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Circumcision: Let Your Boy(s) Decide?

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The subject of circumcision is back in the news since the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently published a theory that circumcision reduces the spread of HIV in Africa.

"We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country [in Africa], and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the CDC's division of HIV/AIDS prevention, told the New York Times. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks."

According to various reports, “over 70 percent of adult American men are already circumcised, though circumcision of newborns has dropped to about 65 percent in recent decades” and is expected to drop more as fewer pediatricians recommend the procedure as routine. In fact, after my only son was born in 2000, my pediatrician, a veteran of 30 years in her practice, shrugged off the idea when I asked her, “Should I have him circumcised? Is it necessary?” She said I could if I wanted to, but that no, it wasn’t necessary. Although all the males in my family were circumcised, I decided not to have my son undergo the procedure and instead allow him to make that decision for himself when he was an adult. After all, it’s his body, not mine. I could not justify the pain and potential risk of having him subjected to something as sensitive as circumcision when he had no say in the matter.

For whatever bizarre reason, Rush Limbaugh decided to weigh in on the circumcision issue on his radio program by stating, "We're in a world where the tiniest measure of government suggestion about sexual health equals a full onslaught against privacy."

Apparently, Limbaugh is unaware of the irony of his remarks, considering his views on abortion; nonetheless, I have to agree with him for a change. Since most of the health claims of circumcision have been refuted over the years, and modern sanitation and the prevalence of condoms have reduced the risk of retaining one’s foreskin, the only reasons a parent would opt for circumcising their baby boy would be to honor a religious tradition or for aesthetic preferences. I won’t characterize circumcision as “genital mutilation,” although it can be argued that it is precisely that, but I will point out that uncircumcised males (which represent a majority of non-Muslim and non-Jewish males around the world) enjoy higher sexual stimulation and their partners report greater satisfaction. Besides, the foreskin protects and lubricates, and like tonsils, appendices, and spleens, serves an important function.

I didn't want my son one day to accuse me of ruining his sex life. As a mother of four, I can only take so much guilt.

Any intensely personal decision parents make regarding their baby’s upbringing, education and medical care, whether or not to circumcise is better left behind closed doors and not in the forefront of public debate, especially by someone like Rush Limbaugh, who is statistically pretty likely to be already circumcised, and nobody — I mean nobody — wants to go there. Sorry.

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About Loretta Dillon

Loretta Dillon began her writing career publishing a neighborhood newspaper and handwritten and illustrated books as a child in a Cleveland suburb. Her strongest literary influences were MAD magazine and Mark Twain. When introduced to the internet, Dillon created a blog to showcase her satire that evolved into a popular forum on relationships, recovery and true crime stories, specifically spousal murder. Selected entries were published as a book in 2005 that was honored as a finalist for a non-fiction "Blooker" award. Dillon's comedy play, "The Smoking Diary" was produced off-Broadway in 2009.
  • msreason

    I am 100% against strongly encouraging parents to routinely circumcise their newborn boys.

    Here are my reasons:

    The circumcision rate has decreased in the United States to the lowest point since before WWII. More and more people are realizing that the United States being the only Westernized country with the majority of boys being circumcised for non-religious reasons is wrong in its thinking.

    The foreskin, which is a healthy body part that serves a major function in protecting the glans of newborns, belongs to the owner. Parents and doctors should only concern themselves in the VERY rare event that there is an anomaly necessitating the modification or removing of the foreskin. This is a civil rights issue. In our country, we have seen lawsuits filed against doctors and parents by young men who have been circumcised against their will. I believe there will be an increase in this activity. We have laws against modifying female genitalia, why not protect males as well? This is a double standard. The female genitalia is responsible for spreading and harboring disease, yet we protect females. “Circumcised” females would also be cleaner and lead to higher reductions in transferring disease.

