Imagine, if you would, a people known as the Dendenpow. The Dendenpow people, for as long as they can remember, have been knocking their children’s permanent teeth out as soon as they grow in. Sure, it hurts, but everybody goes through it at that age, and no harm seems to come out of it. What good are teeth anyway? Dendenpows can still eat!
And the Dendenpow Academy of Pediatrics (DAP), of course, points to all the health benefits. For starters, hygiene becomes astronomically easier. The Dendenpow people hear that in other countries, the people actually have to spend a couple MINUTES every morning and night putting various instruments and pastes in their mouths and on their teeth to keep them clean. Sounds like a drag; what kind of parent could trust a child to maintain that rigorous level of hygiene morning and night? Also, the Dendenpow have heard of something called dental abscesses, which have been known to cause death! There are painful treatments called root canals that often people with teeth have to go through. The Dendenpow certainly don’t want any teeth! Yuck! And they’re so ugly! Dendenpow kids will certainly thank their parents for removing their teeth in childhood so they don’t have to deal with excruciating tooth extractions and root canals as an adult!
So due to what their doctors have told them over the years, the average Dendenpow considers the teeth to be the dirtiest part of the human body. And of course every Dendenpow knows somebody in town whose parents didn’t remove his teeth at birth, and he got extremely painful tooth infections, and he had to get them all taken out at once as an adult after his teeth, nerves, and gums had grown to be much larger than they were when he was a child. OUCH! All that pain could have been prevented if his parents had just followed the recommendation of the DAP, which stated that the benefits associated with tooth removal in childhood outweigh the risks! What a couple of stupid Dendenpow hippies!
Now let’s say that an international medical group comes in to make health recommendations for the Dendenpow people. Should this medical group recommend that since the Dendenpow don’t know how to keep their teeth clean because they’ve been removing everybody’s teeth for as long as they can remember, they should just keep on pulling out children’s teeth rather than, say, join the rest of the world and engage in proper dental hygiene? Of course not.
I hope you’re able to realize that the paragraphs above are a parody of a practice that many American parents have done to their children for supposed health and hygiene benefits: circumcision. If you didn’t know, keeping teeth clean actually takes more time, effort, and resources than keeping a penis with a foreskin clean. Really. It’s not that hard. In fact, the normal, intact female genitalia are much more prone to infection and hygiene problems than the normal, intact male genitalia. The problem with Americans and the foreskin–just like with the Dendenpow and teeth–is ignorance, not anatomy, and they need education, not excision.
And we get it right for one gender, that is, the female one. Could you imagine what problems women would have with their genitals if our culture was just as ignorant about natural female anatomy as we are about natural male anatomy? But thankfully we do a pretty damn good job of educating young women what they need to do to keep their genitals hygienic: we have feminine hygiene products galore, health classes that touch on this subject as early as junior high, and an entire branch of medicine called gynecology.
Men don’t have any of these things: no special hygiene products (mostly because they don’t need them as their genitals are easier to care for than women’s–so one has to ask why we research male genital cutting but not female genital cutting, but that’s for another time), hardly any diagrams of a normal penis (at least not in the United States), no special doctor that they go to once a year to specifically make sure their penises are healthy.
But what if we didn’t do so great a job of teaching women about their bodies? What if we ignored educating them on how to keep their normal vagina hygienic and healthy, like America practically ignores educating men how to keep their normal penis hygienic and healthy? Let’s look at a case study, shall we? In many parts of rural India, where many women are not adequately trained to care for their genitals or do not have the proper supplies, infection is very common–much more common than foreskin infections, even in foreskin-ignorant places like America. But is the problem the “equipment,” so to speak? Would you recommend researching what surgeries could help these women reduce their risk of infection? Of course not! You EDUCATE them. Our bodies, and especially our genitals, were MADE to be taken care of. This is called “hygiene.”
It’s the exact same thing with the foreskin–only in countries like America, where many physicians and parents are ignorant of the natural male genitalia, are “foreskin problems requiring circumcision” a thing. Just like only in places like rural India, where ignorance of female hygiene and the natural female genitalia is rampant, are “vagina problems having to do with monthly flow” a thing. Sure, in informed places, a small percentage of men and a small percentage of women have issues with their genitals and infections, but let’s deal with those on a case-by-case basis with antibiotics and creams rather than excision of erogenous genital tissue, yeah?