Male genital mutilation is cutting OFF the penis, circumcision just takes the foreskin

by CynthiaYockey on August 26, 2009

As a teenager in the 1960’s I read the term “female circumcision” and I was very puzzled because male circumcision is cutting off the foreskin, but there is no corollary to the foreskin in female genitalia to remove.

Later I found out that “female circumcision” is a mostly Muslim and mostly African custom of cutting off all of the external female genitalia — the clitoris, and the labia minora and labia majora — and leaving scars that just barely allow for urination, menstruation, sex and childbearing. Opponents of the practice have been successful in re-naming the practice “female genital mutilation” to alert the unwitting that a LOT more is taken from women than men by this type of “circumcision.”

Therefore it is an outrage to compare male circumcision to female genital mutilation by claiming that male circumcision is “male genital mutilation.” To be truly comparable and deserving of the phrase “male genital mutilation,” the entire penis would have to be chopped off. Without anesthesia. Or a really sharp knife — since this is often done with a shard of glass to the young pre-teen girls in cultures where this is practiced.

One of the guys in the bassoon section of the D.C. Different Drummers is a surgical nurse and told us at a party after one of our marches that he had assisted in a surgery on a woman who was an immigrant who had been genitally mutilated. He said her private parts looked like a Barbie doll’s crotch — all smooth, no labia, no clitoris.

So if there are male bloggers who wish to push the fiction that female genital mutilation and male circumcision are comparable, I am willing to discuss the matter over the sharpest shard of glass I can find.

Oh, and while parity requires only the removal of the penis, I recall now that lesbians are smeared generally as castrating bitches and that it is my nature to be thorough and always go the extra mile ….


This subject came up when I was checking citations for a comment I was writing and I found Stacy McCain’s post, “Hanna Rosin has guest-blogged her last.” Stacy writes:

Male genital mutilation!” scream the connoisseurs of uncut, preservationists of the precious prepuce.

Get over it, people. Only porn freaks and gay men — having ample opportunity to comparison shop, as it were — obsess so fanatically over the difference….

The advantages in terms of hygiene are well-known, and tend to be especially appreciated by mothers who have a difficult enough time getting boys to bath, much less to wash their winkies with health-conscious care. And it is certainly my impression — based on comments whenever the subject is raised — that women generally prefer what we might call the kosher pickle.


While the silicon and acrylic dildos fabricated and favored by my homegrrls come in both realistic and non-realistic shapes, the last time I checked, although that hasn’t been for awhile, the realistic ones all were circumcised. Hmmmm …. I wonder what Becky would say. Or Little Miss Attila, who has looked at life from both sides now.

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Graumagus August 26, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Issues such as this truly showcase how a very large segment of the “feminist” movement are really just multicultural progressive kool-aid drinkers rather than true proponents of women’s rights. I’ve seen the same people who froth over a Barbie doll being “evil” for promoting an unrealistic body image for young girls chastise those that highlight the cruelty inflicted on women by Islam as “intolerant”. I do believe I may be preaching to the choir here, given your background with those who supposedly supported the handicapped, but only in non-handicapped accessible venues…..

Those that do, and defend, these atrocities are not men. They are animals.
.-= Graumagus´s last blog ..Ted Kennedy croaks =-.

Joel August 27, 2009 at 3:39 am

It’s quite easy for people to pick a subject and advocate that subject without letting it go over into the rest of their lives.

For instance, as you bring up, people who want to call male circumcision “mutilation” (which, I fail to see how it even comes close as there’s no damage done) are relatively silent on the horrors that these women must face. Yes, if a grown man is forced to go under the knife, there might be some discomfort, but sans infection, there is little risk for long term damage.

A female who undergoes a circumcision mutilation must face future pain and disfigurement. But where are the angry voices for her?

Or worse, why is the public not educated to the horrors that these females must face? When we use the nomenclature “circumcision,” as you pointed out, most people think of it as no big deal. They don’t realize that the procedure is far from circumcision (though that would be the correct medical term…), but rather a mutilation for women; an embarrassing, painful, degrading mutilation.
.-= Joel´s last blog ..An interesting point of view… =-.

Cynthia Yockey August 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm


You are right, there are too few voices raised in opposition to female genital mutilation. But what has been found to be successful is not angry voices, but women from the local cultures who go from village to village explaining to the elders the health problems associated with the practice. This allows them to be leaders and heroes when the information clicks with them and they order the practice halted.

