Fein: Circumcision is Fine

In this week’s Forward, Leonard Fein takes on the anti-circumcision crowd (and makes a few jokes along the way):

Google “circumcision� and you will see why. Learned paper after learned paper informs us that we’ve been irreparably traumatized by our experience; that circumcised infants exhibit behavioral changes after circumcision; that some circumcised men have strong feelings of anger, shame, distrust and grief about having been circumcised; that circumcision disrupts the mother-infant bond, and that some mothers report significant distress after allowing their sons to be circumcised.

You’ll find, as well, fervid argument that the real purpose of circumcision, in its origin, was to inhibit sexual pleasure, to depress the urge to masturbate. Jews, according to that line of reasoning, were early Puritans.

Balderdash. The dogma that there is no stigma to smegma — and if there’s no foreskin, there’s no smegma — appears now much shakier.

But: Read the literature, and you’ll learn that those who defend the practice of neo-natal circumcision are typically described as “culturally biased,� which may or may not be a code term for “Jewish.� Read the literature of a militant anti-circumcision group called the Circumcision Resource Center and you’ll learn that a majority of its board of directors is Jewish, as are a third of its Professional Advisory Board, inevitably inviting the question of whether they, too, are culturally biased. Angry with their parents for having had them circumcised?

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