    The foreskin protects the glans, keeping the skin of the glans soft and sensitive. This is a major plus during sexual activity, whether it be masturbation, intercourse or other activity. In addition, the female and male both benefit from the foreskin’s gliding action leading to more pleasure for both parties.

    The foreskin has some 20,000 nerve receptors, providing more sexual satisfaction for the male.

    The removal of the foreskin often has adverse results. Many men say they feel robbed because they find a hardening of the skin on the glans leading to less sensitivity. Many men feel robbed because they did not have the choice to choose between having and not having a foreskin. Circumcision also leads to too much or too little skin being removed. Too much skin removed leads to painful erections. Too little removed leads to re-circumcisions and penile skin adhesions. Also, the instance of meatal stenosis is high. Cosmetically, a lot of circumcisions have glaring scarring that is there for the life of the male.

    The act of circumcising a newborn is painful. Even though there are guidelines strongly recommending proper anesthesia, many doctors use no anesthesia or use Emla Cream which is not recommended by the manufacturer or the AAP. Imagine, the pain of feces and urine stinging the open wound over the week to ten days it takes to fully heal.

    A study that was unveiled on the opening day of the CDC Convention in Atlanta showed very clearly that mass circumcision would not make a dent in the number of HIV/Aids cases in the United States. Almost all of the cases are derived from male-to-male sex and dirty needles.

    There is a belief that uncircumcised males suffer from an elevated level of urinary tract infections. Yes, there is a slight elevation compared to their circumcised counterparts, but still below the incidence of urinary tract infections in baby girls.

    There is a belief that uncircumcised males will get penis cancer. As you know, it is VERY rare to see penis cancer in an uncircumcised man.

    There is a belief that chlamydia is spread by uncircumcised males. It is a rampant disease with no relation to circumcision status.

    It is said there is a slight increase in cases of syphilis and gonorrhea instances in and transference from uncircumcised males to others. It is important to note that these are slight increases.

    As a country, we need to closely observe why in several European countries, circumcision rates are under 10% and HIV rates are also minuscule. I imagine it is because of more education of youth and adults so that protective actions are taken prior to sex. Unprotected sex is the problem, not the foreskin. The CDC’s energies would be far better spent on massive education on how to have safe sex and about the need for abstinence if protection isn’t used. Let’s say the cost of circumcision is $300.00 and let’s say that all insurance companies and all state Medicaid programs covered neonatal circumcision. In one year, a million circumcisions would cost $300,000,000. That is a lot of money that could be put into education and the availability of free condoms. And, because this program would not be aimed solely at circumcision (which would have only a slight positive effect of the spreading of disease) we would see a major downturn in all types of diseases and in children being born out of wedlock and in other non-planned pregnancies. We are talking about BILLIONS of dollars in benefit every year.

    Leave our foreskins alone. Appreciate all of the positive aspects of leaving little babies intact. Should a young man decide he wants a circumcision, then it becomes his choice. In writing a recommendation, clearly state the true statements regarding the minor benefits of circumcision, but instead of recommending universal circumcision of baby boys, stress what needs to be done in preventing contact between infected and unifected people and stress the need for medical screening of sexually active teens and adults to identify and treat STD’s.

    Thanks you again for the opportunity to express my heartfelt opinion which is shared by the 75% of all men in the world who still are fortunate to have had the choice as to whether to have a foreskin or not. The foreskin is not just a flap of skin. It is there for a reason.

  • http://www.RestoringForeskin.org Restoring Tally

    Good for you for not having your son circumcised.

    The current news regarding the CDC does not make sense. Babies do not have sex. So, RIC is not relevant to reducing HIV in the near term. Let the adult man decide if he wishes to have a portion of his sex organ removed by circumcision. If the man is smart, he will wear a condom when having at-risk sex with his foreskin.

    Also, having non-medically required surgery on an infant is a violation of that infant’s human rights and bodily integrity. It is illegal to perform non-medically required genital surgery on infant girls in the US. Why is there a double standard that allows genital surgery on baby boys?

