Update: It’s been pointed out that the link within the New York Times story is broken. It’s missing the “www” from the link, an understandable mistake. So, the paper linked incorrectly to Circlist. The proper conclusion is that the editors failed to fact-check in addition to not checking source credibility rather than the pathetic implication that they didn’t link to a fetish site. I missed this because I started at Internet Archive and worked backwards.
I’ve noted it throughout, but almost every link after the first paragraph of this post is NSFW.
Last month the Washington Post ran a commercial masquerading as an editorial. Today, the New York Times follows suit, but ups the offensiveness in an unexpected – and unacceptable – manner. The article is another regurgitation for the PrePex device, so I won’t quote any of the related nonsense. The largest problem is at the end of the advertisement.
Dr. [Jason] Reed said he had heard that another device, Ali’s Klamp, was being tested in Kenya under protocols that seemed to match W.H.O. requirements. According to Circlist.com, a circumcision information Web site, it is a Turkish device dating to 2007, and works on principles similar to those of the Tara KLamp and another device, the SmartKlamp, approved by the F.D.A. in 2004.
I removed the hyperlink from the excerpt because – unlike the New York Times – I refuse to link to a pro-circumcision fetish site. But it is instructive. It demonstrates how uninterested the New York Times is in logic and ethics. The story doesn’t seem to rely on Circlist for any specific facts since, again, this piece is merely a commercial. That doesn’t make the site’s inclusion in the commercial, with a direct link in the online version, any less problematic.
With any effort, a “journalist” like Donald G. McNeil, Jr. could presumably uncover the bias of Circlist. For example, from its “Considering Circumcision” page, this Editorial Comment:
It used to be the case that the argument between the pro-circumcision and anti-circumcision lobby groups was an argument of opinion versus opinion. That is no longer the case. The pro-circ groups (CIRCLIST included) now have proven scientific fact on their side, whereas the anti-circ groups continue to rely on a less tangible line of reasoning based primarily on the morality of genital integrity – especially as regards child circumcisions. Of necessity they have, in the main, quietly dropped their assertions that the science is bunk.
The reasonable response a journalist might have is to ask what part the health of the child at the time of circumcision indicates. Whether or not the science is valid or bunk is secondary. The application of that science to a healthy (also science) child’s genitals is the ethical/moral question. In the analysis, ethics > science.
In other locations, Circlist believe[s/d] that “Parental Request” is an indicator for circumcision. (And a tight foreskin, and a long foreskin, and a loose foreskin. As long as the end result is YAY CIRCUMCISION…) But, since the child is healthy, that informs the morality involved. Circlist is like most pro-circumcision propagandists. The potential benefits supposedly demonstrate that it is ethical, as opposed to being merely a piece of information. Because it can possibly impart something does not make it ethical. If it did, prophylactic surgery of any type on children would be ethical. That’s stupid.
Any length of time spent on Circlist would reveal the depth of its bias (and kink), which at the least requires some offsetting balance if it’s going to be a source for the New York Times. The challenge is in finding out what the members of Circlist believe. Sometimes, they tell you. On the site today:
FIANCÉE GIVES HUSBAND-TO-BE AN EROTIC CIRCUMCISION
The following text is a work of fiction written by an anonymous contributor living in North America. The story involves a Do-it-Yourself circumision. CIRCLIST recommends that you do not mimic the scenes described. Circumcision should only be carried out by a qualified medical practitioner.
There are more at the link I’m not providing. Advocates who’ve been involved in this topic for more than a few years are familiar with what else the site contains and/or contained. Contained is the key I want to focus on now. The current site has been scrubbed of some material, but the Internet Archive reveals its not-lost secrets. (Remaining links are from March 25, 2008, a date picked at random.) Such as more stories and pictures that are very much NSFW, although I don’t recommend the NSFW link. The subject is “Foreskin Has Erotic Purpose For Some”. That’s a way of saying there’s still a circumcision to be done that can generate sexual excitement, not that maybe the foreskin should stay.
As for infant circs, I am sure, since you are circ-obsessive or you wouldn’t belong to this club, you’ve seen your share of adults circumcised as babies. Many of their scars are quite extensive and, dare I say it, ugly. From the sulcus down to the shaft skin it’s bumpy, red and sometimes looks quite sore. Whether it is sore or not, I can’t say. Also, when the frenulum has been removed, the raw area left in the wake of the surgery can look quite angry. Some guys say that this is still their most sensitive area on their penises, as is mine, even though I instructed the doc to leave mine alone. The worst consequence of these infant circs without sutures is the skin bridge (see photo at right). Sometimes the inner foreskin edge doesn’t grow to join to the shaft skin edge. It turns back on itself and joins with the corona of the glans. From all accounts this bridge can be benign or very painful in sex.
