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cap, captain miss america
I have seen this article linked a couple places today and I wanted to comment on it. (link here)

TL:DR description is that after the CDC's recommendation for infant circumcision based on the consideration that it seems to reduce HIV transmission from infected women to uninfected men by 60%, people threw a hissy because it would reduce men's sexual gratification. This is compared to the hissy fit people threw over the HPV vaccine, in which they said vaccinating might make women want to have more sex.

I get both sides of the circumcision argument and it isn't one I have a strong opinion on, mostly because I'm not male and I don't think I should be the one deciding that for male babies (if I have a son, I would probably let this be the father's decision). Frankly, at the moment, I hope people stop circumcizing their kids so we can avoid people demanding to see the Presiden'ts wang as proof that his is "American." But what bugs me is that not a single person in the comments seems to get the point of the article-- this isn't about opposing or supporting infant circumcision, this is about the fact that we seek to improve men's sexual experience while stifling women's. That the public outcry when it comes to men is that we might reduce their pleasure; that the public outcry when it comes to women is that we might increase their safety and indirectly increase their pleasure.

Not okay.

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I'm trying to imagine people having an equivalent reaction to the HPV vaccine thing. (I'm not letting my son be circumcised, that'd be like saying I don't trust him to not be promiscuous!) It's not really working. And it's rather sad that standards that are widely accepted for young women would be taken as ridiculous if you try to apply them to men.

Exactly. I understand why people are upset at the suggestion of something that can be considered mutilation-- the issue is that the other big piece of moral outrage is missing. Especially when you consider the numbers-- the fact that far more teenagers know to worry about HIV than to worry about HPV.

I know this isn't the main gist of your original post, but as far as the mutilation thing goes...why should discovering an unexpected health benefit cause so much outrage over a procedure that's already accepted and common? I mean, the article says "an always-optional procedure would remain optional", but instead of circumcision for aesthetic/religious reasons, it's for medical ones. Surely that's better, not worse?

Because it's not accepted and common everywhere and a lot of people view the establishment's routine support of circumcision as a way to force people to Westernize or Americanize themselves, and furthermore because a lot of people feel that it isn't actually healthy for their sons-- it does involve cutting a very sensitive part of their body at an age where they can't have a choice in the matter.

My problem with the HPV vaccine is mostly due to the commercials and pamphlets they hand out. It's all "I made the decision for my daughter" and the implication that you're a terrible parent if you don't get every female person you know vaccinated post haste. Even putting aside my issues and problems with vaccines, I think that parents should, you know, talk to their kids about this before just blindly getting them vaccinated because someone pressured them into thinking their kid is going to die instantly if they don't do it.

Not that people shouldn't talk to their kids about medical decisions, but the HPV vaccine is supposed to be administered before puberty. People are "making the decision for their daughters" because their daughters aren't legally old enough to make the decision for themselves.

The vaccine is for people 9-26, so I am legitimately curious about what extra benefits the vaccine has if it is administered before puberty/past the time that a woman can make serious, informed decisions about one's health (and not have the decision made for them).

And also, I think part of the reason the HPV ads are directed at parents is because when the vaccine first came out, you had a lot of girls who wanted to get it and whose parents assumed that meant their daughters were sexually active. You had parents refusing to help high school and college aged daughters get it, so the ads were mainly focused on educating parents.

I guess it's just the entire tone of the campaign that bothers me. I took my 12 year old sister to a routine physical where the LPN started pushing me (not her legal guardian) to get the vaccine for her and myself, even though I am not a patient there, and then questioned me when I said I would have to talk to my mother about it. The whole campaign seems abnormally aggressive, and it really and truly bothers me on a visceral level. I have read a lot of literature on the subject, but if I don't feel it's right for me, can I really push it on a 12 year old? And what about women over 26? I am not scientifically inclined, so maybe there is something that I am missing. But then again, I am one of those strange people who doesn't think birth control is worth the risk, especially when condoms are < .07% less effective, and the last time I checked, did not cause serious health risks (and actually help prevent STIs).

I do think the vaccine is probably a good idea, but the tone of the campaign bothers me a lot too. What most bothers me about the whole thing, though, is the failure to include boys. It's more of the same old thing - sex is SCARY AND DANGEROUS for women, and we're irresponsible and endangering ourselves if we don't do everything they tell us we should to protect ourselves, but men needn't worry about anything. Men get HPV-related cancers, too. And if we really want to protect women from getting HPV, men should be vaccinated, too, so they can't get it and pass it on.

Especially because as of late there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the HPV vaccine. There was even a piece on some network television news journal where some doctors were speaking about how they refuse to administer it until there is more solid evidence and research to support its effectiveness and MORE IMPORTANTLY, its safety. The LA Times also talked about it some here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/08/hpv-vaccine-data-.html and the Washington Post reported on Merck's questionable and aggressive campaign here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/18/AR2009081803325.html

You know what reduces the spread of HIV infection regardless of whether or not you're circumcised? Condoms. Getting tested before engaging in sexual activity with multiple partners. A multitude of other things that fall under "being an educated person about the decisions you make" as opposed to "unnecessary surgery that the person it's being performed on cannot consent to."

The CDC can go to hell. There's no way in hell I would ever circumcise my kid.

I am a little confused because people are saying that uncircumcised men have less pleasure than men who are? I mean, that's not really my personal experience... In fact, my personal experience tends to lean towards the opposite.

Yes? And then I realized I read the other/wrong article... Uh, sorry?

Aha okay! That makes a lot more sense. Your argument is entirely valid and I completely agree with you about condoms and preventative education and stuff, I was just confused.

Hahaha, totally fine. I actually confused myself for a minute there!

Not circumcising men would increase women's pleasure too. It's a win-win in my book. Sex as Nature Intended It.

Circumcision is proof of American citizenship now? Really?

My brothers and I weren't circumcised, for whatever reason, and all of us were born in the U.S. within the past 40 years, so I've never had the impression that it's something that was just done automatically at every hospital.

Oh, Andrew! We all know you are a Nazi Commie Kenyan terrorist really.

Good point in the article. It's funny, but... sad.

Here in sweden (the land of geriatric death panels and socialists) the debate last month was actually about circumcision. Namely, whether it was child abuse or not. I think right now there is maybe a handful clinics that does it, and there was an argument that every 'landsting' (like a healthcare region) should have an opportunity for people to do it in order to reduce the number of improvised kitchen table circumcisions by people that are not doctors. About half of the 'landstings' said that no way in hell will we do that, and doctors spoke out that they couldn't imagine doing something like that because that was a mutilation done to minors that could not voice their opinion.

For me it felt a bit like my impression of the abortion debate in the US.

So, customs are very different depending on where you go.

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