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Posts from the ‘male’ Category

Circumcision Debate: Cut the Hyperbole

By Elizabeth Reis

What frustrates me about the circumcision debate is that both sides exaggerate their claims. Maybe this happens with most controversies, but I am particularly attuned to this one because I have been researching the history of circumcision in the United States. A recent article by Brian J. Morris and others in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings overstates the health benefits of circumcision and downplays the risks. They argue that the public health benefits (i.e. reducing sexually transmitted diseases) are so great that circumcision should be mandatory. Mandatory?

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Man Up: Give Blood Like a Victorian

By Sean Cosgrove

How do we convince people of the need to donate blood? It can be scary and uncomfortable, and I’ll be the first to admit, as someone who does not regularly donate, that it all seems like a lot of work. The answer, according to one comedian writing in a Sydney commuter magazine recently (which has unfortunately been lost to me and, to the best of my knowledge, is not reproduced online), at least in part, was to provoke people (especially men) into volunteering to roll up their sleeves. Rather than the softly-softly approach, the tugging on heart strings or outright begging, it suggested that we should try a more competitive approach: tell these people to drink their cup of concrete.

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Do No Harm: Intersex Surgeries and the Limits of Certainty

By Elizabeth Reis
The Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Informed Choice have filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), Greenville Hospital System, the Medical University of South Carolina, and several medical personnel for allowing physicians to remove the atypical genitals of a 16-month-old toddler because that child, in the state’s custody at the time, was born with an intersex condition. M.C. had been identified male at birth, but his genitals were sufficiently indeterminate that surgeons removed his ambiguous phallus, a testis, and testicular tissue on one gonad, and surgically created an ostensible approximation of female genitals. The suit asserts that there was no medical need for this surgery, which was meant to permanently “fix” this child and turn him into an unequivocal girl, but it did him more harm than good. M.C., now eight years old, feels more like a boy, lives as a boy, and heartbreakingly has asked his mother, “When will I get my penis?”

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Eradicating Rape Culture

By Austin McCoy
The Steubenville rape case and CNN’s disturbing response to the conviction of the two football players illustrate the pervasiveness of rape culture in American society. As Blogger Lauren Nelson highlighted in her piece, “So you’re tired of hearing about rape culture,” politicians, news pundits, athletes, teenagers, men, and women have displayed some or all the characteristics of rape culture recently—victim-blaming, shaming, and (online) bullying, objectifying women, demonizing sexually active women, perpetuating the notion that (young) men, especially athletes, are entitled to act upon women’s bodies without their legal consent, and sympathizing with those judged guilty.

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A Valentine’s (B)romance: Masculinity, Emotion, and Friendship

By Sean Cosgrove
The bromance has surged in popular culture in recent years to such an extent that you could be forgiven for thinking this a relatively recent concept. Although Wikipedia dates the term ‘bromance’ (only) to the early 90s, Urban Dictionary’s oldest definition is from 2004. The ‘bromantic comedy’ genre (think I Love You, Man, Superbad, or I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) seems to be the latest incarnation of this trend capturing enormous audience interest. Although the word might be new, however, the concept certainly isn’t.

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Rites and Wrongs: Changing a Ritual from Within

By Elizabeth Reis
The previously obscure ultra-Orthodox Jewish rite of metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) has burst into the news lately and raised critical questions about genital surgery, consent, First Amendment rights, tradition, and the representation of Jews.

I would guess that most Americans, even Jewish-Americans, had never heard of metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) until the recent controversy between ultra-Orthodox Jews and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It refers to a custom performed after a circumcision in which a mohel (ritual circumciser) orally sucks the blood away from the baby boy’s penis. To insure the requirement that blood be shed and then hygienically removed (sucking was deemed the best means of achieving this hygiene anciently), metzitzah b’peh became part of circumcisions in the 2ndcentury, according to scholars. Most Jews, even observant Modern Orthodox Jews, have abandoned the practice. But a small minority adheres to and defends it, based on the First Amendment – somewhat surprisingly now on free speech grounds in addition to its religious liberty provisions.

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Humanizing the Olympic Body

On July 27, 2012, the Summer Olympic Games begin in London. Depending on your interests, they are the highlight of your year in sports or just another blip on your busy life. For me, I’m a Winter Olympic Games kind of girl, but I do appreciate several of the Summer Olympic events and I, like most of the world, watched in awe and excitement as Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in 2008 (I think I actually remember jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs. You?) I am giddy at the prospect of him earning even more medals, and he is one of my favorite Olympic athletes (this list also includes Dana Torres). But as the games approached, what struck me the most was the imagery of the Olympic athletic body. Now, I work out on a regular basis (usually, if my hips and pelvis are cooperating), but as I enjoy the health benefits from my sweat sessions, I’ve also become more appreciative of athletes and athletic types. For them working out is not about losing weight or feeling better about oneself; it is actually a lifestyle, an integral part of their being.

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