Joel Smart describes the origins of circumcision in the United States:
"The true origins of circumcise are seemingly lost in antiquity, although many theories exist. However, in America, non-religious circumcision became popularized only in the mid-1800s during the highly puritanical Victorian era. Although there are many ideas as to why the practice is done today, the original motivation was to prevent children from masturbating (which was called self-abuse at the time, due to the belief that it caused disease, insanity and death).
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of Corn Flakes, exemplifies the mindset of the time when he wrote in his book: “A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision… The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering anaesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment.”
Since that time, numerous “studies” looking for new “possible” benefits of circumcision, usually once the last reason had been disproved. Circumcision was said to prevent everything from bed wetting to clubfoot. Female genital cutting was also common at the time, for similar reasons, and was even covered by Blue Cross-Blue Shield medical insurance until 1977."
Just how barbaric does circumcision sound now? They still don't give the baby boy any sort of anasthetic. The whole point is to inflict pain. I was so happy when my mom told me that my sister was having a girl because I didn't have to worry about circumcision. I never would have won that fight.