[HISTORICAL NOTE: This is the first of the No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz? reruns. These reruns are less generally endorsed than the previous set of reruns.]

[By request of Zuiyo Maru.]

I am, like most right-thinking people, anti-circumcision. The health benefits are fairly small (as are the risks, to be fair), which means it’s primarily an aesthetic procedure. And, no, you do not get to do aesthetic surgery on babies’ genitalia. If they like the way circumcision looks they can get the procedure done when they are of age. (As regards the religion issue: I am uncomfortable forbidding circumcision to devout Jews and Muslims, but I also see the merits of the “kids shouldn’t have to get surgery because of their parents’ religion” argument. Regardless, in the US, most circumcision is not of Jews or Muslims.)

At the same time, I am very against people calling male circumcision “male genital mutilation.”

The number one rule of writing things is to remember that the people you’re talking about are reading your article. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t put it in print. Autistic people will read your article calling autistic people empathyless monsters. Geeks will read your article talking about how weird and freaky cons are (“sometimes people dress up in costume!”). And circumcised men are reading when you call their genitals mutilated.

You’d think this would be easy to remember, because four-fifths of American men and a third of worldwide men are circumcised. It’s not like circumcised men are a tiny minority one could conceivably forget about.

And, you know, I feel like “don’t do aesthetic surgery on babies’ genitals” is a strong enough argument without having to add in “…because they’re horrible and ugly and a perversion of the way genitals are supposed to be!” Like. It doesn’t matter. Circumcised penises are fine. Uncircumcised penises are fine. It’s just that what one wants one’s genitals to look like is a decision that should be made by adults who have assessed the benefits and consequences of the procedure, not by parents when the child is too small to speak, much less consent.

And that’s an argument you can make without having to call people’s perfectly attractive, perfectly functional, perfectly okay genitals mutilated.