Beauty Products Made From Baby Foreskins? Never Thought of That

Illustration for article titled Beauty Products Made From Baby Foreskins? Never Thought of That

Have you heard about the guy in San Francisco who wants the city government to ban the circumcision of newborn boys? If you happen to run into him, you might let him know that society actually needs those discarded foreskins.

As blogger Christie Haskell points out, babies' foreskins are an important, organic resource—used to grow skin and skin byproducts that help burn victims, smooth out wrinkles, and take the place of poor, innocent little animal in cosmetics testing. Even Oprah's "beloved" SkinMedica product contains baby foreskin, Haskell says. And if Oprah's behind it, then how could it be wrong?

Your Baby's Foreskin Makes You Pretty & Heals Burns [The Stir]

Image by Lev Olkha/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

(Apologies in advance- this is a long comment)

Circumcision of infant boys has always disturbed me. The act is surrounded by so much disinformation, and concerns about rights and body autonomy get nonchalantly brushed aside by supporters with "well, it's not really a big deal." Cutting off a piece of someone's genitalia without that person's express permission IS a big deal. We wouldn't support the modification or other surgical alteration of an infant's body outside of medical necessity, why do we support circumcision?

People will say that it's healthier, cleaner, more attractive. But what are the basis for these claims?

Health:

There's actually no evidence supporting that circumcision is healthier. The only thing that comes close is the research into HIV transmission- since the foreskin is more susceptible then yes, cutting it off reduces risk of transmission. It's a drastic step which is only being considered in areas where HIV education and condom use are minimal to nil & HIV rates are explosive. A proper comparison would be advocating the removal of breast tissue in infant girls because of high breast cancer rates. A woman doesn't technically need breasts, and some women do opt for radical mastectomy if their family history puts them at high risk of breast cancer. But that's a decision they make as adults. I doubt anyone would support such a thing being done to infants, let alone en masse.

Some people support circumcision as an ounce of prevention against conditions like phimosis. Again, this is a drastic response. One, phimosis doesn't always require surgical treatment. Two, the rates of such conditions are comparatively low in the general population. We're talking about removing some of a boy's genitalia because he might be one of the few who encounter a painful condition later in life. Would we support a parent removing any other body part as "an ounce of prevention" against a general condition? I doubt it.

Cleanliness:

Obviously it's going to be easier to keep a penis clean if you cut off the foreskin. It's likewise easier to keep the vulva clean if you slice off the labia. It's still not a good reason to do it, or any excuse to make such a radical decision for another person's body. It's really not that difficult to clean a penis that has foreskin. Many parents & men do just fine.

Attractiveness:

There's a tired old belief that women prefer the look of a circumcised penis. It's bullshit. Some women might like it, others don't, others could care less. This is not a sound basis for decisions about body alteration and it absolutely does not justify making such a decision for another person. This is akin to performing plastic surgery on a baby because mom & dad think it will make baby look cuter. Not okay.

As for the sensitivity debate, I'm inclined to go with science over the anecdotal evidence of circumcised men who believe it hasn't had an impact. More nerve endings = greater sensitivity.

If a man truly believes circumcision is something he wants for himself, then he can have at it. But whatever the reason, be it religious or personal preference, the right to perform circumcision applies only to his own body. I firmly believe no one has a right to force body modification on another.