Friday, September 20, 2013

REPOST: Of Ecstasy and Rape, Surgery and Mutilation

Touched off by a recent post on the Intact America blog and the responses it got (not to mention that wanted to correct a glaringly obvious spelling mistake, and make a few other minor changes), I decided to re-post my blog entry "Of Ecstasy and Rape, Surgery and Mutilation."

Of Ecstasy and Rape, Surgery and Mutilation
Original Date of Publication: May 4, 2013

Male circumcision has been called "rape" and/or "mutilation" before, and many, even amongst intactivists themselves, object, either because they themselves find it inappropriate, or because they're afraid others might, thus pushing people away from the message of intactivism.

But are "rape" and "mutilation" so different from male circumcision, that comparing them is inappropriate, if not insulting?

What is rape?
Rape is the act of forcing another person to perform sex acts against his or her consent. The act may involve the usage of drugs to impair a victim's judgement, or even memory.

Traditionally, rape happens when a man forces a woman to perform sex acts on him. However, rape between two men, two women, and yes, even a woman forcing another man, is also possible.

When are sex acts NOT rape?

When both people are consenting adults, sex between two people is not rape.

Consent is the difference between ecstasy and rape.

When one person is forcing another person to perform sex acts against his/her express wishes, then rape is being committed.

What is mutilation?
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "mutilation" as thus:

1: to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect (e.g. the child mutilated the book with his scissors)
2: to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of ; cripple
When are these things NOT "mutilation?"

When either of these things are performed as a matter of medical necessity, and there is no alternative option, they are not mutilation.

In addition, when these things are performed upon the request of a consenting adult, they are not mutilation.

Medical necessity and/or informed consent is the difference between surgery and mutilation.

What is circumcision?
In males, circumcision is the excision of the fold of flesh that covers the head of the penis. The procedure may or may not involve the use of drugs to kill the pain or impair the judgement of the person in question. Though there are speculative medical pretexts for circumcision, it is usually performed for cultural, traditional or religious, non-medical reasons, on healthy, non-consenting minors ranging between the newborn and pre-pubescent period, sometimes as far as the post-pubescent period. Very few circumcisions take place as a matter of actual medical necessity.

How is circumcision like rape?
At the crux of the intactivist argument is the principle of consent.

Circumcision can be compared to rape, because it is taking advantage of a minor to forcibly perform a permanent, disfiguring procedure on his sexual organs without his consent.

As in rape, the principle violated is the principle of consent, and the fact that pain killing drugs are used, and/or that the male victim may not be able to recall the event is irrelevant.

When is circumcision NOT like rape?

When it is performed on a fully consenting adult.

As in rape, the principle violated is that of consent.*

Because another, otherwise intelligent person, is forcing circumcision on another, non-consenting person, without his consent, sometimes against his express wishes, circumcision can be comparable to rape.

*Sometimes circumcision may be medically indicated in a minor that is not able to consent. When it has been determined that circumcision is medically indicated, and there are no other methods of treatment, circumcision is not comparable to rape. Reserving surgery as a very last resort is, however, standard medical practice governing all other forms of surgery.

How is circumcision mutilation?
From the definitions the online Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us, it is the first definition,
 1: to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect (e.g. the child mutilated the book with his scissors)
that applies to both male and female circumcision, because it is "cutting up" or "altering radically so as to make [them] imperfect." 

Circumcision advocates often try to dismiss the notion that male circumcision is "mutilation" using definition 2,  

2: to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of ; cripple
"because the foreskin is not a limb or an essential part of" a person.

If by the 2nd definition male circumcision isn't "mutilation," then female circumcision isn't "mutilation" either.

Some may make the claim that female circumcision destroys a woman's ability to experience orgasm, but research shows this claim to be false. There are varying degrees of female genital cutting, and scientific evidence shows that even women undergoing the most severe form of female genital cutting are still able to experience orgasm. It is demonstrably proven that a clitoris is not necessary for experiencing orgasm and a satisfying sex life. For further reading on this subject, please click here.

When is circumcision NOT mutilation?

When it is performed as a matter of medical necessity, and there is no alternative option, circumcision is not mutilation. (This is actually standard medical practice that governs all other forms of surgery.)

In addition, when it is performed upon the request of a consenting adult, it is not mutilation.
Medical necessity and/or informed consent is the difference between surgery and mutilation.

