Consider this your advisory warning. I’m a very mellow and kindhearted guy. It takes a lot to push my buttons – but circumcision is definitely one of those polarizing, hot button issues that’s flashing bright red and sounding all the alarms.
If you’re a proponent of circumcision, much of what I say here will anger you. If you’re an intactivist, you may appreciate my attempt at lending a voice to an issue that’s been largely drowned out by the din. If you’re a parent-to-be pondering circumcision for your child, you might consider reading this before surgically altering your son with an elective cosmetic procedure that amounts to nothing less than sexual mutilation. If you’re one of those immature, grownup children who snickers every time you hear the words “foreskin” or “circumcision,” I suggest a book with colorful pictures of imaginary heroes wearing tights. And if you’re a circumcised man wondering why this should matter to you – it’s because authenticity and integrity means something, while denial serves no one, particularly not you.
This is not a sterile look at the pros and cons of circumcision. This is my story, and if I’m going to tell it, then it has to be on my terms, and I make no apologies for that. This is an unflinching and highly personal account of my experiences with circumcision related erectile dysfunction, manual and surgical foreskin restoration, ongoing denial, and a reawakening that led to a new understanding of recurring childhood nightmares that were actually repressed memories of my neonatal circumcision.
Yes, I do possess memory fragments of the circumcision procedure performed on me as a newborn. There’s a chapter dedicated to that subject alone, and it’s my new understanding of these memories that compelled me to write this book. Yet, in and of itself, those memories weren’t enough to embolden me to be so vulnerable and share my story so openly – the only reason I am able to write this, is because I am essentially fully restored – if not for that, I would have felt too violated, too exposed and too incomplete to be this bold.
I still have another year to go with my foreskin restoration to achieve the aesthetics I’m looking for, but even so, I’ve long since been able to fool doctors with my restored foreskin, and as a result, have experienced dubious remarks and outright prejudice from those eager to clip it off all over again – like literal body snatchers with an uncontrollable compulsion rooted in piety and personal bias. This seeming mass prejudice against foreskins within the medical community is rather disturbing and unabashedly unethical, and I will share those factual experiences so you can witness that prejudice for yourself.
It’s been interesting to see this issue from both sides, as the circumcised and the presumed intact “uncircumcised” man. It’s been nearly 35 years since my first circumcision awakening and I’m just now beginning to understand the mindset behind this body snatching compulsion – and frankly, it frightens me. As I elaborate on my experiences with surgical and manual foreskin restoration and the countless urologists I’ve seen over the years, their personal bias will be readily apparent, as virtually none of them were willing to have an open and honest conversation about foreskins that didn’t include circumcision as their one and only goal.
I’ve never spoken about this to anyone, including my husband of 30 years, and I’m apprehensive about speaking of this now. It’s tempting to stay silent because doing anything other than upholding the status quo tends to draw people’s ire – particularly when the subject in question is tied to dogmatic beliefs. Nonsensical as the surgical alteration of a healthy baby seems, people will vehemently defend their right to do a little nip-tuck on all baby boys, even those that aren’t their own. But much as I’d like to remain shrouded within the safety of silence, I understand all too well the importance of standing up and being heard.
One of my personal heroes is Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California at a time when the gay rights movement was barely a spark. Circumcision isn’t a gay rights issue. Nor is it a Republican vs. Democrat issue. It’s a human rights issue. It’s a First Amendment issue. And yes, circumcision is a religious issue. But above all else, circumcision is a moral issue, only contrary to popular belief, it’s the cutters who are behaving immorally.
As a gay man, I see the parallels – there are those with the false morality piously passing judgement, and those with the overwhelming desire to stay safely in the closet and not utter a peep. But Harvey believed the most important thing a gay person could do is come out of the closet, because when people get to know us, they’re more apt to embrace us. And I believe the same holds true for circumcision and the intactivist movement, because:
“We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets.” – Harvey Milk[i]
This book is intended for adults intelligent enough to meet this conversation in earnest, sans the immature giggles meant to cover up one’s own discomfort and fear of the truth, and then there’s the inevitable feelings of rage for repudiating cherished customs.
The reality is, most men are as out of touch with their own bodies as a prepubescent boy, unable to face the truth of what they lost when they were clipped at birth. Men like this are in denial about what was done to them, and I would know, because after all these years of restoration, I still struggle with that same denial when it feels safe and convenient. But maybe sharing my intensely personal story will lead us both out of the closet to the truth, a truth we certainly won’t get from the medical community or religious leaders bent on keeping us blissfully ignorant and unquestioningly obedient.
Most men can’t name a single part of their penis that was removed with their foreskin – so how can you miss what you never knew existed?
