Magnetic North said:
I don't think it has much to do with views of masculinity, it is simply a more brutal procedure. Removal of the clitoris and sewing up of the labia does not equate to removing the foreskin. And this kind of procedure isn't done at infancy either (though i'm not sure i buy the whole "less painful at infancy" proposition anyway). As the article points out there is a range of different procedures that are performed, but the majority are of the more brutal variety. In many of the countires where its most widely done (oman, somalia, sudan) not only is it of the most brutal form, but also its not done by doctors or in hospitals. It is sometimes done with rusty ceremonial baldes and mostly in conditions that aren't anything near hygenic. I do think male circumcision is a harmful procedure, but there are degrees of harmfulness.
Keep in mind that I said: "automatically" with quotes around it. I'm criticising the way people make the dichotomy without any sort of thought or justification behind it.
The relevant portion of the Journal of Medical Ethics article (yes, keep in mind that the bioethicists are on MY side):
" To such arguments we would make three rejoinders. First, it<sup> </sup>is crucial to avoid essentialism; the different types of harm<sup> </sup>occasioned though the range of practices covered by the terms<sup> </sup>"circumcision" must be unpacked rather than being represented<sup> </sup>as "a unitary whole" (p. 151).<sup>48</sup>
Arguably, the less severe forms<sup> </sup>of female circumcision, such as ritual/symbolic circumcision<sup> </sup>(involving the drawing of blood but no permanent tissue damage<sup> </sup>or scarring)<sup>54</sup>
or sunna (the cutting away of the prepuce of<sup> </sup>the hood of the clitoris) may be no more severe—or even<sup> </sup>less severe—than conventional male circumcision, which<sup> </sup>involves the removal of the foreskin or prepuce covering the<sup> </sup>glans of the penis.<sup>55</sup>
Clearly the more extreme forms of female<sup> </sup>circumcision—excision (about 80% of cases; involves the<sup> </sup>removal of the clitoris and all or part of the labia minor)<sup> </sup>and infibulation (about 15% of cases; involves removal of clitoris,<sup> </sup>labia minor and at least two-thirds of the labia majora, which<sup> </sup>are then stitched together leaving only a small opening for<sup> </sup>the passage of urine and menstrual blood)—are radically<sup> </sup>different in kind from most instances of male circumcision.<sup> </sup>However, it is worth noting the range of variation in the practice<sup> </sup>witnessed in other cultures.<sup>55</sup>
Such arguments are obfuscated within the BMA guidance, as is<sup> </sup>particularly evident in the Association’s guidance for<sup> </sup>female genital mutilation. Referring to the less severe practices,<sup> </sup>the guidance notes that:<sup> </sup>
Other mutilations include pricking, piercing ... and introduction<sup> </sup>of ... herbs into the vagina ... The age at which such procedures<sup> </sup>are carried out varies from a few days old to just before marriage.<sup> </sup>All forms are mutilating and carry serious health risks. Female<sup> </sup>genital mutilation is not comparable with male circumcision,<sup> </sup>over which there is no consensus about the health risks and<sup> </sup>potential benefits (p. 1).<sup>56</sup><sup> </sup>
<sup> </sup> A further problematic distinction that also deploys a particular<sup> </sup>definition of the word "mutilation" is contained in the Law<sup> </sup>Commission’s report:<sup> </sup>
It is generally accepted that the removal of the foreskin of<sup> </sup>the penis has little if any effect on a man’s ability<sup> </sup>to enjoy sexual intercourse, and this act is not, therefore,<sup> </sup>regarded as a mutilation (para 9.2).<sup>26</sup><sup> </sup>
<sup> </sup> Nevertheless, if variations in the procedures render a simple<sup> </sup>opposition between male and female circumcision problematic,<sup> </sup>other commentators have suggested that a more compelling distinction<sup> </sup>lies in the justifications of the practice. On this view the<sup> </sup>patriarchal underpinnings of female circumcision, which undermine<sup> </sup>the right of girls and women to "sexual and corporal integrity",<sup>57</sup>
<sup> </sup>accounts for much of the revulsion it provokes. Yet we are uneasy<sup> </sup>with the view that male circumcision is less problematic because<sup> </sup>it cannot be located in some grand theory of oppression. As<sup> </sup>our brief outline of its historical emergence highlights, the<sup> </sup>motivations for and justification of male circumcision are more<sup> </sup>complex than is often allowed. Like female circumcision, including<sup> </sup>practices in the UK and the USA into the early twentieth century,<sup> </sup>it has been used to manage sexuality, and needs to be located<sup> </sup>within a framework that recognises how it normalises and privileges<sup> </sup>the male body. In light of this, feminist disinterest in, or<sup> </sup>acceptance of, the procedure may well be short sighted.<sup> </sup>
Finally, we would reiterate that artificially contrasting the<sup> </sup>practices in this way serves only to deflect attention from<sup> </sup>the more fundamental issue, which has also been obscured in<sup> </sup>English law, of whether we should be subjecting any children<sup> </sup>to medically approved procedures involving the excision of healthy<sup> </sup>tissue. In this regard it is worth remembering that definitions<sup> </sup>of the prepuce as merely a fold of skin covering the glans have<sup> </sup>been condemned as grossly simplistic. Rather the prepuce is<sup> </sup>a complex structure that has a range of significant sexological<sup> </sup>functions playing "an important role in the mechanical functioning<sup> </sup>of the penis during sexual acts, such as penetrative intercourse<sup> </sup>and masturbation" (p. 89).<sup>58</sup>
Given that no clear dichotomy necessarily exists between female<sup> </sup>and male circumcision, in terms of either the injury inflicted<sup> </sup>or the motivation for it, we question the lack of will on the<sup> </sup>part of the medical profession, both institutionally and at<sup> </sup>the level of some individual practitioners, to challenge the<sup> </sup>acceptability of the practice. "