Hello, my name's Amanda, Manager of Oasis Tub Rentals and Lead Tub Ninja. I live in Eureka with my husband and three sons.  I've used tubs like these for all my labors and found them to be tremendous.  It's fulfilling to help women have more choices in childbirth.

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Genital cutting as a medical procedure rather than as a ritual sacrifice got its start as a Victorian fad treatment for masturbation. They blamed masturbation for many of the serious illnesses they could not understand or treat. A lot of Americans of my generation don't know this, but the foreskin is the most sensitive erogenous zone on the male body and cutting it off was seen as a convenient 'cure' for this pleasure problem. Other treatments involved burning the head of the penis with hot pokers and chastity belts. I'll quote one of the fathers of medical genital cutting, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg:

"A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering anaesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed." More quotes...

The same 'benefits' were also recommended for girls, and clitoridectomies (removal of the clitoris) were also performed. But even Dr. Kellogg thought circumcision was inappropriate for infants and could lead to problems later. Nevertheless, as more births began happening in hospitals instead of at home, attended by doctors instead of midwives, the procedure began to be performed on infants more and more often.

After World War II, doctors in all other industrialized nations rejected circumcision as harmful and unnecessary, but the U.S. followed a different path. Repressive cultural attitudes about sex and sexual pleasure, wartime military policy, the medicalization of childbirth, the adoption of a for-profit medical system instead of a public health service, and the opinions of popular figures such as Dr. Spock all played a role.

Now the U.S. is also beginning to abandon the practice. Circumcision rates in the United States have dropped as low as one third in recent years. I'm thrilled! Circumcision permanently removes 50 to 75% of a person's healthy erogenous tissue, is very painful, has all of the same human rights issues as cutting girls, and all of the risks that come with any surgery.

What about those HIV results in Africa? The media likes to talk about a 50% risk reduction, and that sounds impressive, until you look at the numbers and discover that the risk was reduced from 3.38% to 1.58%. Not so exciting, especially since the benefit is likely to be much smaller for individuals in a developed country. These sorts of minuscule results are why no medical association in the world, not even in the U.S., recommends the surgery to prevent any disease. I'll quote the American Medical Association:

"...behavioral factors are far more important risk factors for acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmissible diseases than circumcision status, and circumcision cannot be responsibly viewed as 'protecting' against such infections."

Why don't medical associations recommend circumcision anyway even if the benefits are small? Because circumcision is not just a 'snip', it's a surgery with health risks. And when medical boards compare the benefits and risks, they find that a baby is much more likely to experience a serious complication than to dodge a disease.

The foreskin is not dead or vestigial, but dense with blood vessels and nerves. In newborns, the foreskin is adhered to the head of the penis with the same type of tissue that adheres fingernails to their nail beds. It must be peeled away leaving a raw wound, and then crushed or cut all the way around. The foreskin has no obvious beginning or end; it's continuous with the rest of the skin of the penis, so precision in the amount of tissue removed is difficult. Like any cosmetic surgery performed on a newborn, its eventual result is also difficult to predict.

Some babies will and some babies do experience one or more of the following complications from having their foreskin amputated: surgical site infection, scarring, skin tags, nerve damage, blockage of the urethra, damage to the opening to the urethra, accidental removal of some or all of the remaining skin of the penis, part or all of the head may be removed accidentally, scar tissue may grow to block the urethra; the baby may hemorrhage and require stitches, or the baby may experience a seizure or stroke, or die of anesthesia reaction, stroke, hemorrhage, or infection. A newborn is among the worst candidates for an unnecessary surgery. A 2006 report estimated 100 neonatal circumcision-related deaths occur annually in the United States. Estimates of the annual number of deaths vary widely, everywhere from 2 to 2,000. My heart breaks for everyone concerned. I hope that someday the amount of suffering, injuries and deaths from this 'social' surgery will be certain: zero.

Even if the surgery goes as planned, the baby has had his most sensitive erogenous zone amputated without his consent. As the Victorians knew very well, one of the foreskin's main purposes is sexual pleasure. Ladies, would you cut off half or more of your happy parts for a reduction in your disease risk that's no better than the risks from the surgery? Would you like someone to surgically alter you to make you look just like your mother? Would you rather amputate your sensitive bits than go to all the work of washing them? Maybe you would. Hey, everybody's different, and I'm down with that. But maybe you wouldn't, and it's time that guys have that freedom of choice too. Let's face it. Genital cutting is only for consenting adults.

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