If you are a male and born in America, South Korean, or Filipino, then more likely than not, you are circumcised. Most men are very unaware of their very own trauma inflicted onto them. Why are so many of our penises mutilated? I started doing my research and I was greatly surprised by the history and the controversy behind circumcision. I believe that the Asian American community needs to learn the history behind this practice and decide for themselves whether or not to continue this practice for future generations.
History of American Circumcision
Traditionally the practice of circumcision started as a Jewish and Muslims practice of tribalism/ritual. It wasn’t until early 20th century America where babies were born in hospitals did infant circumcision rates skyrocket.
One popular theory Jewish immigrants to the US feared a repeat of history (in which Nazi’s often identified Jews by pulling down their pants to see if they were circumcised). The idea was that if EVERYONE was circumcised, Jews could no longer be singled out in this fashion. So through the significant Jewish influence on the US healthcare system (financial and otherwise), circumcision began to be promoted during WWII, starting with military, and then filtering out into the civilian establishment. Medical texts written by American doctors and illustrated in American journals began to remove any and all references and pictures of the foreskin that deal with function and purpose, and generally presented a circumcised penis as “normal” (in contrast to most medical text printed outside the US). After a few generations of circumcised American doctors promoting the “medical benefits” of circumcision (some conjured and others validated), the healthcare system in the US profiting extra whenever a baby boy is born, and dads wanting their boys to look like them, circumcision becomes the norm in a Christian nation.
Asian Countries Affected by Circumcision
When looking into Asian countries affected by circumcision, the interesting data points that stand out are both South Korea and Japan. Both countries suffered through devastating wars with America. Yet, in the American influence with regards to circumcision is is vastly different. The circumcision rates for S. Korean Males is 75-85% yet under 1% for Japan. Both countries were occupied by the US military after the war and still are, yet why are the circumcision rates so different?
Not much research has been done here. Yet, I speculate that the reason was for the American Military to determine the difference between the North and South Koreans. North Korea has been isolated and estimated rates of circumcision are <0.1%. When looking at similar Asian countries like Japan and Vietnam, they both have very low rates of circumcision despite being under the influence of the American military.
Big Pharma and For Profit Circumcision
Did you ever wonder what hospitals do with the removed baby foreskin? Most people naively think they just throw it away… but that is not the case! There is a booming market for baby foreskins. A baby foreskin goes for $400+. Some use cases include for creating skin care products and other medical research reasons. Given the opportunity to profit, as shown by the Purdue Pharma and the creators of Oxycontin, would we think that the doctors promoting circumcision are any different?
But Doesn’t it have Health Benefits? (Answer: Questionable!)
Some studies show that it may reduce the rate of HIV, but only in African countries where HIV is prevalent. In looking at Japan and Korea, the HIV rates are similar despite the high differences in the rates of circumcision. For these higher income countries, HIV prevalence is much more correlated to socioeconomic reasons. For you to contract HIV in Asian countries means pretty much to sleep with the lowest level prostitutes (without protection), or to be a huge drug addict sharing needles. I personally would argue that the risks simplify do not outweigh the benefits.
In addition, there are criticisms of the actual studies used to promote lower HIV risks. Those same arguments could be used to promote the female genital mutilation. In fact, women who undergo female genital mutilation do have lower HIV rates. But that is just another example of correlation vs causation.
Double Standard Compared to Female Circumcision (aka Female Genital Mutilation)
Why is it that there is such an uproar that Muslims and Africans undergo female circumcision which is removing the clitoris and the labia. The major change affect these women would be decreased sexual satisfaction. The same could be said for men who undergo circumcision who say that sexual pleasure decreases, especially for oral sex. Where is the outrage on male genital mutilation?
Dangers of Circumcision
An often overlooked part is the psychological and physical trauma circumcision has on a newborn boy. Some babies are unable to move for a year as they heal from circumcision. In addition, not much research has been done on the psychological early childhood trauma caused by circumcision. As these boys grow older, the ones who do realize that they have been victims of genital mutilation can undergo severe depression and suicide.
In addition, if deciding to have your child undergo circumcision, I would make sure that it is an Asian doctor handling the procedure. I would be too worried about latent/subconscious racism from the surgeon especially in handling an Asian Male Penis. Studies have shown that people of different races empathize pain from different races differently. At the extreme case, we have surgeons accidentally cutting off a newborn’s penis during circumcision.
Warning to New Parents
Some hospital nurses treat circumcision as a routine as removing the umbilical cord. As a parent, you must be vigilant to ensure that your child does not undergo this procedure. It must be verbally communicated AND in writing to both the doctors and the nurses to ensure that your son does not get circumcised. Even then, for some reason the nurses and doctors both pressure new parents to undergo the circumcision process.
Should I Circumcise My Son?
At the end of the day it should be the decision of the child or at most the parents. After doing the research, I personally would not recommend it. I would let the child decide whether or not he would like to mutilate his own genitals.