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Operation Circumzation

April 2, 2008

Pics may be added later but is not guaranteed due to their potentially offensive nature…

It was my first time to join a medical mission. Patients with various complaints were already waiting when we arrived. After a few minutes, we had unloaded the stuff and were ready to start the “free clinic and circumzation”(sic).
The well-meaning folks, of course, meant circumcision. Nevertheless, despite the typo, more than 20 “boys*” lined up for the procedure. Their ages ranged from about 8 to 21. Their demeanors ranged from screaming to silent acquiescence. Their goal: to be men.
Disposable paper and sterilized equipment were hastily produced for the procedure. Antiseptic and gauze were prepared. Prepuces were retracted and exclusive male anatomical parts were inspected.
One boy had what looked like a fungal infection, and had to be sent away. Others had relatively clean parts. Yet there were a few who sported conspicuous smegma. These had to be thoroughly removed, and the area cleaned so as to prevent infection after the circumcision. Syringes filled with anesthesia soon appeared and were promptly injected into specific areas**.
The patients were then ready for the circumcision proper.
Philippine circumcision, at least what we practiced in the mission, is different from the common Western style of circumcision. Whereas Westerners have the entire prepuce or foreskin removed, Filipinos*** only have a dorsal slit, and do not cut off any part of the prepuce.
In my opinion, Filipinos get the best of both worlds. They get the benefits of circumcision i.e. lower penile cancer rate, lower UTI rate, and lower AIDS acquisition rate along with the main benefit of uncircumcision i.e. intact nerve endings which translates to better uhhhm sensation.
Recently, however, there have been calls by Filipinos to stop this practice. They cite the usual Western rhetoric against it. They say that it’s only a religious ritual, and has not been proven to be medically beneficial. They also say that the benefits of circumcision can also be realized in uncircumcised males if they practice good hygiene. IMO, they have a point, but they fail to realize that in the Philippines, circumcision is not done only for medical reasons.
Societal factors play a major part in the practice. Those who are uncircumcised are forever considered less masculine than those who are circumcised. Females also approve of it considering that they feel that it is the only thing that they can “get back at at the boys”****. Plus, circumcision also benefits the future health workers of the country. It is through circumcision that they hone their surgery skills before they perform that risky procedure to save someone else’s life.
Oblivious to the circumcision vs. uncircumcision debate, my companions cut along the dorsal side of the prepuce and stitched the wounds. The procedure looked so easy. I bet I could even make a fine job of it.

*In the Philippines, any uncircumcised male is looked upon by society as still a boy regardless if he has undergone puberty or not.
** You have to see this for yourselves. Otherwise, you might perform it…😛
*** Perhaps there are some of us who have the German cut.
**** OVERHEARD CONVERSATION FROM A GIRL: Fortunately, we girls don’t have to be circumcised. We already have our menstrual flow, and we also have to bear children. It would be so unfair for us to be circumcised.
SILENT THOUGHT IN MY HEAD: Tell that to the Somali girls.

11 comments

  1. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone defend circumcision by saying it gives medics patients to practise their surgical skills on.

    Having parts of your genitalia cut doesn’t make you a man, and the sooner this antiquated custom is ended, the better.

    The USA and the Philippines are the only countries where Christians circumcise. For Catholics, it’s actually a sin:
    http://www.catholicsagainstcircumcision.org


  2. I don’t know any Filipino who went under the knife for religious reasons.
    Filipinos experience it nominally for medical reasons, but in reality it is to fulfill the purpose of social acceptance. Stopping this practice is tantamount to changing their culture. It’s not as easy at it sounds.

    Btw, that website took the verses out of context. Paul and the other apostles vigorously opposed circumcision of Gentile converts to Christianity because this would water down the new faith.
    Paul reasoned that Christ’s works were sufficient for pleasing God. Jews or Gentiles can never please God by being good. The Jews already had the Law which was the template for everything that pleases God yet they failed. Paul said that Gentile believers (those who now put their hope in Christ) should not place the yoke of the Law upon themselves because it was already proven through history that by following the Law nobody can be saved. The Law was just too harsh.
    Now at that time certain false teachers told the Gentiles to be circumcised i.e. become Jews and be under the yoke of the Law. Such an act would have been a tantamount message saying that Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient to forgive sin! Paul did not agree with this. Hence, his violent opposition to Gentile circumcision.
    Circumcision without the religious connotations is not sin. It’s just a physical act. It only becomes a sin when a spiritual aspect is added i.e when it becomes a requirement for salvation.