Consent is at the center of the intactivist argument
Ladies who are interested in getting their labia removed, their clitoris permanently exposed, or any other surgical alterations to their genital organs can find the appropriate surgeon and schedule an appointment.

The removal of the clitoral hood and external labia are known as "clitoral unroofing" and "labiaplasty" respectively.  They are perfectly legal for the appropriate surgeons to perform at the request of the interested woman.

Forcibly performing any of these acts on a healthy, non-consenting minor constitutes "genital mutilation," and is punishable by law, and there is no exception for "religious beliefs."

The difference is consent.

There is nothing wrong with male circumcision, if, indeed, becoming circumcised is the express wish of the adult male in question.

It is forcibly circumcising a healthy, non-consenting minor which is a problem.

Tattoos are beautiful to some. There is nothing wrong with a tattoo, as long a person is giving his full consent. A person interested in getting a tattoo need only walk into a tattoo parlor and make the proper arrangements, s/he is free to do as she wishes with her own body.

US sailor agrees to have his body tattooed

It is forcibly tattooing a person against his or her wishes which is a problem.

An Auschwitz survivor displays his identification tattoo

Yes, I am against forcibly piercing a minor's ears as well.

The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genetic anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. Neither is it a medical condition like a ruptured appendix or diseased gall bladder. Neither is it a dead part of the body, like the umbilical cord, hair, or fingernails.

The foreskin is not "extra skin." The foreskin is normal, natural, healthy, functioning tissue, with which all boys are born; it is as intrinsic to male genitalia as labia are to female genitalia.

Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of a healthy, non-consenting individual is a deliberate wound; it is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue, the permanent disfigurement of normal, healthy organs, and by very definition, infant genital mutilation, and a violation of the most basic of human rights.

I don't compare circumcision to rape; without consent, or a medical necessity, circumcision IS rape.

I don't compare circumcision to mutilation; without a medical necessity, circumcision IS mutilation.

Is male circumcision "rape?"

Here. You decide.

In Indonesia, an infant girl undergoes "sunat" to fulfill religious and cultural tradition.

Not too far away, an infant boy undergoes circumcision for precisely the same reasons.
(Notice the mother: "Shh! Quiet!")

It is only through sexist double-think that we allow ourselves to feel disgust for only one of these pictures.

The views I express in this blog are my own individual opinion, and they do not necessarily reflect the views of all intactivists. I am but an individual with one opinion, and I do not pretend to speak for the intactivist movement as a whole, thank you.


External Link:

Related Posts:
Of Ecstacy and Rape, Surgery and Mutilation

Circumcision is Child Abuse: A Picture Essay

Politically Correct Research: When Science, Morals and Political Agendas Collide

Saturday, September 14, 2013

AUSTRALIA: "Circumcision Debate" - Australian Sensationalism?

The "Great Circumcision Controversy" Trope
Audiences may not be aware at first glance, but media outlets are perpetrators of what I call the "Great Circumcision Controversy" trope. That is to say, that they are taking advantage of viewer gullibility, not to mention the fact that circumcision, particularly the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting infants, is a custom that is already deeply entrenched in some cultures, to create "controversy" where there is actually none.

How it works
In order to encourage the belief that male infant circumcision is a surgery that is carried out for medical reasons, media outlets present it as a controversial and ongoing "debate" between altruistic "expert" medical authorities, who pretend to vouch for male infant circumcision as "disease prevention" and "parental choice," and the resistance of extremist "special interest" groups who have nothing better to do than meddle in these affairs. This portrayal of reality, however, is not at all consistent with the view of male infant circumcision given in the position statements of world medical authorities.

Media Hype vs. Reality
While the media presents male infant circumcision as an "ongoing debate" going on between medical "experts" and "angry activists," the reality of the matter is that the trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations.

The fact is that no respected medical board in the world recommends circumcision for infants, not even in the name of HIV prevention. All medical organizations in the West state that the current body of evidence is insufficient to recommend the circumcision of infants.

Though it may come as a surprise to some, this does include the AAP. Advocates of circumcision bandy about the line from the recent AAP statement that "the benefits outweigh the risks," but they fail to mention that the same statement said these self-same "benefits" were not great enough to recommend circumcision for newborns.

Australian Media Perpetuates "The Great Circumcision Controversy"
Australian media outlets continuously perpetuate the false delusion that there is this "great circumcision debate" going on regarding the circumcision of infants.