Typically, all talk of foreskins is done scornfully, or in hush tones, or with mocking and ridicule, because all that false bluster makes it easier to deny the dubious conditions under which this was done to you. Hecklers heckle to cover up their own fear – it’s called cowardice – and any adult that didn’t learn that lesson in grade school has no business calling themselves an adult.
If you ask, most men will tell you they have no problem being circumcised. They’ll also tell you it doesn’t hurt if they stub their toe, despite the fact that they’re grimacing and favoring their “uninjured” toe. Men are reared to believe showing weakness makes you less of a man – and circumcision is literally the reduction of your manhood – so when false machismo is coupled with the discomfort we all feel when talking about something supremely private like our privates, “truth” becomes the first casualty to fall by the wayside.
Sure, there’ll always be so called “manly men” who claim to be thankful for the life altering surgery their parents imposed on their behalf, be it religious or medically justified – but life isn’t about cookie cutter, one size fits all solutions, and not everyone is thankful for having a religion they didn’t want forced upon them, nor are we thankful for being subjected to a life altering sexual mutilation at the hands of a doctor “for my own good.” Circumcision isn’t some bad haircut that’ll eventually grow out, it’s a radical, life altering decision thrust upon many who become unwilling participants after the fact, yet remain unwilling to speak about the violation for fear of ridicule, which works out rather conveniently for those forcing this mandate.
But the simple fact remains: Many a manly man has been the victim of a mandatory manhood reduction – yes, victim – every manly man’s secret nightmare, to literally be powerless to stop what’s being done to them.
They grow up oblivious to what’s happened, and are embarrassed when the realization comes crashing down on them. They believe there’s nothing to be done but stay silent, live with the end result, and ridicule anyone who dare shine a light on your most personal of violations. Even worse, they pretend to be okay with it all because they’re “manly men.” But to me, a real man has the confidence to face the truth head on without excuses, without denial, without spewing anger and rage at anyone who doesn’t subscribe to your delusions, and without spitting venom and passing judgement on those unwilling to be indoctrinated into your belief system. Are you man enough for all that?
The good news is, you need not accept what’s been done to you in quiet submission nor with misdirected anger. There is a treatment for your injury, if you’re man enough to stop lashing out at others and acknowledge what’s been done to you, and if you’re courageous enough to spend the time required to restore what was taken from you, and most importantly, if you want it bad enough.
Foreskin restoration takes a long time and requires extreme patience and dedication. It’ll push your resolve to the limits and there won’t be a day that goes by where you won’t want to quit. But it’s surely a challenge any manly man ought to be able to overcome – if only they had the courage to stop covering their eyes like a child unwilling to see the truth. But clenching your eyes tight and holding your breath until you turn blue won’t change the reality between your legs. “Manly men” stand up for what’s right and speak out against atrocities, and they certainly don’t exact the same sexual violation against their own sons just to assure solidarity.
I didn’t pursue foreskin restoration for upwards of 35 years simply because I wanted to have better sex – I did it to feel whole again, to strike back at my oppressors and reclaim what they unjustly took from me, to push back against forcible indoctrination, to reclaim my right to live as a whole and complete man.
Circumcision destroyed my sex life by rendering me dysfunctional from my first sexual experience. Yet I have largely been left to fend for myself all this time because virtually every urologist I’ve seen in the past 35 years has been ill prepared and flatly unwilling to have an honest conversation about foreskins, circumcision complications, and erectile dysfunction; their training simply hasn’t prepared them for anything but excising the next unseemly foreskin they see as soon as possible.
The fact of the matter is, doctors are intentionally misinformed about foreskins right from med-school, and circumcision has been so engrained into American culture, that a study of 90 anatomical source materials used by medical students and doctors found that over two-thirds of these reference materials misrepresented the male anatomy. Depictions of a circumcised penis are presented as fact, with no mention of the existence of foreskins.[ii]
So if doctors and med students are too prudish to accept the reality of the male anatomy, then there’s little chance the public at large is being told the whole truth on circumcision either. Who are the editors of these medical books and why are they knowingly passing off personal bias as science? Whatever the excuse, none of this happened by accident. What other scientific inaccuracies are knowingly pushed off as fact in these source materials? Why are the editors and publishers of these reference materials knowingly misinforming doctors and future medical professionals? Doctors are accustomed to seeing all sorts of stomach-churning conditions and diseases, yet their medical books need to censor foreskins via omission? How is that professional, let alone ethical, let alone based in reality?
Have you ever wondered why people are so disgusted by foreskins? I’ve seen this behavior time and again from those who reduce being gay to little more than a sexual act. We’re not people, we’re disgusting symbols of their prudish views toward sex – just like foreskins – and I’m talking literal disgust to the point of instant anger and outright rage at the mere mention of them, even from supposed medical “professionals.” The reactions are unfounded, nonsensical and blisteringly ignorant. So where within all that is a man with chronic erectile dysfunction to turn?
