"The worst 'foreskin problem' most intact males ever have is that someone thinks they have a problem." --John A. Erickson
To make it easier to find relevant experiences, you may want to use the page search function (Press Ctrl F in most browsers). Feel free to repost any of the collected experiences on this page on your own blog, site, forum or wherever it will be helpful and informative to do so. Also be sure to check out my Feedback Page which has many more parent's experiences.
If you would like to watch mothers, fathers, doctors, nurses, etc talk about most aspects of this issue then I recommend this youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Bonobo3D
Husband Learns in Twist
On a personal note, I hadn't done the research with my first son, but by the time my second son was born, I knew I didn't want him circ., but my husband insisted. Despite MANY discussions, (some heated) he would not change his mind. He didn't think it would be right to have one son circ. and the other one not, even though I tried to reason w/ him and point out the boys would not be comparing their penises- he also used the argument about circ. penises not not being as clean and hygienic, and his sons looking like him- again, do father and sons really compare them?
I refused to sign the circ. papers at the hospital and left it to my husband- and I didn't go to either circ., but INSISTED they use lanocaine it is like novicane and numbs (and the hospital assured me they did all circ. w/ lanocaine), but it just makes me cringe to think about both my boys even having shots there- I really can't even think about this too much, b/c it makes me SO upset. It is the one point that my husband and I argued over more than anything w/ all the decisions you have to make. Sometimes I think I should have been stronger for my sons, and not finally given in, but after birth & pregnancy I was just too tired to fight about it anymore. I hope one day, I can talk to them about them and tell them I really didn't want them circ. - I hope they won't hate us down the road for this.
Finally (sorry this is so long) I am still really angry at my husband for choosing this, and talk about irony- after son #2 was born, he was telling his parents (when I wasn't there) that I didn't want baby boy circ. and he went on and on w/ his parents on about how hard it was to keep uncirc. ones clean, etc., His father got up and left, and then his mom told him that his father was uncirc. My husband had no idea- so I guess that proves fathers and sons don't compare their penises. He felt awful about going on like that w/ his father, and THEN decided maybe I had valid points after all- Jeez... I just wish our sons didn't have to go through this b/c of his issues.
When your husband wants it
I told him he had to convince me that there was a legitimate reason to do circ AND that we were at least going to wait a full week after the birth before getting it done.
I'd done my research, watched the videos, read the articles. I bookmarked them for him, told him that I wouldn't consider his side until he'd actually done some research and then gave him time. I brought it up periodically, mainly asking if he'd actually looked in to it, and if he had any questions, but I didn't fight him.
We're both from Indiana, and it's just a given that you circ. Even with our daughter (didn't find out the gender), there wasn't even a blip on my radar of this being something to be researched. We had to go online and look up an intact penis when I was pregnant with our son, because neither of us even knew what it looked like.
He did end up researching it, and watched the videos (I showed him a teaching video, too, so that the emotion was taken out) and he still wanted to circ. But, he couldn't come up with ANYTHING other than the fact that he was, and it was simply uncomfortable to him because it was different. He acknowledged that it wasn't a valid reason at all, it was just hard for him. I did ask him if his dad was circed, and he couldn't answer. So, there went the whole 'being different' argument.
He never could come up with a valid reason, and when he told me when our son was a few weeks old that he would still be okay circing him, I immediately burst in to tears and just sat there sobbing. At that point, he told me that it obviously meant more to me than it did to him, so he was okay with leaving our son intact. He remained indifferent to the decision even after he was born, though. He finally, this week, told me out of nowhere, that it wasn't odd anymore to have our intact when he wasn't, and that he was actually glad we made the choice we did.
Honestly, I wouldn't have let our son be circ'd, even if he disagreed, but I do respect him, and I understand that his feelings are genuine and valid. So, I never made him feel like his opinion didn't matter. I approached it in a matter of fact manner, and while I would counter him during our discussions, I never shut him down. I hoped all along that he would come around, and he did, thankfully, and we never had to deal with him feeling ignored or disrespected or shut out.
Husband Fights Fiercely then...
I had a very complicated and dangerous pregnancy, I had Placenta Previa and was on bedrest. I told my husband that we would not circumcise our baby- my #1 reason was because I had lived in Europe and I knew that the foreskin was an important part of male sexual anatomy... and respecting it in that way- I did not think this was the sort of decision that parents should even be allowed to make... you don't cut another person's penis... period.