It always goes something like this; They always claim that "a group of experts agree" that circumcision has these "medical benefits," the "experts" always being the same usual suspects. The spokesperson is usually Brian Morris, whom they always present as an "expert," never actually mentioning his credentials, which would reveal that he is actually not qualified in any way to talk about the subject. He and other "experts" are put up against activists against circumcision, which may or may not be better equipped.

There is a tendency in most of the media, not just Australian media, to misrepresent the circumcision issue. Placing the cart before the horse, and beating around the bush, they focus attention secondary issues that aren't actually being contested.

One of the latest Australian media outlets to push the "great circumcision controversy" was the 60 Minutes television program. It follows the usual format stated above, citing the same usual suspects, who are put up against "non-expert" activists who are angry about circumcision.

Asks 60 minutes:

The question in the above picture misses the point entirely. No debate on any other surgical procedure begins with such a loaded question. More than "wrong," or "right," is circumcision medically necessary? If it is a medically necessary procedure, there is no "wrong" or "right" about it.

Similar loaded questions are asked.

"Should parents be allowed to have their children circumcised?"

"Should it be banned?"

They all, either intentionally, or inadvertently, avoid the crux of the argument. If circumcision is not medically or clinically indicated, then asking whether circumcision is "wrong" or "right" is irrelevant. Nobody is debating whether or not doctors should be allowed to perform surgery where it is medically necessary.

Without medical or clinical indication, can a doctor even be performing surgery on a healthy, non-consenting minor, let alone be giving parents any kind of "choice?" Let alone be expected to be reimbursed by public coffers?

Media outlets do a very good job of circumventing the questions that actually need to be asked.

Circumcision "Experts" Strike Again
Articles fueling the so-called "circumcision debate" are common fare at, and they prop up Brian Morris and friends as a so-called "circumcision experts" regularly.

On this blog post, I will dissect their most recent circumcision article, which opens with the headline:

"Experts call for reintroduction of circumcisions in NSW public hospitals"

Who are the "experts" calling for said reintroduction? Australian media outlets may not be immediately forthcoming, but those who have been following circumcision in Australian media outlets know precisely who they are.

In tiny letters below the staple baby picture it is written:

"The circumcision debate is back on."

Well, at least on it is...

In bold lettering, the first sentence of the article reads:

"INFANT circumcisions must be reintroduced into NSW public hospitals as a necessary and cost effective public health measure, according to an international panel of doctors, lawyers and ethicists."

The suspense is killing me. An "international panel of doctors, lawyers and ethicists," we are told. Who called this panel to convene? Where was this panel held? Who were the said "doctors, lawyers and ethicists" it was composed of? But most importantly, why does it sound as if this said "panel" were taking a position against the most respected medical authorities in the West? (Hint: Because they are.)

Continues the article:
"And failure to do so violates a child's right to protection from potentially fatal diseases and infections including penile cancer and HPV and HIV viruses."

Many dubious premises abound here, the first being that circumcision is, in fact, a "necessary and cost effective public health measure." The "experts" in the aforementioned "panel" may "agree," but no medical organization in the world recommends the circumcision of infants, as such. In fact all of them, including the AAP, and Australia's very own RACP, say that the so-called "benefits" are insufficient to do so.

Circumcision does not, cannot "protect" against penile cancer, HPV, nor HIV. A circumcised man is still susceptible to these, and any disease an intact man is susceptible to. A circumcised man is still capable of developing penile cancer, and, he is still vulnerable to HPV and HIV, and any other STD. Circumcision FAILS to protect a man against any STD, which is why he must wear a condom.

Any "expert" that denies these very simple, irrefutable facts, can be dismissed as a quack.

Let's continue.

"Sydney University academics were among a panel of experts which on Friday published an international critique strongly denouncing a Tasmanian Law Reform report which proposed banning circumcision."

How absolutely disingenuous of Daniela Ongaro, "health reporter."

Let us read from the "critique" itself. At the very top of the article, it reads:

"Corresponding author: Brian J Morris"

This should already be raising red flags.

Down, under the heading "Author's Contributions," it says:

"MJB and BJM drafted the manuscript."

 MJB and BJM being Michael J. Bates, and Brian J. Morris respectivey.

Continues the passage:

"BJM, MJB, JBZ, SEK, AM, ADW, LSZ and AART made substantial contributions to successive drafts and thereby the intellectual content of this article."

It sounds as though Brian Morris would like to give himself credibility by association. He actually lacks the credentials necessary to be speaking about medical or legislative matters, as we will see later on, so he depends on the "substantial contributions" from others who actually do.

