It's been a while since I've posted on this blog. I've been busy with life, but male infant genital mutilation and how deeply entrenched it has become in my home culture still pisses me off.
Infant Genital Mutilation: Is It To Laugh?
Male infant circumcision is so entrenched in American culture that joking about it is common fare. If male infant genital mutilation weren't so accepted today, people would most likely think that these random insertions of mutilation jokes in our media was bizarre. Indeed, Europeans do think it's weird to see these jokes sprinkled into American television series and sitcoms. They don't think it's funny. That's because it's not funny. It's not funny, but Americans need to convince themselves that it is, so that they feel better about what they allow to happen to their baby boys 3,000 times a day.
Why do people laugh at something as tragic as male infant circumcision?
In the words of one person:
“Sometimes people laugh when something is sad because they are trying to deflect going deeper into their emotions,” says Hopkins-Alvarez.
“This may be an unconscious process that is occurring, not necessarily a conscious one.” In other words, your mind is putting up a type of wall to combat these overwhelming emotions—and it’s totally normal.
The reason people joke about male infant circumcision is to prevent themselves from seeing it for the sad tragedy that it is. Jokes about male genital mutilation serve the same function as anesthetic; it serves to try and numb the pain. The only problem is that, even when the anesthetic wears off, the reality of a mutilated penis and missing foreskin is indelible that it stays there for life.
"A man is circumcised as a baby when he is too young to remember," some might say, in an attempt to belittle a circumcised man's feelings of resentment. "How can he remember?" A circumcised man is reminded of his circumcision every time he
urinates, showers, masturbates or makes love. The question is, "How could
Even if he can't actually remember, the scar is there day in and day out to remind him for the rest of his life.
Ergo, these "jokes" must continue as long as a male person is alive, and as long as male infant genital mutilation continues as a "custom" or "social norm." That is the purpose these male genital mutilation jokes serve.
They've always been there...
Male infant circumcision jokes aren't new. You can look back on American media through the years, and they're there. They've always been there, but perhaps they've just happened so much that by this time it's so unoriginal the joke has become as old and worn as that famous riddle about a chicken crossing the road. They're not funny. They really aren't. Again, they're there to serve one purpose; numb Americans to what's happened to them, what's happened to their husbands and what's happened to their children.
Check out this link for a list of male infant circumcision references on American television.
In my opinion, this is part of a bigger problem of belittling and disparaging men. Along with male genital mutilation jokes, it's not uncommon to see men being hit in the balls in movies and TV sitcoms as a comical device. Violence on boys and men and their genitals is funny, violence on girls and women is not.
Male infant genital mutilation jokes need to stop.
The Elephant-sized Circumcision Scar in the Room
I'm going to dare and say something that others dare not, because it's politically incorrect to do so, and any criticism of anyone who identifies themselves as "Jewish", however removed from the religion or from Jewish ancestry they may be (the one-drop rule), will be condemned as a "Nazi." It's already considered to be "anti-semitic" to criticize male infant circumcision as it is.
Any criticism of Jews or Judaism must be preceded by disclaimers, so here are mine:
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.
I speak out against the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors in any way, shape or form. I make no exception for "religion" nor "cultural practice" of any kind. Please do not conflate my disdain for the forced circumcision of minors with a belittlement of circumcised men, or a hate for Jews.
Male infant circumcision is not unique to Judaism; in the US, 80% of males are circumcised, only 0.6% or so who are Jews circumcised at a bris. It's disingenuous to paint criticism of male infant circumcision as "an attack on Jews and Judaism" when it has become such an ingrained part of American culture.
This day and age, not all Jewish men are circumcised, and not all Jewish families circumcise their children. Some of the most outspoken people in our movement happen to be Jewish. Alternative ceremonies exist, such as the Bris Shalom, for families choosing to forgo the ritual cutting. I myself am an appreciator of Jewish tradition, music and culture.
If I'm pointing something out, it's not out of hate for Jewish people, it's out of disdain for the forced genital cutting of minors and the violation of the most basic of human rights.
Commence My Pointing-Out
One thing that bothers me about male infant genital mutilation humor on television is that it seems it's almost always written by Jewish people.
