Campus Confidential: End circumcision

Victor Olsen, courier staff

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Disclaimer: The following column contains graphic material.

It is with bittersweet sentiment I would like to announce Traci Tyler has handed over the infamous Campus Confidential to me, Victor Olsen. I wish her only great happiness as she finishes her career at Western Illinois University and hope she loves on to bigger, and therefore better things.

Although I have written with Traci before, I am both scared and excited to take on the sexual advice column she has lead for years. I will attempt to bring as much humor, knowledge and insight to the readers as they have experienced in the past. I am excited to tackle new issues and provide a male perspective this column has not seen before. 

When considering my first column, I thought long and hard about a worthy topic. During some personal recreational activities, it came to me — circumcision. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 55 percent of newborns born in the United States between 1999 and 2010 were circumcised. This issue affects more than half of the male population, and yet we don’t like to talk about it.  

Even many of my outspoken colleagues at the Courier were uncomfortable with the issue. The few that were willing to have an open discussion seem to be admittedly against foreskin. 

“Do it. Just, cut it,” one disgusted colleague said. 

Let’s dive into the cut of the issue. Circumcision began as a religious symbol and an attempt to reduce sexual pleasure. Several different techniques have been used throughout the eras. According to the Circumcision Information Reference and Resource Pages (CIRP), for instance, the circumcision practiced by Abraham’s followers “removed only the very tip that extended beyond the glans penis. Later Jewish authorities revised the procedure to provide a clear difference between Greeks and Jews, and “the foreskin was stripped away from the glans, with which it is fused in the infant.”

Gentlemen, I know that is painful to imagine. Ladies, I’m sure you can also sympathize with the amount of the pain and discomfort circumcision causes. Circumcision is no picnic for anyone.

If this procedure is so painful and cringe-inducing, then why is it so prevalent in our society?

I want to preface this next portion of the column by stating that my sentiments are strictly personal and do not apply to those individuals who view circumcision as a religious rite of passage or a religious duty. Those who practice circumcision for religious reasons should be respected for following their faith. 

Circumcision is no small matter; we are not simply talking about a mere flap of skin without meaning. According to CIRP, “the prepuce is the principal location of erogenous sensation in the

human male.”

Although circumcision is an ancient tradition, America stands out for having an abnormally high rate of circumcision in recent years. CIRP suggests roughly only 33 percent of the world’s total male population is circumcised. Most countries have frequency rates far below 55 percent. 

Notably, our neighbor to the north has spoken out against supporting the procedure. The Canadian Paediatric Society stated, “The overall evidence of the benefits and harms of circumcision is so evenly balanced that it does not support recommending circumcision as a routine procedure for newborns.” 

The main reason used behind most circumcision is cleanliness, and some studies do indicate circumcision can help prevent urinary tract infections in infants. However, it is unclear if circumcision is the best method to prevent infection. In a choice between surgery and antibiotics, I choose antibiotics.

The World Health Organization does strongly encourage circumcision to be widely practiced in countries with growing AIDS problems to help prevent the spread of the disease. However, the U.S. is not an underdeveloped nation without ready access to common antibiotics. The danger of AIDS is not as significant as in other parts of the world.

Circumcision needs to be spoken about more openly. Although there are medical drawbacks, these are minor in comparison to the pain inflicted on newborns as well as a lost opportunity for sexual pleasure later in life.  

I hope more guys can become relaxed when talking about their own feelings on circumcision. It’s not as if we are squeamish about talking on the subject of sex. We just don’t like to discuss the actual biology behind it. If circumcision continues to be a taboo subject, this arcane tradition will carry on. Stand up for foreskin.