Neonatal male genital mutilation should be made illegal in developed nations
Debate Rounds (5)
First round is for acceptance and definitions.
Rounds 2-5 are for opening arguments, rebuttals, and closing arguments.
Male genital mutilation (MGM): Removal of the male foreskin
Female genital mutilation (FGM): Removal of clitoris and clitoral hood
I will begin by stating my main arguments against the procedure.
Throughout the developed world, women almost universally enjoy something that many men do not: genital integrity. This human rights and gender equality issue, which an unfortunately low number of people see as such, has been a widespread phenomenon in the United States since before the second world war . Today, sexism in the developed world regarding mens' reproductive rights has led to the general population being comfortable with MGM but disgusted by FGM. In the United States, more than half of men do not have an intact penis .
Male genital mutilation is bad for mainly the same reasons as female genital mutilation: Both procedures reduce sexual pleasure  , they can cause numerous complications  , they are extremely painful, they take away the genital integrity of the person on whom the procedure is performed, and, when done on an infant, they are irreversible, mutilating procedures that are done on people who are completely unable to give consent.
The reasons behind continuing the procedures, too, are oddly similar and equally erroneous: mutilated genitalia, in areas where it is common, is seen as "less weird" or "cleaner" (often times mutilation is justified by the opinion on the aesthetics of intact genitals by the opposite sex), The fact that is reduces smegma (easily mitigated by regular cleaning), the idea that the risk of infection from STD's is reduced in mutilated individuals (also unsound  and much, much more effectively mitigated by use of condoms), and, more specifically associated with MGM, the idea that the procedure increases "sexual performance" which can be increased by less harmful means (and is also false ).
The foreskin plays many important roles that benefit men who have them, naturally lubricating and protecting the glans, housing nerve endings that aid sexual pleasure, and causing even more sensation by sliding up and down the glans during intercourse . Men without a foreskin suffer from a glans that has thickened, less-sensitive, keratinized skin as a result of having it exposed to abrasions from underwear throughout the day .
In conclusion, neonatal male genital mutilation is a permanent, harmful procedure done on people who are unable to give consent which is out of place in modern society, and it can easily be compared to FGM, which has been illegal in the United States for over a decade.
To avoid a painful circumcision, it is almost always practiced on infants, so any pain experienced is nontraumatizing, except when ritually done in which case morphine is applied, and carefully removed. This was a very important step, and pain tranquilizers have been used since ancient Egypt. While an infant can not give consent, it is the best time to do the operation to avoid any unnecessary trauma. It is still debated whether or not it affects sexual pleasure, and while the majority of evidence points towards it decreasing sexual pleasure, there are still reports it actually increases pleasure [4, 5].
While seemingly strange, as it is the norm as the majority do it, it would spare children possible incidents that would occur if left uncircimcised, such as taunts, insults, and possible uncertainty or self-loathing due to being "different". Due to mass amounts of anaerobic bacteria being present on uncircumcised penises, it has been successfully experimented that circumcision seemingly affects HIV (Unfortunately my Ipad is not allowing me to scroll down any further, so I have to post the links by the reference marks. Sorry about confusion and inconvenience everybody).[6: http://www.scientificamerican.com...].
As such my, grantedly smaller, conclusion is that parents and doctor should consult on what is best, as done now.
Con dismissed one of my other important points, that neonatal GM takes away the victim's ability to give consent, by saying "[soon after birth] is the best time to do the operation to avoid any unnecessary trauma." Mutilation at birth is just as painful and, arguably, even more traumatizing than mutilation on people over the age of 18, the only real difference being that the infant will not remember the procedure being done. However, if we are going to judge the morality of an action by whether or not the victim will remember the action itself, then we can logically infer that beating babies in a way that doesn't permanently damage them is fine, and that raping people while they're passed out drunk or on roofies is also acceptable, since they won't remember it anyway. If we are to reduce pain by providing anaesthesizing the infants, there is a significant risk of complications . Additionally, the infant's right to consenting to have a part of his body permanently mutilated far outweighs the infant's right to undergo the procedure without remembering it.
Con pointed out that the effects of MGM on sexual pleasure are "debated", and then proceeded to provide sources that do not back up that point at all. One of his sources actually helps my point, the source being a study which concluded with "There was a decrease in masturbatory pleasure and sexual enjoyment after circumcision, indicating that adult circumcision adversely affects sexual function in many men, possibly because of complications of the surgery and a loss of nerve endings" (Pang). This hurt's Con's point. The other source Con provided includes about half a sentence about MGM and sexual pleasure, and provides no study to back up this claim. My point, that MGM negatively affects masturbation and sex, is intact.