I look up sitcoms where male infant genital mutilation is a joke, Seinfeld, Sex in the City, The Simpsons, The Nanny, and there they are. It's simply no secret that a lot of writers for American sitcoms happen to be Jewish.
And, of course, most, if not all of the time, it's not merely a joke about circumcision; it has to be the Jewishness of circumcision as a plot device.
On Seinfeld, Cosmo Kramer is being asked to be the sandek (the guy who holds the baby as the mohel fillets him), on The Simpsons, Krusty's father is about to perform a bris on a baby, on Sex and the City, Charlotte is Jewish, so her boyfriend must be circumcised (they play Jewish music and everything). The list goes on and on.
It's not just sitcoms; it's movies too. Remember Ms. Doubtfire?
"What's gribenes? Why do people have moils?"
And who could forget Robin Hood: Men in Tights?
Robin Hood: A moyel... I don't believe I've ever heard of that profession.
Rabbi Tuckman: A moyel is a very important guy. He makes circumcisions.
Scarlet: What, pray tell, sir, is a circumcision?
Rabbi Tuckman: It's the latest craze. The ladies love it!
Most Americans aren't Jewish, so they wouldn't understand half of what's going on, where for most Americans who are circumcised or who allowed this on their children it was a question of signing a consent form and not having to even be present for their child's mutilation procedure. So why is humor as it would pertain to a Jewish audience being thrust on the American public?
I think I can understand why; self-preservation.
American males are already pre-dominantly circumcised, at about 80% of US males circumcised from birth, so the idea of male infant circumcision isn't all that foreign. However in recent years, male infant circumcision as "medicine" has come under scrutiny. Indeed, there was a time in the 80's where the American Academy of Pediatrics was already advising that male infant circumcision shouldn't be done. When male infant circumcision as "medicine" is questioned, next would be the ritual of male infant circumcision as performed by adherents of Judaism. Perhaps Jewish authors think that constantly inserting circumcision as a Jewish ritual in the American psyche might inoculate American culture against the outright questioning of what is the most cherished Jewish tradition.
We must look at the history of male infant circumcision and understand where Jews are coming from.
Jewish people have been on the defensive about the ritual mutilation of male infant babies since the time of the Maccabees. Among other things, Antiochus prohibited male infant circumcision. Jews were mocked by the Greeks, where Jewish men would attempt to regrow their foreskins by stretching out the remnants. (The rabbis at the time looked down on this and thus added the "peri'ah" procedure of ripping every last bit of the foreskin from the penile shaft so as to prevent restoration; this alone is why medicalized male infant circumcision is what it is today.) Jews were feared by Europeans, and stories of Jews using gentile baby blood to make matzo were invented to slander them (blood libel). On top of all of this, circumcision was prohibited by Nazi Germany and used as a marker to find Jews during the Holocaust. It is no surprise, then, that there would be Jewish comedy writers seeking to make light of this the most contentious ritual for Jewish people in order to normalize it and make acceptable to their audiences, especially in America, where most men are circumcised anyway.
Male Circumcision in American Medicine and Medical Literature
It might not be that big of a problem if it were merely Jewish comedy writers writing male infant genital mutilation into American comedy, but it doesn't stop there.
The propagation of male infant circumcision as "medicine" has been a great vindication and a boon for Jews. Whereas in the past, male infant circumcision was something Jews were ashamed about and didn't openly discuss, and circumcision in and of itself wasn't openly discussed in general, save to disparage it, today it's a common procedure in the United States and it's discussed in terms of "potential medical benefits." It was first touted as a way to stop boys and men from masturbating, and it has since been pushed as a way to prevent almost every disease imaginable, from bed-wetting, to asthma, to cancer, to STDs. It is currently pushed as a preventative measure for HIV in Africa. As it is currently thought of as a "preventative measure," Jews no longer have to hide this practice and openly flaunt the fact that they circumcise their children. They're out of the closet, so to speak, and it goes without saying that they aim to stay that way.
I've already discussed Jewish authors and the Jewishness of circumcision as a plot device in American comedy, but let's look at Jewish authors of medical literature on the subject.
Look into medical literature, and you'll find that there is a disproportionate number of Jewish authors all purporting the "benefits" of male infant circumcision. Look throughout the history of male infant circumcision as medical panacea and you'll see many Jewish names.
