|This page will discuss the last 130
years when circumcision rates went from less than 5% in the late 19th
Century to 90% in the 1970s to 60% today.
Thanks to Hugh Young for the list of "reasons" people give
for cutting babies, reasons called "circumstitions."
Jennifer Gardner's >website has many primary source >medical
journal quotations. These give the documentation of
the rise of MGM.
Before I was able to write this section, I found this
summary written in response to an article in Time Magazine. It
will sound a bit harsh to someone who has never heard of this history,
but the more one learns of this sad story, the less inflammatory this
account will sound. I have written a short summary of events in North
Dakota during the last decade and some projected legal approaches: 1990s Summary
is a reply by Gary Harryman to
an article in,
Time Magazine: "Good News -- AIDS Relief,"
He wants the press to see that AIDS is just the most recent
of a long history of scare tactics and tragic rationalizations
trotted out for cutting babies:
Dear Editor: I'm not making
this up. The following list is historically accurate and was compiled
from a review of professional papers published in medical textbooks and medical
journals - such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),
Pediatrics, Lancet, and journal your article quotes --The New England
Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Back in the 1850's and 1860's Americans were assured in
published papers written by the most respected medical doctors of the
time, that amputating half of the skin from a boy's penis (serious
surgery euphemistically called "circumcision") would cure
masturbation, which doctors said caused paralysis, hip trouble, urinary
incontinence, sloth, and spermatorrhea (ejaculation for any reason other
In the 1870's
American medical doctors insisted that circumcision would not only cure
masturbation but also idiocy, moral laxity, headache, clubfoot, bladder
inflammation, spinal curvature, lameness, clumsiness, hysteria,
malnutrition, and epilepsy. In
the 1880's medical doctors declared that circumcision would still cure
masturbation and also blindness, nervous tension, restlessness,
irritability, facial tics, rectal prolapse, indigestion, heart disease,
diabetes, deafness, and even crossed eyes.
Then, in the 1890's American medical doctors announced that
circumcision would cure masturbation, impotence, elephantiasis,
gangrene, tuberculosis, eczema, excessive saliva, hypertrophied tonsils,
and swollen feet. In 1900 American medical doctors proclaimed that circumcision
was still the best cure for masturbation and also for premature
ejaculation, dyspepsia, hernia, nervous exhaustion, and diarrhea.
In the decade after 1910 American medical doctors soberly
affirmed that circumcision cured masturbation, dropsy, hydrocephalus,
nocturnal pollutions (wet dreams), excessive sexual passions, and the
compulsion to rape.
In the 1920's American medical doctors writing in JAMA
confidently pronounced that circumcision cured syphilis as well as
masturbation. (In that same journal in 1927 America was assured that
castrating all Negro men would protect the "virtue of White
In the 1930's American medical doctors certified that
circumcision cured masturbation and promiscuity.
In the 1940's American medical doctors authoritatively swore
that circumcision cured masturbation and prevented venereal diseases and
cancer of the tongue.
In the 1950's American medical doctors still maintained that
circumcision cured masturbation and priapism and asserted that it
prevented cervical cancer.
In the 1960's American medical doctors were positive that
circumcision cured masturbation and painful intercourse and prevented smegma (that same white guck you saw
in the corners of your eyes in this morning), penile malignancy, and
Even in the 1970's American medical doctors still warranted in
several prestigious medical journals that although masturbation didn't
cause diseases, circumcision would prevent masturbation and sexual
abnormalities as well as penile cancer, infections of the glans, urinary
tract infections, and of course nightmares.
By the early 1980's American medical doctors had grudgingly
accepted that circumcision didn't prevent masturbation so they suspended
their 130-year campaign against the "evils" of masturbation
but still promised that circumcision prevented penile cancer, cervical
cancer, urinary tract infections, and kidney failure.
In the 1990's the American medical community was showing signs
it had nearly come to it's senses when the American Academy of
Pediatrics decided that circumcision was not necessary for good health
or hygiene and only prevented a few very rare cases of penile cancer in
elderly men and maybe a few urinary tract infections in infants that
could easily be treated with a shot of antibiotic. But of course doctors
should still offer the service to the parents of little boys.
The shameful history of the list of pretexts for penis
mutilation would be comical if the consequences weren't so tragic. The
only thing circumcision doesn't seem to ever cure is the profitable
compulsion to cut male babies. Now it's the year 2000 and doctors
writing in the NEJM are excitedly hinting that they may be able to
protect our boys from getting the terrible HIV virus that causes AIDS by
circumcising. Doctors are back at it again selling genital mutilation of
boys, and again claiming it's a miracle prophylactic against a disease.
Just how stupid do they think American's are? The only people who have
ever really benefited from circumcision are the American doctors who
have treated the homegrown American foreskin as an annuity. It's always
open season on little boy's pelts as American doctors perform more than
1.2 million unnecessary foreskin amputations annually - making neonatal
circumcision the most frequently performed surgery in history. Does the
word "quackery" apply here?
American doctors have never recanted and apologized for the
deceits of the hundreds of bogus circumcision claims over the last 150
years. Nor have they begged forgiveness from the millions of men whose
sex lives have been diminished as a result of those fraudulent
pseudo-scientific claims. They have never offered restitution or even
compensation for the out-of-pocket costs of non-surgical restoration and
85% of the world that does not medically or ritually mutilate their
children ask - "Will the American rationalization of their
obsession with mutilating the genitals of innocent little boys never