Approximately thirty percent of the world’s men are circumcised. That’s about one billion circumcised men, and 2.5 billion uncircumcised men.
Circumcision has been practiced for thousands of years before anesthesia and before antibiotics, starting with Jewish and Muslim cultures. Fortunately, it worked out most of the time. But not always. Some babies actually died of infection after their circumcisions.
Circumcision took on new life in America in the made 19th century. Many ‘modern-thinking’ Americans worked themselves into a panic that the ‘nasty’ habit of masturbation was a totally bad thing, and should be prevented at all costs. This is what they thought and said, even though they themselves did it all the time – and felt terribly guilty about it.
It was assumed that circumcision reduced interest in masturbation, so by all means, cut your baby. Doctors said that babies haven’t yet developed feelings, so cutting off their foreskins without anesthesia didn’t actually hurt them. Screaming and crying during and after the circumcision was obviously evidence of something else. Maybe the baby was hungry or something.
Have you ever known an adult man who is frequently grouchy, quiet, or cynical? Your author has a theory that one explanation for this condition is a decision that was made as a baby. You see, psychologists tell us that as very young children we make assumptions about the world, and these can stick in our unconscious minds all our lives. Perhaps the circumcised boy made the assumption that it is a painful, awful world, and has never quite let that notion go.
There is some evidence that circumcision cuts down on STDs, especially HIV among heterosexual men.
Occasionally, a circumcision is botched, and the baby ends up with a deformed penis. See Skin Bridge.
Skin bridge from circumcision
Circumcision as an adult may not always be as comfortable as one might hope. The glans, which has always been covered, and kept moist, is suddenly exposed, being constantly rubbed against underwear, and can be quite annoying for quite a while until the man gets used to the new condition.
Female circumcision is less common, but it has happened to thousands of girls. The actual practice varies, ranging from trimming the inner labia to removal of the clitoris (or more specifically, the tip of the clitoris). It supposedly reduces sexual appetite, but the human body is adaptable. Some circumcised women can still have orgasms.
In some cultures, this is done so the girls won’t grow up into women who want too much sex, especially outside of marriage. The thinking in these male-dominated cultures goes that a woman should submit to sex at any time her husband wants, but there is no need for her to enjoy it.
See also: Circumcision Polls.
Circumcision knives used in Java and Sumatra
Circumcision isn’t always done with a knife. There are surgical slicers, and the device shown below called PrePex which is a rubber ring system that so tightly encloses the foreskin that blood flow is stopped. The skin dies, and then is cut away by a doctor or a nurse. Your author has never had this done, but assumes it is a far less-than-comfortable procedure.