"All authors read and approved the final manuscript."

Which was drafted primarily by Michael Bates and Brian Morris.

"Sydney University academics were among a panel of experts" tries to make it sound like Michael Bates and Brian Morris were "a part of" a so-called "panel of experts," when actually, they are actually the ring leaders. And "international critique" tries to make it sound like entire medical boards of different nations have come together to denounce Tasmanian Law Reform, when actually, it's just Brian Morris with a little help from his friends.

Falsely lending credibility to a man with no medical credentials whatsoever, and with a known track record for promoting "compulsory circumcision" for all males in Australia? And exaggerating his most recent paper, which is nothing more than more of the same pro-circumcision propaganda he writes as an "international critique?"

Seriously, Daniela Ongaro, who do you think you're fooling.

Let's move on:

"It was feared the report could pave the way for legislation which would criminalise the practice and potentially jail doctors and parents if a child were circumcised."

This much is actually true. But "feared" by whom?

"The recommendations are illogical, pose potential dangers and seem unworkable in practice," said author and legal expert Michael Bates.

Judging from the article itself, Michael Bates may be the only legal expert of the group of 8. There would appear to be only one ethicist, and the rest seem to hail from medical schools. The phrasing "a panel of lawyers, doctors and ethicists" hides these numbers.

"A legislative ban in Tasmania would fuel the vigorous campaigning against childhood male circumcision by opponents worldwide."

I think this is the fear that has Brian Morris' undies in a bunch; a legislative ban would put a definitive nail in the coffin to his pipe dream of "compulsory universal circumcision" for Australian males.

Continues the article:

"Sydney University's Professor Emertitus (Is this even a word?) Brian Morris said there is strong medical evidence of the lifelong health benefits of infant circumcision and called on all governments to make the procedure again available in public hospitals with an increased Medicare rebate."

Medical evidence which was insufficient for the AAP, nor the RACP, nor any other respected medical board in the world, to endorse the practice.

"The O'Farrell Govenment should absolutely act on this now - I have talked to them and nothing's been done which is just appalling," Prof Morris said.

And who is Brian Morris? And why should anyone listen? We'll get to that in a minute, just as soon as I finish destroying this poor excuse for a news article:

"In NSW routine circumcisions of baby boys are not performed in public hospitals unless there is a medical need."

Which is usually the way medicine works.

Strangely enough, there is a lone sentence in bold, floating in the middle of the article that reads:

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comment below
But it leads nowhere. There is no way to comment. Curiouser and curiouser...

Media outlets often present circumcision "experts" as "objective," "impartial," and/or "dispassionate" authorities on the matter of circumcision, when, in fact, they are passionate circumcision enthusiasts, quite a few who are members of circumcision fan clubs.

It should strike viewers as odd that, rather than bothering to invite someone from a reputable medical organization, such as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), to speak on the matter, Australian news outlets place more weight on what a few self-proclaimed "experts" who directly contradict the stance of Australia’s peak medical bodies have to say.

Who is Brian Morris? And why should he be given any credibility?

Brian Morris is the most vocal circumcision promoter in Australia. Brian Morris is no expert on circumcision (though he likes to market himself as one, and the Australian media has swallowed the act, hook, line and sinker), but merely an enthusiastic circumcision fanatic of long standing. He neither holds degrees (nor genuine interests) in surgery, urology, pediatrics, nor epidemiology, and his field of study is only remotely related to medicine (he is a molecular biologist and professor of molecular medical sciences at the University of Sydney). He is in no way an authority on circumcision, much less male genitalia, child care, nor disease prevention, and much less, law.

And yet, Morris is constantly producing publications for parents compelling them to circumcise their children, and the Australian media is constantly giving him the spotlight, calling him an "expert" on the topic of circumcision, oftentimes uncontested by any real authority on the matter. Furthermore, he is a prolific publisher of "studies" and "appraisals" of circumcision, which are basically Brian Morris quoting himself, and repeating inconclusive or flawed circumcision "research," and calling for the RACP to instate "mandatory circumcision" for all males in Australia.

