I’m making a big official post about it because I’ve been getting a lot of complaints from MRAs who think I don’t take male circumcision seriously.
I am absolutely 100% okay with men fighting for their right to bodily autonomy and taking issue with the practice of male circumcision. I’m totally cool with it. It doesn’t affect me, and it’s not an issue I have a stake in because I do not have a penis. I’ve known men who liked the fact that they were circumcised, and I’ve known men who dislike it. I assume cisgendered men know more about what it’s like to have a penis than I do, so I don’t want to try to make this issue “mine” because I certainly do not appreciate it when men try to control MY bodily autonomy and reproduction rights.
But WHY OH WHY do so many intactivists seem to overlap with people who hate and ridicule feminists? Seriously, why? Feminism has nothing to do with anything preventing you from advocating for the illegalization of male circumcision.
I really don’t understand why MRAs and feminists bump heads on this so often. At least, I don’t understand why MRAs DECIDE to bump heads with feminists on this issue, since it doesn’t really have anything to do with us. A lot of MRAs seem to throw male circumcision in our faces like it’s somehow evidence of female privilege, which it isn’t.
Female circumcision is not even really a “circumcision” procedure. It is the removal or mutilation of the entire clitoris (and sometimes additionally the sewing together of the labia), whereas male circumcision is the removal of skin. Male circumcision grew out of tradition but stayed prevalent for hygiene reasons. While it is possible for men to remain clean and infection-free even with an uncircumcised penis, it is easier with a circumcised one. That’s not to exonerate the practice of male circumcision, but that’s the reason it’s still around. Additionally, the extra mucous membranes under the foreskin DO make those with intact foreskins more susceptible to STIs (a lot like how ciswomen are generally more vulnerable to STI transmission because of our biological vulnerability from more exposed mucous membranes). While this may not be enough to excuse nonconsensual body mutilation, my bigger point is that male circumcision is practiced for males’ added protection, whereas the intent behind female genital mutilation was never for protection or anything in favor of female well-being.
I’m extraordinarily resentful of people who compare male circumcision to female circumcision. Comparing a perhaps outdated hygiene practice to the malicious and senseless violence of female genital mutilation is wrong, and to use this as “evidence of female privilege” is unbearably sad. It is not our “privilege” that we do not have to undergo this procedure, because the reason for its existence in the first place was misogynistic - in some cultures, our sexual pleasure is a sin and our “purity” held to unreasonably high standards. This procedure comes with life-long complications for childbirth, intercourse, and even urination. Male circumcision came into practice to protect you from disease, and while some men may lose sensitivity or even suffer urination complications from a botched circumcision, the procedure was never malicious or sexist in nature.
Additionally, the procedures just aren’t physically comparable and really have no business BOTH being called “circumcision.” It’d be like if ciswomen were also forced to have their butt prodded at during our yearly checkup because cismen have to have prostate exams. The fact that we don’t have to go through THAT either is not a “privilege.”
We feminists would not take as much issue with MRAs if you did not so disrespectfully compare the removal of your foreskin to the damage or removal of OUR ENTIRE CLITORIS. If male circumcision were the practice of removing the entire head of the penis on the grounds that pleasure should be reserved for us, they’d be comparable. But it isn’t, and they aren’t.
You are free to go about your opposition to male circumcision. Don’t bring feminism into it, or at least don’t blame feminism for somehow preventing you from going about your intactivism. Don’t bring female genital mutilation into it. Don’t bring the notion of “female privilege” into it. If you do, you’re terrible.