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    Default A different cultural perspective

    Hello,

    I would like to discuss what is perhaps an unusual perspective on the circumcision debate. I have now been living in Australia for quite some years, but grew up originally in Africa. In many African tribal groups and societies, circumcision has deep cultural significance; it is performed on boys on the cusp of puberty as a rite of passage, but also frequently on baby boys as a means of inducting them into the community as males.

    In addition to these practices, there is another form of ritual (specific to the tribal grouping I was brought up in), which has the same significance as circumcision but not as most people understand it. In my culture, foreskins are viewed as concealing the 'masculine' part of the penis - ie. the glans. Most people (I think) would take this to be a pro-circumcision view. However, rather than cutting the foreskin, the ritual in my culture involves rolling back boys' foreskins from when they are babies onwards, and not allowing their foreskin to immediately return to a position covering the glans. If done correctly, the foreskin eventually 'recedes' from the glans, so that it can no longer cover the glans at all. From an aesthetic and functional point of view, boys who undergo this ritual are 'circumcised', and yet nothing is actually removed, as such.

    Upon arriving here in Australia, I realised that it was an 'either/or' proposition - foreskins were either cut or not cut. In this situation, I felt that it was best to have my sons circumcised in the usual sense of the term. What I want to suggest, however, is that there is actually another position in discussions on circumcision; there are those who approve of circumcision (in the usual sense of the term), those who want foreskins to remain intact, and those who believe in the benefits of not having the foreskin over the glans, only not in the usual sense of the term. I often wonder whether, if this foreskin ritual were to be practiced in the Western world, parents who might object to conventional forms of circumcision (for whatever reason), might feel more at ease with this procedure.

    In any case, I would be interested to know what others make of this cultural perspective and practice, and would be only too happy to answer queries or the like. I have not previously heard this raised in the context of discussions on circumcision, so thought I might as well raise it.

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    Tazzy  (06-07-2013)

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    Hello and welcome to the hub

    My first question is, wouldn't it hurt the baby given the foreskin is fused to the penis?

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    Sounds like a recipe for a child sexual assault accusation in Australia

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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Bec~ View Post
    Hello and welcome to the hub

    My first question is, wouldn't it hurt the baby given the foreskin is fused to the penis?
    Hello Bec, thanks for your reply. I should mention that the process I describe does not mean that the baby's foreskin would be rolled right back immediately; rather, it would be checked from infancy onward, and if it did not roll back, it would then be done over a longer period of time. I must say though, a great many boys who I know of who underwent this ritual had foreskins that could be rolled back (without pain) from a very young age. I have wondered whether this differs amongst ethnic groups (e.g. African boys versus Western boys etc.).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chew the Mintie View Post
    Sounds like a recipe for a child sexual assault accusation in Australia
    I simply stated a cultural practice with which am I am familiar, since I found it was not commonly talked of outside of my culture. I certainly do not condone sexual abuse, nor do I advocate breaking any laws.

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    Personally, I'm in favour of just leaving it alone. Evolution has spent thousands of years perfecting it.

    I can't say much more because this is in the "pro-circ" section so it wouldn't be appropriate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Bec~ View Post
    Personally, I'm in favour of just leaving it alone. Evolution has spent thousands of years perfecting it.

    I can't say much more because this is in the "pro-circ" section so it wouldn't be appropriate.
    Oh, by all means, if you are in favor of leaving it be I respect that completely. It was just that I felt my cultural background offered a different perspective that others may be interested in.

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    Yes it is interesting. I have a 6 mth old baby boy and his foreskin is quite a lot longer than his penis so I can't even see how it would be possible.

    I watched a documentary set in a country in Africa (I can't remember which culture! Sorry) where women elongate their inner labia by tugging them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chew the Mintie View Post
    Yes it is interesting. I have a 6 mth old baby boy and his foreskin is quite a lot longer than his penis so I can't even see how it would be possible.

    I watched a documentary set in a country in Africa (I can't remember which culture! Sorry) where women elongate their inner labia by tugging them.
    Ah, interesting that you mention elongation of the labia - there are also practices that relate to elongation of the neck, the lips etc. Body modification in general is culturally significant in many African cultures.

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    I suppose it is in western culture too though its more by way of ingesting unhealthy substances until we are obese or plastic surgery.

    I think a good guideline though is consent - a baby can't consent to their body being modified. So that's the guideline I would follow I suppose.

    I love hearing what people from other cultures think of western culture also.


 

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