Morris is (was?) also an outspoken member of Gilgal Society, a UK-based club for circumcision enthusiasts, known to be a meeting place for people who have a sexual fixation for the circumcised penis, and/or derive sexual gratification from the act of circumcision itself. Members, called "circumfetishists" by some, discuss the erotic stimulation they experience by watching other males being circumcised, swap erotic fiction and trade videotapes of actual circumcisions, and justify circumcision and their enthusiasm for it by wrapping it in pseudo-scientific jargon. Gilgal has actually published circumcision erotica involving underage boys. The head of Gilgal Society, Vernon Quaintance, was arrested not too long ago for the possession of child pornography.

Up until recently, Brian Morris' name could be found in pamphlets, alongside the Gilgal Society logo. Since the Gilgal scandal, he has tried to sponge out his ties to Gilgal, by releasing new pamphlets without the logo. Gilgal Society no longer seems to serve Brian Morris purpose of a functional club for circumcision enthusiasts, so he decided to start his own circumcision club in Australia.

Brian Morris also runs a website which he uses to promote circumcision, which was at one point hosted on University of Sydney servers. He was recently asked to move it elsewhere, as the University of Sydney found content on it that was inappropriate. Brian Morris links to Gilgal Society, as well as eight other "recommended" circumfetish websites, and he also includes a list of places to get circumcision devices.

Accusations of Libel
Brian Morris' favorite thing to do when he feels threatened by others revealing damning information about him, is to accuse them of "libel."

Typing "libel" in google yields the following definition:
noun: libel; plural noun: libels
a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.
synonyms:defamation, defamation of character, character assassination, calumny, misrepresentation, scandalmongering;

"Libel" and "slander" are basically written and spoken ad hominem respectively, and Brian Morris might have a case, if anything I have said about him on this blog were untrue. To my knowledge, everything I have written about Brian Morris in this blog post is verifiably true. If any corrections need to be made, I welcome them in my comments section.

Brian Morris does not hold medical credentials of any kind, he takes a position against the most respected medical authorities in the West, including Australia's RACP. He is, or once was, a prominent member of Gilgal Society, a club for circumcision enthusiasts, and a known publisher of underage circumcision erotica, and he consorts with members other similar circumcision clubs, such as CircList. He is in no way an authority on circumcision, much less male genitalia, child care, nor disease prevention, and much less, law.

Some may yet argue that I am engaging in ad hominem. However, pointing out conflicts of interest is not "ad hominem." The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia's entry on ad hominem (last accessed 9/15/2013):

Conflict of Interest: Where a source seeks to convince by a claim of authority or by personal observation, identification of conflicts of interest are not ad hominem – it is generally well accepted that an "authority" needs to be objective and impartial, and that an audience can only evaluate information from a source if they know about conflicts of interest that may affect the objectivity of the source. Identification of a conflict of interest is appropriate, and concealment of a conflict of interest is a problem.

It ought to concern the Australian media, the University of Sydney, and respected medical authorities, that Brian Morris lacks any credentials to be speaking on the matter of circumcision, that he may be abusing the prestige of the University of Sydney for his own agenda, and that close inspection reveals his connections to circumfetish groups. While he may outwardly portray an interest in child well-being and public health, this seems to conflict with a perverted interest in the circumcision of minors.

Points to note:
  • The Tasmanian Law Reform Intstitute findings follow the 20yr old findings of the Queensland Law Reform Commission, where, as in Germany, they found circumcision to be an assault, on a strict interpretation of the law.
  • Circumcision is banned in Australian public hospitals.
  • Fewer than 1 in 1,000 registered doctors will circumcise a heathy child.
  • Two states are circumciser free.
  • An Australian Doctor survey in 2012 found over half of respondents consider circumcision "tantamount to child abuse and should never be performed".
  • In 2007, the Australian Medical Association 'backed a call for laws banning the non-essential circumcision of infant boys'.
  • Circumcision was near universal for a few generations until the '60s and virtually abandoned in the '70s.
  • A 1993 Queensland Law Reform Commission report into Infant Male Circumcision (following the death of a boy) found circumcision to constitute "an assault", violating both the State's Criminal Code and the Common Law.
  • A 2012 Tasmanian Law Reform Institute report recommended a general ban on the practice.
  • Australian 'media doctor', Dr John Darcy, outlines the position of the Australian medical community in 30 seconds flat in this YouTube video.
  • Only a small number of people in Australia publicly advocate for circumcision. You can meet them here.

Related Links:
WASHINGTON POST: The "Great Controversy" Strikes Again

NYTimes Plugs PrePex, Consorts With Known Circumfetish Organization

CIRCUMGATE: UK Circumfetish Czar Finally Caught Red-Handed