A little perspective on the "benefits" of genital mutilation

published Sep 18, 2013

Allegedly, male genital mutilation (a.k.a. "circumcision") is beneficial enough to justify it. Let's think critically about, compare, and contrast, the so-called "benefits".

What are the benefits of "circumcision"?  In summary, the alleged medical "benefits of circumcision" only add up to a 0.9309% chance of benefiting from circumcision, even using supporters' numbers.  Here's how I came up with this number:

  1. Reduction in urinary tract infections from 1 in 100 to 0.1 in 100: 0.9% benefit, and that 1% is routinely cured with an antibiotic shot.
  2. Add that to 1 in 100,000 risk of penile cancer dropping to 0.1 in 100,000 after circumcision; so that's a .9 in 100,000 chance of preventing him from getting penile cancer 50-70 years from now, when we'll probably be curing cancer with a single injection as well. 0.0009% chance of benefit, and the HPV vaccine is actually more effective prevention right now.
  3. Next, there's HIV... it's questionable that circumcision is effective at reducing it, as the real world numbers show the opposite; but, even if the "60% reduction in female to male transmission" numbers are true, an American male's lifetime chances of getting HIV through that method are 0.02%. Go ahead and assume that all those men are circumcised, so that 0.02 is only after the reduction of 60% (this actually inflates the likelihood of benefit, but just for simplicity). That's still only a 0.03% chance of benefit, Inflated.  

0.9% chance of UTI benefit, plus 0.0009% chance of cancer benefit, plus 0.03% chance of HIV benefit, "equals": 0.9309% chance of benefit from my foreskin being permanently chopped off without my permission or authorization.

OK, now that we know that, what are the benefits of slicing women's breasts off when they're born?

Well, the rate of breast cancer in women is 1 in 8; 12.5% of women will get it, often young women, and removing breast buds at birth would prevent all of that, a cancer that alone is 13 times more likely to occur than any "problems" from not circumcising. Amusingly, the rate of male breast cancer is 1 in 1000, or 0.1%, making benefit of male breast bud removal three times greater than any serious benefits of circumcision combined!

Clearly, cutting women's breasts off is medically beneficial in exactly the same way that cutting men's foreskins off is, and even more so.  The "evidence" doesn't lie.

(See what I did there?)

OK, enough with the facetious suggestions -- let's move on to the key question: why, exactly, don't parents chop women's tits off when they're born, if it's so much more "beneficial" compared to the "benefits" of chopping men's foreskins off?  The answer should be clear: because those parents somehow recognize that chopping parts off a newborn is considered barbaric and malevolent.  Exactly the same as male genital mutilation: barbaric and malevolent.  Only most people don't see it that way... yet.

What does this analysis teach us?  It teaches us that the "benefits" of "circumcision" are simply clawed at as excuses for a barbaric and malevolent practice, which people are still irrationally emotionally attached to.

Civilization is not yet upon us, but we need to have the hard conversations if we're ever going to get there.