When I write a piece on circumcision in any forum, including here on Everything Birth Blog, inevitably, someone will explain that if circumcision were such a big deal, men would be speaking up, not just “crazy moms.” I know men in real life that wish they hadn’t been circumcised, but speaking out about it can be embarrassing, humiliating or just plain difficult. Sure, some men don’t realize the impact their circumcision has had on their lives. Others, like my husband, do understand but choose not to discuss it. As my friend, Jon Stevenson, from Michigan said, “I wish I was uncut, but don’t feel like there’s much else I can say about that…”
Yet, there are other circumcised men who are as vocal as the Intactivist women I know. There are men who are able to tell their stories. It took me all of a few hours and a single “internet shout-out” to find them.
I will warn all of you in advance, this article has been emotionally difficult to write and also that what these men have to say may be hard to read, but I urge you to hear them. They have a moral right to be heard.
I ask for your sensitivity in this issue towards me and towards the participants that I have interviewed because this is an extremely emotional topic. This post is not to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is not to make anyone feel guilty because of anything that has been done in the past. I wrote it so that people can consider the full implications of what they may be about to do.
While preparing this article, a song kept coming to mine, humming in the background of my awareness. The song “Daughters” by John Mayer has always touched me. It exposes the lasting implications of a girl’s hurt during her youth on her adult relationship. Though many parents have commented on this blog that they feel it is disgusting to worry about their sons future sexuality, they must concede that it is every parent’s hope that our infant sons will one day become adult men. Like it or not, one’s sexuality is a significant part of adulthood. Always, while listening to this song, I’ve wished there was a similar song for our sons:
Learning They Were Circumcised.
Men expressed a variety of reactions to learning they were cut. Generally, they had to figure it out on their own, which saddens me even more, that boys seem to not even be entitled to an explanation that they were born with protective skin and nerve endings that they no longer have. I wonder how strange it must be to feel that you know your body only to discover it had been altered shortly after birth. Jeff Hodapp from California discovered he was circumcised when he was about 8 or 9 years old. He recalled his initial confusion, “I was looking at an anatomy book and it showed an intact penis and a circumcised penis. I immediately identified with the circumcised one. I didn’t read the page, I put the book down and walked away thinking that there were two types of penises.” I learned that often, men realized what was done to them in school. Imagine learning something so profound about such a significant part of yourself, while surrounded by peers in a classroom…
There ARE Long Term Negative Consequences of Circumcision
We already know that there are certain risks from infant circumcision, including a risk of death and infection. We have even come to understand that, as with my son, adhesions in the weeks and months following circumcision are not rare. But there are other long term physical consequences. Some are merely an irritating physical reminder of what was taken from these men, some are much more painful.
Jeff Hodapp explained, “When I was entering puberty, erections were extremely painful, to the point where it just seemed like something was not right. I asked my friends about it and heard similar stories, so I thought it was normal. I never associated it with circumcision because nobody ever talked about it. We really didn’t understand what had happened to us. I remember a joke my friend would tell every now and again” Q. ‘whats grosser than gross?’ A. ‘getting a boner and running out of skin.'” See, when a man has been circumcised, it is common for him to not have enough foreskin to accommodate the erection. At times, there is so very little skin left that the penis is unable to even extend out fully. This often causes pain, in addition to limiting its length.
One man I interviewed explained that as he got older, his lack of sensation increased so much that he started reading about erectile dysfunction (ED) and wondered if it was happening to him. If men begin to lose sensation, they often get anxious, and a cycle of doubt and insecurity is created. It is not uncommon for circumcision and the lack of sensation that can accompany decades of chaffing and callousing to be at the root of ED.
“Restoring” the Foreskin
Because of these long term consequences, many men have chosen to try to “restore” their foreskin. Restoring foreskin is a process more and more men are undergoing to increase the amount of skin on their penis. The nerve endings can never be replaced, but it does offer protection to the sensitive tip of the penis and helps to provide the intended gliding mechanics that the foreskin would normally provide during intercourse. It is a very long and arduous process, but many feel the end result is worth it.
David Runyan, of Illinois, told me, “For as long as I can remember I have had a pain in my glans when walking around clothed when my penis shifts and the exposed glans of my penis rub against the harsh fabric of my underwear; this sensation has diminished since I have restored enough foreskin that when flaccid my glans are almost completely covered.” Runyan explained to me the significant improvement, restoring the skin has had on his relationship, “I’ve also noticed an increased stamina and vigor, I am able to retain an erection longer, hold off climax longer, and maintain my erection after climax and be able to continue intercourse. In short, since I’ve regrown my foreskin, my love making has become more intense, intimate, passionate, and satisfying, our relationship has improved, and after eight years we feel like newlyweds again.”