But the problem was, my husband who was circumcised could not IMAGINE that a foreskin was a part of a penis, because he didn't have a foreskin... and his penis was FINE... not DAMAGED! He could not get over that leap between him being sexually fine and another man being fine with even more sexual anatomy than he had. He was in a state of panic between common sense and self defense. Our fights were fierce- I was astounded at his reaction- he did not seem like himself- it was like he was a robot who was programmed with a execute circumcision command... and my putting an unplanned obstacle in that path made the whole system go berzerk.
The most upsetting scene of the whole time was my husband curled in a fetal position on the couch with a pillow crammed over his crotch crying... and still demanding that we had to do this. For me it was like watching regression therapy- I was seeing my husband relive the pain of his own circumcision... his outward body clenched in such a self defensive curl- emotionally he was begging to have a solution to this pain... and the solution that he thought he had found was to circumcise the baby... to make circumcision right. It was the only way he could convince himself that circumcision is a reasonable thing to do to babies...to men.
I guess the real him won out... he took the time to do some research in private (where he did not need to feel embarrassed to learn or cry or whatever) and he came to realize that circumcision is not good for babies, and that we would NOT be circumcising our baby. The turnaround was fast- and a good thing too- because when the baby came 5 weeks early in a torrent of blood with a 18 inch blizzard shutting down the interstate- our family needed unity and love and trust. I was still KO from the emergency c section when the Dr asked my Husband when we would tell him the BAD news about the circumcision- my husband was the one who said WE AREN'T
The Dr was happily surprised. "Where are you FROM?" he asked... assuming that no one from here (Cincinnati area) would not habitually circumcise their baby.
It wasn't till years later that the irony of that comment became more clear... my husband talked to his parents about his circumcision, to tell them about how circumcision had effected him and that he was now restoring his foreskin non-surgically to try to un-do some of that damage... What his parents told him was a real shock. He was circumcised without any parental consent- he was in the nursery and the circumciser cut the baby without even asking. He made the boy NOT match his father... every man in the family was intact- but that Dr took the intact baby and cut him without asking a single member of the family- all would have said no if they had been asked. No one told this boy the truth, no one told him that his circumcision was not something chosen for him- that it was a horrible sign of a lapse in security... dad out of town and mom on KO drugs from a c section... and a hospital with a universal circumcision program...
NO wonder all the dads in Cincinnati are insisting their sons be circumcised... they were all circumcised whether their parents wanted it or not. The hospital system of a few decades ago was erasing our common knowledge of human anatomy and sexuality. Was distorting our idea of normal. When surgically modified is the presumed given. It's not given... it's taken.
It took me, a transplant from somewhere else, to carry in the seeds of doubt about the rightness of what was happening. That doctor knew that something was up when that dad said no... he knew he had been exposed to some outside thought- because the program to erase male knowledge of their own anatomy here is Cincinnati had been so "successful"
I hope that this father gets the compassion and support that he needs and I hope that he has the courage to bravely uncover the history of his own circumcision and to question his motives in doing this to his son. It is very hard work. I recommend the history book by David Gollaher.
I also hope that this mother has the courage to protect her child. This is not something that needs to have an agreement. If either parent wants to protect the child from the cutting motivation of the other parent- they have full power to protect the child. The benefit of the doubt will always lie with the child and the rightness of his body. The onus is upon the person who would cut him, to prove it must be done. Even in court, this argument has never been made- circumcisers are powerless if the child has an advocate. Circumcision only happens in the absence of protection. The is no need to make a case for NOT circumcising, the child is born that way- he got the genetic program for his penis from his father, his foreskin comes from his father... it is the GIVEN.
How to talk to your husband
Some men are swayed by videos of the procedure, others go for cold, hard facts. There's an episode of Penn & Teller's if he's the type that like irreverent humor. The biggest part of the battle is knowing what your husband responds to best.
One thing to keep in mind is that some men react very badly to the idea that circ is unnecessary. Think for one minute about what it would be like to try to wrap your mind around the fact that part of your penis was removed when it didn't need to be. Even if you never think it's especially harmful or even if you have no memory of it, your mind's natural defense mechanism is to fight that information in any and every way possible. It sounds like you've done a really good job outlining why you're questioning it, and you would be careful to reassure your husband that you like him just the way he is, but I still wanted to throw that out there.
I didn't think about that when I first brought it up to my husband, and he wasn't just resistant, he basically told me I was crazy and he wouldn't even discuss it. (This isn't like him at all.) I had to totally rethink my approach and be a lot more sensitive to his feelings. What finally resonated with him was the idea that it wasn't his penis or mine, it was our son's. He (our son) would be the only one who would have to live with the potential consequences of our choice to circumcise, not us.