One of the purposes of female genital mutilation is to remove the organs that allow a woman to experience sexual satisfaction. The claim is that this ensures her fidelity. I think the real reasons are entirely evil — the wish by men to have utter control of women, and by the women in the culture — who are often the ones performing the amputation — to validate their deprivation and enslavement by passing it on to the next generation.

And I do hope that the term for the practice is changed from “female genital mutilation” to “female genital amputation” because the latter phrase describes what actually happens.


I R A Darth Aggie August 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

So if there are male bloggers who wish to push the fiction that female genital mutilation and male circumcision are comparable, I am willing to discuss the matter over the sharpest shard of glass I can find.

I’d rather not. I’m kinda attached to my parts.

Which is your point, of course.

Graumagus August 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

“I think the real reasons are entirely evil — the wish by men to have utter control of women, and by the women in the culture — who are often the ones performing the amputation — to validate their deprivation and enslavement by passing it on to the next generation.”

That is truly the part that saddens, and infuriates, me the most about the whole subject: that generation after generation of women have been brainwashed into believing that subservient slavery, hacking off their genitalia, and wearing a shapeless sack to stoke the egos of two legged animals is somehow noble and something to be passed from mother to daughter.

You hit that one spot on, except that those who promote this practice are not men except in the strictest biological sense. They are vermin.
.-= Graumagus´s last blog ..For Contagion… =-.

Lanny August 28, 2009 at 9:16 am

Before I read Alice Walker’s “Temple of My Familiar”, I had no idea what female “circumcision” was. Afterward, I came to deplore the practice. I agree with all here. There ain’t no comparision to a little snip that we gents go through and the mutilation and mental anguish that those ladies endure.

Cynthia, do you have any idea why so many turn a blind eye to this and other outright atrocities toward women? I really would like to know what those misguided nimnods think is the role if women in their society?

I’ll only add this: having been male for 45 years and owning fully functioning male equipment (still haven’t found the owner’s manual on how to properly use it though), any mention of any sort of trauma directed toward my “wedding tackle” brings about lots of pain. I think this is where the misguided comparisions may come from. Y’all know that any woman can drop any man with a will aimed kick to the groin. Can we do the same to women? Don’t think so.

Cynthia Yockey August 28, 2009 at 10:20 am


Men drop women with blows to the head, which are far more likely to result in permanent damage than kicks to the groin, since you brought it up.

When I was hit, my feet left the ground and I got a brain concussion.

As for the blind eye toward sexism and atrocities toward women — feminism turned out to be not so much about women’s rights and helping women, as far as I can tell. Not only did Obama get away with atrocities of sexism toward Hillary Clinton, about the only voices raised in her defense calling him on his sexism were from the gay men at HillBuzz. Worse than that, it was “feminists” and their lying viral e-mails that dropped Gov. Palin’s ratings with women. And “feminists” like Sally Quinn were wringing their hands that Gov. Palin ought to be home taking care of the baby instead of working as governor or vice president? In addition, the “Rainbow Coalition” turns out to have been a lie because blacks and Latinos have turned on homosexuals and women. When Letterman was on his attack campaign against Gov. Palin and her daughters in June, Rev. Sharpton was on the cable news shows disparaging the quests for equality by women and basically saying that the only legitimate quest for civil rights is that of blacks. I disagree. Black people don’t have to worry that their parents will disown them and throw them out when they find out they’re black. And this country is being swarmed with new immigrants, legal and illegal, who consider women property. Since the majority rules in democracies, I truly fear for my future as a woman, in addition to my concerns for my equality as a lesbian.



misandrope August 29, 2009 at 8:13 am

What we talk about when we talk about FGM is much, much more horiffic than what is done to men. And we as a culture gloss over FGM far too much. (It’s their culture in a nuanced voice.(/sarc)) But permanent surgical alteration of a person without that person’s assent is reasonably called mutilation. Also FGM isn’t very common in the USA, whereas MGM is very common. – As I recall the American Association of Pediatritians called it ‘abuse’ about six years ago. I’d look it up for you and send you a link, but life calls…

And yeah, this post was a little OTT. Us boys are sensitive about our parts. 🙂
.-= misandrope´s last blog ..M is for Meaning =-.

Lyssa August 29, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Not to excuse the ignoring of FGM, but I really think that a lot of it is because we truly cannot wrap our heads around such a thing. I think of your friend’s description of the woman she compared to a barbie doll, and, I simply cannot imagine such a thing, or get into the heads of someone who would do it.