Women are welcome to confide in gynecologists about their issues. So why are urologists unwilling to have a similar relationship with their male patients? It’s likely because the urologists themselves are circumcised and in denial, which gives them a vested interest in upholding their own puritanical biases, meanwhile, their profession empowers them to act upon those biases in a manner that reinforces their worldview. And somewhere within all that, adults with a legitimate need are neglected, and baby boys are surgically modified for no other reason than egoism. Denial reigns supreme, and adherence to age-old traditions remains rooted in the intellect of the ancient and uneducated. But “ancient” doesn’t automatically equal “right.”
It should be readily apparent that I’ll be discussing circumcision in a manner most are unaccustomed to hearing, which may prove challenging for some. But my hope is that this intensely personal story will inspire you to think twice about circumcising your son. This isn’t a faux attempt to tiptoe along the middle of the road, presenting both sides of this issue – there’s already plenty of disinformation out there about foreskins and circumcision – this is the other side of the story, the side that you’ve likely never heard before, the side you desperately need to hear before sexually mutilating your son.
I’m not going to sugar coat anything – yes, circumcision is indeed sexual mutilation performed on the precious and innocent for no other purpose than indoctrination, be it religious or societal. The factual recounting of my story itself will clearly depict how circumcision is masked as a moral imperative, a health issue, yet remains driven by a delusional, self-entitled mindset bent on forcing its will onto others – hence the instant rage, ridicule and insults spewed against anyone daring enough to voice their dissent. Meanwhile, the truth remains intentionally cloaked with bias and obfuscation.
I’ll go through the major health claims in favor of circumcision and cut to the simple truth of it all, a truth you’ll scantly hear from a single doctor. Why? From insanity to moral ambiguity, doctors have hailed circumcision as the miracle cure-all, and at one time, even touted it as a cure for the “negro rape problem.” I’ll elaborate on that more later, and if that doesn’t turn every person of color against circumcision, then perhaps nothing will.
In the past, doctors insisted circumcision was a “vaccine” for syphilis, now they insist it’s a “vaccine” for HIV and circumcision is being mandated in Africa with the help of various incentives and compensation – in other words, bribery via the promise of vouchers or money in exchange for foreskins. Yet I’ll show quite plainly how this and other common circumcision health claims don’t hold up to simple facts.
Yes, I’m angry – victims of sexual violence always are – particularly those in denial, hence why those hecklers tend to focus their rage in the wrong direction.
Yes, I consider circumcision to be sexual violence – I definitely feel sexually brutalized by my circumcision, hence why it’s haunted me for over five decades. And yes, I’m entitled to my opinion, same as everyone else. I’m very conscientious about people’s sensibilities, always polite, slow to anger, and would normally never utter a peep about this to anyone because it’s a highly sensitive topic for everyone involved. However, I won’t soften the reality of my history just to spare someone’s feelings. Not this time. The cult of cutting has dominated far too long and it’s time to take a stand, and my most effective weapons are facts and words – and yes, most importantly – truth.
Imagine you went to the doctor and they said they were going to strap you down and cut off a piece of your genitals because you can’t be trusted to keep them clean. Or maybe it’s being done in the name of a religion you may or may not believe in later in life, but the mandatory nip-tuck is being forced upon you anyway. How would you feel? How is it that we acknowledge sexual mutilation against women is wrong, but with men it’s considered a divine mandate and create any excuse to assure conformity? Minorities like me tend to get crushed by monolithic thinking, so I’m a little sensitive to all that.
As far back as I can remember, suicide has always been an option orbiting my thoughts. I’ve never made plans, but I’ve always been aware of the options available to me. Many gay people feel suicidal, not because there’s something inherently wrong with us, but because society is dominated by religions that typically want to keep us pinned down. It’s called oppression, and it hurts.
There’s virtually no orthodox version of religion that supports the gay community, yet they insist on our obedient subservience to their faith whether we subscribe to it or not – or worse, they pin you down and snatch part of your penis in a cult ritual.
I’ve been pinned down by religion my entire life – starting at birth when I was pinned down by Christianity and sexually mutilated in the name of their faith – yes, Christianity is circumcising baby boys in the name of god, just like Jews and Muslims, except Christian Americans are in complete denial about it.
No one wants to hear this, but the fact is, I speak from a lifetime of experience when I say point blank – any religion that doesn’t want to be called a cult should stop acting like one.
The basic definition of a cult is a belief system that is thrust upon you against your will, and by that definition, virtually every circumcised child has been indoctrinated into a cult – be it the cult of dogma or the cult of societal expectations.