In the end, just giving my husband time to process all this really heady and confusing and upsetting (to him) information made the biggest difference. He went from stonewalling me at every opportunity to now loudly and proudly explaining why "we" chose to keep our son intact when people ask. (You would think now that it was all his idea, lol ) It didn't happen overnight, but it sounds like you've got time to work on it. Just don't get discouraged if it takes a while for him to really hear you and be able to look at your concerns objectively. It's not unusual.
I also wouldn't worry about looking different. There are tons of families with boys with mixed statuses, and I think that factor is way overblown. I grew up in a family where all the boys were circumcised but one, and I don't remember a single comment being made in spite of the fact that the boys bathed together all the time. In fact, it was such a non-issue that once we got well past the age where the intact boy was running around naked all the time, no one but me and one other person even remembered that he wasn't circumcised (and you could definitely tell).
Even if they do notice, the explanation is so simple that I can't imagine why it would have to go beyond a simple, "When Daddy and big brother were born, we thought it was healthier to have that skin removed. By the time you came along, we realized that wasn't true, so we didn't have it done to you." Every person I've spoken to with an intact son and a circ'ed husband and/or older boy has said that their sons are totally accepting of that, and invariably relieved that they aren't also circumcised.
Changed My Mind
I am a parent whose mind was changed about circumcision. I have 4 boys, the oldest two circumcised, the youngest two, not. I thought nothing of it when I had my two oldest, their father had been, everyone else did it, or that at least was all I heard, so I decided to go ahead and have them circumcised. But then along came my 3rd son. Born premature, he spent the first week of his life in the hospital under oxygen masks, in incubators, and the last thing on my mind was circumcision. Once he was well enough to bring home, all I could think was after all he had went through getting here, why would I even dare to put him through the pain of circumcision...that was my last thought about it until my fourth son. After Jared though, and our decision not to circumcise, it was so easy finally knowing the facts from living them, to decide as with Jared, not to circumcise. I have two beautiful circumcised boys, and two beautiful uncircumcised boys, that is what matters. Also, briefly, I know alot choose circumcision because they feel it is required for religious reasons, that is not true. If you believe that, and decide yes, then that is your decision, but your child is not any less a child of GOD if you decide not to circumcise. With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ came salvation for us all including those uncircumcised...many may not realize this. It is what is in our hearts, our acceptance of the Lord, our faith, not whether the penis is circumcised or not.
Forced Into It
As a mother at 17 years old, I was forced by mother and my (now) ex-husband to have my first son circumcised. I had then what I believe now to be a very enlightened physician. He informed me that there was no real medical reason to circumcize my son, and that it was indeed very painful. This was in 1982, when practically every male in the U.S. was being cut. When I told my mother and husband that I did not want this done to my baby, and that I saw no reason to do it. all hell broke loose. I was not prepared for the emotional onslaught that followed. Every stupid reason in the book, they threw at me. Last and worst, they accused me of being a bad mother, told me that the trusted and respected doctor was full of sh*t and that it was going to be done whether I wanted it to or not.
Since When Did Ignorance Become a Point of View
My son is now four. Recently we were reading his baby book together, and he began to spontaneously share memories of his birth- things that my husband and I had never told him. Then he said something that totally horrified me and filled me with a guilt that will NEVER go away. My little son, who has never been told about circumcision and never had it discussed in his presence, told me that someone had held him down after he was born and "cut his wink off." Please, if you are considering circumcising your child- DON'T DO IT!!!! Not only is my son permanently mutilated, but the trauma of this event is still with him. He remembers. I pray that somehow, this story will help someone to realize that it is NOT "just a little piece of skin" and it does NOT stop hurting right away. Please don't make the same mistake I did!!!
Kept our ENTIRE son!
My son was born 11 days ago, and he will remain intact! We didn't find out gender ahead of time, and when I first mentioned it to my husband, he indicated that we'd circ. I really didn't have a strong feeling about it, but did discuss the what-ifs with my doctor (who also is baby's doc). Although he does perform circs when parents request it, he told us that there is no medical reason to circumcise and that he would recommend against it unless there was a very strong reason that we had to do it.
After my son was born, my husband and I had another conversation, and it turned out that he'd rethought his position and didn't see any reason to circumcise unless it was medically beneficial!
As far as I know, this is the first little boy in our extended family who will be intact, so I feel like we're entering new ground. But I'm thrilled that my little boy can go through life as God made him, and not have to recover from surgery at such a young age.
