Thank you writing this great article, Gareth. I would like to make a case that a stronger language must be used when discussing the physical and emotional damage of genital mutilation.
“Studies (and conversations with friends who are circumcised) suggest that circumcision doesn’t negatively impact sexual function in any material way.”
You yourself stated in this article that a sex with a whole penis is smoother, more relaxed and involves less friction. Doesn’t this suggest a negative impact to sexual function?
Some women report that sex with circumcised men is more forceful, dry, and painful — sometimes to the point of bleeding. Studies definitively show that foreskin contains a high number of nerve endings which connect to the brain to create sexual pleasure. Some men lose so much of their skin that erections are painful. Others lose their entire penis to circumcision.
Foregen is a project to repair male genital mutilation damage by regenerating the foreskin using stem cell technology. They do not mince words when they say a penis cannot function properly without foreskin and that “circumcision renders a penis dysfunctional.”
I believe intactivists stand on solid ground to claim with confidence that genital mutilation significantly impairs sexual function in every case.
“Beyond the physical impact of the procedure, the emotional impact of circumcision seems to be completely unknown — although the depression suffered by Jonathan Conte is probably at the extreme end of the spectrum.”
But we do know, with certainty, something about the emotional impact of genital mutilation. Genital mutilation is a severe form of sexual assault. It is uncontroversial to state that sexual assault causes major psychological trauma, even in cases when the victim is unconscious, cannot remember the attack, and leaves no permanent physical damage.
We know victims of male genital mutilation experience PTSD, denial, depression, resentment, rage, reduced emotional expression, shame, loss of trust, envy, and suicidal ideation. This emotion pain is amplified when our parents, doctors, religious leaders, and government officials humiliate, dismiss, and mock us for our suffering. Genital mutilation is regarded as a joke and is frequently trivialized on TV an in movies. Conte’s experience may be on the extreme end of the spectrum, but his anguish is typical of men who understand how permanently damaging genital mutilation is.
Whether the victim is male or female, self-reported satisfaction with genital mutilation should never be taken at face value. Genital mutilation causes severe permanent damage. The ego prefers to deny any and all harm. Everyone who is culpable in perpetuation genital mutilation has a perverse incentive to deny reality. To state that circumcision is harmful and unnecessary or that it is genital mutilation is harshly punished by our culture. We are routinely accused of anti-semitism.
In the face of these intense social pressures, many victims of genital mutilation find it much easier to pretend that male genital mutilation doesn’t exist and that circumcision is an enhancement. The greatest damage of all is this inability to stand up for one’s own basic right to not be raped. Without that, a man cannot stand up for the rights of his son and escape this vicious cycle of violence. What a nightmare!
Thank you Gareth, again, for helping humanity wake up.