It was Aaron J. Fink who invented the idea that male circumcision might prevent HIV transmission out of thin air; to date a demonstrable causal link is yet to be furnished. It was Edgar Schoen who steered the American Academy of Pediatrics from recommending against male infant circumcision. It's authors like Daniel Halperin who continue writing literature attempting to marry male circumcision to the reduction of HIV and other STDs. (There has yet to be a demonstrable causal link between male circumcision and the reduction HIV transmission furnished; to date, there is none.) It's Jewish directors like AAP director Susan Blank and CDC director Thomas Frieden that make sure male infant circumcision has a secure place in American medicine. (Current CDC director is Rochelle Walensky. More circumcision promotion shouldn’t be too surprising.)
The Gomco Clamp, quite possibly the most widely used instrument for male infant circumcision second only to the Mogen clamp, was invented by Hiram S. Yellen, M.D. and Aaron A. Goldstein. (Incidentally, the Mogen clamp was also a Jewish invention.)
My intention is not to accuse Jewish people as a whole. That's not it at
all. As I've already said, some of the most outspoken voices in our
movement happen to be Jewish. I'm sure that most Jewish people don't
give this procedure any further thought than that, it's a Jewish
tradition, if a boy is born, he is circumcised and that's that. What I'm
saying is that there seems to be a disproportionate group of dedicated
Jewish authors with a religious conviction to defend what has been
historically a problematic ritual writing medical literature and writing
public health policy that affects the rest of the country and this is a
serious conflict of interest.
Adherents of Judaism have a religious conviction to circumcise their male children from birth, to minimize or outright dismiss adverse outcomes from circumcision, while exaggerating its "medical benefits." This conviction is at odds with the capacity to give neutral, unbiased, dispassionate, objective information and a genuine concern for public health. Religious adherence to beliefs is a problem that in any other case is called out. Creationism comes to mind. While we point out that adherents to Catholicism writing literature on abortion and birth control is a problem, while we condemn Islamic doctors who defend female genital cutting, Jewish doctors writing medical literature on male circumcision get a free pass. Why is that?
In 2012, Dr. Hatem Elhagaly, medical doctor and fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics, was fired from Mayo Clinic for saying that female circumcision was recommended and even an "honor" for women. There were even calls on Change.org to have his certifications revoked.
~Dr. Hatem Elhagaly MD
In 2018, Dr Ali Selim said "We see female circumcision in the same way we see male circumcision. It might be needed for one person and not another, and it has to be done by a doctor and practised in a safe environment." For this, he has been openly criticized by various health organizations.
then they should seek the advice of their doctor
as it can be necessary for medical reasons."
~Dr. Ali Selim"
When defending male infant circumcision, what it usually boils down to is "It's culture, it's religion, it's tradition," yet "culture," nor religion, nor "tradition" are ever enough to justify any sort of female genital cutting. "It's just a little piece of skin" minimizes male infant circumcision, but the same amount of flesh would never be justified to be removed in girls or women.
(Female infant circumcision is a thing in South-East Asia)
I want readers to note the stark contrast and double-standards with which we judge male and female genital cutting. "Religion, custom and tradition" justify only male infant circumcision. The "little snip" narrative disappears when comparing the flesh removed side by side. Religious doctors attempting to clothe their tradition and religious believes can't pass muster this day and age. But yet, no one seems to think it's a problem when "studies" showing the "benefits" if male infant circumcision and medical policy based on them are written by adherents of a religion where male infant circumcision is seen as divine commandment.
on the eighth day of his life. But I did it for religious,
not medical reasons. I did it because I had 3,000 years
of ancestors looking over my shoulder."
~Dr. Andrew Freedman, AAP Circumcision Taskforce 2012
The Shaming of French and Intact Men on HBO Max's "Generation"
There is not a doubt in my mind that there are a number of Jewish people in high places dedicated to protecting, safeguarding, purporting and propagating male infant genital mutilation, the goal of which is nothing more than the preservation of what is possibly their most cherished tradition.
Screenwriter Daniel Barnz is no exception.
I saw the cover picture of this blog post on my Facebook feed today, and I thought I just had to post this. I would have thought that the male infant genital mutilation joke had grown to be so unoriginal so as to be dead by now, and yet, here it is on HBO in 2021.