A huge thanks to all the posters here who helped me make a more informed decision!!
Funny story from my 19 month old second son today. We were taking a shower like we do together pretty much everyday. I noticed the tip of his foreskin was a little red, and he had a piece of fuzz stuck to it so I was going to wipe the fuzz off and look at the tip to see if it was a problem or just a bit irritated from his concentrated morning pee in the overnight diaper situation. About the time I touch him he turns away from me quickly and says "MINE". My mouth just about hit the floor. He has been so in love with the word mine lately, but he has never used it like that. Well I thought I guess now is a good time to do some groundwork about private parts and all, but since he is only 19 months old I didn't know what he could understand so I kept it simple I just said "You are right honey, that is yours. I'm sorry I should have told you what I was doing first. I was just going to help you wash it, but it is yours so you can wash it yourself." And sure enough he took one of the little cups he plays with in the shower, filled it with water and washed down the outside of his penis. Then gave me a big grin and said "MINE" again.
He rinsed it a couple of times to make sure it was good and clean and we got out of the shower. I was just laughing to myself thinking well that blows the "a boy won't take care of it" argument right out of the water. I mean if a 19month old can clean himself surely an older child can right? I'm sure he can't be that hygienically advanced. I'm just wondering if I handled the private parts angle well enough. And suggestions on that for me? Any way I thought you all might get a kick out of the story.
Again, thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!
I thought I would just defer to him
My newborn is intact, thanks in part to this discussion board! I want to thank everyone who has posted on this particular discussion board. When I found out I was pregnant with a boy, I was very upset about having to decide whether to circ or not. My husband is circ'd and I originally thought I would just defer to him. However, how could I hurt such a beautiful new creation as my son? I found lots of information on this discussion board which convinced me NOT to circ. And my husband was easily brought to the no circ camp.
I also want to share that I almost circ'd him at the hospital when the doctor asked if we wanted a circumcision. For some crazy reason I said yes , but then started to cry. The doctor said she could see I was in conflict and spent some time discussing it with me without putting pressure on me to go either way. (My husband was not there at the time). She ultimately said she would not circ unless both parents were in agreement and that we as parents needed to discuss it more before making a decision. I am eternally grateful to her as well because neither my husband nor I wanted him circ'd after we thought about it. I guess I was feeling pressure from family and feeling vulnerable and alone in the recovery room at the hospital.
My precious boy is now 2 weeks old and I am so glad he is intact. He is the first on both sides of the family and amongst our group of friends. So while people may not understand our decision, at least I know from this discussion board that there are others out there who are like us.
[Response by Yulia: Congrats on you beautiful whole boy!!!!! This is very important that you and your husband read this -- Warning for Parents of Whole Sons]
Thanks everyone for your support and well wishes. I am feeling very happy that my son is intact. I know I made the right decision. And thanks Yulia_R for the link about forcible retraction. I'll be sure to be extra vigilant.
As it turns out, the pediatrician who spent time talking with me in the hospital has sons who are intact. I've written her a thankyou note, and have switched to her as our pediatrician. The nurses in the hospital were also glad we decided against circumcision. One confided she thought it was a horrendous thing to do to a newborn and doesn't understand why its so prolific.
We Argued Until He Saw What It Was
never had a chance to post much here but I have lurked thru-out my pg. During my pregnancy, my husband and I would get into heated debates re circ and always left me so angry because I cry when I get stressed out and can't ever win. When, last March we found out we were expecting our first son. We continued to argue over circ and I just gave up and said "whatever".
On June 15th, 2007 we welcomed our little boy to the world. We had a beautiful birth at home, in the water, unassisted. He weighed 10 lbs, 1.5 oz and was 21 inches in length. My mw came moments after the birth to check on us. Everything was as perfect as my LO. My husband insisted that I make the circ appt for a week later so I did. I was just to exhausted to argue. A few days later though, the videos of baby boys wailing in pain reminded me of why I felt so strongly against this act. So I thought to myself... Why don't I make my husband watch this???? He has a penis... He should feel this pain.... So, off to MDC I went to play the video for him. He agreed to watch it. I saw hime cringe at the procedure and stare at his peacefully nursing son. He got off the couch and asked my if "that" was legal. I said what? "That" is a circ... What do you mean? He then said, "they don't use anesthesia?" Bottom line was that he feels that being in the 21st century in America, there should be no reason for anyone (even an adult) to experience such pain.
