Reading; Circumcision and the “New Macho”

Just a few quick links I’ve come across that i thought I’d share,

Firstly, an Australian article on some in the medical community suggesting a renewed focus on circumcising as a harm reduction strategy around HIV. The developments around the circumcision/HIV issue are fascinating, and the very passionate debates more so, like all debates that involve gender based bodily intervention.

Secondly, this is a long and quite general article that is repeated a bit, about how masculinity needs to change, to reimagine itself in light of the ‘modern world’  – usign macro trends and big demographic indicators. This time the new (improved) model of masculinity is called the New Macho and I think it’s part of that continual analysis that pits popular social theories against each other.  It’s good to see this sort of story, but it’s not really breaking any new ground.

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7 Comments on “Reading; Circumcision and the “New Macho””

  1. Hugh7 Says:

    The REAL first story is that the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has recommended AGAINST circumcision, but three circumcision enthusiasts (one of whom has never seen a reason for cutting babies’ genitals he didn’t like – including “to prevent bathroom splatter”) got in first and published an opinion piece in an Australian medical journal. The RACP is concerned about the ethics, the lack of benefits and the risk, and suggests that the boy can wait till he grows up and decide for himself. A few months ago the Dutch medical association came out even more strongly against it, but they don’t have to worry about lawsuits from angry circumcised men, since circumcision has never been customary in Holland, unlike Australasia (Australia and New Zealand). The US is increasingly out in the cold on this issue.

    The debate is passionate not only because it is a gender-based bodily intervention, but because it is irreversible and carried out on a non-consenting person.


    • Great points Hugh7 – I think we’ll see some increasing public debate around this, focussed on the increasing popularity of HIV harm reduction circumcisions, and I think that issues of bodily integrity, and of consent will be seen as less important in some places particularly afflicted by HIV.

      Clarisse Thorn has written a really good piece on this recently – http://carnalnation.com/content/58581/1133/making-cut-circumcision-africa -


      • Clarisse Thorn’s article does not address the study that found male circumcision increased the HIV infenction rate for women. The study was stopped early because it did not support the circumcision agenda. Currently, the female HIV rate is growing faster than for males in many regions of Africa.

        Neither does Claisse’s article address the discrepancy in HIV rates and circumcision rates in different regions of Africa. The real world effects of circumcision do not conclusively support the results of the three Africa trials. Many regions of Africa have lower HIV rates among the intact population than the circumcised population. Swaziland recently reported on this very issue.

      • Clarisse Says:

        I have no interest in getting into this debate because I don’t have a strong enough background in the science to throw out citations like an enthusiast does, but here’s what a representative from the CDC told me about why the study was stopped early. According to that gentleman, the study was stopped early because it found that circ is such an effective health measure that it was considered unethical to withhold it from the control group.


      • I hear you and agree re not feeling qualified to speak on the science etc, but I do find the more popular rhetoric and polemic that arises around this issue interesting, particularly from historical perspectives.


  2. The argument that circumcision reduces transmission of HIV and therefore baby boys should be circumcised makes no sense. Baby boys do not get HIV from sexual activity. When the child grows up and becomes sexually active, he can decide if he would rather have part of his sex organ cut off or practice safe sex. Unfortunately, many in Africa believe that circumcision means that they do not need to wear a condom. That was never an option.


  3. Hi,

    I am coming late to this post, which is interesting to me because of the cultural differences around male circumcision, but I thought you might be interested in reading a couple of posts I have up on the subject. They are part of a series I am calling Fragments of Evolving Manhood: here, here and here.

    They are not from the same perspective as the article you link to here, but I do think the issues they raise, especially the second piece, inform almost any discussion of circumcision as a public health measure.


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