Naturally, religion is a big issue and there are many who will have a problem with the observations I’ll make in subsequent chapters. This book isn’t about religion, it’s about my personal experiences with cultural indoctrination via circumcision – but take note that “cult” is nestled within “cultural” and cherished customs can easily become demoralizing dictums. Culture can be a beautiful thing, but the moment body parts are chopped off to force deference to tradition is when “culture” gets truncated to “cult.”
Circumcision is both a religious rite and a cultural mandate, so there’s naturally going to be some crossover as I elaborate on my personal experiences and observations. And in that vein, it’s impossible for me to see circumcision as anything but sexual mutilation at the hands of a cult. The best I can do to soften that blow would be to call circumcision cosmetic surgery, and every sane person on Earth knows you don’t perform cosmetic surgery on a baby.
There are countless stories about kids with big ears who get cosmetic surgery to pin them back so they don’t get bullied and feel better about themselves. The child is a consensual and willing participant who desperately wants the procedure, which typically improves their outlook for the better. Yet many critics rail against parents for allowing their child to get cosmetic surgery, subjecting them to a public shaming, demanding loss of custody, berating the surgeon, demanding they lose their license, their practice, and their liberty. Yet those same critics will fight tooth and nail to vehemently defend circumcision, an elective cosmetic surgery forced upon baby boys at birth – sure, ‘cause that’s logical.
Did you know your tongue is covered with disgusting germs and dangerous bacteria? Yet the use of tongue scrapers isn’t mandatory, nor are tongue amputations – and people still French kiss, passionately even.
And speaking of bacteria covered tongues and circumcision – is the tradition of a rabbi or mohel suckling a baby’s circumcised penis immediately after the procedure really a good idea? How about moral? Sure, I get that this tradition had practical purposes eons ago, and I get that mohels have the best intentions in their hearts, however, be it religious rites or rights, is an adult suckling a baby boy’s penis ever okay? I’m hard pressed to say yes to that, and I’m the “subversive” gay guy religion rails against.
The act of suckling is referred to as the metzitzah b’peh, which requires the mohel performing the ceremony to place his mouth over the circumcised penis and suck away the blood – again, for practical purposes eons ago – but we’re not living in ancient times eons ago, and the practice has been known to cause infant genital herpes.[iii] If this sort of thing happened in the Catholic church it’d be worthy of a coverup. It’s just a good thing those little boys were circumcised for health reasons or something bad might have happened to them.[iv]
Many parents and loved ones who have observed this forced cosmetic procedure smile proudly as they attest to how the child in question didn’t even cry or make a sound, because naturally, if you believe in the divinity of the rite, this would surely be a good omen. Some children indeed cry more than others – that’s obvious to everyone – but to think cutting someone’s flesh won’t hurt is simply moronic. Watch, I’ll prove it without a single quote or citation:
Take a baby girl that’s barely a week old to the mall and try to get her ears pierced and see what happens – go ahead, I dare you. What’s the big deal? It’s just a flap of skin. Not courageous enough for that one? Okay, try putting a pair of clip-on earrings onto a baby girl then push her through the mall in a stroller and see what people say. Hold her in your arms as you spin a carousel of stud earrings in a department store and ask the clerk which ones would look best on your baby girl, then see if they sell them to you.
I’m guessing every mother knows better than to try any of this, but they’ll slice their son’s foreskins in a blink and never give it a second thought. Why? And since there’s always a moron in every crowd: DO NOT PIERCE A BABY GIRL’S EARS! Now connect those dots with circumcising your son and maybe we can have an intelligent conversation.
Babies have nerve endings, same as every other human being on Earth. And I’m sure there are indeed some babies who don’t cry during circumcision – it’s called shock, and it renders people catatonic. Then there are babies like me, who are haunted by that mandatory nip tuck for the rest of our lives – we’re all different, though people rarely remember that, let alone respect it. Meanwhile, circumcision is touted as a one size fits all mandate, be it religious or socially motivated. But no matter how you slice it, it’s all just forcible indoctrination.
Before anyone gets in an uproar – my criticisms about circumcision are not specifically aimed at Jews, Muslims or any dogma that has “voluntarily” adopted the practice, like “clean cut” American Christians – yet it’s impossible to have a frank discussion about such a polarizing issue without potentially offending its most prolific enthusiasts.
I have no problem with religion, but I do have a problem with how religious people mandate their beliefs and call it “god’s work.” Thanks for the résumé of good intentions, but – we’re not hiring – and that’s my First Amendment right as much as it is yours.
Many arcane religious practices have been modified or abandoned as human understanding evolved, yet one’s faith to their god of choice remained… intact. The Earth is round. Tossing virgins into a volcano won’t assure a good harvest. And much as the human ego can’t seem to accept it, we are not the center of the universe. Believe it or not, baby boys are born with foreskins for a reason, and it’s not so you can cut it off in sacrifice to a deity… or merely a doctor who acts like one.