    Many men are finding out that they miss their foreskin. They, like myself, are restoring their foreskin to regain what was taken from us at birth. See Restoring Foreskin to read accounts of men who wish they had never been circumcised and are doing something about it.

    Also, as you noted, many of those men are very upset with their parents for having them circumcised. This is particularly true of the younger men, who can easily research circumcision on the Internet and wonder why their parents ignored the evidence available to them.

  • http://www.retzilian.com Loretta

    Thanks for your comment, RT. I hope he feels the same way. If he ever asks me (which he may not), I’ll tell him I wanted him to have control over his own body. He’s so modest by nature, I can’t see him comparing himself with other boys yet.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That is indeed odd for Limbaugh to make that statement. Did he misspeak?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Let’s say the cost of circumcision is $300.00 When out two sons were circumcised, it cost us $70 for the eldest and $75 for the younger. You’re not going to tell me that these costs have more than quadrupled in 20 years, are you? We didn’t pay a doctor, we paid a mohel who was a doctor. There was no insurance involved. Getting a brit milá was an out of pocket expense. What was more expensive were the refreshments served our guests. And we were happy to pay every penny. A Covenant with the Creator of the Universe is certainly worth at least a few hundred dollars.

    Actually, my point is this. I really do not care what non-Jews do or do not do with respect to circumcision. It just isn’t my problem. You can debate all you want. But when some self-righteous idiot gets up in a legislature and says it should be banned (as kosher slaughter was banned in parts of Europe), citing all the reasons in comments #1 and #2, I DO get concerned.

    On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe all those stubborn and stupid Jews who think that America is paradise would start to wake up and come home to Israel….

  • http://www.retzilian.com Loretta

    Circumcision will never be banned, sir. It’s as WASPY a thing to do as it is Jewish.

    So, don’t worry.

    And, yes, the procedure costs $300 now. I turned it down for my baby boy even though my insurance would have covered it.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress barga

    He should be circumsized. He will want it when he is older, and it is better to do it when there are no memmories

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    He should be circumsized. He will want it when he is older…

    What a brilliant mind you have. You know what other people’s children will want in advance. Despite some voices showing up here on BC and saying contrary things. Have you told those detractors what they want yet? They seem to have gotten what they want wrong.

    Well, I have to say I was wrong, Robert, your talent for knowing what is right for everyone would be wasted as a car salesman. You would fit right into the ‘education’ system.

  • Mark

    Loretta, we chose to leave our 2 ‘boys’ uncircumcised, also. They are now in their late 20s — their dicks haven’t fallen off, and they aren’t clamoring for the procedure.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    Or, Cindy, maybe i just understand why it is that most males are circumcized already, adn that the reaction from girls will always be a play

    that said, as there is evidence that it is healthy…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Robert,

    Or, Cindy, maybe i just understand why it is that most males are circumcized already…

    Nope. I don’t think so.

    the reaction from girls

    How do you know how girls will react? Are you sure the reaction you are speaking about isn’t your own reaction? (This idea makes me feel like I am an insensitive idiot. Which I am more often than I wish.)

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    My dear, I know how most girls react to a non-circumcized penis

  • http://www.retzilian.com Loretta

    American girls, maybe. But, it’s a cultural phenomenon here in the USA. It’s not standard issue. When girls today grow up, they will see at least 4 out of 10 men in their generation who are uncircumcised.

  • Jordan Richardson

    So Robert, how do most girls react to a non-circumcised penis? Something along the lines of “eww, it’s wearing a little hat?”

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “My dear, I know how most girls react”

    No you don’t.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Robert,

    Unless you normally wear your penis on the outside of your clothing, a girl isn’t likely to see it unless she actually likes you.

    So, the question is: would you really be able to care much for a girl, knowing that she is so shallow and non-thinking as to reject you (remember, she likes you already) simply because you are uncircumcised?