  3. none of those are good reasons to have someone circumcised.

    they should be 18 before they themselves choose to have it done.

    and if you gave them that choice, i bet many would never do it.


  4. Circumcision was near universal in New Zealand in the 1950s, now it’s almost unknown – with no epidemic of foreskin related diseases, so customs CAN change.

    One thing that keeps it going in the Philippines (and the US) is the myth that it’s universal, world-wide. In fact 3/4 of the world’s men – including many you admire, such as most soccer stars – are supót.

    Your claim that a dorsal slit provides “the benefits of circumcision i.e. lower penile cancer rate, lower UTI rate, and lower AIDS acquisition rate” is unsupported by any evidence and probably false, either because the dorsal slit is not enough to confer those benefits or because they are bogus. The risk of UTI is greatest in the first year, and greater for girls. Penile cancer is rarer than male breast cancer, and in six African countries, the circumcised men have a higher HIV rate than the non-circumcised.

    And whether a dorsal slit preserves “the main benefit of uncircumcision i.e. intact nerve endings which translates to better uhhhm sensation” could be true, but we don’t know nearly enough about the nerve pathways to say just what a dorsal slit severs. It certainly disrupts the rolling action, which provides uhhhm sensation of its own.


  5. And as for health workers using Filipino boys as guinea pigs for their surgery practice, where are your medical ethics?

    Circumcision is itself “risky surgery”, with several boys dying from it in the developed world each year (that we know of) and scores in Africa (nearly 40 a year 200-5 in Eastern Cape Province alone), as well as untold lesser risks and harms, ranging from ugly scarring, through painful erections to loss of the penis.


  6. You have valid points, Hugh7. Btw, it’s the first time I’ve read such passion against circumcision in a blog post. I won’t be assisting another circumcision the same way again.
    Forgive me for this question, but please don’t answer if you do not want to. Are the members of anti-circumcision club uncircumcised, or are they circumcised?
    I doubt the motives of uncircumcised protesters, but I would understand if the protesters are circumcised. It must mean that they don’t want others to suffer the same fate as they did.
    Btw, nobody seems to be complaining around here except for 2 or 3 bloggers. So Joel, I don’t think the culture of circumcision is going to stop anytime soon around here.


  7. I’m circumcised and active in the anti-circumcision club. But, really, it’s about being pro-individual-consent rather than anti-circumcision. I would never have chosen it for myself. The potential healthy benefits, like HIV prevention, are benefits I don’t value. No parent can know what their child will prefer, so unless it’s medically necessary, there is no justification to circumcise.


  8. The only uncut Pinoy Big Brother resident, Alex Anselmuccio, gets the cut. He might have agreed to have it done because of peer pressure, or he might even have thought that he could benefit from it medically. Incidentally, he is also half Italian, and he also grew up in Italy. Whatever the case, his circumcision makes him a true blue Filipino.

    Check out this link:
    http://www.mukamo.com/pbb-teen-alex-anselmuccio-undergoes-circumcision/

    To think he has to have it done in the middle of the show?!! Doesn’t he know what a pain the recuperation period is? What bravery, or stupidity? If it’s any consolation, I think sympathy for him would actually make him look better for viewers. Expect his fan base to rise.


  9. The Catholic Church has actually taken a stand against circumcision:

    Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.”
    Pope Eugene IV 1442 (Bull of Union with the Copts)

    “From a moral point of view, circumcision is permissible if, in accordance with therapeutic principles, it prevents a disease that cannot be countered in any other way.” Pope Pius X, 1952

    Circumcision is also arguably against the Catechism:

    “Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.”


  10. Popes should be careful to study the proclamations of their predecessors. That Pius X clearly contradicts what that Eugene IV said. Should Catholics believe in Eugene IV and not get circumcised, believing that if they do so they will be damned? Should Catholics believe in Pope Pius X and the Catechism, and get themselves circumcised without risk of damnation by believing that it is beneficial for them medically?
    Now I wonder who is more infallible* among the two?

    *A Roman Catholic doctrine stating that a Pope can never be wrong whenever he proclaims doctrines.


  11. If you want to learn more about Filipinos and Intactivism or what we may call supotismo, visit these sites

    http://supotandproud.blogspot.com
    http://unicircumcisedfilipinos.blogspot.com
    http://uncutnews1.blogspot.cm



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