Kris Bullock, of Arizona, who is in the also process of “restoring” explains, “[B]efore I began restoring, my penis would regularly become chafed after sex, no matter how much lubrication was used. Sometimes it would take 2 or 3 days to fully heal.” He went on to say, “Now that I have been restoring for 8 months, I experience much less chafing, if any at all.”
While it’s wonderful that men have the option to try to grow more skin, it saddens me that they must chose to regrow skin to “substitute” something that they were born with. I also became acutely aware that they will never regrow the nerve endings that were permanently removed as Runyan remarked to me, “I love the benefits of restoration, however I am irritated that I have to go through a tedious lengthy physical therapy in order to restore my body to as whole as possible, there is no way to get the 20,000 nerve endings that were ripped from my body, there is no real substitute for the way natural foreskin tightens at the tip to keep the skin in place. The best I can hope for is ‘close enough.’”
Their Feelings Toward Their Parents
While some men felt that their parents’ consent to their circumcision has caused serious strains on their relationships with them, most of the men I interviewed had no lasting anger towards their parents for choosing to have them circumcised. I noticed that the anger was directly proportional to the amount of negative physical effects their circumcision caused them as well as how old they were when and the way in which they learned that they had been circumcised. All of the men though, expressed a sincere animosity towards the doctors that performed their surgeries and the establishment that perpetuates the practice. Jeff Hodapp told me, “I didn’t and still don’t hold them [his parents] completely responsible. I feel more violated by the Doctor who influenced my mother. The medical industry is to blame for perpetuating this barbarism.”
Grieving Over What Was Cut From Them
Kris Bullock has accepted his loss and told me that dwelling on the past wasn’t going to change anything. He, as I mentioned, decided to try to take back some of the control through his restoration process, but as he described his feelings of empowerment, one statement stuck out and I fought back tears as I read words that spoke of his grief. Bullock said, “I look forward to restoring the gliding action that is a result of the extra skin being in place. As well as the significantly reduced need for artificial lubrication. But I am still pretty bummed that I can’t restore the 20,000+ nerve endings that were removed forever. And every time I see an intact penis, I am envious of the nerve endings. I would love for one second to know what they feel like.”
Did you catch that? He said, “I would love for one second to know what they feel like.”
I suppose for the Establishment of Circumcision, it’s a good thing that these men will never know that feeling. I can only imagine the sheer rage that would come of men experiencing for ONE second what their birthright should have entitled them to, and then knowing that that was taken from them.
A man would have to physically feel the sensation to fully comprehend the loss of those nerve endings. Even without ever feeling what he has lost, James Stewart from Missouri, was 16 years old in his high school child development class when he learned what circumcision was. He explained that, upon realizing what happened to him, he was angrier than he had ever been. He felt disgusted and completely violated. He expressed to me that he felt resentment towards his parents that he has not been able to let go of to this day. He even explained, “I don’t think I would be able to control myself in the presence of the so called ‘doctor’ who is responsible. I fear I would become irrationally violent.” Stewart, who is also undergoing the long process of restoration, explained, “I didn’t lose my virginity until after I had begun restoring. My partner told me that I felt as comfortable inside her as an intact man. I imagine that I would have felt more if I had more to feel with.” I’m not sure I can even fathom how much more intensely this man’s anger would be felt if he was given one second to feel what he cannot.
I take for granted my nerve endings, because I got to keep mine. They are exactly as they are supposed to be. A basic understanding of fetal development tells me that I have a pretty good idea of the sensations these men will never feel. Mothers-to-be reading this: A moments’ reflection on your own nerve endings might give you a clearer understanding as well…
Right to Bodily Integrity?
Sometimes there is no pain, and only minor and occasional irritation, as is the case with Evan Sarver, a US native, now living in the Ukraine. Sarver says that his circumcision-inflicted irritation is usually only noticed “after especially active sex, sometimes from swim trunks.” Nevertheless, when asked if he felt his civil rights were violated when he was cut, Sarver told me, “I feel my human rights (not civil) were violated. I think bodily integrity is the base of all human rights.”
Eric Williamson, from Oregon, put it very simply and calmly, “It’s my body and should have been my choice. And personally, I would have never made that choice for myself.”
Jeff Hodapp said, “I think the under-educated doctors who perform the procedure and the medical establishment that supports are manipulating research data and releasing less than honest information should be held accountable for human rights, and ethics violations.” Hodapp emphasized, “I think that circumcision is a form of child abuse. A healthy, functional, and significant part of my body was taken from me.”
Garrett Wolfe, who resides in California, told me, “I was robbed of normal sexual function, normal sexual sensation and pleasure, normal appearance and lied to all my life about it. I was made to feel that I was the one with the problem, not the victim. It’s as if I was blinded with red hot poker in infancy, and then told blindness is normal and good for me, and that I must have a problem for not appreciating it.” He said that to say he felt violated is an understatement. “My basic human right to a whole body, my right to express my OWN religion, my right to choose how I experience sex for my entire life, my right choose how I protect myself from STDs, HIV, and UTIs, my right to control how I appear nude, my right to experience life the way I was built and meant to, my sense of trust, of being protected and loved, was all ripped away along with the flesh of my genitals, when all I could do in protest was scream. Yes, my civil rights were violated.”
