a long cultural history in Europe, circumcision still has extended history in America. And regardless of which culture, I point no fingers at them, only of the practice. Papua New Guinea; rape capital of the world statistically. Some cultures have aspects that are dirty, but I do not wish to portray any culture entirely this way.

1

Dumai wrote

i'm not arguing it's morally justified because it has a cultural history, you could justify literally anything with that kind of argument. what i am saying is that its particular cultural history is morally complex and this means naming this practice as abusive could open the door to some worrying power dynamics.

2

____deleted____ wrote

I suppose I started the argument on a misinterpretation then tripped on my words and made bad comparisons multiple time. Looks like you've won this debate.

1

jerrimu wrote

So are you just as chill with cultures that practice FGM?

2

Dumai wrote (edited )

oh good i knew somebody would say this eventually, i never even said circumcision was morally justified what's so fucking hard to understand about this

nice job downplaying the function of genital mutilation as a practice of patriarchal violence by comparing it to circumcision though!

8

Blackbeard wrote

Wholly opposed to it when done to children or those otherwise unable to consent, beyond medical reasons. If you're an adult and want your penis to look a certain way, or you find you need to do it for medical reason, then by all means, do whatever you want with your body. Otherwise, it seems to stand to reason that the foreskin is there for a reason- if it was so detrimental to our health, I'm sure nature would have selected for people with limited/non-existent foreskin. As an uncut person, I would never want to be circumcised, so I'm thankful my parents didn't make that choice for me. For anybody who doesn't think it's child abuse, perhaps they have a different definition of abuse. I think that cutting off a part of somebody's body without their consent, and without anything to numb the pain, would constitute abuse, whether it's done for religious reasons or not. If we cut off the clitoral hood of females, I would certainly think that's wrong.

5

leftous wrote

I don't know if I would call it child abuse. But it is mutilation at the very least and I wish I had a choice in the matter.

5

kittybecca wrote

"oh hey look it's raddle.me, a place where i can enjoy all the benefits of reddit free from the toxicity!"

(wanders into thread)

"nope nevermind"

3

[deleted] wrote

4

Tequila_Wolf wrote

There's one recently-discovered (afaik) medical benefit - which is that it significantly makes it less likely that a person with the circumcision will get HIV from sex with people of some body types.

There are a few other potential medical gains, but this has probably never been the reason anyone has been circumcised as a child.

4

DissidentRage wrote

My understanding of it is that it's easier to get an infection when not cut but without wanting to look that up at work it makes sense to me that most of that can be curbed by just taking an extra measure to wash up when bathing.

4

Dumai wrote

i think one particularly horrid aspect of the medicalisation of circumcision, which is largely an american invention, is the association of uncircumcised penises with poor hygiene. something that kind of gets left unsaid in discussions of circumcision is that this literally functioned as classist and racist ideology by specifically excluding people too poor to have the kind of access to a doctor necessary for a medical circumcision

2

braketheboxes wrote

I think in the case of both circumcision and abortion that consenting adults should choose only for themselves.

2

dragontology wrote

I'm morally opposed to all infant genital mutilation, whether it's done to boys or girls. It's a cosmetic procedure that is done for reasons personal to the parents and/or community, so I agree with /u/libre_dev, it's child abuse. Specifically, it's child sexual abuse, since it's abuse of their sex organs. Now, I do realise that female genital mutilation is more invasive and in fact worse; however, both are bad and we should all, those of us who oppose either, that is, stand against all of it as a single offensive practice.

2

shanoxilt wrote

Too many damn cisgender heterosexuals in this discussion.

2

red_pepper wrote

I feel pretty bad about it. I wish it hadn't been done to me.

2

indi wrote

The rhetoric from both sides of this debate is often downright histrionic. On the "for" side people roll out either incredibly stupid arguments ("I want him to look like his father") or way oversell the medical benefits. On the "against" side, you get people who mindlessly call it "child abuse" because they can't really be arsed to give it any serious thought.

I've had to research this quite recently because there is someone trying to start a court case in Canada to get it banned. I've never been a fan of circumcision, and I'm not circumcised myself so I have no skin in the game (pun intended). But after doing the research the conclusion I came to is that while it's not something that should be done routinely, outright banning it is too far.

The reason why is that unlike with female circumcision (aka, female genital mutilation) there are actually quite a few medical benefits from circumcising penises. Most of the benefits are fairly slight - like a minor reduction in the likelihood of getting HIV when condoms are much more effective - but they're not completely zero. I don't have the list of benefits in front of me right now, so don't trust my memory, but recent research has shown that it reduces risk for: HIV, HPV, penile cancer, phimosis (obviously), and more. Furthermore, the evidence so far is that most of the benefit comes from early circumcision... so if you say "just wait till they're old enough", that won't work.

