Chuck Ross corralls the research against circumcision. Numbers worth emphasizing:
In research recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by Dr. Frisch et al. found that circumcised men and their partners suffer from higher rates of sexual difficulty than uncircumcised men and their partners. Eleven percent of circumcised men and only 4% of uncircumcised men reportedly experienced frequent difficulties reaching orgasm. Thirty-eight percent of the female partners of circumcised men versus 28% of female partners of uncircumcised men experienced incomplete sexual fulfillment; 31% versus 22% experienced frequent sexual difficulties; 19% versus 14% experienced difficulties surrounding orgasm.
This is obvious. If you cover a sensitive glans with scar tissue, it is less sensitive. It's an attack on male sexual pleasure. But Jesse Bering thinks parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics's recommendation on male genital mutilation:
What is vital to understand about the AAP’s recommendation is that the Academy is not discounting, in any way, the biological purpose or function of foreskin. What the task force has implied, rather, is that the whatever the advantages to being an intact male—such as increased sensitivity of the glans, protection, lubrication facilitating better heterosexual intercourse (in addition to the lubricating properties of shed skin cells and oils that accumulate under foreskins, an accentuated coronal ridge may also retract more vaginal fluids during copulative thrusting)—these advantages are overshadowed in importance by the prophylactic benefits of removing highly receptive HIV target cells that are found on the inner mucosal surface of the foreskin. And when performed by a skilled physician on neonates under sterile conditions, circumcision is a quick, safe, minor procedure.
To circumcise, or not to circumcise? To me, at least, that’s no longer even a question.
It remains as much a no-brainer as it was when I first wrote about this issue two years ago. If male circumcision reduces the probability of contracting the HIV virus even a fraction of a percent—let alone the estimated 60 percent reduction that scientists believe it does—then why on earth wouldn’t you choose circumcision? Have you ever seen a person slowly succumb to AIDS? The pain inherent therein is not even in the same galaxy of subjective experience as whatever minute qualia of pleasure may or may not be lost to such a "mutilation." The sacrifice is no longer one made to a mythological deity, but to the child himself.
Yes, I have seen someone slowly succumb to AIDS and it wasn't because they were uncircumcized. It was because we had no treatments for it. The 60 percent number is from female-to-male transmission in Africa – with very very limited application in the US.
It's rare to read a gay man who still echoes the HIV-phobia of the 1980s – but Bering's irrational panic is pretty glaring. And the notion that in order to prevent infection via a body part, you just remove that body part after birth is equally bizarre. Can you imagine post-birth removal of tonsils? Or forcible prophylactic mastectomies to prevent breast cancer? This whole thing is madness. Mutilation of any part of an infant's body should only be for vital immediate health dangers, not nebulous future threats, which the person could choose for himself later, if he so wanted.
It's only the foreskin and the clitoris that can be treated this way – and rational people defend the barbaric. And by the way, why doesn't Bering demand his unmutilated partner to remove his own foreskin to lower the chance of HIV infection? Because this kind of barbarism could only be done to infants and be defensible.