David Runyan, on the other hand, passionately questioned why his rights were not considered: “I was given no consideration, I gave no consent, and I feel that I was abused and sexually assaulted by both my parents and the doctor who mutilated me. There was no one there to protect me, from a procedure that if successful would and did mutilate me for life, and if ‘botched’ could have ended my life before it began, or could have totally destroyed my penis before I even finished developing. People talk to me about parents’ rights, religious rights, where do my rights come into play? When does what I want for my body matter?”
And then, there’s my son. He’s not yet an adult, but he wanted to have his say as well, “No right,” he proclaimed. I heard the silent, “You had,” that prefaced his statement, but let’s face it, it’s hard to say something like that to your mom.
Mothers, be good to your sons.
Sons will love like you do.
Sons become lovers who turn into fathers.
So, fathers, be good to your sons too.
I’d like to extend extreme gratitude to the brave men who have helped me with this piece as well as to The WHOLE Network for their accommodations, dedication, and information.
Oh my goodness Dawn. Thank you for writing this and to all the men who spoke up and told us some very personal, emotion details. I have tears running down my face right now — not only as I think about the millions of boys who have had this done to them, but also for the fact that if my daughter had been a son, I would absolutely have had circumcision without much questioning because my husband’s family is Jewish. We just figured it was what you do. I thank GOD for my daughter — and that He didn’t give me a son first, before I really researched and understood what a horrible INJUSTICE it is that my daughter is able to remain intact yet so many sons do not.
Absolutely, the bottom line is, HIS human rights should come far and away before anyone else’s “parental rights”, “religious rights” or whatever you want to throw at it. We are talking about routinely cutting off a part of the body, just because some people feel that it isn’t needed… What?! What other parts are not needed, or COULD be the source of some pain later in life? Let’s start cutting all the toes off. They aren’t necessary, and could be the source of gangrene, or fungus, or who even knows what. But you don’t NEED them… Same with women’s breasts. You could basically eliminate breast cancer if you just cut the breast buds early enough. I mean, with technological wonders like GMO soy formula, no one needs breasts to feed their children anymore. In fact, why don’t we just start working on robot bodies, and just remove the essential brains, right at birth. Clearly robots would be better than our flawed bodies. They would never break… Sorry for the ridiculous tangent. I just think the whole idea of circumcision is so ridiculous, I don’t know why it is so hard to convince most people…
Well written! Thank you for lending more voice to the men who do speak up.
There is a ‘Daughters’ re-write by the way from a few years ago btw – http://www.drmomma.org/2010/07/sons.html
I was able to hear one professional singer perform the song as an impromptu piece a couple years ago and wish it was recorded for others to hear – it was so good.
Oh my gosh, I feel like such a plagiarizer, but it is nice to know that others have heard that song and wondered the same thing.
My heart breaks for the men in this article. And all the men and boys who have been/will be subjected to this horror. Like Genevieve, if my first child had been a boy I would gave had him circumcised without question. I had never even really heard of boys not being circumcised. My brother, my husband, and all of my 13 nephews have been circumcised. I hadn’t been exposed to anything else. I’m so thankful that God gave us a girl when we were ignorant on this issue and then led me to learn more.
One day I ran across a link to a video of a ‘routine infant circumcision’ and I braced myself to watch it. No amount of preparation could have steeled me for that video. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. I sat and cried for that boy, all little boys, and for the thought that I would have done that to my child if I’d had a boy. I never would have forgiven myself.
I also occasionally greive for what my husband lost when his parents had him cut. I asked him how he felt about it once. All he would say was, ‘I was given no choice.’ I cried for him that day, too.
We have to stop doing this to our boys. We have to stop hurting them and taking so much away from them. They deserve better from us!
I assume we watched the same video. Was it the one where it was “the training video” type of video where the doctors acted like it went off beautifully. So, filled with remorse that I didn’t learn sooner.
And while I guess I have forgiven myself there’s a part of me that gets all crappy and says, “Oh that’s nice that YOU forgave YOURSELF. You have no right to forgive yourself. There’s only one person who can forgive you, and he’s barely old enough to understand what it is he’d be forgiving you for.
I don’t beat myself up over it any more though at least.
But while interviewing these men, my thoughts did go to my son. And it was exceptionally difficult.
Well done.If only othersdhought the same way.No mutilation should be inflicted on another by choice.When its a much loved son it beggars belief. Wish my mother had reflected on the issue like you.