Now to the present. I have a beautiful son who is intact. He was more convinced that everything would be fine after reading some of the posts here. He especially got the most from the "How to care" thread. You all are awesome and I thank you a miilion times over!!!! My il's are a bit shocked but I just remind them that his penis belongs to him so lay off!!!! My family on the other hand is totally for no circing. My Dad made a point of calling us everyday to check to see if our son was still intact!!! . My husband's co-workers have sons and the majority of them are intact. My circle of friends son's are all intact.
Husband Demands It
I was in a similar situation; I shut down my maternal instincts and let my first be circ'ed, b/c I didn't know any better, and I immediately felt horrible about it. When I got pregnant with my second, I knew I did not want to circumcise him, but my husband was adamant that we do it. Long story short: I did not allow it; hubby did not challenge me after the birth (though we had had some pretty ugly fights about it before the birth!), and now, he is fine with it and even admitted one time that he knows it causes decrease in sexual sensation and that the only reason he ever wanted it in the first place was so he would "be like me."
The most important thing for you to do is to educate yourself thoroughly on circumcision--the lack of need for it, the risks, the details of the procedure, etc. Watch the video. Follow the links in the stickies. You need to have more on your side than just emotions, because there are a lot of commonly accepted myths out there that people use to rationalize circumcision, and you need to be prepared for that.
Next, I would not keep trying to argue about it. It is not good for you while you're pregnant. And the more you bring it up, the more defensive your husband will get. Few circ'ed men want to be backed into a corner where they are expected to admit that they are missing something important and that they were essentially sexually abused. I let it drop about 6 months into my pregnancy and didn't bring it up again. I also didn't talk about it much with my husband after the birth. I think, for him, he was almost relieved to have me stand my ground without nagging him to agree with me--that way, he didn't have to (in his mind) acknowledge that his parents may have made a mistake with him.
Also, when you do have to discuss it, stay away from the "Intact guys have better sex" argument. That is so NOT what a circumcised man wants to hear!!!! Focus on the risks, the pain, the lack of medical necessity, the interruption of bonding and breastfeeding, the "His body, His choice" angle, and the fact that you will feel as violated and abused as your child will.
Bottom line is, Your husband cannot really demand it. He does not have the right to demand parts of your child's genitals. You will be the one who is asked to sign the consent form, and you do not have to sign.
5 yo son just asked me if he had a foreskin
i was reading another thread on TAO and my second son walked into the kitchen. he has been reading for quite some time now (he is 5y and 1mo), so he happened to read the following siggy: "think before you cut, a foreskin is there for a reason"
he struggled a bit with "foreskin", but pretty much sounded it out. obvious next question...what is a foreskin? i told him it the skin that covers over the head of a boys penis, to protect the head.
he got a weird look on his face (realizing he probably didnt have this) and then came the dreaded question. My first son is 12 1/2 and hasnt figured out yet that he is cut...i thought i had some more time before having to face up to this. My second son is super precocious, so i guess it doesnt really surprise me that he got to this point already.
i took a deep breath and said "no, honey, you dont have a foreskin, but you did when you were born"
then i burst into tears. what a mess.
he asked me what happened to it, did someone cut it off? and i said yes, i asked the dr to do it. i told him i was very sorry, and that i thought it had to be done so a boy would be healthier. (this is actually a lie. it was true with my first son, when i was 17 yo myself. by the time i got pregnant with my second son, i knew the facts. i cut him b/c my husband had left me and we were having big disagreements about everything related to the child. i knew i wasnt going to do any vaxes, and i knew that ebf meant i wasnt handing the db over for stbx to take out for the day, so it seemed like if i gave in on circ, i could use it to bargain for everything else. a yr later, out of the blue, xh asked me how someone as fruity (his word for crunchy) as me could circ. turns out he would have been cool w/leaving our son intact. i could have killed him barehanded at that moment.)
so i lied to my son about why i circed. i thought we were done, but i could see the gears turning...i knew what was coming.
"did it hurt mommy?"
i swear i cried so hard i could barely breathe.
i told him i made the dr use a medicine so it wouldnt hurt, but i think it might have just a bit. he asked me what the skin looked like, but i was wary of searching the net for a pic, so i asked him if he felt okay pulling down his pants a bit. he did, and i pointed to the loose skin and asked him to pull it over the head a bit and then showed him my finger and said it sort of looked like that. we looked at the scar (he is super fair skinned, he has the same scar as his dad, plus a tiny skin bridge).
i told his again that i was sorry, and that if i ever had another baby boy, i would NOT do it again. and he said "if you tried mommy, i would put my hand over his privates and yell STOP!"
i asked him if he grew up and got married and his wife had a boy, would he take away the foreskin from his son. he told me "no way! that would be dumb to do to a baby!"
i feel so sick. i was there for the circ. my first son was 7.5 at the time, and he was so upset to hear his baby brother crying in the next room. i feel so disgusted with myself. how can i be the kind of mom who nurses and cosleeps and is so attached to her babies. i dont beat my kids, i try to speak to them with the same respect i want back...and yet, i am the person who caused the most physical pain either one has ever felt.
i feel like throwing up right now.