I suppose for many people, attacking something more normal (although far less important) like circumcision, is just easier to process.

Regarding circumcision, I’ve told my (circumcised) husband that if we have a son, it’s his call. He says do it. Fine by me.
.-= Lyssa´s last blog ..Just because the White House calls it a myth, doesn’t make it so =-.

Cynthia Yockey August 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm


Thank you for your comment. I just want to clarify that the surgical nurse is a man.

We really need to get the name for the practice changed to “female genital amputation,” since all of the female’s external genitalia are hacked off — “mutilation” suggests that they are just hacked up a bit, but left in place.

Wikipedia has more info here.


coolman September 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm

In countries where FGM occurs it is usually the women who perpetuated it onto their daughters, they often don’t feel it was a violation. Heck in Indonesia it’s done on neonates, just like males here. So how do they know what is missing? What reason would they have to stop it, they’re fine. It’s the same dance just a different tune. Female circumcision is a term applied to a variety of procedures performed on the female genitalia, involves the removal of the clitoral hood and some of the labia This is the same parts that becomes the foreskin on a male at 10 weeks gestation. So the question is a good one. Why are we vehemently opposed to one, in even it’s mildest form, and not the other. gender no object. “Cut is cut, mutilation is mutilation.” Circumcised women choose to have their daughters circumcised, citing how it’s cleaner, good sexually, reduces secretions and smegma and is generally hygienic, and also mentioning studies showing circumcised women have lower infection rates. Basically the same reasons that people use to defend male circumcision. It’s just a cultural difference. Are you aware that the USA also used to practice female circumcision? It was never anywhere near as popular as male circumcision, There are frequent references to the practice in medical literature up until the 1950’s. Most of them point out the similarity with male circumcision, and suggest that it should be performed for the same reasons. Blue Cross/Blue Shield covered clitoridectomy till 1977. A woman’s vaginal opening contains about 3,000 erotic nerves her largest concentration of erotic nerves is in her clitoris approximate 8,000 erotic nerves. In men the head or gland of the penis has 4,000 erotic nerves his largest concentration of erotic nerves is in the foreskin approximate 20,000 circumcision removes 83% of the erotic nerves it would be stupid to think a circumcised penis with only 4,000 erotic nerves would have the same amount of feeling as a uncircumcised one with 24,000 erotic nerves A woman with her clitoris remover can still have a vaginal orgasm just like a man with his foreskin cut off can still cum buy he has to take long hard strokes to do it ware a uncircumcised man takes shorter gentile strokes Dr. Morris Sorrels, M.D. said in my preliminary study on penile touch sensitivity, comparing circumcised and normal men. A man who was circumcised as an adult has complained that it now feels “like having sex with an elbow” so little of feeling compared to what he had before circumcision. Another one said sex before circumcision on a scale of 1 to 10 felt like 11 after circumcision it barely made a 3 Decreased penile sensitivity and increased erectile dysfunction were the most frequent complaints reported by men who were circumcised. In reality both MC and FC began as a way to reduce the sexual sensitivity. In the late 1800s cutting off the most sensitive part of the penis (the foreskin) MC was introduced to stop masturbation. When it was found not to stop masturbation the claims of medical benefits arose Some research suggests that circumcised infants may have a lower incidence of urinary tract infection (UTI).baby boys uncircumcised or circumcised have less then (1.%) chance However, female infants have a higher incidence of UTI than circumcised or intact boys (5.%). Penile cancer is an extremely rare disease with less than 1 case per 100,000 men and a median age of diagnosis of 64 years. Advocates of circumcision found more ammunition recently when it was reported that uncircumcised heterosexual males were more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than their circumcised counterparts So how do you go about conducting a randomized, controlled intervention trial looking at HIV infection in circumcised adult men? Probably not the way that these researchers did. First, to be included in the study, men had to be HIV-negative and uncircumcised. The men also had to consent to “avoid sexual contact (except with condom protection) during the 6 weeks following the medicalized circumcision.” The experimental group which underwent the circumcisions was given the following instructions
“When you are circumcised you will be asked to have no sexual contact in the 6 weeks after surgery. To have sexual contact before your skin of your penis is completely healed, could lead to infection if your partner is infected with a sexually transmitted disease… If you desire to have sexual contact in the 6 weeks after surgery, despite our recommendation, it is absolutely essential that you use a condom.”So the males in the study that underwent circumcision were not only told to abstain from sex for a significant time period after the operation — reducing their exposure time by six weeks compared to the uncircumcised (control) group — but told to use condoms, taught how to use them, and educated about their benefits. During this six week period, the men in the uncircumcised group did not have the same restrictions.There also doesn’t seem to be any mention of the researchers calling up the circumcised men after six weeks to say, “Okay, time’s up. Ease up on the condom use from here on.” The possibility that many of these men might have become accustomed to using condoms, armed with knowledge about their benefits, didn’t seem to be much of a concern. And the stopped the study one third of the way throw before the circumcised men cot up with the uncircumcised. The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that newborn infants feel pain as much if not more then adults. Infants experience excruciating and traumatic pain during the 6 to 10 minute circumcision and for weeks afterwards some go in to a shock type coma. If you can stand to hear a baby scream in pain you can watch a baby being circumcised most are done with out anesthesia for fear it mite kill the baby