I am extremely glad you have educated yourself and didn’t stay ignorant. But realize that a god has nothing to do with that. It is a triumph of human rational thinking and that is all it is. “God” on the other hand, with all the superstition and sexual oppression, is exactly the reason this has been happening in the first place.
Religious beliefs are up to individuals. We try really hard in the Everything Birth community to not attack or condemn each other’s spirituality.
Your son loves you and he knows that you love him. You can’t take it back, but you can let him know you regret it. Just always be honest enough with him to say, ‘I didn’t know. I thought I was doing the best thing for you. I was wrong and I’m so sorry that my mistake caused you pain.’ As parents, most of us end up making mistakes that hurt our children. We owe it to them to honest and own up to whatever we’ve done. And we must apologize. We have to let them know that we regret making bad decisions be we’re human. We just do what we can with what we have. When we know better, we do better. Now you know better and your son will see how hard you’re working to help other families. I’m sure he’ll be very proud of you! *Hugs* to you, mama!
We’ve talked about it openly since he asked about it a few months ago. He’s not mad at me, and he’s very bright and understands I was told I would be negligent if I didn’t do it. He is proud of me. He thinks I had no right, but that’s a fact. I can’t argue with that. I didn’t “teach him” I had no right, but I have taught him over the years that people HAVE rights. lol. Thank you for saying that. He still doesn’t know the full impact. Fingers crossed it will be minimal. These men did give me hope that some of the issues- not all- but some can be resolved by restoring. But that’s still years down the road. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. He’s 11 now. He asked about it on the week of his 11th birthday. I had said things in passing before, just so it wasn’t a huge shocker, but nothing dramatic. I wanted him to lead that, and not force an emotion on him, yo know?
Dawn. You say that restoration is years down the road. WHY? Years down the road? He is 11 now. he will hit puberty very soon, (If he hasn’t already.) His penis is going to start growing, and depending on how tight his circumcision is, he may be looking at several years of painful erections while his skin tube struggles to keep up with his penis structure growth. It seems that you have had enlightened conversations with him already. Why not breach the subject of restoration with him and encourage him to proceed. He may well have enough growth by the time he is sexually active that the damage done to him may be minimal. He IS aware of what happened to him. He KNOWS you regret the decision you made. I suspect that he WILL appreciate that you gave him the knowledge and tools to abate the damage as much as possible. Face it, he is going to be playing with his penis a LOT in the upcoming years. Why not make it constructive as well as fun???
I don’t know that he would be able to handle the procedure on his own. I know he would be mortified at the idea of ANYONE helping him, even if it were a doctor.
Then there’s the joint custody issue. I can’t imagine this procedure would be “approved” by anyone…
Then there’s the size issue. Do they even make them for pre-pubescent boys?
Legal ramifications… I don’t know what kinds there would be even.
I will look into all of these things, because I see your point.
I just wonder if it would make him insecure with himself right now. I don’t want to create insecurities when there may end up being none. I would have to really think hard about this.
Do you have any resources pertaining to this specific situation?
I’m a cut man. What’s so sad is that most of these kinds of blog posts are written by women who learned too late about circumcision. I wish women would be more open with one another and prevent this by targeting new and expecting mothers. This information does no good otherwise. Most cut men will want to cut their sons. That’s another hurdle you’ll have to overcome. Good luck.
That’s why I tried so hard to present this in a sensitive way, our demographic of readers is expectant mothers.
Just thought I’d stop in and say “there is such a song for our sons.” I draw a lot of encouragement from the classic rock era of music, which had a bigger range of emotional expression and security. I feel like a song like “You’re fooling yourself” by Styx wouldn’t happen today. Not to say it’s impossible, but it seems to be a unique artifact of that era.
Lyrically it’s very short and simple, but the lines,
“How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtzIWPeun7c Here have a youtube link.
This song has kept me from the edge of snapping a few times. Reminding me that I need to think clearly and take positive steps toward the future. That my caring was worth cultivating, but that I need to put it toward constructive ends.
When you mentioned religious rights, I thought about how the vast majority of Christians think they are supposed to circumcise their sons because of Old Testament Jewish tradition. I just want to remind all you Christians that think you have to circumcise in order to be good Christians, the Apostle Paul wrote many times concerning circumcision and how it is completely useless! Rom. 3:30, Rom. 4:9, I Cor. 7:18+19, Gal. 6:15, Col. 3:11. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more references. Romans 3:1 and Galatians 5:2 both state that there is NO profit gained from circumcision. So why do Christians still think they have to circumcise their sons? So we LOOK more like God’s Chosen People when we’re naked? And, laying all of Paul’s arguments aside, does any Christian man really think that Jesus will say to him on Judgment Day, “Sorry, you can’t come in. There’s a little too much skin on your penis.”