That all has to be balanced against the risks of the procedure. The one most of the frantic "against" people freak out about is decreased sensation, but that's actually something that hasn't been proven scientifically, so it's not a real risk under consideration. There are risks of complication during the procedure, as with all surgery. And of course, there is the issue of permanently altering the person's body without their consent.

So never mind all the people freaking out on the "for" and "against" sides. This is really a question of balancing risks. A caretaker and a medical professional have to balance the pros (reduced risk of all those ailments) against the cons (risk of the procedure, the fact that you're permanently altering the child's body). Right now, according to all the best science we have, it's too close to call. You could reasonably go either way, especially considering other factors. (For example, certain conditions may make it far too dangerous to do the procedure... on the other hand, taking into account the conditions the child will likely be raised in, the small benefits of circumcision may become very important.)

That's about where every medical organization in the world is at right now. In fact, there are several that said the procedure shouldn't be done at all a few years ago... but have changed their tune with the new data. The current recommendation from most medical organizations is that it shouldn't be done routinely... but it shouldn't be banned. Obviously a lot more quality research is needed, and maybe when more evidence comes in, the pendulum will swing firmly one way or the other. But for now, the science says: it's not usually recommended, but could be considered in some cases.

And because I base my own position on science and evidence, that's where I stand on the issue too.

7

selver wrote (edited )

Hmm. So you believe that there's no ethical dilemma about performing painful body modifications on those who are not able to consent, as long as it can be proven that it has more health benefits than risks? There's no concerns about bodily autonomy there? And what about psychological effects, have those been studied?

I'm not saying I disagree, just curious. The only actual counterpoints I can come up with are really just an appeal to nature, or makes an unjustified(?) assumption that not doing something without consent will always be more ethical than doing something without consent, regardless of the outcome. But accepting your position would also open the door to other possible child body mods.

How much of a benefit does there have to be before consent is not needed?

2

indi wrote

So you believe that there's no ethical dilemma about performing painful body modifications on those who are not able to consent, as long as it can be proven that it has more health benefits than risks?

It's not that I believe there's no ethical dilemma, it's more that I think the dilemma is both wildly overstated and simplified to the point of stupidity by opponents.

Concerns about consent and bodily autonomy, while very real, are usually taken to hysterical extremes. Parents and guardians are already expected to be the ones to provide consent in the name of children. We don't call parents "abusive" when they give their child a haircut the child doesn't like. Now, here opponents of circumcision would waffle by saying "oh, but it's just a haircut, it's not permanent"... but that's not the point. If you ran up to an adult and cut their hair without consent, that's straight-up assault. So, why isn't it assault to cut the hair of a child without consent?

(I can come up with examples of permanently "damaging" the child. But to do that, I have to point to "damage" done to an organ that most rabid anti-circumcision types never even give a thought to: the brain. Right from birth, parents are making choices "without the child's consent" that make permanent, irreversible changes to the child's brain. Everything a parent chooses to teach a child... and everything a parent chooses not to teach a child... permanently changes that child's brain, and those changes have monumental impact on their adult life.)

The point of that example is to illustrate that a lot of the opposition to circumcision is by people who really haven't thought it through, and carelessly apply adult rules to children.

The ethical dilemma isn't: "it's never right to permanently alter the body of a person without that person's consent". Parents/guardians do have the right to make permanent decisions for a child... they must have that right, because a child can't consent to a medical procedure in any case. The dilemma is: "what are the powers and limits a parent has in making permanent decisions for a child?".

And generally our answer to that in most modern societies is something to the tune of imagining what the child would choose if they had adult reasoning capacities and were making the "best" choice in their own interests. The tricky part is that "best" is a pretty subjective measure, and most adults don't exactly make the most rational choices even when they have the power of self-determination. It's not exactly crazy to suggest that an adult male might look around, see most of their friends circumcised and feel the judgment of partners who are used to circumcised men and think uncircumcised penises are "weird" (I once dated an American girl who told me that), and actually choose to be circumcised. Add in cultural/social/religious norms and the likelihood even increases. And I haven't even mentioned the medical benefits yet, but think about it: if the choice is between possible penile cancer versus an hour or two of pain as an infant when you're not even going to remember it... the choice isn't as obvious as circumcision opponents think.

And what about psychological effects, have those been studied?

I don't know if that's ever been studied, but if you think about it: almost a billion people are circumcised, including many millions of Americans... yet how often has this ever been a political issue? There are way more people in the US advocating for banning abortion or gay marriage - or even legalizing ayahuasca! - than there are advocating for banning circumcision. Even men, who should be more concerned about circumcision than about abortion because the latter is really of no impact to them, care more about those other things!

And aside from simply not caring, if there really were majorly noticeable psychological effects from circumcision, they would be pretty damn obvious. There are parts of the US where the number of circumcised men is over 80%, and some even higher... and some where it's as low as 20% or lower. Across Canada, the rates go from 5% to something like 40%. You'd think if there were measurable psychological effects, someone would have noticed them by now.