Cynthia Yockey September 12, 2009 at 12:49 am


Masters and Johnson’s research proved there’s no such thing as the vaginal orgasm. Men used to claim that women could have clitoral or vaginal orgasms and the clitoral orgasm as weak and a sign of immaturity, while the vaginal orgasm produced by penetration was good and mature. It was a scam as an excuse for penetration!

Also, you cannot argue that female genital mutilation cuts off the external sex organs and somehow sex is still as good as it is for an intact woman, while taking the sensitive foreskin from a man reduces his sensitivity. The argument has to be that both surgeries reduce sensation because they take the nerves and tissue capable of feeling.


Different Joel November 9, 2009 at 6:02 am

Ms. Yockey,

I want to try my best to emphasize that at least when I make comparisons between the two practices, my intention is not to equate them to one another. Clearly there is a difference between the most extreme forms of female genital cutting and the practice we have done to young boys in North America.

Nevertheless, there are a number of undeniable similarities between the two – but again, that isn’t to say they are the same thing.

Firstly, the foreskin protects the head of the penis the same way the clitoral hood protects the head of the clitoris. The foreskin also protects the urethra, which in males is the urinary and reproductive tract. The inner labia serve this same function in females. There is no denying that the foreskin serves this role, just as there is no denying the clitoral hood (also known as a prepuce or foreskin) and inner labia serve these roles. In utero these genital structures develop from the very same tissue in both males and females, so it makes sense that they have similar function.

Also, I know this is not your intention, but when you speak of female genital cutting as though it only consists of the most violent, extreme form, you actually serve to devalue the victimization of those who suffer from the less extreme forms. Some forms of genital cutting only remove the clitoral hood, others prick the clitoris with a sharp needle. Our criminal code makes it clear that all of these forms of cutting are illegal! I hope that you would agree that even if female genital cutting was done in a sanitary hospital by trained doctors, you would still not feel it was okay to do to young girls who couldn’t say no! right?

Also worth noting, the amputation of the clitoris was covered by medical insurance in the United States until the 1970s. America has participated in these practices before, and the same doctors who first advocated male circumcision be performed were also advocating damaging practices on young girl’s privates.

Also, if you go to a culture that practices genital cutting on young girls, you’ll find that its actually a much more complex issue than simply one done to control and harm women. It is often cut women who will be most adamant about the cutting of their daughters and grand daughters. (sound familiar?). There are large concerns about whether a non-cut girl would be accepted by men. Many doctors in Egypt actually recommend girls be genitally cut in order to help with ‘cleanliness’. They believe it is more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ for a girl to have it done. They severely misrepresent and misunderstand how sensitive these parts of the genitals are. There is a huge focus on tradition, and many do it for ‘religious’ reasons. If you reverse the genders, you’ll see that these motivations are very often the same ones that parent’s in North America use to explain why they have it done to their children.

Does that mean they are equally as damaging? no. But that doesn’t mean male circumcision ISN’T damaging. It is so easy for us to see that those ‘motivations’ are not good enough for even the least severe forms of female genital cutting, so why are they good enough to cut healthy, sensitive, functional, erogenous genital tissue permanently and painfully from boys who can’t say no?

Robert November 13, 2009 at 10:26 am

I think we all need to realize that circumcision was started also to diminish the sexual pleasure in men–this was noted by the Jewish physician and scholar Miamonides as far back as the 11th century, and was the STATED reason for doing it by English-speaking physicians and by American physicians up to the 1950’s.