I’m sorry for making a religious rant, but it’s the influence of traditional Christianity in America, I believe, that has us all thinking we should be circumcising. This rant could go on much longer, but it wouldn’t benefit most readers. I just don’t want people, especially Christians, thinking that God wants them circumcising their babies. The New Testament speaks emphatically to the contrary.
I am an ordained Baptist minister and youth pastor in south Georgia, not some left-wing Unitarian, so I’m coming from a very conservative background and perspective. I was circumcised and I don’t blame my parents. I blame the unbiblical Christian influence that made them think they had to.
Really good points Ben. On a different level, I don’t understand why it’s still OK. Our religious rights are valid… but extend only to individuals provided they do not infringe on the rights of others. So even in faiths where circumcision is promoted, in this country, to inflict a permanent body altering due to religious beliefs on an infant takes away from his right to his own freedom of religion. When he is older, perhaps he will choose a different path. That might not please the parents, but is a right endowed to him as a member of our society. I strongly feel that circumcision for religious reasons is a violation of that child’s first amendment rights.
What is doubly sad in my mind is that the ancient ritual of circumcision is NOTHING like what happens today. Can you imagine what would have happened to the male population if Jews cut off the tip of their infants’ penises back then? It would have been a catastrophic population collapse, as there was no concept of sterilisation or modern medical procedures.
In ancient times, circumcision was just a little nick. It created a scar, that’s all. The Jewish men who lived amongst Romans or Greeks would wear devices in the Baths that would stretch the foreskin over the scar so people couldn’t tell they were Jews.
Perhaps you know all this, but I only recently found out and it is really interesting to me. What was something that had deeply religious meaning and likely didn’t permanently damage a child in any way has turned into a terrible, terrible procedure.
Sarah, would you mind sharing a resource to back up that information? I remember reading it years ago, but haven’t been able to find it anywhere since. I ask because I’m becoming more active in the movement to stop RIC. I am a Christian, and even though most Christians I know can agree that circ is no longer *required*, I fear they will claim that “if it was good enough for God’s chosen people, there can’t be anything wrong with it.” if the procedure then was not the same, as you’ve stated and I believe, that argument holds no water. God didn’t make a mistake in His design. 🙂
Here is a link to The Cut Podcast by Eli Ungar-Sargon who produced the documentary “Cut: Slicing Through The Myths of Circumcision” . This is a 45 episode podcast of his nationwide tour doing interviews, debates, and Q and A sessions following screenings of his documentary. He explains the ancient ritual of Jewish Circumcision, debates Rabbis, and covers every aspect of circumcision. THIS IS A MUST FOR INTACTIVISTS!!! please listen to the first few podcasts, you will be hooked!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Listen
Bit heavy on the religious element but a useful summary:
I have been reading intactivist material on the internet since 1997. You are the first poster-commenter to reveal that (s)he is an ordained minister. I cannot agree more that circumcision is deeply anti-Christian.
The vast majority of North American Jews are grimly committed to circumcision. But many Jews also defend abortion on demand, and advocate for gay marriage. In my experience, Jewish parents are very accepting of their daughters having premarital sex, as long as it is done safely with the “right sort of young man.” To circumcise a week old boy requires a few minutes and a few hundred dollars paid to a mohel. To teach sexual morals can be a struggle and require years. I conclude that Jewish circumcision has degenerated into a form of idolatry, a worship of form over substance.
When we stand at the gate of paradise, St. Peter will remain silent about adultery and fornication, but will instead glance down at the men and say “No foreskin. Good. Welcome home!” NOT.
Thank you for writing this and giving a voice to men who do complain.
You point that one of them said: “The medical industry is to blame for perpetuating this barbarism.”
I agree, because they are responsible for turning it into a standard procedure. In other countries, circumcision is not part of the discussions during pregnancy or birth. Nobody asks you if you want to have your baby circumcised. Nobody even thinks about it as a decision to make.
Circumcision there is seen as a therapeutic procedure to use when it is needed or an adult requests it.
However, in the U.S. because it is offered (and often “pushed” by doctors and nurses prior to and during birth), people often assume that it’s the right thing to do, especially if they went to give birth without having done any previous research on circumcision.
I linked your article in my blog. I hope it touches many hearts.
Juan, We never mind if you link to your own blogs on here. We think of ourselves as a community. What is your blog’s URL?
Fantastic Dawn, and thank you for writing it and all the men who were willing to share their stories. This is an important dialogue that NEEDS to be had, and thankfully IS finally being exposed. I’ve heard countless times from arrogant women saying, ‘I’ve never known a man who didn’t love being circumcised.’ This post, and these men, debunk that myth and will empower other victims of child genital cutting. Thank you.
