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The Absurd Reason Why America Circumcises Baby Boys

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

The Absurd Reason Why America Circumcises Baby Boys
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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.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.