Here is an outrageous idea. Or, at least, an idea that may seem foreign to many Australians. I believe that I should have the right to choose which parts of my genitals I keep and which parts I want to have sliced off and thrown into the medical waste bin.
But it seems that many Australians don’t agree with me. Or that is what it seems when they support the act of pinning down an infant boy and cutting off part of his penis. Most call it circumcision, but I prefer to avoid this euphemism and call it what it really is: genital cutting, partial penis amputation, or even (brace yourselves) genital mutilation. ‘Oh no’ I hear you gasp. ‘It’s only mutilation if we do it to a girl, right? Even if its a tiny symbolic nick. If we cut off 30-50% of the penile skin, surely that can’t be called mutilation. And besides, we do it in Australia, and the Government pays for it through Medicare, so it can’t be mutilation. Can it?’
But what about the medical benefits? You can put forward an argument for amputating any body part based on the medical benefits of doing so. You could amputate a baby’s big toe to reduce the risk of ingrown toenails, or cut off their ears to reduce skin cancer. I challenge you to suggest one body part where there wouldn’t be a benefit in chopping it off (please suggest a body part as a comment below if you are up for the challenge). But with all these other body parts, the use of that part is considered, and medical ethics and plain old common sense prevail. The penis seems to be exempt from all of these concepts.
And by the way, even if there was any truth to these so-called medical benefits, most of them are related to sexually transmissible diseases, and I didn’t have sex when I was a baby. In fact I didn’t have my first serious sexual encounter unti l was 20. And my partner in this encounter has been my only partner and now wife for the last 12 years. I was hardly at risk of HIV or other STD’s which the pro-cutting crowd try desperately to prove are more prevalent in men who have all of their genitals. Besides, at the age of 20, even if I had decided to lead an ‘at risk’ lifestyle, I could have decided to either get myself circumcised for a marginal reduced risk at best, or wear a condom.
But getting back to my ‘outrageous’ statement. I wasn’t wasn’t given the right to choose for myself. And it seems that most Australians think that’s OK. Otherwise, like me they would be joining the intactivist movement and lobbying government to bring an end to the practice. But the most important thing they could do would be to simply stop cutting their babies. Most have, with rates now less than 1 in 5 and shrinking every year. But it seems that many who wouldn’t circumcise their own children will still support parents who decide to do it to theirs.
Maybe I am wrong. In this age of gender equality, self-determination and the growth of the human rights movement, perhaps Australians do support the concept of genital autonomy. Where do you stand?
Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net