The documentary ‘American Circumcision‘ is live on Netflix

milkboys Film & TV, Films & TV, News & Opinions 16 Comments

American Circumcision, the controversial documentary by director Brendon Marotta, is available on Netflix. In the film, director Marotta questions why the surgery is routinely done on infants in the U.S. and its ramifications.

Marotta said that the “routine surgery” done on infants leads to a particular kind of PTSD that may contribute to what we refer to as “toxic masculinity” now. According to Marotta, “Even the most pro-circumcision doctor in our film admits the pain from circumcision creates a lasting change in behavior that has been scientifically proven. Change in behavior is a form of memory, what in this case is known as somatic memory.”

Marotta continues, “When it comes to toxic masculinity or rape culture, one of our interview subjects notes that circumcision teaches men that if you are bigger and stronger than someone else, you get to do what you want to their body. It teaches this in their first shared sexual experience, the first time someone else touches their genitals, and in the relationship all other relationships will be patterned on, their relationship with their mother.”

Marotta understands that some people might have some resistance to this information and underscores his point by adding, “Imagine a friend told you when he was an infant, his parents paid someone to cut off his pinky finger without anesthesia. Would it be hard to accept this experience was formative in some way? If he told you he felt he had lasting trauma, would you believe him? Which is more personal — a finger or the penis?”

Read on…

Comments 16

  1. The “Read on” link points to the previous Tummy Tuesday post, not that I mind, but I believe it should be:

    The documentary has also been available on torrenting and other sharing sites for a couple days.

    There are so many reasons why circumcision is wrong, I don’t think an irrelevant comparison with amputating one’s finger is really helpful. I am also very doubtful about any lasting trauma in adults, or the way it alters their sexual and societal behavior. The only scientific study linked was based on 87 infants and was only studying lasting trauma in infants, like how they reacted to their first vaccination.

    1. Yeah, to characterize that study as “scientifically proving” a “lasting change in behavior” was a stretch bordering on outright dishonesty.

  2. Hmm. Was circumcised when I was a baby. I’ve never raped anyone. I don’t have any ill feelings toward my mother. No toxic masculinity here. Plenty of feeling and pleasure. Easy to keep clean. Sounds like another person that doesn’t like being different down there. I’m glad that when I look down I’m not looking at what looks like a guiduc (look it up). I don’t remember the procedure at all.

    1. Science now has shown that earlier memories are not erased, they are just no more accessible to our conscience. But they are likely to still have some influence on our current behavior.

      Yet I don’t condone excessive claims about consequences of circumcision on an individual level. People usually don’t reflect on that, but the life of babies is closer to hell than heaven: suffering for months from a still dysfunctional digestive system, an immature immune system, first teeth, unability to get understood and understand oneself, and so on… So even (mild) genital torture and mutilation is likely not that much compared to all that.

  3. I see we already have resistance, which is normal. I have had the ‘joy’ of being circumcised as an adult. I can say it was a most unpleasant experience after the general anaesthesia wore off. I can also say that I lost about 20% of my sexual sensitivity, Mine was what was seen in those far off days as a medical necessity. Today a different intervention would have been used.

    I have no concerns with people choosing to modify their own adult bodies. It is when a parent chooses to modify a child’s body for no medical reason that I am annoyed.

    I have never understood why tribal marking has to be done by removing elements of genitalia. It is genital mutilation whether performed on girls or on boys.

    I am happy for all the millions of men who are happily embracing their own circumcised penises as being wonderful objects [no play on words intended]. If you are one of those I am very pleased you are content with your sexual function. Please, though, do not inflict it on an infant or unwilling child.

    1. First, to compare male and female circumcision as if they have remotely comparable effects is to compare apples and oranges. The proper comparison, as Dan Savage noted years ago (whatever his personal choices regarding his own children), is with removing the entire male glans, not just the foreskin. So that’s more like a 100% reduction in sensitivity for circumcised females compared to your claimed 20%.

      Second, as long as you don’t go beyond asking people not to circumcise their sons, fine. What annoys me are people trying to impose their beliefs and values on other people, including parents with differing beliefs and values, regarding such a relatively inconsequential matter (see first paragraph) as male circumcision.