    P.S. Does your girlfriend know you call women ‘my dear’ in discussions? I wonder if there is a correlation between girls who don’t mind being called ‘my dear’ in normal conversation and girls who judge men’s uncircumcised penises. Could you find out for me? TIA.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Anyway Robert, here is my guess. If a girl likes a fellow, and she discovers he is not circumcised, and this is new to her, she will more than likely be looking around on the internet to make sure she’s informed about what she should and shouldn’t do. Like this young lady.

    I do hope you stick with women who actually like male bodies. Just some unrequested advice.

    :-)

  • http://randfigur.wordpress.com/ Xenia

    Hi Loretta,
    I really like the way you write and enjoyed reading this post. still, I was wondering why you posted it under Sci/Tech?

  • http://www.retzilian.com Loretta

    Thanks, Xenia. I didn’t put it in that category, the “editor” did. I don’t know why!

  • http://randfigur.wordpress.com/ Xenia

    Interesting ;-)

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “”We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country [in Africa], and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,”

    Yea…But, unfortunately, the one real tool that should be used indefinitely gets banned by the Pope’s intervention. Instead of worrying about this circumcision nonsense, they should be using condoms & other forms of protection to greatly reduce the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

    So, IMHO, it’s always this religious voodoo that causes the most problems. Just like with Ruvy getting “concerned” over some pretty interesting facts because he wants his belief system to stay intact, he will surely be against this blasphemy against “the Creator of the Universe”.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Don’t worry, Brian,

    Ruvy could care less what you Americans do about circumcision. If you don’t ban it, fine. If you do, also fine. Jews who want to remain more than JINOs (Jews in name only) will leave America. And the Jews who don’t give a damn will stay – and raise a generation of non-Jews. In other words, good riddance to bad garbage.

    Our belief systems will stay intact here in Israel, where it counts. In other words, so far as the beliefs of the Children of Israel are concerned, what you do is meaningless.

  • Loretta

    Gee, Ruvy, that’s awfully hostile. Never mind how chauvinistic it is. Do you really think it’s logical to believe that a tiny minority of people in the world are more worthy, holier, better?

    “Bad rubbish” to describe your fellow Jews? I can’t even imagine how you describe the rest of the unwashed masses.

    Your misanthropy is seething like rancid puss.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Loretta, you can spout principled “good will” garbage all you want. You have no clue as to what your are talking about.

    These “fellow Jews” generally want to see the Arabs take over Israel (and massacre us) in the name of “justice”, they want to see a perversion of our law and customs – or just a dismantling of them. We haven’t survived for nearly 4,000 years to be undermined or to be destroyed by such trash. So, yes, good riddance to bad garbage.

    The rancid puss is the puss seething from the cancer of Jews who would betray their own people for a bigger house or SUV or a more expensive country club membership. I’m a person who has the guts to say, “lance the boil”. And I’m not the only one.

    Do you really think it’s logical to believe that a tiny minority of people in the world are more worthy, holier, better?

    So long as I do not try to convince you to believe as I do, my beliefs are not your business or your concern.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Robert (If you ever come back this way.)

    1) I owe you an apology. I’d forgotten you are in college at the time I wrote my first reply above. I usually try not to be rude to anyone that young. Out of respect.

    2) I interviewed my nephew who is uncircumcised. After he got past his initial (You want to ask me about WHAT?!) shock that his old aunt is asking him how he feels about his penis, he seemed relieved to have someone to talk to about it. He is nearly 17 and he said he agrees with you. When I asked why, he said because it is ‘normal’. When I asked if he would change it now, he said no, because he already knows how everything works, no reason to start anew figuring things out.

    3) I am glad your comment offered me the opportunity to let him talk, as well as offer reassurance (that there is a larger world beyond ‘Boondock High’), and inspire him to think further about his idea of ‘normality’.