I decided to look up Daniel Barnz' Wikipedia page, and there it was. It always is.
Why is it that when you see male infant genital mutilation jokes it always turns out to be a Jewish person doing it?
I ask, but as I've already shown, I think we all know why.
More protection, more normalization, more promotion of male infant genital mutilation to the American masses.
The point, aim and goal of these jokes are clear.
Here, we have school girls joking about male infant genital mutilation. Oh Tee hee! How funny!
One of the girls says "I prefer circumcised to uncircumcised."
The other says "Doesn't being uncircumcised mean dick cheese?", followed by an obviously faked, obviously forced "Tee hee."
message is clear; girls like circumcised penis, so girls watching this,
have your sons circumcised. Men, you don't want to be made fun of, so
insist on circumcision because "dick cheese."
First of all, this idea needs to strike people as odd; a school girl of high school age has already been around the block enough times that she has a preference for what kinds of penises she "prefers."
In the United States, where is she going to find all these intact men?
Male infant circumcision rates are falling, as low as 56.7% according to the CDC, but even so 80% of men are circumcised from birth. (Men already circumcised from birth aren't all going to suddenly disappear because the circumcision rate has fallen.)
And, of course, the girl who has the penis preference is a person of color.
So what's the message here?
The white girl is the stupid, air-headed inexperienced one, the black girl is the one who's the experienced slut who knows all there is to know about penises.
Like, do people not stop and think about the overt racial stereotyping that's going on here?
I'd like to bring attention to what's being said; the dialogue goes something like:
"Doesn't being uncircumcised mean dick cheese? Tee hee..."That's not a direct transcription; I really don't want to watch this again to get the exact quotes, but the joke went something along these lines.
"Isn't everyone circumcised?"
"No, they don't do it in France. But that's because they like stinky cheese."
Jews hold French people in disdain for eating pork and not being
circumcised. And that disdain is showing up here. It's also blatant misinformation the American public is being force-fed. Of course, the French
are not the only people who don't mutilate their boys at birth, at 70%
of men in the world being intact, Jews and Muslims are in the minority.
But just notice how the stab is specifically against French people and
how being uncircumcised is specifically a French thing.
I thought we lived in an age where racial stereotyping and bashing an entire group of people, not to mention immutable characteristics, was supposed to be "problematic."
Just imagine a similar scenario where a girl says "Doesn't circumcision means baby boys get their dicks sucked on by mohels?"
"Tee hee... maybe Jews like bleeding baby peen..."
See how that's not funny?
Let's just imagine a reverse scenario; how would two guys discussing a girl's vagina play out?
Where a black guy tells a white guy "I much prefer a girl who's had her flaps trimmed," and the white guy says "Isn't it true that girls with large flaps get clitter litter?" And the black guy says "Yeah, girls who haven't had their flaps trimmed smell like stinky cheese."
Could you imagine the outrage???
“Objectifying women is the height of toxic masculinity!” they would say.
Something seriously needs to give HBO and Daniel Barnz a wake-up call.
We do not body-shame people.
We do not attack an entire ethnic group.
We do not joke about male infant genital mutilation.
That joke is old, out of touch, and it needs to die.
Joking about male infant genital mutilation is out of touch in this day and age; Americans aren't all circumcised; male infant circumcision is going the way of blood-letting and head trepanation. Male infant circumcision is not practiced in Australia, New Zealand, Ice Land, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, pretty much the whole of Europe. It's not a practice in Mexico, Brazil or anywhere outside of the US in the Americas. These jokes attempt to marginalize and make fun of what is actually anatomically correct genitals. It paints a false reality for Americans and/which serves to miseducate and misinform. It's about time they stop.
I realize that what I'm saying is going to make me unpopular among intactivist but this needs to be said; I believe the reason male infant circumcision continues in this country is because we give it golden calf status, and nobody wants to speak out against male infant circumcision for fear of being cancelled as "Nazi anti-Semite." While Jewish people aren't all plotting to circumcise gentiles as a collective, it is clear that there is a dedicated number of Jewish people pushing circumcision on the American public through entertainment and medical literature, and on the rest of the world through the UN and organizations like Operation Abraham under the guise of "HIV prevention." (Circumcision does not, cannot prevent HIV, and the United States is a glaringly obvious case in point.) Edgar Schoen tried and failed to push circumcision on all of Europe. Mohels like Neil Pollock are trying to spread their tradition in Africa and in the Caribbean. Inon Schenker is taking advantage of the current UN circumcision vindication to spread circumcision in Africa.
