Why is it that we ignore, and even tolerate, encourage and accept the abuse of boys that, if applied to girls would be intolerable? For example, how many major campaigns do you see against Male Genital Mutilation (or non gender biased genital mutilation for that matter)? Do a simple search on Facebook for instance: Female Genital Mutilation or FGM results in countless and countless of groups and pages against it; while the search term Male Genital Mutilation results in 2 pages and a few discontinued groups, all with fewer than 12 members. Yearly, 2 million girls have the most sensitive parts of their vagina cut off, while 13.3 million boys have the most sensitive part of their penis removed. Both of the phenomena entirely unacceptable. One of the phenomena largely ignored. Do we live in a SCUB (society for cutting up boys)?
Not only is it more common with male genital mutilation, it's also completely legal in most nations
About a million baby boys are circumcised each year in USA. And even if it's done legally by professionals in the US, still 100 babies die each year from circumcision there. Around 10% of circumcised North American boys and men have some sort of short-term complications due to the circumcision, with infection and hemorrhage being the most common, occurring at rate of about 2%. But there are also long-term consequences, such as desensitization due to cutting off the foreskin and denuding the glans.
The excuses of why we accept and allow mutilation of little boys are many, be it religion or various health and cleanliness myths.
The fact is that the penis is self-cleaning, and that circumcision is only needed in very rare cases of phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin can't be pulled back past the glans. The foreskin is connected to the underlying penile tissue by a membrane, which is pretty much comparable to the female hymen.
In Sub-Saharan Africa WHO/UNAIDS are promoting the genital mutilation of 20 million boys in 14 nations. The reason being the myth that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV. More about that in this excellent video:
There is NO single valid reason to cut off the foreskin of healthy baby boys; circumcision is a treatment of last resort only.
The pain from circumcision in infancy can permanently alter the brain
But these are only the physical consequences, what about the psychological? The psychological effects of genital cutting of boys have largely been ignored by CDC and similar agencies around the world. There are enough studies though, that provide plenty of evidence of the psychological damage of circumcision.
Studies by Anand and Scalzo (2000) and Taddio et al. (2007) that investigated the effects of pain in infancy, showed a clear link between such pain and increased anxiety, altered pain sensitivity, hyperactivity, and attention problems later in life. This due to causing a dysfunctional amygdala that "leaks" the stress hormone called cortisol.
A study by Victoria et al. (2013) concluded that severe pain in the neonatal period correlated with changes in specific areas of the brain associated with different mood disorders. Furthermore, men who were circumcised in infancy are at a significantly greater risk of experiencing symptoms of PTSD, depression, anger, and intimacy problems.
Follow the money
So why is cutting up little boy's penises promoted as something "healthy" and "clean" again? Follow the money...
The collagen from the fibroblasts of foreskin cells is used in both cosmetics and medical products. Hospitals get payoffs from the insurance companies for rescuing this "medical waste" to be sold to cosmetic companies. So the core of the issue is that there is a huge monetary incentive to perform circumcisions on every boy born.
So please, the next time you want to expose the horrors of genital mutilation, don't disregard the boys. It's OK to say "End Genital Mutilation" without adding a gender to it.
Anand, K.J., & Scalzo, F.M. (2000). Can adverse neonatal experiences alter brain development and subsequent behavior? Biol Neonate, 77, 69-82.
Taddio A., Katz, J., Ilersich, A.L., Koren, G. (1997). Effect of neonatal circumcision on pain response during subsequent routine vaccination. Lancet, 349, 599-603.
Boyle, G.J., Goldman, R., Svoboda, JS., & Fernandez, E. (2002). Male circumcision: Pain, trauma, and psychosexual sequelae. Journal of Health Psychology, 7, 329-343.
Perrin, R.D. (2013). Child Maltreatment: An Introduction. Sage Publishing.