The only actual counterpoints I can come up with are really just an appeal to nature, or makes an unjustified(?) assumption that not doing something without consent will always be more ethical than doing something without consent, regardless of the outcome. But accepting your position would also open the door to other possible child body mods.

Yes, it might, which is why I'm not saying there is no dilemma.

I'd agree that "not doing something without consent will always be more ethical than doing something without consent" is probably a good rule of thumb. What bothers me is turning it into an absolute rule. A good rule of thumb is almost never a good rule when applied absolutely.

It's all about balance: going full tyrannical "the state decides what's best for a child and not the parents" is just as bad as going full libertarian "parents should be able to choose whatever they want for the child without state interference". And the balance will depend heavily on the situation in question; I don't believe it is possible to make a single, absolute rule that will cover everything.

Obviously sometimes the balance will be pretty damn clear. I don't think anyone can sanely argue that a parent should be able to say: "I think this baby will look so much cuter without all those arms and legs flailing around; honey, get me the saw!" But even that is a context-dependent choice: there may actually exist a society where most people like having no arms or legs (you can imagine some kind of science-fictional world where people truck around in exoskeletons and those who grew up limbless from infancy have an easier time of controlling them because no phantom pain and so on), so in that society, a rational adult might actually be angry their parents didn't saw off their limbs as a baby. (Or hell, even without speculating about science fictional societies, I could just be completely off base because I'm blinded by my ableist biases.)

I honestly can't think of a universal heuristic that will work in all cases. But I think this one comes close: Whatever choice is made, it has to be justified as being in the child's best interest. In other words, saying "I'm going to perform surgery on this child's face because I find it ugly" is not cool, but "I'm going to perform surgery on this child's face because they have a cleft lip and that could lead to infections, speech problems, and social ostracization for the child" is... even though we're talking about the same procedure in both cases.

Male circumcision sits in a fuzzy space straddling good reasons and bad reasons. "I'm going to circumcise my boy because God (or my religion) says so" is a stupid reason... but "I'm going to circumcise my boy because it will make him better fit in with our society/culture" is much less so. Is it enough to justify circumcision? I don't think so. But when you take that and add the potential medical benefits... it's not enough to make circumcision the right choice in all cases... but it's enough of a reason to make a blanket ban seem gratuitous.

How much of a benefit does there have to be before consent is not needed?

To reword what you're asking in another way that really highlights the problem: "How much control should we give the state over deciding what's best for children, rather than parents/guardians?"

The correct answer is - I hope obviously - not "total control", which is why a total ban on letting parents choose something that appears to do very little harm and even has some medical benefits feels like it's going too far.


For the record, because I don't think I've stated my own personal position: I am very opposed to circumcision of minors (without a medically justifiable reason, of course). I think it's stupid and barbaric. I think all the cultural, social, and religious justifications are stupid and not worth even considering. I acknowledge the medical benefits (and that's a new thing; just 5 or so years ago, there really wasn't enough evidence), but I don't think they're enough to justify the procedure. (In this, I am backed up by the Canadian Pediatric Society, which used to recommend against circumcision completely, but after the new evidence came in, now just recommends against routine circumcision.) I am not circumcised and neither is anyone in my family, and I would never even consider doing it to a child under my care.

However....

Given that there are proven medical benefits, and given that there are no medically-proven harms, and given that it's such an important custom in some cultures, I don't believe a complete ban on it is justified. In fact, I believe keeping it legal would be better, because then the procedures could all be done safely in a hospital. And doctors could warn parents of the potential risks, so at least they'd be getting both sides of the issue, and not just "everbody in my culture/region does it, so I'll do it to". (I would say banning non-hospital circumcisions is fine, though.)

My own personal opposition to it doesn't give me the right to dictate to others, and I don't really have any solid science or reason to back me up. I don't like it... but without the evidence or logic to back me up, I can't justify forcing my beliefs on others in this case.

Besides, rates of circumcision are dropping rapidly worldwide. We don't need to ban it. It's going away on its own. People are figuring out for themselves that it's a stupid and barbaric practice. At this point, banning it might even be counterproductive. Sometimes the best way to fight a regressive ideology or practice is to simply step back and let it die of its own stupidity.

2

Dumai wrote (edited )

i think you're right to be skeptical, especially because western-sponsored circumcision campaigns in southern africa to combat hiv have had pretty damaging racist consequences. however the fact that these health benefits do exist (and they're one reason why west africa, with its generally higher rate of circumcision, has a much lower rate of hiv) mean we, at the very least, should not call parents who make this decision abusive.

1

jerrimu wrote

I'm circumcised and not bitter about it, didn't do it to my son though.