The Troubled History of the Foreskin

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The Troubled History of the Foreskin

Common in the US, rare in Europe and now championed in Africa, male circumcision is hotly debated. Jessica Wapner explores whether the gains are worth the loss.

On a recent Saturday morning, Craig Adams stood outside the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was sunny but cold. Adams, who had turned 40 the day before, wore white sneakers and a black T-shirt over a long-sleeve shirt. A fuzz of thinning hair capped his still-youthful face. His appearance would have been unremarkable if not for the red splotch of fake blood on the crotch of his white trousers. The stain had the intended effect: drivers rounding the corner were slowing down just enough to see the sign he was holding, which read “No Medical Excuse for Genital Abuse”.

Next to him, Lauren Meyer, a 33-year-old mother of two boys, held another sign, a white poster adorned only with the words: “Don’t Cut His Penis”. She had on a white hoodie with a big red heart and three red droplets, and a pair of leopard-print slipper-boots to keep her feet warm for the several hours she would be outside. Meyer’s first son is circumcised; she sometimes refers to herself as a “regret mother” for having allowed the procedure to take place.

Read the remainder of this Mosaic Science article here