Policy in the Pants: Peeling Back the Layers in Political Discourse on Male Circumcision and its Creation of the Masculine Body




Rintoul, Zachary

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Male circumcision is surgical procedure that amputates the male foreskin from the penis, and its merits have been debated for millennia. The surgery is highly contested as it represents a collision of ideas surrounding gender, infant vs adult bodies, human rights, religion, and understandings of health, to name a few. To justify its continued existence, rooted in differing ideological frameworks, claims that are regionally specific for the arrest or continuation of the practice are made around the world. This research examines through a critical discourse analysis the cultural differences between the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics policy recommendation statements that were constructed for both health practitioners and the public. Beginning in 1975 both Canada and the United States began in 1975 to release policy recommendation statements after having been spurred into action from a small statement in an American text for physicians titled “Standards and Recommendation of Hospital Care of Newborn Infants.” Circumcision policies are not simply theoretical imperatives but claims that enact physical changes to bodies and their lived experiences of the universe. Therefore, I utilize the three bodies of Lock and Scheper-Hughes (1987) to ground my linguistic findings to bodies – with first and third body most present. Ultimately, I discuss how scientific framing of data in both countries policies create two different individual bodies, with the Canadian holding more holistic views of individual bodies than Americans. The body politic differed whereby, Americans emphasized efficacy of procedure, Canadians expressed the need for regulating and controlling pain and who can perform the procedure.



circumcision, male, foreskin, intact, three bodies, critical, policies, United States, Canada, critical discourse analysis