Foreskin's Lament

by Hanna Rosin

I'd forgotten how passionate Dish readers, and Andrew, are on the subject of circumcision. Andrew once published a photo of this "gruesome procedure" which has the feel of one of those pro-life placards - after which I probably rescinded his invitation to my son's bris. To make things worse, my post defending circumcision taps into the current fears about "big government trying to mandate certain types of medical procedures," as one reader wrote in.

The objections to my post fall into three basic categories:

1. How can we do this to a child without his consent? There are so many things we do to children without their consent - change their school, banish their friends, give them drugs, abandon and neglect them. Removing a foreskin should not even fall in the top 20 ways to ruin your child's life.

2. "Foreskins are, well, fun," writes one gay reader. My authority here is obviously limited. That said, all that research of specific areas of male sensitivity (Andrew cites some here) has always struck me as dubious. Erotic pleasure is a rich and complicated thing. Specific percentages of sensitivity can't possibly sum up the experience.

3.Preventative surgery is a "bizarre notion." This is somewhat more convincing. But for one thing, "surgery" is a bit of an exaggeration. We certainly cause infants minor pain for the greater public good many times, in the form of vaccines. It depends, I suppose, whether you consider HIV and STD's a widespread public health crisis, or something affecting only a very few. I could get into the specifics of the research here, but I won't.

There are obviously strong, visceral emotions here which I confess, I don't really understand.