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Amy,

Yes, I can be a bit scattered sometimes. What I was trying to say is that I found response on the Q&As to the question that went along the lines of "What is the feminist stance on infant male circumcision?" to be slightly too neutral.

Maybe I was reading into things a bit much. You basically responded by saying, some feminists are fighting it, some cling to it for cultural reasons , but it's really a personal decision and there are tons of perspectives on it. I was taking issue with your response because it seemed to me a bit shallow. That is how this practice continues. It is constantly brushed aside and not really dealt with or examined.

I guess from the outside it does appear to be a fairly inconsequential thing. I know that for me I hardly gave it a second thought until the issue came up. I'm not saying you were consciously brushing it aside but I feel the response posted on your website trivializes the issue due to what you left unsaid. And by doing so it perpetuates to some degree the line of thinking that allows this practice to continue. I agree that the underlying reasons behind male and female circumcision are very different but the end effect are quite similar.

Obviously FGM is usually far more severe but in the end it boils down to an individual having of part of their body taken from them for cultural reasons or, in the case of infant male circumcision, cultural reasons backed up by outdated medical assumptions of fifty years past. Presently, and for the past 30 years, the medical community has not recommended this surgery and has viewed it as unneeded and non-therapeutic. So why in the year 2005 is it still acceptable for boys to be subjected to these surgeries that have no overall health benefit? That fact alone should make it a breach of medical ethics. The medical community doesn't even include in their pros and cons the emotional harm this can inflict nor do they consider that removing a healthy functional body part as being a negative consequence in itself. I think as a society we are really thoughtless when it comes to this issue and I guess how you ended your response to the original question: ".. but it's really a personal decision and thus there are tons of perspectives on it." , with no mention of the harm inflicted, frustrated me a bit. Although people try to deny it. This is very much a right and wrong issue.

Claiming that it is a personal choice issue of parents is basically saying to guys who didn't want this done that this is perfectly fair treatment. That they have a bit less human rights than everyone else and they should just accept it. I think that probably plays a part in how my BF feels, like something happened to him that he thought was bad, but everyone still condones it. Not only that, it is an acceptable subject of jokes in the media and in day to day life. I agree that likely the majority of men don't feel violated RIC just as a majority of women may not feel violated by FGM in cultures were it is a widely held cultural practice. But I think that for guys who are from more recent generations (70s and onward) there is a significant minority who feel mistreated by this practice.

I was a bit surprised to find out my boyfriend's feelings on the matter, he told me most of his friends who had it done also feel negative about it to some degree and wish their bodies weren't tampered with. I guess he may be a bit sensitive which makes him feel worse about it than most, but that's not his fault. I think it's hard for these guys to come out about this because it runs a bit contrary to their socialization. It's also a very visible thing, which probably makes it hard for them to ignore if they do feel badly about it.

I should mention that I am in Canada where the rate is about 50/50 maybe less, so these guys are not protected by a kind of cultural blindness/solidarity from it as much as they may be in the States (if that is where you are) Plus RIC has become an ethical issue of debate here, which exposes them to feeling negative about it and putting a magnifying glass on something that many guys would rather just bury and not contemplate. It can't be an easy thing for someone to realize part of their genitals are missing for no good reason.

I just think that both male and female circumcision do cause harm emotionally and physically and would have liked to have seen that mentioned in your response regarding the issue. I believe the feminist movement is very important in fighting for social justice and although RIC is not really a 'feminist' issue I would have liked it to be examined with the same critical thinking that we try to apply to everything else. I hope my tone doesn't sound angry or confrontational I just get a bit passionate sometimes:)

Kat

 

Kat - I think your perspective and experience is great and informative. We will post on the site, so others are sure to learn about the big picture. Thanks for sharing and such thoughtful, informative letter.

-- Amy

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