Genital Mutilation: A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Californians can't make up their minds

The Associated Press had the first story last week: In San Francisco, come November, voters will decide whether to prohibit circumcision of males under age 18—with no religious exceptions. Opponents of foreskin-trimming, known as “intactivists,” got enough signatures on their petitions to force the issue, which would cost violators up to $1,000 or a year in jail, onto the ballot. Meanwhile, health-care workers in Africa are fighting for more circumcisions, since the practice can prevent AIDS in heterosexual (but not gay) men. Eighty percent of the U.S. population is currently circumcised; research has also shown the practice reduces cervical cancer in women.

The intactivists assert that parents make the decision to circumcise for their infant sons, forcing them to undergo a painful, dangerous form of genital mutilation. “It’s his body. It’s his choice,” says the main proponent of the measure, Lloyd Schofield. It’s a pretty safe bet that not too many guys over the age of 18 are gonna voluntarily sign up to have Junior clipped.

Meantime, Southern California has become the hotbed of another nifty form of genital mutilation, according to The Atlantic: “cosmetic gynecology,” in which a doctor amputates a woman’s labia minora to “smooth out” the genital area. (The look is known as “the Barbie.”) You’ll be overwhelmed with happiness to know insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, since labiaplasty is strictly for appearance’s sake. And there’s a secondary market in repairing Barbies gone awry. Of course.

So, just to recap: genital mutilation for boys, with proven medical benefits: bad. Genital mutilation for girls, no proven benefits: good! People, if hell doesn’t come and put us in that handbasket right now, hell’s a big wuss. I was sort of hoping for that Rapture after all.