American Samizdat

Friday, January 05, 2007. *
Mutilating third-world men because we can
One of my current pet peeves is the news that the U.S. is pushing circumcision on African men as a means of reducing the AIDS epidemic plaguing that troubled continent.

Fact: studies have shown that circumcision may the spread of AIDS by 50-60%.

Fact: condoms are nearly 100% effective in preventing the spread of AIDS.

So why isn't the US government going to push forward a massive education and free distribution program? If we really wanted to end AIDS, we'd start by educating school-children to the risks of unprotected sex, and ensure that no kid can graduate high school until he or she knows what kinds of birth control and disease preventatives are available. Instead of forcing kids to take vows of abstinence, we should be asking them to vow to use condoms except when they are trying to have children.

Condoms are 100% safe and non-invasive; when condoms "don't feel right," it usually means you've bought the wrong brand and should keep shopping until you find one that fits and feels good enough not to interfere with your pleasure.

Condom failures are RARELY product failures; with few exceptions, a condom fails because the user didn't put it on properly, handle it properly after use, or the condom didn't fit properly in the first place. If we could teach men (and women) how to use this very simple product, and stressed the fatal implications of unprotected sex with strangers, we'd save millions of lives and prevent millions more unwanted pregnancies.

But we won't do any of that. Our government is now so wedded to the idea of abstinence as a cure-all, that we'd rather see men lose partial function in their genitals than give boys a realistic preparation for adult sexuality. Nor does anyone seem to give a damn that there will be huge psychological consequences for African men whose genitals are now scarred for life, whose sexual pleasure will change (and possibly be permanently impaired), and who have been involuntarily subjected to genital surgery.

But Bush's people don't care. From their insane point of view, distributing condoms is like issuing a license for promiscuity. Better to mutilate men "for their own good" than give them the tools to choose their destiny.

The historical reason why American gentiles (i.e., not Jewish or Muslim) are circumcised in the first place is in itself sick and absurd. Are you ready? It's because 150 years ago, doctors actually believed that cutting off a boy's foreskin would prevent him from jerking off as a teenager. Circumcision was the surgical equivalent of salt-peter - only less effective. If there is no religious justification (and I won't even enter the debate on whether religion IS a justification), then circumcision is nothing more than quackery perpetuated by the ignorant.

Infection rates in Africa probably will decline if everyone's has their foreskins sliced off, and Bushistas will think it's a big victory. BUT if condom use became widely practiced, AIDS infections would PLUMMET. We wouldn't have to pat ourselves on the back for a 50% drop in infections; we could dance for joy at seeing 80-90% plus drop (leaving a wide margin for the people who continue to be idiots about their use).

This whole issue gives me the creeps and reminds me of the horrible abuses in the past when African American women in North Carolina were forcibly sterilized. Like that horrifying episode in American history, this initiative smacks of racism and bad science. We would never ever get away with this if the population was white.
posted by GloriaBrame at 12:18 PM
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