Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
“Africa’s 100 million girls with mutilated genitals” (Japan Times, June 24, 2013) explains and dismisses the case by female circumcision advocates that it is an important tradition of their community and tribal cultures. Similarly, community tradition and tribal culture are the first argument used to defend most male genital mutilation. Religious circumcisers parade the harmless-if-carried-out-properly argument. Then there is the unconvincing argument of supposed medical benefits. Except for the failed effort by a German court in Cologne to label and ban male circumcision as assault - correctly, I thought - (“Circumcision is assault, court rules,” Japan Times, June 29, 2012) no serious action is taken against male circumcision, ever. In fact the German court predictably was soundly criticized by religious groups. Human rights were turned upside down to sanction legal mutilation of defenseless boys.
The duty of the male-circumcision camp is not to argue that the procedure has a venerable history, it does no harm, and in particular does not rob the victims of a full sexual life as adults so much as it is to explain how excising the prepuce is not mutilation to begin with. That’s the head of the issue. We can consider other views only after establishing that deliberate, non-medical excision of flesh is not mutilation.
I want equality of the sexes in this matter. If one is going to oppose Female Genital Mutilation then one ought to oppose all genital mutilation as a rule. The rebuttal is that there is no proper comparison between female and male genital mutilation. They’re not even in the same ball park. But I say that the individual has absolute sovereignty over body, mind, and conscience. Depriving boys and some adult men of their genital sovereignty is a crime more monstrous in its scope and history than Female Genital Mutilation is in its cruelty.
There are hundreds of millions of circumcised men in the world who are less than whole men and don’t know it. They are unconvinced of their victimization, and many even boast about it. Parents who circumcise their sons should be prosecuted as child abusers, as should the practitioners.
But I could be wrong.