Doctors trained in Female Anatomy, cutting male anatomy?!
I so regret having my first son circumcised. I was young. I was stupid. I will never be responsible for having that done to another child ever again.
When I was pregnant, I found and loved Dr Sear's The Baby Book. I read what he said about circumcisions. But when the pediatrician I had picked out said she recommended it to all her parents, I figured what did I know....
So I let some MORON doctor, who couldn't even be responsible for a decent delivery, cut my poor newborn baby. Why on earth should a doctor who went to school and studied FEMALE ANATOMY and works with FEMALES all day long be in charge of surgery on a 2 day old MALE baby?
Anyhow--I cried when I saw what they did to him. I cried when I changed his diapers and he cried when the diapers touched him. I cried when the ring around his poor penis got all yellow and gunky. I cried when he cried as the pediatrician 'inspected' him for infection.
Why on earth do we insist on having elective SURGERY on our newborns? Why do we live in a society that presents this as a procedure, not an invasive surgery?
When i was pregnant with my second son, my husband was concerned about him not 'matching' and what would I say to my first son about it.... I looked my son in the eyes and told him that I am sorry. That I didn't know better. That I did what I thought was best--and yet still need to say I'm sorry, because what I thought was best just wasn't good enough. I should have researched. I should have asked. I should have done something other than blindly following.
my second son is intact and we haven't regretted it for a second. Amazing, when you think of all the years of regret I've had and years of regret yet to come over having my first son circ'd.
Do yourself a favor. Hold your baby in your arms and don't let go. Not for anything. Look your baby over from head to toe and realize that he is perfect just the way he is.
Finding Out is Only Half the Battle
When I was expecting my son, I checked into misc.kids.pregnancy. That is when I started to read posts from people who spoke out against routine infant circumcision. My first reactions to those posts were at a very visceral level. I was horrified, almost sickened, by the thought of strapping a brand-new baby down to a board and slicing off a part of his genitals. And when I learned that this is often done without anesthesia, I just couldn’t believe it.
Too Much Pressure
My poor son got circumcised even though I had
read everything about it. 8 years ago, when he was born, I was set on the fact that he would not be circumcised or
I researched as much as I could on the topics. Unfortunately, they convinced me otherwise in the hospital on the
(oh, where were those wonderful midwives back then?). So, after giving birth, day one I was strong: NO CIRCUMCISION. Day
two in the hospital:
Uh oh, what do I do Mom and Dad? They said DON'T, the Doctors said "Do whatever Dad is". Well, with that philosophy, nobody
will ever stop this insanity. So, by day 3, I knew I had to make the decision before we left the hospital. All that I kept
thinking about was Locker Room Syndrome. What a shame. Thinking that I had to welcome my little newborn baby boy into this
world by torturing him. Still makes me cry when I think of it. And, still makes me want to go hurt those darn Docs that
mislead you so badly. They act like it's no big deal.
I had no idea just how UNpopular circumcising was becoming. I am not
one to just go with the times in a situation like this, and I did. So, here's the absolute worst part. Marco was leaving the
room with the nurse-- and I stop her...again. This is now the 3rd time I have changed my mind and they are really not
appreciating me whatsoever. The nurse tells me it is what I need to do in order for Marco to have a "clean, normal life".
The misleading info that it is so germy and horrible to clean really bugs me. What a lame excuse to cut into your brand new
baby. Anyway,30 minutes or so later, they bring my baby back to me. My poor, poor Marco looks traumatized. He is silent,
eyes wide open and looking incredibly frightened. That whole expressionless face tells me how bad it had to be in there. I
will never forget that face. It seriously still makes me cry, eight years later.