“We must mix medicine with our religion and make the clergy into physicians, or ordain our physicians into full-fledged clergymen.”[v] The History of Circumcision – From the Earliest Times to the Present – Moral and Physical Reasons for its Performance, by Dr. Peter Charles Remondino, member of the American Medical Association and countless medical societies.
This quote comes from a best-selling book that Christian American doctors wrote and used as the basis to hijack “Holy Circumcision” and force their morality onto a nation. It’s all right there in the quote and book title. Doctors believe circumcision is their moral obligation and act with the impunity of vengeful gods forcing their will onto others. Again, doing “god’s work,” and again, I’m still not hiring.
My husband was raised Jewish and I took his name after marriage, and I’ve had many an occasion over our 30 years together to become familiar with the Jewish people and culture, of which, I have become quite fond. I love my little tatelah and his sweet keppy. But when it comes to the subject of circumcision, I cannot harmonize with any people of any denomination or pseudo-science.
I took my husband’s name for all the right reasons – to make us closer, to make us family, to fortify our bond – yet I unexpectedly found myself wanting to change it again because I did not anticipate how my husband’s surname would cause others to believe I am Jewish, circumcised, and a proponent of an arcane practice – that’s just not something I can accept after a lifetime of torment over being forcibly mutilated. Nor do I care to explain foreskin restoration to doctors who see my last name and assume I am Jewish, then question why I’m not circumcised as they stare down their nose at my restored foreskin like a disease that needs to be excised. These are facts from my own life not just a snappy turn of phrase.
I love my husband. I loved taking his name. To me, it’s not a Jewish name – I don’t define the world around me like that – it’s just his name, and I love it because I love and adore him. But...
There have been instances of postmortem circumcision, and in 1993, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yisrael Lau, ruled that circumcisions should not be forcibly performed on anyone — whether they are alive or dead.[vi] This statement came in response to persecuted Jews from the former Soviet Union who were denied the mitzvah of circumcision at birth. Then, many years later, postmortem circumcisions were performed on these men to assure they would fulfil their covenant with god. This caused a controversy that clearly crossed the line far enough that formal guidance was required, and the chief rabbi of Israel felt enough public pressure to speak out against forcible circumcisions. Wonderful. So why is circumcision still being forcibly performed on babies? Just because they can’t protest doesn’t mean they’re willing.
I’ll elaborate more on the religious and social aspects of all this in a forthcoming chapter. But knowing the massive bias out there against foreskins, I have to wonder if someone would see the Jewish last name I inherited through marriage and think they were doing me a “favor” by circumcising me all over again – be it after death, or during a medical procedure while I lay unconscious in a doctor’s care. This has indeed happened to people. Time and again, I’ve seen how eager medical professionals are to rid me of this “burden,” oblivious to the fact that I still have a circumcision scar from the first time around – and one forcible sexual mutilation per lifetime already exceeds my limit, thanks much.
So, much as it saddens me, I may not be able to keep my husband’s last name. If only there were a law on the books that protected male body integrity, same as the legal protections that outlaw circumcising women. But those rights simply don’t exist, and the body snatchers don’t need another excuse to do yet another nip tuck on me, “for my own good.”
Gender equality is slowly gaining a real foothold, but for as far as we still have to go, no one is strapping down baby girls and circumcising them “for their own good,” nor do gynecologists have the unilateral authority to circumcise adult women with little to no recourse – but the same is not true for guys.
Does American freedom include the freedom to dictate what happens to our own bodies? Do men and woman have equal rights in that regard? Do kids have any rights? Do I? Absent some sort of body integrity law, changing my “Jewish” last name earned through marriage seems but a paltry recourse, and my restored foreskin still wouldn’t be safe from those relentless body snatchers. And make no mistake, it’s Christian American doctors who are knowingly subjugating religious freedoms in favor of forcing their own moral dictums onto a nation, and yes, I will prove this unequivocally through my personal experiences and simple facts – the bane of most any spiritual faith.
I could be unconscious during a medical procedure and a doctor with a foreskin bias could clip it off and call it “medically necessary.” Meanwhile, the release form I signed would protect that snip happy doctor from prosecution because it gives them the legal authority to do anything deemed “necessary” while I am in their care. Does that sound fair? How about moral? Does it sound like American freedom or cult doctrine? If this happened to a woman everyone would be enraged, but if it happened to a man, everyone would ridicule him if he dare utter a peep. Again, I will discuss factual events from my own life that support these statements.