I'm not saying that Jews are all as a collective plotting to circumcise gentiles in this country. That simply can't be true.
What I'm saying is that it's a problem that there is a number of Jewish people are using their platforms in mass media to influence Americans and consumers of American entertainment.
It's a problem when Jewish authors who have a religious conviction to defend male infant circumcision are publishing medical literature with a confirmation bias.
We have no problem ousting religious defendants of female ritual cutting from western institutions of medicine, and yet, we try to pretend like this isn't a problem that Jewish defendants of male infant circumcision are writing medical literature and American medical policy, that it isn't a problem that Jewish organizations like Operation Abraham are in Africa promoting "mass circumcision" as "HIV prevention," that it isn't a problem that mohels are outright telling apprentices to go to Africa to practice male infant circumcision on African boys.
What I'm saying is that male infant genital mutilation jokes need to stop.
What I'm saying is that medical literature on male circumcision shouldn't be beyond scrutiny because it was written by Jewish authors.
What I'm saying is that we need to stop pretending like Jewish people filling medical literature with pro-circumcision "research" and then using said "research" to try and spread their endangered tradition to the rest of the world has anything to do with a genuine concern for public health.
It is not "anti-Semitism" to apply the same rigorous scrutiny to literature regarding male infant circumcision that we normally apply to literature regarding female infant circumcision.As long as we, collectively, as a nation, continue to agree that we'll not apply the same scrutiny to male genital cutting that we apply to female genital cutting, the genital mutilation of males will continue.
We would NEVER allow the medicalization of FGM.
We would NEVER allow doctors to perform FGM "Because my religion/tradition/custom."
We would NEVER allow FGM "Because I'm an oppressed minority."
We would NEVER allow the joking of about FGM or making light of it in any way.
We would NEVER joke about women’s immutable characteristics, the smells and substances their vaginas produce, the fact that they menstruate every month, or other normal, healthy bodily functions.
We would NEVER shame or make fun of circumcised boys or men.
Joking about forcibly cutting the genitals of ANYBODY, making fun of French people, or ANY peoples that don’t practice infant genital cutting, or anatomically correct genitals in general is outdated and out of touch, not to mention hateful, bigoted, slanderous and racist.
It is simply NOT FUNNY and it has got to STOP.
Genital mutilation is no joke. ~Christopher Hitchens
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.
Intactivism: It's Not Just for Gentiles Anymore
PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Mutilated is the New "Normal"
I should point out that Inon Schenker of Operation Abraham at the 2009 AIDS conference here in Atlanta put up a photo of a naked intact male with an elephant drawn on his torso to make his penis appear like the trunk. Schenker added a cartoon balloon with the wording "Yes, a circumcision, please!" I immediately and vociferously remonstrated with him and he took it down. I later complained to the CDC, the convenor of the conference, but was told they did not control what their presenters said. Imagine what would have happened if someone put up a drawing of a racial or religious characteristic! I expect the response from the CDC would have been quite different.ReplyDelete
So here we have an instance of both a Jewish person telling a circumcision joke, AND, simultaneously, using pseudo-medical alibi to push what also happens to be divine commandment in his faith. Americans, and simply any medical practitioners worth their salt, really, need to put their foot down and refuse to tolerate joking about genital mutilation, and pushing what happens to double as religious non-medicine any longer.Delete
OK, so the CDC "did not control what their presenters said." So what if say, the presenters were any of the Muslim doctors I've mentioned in this blog post pushing FGM? What if one of them drew an exaggerated version of a vulva with large labia and said "Yes! A labiaplasty please?" I'm sure the response would have been different.
I think medicine needs to remain medicine, and a place like an AIDS conference is no place to be disparaging anybody. I think the circumcision of children is wrong, but I would just as staunchly oppose the ridiculing of circumcised men. Cartoons of Jews or Muslims, or ANYBODY would be right out. Respect, respect, respect.