    4) I will credit you for having an excellent understanding of young men who have been enculturated to believe something is wrong with them if they don’t fit in. (or 96.837% of the population of young men, based on my best guess) I expect he will one day come to a different conclusion. He is a changeable fellow, always thinking about things. I think it will take getting past HS though.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Well, Thank You Ruvy.

    I was so worried that we don’t live up to your holy standards. But, that’s why I live here and you live there. I love being free from an oppressive translation of a fairy tale that has caused enough bloodshed that would make America’s mistakes(?) look insignificant.

    Because, your portion of the world is responsible for far more atrocities than that of all the world combined, I will have to beg to differ that your beliefs are not my concern. As well as any of that extreme radicalism that your people & the “Arabs” have used to brainwash the mentally weak in order to live a life of slavery.

    As far as I’m concerned. whether they are Jews,Muslims,Christians,Buddhists,Hindus(?),etc… If they tout that mindless violent trash over the rights of the people of this world to live in peace then they are the ones who should be “Circumcised” away from the rest of humanity!

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    I read, just only toss out input when I think that I should

    My whole point was that it is the status quo, and peple expect that. Sure, there is nothing wrong with being or not being circumsized.

    So, he wants it to be ‘normal’ but realizes that it isn’t smart to do it now. Smart kid there (no sarcasim, real)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    …your portion of the world is responsible for far more atrocities than that of all the world combined…. whether they are Jews,Muslims,Christians,Buddhists,Hindus, if they tout that mindless violent trash over the rights of the people of this world to live in peace then they are the ones who should be “circumcised” away from the rest of humanity!

    I pulled up the calculator and toted up the peoples you said should be “circumcised away from humanity”. It’s just an approximate figure, but it’s impressive enough – 4.515 billion people. If you knowck off the Buddhists, you can get it down to 4.4 billion people, say.

    You make Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tze Tung. all added up together, look like pikers! They are nothing compared to you, and they were the most savage killers of the 20th (Christian) Century.

    You wouldn’t happen to be a fan of Erik Pianka, would you? He also wants to knock off four billion people from the planet.

    I don’t know if he’s retired from the University of Texas, but you should check him out! Sounds like you have lots in common with him.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Wow… For the uninitiated, you would actually sound legit instead of actually seeing the damage control ,that most BC’ers know, you start spinning as soon as someone attacks your lopsided & maladjusted views of the world. BUT, if the touting extremist named Ruvy would’ve actually read the words I wrote, he could only come to the conclusion that your racist Qur’an already boasts which is an “Eye for an Eye”. I never said that I wanted to exterminate all the religious people of the world, you dumb fuck. What I said, was, That all these religious extremists(like yourself),no matter what religion they subscribe to, that want to put innocent people in harm’s way or indirectly kill them, and not allow them to live peacefully, because of some retarded translation of a fucked up fairytale should be eliminated from the population.

    It still baffles me at how you came to your comparison of me & Hitler… HA!! You really are diluted…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Brian, stop frothing at the mouth….

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “just only toss out input when I think that I should”

    you should work on that

  • zingzing

    wow. for an article to go from sheering off a little bit of penis skin to the extermination of the majority of the world’s population is quite a step.

  • zingzing

    wow. for an article to go from sheering off a little bit of penis skin to the extermination of the majority of the world’s population is quite a step.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Ruvy,

    I’ll stop frothing when you stop spewing

  • zingzing

    i can imagine the two of you standing in front of each other, eye-to-eye, frothing and spewing, creating a giant puddle of rabies-infested vomit. you notice the aroma, and, in a fit of passion, gobble it up and make sweet, sweet love.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    @31
    what did I do wrong? Clearly I tossed out something that I should have

    @Ruvy dude, this is about penises, not about anything else

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    this is about penises, not about anything else

    Robert,

    Anthing that is about penises usually winds up being about a whole slew of “anything elses”. But I more or less stuck to the topic of cutting penises until Brian decided to go after me with a hacksaw. G-d forbid a man should believe in G-d!