Okay, so a day after leaving the hospital, I realize I forgot my coat there. I go back and they have stored it for me in the room where they perform circumcisions. OH MY GOSH-- had I seen this table with 3" thick velcro straps 48 hours earlier, I would not be telling this sad story today. There was a big iodine stain right at the penis area of the table. It just looked gruesome. And, I thought about how many new little babies have gone through this. Every boy I had ever known did. What a darn shame!Michelle
Battling for My Son
I am a woman married to a circumcised man yet we have an intact son. The decision to not circumcise was mine. My husband fought me long and hard all the way up to the day our son was born. I read everything I could get my hands on about the subject before my son was born, while my husband went on his own personal opinion that since he was cut we should also cut our son. Many fights ensued and we almost split up over it. I finally asked him to write up a Pro's list for getting a circumcision while I would write up a Pro and Con list. The only thing he had written was that: he was circumcised, it's cleaner, and it was in our religion. I asked him if he knew if his father was cut or not, he said he was sure his father was, he ISN'T, I asked him if he planned on bathing our child once a week he said NO, and then I asked him when did we become Jewish? He said we weren't. My Con list contained 10 times the amount of information as his Pro list yet he still couldn't see things my way. I finally put it to him another way. I told him "What if we have a girl and I tell you I want her circumcised?". He told me I was crazy and that was a sick thing to do, and I asked him what was so different about cutting flesh off of a male child. He told me that it was a traditional thing to do. I told him every tradition has to start somewhere but sometimes you need to take a step back and look at what the tradition is all about.
In this case it is the ritual mutilation of innocent boys who will never have the chance to even choose for themselves if they want this done or not. I feel the same way about piercing a baby girls ears. I feel a parent has a moral responsibility to let their children decide whether or not they want their bodies altered from the way God made them. If God trully intended for males to not have a foreskin I think he would have created him without a foreskin. Didn't God create Adam in His own image? I'm not even that religious but I just feel in my heart that this is wrong. Needless to say, I got my way, but I fear for all of those poor children whose parents don't take the time to think about what they are doing to their children. My son is now 4 years old and has never had any type of infection, he knows how to wash his penis correctly, and I'm sure in the future he will be more in tune with his whole body because he has a WHOLE body.
This boy will be circumcised
I found out I was having a boy on May 14th, 1997 -- I was seventeen 1/2 weeks pregnant and had my "level 2" ultrasound. The technician said, "I can tell if it's a boy or a girl..." I said I wanted to know. She showed me and my husband, Jonathan, a close up-- Yep! A boy!
Her website here: http://www.circumcisionquotes.com/
No One Told Me
During my pregnancy with my oldest son I read "everything" - or so
I thought. I really thought that I was educated about pregnancy, the mechanics
of birth, and parenting. I wasn't sure about circumcision, but all of the
articles that I read seemed to make it seem "50-50" or a personal
choice. I never read anything that made me oppose circumcision, and my husband
is circumcised, so we decided to do it. Also, my father-in-law wasn't, and he
said how "unclean" it was.
At the last moment
I am ashamed to say that our decision to leave our son intact came down to the very last second. My husband and I were literally struggling with the decision, until finally one of the doctors came in on the tail end our conversation, and heard me say, "I just don't know what to do...I don't think I want to do it..." She came around to the side of the bed and said, very matter of factly, "it is purely a cosmetic surgery, there is no medical reason to do it, if that helps any..." She didn't say it in a way to convince us either way, she just told us the facts and smiled.
I still see her as my sons angel . I shutter to think which way we would have swayed because of our ignorance.
If every expecting parent could hear and take those word in...all those little baby boys could sleep peacefully and naturally in their mothers arms instead of the trauma induced sleep that unfortunately does not last long enough to keep them from feeling the sickening pain...After all...
...IT IS PURELY COSMETIC...
He didn't want to see it
I am SO GLAD we decided not to circ! I had mixed feelings on the subject, never having seen an uncircumsized penis, hearing other mothers' tales of how it was better for their sons ie: cleanliness, reduced risk of infections and the usual. My husband wanted our son circ'd as he is. We argued about it many times and I was torn between my desire to please my husband, the fact that most of our friends' sons are circ'd, a friend of mine due 3wks after me who said there was no way they wouldn't circ and this very strong instinct/feeling I had telling me it was wrong. Finally I told my husband that if he felt that strongly then he would have to take him himself, stay with him during the procedure and then look after his penis till it healed. I KNEW there was no way on earth that he would do this (he won't even go to the ped's if there's a needle involved) and so that was that.
I have to admit though that I had questioned my decision many times wondering if I did the right thing, would my son develop problems later on, would he worry that he looked different than his father and etc. Oddly enough my husband has always been glad we decided not to circ, it seemed once I he had a reason to back out he was okay with it.
