Re: Male Virginity and Circumcision (was: Re: Origin of circumcision)

Gerold Firl (
8 Nov 1995 13:45:54 -0800

In article <47h4sa$> (Michael Nakis ) writes:

>not enough for you, then let me tell you that concealing male virginity is
>mostly an issue of preserving male macho image, and male macho image is a
>universal everlasting phenomenon, and not culture-bound or specific to any
>given epoch.


>evident here. In any case, male macho image has existed practically forever,
>even before the food gatherers invented agriculture and subsequently

No. Machismo is actually very culture-specific. Moreover, there does not
seem to be any correlation between an ethic of machismo and circumcision.
Over-generalizations of this sort are bad for your credibility.

I think there could be a relationship between circumcision and a desire to
avoid tearing the foreskin during intercourse, though hardly the central,
one-to-one cause-effect relationship you propose. As others have noted,
there are way too many other causitive factors which must be considered:
hygiene and the social solidarity of shared rites of hardship, for example.
And then there is the question of subincision; native australians would
slit the penis up through the urethra from base to glans (I'm not sure
whether or not the foreskin was removed in the process; I don't think it
was, though the membrane attaching the foreskin to the glans may have been

The aborigines were not particularly macho, by the way. Nor are they averse
to blood exposure; menstrual blood is viewed as having powerful magic (it
is rubbed on wounds to help them heal) and a subincised penis will often
bleed during sex.

Beware of falling into the trap of looking for if-then logic in human
culture; things are usually much messier than that. Every custom is
intertwined with other customs, reinforcing one another and interacting to
form a stable, cohesive society. Your thesis is way too simplistic.

>In any case, it seems to me that out of the two different hypotheses that I
>am trying to make, most people focus on the circumcision story, and very few
>seem to have anything to say on the male hymen issue. The €Circumcision as a
>Means of Obliterating the Notion of Male Virginity€ hypothesis is only
>secondary to the €Presence of a Virginity Hymen in Males€ hypothesis. I

Ah. OK.

>From an anatomical point of view, I do not believe there is any
correspondance between the hymen and the connective membrane between
foreskin and glans. Physiologically speaking, that is. Both in terms of
development, the differentiation of the fetus into male or female using the
analogous physical structures which are common to both, or using
evolutionary history to trace the selection pressures which produced the
hymen and the foreskin, there is no connection.

And from the psychological perspective, virginity has always been
considered a question of whether a person has engaged in intercourse.
Not whether they have torn a particular tissue. Male virginity is accepted
as a fact of life, even in the most macho cultures, and even among cultures
which practice circumcision.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf