It seems extraordinary that South Asian men never complain about penile circumcision. Instead they strongly advocate it. I have personally known men who have undergone the procedure as toddlers, and they say that they will subject their future sons to the same ordeal. They do not mention any specific reason and it seems suspiciously as a simple adherence to the “norm” or “that which is supposed to happen.”
I understand that circumcision, in a cultural context, is about a sense of belonging. It is about kinship, family and familiarity. But, what about consent? What about the freedom of choice? Why not wait till the boy is, say, around twelve, and let him make a conscious decision about it for himself?
Let him research its medical utility, religious necessity, sexual and psychological aftereffects. Let him seek the opinions of friends and relatives who have experienced it. He should not do it because his parents think it is an important religious ritual. He should do it because he thinks it is an important religious ritual.
Because, choice is crucial. Telling someone that he can’t have a circumcision is as wrong as telling him that he must have it.
We, Indians, live in an ageist society where elders are the ultimate authority, where children are the properties of their families. Infantile circumcision is designed to refuse a child his right to object. It is not about circumcision hurting more when you grow up. Because, it does not. Use your brain, who will hurt more from the same cut: a twelve-year-old or a baby?
The only significant argument is, the baby will not have a profound memory of the pain. But memory makes no difference to the pain experienced. And how is it ethical to inflict pain on a child without his consent? He should decide if he wants a part of sensitive skin cut off, because it is his body.
People don’t question “norms” since it is easier that way. It eliminates the burdens of thought and intellect. People can keep functioning mechanically like mules, trusting others to do the thinking for them.
But Indian men (and South Asian men by extension) why do you never fight for your true rights? The only rights you fight for are over women’s bodies. You only mention your rights when you think that they are somehow being thwarted by that of women’s.
Why do you never protest when you are shamed for crying, or trying your sister’s nail-polish? Why do you not protest when all of you are expected to be tall, strong, and muscular? And, most importantly, why do you not protest when the brutality of your character (as opposed to its gentleness) becomes the measure of your manhood?
No. Instead, you perpetrate it and mock other boys who do not fit such stereotypes.
Don’t pass ignorant comments about how feminism affects your rights, because it does not; and instead let feminism inspire you to think what’s wrong with what you are expected to be. Because we are all so much more than what our society prescribes. We have our own stories. We have our own voice. So, let’s start screaming.
Note: Penile circumcision is a requirement of all Abrahamic religions. It is not limited to Islamic traditions alone.
Recently, I was faced with a medical argument supporting circumcision. I thought that I should post my comment here for others having similar doubts:
My article was based on religious circumcision but lets review.
Circumcision reduces chances of contracting HIV from women, not from men, and does not reduce the chances of passing it on to women. And the usual chances of contracting HIV is 2% for men. Wearing a condom reduces this risk to 0%. As for prostrate cancer, it is related to contracting STIs. Circumcision reduces its risk by about 10% or maybe more.
All women have 12% chances of contracting breast cancer in their lifetime. By your theory, all women should surgically have their breast buds removed as a baby.
Children are vaccinated at a younger age, because the longer you wait, the longer will the child remain vulnerable to diseases. On the other hand, if you wait till a child is capable of consent, you are not leaving him vulnerable to diseases till that age, since most diseases reduced (not absolutely prevented) by circumcision are Sexually Transmitted.