My husband doesn’t know all the reasons behind my issues with his surname, but he knows I’m ardently apathetic toward religion, and that’s enough. He accepts it as a modernization of our marital contract – where neither partner is subjugated by the other because we are both equal – and the true meaning of equality is something our community knows a lot about. It’s called evolution of thought, and it’s a good thing. Neither of us appreciated being forcibly raised within orthodox religions that don’t accept us. Nor, at this writing, does my husband know about this book or my motives behind it. I’ve truly never spoken about this to anyone. Moving forward, I will elaborate on the reasons behind that.
What’s an intactivist anyway?
I don’t consider myself an authority on that subject. I’m just a guy telling his story, and at this moment, I have no direct affiliation with any person, group, or organization. But as I see it, an intactivist is anyone who’s willing to stand up for the rights of all children, boy or girl, to retain the bodies they were born with, and not be forcibly subjected to sexual body modification without their express consent. That’s what being an intactivist means to me, and being as open and truthful as I can in telling my story is my expression of that ideal. Others choose to express that ideal with protests, or through education, or via legislative avenues, all of which is valuable and desperately needed. Ultimately, intactivists are just ordinary men and women who are passionate about children’s rights – and by that definition, why isn’t everyone an intactivist?
Human rights should be important to everyone; it’s certainly important to any minority who knows the sting of oppression. Given my background, it’s impossible for me to see circumcision as anything but a human rights issue, and my community is accustomed to being vilified by religion, so it’s not hard to connect those dots with the vilification of foreskins. This is how puritanical monolithic thinking works.
Moving forward, I’ll recount personal experiences that clearly depict how people tend to discuss circumcision with an air of entitlement, as if it’s not just their right, but their divine obligation to dictate what happens to other people’s bodies – and enforcing that mandate is what edges up to cult territory. I understand parents have the right to dictate virtually everything that happens in their children’s lives, yet, surgical body modification of newborn babies pushes that assertion to the extreme. How is it that educated adults know well enough not to pierce a baby girl’s ears, but foreskins are evil and must be expunged from this Earth? Is this the measure of the human intellect?
What will you be doing as your son is sexually mutilated? Will you lay comfortably in a hospital bed as they forcibly strap your son down and restrain him to a circumcision board? Will you make small talk with grandma as they literally rip your son’s foreskin away from his glans? Will you giggle with friends to ease the tension as your son cries uncontrollably? Will you peruse your social media feed as your son’s frenulum is severed, unencumbered by anesthesia? Will you nervously push the whole thing out of your mind and try not to think about it? Or will you turn on the TV or hum a happy tune to help you get through the discomfort as your son faces this life altering procedure alone?
Well, for starters, you’ll call the procedure circumcision because that’s more palatable than mutilation. In fact, you may not even call it circumcision because just that word alone makes everyone stiffen with discomfort. Maybe you’ll have another “cute” name for it at the ready in case anyone asks – something that makes everyone feel better about themselves while a baby is sexually mutilated in the other room for no good reason. Or maybe you’ll just discretely mutter something under your breath that makes everyone hush knowingly and change the subject. You’ll most definitely lie to yourself, and ultimately, to your baby, because you can’t face the truth of what you’ve done to him.
You’ll lie and say it “hurt less” or regurgitate one of the moronic statements people use to justify what they’ve done to their own child just so they can sleep at night. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t deserve to sleep well at night if sexually mutilating babies is your idea of normal. I had recurring nightmares for decades because of my circumcision, and believe me when I say, it’s parents who deserve to be haunted by what they’ve done, not their children.
You see, right from the start, most people really aren’t all that comfortable talking about circumcision. Why? Because despite all the justifications, we all know, or should know, that the surgical modification of a baby’s sexual organs is highly dubious to put it mildly. Hence why everyone – including me, including alleged scientists, including so called medical professionals – get so uppity about circumcision.
No one wants to have an open and honest discussion about foreskins. They want you to snip it, zip it, and pretend it never happened – and worse – pretend that foreskins don’t exist in the first place. And for the most part, everyone is willing to go along with that mass denial – at least in the countries where this inane and primitive practice still hasn’t been expunged by newfangled common sense.
“Circumcision is one of the most common operations in the US. Three-quarters of American adult men are circumcised. There are over one million procedures each year, or around one every 30 seconds.”[vii]
So again, what will you be doing as your son undergoes this optional, controversial, cosmetic sexual mutilation sanctioned by your god, and doctors who think they are gods, all eager to tweak the evolutionary trajectory of male genitalia?
Given that doctors are encouraged to go through med school willfully ignorant as to the existence of foreskins, there’s little chance that parents have truly been educated about the specifics of what they’re doing when they circumcise their sons. How could they, given doctors have such a strong personal bias against foreskins?
No, the onus of educating oneself about circumcision falls to the parent alone, and I know from experience that you will be hard pressed to find any doctor willing to have an honest conversation about circumcision or foreskins – med school simply hasn’t prepared them for it – and their strong personal bias only emboldens parents to adopt the same mindset. And with that, folklore usurps fact.