Con provided a common argument for MGM, that being the argument that intact boys will recieve taunts in the locker room. I would like to first point out that this is not a debate regarding genital mutilation on an individual basis, but a debate over whether or not MGM should be made illegal in developed nations. In an area where MGM is illegal, virtually every boy in the locker room will be intact, and they will not be taunted about their foreskin. Furthermore, even on an individual basis, this argument does not hold water, as most boys aren't showing other people their penis until they get old enough to realize that having an intact penis is normal. Even if the boy happened to show off his intact penis, in the locker room for example, and was taunted for it, this argument STILL holds no water because there are much more prevalent things kids will be taunted for in elementary and middle school. For example, at the risk of providing a false resuctio ad absurdum argument, kids who get braces earlier than others might get made fun of for having braces, and the same principle goes for kids who get glasses early on. Should parents not put braces or glasses on their children because they might get taunted for it?
Con provided another common argument for MGM, which are the African studies that show that intact men get HIV more easily. I would like to point out that these studies are irrelevant to this debate, since this debate is about the legality of genital mutilation in DEVELOPED countries. This is not an arbitrary ad hoc element to my argument; if there were a study with similar results conducted in the United States, the point would go to Con, and the suspected reasoning behind the 60% increase in HIV infections in intact men, provided by Con's own source, is "in uncircumcised men, [anaerobic] bacteria may provoke inflammation in the genitalia, thereby improving the chances that immune cells will be in the vicinity for HIV viruses to infect" (Scientific American). In developed countries, men almost always have access to regular bathing, which would decrease the amount of anaerobic bacteria under the foreskin, causing less inflammation and bringing the HIV infection rate down to a similar level to that of mutilated men. I cannot cite a source, as no such study has been conducted in the United States. Again, this is not special pleading, as I have provided a specific reason why developing countries and developed countries should be looked at differently on this issue.
To augment my previous point, that neonatal MGM is traumatizing to the infant, I have provided a youtube video of an infant being mutilated. The victim is uncontrollably screaming. It is still very much a traumatizing experience as an infant.
I conclude with my three main points, all of which are still intact, that neonatal male genital mutilation strips infants of their right to consent to getting mutilatied, that MGM decreases sexual pleasure, and that neonatal MGM is a gender equality issue.
I actually quoted that article for a reason, despite recognizing (and correctly foretelling that you would use) the evidence it suggests against my arguement. The reason I used it was because stated that 8% believe it increased pleasure, 6% believe their sex lives improved, and masturbation was easier in 37%. While seemingly insignificant, it suggests that people are adversly affected by circumcision, especially evident in masturbation. While treading on the line on minority and occasional contradiction, it still should not be ignored, as it is evidence we do not completely understand circumcision, and perhaps there could even be a mid-way between the two options.
Your wish to make it completely illegal, which would incense many relgions, as shown when attempted in other countries. To make it completely illegal would be treading in very dangerous waters, as circumcision is mainly practiced due to religion, and to invalidate their beliefs with your own opinion would an uproar. Despite some religious practices seeming inhumane (ex: Kosher meat), it is nearly impossible to overturn, and if possible, would result in a outrage in religious groups everywhere, for if you deem this one inhumane, whom is to say that other's will be safe. Religion and Government are meant to be as far away from each other as possible, and Circumcision is clearly on the religious side.
You claim that my HIV claim is effectively a strawman arguement, however I challenge this claim. It is very relevent to the arguement if it does indeed prevent HIV, and should effect the legality in developed countries if it helps prevent HIV in said developed countries. It is not just anaerobic bacteria that threaten uncircumcised males however, and are more at risk in general than circumcised males. This study was conducted in Canada, a country that borders the U.S. with similar environment and development, which makes the study more evident of uncircumcised children's risk to disease.
While I admit circumcision does indeed have a double-standard attached to it, as I have shown before, it mostly likely began out of health or relgious concerns, and was not meant to be sexually oppressive. I will focus on this more on my next arguement due to my lack of time to finish this one. I am truely sorry I can not defend this position better during my arguement right now, and I hope it does not upset you too much.
Con also asserts that we should mutilate the infants' genitals without anaesthesia because it still doesn't cause trauma. I would like to emphasize that trauma is not the only factor here: the victim still feels pain.
