How to Talk About Circumcision

Our society is experiencing the effects of a cultural trauma connected with the practice of circumcision. Trauma is an emotional shock from an overwhelming event. Certainly, having part of the penis cut off by force qualifies. The fact that the whole society participates in perpetuating this trauma requires that people deny the reality of what is happening.

To address this situation, it is important to have some empathy and understanding for those whom we want to influence. This can be a stretch. But otherwise, we are more likely to invite unproductive conflict. Generally, the uninformed are not ill-intentioned. Regarding circumcision, they believe, feel, and act as they do without awareness. Imagine seeing the world through the eyes of the uninformed. What would you need to expand your awareness? What kind of approaches from others would turn you off? How did you discover the truth about circumcision? If that happened when you were an adult, it probably took some time and reflection, and this can give you insight into approaching others.

Another view that may help to reduce frustration from talking with the uninformed is to be realistic about our expectations and to recognize that we are engaged in a historic, massive shift of conscious about this issue. Though we would like to see it stop today, circumcision, like any cultural practice, will take many years to change. Tragically, many infants will be circumcised before the society gets the message. This is not a failure on our part, but a function of the problem itself.

Psychological research suggests what approaches would work best to influence people’s attitudes. For example, for a maximum change of attitude in others, it is best to have a message that deviates only moderately from the listener’s viewpoint. The more committed a listener is to a position, the smaller the discrepancy must be between that position and the message for maximum change of attitude.

The medical claims connected with circumcision are arguments that usually occur to the uninformed in defense of circumcision. Refer to Circumcision Policies of International Organizations and Studies on Circumcision for responses to these claims. Also reveal the flawed logic of medical claims. Even if all the claims were true, the underlying assumptions are that they justify routine preventive surgery, that the foreskin is useless, and that the pain is “temporary discomfort.” The fact that circumcision is overwhelmingly painful and involves cutting off a natural, healthy, functioning body part is a major flaw in this kind of thinking.

Priority people are those who may have a child in the future. If you have a choice, communicate with the woman because she will not have traumatic effects from being circumcised.

Useful Questions

Are you open to new information? If the person hesitates, ask about their thoughts and feelings. If the person is not open to new information, give the website of for future consideration and accept that more discussion would probably not be useful.

Will you watch a video of a circumcision? If the person is agreeable, show the Video link on our homepage. Then ask for thoughts and feelings.

How would you feel if you were that infant?

Are you interested in more information? Refer to our website. Sample topics from our menu titles include Essential Information, Sexual Effects, Psychological and Social Concerns, Medical Issues, and Public Policy & Debate.

Ask others to view and share what they learn with others who may have children in the future.

Please speak out. You will be glad you did, and any discomfort will change to confidence.

Saving one boy from being circumcised is a significant victory!