Many years ago, we were told we couldn’t have kids; in the midst of a “what if” conversation, my hubby said that if we had a son he wouldn’t circ him. Why? Because he has scar tissue and is pissed off that he was circ’d without his consent as a baby; painful erections, tight scar tissue, lack of sensation, etc. So, upon the happy day we found out we were indeed, pregnant (despite doctors saying it woulnd’t happen, and we weren’t doing anything extra ordinary to achieve it, both of us believing that if the universe willed it, so it would be) and SIX MONTHS ALONG with a beautiful boy (irregular periods and no pregnancy symptoms left me unaware of what was happening), I began researching circing. i couldn’t watch the videos. reading about the procedure made me cry. I’m glad i read about proper care though, as i think that many people don’t know about NOT retracting the foreskin, which leads to scar tissue and a circ later on down the line because of the scar tissue, uti’s, etc. My beautiful son was born July 7, 2012, and I’m insanely paranoid that someone will try to retract him!!!! My Ped is knowledgeable about intact care, but I won’t leave my son with anyone but my husband as I’m scared that other family will retract him, despite being told not to. It’s sad that there is such ignorance rampant. When other people tell me they are circing, I try to educate them; sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I get the same feeling about circing as I got in high school when i first read about FGM… yet people now look at me like i’m crazy because i tell them that it’s his choice, and I’ll not modify my son or surgically violate him (Hubby and I are heavily inked and peirced), if he chooses to get cut, it will be his decision later on in life. Too many people view their children as property or an extension of themselves; the child is a person in his own right and should be treated as such. Beautifully written blog; albeit a very sad subject.
I seriously can’t understand how someone would have the gall to actually retract a baby’s penis. I think of how careful I was with my daughter so as not to “break anything” and it is just crazy to me. But they DO DO it.
On the topic of retraction, and probably TMI here, but I didn’t retract until about the age of 10/11 when I began puberty. I actually feel that this is more of a normal age to expect retraction to happen proper and you should DEFINITELY never force it back before about the age of 5.
So many people in places like America have an expectation for the exposed glans and don’t understand that there’s no need for it to retract the foreskin before puberty.
I remember when my nephew was born back in 1991. I was still in high school and my older sister was a young mother. My sister decided befor she left the hospital to leave my nephew intact and she brought him home that way. She was trying to teach me how to change his diaper and clean him the way her doctor recomended. She wastrying to retract his foreskin and when she couldn’t do it she asked me to try. It didn’t seam right to me so I refused. She tried again and this time it appeared as though he had got an erection (not to sure on that but it looked like it) from the attempts to retact him. My sister freaked out and the next time I saw him he was cut. From what i’ve read the foreskin retracts naturaly by its self between the ages of 6 and 18.
Sometimes much younger – my nephew would retract his foreskin when he was two. It depends on the individual.
Thank you for posting.
I am a wife affected by my husband’s circumcision. Sex is uncomfortable and even painful, and artifical lubrication offers very little relief. He is restoring. Males circumcision harms wonem, too.
So, so glad I didn’t circ my son and so, so sad that I couldn’t talk my friend out of it. I tried. I explained about the nerve endings and my husbands loss of sensation bc he was cut. It didn’t convince her. So sad for the baby. Circumcision of infants should be illegal. I think it is child abuse. I am politically conservative and an orthodox Christian and all for freedom of religion, but a person’s right to an intact body is paramount. I’m even against piercing a baby girls ears…
What a beautifully written article! So honest, and real. My first two sons are circed, and my third is not. My heart aches for what I’ve done, and I fervently pray that my circed sons do not experience the more severe long-term effects. Thank you for giving a voice to the MEN who were those helpless infants. It’s a side of the story that needs to be told more often.
My idiotic father had the great idea of mutilating me a few hours after birth.
To this day I curse the doctor or whoever he was who did this to me because I was left scared and deformed for life.
I was told later in life by an aunt of the amount of bloodshed and my screams.
From very early in childhood I knew I felt my penis did not look right. Then you grow up and you realize what has been done to you against your will and there is absolutely NOTHING you can do about it!
Honestly why is there a need to cut through living tissue in the most sensible area of a baby boy is beyond comprehension. I’m just bafled at the stupidity of so many people saying it is necessary, necessary for what?! For irritation and dry glands, laughs and humilation from other boys in the locker room who are intact, rejection from lovers because it dosen’t look right, inability to masturbate normally.
Ironically those men in the medical fields who are pro it are uncut themselves. Bastards!
I think most pro-circ docs are circumcised themselves. Few intact males promote circumcision. Most circumcised males do not think of it as being a problem because this is what they are used to. Many physicians circumcise because parents request it. I tried many times to talk parents out of it, but they were adamant it be done. I left my sons intact and would never subject them to such a barbaric procedure that constitutes torture. I stopped circumcising after residency training and wish I had had the courage to stop before I even started. It has become so routine in our culture and in the medical field that it requires great courage and an altered mindset to step outside the box.
first of all, thank you for this entry, it is much needed in the intactavist world.
however, i’m afraid something bothers me. you say that this song speaks to you, fair enough, but i’m unsure about using a song that specifically states that boys and girls should be loved differently.
