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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Should Circumcision Be Illegal?

I had to google how to spell this correctly and the scaryiest thing is the number one result from the search was 'Home Circumcision'! Fuck! Like no, please no.

Anyway (still can't cope), I have enjoyed talking more about sex and sexual health in the last year or two. It's great to be more open and to be helping raise awareness of topics that are too often stigmatised.

In that vain, todays discussion is one I have had in my head for a while now and I have just started to talk to actual humans about my thoughts.

I recently had a conversation with someone from a former workplace about circumcision and how it related to female genital mutilation (FGM). It was really good to talk openly about this and the different views people may have on this.

What is female genital mutilation or FGM

FGM is a procedure where female genitals are deliberately changed (usually cut or injected) without a medical reason. In the UK this is illegal and considered a form of child abuse (if performed on a child. Which depending on who you ask, is when it mostly happens).

FGM is carried out for various cultural, religious and social reasons within families and communities in the belief that it will benefit the female in some way.

Again this depends who you talk to, I have heard this, more often described as a form of ownership, dominance and subjugation.

FGM usually happens to girls whose mothers, grandmothers or extended female family members have had FGM themselves or if their father comes from a community where it's carried out.

Does this sound familiar? Is this crime, is it like circumcision?


Male circumcision is the removal of the skin covering the head of the penis, known as the foreskin. This can happen for a few reasons.

Medically there can be issues with the foreskin. It could be that it is too tight and is not able to pull back. This according to the NHS is the most common reason for the operation.

Religious and or cultural reasons. Circumcision is common practice in many Jewish and Islamic communities, and it's also practised by many African communities. I believe that you are much more likely to be circumcised if your farther is, in keeping with the idea of religion and culture.

Anecdotally I have also heard health / cleanliness mentioned a lot. In all honestly I don't know how true this is. I understand that you would need to pull back your foreskin to wash, and that 'dirt' would be less likely to build up. But I'm not sure thats a great reason to have for your foreskin removed.

Do you see where my mind is? I can see the similarities between the two (especially the traditional, religious aspects) and I'm intrigued as to why our response to it, as a society, is so different. One is a crime, the other is accepted as a cultural tradition.

Open Mike

My view is they are very different. FGM sounds horrifying and a complete disregard for someones right to their own body. It is a demonstration of power over someone, and an act of control. I see no advantage for the person who receives these procedures, that are for many forms of mutilation.

I think there are many similarities but despite those, I feel very differently about circumcision.

I am circumcised and maybe that affects my view. But I think more, it is because I have been raised in a socially that does view these two actions differently?

My family is not overly religious and their religion is Christian, not Jewish or Islamic. My understanding is that I was circumcised for health reasons and it was done in consultation with a doctor. But I don't know exactly why. Is that weird? As a child, without a say, I was given an operation and I don't know why. If that was for any other body part it would be a major talking point right? Yet because its to do with my penis it's like, yep, we properly won't talk about that.

The point of this post is not to demean FGM, it is a very serious and important topic, one which itself needs to be spoken about more. Rather to question why we are so accepting of circumcision, an act which arguably has a number of similarities. It's something until the other day I have never really thought about in that way, and definitely never discussed. So I thought it would be interesting to write about and to ask you, what do you think about circumcision? Should it be illegal?

If so many of these circumcisions, carried out on babies and children, are because of a cultural or religious belief is that male genital mutilation?

I don't know everything about this topic, far from it. So feel free to let me know if theres a reason I have missed out or misunderstood. I am interested to hear what you think about this topic, its genuinely one of those things I haven't really spoken about before. So let me know.

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