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

Michael Nakis (
14 Nov 1995 07:22:06 GMT

In <> (Gerold Firl) writes:

>Stephanie Folse has suggested looking for correlations between attitudes
>towards virginity and the presence of circumcision, and I believe she
>suggested that you will probably find that they are divergant. I would add
>that a survey of attitudes toward male machismo would also find little
>correlation with the presence of circumcision.
>For instance, among sudanic east african tribes female virginity is not a
>requirement for marriage, yet male circumcision is practiced. Among their
>bantu neighbors are found other tribes which also practice circumcision,
>and for whom male machismo is not stressed.

What you say basically makes sense, but do not forget that these cultures are not
necessarily the same today as they were thousands of years ago, when circumcision was
invented or imported.

>The word "machismo" is spanish, yet neither in iberia nor in latin america
>is circumcision widespread. It appears that other factors are at work.

Are you sure about the above? Have you thought about it twice? Would you like to
take it back?

>>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?)
>Why are they exceptional? They appear to have invented subincision on their
>own, rather than through diffusion from neighboring cultures, so they
>provide a useful cross-check on the hypothesis that penile mutilation is
>related to a desire to hide physiological evidence of male virginity. What
>rule do they prove?

>I believe the northern areas may have practiced some planting, but the
>arid-land peoples were pretty strict hunter-gatherers, as far as I know.

And as far as I know they have (or at least used to have) a communal marriage system
in which woman had not become property of man. If they were to fit into my
hypotheses in any way it would only be under the €virginity as undesirable in
general€ scenario, but even that is very unlikely. From what I have recently learned
about the Australian Aborigines€ Subincision ritual, if its purpose was to hide
physiological evidence of male virginity, then it would be like trying to clean the
stains on the carpet by burning down the house. We are not talking about cutting
away some little piece of skin here; we are talking about the whole penis being
ripped apart. This practice is so bizarre that I am not sure it can help in any

>>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?
>you're right, it's theoretically possible for similar selection pressures
>to produce analogous physical structures starting from different physical
>antecedants. Such situations have been seen in different species; for
>example, while vertebrate wings evolved from limbs, insect wings did not. I
>don't know of any such occurance between the sexes in the same species,
>however. It does seem far-fetched.
>The hymen is not found in other species; it does appear to have evolved as
>a result of sociobiological pressures, quite possibly within the last
>million years (sagan and margolis, _mystery dance_). The connective tissue
>between foreskin and glans could have no analogous function.

More on this after I have dived into an anatomy book or after I have read the book
mentioned above.

>>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?
>Actually, no. Why would it be a nuisance? It seems like all kinds of
>charming rituals could be built around such evidence.

No comment.

>Earlier, you suggested that ritual defloration has been practiced in
>various cultures. I can't think of any. Which cultures did you have in

My source is a non-English book, so I cannot directly translate the references
contained in it to the original works. Contact me by email if you are interested in
deciphering them. The book mentions ancient Rome, a couple of places in ancient
Greece, ancient Israel with a question mark, and modern India. All of the rituals
mentioned were supposed to be related to €fertility€.

>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.