“boys you can break, they show you how much they can take
boys will be strong, and boys soldier on”
i feel like it is counter-productive to your (our) message. as far as i am concerned, what drives any intactavist is that boys and girls deserve the same love, the same consideration. this song negates the entire message, sadly.
Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough… Posting that song wasn’t about talking about how “awesome” the song is… Posting it was about how unfair it is, and how unfair I have always felt it was because our boys also need to be loved gently as well. The song has always touched me, and caused me pause…. and also shown me the unfairness of how we treat boys. THAT’s why I shared it. It’s the perfect example of this whole mindset.
I would pay anything if my foreskin could be regenerated. I can’t do the “foreskin restoration” procedures because I was so severely circumcised that I have stretch marks on the skin that was left! (Not that this procedure produces a foreskin as good as the original.)
If you saw a headline that said “Parents Charged With Mutilating Son’s Penis”, everyone would say that is sick; throw them in jail. But it’s done all the time because doctor’s recommend it. Circumcision of minors is just so wrong. Once you’re an adult, you can do whatever you want to your body. Cut it, tattoo it, pierce it. But no one should be allowed to do that to someone else’s body.
The fact that this is done to babies strongly suggests that grown men would NEVER do this to themselves.
There are many cases on the books where parents have attempted home circumcisions that went wrong. Attornys that specialize in genital mutilation cases will tell you that it’s not illegal to circumcise your male children if there are no complication. It’s only illegal if the “procedure” goes wrong. If you listen to the Cut Podcasts you will here all about it from one of the attornys.
Circumcision is the perfect crime for the perpetrator. The victim can’t fight back. The victim can’t remember the details. When the victim figures out the truth, he is so humiliated he keeps quiet.
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Infant circumcision came about in the U.S. because older males and adults refused to cooperate. It is much easier to strap an infant down. Plus, the thinking was until the last 20-30 yrs that infants did not feel pain. Heart surgeries were performed without anesthetic on babies in the recent past and that is not a joke. Now, in Africa, the recommendations are being shifted to push for infant circumcision because older males are not coming forward. Big surprise there!
It is true that circumcision in the past was just a ritual nick with little or no skin actually removed. It was a mark. Today, infants are having about 50% of their penile skin removed and the effects are devastating. More and more skin is being removed. The supposed “health benefits” are touted as the reason why more skin should be removed. It is disgusting and sickening. I see babies whose eyes are dull and lifeless; they look despondent and depressed after circumcision even weeks later. They are more irritable, jittery and cry more.
An article in the Israeli Medical Association journal published in 2010 has shown that infant male circumcision actually increases UTI’s to 4x higher rates than in females. There are no benefits to RIC.
I have never regretted leaving this cultural ritual behind. My sons thank me. When my oldest son was young, he asked me why doctors were allowed to do something so bad to babies. That is the reason I fight this battle. Because babies cannot fight it for themselves.
Thank you very much for writing this article. I am a circumcised man and the efforts of people like yourself give me more courage to combat my shame and humiliation and speak out.
I am a Baby Boomer. I grew up in the American heartland. I am intact, because my mother insisted that I not go under the knife. This is an astounding stroke of good fortune. I grew up feeling deeply humiliated because I had a Weird Dick. Now I am too grateful for words. But I am deeply ashamed that I come from a culture that despises the normal penis and dismisses the sexual value of what circumcision cuts off.
The recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics systematically disregarded all of the issues raised in this post and these comments. American doctors, and the American educated upper middle class, simply do not understand how the natural penis enhances sexual pleasure and functionality, for both genders.
My mother told me nothing until I was 19. My cut father went to his grave without ever speaking to me about circumcision. My mother did not really open up about this until after his death. The boys among whom I grew up were a rude and bawdy lot. But I never heard a single wisecrack about foreskin or circumcision. My conclusion is that while American hospitals cut off every foreskin in sight during the 1940s and 50s, parents were often not involved in the decision and could not explain to their sons why they were done. So parents said nothing. I suspect that many of the boys I grew up with did not learn that the most personal parts of their bodies had been surgically altered until after they finished high school. I am not surprised to read above that some men born after 1940, when circumcision became the norm in USA maternity ward, discovered very belatedly, and became very angry and sad about it.
People, trust me. Circumcision removes the most sexual bits of a man’s body, the bits that move during masturbation, and that interact directly with the vaginal wall during intercourse. Removing those bits must have consequences, and there is growing anecdotal evidence of tragic cases.
Thank you for commenting….
There are countless millions of men who are VERY PLEASED they were circumcised My son and me included
It is time for the anticircs to recognise the MEDICAL and SCIENTIFIC FACTS !!!