Notice that they are happy to publish that they’re circ-obsessive at the same time they publish a clear explanation that circumcision causes problems. (The corresponding picture and others show circumcision fits the definition of mutilation, especially when forced on another.) Yet, they think the moral question of imposing this on healthy children is essentially a non-issue. Why would anyone trust them to be a good judge of ethics?
Finally, if you click to Circlist today, you’ll find a very different view of female genital cutting than in the past. More on that in a moment. But what’s interesting is how they currently differentiate between female genital cutting and female genital mutilation. They don’t think the distinction is what you think it is.
Female Circumcision (“Femcirc”): Surgery that modifies the female genitalia in ways likely to be accepted by a neutral observer as enhancing the quality of a woman’s sexual experience.
Female Genital Mutilation (“FGM”): Surgery that modifies the female genitalia in ways likely to be accepted by a neutral observer as reducing the quality of a woman’s sexual experience.
The consent of the female isn’t discussed. It’s merely whether a “neutral observer” thinks the cutting “enhances” the sexual experience. They are not endorsing a view that females have a right to their bodies, just that someone else’s perceived benefits to sexuality is a valid reason to cut. They discard the moral question of non-therapeutic male genital cutting, which is unsurprising. But they discard the moral question of non-therapeutic female genital cutting, as well, in spite of its clear position within the Western world. They’re not arbiters of ethics and human rights, yet they’re quoted in the New York Times. Why?
All of that is offensive, but their past interest was more involved. (NSFW) From “Cindy (USA)”:
I recently had my clitoral hood removed (female circumcision) to improve sensitivity and cleanliness as it was such a long hood. I had some pain during healing, but that has been minimal. Healing has been rapid.
The glans clitoris has slowly increased in size since the operation. The sensitivity is also there and my ability to orgasm has increased be cause of it.
I think that all women should consider have their hoods removed as it would aid in cleanliness of the area and grreatly improving orgasm! I’m totally satisfied!
Photos of my girlfriend Lisa, before and after her circumcision are attached. She previously had her clitty hood circumcised, and now her lips. I think she looks much better, don’t you?
Finally, from “French Couple Advocates Both Male and Female Circumcision”:
We are a French couple , 32 years old, from Metz, in the east of France. I am Pascale (wife), my husband is Marc. We have 3 children, 2 girls, one boy.
We are strongly interested in male AND female circumcision, especially female because male circumcision is not a problem for us. My husband has been circumcised (well circumcised) for 3 years.
Marc (my husband) has a very tight circumcision with the frenulum completely removed. It was done 3 years ago, voluntarily, and without any medical reason, only to be very clean and erotic (I write my opinion!) Marc is very happy.
Mathieu (my son) also has a very tight circumcision, frenulum completely removed. We had him circumcised completely at birth. He is now 3 years old and his circumcision looks very good.
Unhappily I am not not yet circumcised, but I WANT it. We are searching information, testimonies, addresses for my female circumcision. I think that female circumcision is analogous to male circumcision and is also necessary to the couple’s sex live. I think it should be better to allow female circumcision . I am now speaking about cutting the hood and the labia minora. I am also searching for information about the complete cutting of the clitoris.
When I was 19 y o, I had a (girl) friend that told to me that she was cut off like an African woman: She had lived in UpperVolta (now Burkina Faso), with her parents, and her mother thought it was a good practice to be cut: All the females of the family were cut in a local hospital by a nurse. She had no regrets and was not ashamed to be a White French Excised woman. She showed me the result of the operation. I thought I would like to be like her.
Last years in Cap d’Agde, a huge naturist town in the south of France , we saw a couple of smooth circumcised Dutch: They had no pubic hair (like us), and the wife had her nipples pierced with rings. Also her clitoris was pierced and had no hood and was ever protruding. She had no labia minora. I want absolutely to be cut and pierced like her.
Circlist is a fetish site. It’s present is tamer than its past, but the underpinning is still there. Yet, today they’re being quoted by the New York Times. The paper, its editors, and McNeil should be embarrassed.