Ultimately, this is your son, not your doctor’s, and not your church’s. And as your child’s one and only true protector, have you done your duty and educated yourself about exactly what is being surgically removed from your son? Have you watched any circumcision videos to understand what you’re asking your son to endure? And when all is said and done, will you ever speak of it again?
At what age will you sit your son down and explain what happened to him and why? And how is that conversation easier than teaching him how to wash with soap and water? Will you explain the motive behind your decision? Will you attempt to make him understand? Or will you just pretend it never happened because that’s more comfortable than facing reality? If you’re uncomfortable teaching your son how to wash his foreskin with soap and water, then you’ll probably never sit him down and explain his circumcision to him either. Or maybe you’ll sit him down one day and present his amputated foreskin as a trophy. I shudder to think what humans are capable of, and the lengths they will go to live in the soothing comfort of denial.
Like it or not, little boys grow up, and one by one, one way or another, there will come a moment when each circumcised boy will learn the ugly truth of what’s been done to him. And then what? Most men will live in denial, claiming to be “okay with it” as they uncomfortably change the subject and try to mask their true feelings.
Why on Earth would anyone be “okay” with being surgically altered for no good reason? Why on Earth would anyone be “okay” with being forcibly strapped down and sexually mutilated? I see it as a version of the Stockholm Syndrome, where captives develop a “psychological alliance” with their captors, only in this instance, the psychological alliance is formed over circumcision and its victims become its biggest defenders. Hence why resistance to circumcision is met with such vehement anger, and conformity to the cult of cutting is mandated – like body snatchers muttering the creepy drone, “One of us! One of us! One of us!”
So what’s a circumcised boy to do?
Well, you can pretend to be “okay” with what’s been done to you and join the chorus of disingenuous deniers who only speak of foreskins bitterly, if at all – projecting their anger onto the foreskin itself instead of at those mandating it be excised. Or you can take on the immense personal challenge of restoring your foreskin.
Yup, it’s true. You can actually restore your foreskin. But you’ll have to be highly motivated, incredibly dedicated, and obsessed to the point that it borders on body dysmorphia. I’ve done it, so I know the level of commitment it’ll take, and believe me, foreskin restoration isn’t some hobby you pick up on a whim.
If you’re doing it purely for sexual reasons, my guess is you’ll give up long before you reach your goal. It’s just too arduous and difficult. I don’t currently know anyone who is restoring, but I suspect most guys who stick with it are restoring because they have an intensely deep need to be whole again – they see circumcision as a violation and restoration as the cure – a very time consuming and daunting cure.
Our genitals are the most intimate and private part of ourselves, and no one has the right to impose their will onto another, especially when it impacts their entire life – not doctors, not churches, not even parents. Imparting one’s guidance and knowledge is one thing, surgically altering an infant for all time then perpetuating the deception that their bodies were meant to look that way is delusional to the extreme – or more aptly, it is the complete corruption of all morality and common sense.
Once upon a time, childhood tonsillectomies were routine, but now leveler heads question that wisdom.[viii] Reputable doctors now recommend the wait and see approach, insisting tonsils only be removed when absolutely necessary – in other words, when there’s an actual medical need, not before. I can only hope that one day, doctors will wake up and realize the same should hold true for circumcision. I mean, it’s only their moral obligation, so nothing important, right?
Okay, I’ve never been with a woman so I wouldn’t know, but apparently, from what I’ve seen in movies and on TV, women possess the superpower of dictating the terms of sex – how it happens, who it happens with, if it happens at all. As a result, straight men have learned to behave in ways that are more likely to attract a woman, like brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, showering so you don’t smell like a hog, and maybe even tucking in your shirt so you don’t look like a slob. Do all men prioritize grooming? No, of course not. But they’re also hard pressed to find a girl turned on by halitosis and body odor.
Much to the chagrin of many a modern cowboy, we don’t live in the wild west anymore. Men have access to soap and water, and if they want to be in the company of a woman, they’ll quickly learn that poor hygiene gets them nowhere while cleanliness is everything. All this is true of gay relationships too, but we tend to be a little more thoughtful about it. And in case this is still confusing to some straight guy’s caveman sensibilities, let me spell it out for you:
Hey straight guys! When you’re alone with a woman and things look like they might get intimate, there will probably come a moment when your lady friend excuses herself to “freshen up” – that would be your cue – nudge-nudge, wink-wink – yeah, I’m talking to you, genius. Go “freshen up” too – use mouthwash, aftershave – and, duh – wash yourself, yes, down there! Cut or intact, cleanliness is just common sense for all guys. I know a lot of guys identify with being mangy dogs, but even dogs get groomed once in a while. It’s called civility and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much the lady in your life appreciates it.