Tests now detect HIV HPV anjd HSV2 on and inside the foreskin
The anticircs are NOT INTERESTED in protecting millions of lives
So choose it for yourself. I am very displeased that it was done to me and would never allow it to be done to my defenseless infant son.
The HIV studies have very huge flaws in them. I can provide you with other doctors who have explained what they all are, but the study about HIV done in Africa was designed to have that outcome.
For example, the study started right away. Circed men had to abstain from sex for weeks while intact men were able to have sex right away. So intact men got a “head start.” All men were given condoms, but the circed men had to come back to the clinic for post surgical exams and were given more. Those two factors alone are enough to invalidate the HIV study you are referring to.
Also, getting circumcised will not prevent any of those STDs. To act as though they would is highly irresponsible on the part of the medical community.
It is wonderful that you are happy with your circ. But the potential that a child may NOT be, and not being given a choice about having 20 thousand nerve endings and the proper mechanics with which to be able to have sexual intercourse in a way that is more structurally stimulating for both parties is why intactivists feel it violates a basic human right to bodily integrity.
ANYONE can choose to have it done to themselves. Once it is done though… it can not be undone.
Go to Europe or Australia or Asia or New Zealand and share that bit of information only to get laughed at. Their rates of STD and HIV contraction are drastically lower than the Unites States’s and circumcisions are quite rare in these regions so clearly these medical “facts” don’t hold up AT ALL ! Maybe if you believe it does then you must believe the trials concerning female circumcisions and decreased HIV contraction are proof that females should be circumcised to protect lives as well.
I find it really interesting that little boys have their hair cut while girls are allowed to grow it out. It is the same idea as circumcision, “We own your body and we want it to took uniform”. I was not allowed to decide my own hairstyle until I was in middle school. Before that it was shaved (and I hated having it done). I grew my hair out in high school and really enjoyed having it long. I experienced a lot of pressure to cut it off and in fact an older boy on my lacrosse team snuck up behind me in the computer lab and shaved a chunk out. Eventually I succumed to the pressure and cut it short again. The negative attention my long hair received came almost exclusively from guys. Girls found my long hair to be very attractive (part of the reason I’m growing it out again haha). Long hair and an intact penis force cut men to acknowledge that they are not (or at least have not always been) in control of their own bodies. That makes them uncomfortable and thus the cycle of cutting continues.
I too am a victim of RIC. I gather that the family doctor at the time was Jewish so he perhaps influenced my parents (my father is intact). Circumcision was never discussed at home and like others here I grew up thinking that presence or lack of a foreskin was a naturally occurring thing. I only discovered about circumcision in my teens and at the time felt glad that I was like most of the other guys at school. It was only in adulthood that I came to realise and resent what had been done to me as an infant.
I should also mention that until I was 5 or 6, I seemed to spend a lot of time in hospitals having doctors fiddling with my penis. I well remember how they used to stick a black ‘worm’ into my penis and jiggle it about. It hurt but I was told it was to make me better. I was never told what was supposed to be wrong with me, and in any case I would have been too young to understand.
I can only presume now that it was meatitis which apparently can be one of the problems with circumcision. Much later I read that the black ‘worm’ was a surgical instrument called, I think, a ‘probang’.
I’m so sorry…
So, the AAP says it’s up to the parents to decide whether their son keeps his normal penis? But they are a doctors trade union, they aren’t going to say anything which reduced the income of their members. Take away the extra money an American doctor can make from cutting neonate foreskins off, and see how soon the procedure goes out of fashion! It happened just like that in the UK, the numbers of boys remaining intact rose from 35% to 95% in less than a decade, and guess what, they were healthier as a result. Little girls were clitoridectomized right until 1996, just because they masturbated! Little boys need protection as well, but you won’t read that the AAP agree.
Very few intact men opt for circumcision, and it isn’t because they can’t stand pain! It is because they enjoy the sensations that having a foreskin affords. My foreskin was cut off by a doctor who was well paid for doing it. If American doctors weren’t paid they would stop, and more men would have a fully functional penis. Remember, it began as a measure to stop masturbation in children, but now we know that masturbation is good for us, and we also know that circumcision spoils sex, especially when we get older.(Non-orgasmic owner of a ruined penis.)
This would just be further sexual abuse at this point. The more and more you talk to your sons about their genitals the more and more you’re verging on sexual harassment. It’s done. Leave him alone about it. He can do whatever he wants when he’s an adult.
cffdrestthhj- When our sons ask, you suggest we say nothing? Change the subject? If you have a good line of communication, they often ask. When a girl asks about her period, should we do the same? When a girl needs a bra, and wonders why, what should be done? Buy one and swear an oath of silence?
I do agree that it’s best if it’s a child led discussion. But if they have questions, it’s not abusive to answer their questions. It would be abusive to not answer them though I think.
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