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

Michael Nakis (
9 Nov 1995 07:24:12 GMT

This text is formated to be 80 columns wide. If the text flow looks messed up on
your screen, you might want to make your window wider. (If you are not using a
GUI, or your window cannot be made wider, then... you are out of luck.)

In <> (Gerold Firl) writes:

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

>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.

Well, ok, and what I am trying to suggest is that there may indeed be a
correlation between the two. You say black, I say white, and we are not getting
anywhere. The question is, am I making an over-generalization, which would
undeniably be a mistake, or simply a generalization, which is a legitimate tool
for finding the truth? The graph of [time] versus [woman's status in society]
for MOST societies in the world from the time the agricultural revolution begun
until the middle of our century is an irregular downwards curve, quite steep at
times, and I would expect that the curve of [time] versus [male machismo] would
probably be quite close, if not identical, to the reciprocal (upwards) curve.
This may not be applicable to most societies, (since not all societies have evem
gone through the argicultural revolution,) but probably to enough so that my
hypothesis can be considered to be a generalization and not an

>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.

The Australian Aborigines are an exceptional case, which although very
interesting, cannot say much about the rest of the world. They are the exception
which confirms the rule more than anything else. (Did those guys ever reach the
stage of the agricultural revolution before white man found them?)

>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.

I agree with the if-then part and the messy part. I do not agree with the
stable, cohesive society part. In any case, I see what you mean, and I promise I
will work feverishly to make my thesis more and more complicated, until you
cannot come up with claims such as the above. :-)

>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.

First of all, thank you very much for the first sentence, and I want everyone to
see that although you do not agree with my ideas, you are indeed mentioning this
"connective membrane between foreskin and glans." I have come accross people who
would say "there is no such thing."

Now, we are getting into deep waters here, but this is interesting. Do the
physical structures of the adults have to have the exact same origins from a
common physical structure of the fetus? Why can they not simply be analogous in
function rather than in origin? Do we know what the purpose of the female hymen
is? If it was meant to serve more social than biological functions, then why
should the corresponding male feature serving the same social function need to
also be of the same biological nature? I am just asking here. If you want,
reply by email rather than through the forum.

>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.

You have probably missed some earlier postings of mine regarding this issue.
When there exists no physical evidence for male virginity or the lack thereof, it
is less of a fact of life than female virginity is. The fact that women bleed on
first intercourse has been found very convenient in determining their purity
throughout history. There are cultures right now on earth which demand that not
only the bride be virgin on the first night of the wedding, but also that the
bridegroom must throw the bloody rag off the window, while the entire village is
standing outside waiting, as a proof that she was intact (and that she is intact
no more.) Interestingly enough, the man is not required to be virgin; he is
supposed to somehow know how to do it, even though there are supposed to be no
available females around for him to learn. Do you understand what a nuisance it
would be for such cultures if it was indeed a known fact that there also exists
physical evidence of man's virginity?

>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

Michael Nakis.