      1. With all due respect to Dan Savage – surely an expert in paediatric urology – male and female circumcision are comparable. Removal of the clitoris is a clitoridectomy; circumcision is, by definition, a “circumference excision”, i.e. cutting around the circumference of the glans. The U.N. distinguishes between four types of female genital cutting: removal of the prepuce (circumcison), removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy), removal of the labia (labiadectomy), and pharaonic circumcision (infibulation) in which the vulva is sutured shut. It makes no more sense to conflate circumcision with clitoridectomy than it does to conflate it with infibulation. Clearly, there are gradients of severity here.

        1. Savage is quite willing to consult experts, and does so regularly, often quoting them at length.

          If we are talking about gradients of severity, the removal of the male foreskin is on the extremely low end of that scale, far, far below clitoridectomy, and my guess is pretty far below the other three forms of female circumcision you mentioned. But if you’re going to raise the topic, you might do us the favor of placing those four versions on such a scale instead of just dropping them out there. Is the scale 1 to 10, or 1 to 100, and where would each of these procedures land on such a scale vs. the removal of the male foreskin?

  4. I was left 100% anatomically correct. Thanks Mom & Dad! I even kept my tonsils – not an easy thing to do being a kid in the 1950’s.

  5. I’ve always thought of circumcision as a sort of fashion statement originally practiced by the Egyptians. The practice became popular in the US during the second half of the 19th Century. At the time it was believed “self abuse” would lead to blindness and eventually insanity. Playing with the foreskin in the interest of cleanliness would lead to the sin of Onan. Cause and effect is the most difficult relationship to establish in any investigation. On a more personal note, my parents told the doctor not to cut me, she did so anyway. All my friends were cut, I never thought much about it. By the way, Horsey I kept my tonsils through the 50’s as well.

  6. I’m against circumcision of underage boys and girls without a medical reason. Adults may obviously do whatever they want to their own bodies.

    I’m unfortunately also against some of the trendy leftist/feminist, very vaguely definedm terms like “rape culture”, “toxic masculinity”. Even though this time they are used for good (from my POV), it still is over the top. The logical leaps from a very tiny study connecting infant pain response and circumcision to mother-son relationship, PTSD, toxic masculinity, and rape culture would make a Martian Kangaroo, and Freud, proud.

    The age of reason will return, some day.

  7. We use to live in a society where a man could sleep with his wife whenever he wanted, even if she didn’t- and for the time we considered that ok. Now we call that rape.

    We use to live in a world where killing however you wanted to kill during war was fine, yet now some of those acts would be considered war crimes.

    Globally, we are having an evolving discussion ( very slow moving discussion) on what we now call human rights. And in a world where so much was done against a persons “rights” that infant circumcision seemed like nothing! But we are now reaching that point of reconsidering for this topic. We are post #metoo so consent is on the mind. In a world where an American Mom is now on trial for getting his son tattooed, infant circumcision is looking more and more out of place. A relic of the past, soon to be dust.

    1. Rape, war and…male circumcision. This is like one of those civil service or college entrance exams where they ask which word or phrase doesn’t belong with the others. Relic of the past it may be, but for anyone to advocate for a law banning the practice of male circumcision, to demand that the state protect the infant male foreskin, is just an act of utter cluelessness about the issues of the day. More children are harmed in one single day of Saudi Arabia’s blockade of Yemen than by all the male circumcisions performed around the world over the last 70 years.

      1. The pathetic argument tactic of compare one modern problem to another is always a thinly veiled attempt to delegitimize an issue by a speaker who clear has a bias he doesn’t want to admit to.

        You could be at a town hall meeting in a small city that has had its town water poisoned and say the same thing “Why are we even talking about this!! There are bigger problems in the world!!”

        People would just look at you like you were nuts- because we can work on more issues than one at a time. There are a lot of humans.

        My point is the evolving discussion on infant circumcision is part of a progressive social discussion in society. Changing laws is easy, the discussion is longer and will take time. But a few countries are already talking about, or have made infant circ illegal. The US in 97 made female circ illegal. Just this Summer non medical surgeries on intersex children in California were made illegal. This is where we are going, and it always has been.

        1. I’ve made my bias very clear on this site more than once, that this is a nothing issue, and I will gladly say that is is NOT a legitimate issue. There are not only bigger problems in the world, but male circumcision, performed in a sterile and ethical manner, is NOT a problem.

          Poisoned water IS a real issue. 99.9% of male circumcision is not.

          See, no veils.

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