Penile bud for a male (L) and female (R)

Discussion of male and female circumcision is sometimes heated and divided along gender lines.1 Severity is often used to determine which one is “worse.”2 Your culture of origin is a major factor, too. What we know is that where male circumcision is common it is considered beneficial (but female circumcision is often considered horrid). However, the reverse is also true; male circumcision is often considered “gross” in cultures where only girls are circumcised.

We think both are mutilations upon a minor because they are unnecessary, painful, and sexually debilitating. Here’s our proof: as much as the adult genitals of males and females look and work differently, they have a lot in common. Both develop from the same penile bud in the womb,3 4 and these images show just how similar they are. If these children are later circumcised, the same structures you see here will be amputated. If you can’t tell the difference now, then we say it doesn’t matter what the difference is later.

  1. Davis DS. Male and female genital alteration: A collision course with the law? Health Matrix. 2001;11:487–570.
  2. Dekkers W, Hoffer C, Wils JP. Bodily integrity and male and female circumcision. Med Health Care Philos. 2005;8(2):179-91.
  3. O’Connell HE, Sanjeevan KV, Hutson JM. Anatomy of the clitoris. J Urol. 2005:174(4 Pt 1);1189-95.
  4. Cold CJ, Taylor JR. The prepuce. BJU Int. 1999;83(Suppl.1):34-44.