Archive for July, 2011

Circumcision: Genital Mutilation Under Another Name

Today, I want to outline something of a thought experiment – imagine for a moment a society where a baby is born, discovered to be a girl, and because of its gender and the traditions passed down for centuries, the baby is branded with a hot iron leaving a scar that lasts for life.

Now go a step further, and imagine that instead of branded, the baby has the end of her ear lobe cut off, again something this imaginary society only does to females.

It’d be a pretty horrific idea, and anyone suggesting we take on such practices and follow such rituals would be rightly thought not only to be utterly wrong, but entirely deranged, and no law would ever pass which would allow such a mass mutilation to take place.

But, for a moment, imagine that the affected children were instead male, and the part of the body to take a knife to at birth was not the earlobe but the penis… and you’ll find yourself not in some dystopian fantasy but in modern day America, and in parts of the UK and other countries too.

Each year, around 1.2 million male babies in the US are circumcised in medically-unnecessary procedures – and that’s discounting the cases where there is a genuine medical reason to do so, which I have absolutely no problem with. As an analogy, I can accept people having to have limbs amputated should injury or diabetes or gangrene warrant, but I’d advise against it becoming the first thing we do after cutting the umbilical cord.

Right now in San Francisco the issue of circumcision is very much in the news, after local anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield collected enough signatures – more than 12,000 – to put a measure to the city ballot in November 2011, seeking to ban the practice of circumcision. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptics in the Pub: Deborah Hyde

Unnatural Predators

Deborah Hyde
by Deborah Hyde

When: Thursday, July 21st, 2011 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Head of Steam, 7 Lime Street, Liverpool

Deborah Hyde will tell us about cultural aspects of the religious and superstitious experience. This evening we will discuss and answer such questions as:

  • Why do the dead chew in their graves?
  • Why do vampires strike in autumn?
  • Why do ghosts live in electric clocks?

A gory talk full of the unexpected, it’s a round-up of the folklore of the macabre.

About Deborah

Deborah has been writing about the supernatural for nearly two decades. She blogs on ‘Superstition, Religion and Being Human’ as ‘Jourdemayne’ but often suffers from mission creep.

She’s also one of the organisers of Westminster Skeptics and is Editor-in-Chief of the Skeptic Magazine. Her daytime, grown-up job is a makeup effects coordinator in the film industry – more vampires and zombies, then.

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