    But Brian has reduced himself (here, anyway) to frothing at the mouth. Will you get the guy a rag so he can wipe himself (his mouth, that is). You’re aq lot closer to him than I. Maybe you should stick a pipe in it (his mouth, that is), also, with some good calming tobacco, so that he can attempt to make his points without frothing….

    The pipe should be a good Oom Paul, so that he can think calmly….

  • http://delibernation.com/blog/3 Silas Kain

    OK, I can’t resist. I’m against the recommendations. First of all, if circumcision is part of a religious codex, then it must be followed. But it should not be something that is forced upon every male infant. I’m circumcised. And I’m not happy about it. I would rather have made the decision for myself. I know there seems to be more pros than cons but there are just certain things that are an individual decision. And, not for anything, is there a reason why calamari futures went up the day these recommendations came out?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Ruvy,

    When you start comparing people to genocidal lunatics(just like your “chosen” people for the most part) that’s when I lose respect for your irrational point of view.

    You can believe in your superstitious fairy tale all you want while smoking your herbs to keep yourself all warm & cozy in that denial of reality but you’re the only one on this here forum that needs any kind of sponge or bucket to catch all that useless propaganda that spews forth from your suck hole.

    Sure, this topic was about circumcision,but, that’s another useless line of sh!t that stemmed from the fairytale spinners.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    @38, Silas, I will never have calamari ever again!
    *UGH*

  • http://delibernation.com/blog/3 Silas Kain

    And many a squid is indebted to me this day!

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    lol, Silas. I am seriously glad I never liked squid. I know how Brian must feel.

    I agree, there are somethings (like which body parts they want to have lopped off.) that are an individual’s right to decide for her/himself.

    There is exactly zero difference between male and female circumcision in my eyes It’s something someone dreamt up to do to other people (whether for supernatural or natural claims).

    I really do think if uncircumcised peni were in grave danger of becoming extinct from being left alone without human surgical intervention, nature would have done something about it. It’s hard for me to imagine nature wearing a Lorena Bobbit fanclub T-shirt.

    Perhaps sexual pleasure is looked down on by some. It’s hard for me to imagine this not having something to do with it.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I mean, with the idea that “Well, he/she won’t be needing this!” There’s more to life than sex…(the necessary evil).

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    That second part should have been in quotes too. As there are a few more things in life beyond sex…(but many of the are over rated).

  • http://delibernation.com/blog/3 Silas Kain

    I think the idea came from a dude who thought he wasn’t well endowed because he didn’t have a “rose bud” at the end of his flaccidity. I mean, come on. We all know that men suffer from penis envy. Then they turn it all around and blame the whole thing on the Most High. Again, I don’t begrudge anyone who has this religious fixation on some Divine ordinance. That being said, it remains an individual choice.

    As there are a few more things in life beyond sex…

    Yeah like Blogcritics, politics and um… more sex.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    @ Silas & Cindy

    I think I can see where you two are going with this and I agree. I also think that the “disease” factor that gets this undeserved attention is a bit of a farce. I guess it’s like anything else, If ya don’t clean it often then it gets dirty.
    BUT, I don’t believe the reports that this “fold” of skin could be the cause of any HIV related illness or the deterrence of one…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    You can believe in your superstitious fairy tale…..useless propaganda that spews forth from your suck hole.

    Still spewing forth the hate, eh, Brian? Let’s get this clear. I don’t give a shit what you think of my beliefs. More to the point, I don’t give a shit what you think. And that is THE LAST time I will respond to anything you have to say at this magazine.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “And that is THE LAST time I will respond to anything you have to say at this magazine.”

    Hold on… Let me get a tissue.

  • anon

    Child Abuse!

  • http://www.simplestdtesting.com STDnoob

    Well, in my opinion it differs from the personal perspective of oneself if he will have circumcision or not..

  • Ben Edmore

    My friend wrote up a hilarious (yet accurate) argument about circumcision. Read it at his blog.