Con points out the vast minority of post-mutilation patients who say that their sex lives improved or that their masturbation became easier after the procedure. The fact that there are people who claim that they experienced the opposite of what everyone else experienced is trivial to the debate, as the majority of the people say that their sex lives worsened and that masturbation became more difficult. That's how studies work. I don't know why Con thinks that this is an argument that sexual pleasure is not lost due to mutilation.
It is impossible to determine a newborn's future religious beliefs. If a boy is born to a Jewish or Muslim family in a developed nation, we cannot anticipate whether or not the neonate will continue to be part of that religion throughout his life. It is easy for him to later decide that he did not want to be mutilated. Con claims that outlawing male genital mutilation would cause uproar in religious groups. Lawmakers should not make consideration towards peoples religious beliefs when the members of the religion are doing something inhumane. The fact that they are doing this for religious purposes is trivial. If a baby is born to a family of Jehovah's Witnesses who requires an emergency blood transfusion, it is the parents' religious beliefs that the child should not live . In the United States, there are 1,154,275 Jehovah's witnesses , a significant amount. (In comparison, there are 5,275,000 Jews in the U.S. .) However, throughout the developed world, we have continued to intervene and perform life saving operations on these children, regardless of their parents' beliefs    . We do this because we have determined that the Jehovah's Witnesses are doing something that is unethical. Once again, the fact that a group of people do something because they think that their God wants them to is irrelevant to the morals of the practice, especially when the person that they are performing the procedure on might not be part of the religion and is unable to give consent.
Con has confused the studies performed in Africa as being relevant to the developed world. I explained why the location where the studies were performed is relevant in a previous round, but I will state it again. "In uncircumcised men, [anaerobic] bacteria may provoke inflammation in the genitalia, thereby improving the chances that immune cells will be in the vicinity for HIV viruses to infect" (Scientific American). Regular bathing, which is almost always accessible in developed nations, can prevent anaerobic bacteria. The 60% increase in Hiv infections in intact men is otherwise inexplicable. These studies are irrelevant in developed nations. Con has not refuted this point. We have still determined that no relevant study exists that supports genital mutilation being an effective preventative measure against HIV in the developed world. I would also like to point out something that I mentioned in Round 2, that condoms are a much, much more effective preventative measure against HIV. Even in Africa, where these studies are relevant, MGM is an unnecessarily crude procedure with much less of a preventative effect than condoms.
Con also cites a study that he claims shows that intact boys are more prone to disease than mutilated boys. The study regards urinary tract infection among mutilated and intact boys. When UTIs are treated with antibiotics, the fever disappears in about 48 hours, with the entire treatment lasting 7-14 days . Urinary tract infections affact about 2% of boys . Male genital mutilation is a permanent, harmful treatment for a rare and easily curable disease.
Con has waited until round four to refute an argument I presented in Round Two. To clarify, yes, I am disappointed by this. I will discuss it anyway here.
Male genital mutilation is a gender rights issue. One argument I see frequently about why MGM and FGM are unequal is that women who have been mutilated are unable to experience an orgasm, or experience orgasm less frequently than intact women. However, as a Nigerian study with a sample size of 1836 shows, mutilated women experience sexual arousal and orgasm as frequently as intact women . Mutilated women still experience less pleasure during sex and masturbation, however, as do mutilated men.
Another common argument regarding the inequality of FGM and MGM is that the clitoris is analogous to the penis, and therefore FGM is equal to the removal of the entire penis. I would like to point out that "analogous" does not mean "equal". The nipples of a man are analogous to the nipples of a woman, but if you cut off the nipples of a woman, a significant function is lost, that being the ability to feed her babies. Similarly, the removal of the penis destroys the man's ability to reproduce, which FGM does not. Men who are mutilated experience difficulty during masturbation and less pleasure during sex, which is similar to the experiences of FGM victims.
Shifter forfeited this round.
Since this round would normally be used partially for refuting Shifter's arguments in Round Four, I will use it to reinforce some of the things I mentioned in previous rounds.