My sister-in-law badgered me constantly after my son was born, saying that I had to pull back his foreskin and clean under it every time I bathed him. When I told her male genitalia was self-cleaning, the same as female, she said I was setting him up for infection and that I would be sorry and might as well have him circ'd right away because he'd develop scar tissue and have to have it done anyway. I consulted the pediatrician on it and she said not to touch it until he is two and then I should start gently pulling it back and cleaning. Now I know even she was only half right and to just leave it alone (although at 20mths he won't leave it alone, it's amazing how far he can stretch that skin!).
His Ego Wanted It
It was a huge issue between my husband & I. He wanted - I did not. He brought up the "I have a penis so I should decide" and so I asked him if something similar were happening with our daughter's vagina/breasts does that mean I don't have to consult with you because I have a vagina?.....He didn't like the thought of not being consulted.
He said he wanted our son to look like him...to which I replied he will NEVER look like you. He may take after you in many respects but there will also be many differences...would you like him to have plastic surgery to change those characteristics so that he will "look like you"....He thought that was just silly. He said he would be made fun of by other boys. I told him that the percentage of kids being circ'ed/not circ'ed are becoming more equal so it is just as likely that if circ'ed he may be the only one in class. I also said that my brother (born 1975) is not circ'ed and having talked to him he said he was never teased because of it. He said it was cleaner. I said so are boys that much more stupid than girls? Because there are some folds on girls that if not cleaned are the perfect bacteria growing crevices....If we can teach our daughter to clean herself properly than why can't we teach our son? He didn't like the idea of boys being thought to be less smart.
We went round and round....finally I said I seriously see no need for the surgery and why would we want to have our newborn son go through (in my eyes) a needless surgery. Once removed it can not be put back. If at some point there is a NEED or he wants it done...then it will be HIS choice, but it is not ours. I don't know if that sunk in or he just decided not to fight anymore with the pregnant lady (me). But he agreed not to circ.
Time does not heal all wounds
"I am the father of a circumcised son, unfortunately he is one of those little boys in which "no reliable statistics" are known, he suffered complications from surgery. A hospital-born infection entered at the circumcision site, the result was seizures and profound brain damage. I'll watch my son go to be a man in a wheelchair, he does not speak, he does not see. Dr. O failed to address the real benefit of circumcision; it's parked in the circumciser's driveway. Today circumcisers have the audacity to charge $150 for a fifteen minute procedure, one hour's work will make monthly payments on their BMW. Medical insurance groups are wisely dropping the procedure from their health plans. The mutilations will stop when we TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF CIRCUMCISION.
"When our son was born the nurse came into the room to get him. I asked what she was going to do. She replied that the doctor is going to circumcise him before we take him home. I told her that my wife and I had not been consulted about that and that we did not agree to have the baby circumcised. I told her that we are not of that religious belief and that we do not want the boy circumcised. In spite of my protest, she continued to move toward the door with the baby. Seeing that she was not paying attention to what I was saying, I moved to block her from exiting through the door. She told me it was doctor's orders and that the doctor was waiting. I told her very firmly, "NO". She left the baby and walked off much disturbed.
After a short time the doctor contacted me. He told me that it was hospital policy to circumcise all male babies before they left for home. I politely told him that this is one baby that they are not going to circumcise. I further told him to prepare the mother and the baby to go home at once. He then proceeded to tell me about all the problems that can occur if circumcision is not performed. It was a very long list of terrible things. He was surprised when I told him that I had never been circumcised and that I have not experienced any of those or any other problems. Again, I told him to have the nurse prepare the mother and the baby to leave immediately or I am taking them just as they are. I was told that I would not be allowed to take the baby home without circumcision I stood my ground, "Get them ready to go!" He then said that the baby must stay in the hospital until the bill is paid. Where upon I took my cheque book from my pocket and asked how much the bill was. I had to go down to the business office to pay the bill. On the bill was a charge for circumcision I told them that the boy was not circumcised and that they should deduct the fee for that. After some argument they finally took the fee for circumcision off.
We never saw the doctor again. However, we did receive calls from his office stating that they had made arrangements for us to take the baby to a pediatrician. we told them WE would decide what to do, not them."- Dr. C.P.
Have Access to Running Water?
On August 12, 1996 my wife and I had a 11 lb 5 oz Baby BOY!.
Initially, when finding out it was a boy by ultrasound, I was preparing for the ultimate decision and was confronted by my wife, among most other women/mother figures, both inside the family and out with a strong instinct to "cut it off" or you will be sorry. