The Absurd Reason Why America Circumcises Baby Boys

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The key is to not let faulty reasoning and a bunch of 19th century prudes be the motivating factor.

FACT CHECK TIME. Here's what our fact checkers found:

  • America didn't adopt the practice of circumcision until the sex-phobic days of the 19th century, when puritanical doctors promoted it as a way to stop kids from masturbating. Psychology Today (Sept. 2011)
  • Cleanliness is no longer an issue thanks to modern hygienic standards. Psychology Today (Sept. 2011)
  • Circumcision has been found to significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission but provides only "partial protection and should be considered as only one of several other prevention measures," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The foreskin is a natural lubricant, contains millions of nerve endings, and prevents desensitization. Psychology Today (Sept. 2011)

UPDATE 1/12/15: The CDC's stance on circumcision recently changed. The CDC originally said that circumcision only "marginally" reduces the risk of HIV transmission, but it now recommends the procedure, saying that the benefits outweigh the risks.

We still like this video's history lesson on circumcision in America and its call to understand why we choose to circumcise babies or not. But we updated the post to reflect that there are tangible health benefits to the procedure.

Show Transcript Hide Transcript

Hi there. Oh, I see you're circumcised. But, wait, you're not Jewish or Muslim, so that's kind of strange, don't you think?

What? No, it's normal. What?

Actually, it's not. Hi, I'm Adam Conover...

I remember you.

Hi Adam.

And apart from those religions, and a few African tribes, America is actually one of the only cultures that practices circumcision, yet most of us don't even know why we do it. Would you like to?

Not right now, man.

Oh, just get it over with.

To learn more, let's go back in time to the day you were circumcised.

God, no.

By the time your tip got snipped, circumcision had been a tradition for generations.

Would you like to circumcise Brian?

Yeah, I guess. I mean, his should look like mine, right?

Okie doke.

But the source for that tradition is real weird.

His should look like mine, right?

His should look like mine, right?

Yep, better cut him. I reckon it will stop him from masturbating.


Yep, though religious circumcision's been practiced in the Middle East for millennia, no one did it in the West until the sex-phobic days of the late 19th century, when puritanical doctors promoted it as a way to stop your kids from committing their favorite sin.

Observe the vile masturbator, the sallow complexion, the rotten teeth, and the open sores.

Actually, I think I have syphilis.

Syphilis, caused by masturbation.

One prominent advocate of dick docking was, and I'm not making this up, John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of Corn Flakes.

My cure is two fold: a diet rich in flaked corn, and cutting off part of the penis.

Victorian prudes like Kellogg just straight up hated sex, and thought that by pruning your peter, they could make it look less pleasurable, taming you base, lustful instincts. And you don't even want to know what they thought you should do to women.

Just apply a little carbolic acid to the clitoris.

Yikes. Thank God that one didn't catch on.

All right, everyone, let's take a five.

This is stupid. Being circumcised doesn't stop me from masturbating.

Yeah, I know. That's why it's so weird we still do it.

But isn't it cleaner or something?

No. Maybe in biblical times to help prevent infection, but nowadays you can just wash your dingus. Circumcision has been found to somewhat reduce the risk of HIV transmission, but so do condoms, and they don't require you to chop your dick off.

Okay, but foreskins are useless.

Actually, Brian, the foreskin plays an important role in sex. It's a natural lubricant, contains millions of nerve endings, and it protects the glans from being desensitized.

Thanks, Bert.

You got it, buddy.

If you're uncircumcised, girls will think your dick looks weird.

Oh, that's an interesting theory. Let's test it. Does this dick look weird?


All right, does this dick look weird?


And, does this dick look weird?

Yeah. All dicks look weird.

Thanks, man.

Look, if you like being circumcised, fine. There's no harm in it, but there's also no benefit to it, and the only reason you're circumcised is because the 19th century prude who invented Corn Flakes was trying to ruin your sex life.

Oh, well that didn't take long. Pick up where we left off?

I'm not really in the mood anymore.

Ha! Sounds like he won. Join me next time on "Adam Ruins Everything," when I'll be talking about how what you think are your cherished childhood memories are just fictional simulations created by your brain.

Get out. Please get out!

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This video was created by CollegeHumor and stars the very funny Adam Conover.


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