For example, one thing that I find is difficult for people to accept is the fact that anti-"mutilation advocates wish for people to not be able to mutilate their children on religious grounds. One is not required to be anti-"semitic or anti-"muslim to want to protect boys from being mutilated because of religion, just as one is not required to be anti-muslim or anti-African to want to protect Muslim girls and girls whose parents are of African descent from mutilation of the genitals. I simply argue that no one has the right to remove normal, healthy tissue of any person without consent, regardless of the parents' religion. I would like to emphasize, also, that in a developed nation, it is impossible to anticipate the child's future religious beliefs at birth. It is entirely possible that a child born to Jewish or Muslim parents could later convert to a different religion or become atheist, or simply become less involved with the religion over time and later decide that he misses his foreskin. Therefore, we should not allow parents to mutilate their boys, regardless of the boys' parents' religion.
I would like to make it clear that I do not wish to make it illegal for people over the age of 18 to be mutilated. If someone over 18 feels that they want to be part of a certain faith, or for any other reason wants to be mutilated, then I would not want to prevent them from doing that, as long as they are aware of all of the risks of complication and that they will have reduced sexual pleasure.
Another argument that is occasionally made is that we let parents decide other things for their children, suck as whether or not to give them vaccinations and remove cancerous tumors, or even pierce their childrens' ears. Where I went to elementary school, parents were required to give their kids vaccinations, unless they did not want to do so for religious reasons. I argue that this is harmful to the child, as it risks the child's well being and even the child's life. Refusing to vaccinate children should be illegal too, but this is a different argument. Tumors are not a normal part of the body, and require medical care. The foreskin, however, is a normal, funcional, important part of the body. Additionally, no child is going to grow up and then decide that they would have wanted to keep their tumor. Compared to genital mutilation, ear piercings are very trivial, and do not tread on the infant's rights at all. While it is possible for the child to later say that he or she would have preferred to not have pierced ears, this is not typical. The difference in the procedures is that genital mutilation removes healthy tissue, whereas ear piercings do not interfere with the child's future lifestyle in any way.
Another reason that people will get their son mutilated is because of the health benefits. They cite the studies in Africa regarding HIV, which are irrelevant to developed nations, as men in developed nations almost always are within access to proper sanitation so they can clean out the anaerobic bacteria that cause the increase; the decreased risk with mutilation of HPV, to which there is now a vaccine; the increased risk of urinary tract infections in the first few years of life, which can be completely treated in a matter of weeks, the symptoms being relieved in a few days; and the higher rates of penile cancer in intact men. The penile cancer claim is the most ludicrous. If you cut off part of your body, you cannot get cancer in that part of the body. Cutting off any oart of the body to reduce cancer of that part of the body is unnecessarily crude.
I will conclude with my three main arguments. Male genital mutilation takes away the boy's ability to give consent. The procedure removes healthy tissue without the child's consent, and regardless of the parents' religion, this is not O.K. After all, in a developed nation, it is impossible to anticipate a child's future religious affiliations at birth. It is also impossible to anticipate whether or not the boy will want to be mutilated.
MGM is also a gender rights issue. In most developed nations, women are protected from being mutilated before they are able to give consent. Men, however, are usually unprotected from this, and a man will often undergo genital mutilation because his parents think that this will get him into heaven (Mutilation is actually not a sacrament in Judaism, and according to the Torah, an intact Jew is still a Jew ). I would like to point out the similarities between MGM and FGM: both are performed for religious and aesthetic purposes, and both are performed on unconsenting infants and reduce sexual pleasure, without removing the victim's ability to orgasm. However, for some reason, it is legally O.K. to mutilate baby boys in developed nations, but not baby girls.
MGM reduces sexual pleasure. The foreskin protects the head from keratinization, a process which severely reduces sensitivity; moisteurizes the head, serving as a natural lubrication; provides a sliding mechanism during intercourse and masturbation, which causes a large amount of pleasure; and also simply houses a large number of nerve endings.
I urge everyone to vote pro if you believe that neonatal MGM should be made illegal in developed nations, just like FGM.
We deem the Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs on Blood Transfusion as unethical due to the fact that it endangers the infant's life, something that a simple circumcision could not do. However, as stated, many people find the Jew's belief of Kosher Food as animal abuse as it requires the person to slit the animal throat instead of more humane ways of killing it. However, Jews defend this act, and still say that it is not an act of animal abuse.
Despite living in oppisite ends of the world, both studies showed similiar results, that uncircumcised children are more prone to certain diseased than those that are circumcised. While the bathing may be lacking in Africa, there is regular bathing in Canada. Despite easy cures, it is in fact very dangerous, as they can scar the liver. These two studies show that circumcision is a less risky and safer option of the two. As I now have fifteen seconds left, I will post whatever left in comments.
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