August 29, 2005

Slate On The Hot Topics: Circumcision & Delivery Rooms

Slate's columnists weigh in on two topics that have lit up the ol' weblog here the last few days.

First, normally, I'd rather have the tip of my penis cut off than agree with Christopher Hitchens on anything, but when he gets right indignant about the suck-your-blood school of Orthodox Jewish circumcision, I have to give him credit. The more I think and read about this, the more I think it's a wrong and potentially dangerous practice that should be stopped. Hitchens even pronounces it as against the tenets of Judaism; I'm pretty sure the Hasids don't mind taking religious instruction from an atheist goyim. [apparently, he's Jewish enough. see correction in the comments.]

Second, about those penises, Meghan O'Rourke weighs in on the whole "men losing their libido in the delivery room" thing. She's pretty reasonable, too, even if she sets up some strawbloggers to argue against. Her main point is about the reach of feminism, which she says is behind the push to conflate the erotic and the biological. This male squeamishness may not be admirable, O'Rourke argues, but it's a consequence of a feminist-style sexual acceptance.

Still missing from Slate's argument or any of her blog mentions are any acknowledgement that women face the same erotic/biological conundrum about childbirth already. And if feminism [sic] is worth anything, shouldn't it be addressing that side of the bed, too? Maybe a little extra empathy between two partners freaked out by pregnancy and childbirth would go a long way. Just sayin'...

Cut It Off and It's a Jerk! []


Well, I don't care to elaborate on the circ thing - the entire practice strikes me as primitive and barbaric without throwing in the whole mouth on genitals in the name of religion thing.

But, regarding the slate article, Meaghan says that "To have a "healthy" and "mature" relationship demands not only mutual respect in and out of the bedroom, but an acceptance of womanhood in all its guises along a fluid (so to speak) spectrum. This perspective seems ultimately impoverished. It's not just that it assumes individual male arousal is controllable, or that it assumes that even if it isn't we should despise these finicky men. It's that it aims to define which sexual feelings are and are not appropriate."

Don't we as a culture regularly and clearly define what is an isn't appropriate sexual feelings. Lusting after sheep = inappropriate. Lusting after large-breasted women = appropriate. Lusting after brunettes = appropriate. Lusting after women in immediate and extreme distress = inappropriate.

What exactly is wrong with our culture demanding that men who participate in the births of their own children and then sexually reject their sexual partners as a direct result as weaker sexual beings?

This is evolution in motion. Men who have this emotional-sexual failing will not reproduce with the same frequency as those who, if not outright celebrate the multiplicity of female ability, don't see any problem with the vagina shifting between tasks.

That's just the way it is and if it makes a guy all icky, he has a problem, not the culture that he couldn't keep up with.

Thanks for the links - I particularly liked the Hitchens article (though I enjoy most of his writing). Regarding Hitchens though, I (for some reason) want to point out that though he is definitely an atheist (or "anti-theist" as he puts it), his maternal grandmother was Jewish. Making him (I believe) not goyim, technically.

[just Jewish enough to get turned away at the country club. my bad. -ed.]

I'm with mamaloo and just read this article ( that made me think of the male libido-destroying childbirth-witnessing debate.

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest issue is how healthy the relationship is and if you have true emotional intimacy, your physical intimacy will follow suit... barring any REAL physical problems, of course. You know, like being *exhausted* from taking care of another human being all day, LOL!

"Goyim" is plural for gentile, and, Jewish or not, We can be certain Hitchins is not a group of gentiles.

[Oy vey, I can't believe I make a mistake like that, what kind of New Yorker am I? -ed.]

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Perhaps Iran needs nuclear weapons for self-defense? No. Iran already bullies the Middle East with its huge conventional army. No country threatens Iran.

Since the eighth-century jihad and the Ottoman army at the gates of Vienna, the West has never been exposed to such threat. Iranís several nuclear bombs can inflict more damage on America than the World War II. Never before the Islamic fundamentalists who hate the West and dream of attacking it had military might of apocalyptic dimensions. Are you crazy to doubt they will use the bomb?

We call on the United States: Do not hesitate. Protect your people. Protect your allies. Destroy the Iranian reactor!

To sign the petition, visit

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