I came out of the closet when I was 20, it was 1987 and a scary time to be gay. But embracing my true self, for better or worse, was something I had to do. I’m in my 50s now, and despite having experience with coming out of closets, I’m equally reluctant to come out of this one the second time around. But yet again, it appears this is something I have to do.
Imagine how reluctant a straight guy would feel coming out of his closet for the first time. Then imagine how easy it would be to just stay in there and never speak your truth. Now imagine a world where you stop hiding and live as your true authentic self, unencumbered by the oppressive will of others. Unclipped by dogma. Unafraid to be yourself. Free to make your own choices. Free to be whole as you were born to be. Do we really need a foreskin pride parade to drive this point home? What’s the flag? A tubular windsock fluttering in the breeze? Hey, if that’s what it takes to wake people up...
I started this chapter with an advisory warning and said I would make no apologies for the story I am about to tell. But I’d like to amend that to include this:
WARNING: Reading this book may trigger a spontaneous circumcision awakening, and if that happens, let me be the first to say – I’m sorry. Maybe you’re a parent who came to realize what you did to your son was wrong – and for that, I’m sorry. Maybe you were pressured by a doctor or your faith and now regret it – and for that, I’m sorry. Maybe you’re a circumcised man just waking up to the reality of what happened to you – believe me, I know exactly what you’re going through – and for that, I am sorry. Maybe you’re a young boy or teen and don’t know where to turn – and for that, I’m sorry – give this book to your parents or a trusted adult and tell them you’d like to talk after they’ve read it. Maybe together, you’ll find the support you need.
I offer my heartfelt apology to anyone struggling with their own circumcision awakening because your religious leaders and doctors never will. You are not alone. And they are the ones who should be ashamed and apologizing, not you.
Proponents of circumcision wash their conscience clean by insisting a foreskin is “just a flap of skin.” But if that’s all a foreskin is, then why does just talking about protecting it make everyone so angry?
Clearly that “little flap of skin” is a really big deal, hence why everyone’s in such an uproar about it. But this is about more than just a little flap of foreskin. It’s about what it represents, the true motives behind why it’s being amputated, and all the lies being told to ensure its obliteration from this Earth. Truthfully, I have suffered immeasurable difficulties in life at the hands of prejudice and bigotry, and yet, for whatever reason, the shadows of my first memories have followed me throughout my life and arguably set the stage for how I see my place in this world.
Not everyone has a circumcision awakening. But what if you did? What if your son does? Where will he turn? Who can he trust? And what reception awaits him if he dares to open his mouth and speak the truth?
The most formative moments in life come from our earliest childhood experiences. What will your son’s first memory be and how will it affect him? And what will your role in all that be?
This book is about my first memory and how deeply it’s affected my entire life, and I know all this will stay with me until the day I die.
Don’t let this happen to your son.
[i] Milk, H. (n.d.). Milk Foundation.org » The Official HARVEY MILK Biography. Retrieved from milkfoundation.org: http://milkfoundation.org/about/harvey-milk-biography/
[ii] Harryman G.L. (2004) An Analysis of the Accuracy of the Presentation of the Human Penis in Anatomical Source Materials. In: Denniston G.C., Hodges F.M., Milos M.F. (eds) Flesh and Blood. Springer, Boston, MA
[iii] Robbins, L. (2012, March 7). Baby’s Death Renews Debate Over a Circumcision Ritual. Retrieved from NYTimes.com: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/nyregion/infants-death-renews-debate-over-a-circumcision-ritual.html
[iv] Sifferlin, A. (2012, June 7). How 11 New York City Babies Contracted Herpes Through Circumcision. Retrieved from Time.com: http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/07/how-11-new-york-city-babies-contracted-herpes-through-circumcision/
[v] Remondino M.D., P.C. (1900). The History of Circumcision – From the Earliest Times to the Present – Moral and Physical Reasons for its Performance. Page 113, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago: The F.A. Davis Company Publishers. Retrieved from Books.Google.com: https://books.google.com/books?id=jLkNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[vi] Frydman-Kohl, Rabbi B. (2016, April 8.) Post-Mortem Circumcision (Summary.) Retrieved from BethTzedec.org: https://www.beth-tzedec.org/page/writings-from-the-rabbis/a/display/s/1/item/post-mortem-circumcision-summary
[vii] Hebblethwaite, C. (2012, August 21). Circumcision, the ultimate parenting dilemma. Retrieved from BBC.com: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19072761
[viii] Davis, J. L. (2004, September 9). Tonsil Removal Has Little Benefit. Retrieved from WebMD.com: https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20040909/tonsil-removal-has-little-benefit#1