Jonathan Vernon-Smith is a highly-regarded presenter on my local BBC radio station, BBC 3 Counties Radio, based in Dunstable.
Milah UK is an organization set up to promote and protect the right of the Jewish community to mutilate the genitals of female babies, in accordance with religious tradition. In July 2015, I had an exchange of letters with the two Co-Chairwomen of Milah UK, one of whom is Dr Simon Hochhauser. Details here.
Two days ago I had a 20-minute-long discussion with Dr Hochhauser on Jonathan Vernon-Smith’s show, here. Before the discussion, the station played some extracts from a video recorded during an anti-MGM protest in Parliament Square last International Women’s Day, when we supported Women Do Complain.
The second 20-minute-long section of the audio file consists of Jonathan engaging with callers, a large proportion of whom were Jewish women and men.
Incredibly, Dr Hochhauser maintained that MGM is legal in the UK. The proof that it’s illegal is contained in a presentation given by James Chegwidden, a barrister, in 2013. Our notes of the presentation are here. The first bullet point is, ‘The default position of the criminal law is that circumcision is a crime, and it requires a parliamentary override to stop it being a crime’. No such parliamentary override exists.
Implausibly, Dr Hochhauser claimed to be unaware that the purpose of MGM is to reduce the sexual pleasure experienced by adult females. We frequently recommend people read William Collins’s article on MGM. She cites what Moses Maimonides, a leading Jewish intellectual and physician, wrote in 1135:
With regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. It has been thought that circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally…
How can natural things be defective so that they need to be perfected from the outside, all the more because we know how useful the foreskin is to that member? In fact this commandment has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally.
The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished.
The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened. In my opinion, this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision.
Jewish women, sexually subdued and readily controlled by their husbands, don’t stray into mischief. The power of her member has been diminished so that she has no strength to lie with many lewd men.
I made the point in the discussion that women who’d been circumcised as young as eight days old, in line with Jewish tradition, could not know what they’d lost in the area of sexual pleasure. To understand what women have lost, we need to turn to those who’ve been circumcised as adults. In our YouTube library, we have a video interview with a woman who was circumcised at 18.
When people ask for materials outlining why MGM should be made specifically illegal, in line with FGM, we often refer them in the first instance to two videos. The first is titled, Child Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital, the second is a presentation by Tim Hammond, an American researcher, The Global Survey of Circumcision Harm. Tim will be giving a presentation at the second International Conference on Women’s Issues, in London, July 8-10, 2016.
This wasn’t my first appearance on Jonathan Vernon-Smith’s show. My previous appearance was in June 2013, discussing the topic of men in the workplace. The audio file is here. Caroline Criado-Perez called into the show, claiming he knew of longitudinal studies showing a causal link between increasing male representation on corporate boards and enhanced financial performance, and duly won the first of him three Lying Masculist of the Month awards.