Snip snap

4 months ago Comments Off on Snip snap

SEXUAL, health and aesthetic norms do not vary much across the West. Male circumcision is an exception. Over half of American boys are snipped, compared with 2-3% in Finland and Britain. The procedure is justified in America on grounds given little credence in Europe: that it makes genitals cleaner, nicer-looking and more socially acceptable.

Circumcision first became popular in the late 19th century as a supposed cure for masturbation—and health problems from headaches to tuberculosis. After the second world war it became associated in America with hygiene and wealth; in other rich countries governments (which paid for most health care) were unconvinced of its merits.

Over 80% of American men are circumcised. Parents worry that uncircumcised boys will be teased in the changing rooms; fathers often want their sons to look the same as them “down there”. Many parents think foreskins are hard to clean, says Georganne Chapin of Intact America, a group lobbying against infant circumcision. But if men can become astrophysicists or master carpenters, she says, surely they can learn to wash?

American doctors routinely ask new…

The Economist: International