Cynthia Yockey November 13, 2009 at 11:17 am


Two things are really bothering me about the male commenters who oppose male circumcision: first, their assertion that there is an equivalency between removing the foreskin for men and even the most minimal mutilation of female genitalia — because there isn’t until you start chopping off more than skin AND you remove from the male genitalia an amount of skin and/or flesh proportional to the amount cut from women; and second, they appear to be saying that stopping female genital mutilation is not really an important cause and can wait until male circumcision is stopped everywhere for all time.

I don’t have a problem with anyone opposing male circumcision. Just stop trying to get pity by hijacking it from the movement fighting female genital mutilation. Create your own movement and make it independent of anything else. And stop trying to put your cause ahead of the movement opposing female genital mutilation and trying to appropriate its money and workers.


Nunya November 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm

FGM is not acceptable and neither should male circumcision be. That being said I believe that neither one should exist. There are NO medical reasons for either. As for your silicon toys… well those are modeled after popular PREFERANCE. The foreskin is not a birth defect nor is it useless. The foreskin protects the mucus membrane at the end of the penis, while also providing sexual pleasure during intercourse. The cartilage ridges are the predecessor for the “Ribbed for Her Pleasure” design.
Both instances of FGM and circumcision are equally disgusting. Please do not put one above the other as they are both heinous acts forced upon children.

mp510mm November 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm

The problem is with consent and the law.In most countries it is illegal to circumcise a girl under the age of eighteen,but it is still legal to circumcise a boy without his consent.The laws should protect boys and girls equally.Their is a corollary to the foreskin in female genitalia called the clitoral hood,prepuce,foreskin etc. but removing that from a girl is illegal while removing the same body part from a boy is legal.When done to a child it is called mutilation,but when done to an adult it is cosmetic surgery.If a grown woman goes to a doctor and wants clitoral unhooding,labiaplasty,hymen reconstruction etc. all the doctor would ask is how was she paying for the surgery,if she took her daughter in for the same procedures she would be refused and possibly taken to jail for wanting to mutilate a child,but boys do not have this protection.

It is sex only with consent. Without, it is rape. It is tattooing only with consent. Without, it is branding. It is circumcision only with consent. Without, it is mutilation.

Cynthia Yockey November 14, 2009 at 5:34 pm


First of all, “circumcision” is not the correct expression for what is done to girls’ genitalia: it is female genital mutilation.

Second, in the countries where female genital mutilation is practiced, it is done to young girls whether or not it is against the law and they get no say about it. And what is traditionally done to girls is far more extensive and life-damaging than the removal of the foreskin is to boys.

Third, if women over the age of 21 want elective surgery to their genitals, I think that is sick and disgusting but it is none of my business until it starts to look like these practices are getting so heavily promoted that there is social pressure to do them. It is starting to look like a form of genital mutilation for tightening the vagina is getting acceptance, so it won’t be long before I will feel like I have a dog in this fight. And what I would suggest to men whose penises are too small to give pleasure to their female partners is that they stock up on a variety of silicone dildoes and brush up their technique in providing oral sex, rather than urging their partner to make her vagina smaller.

Stop trivializing female genital mutilation. Fight against male circumcision, if that’s your cause, without implying or outright asserting equivalency to what is perpetrated against girls and do not imply that your fight is more important or must be won first.

I will not be approving any more comments that trivialize female genital mutilation or claim equivalency of any kind with male circumcision. People who object to that are welcome to start their own blogs.


Robert November 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

Lets compare the most harmful form of female circumcision to a comparable form of make circumcision instead of the most severe form of female with the least severe form of male circumcision..

How about subcision in which the penis is slit open the whole length? or

The “Yemen” circumcision where the foreskin is amputated AND the area from the naval to the groin is SKINNED!

Cynthia Yockey November 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm


Why is this a competition in your mind? Do you think you will stop male circumcision by trivializing female genital mutilation? Because that’s what it looks like you believe.

In what societies do 95 percent of the men have their penises fileted, as you describe, or have their foreskin is removed and the area from the naval to the groin is skinned? How much skin area, in square inches or centimeters, are we talking about here? Does this mean the shaft of the penis itself is not skinned?

I will not be approving any more comments that trivialize female genital mutilation for any reason.

If you oppose male circumcision, fine, but make your own movement on its own merits and do not trivialize female genital mutilation as part of your pitch or imply that stopping female genital mutilation has to wait until the practice of male circumcision is halted.


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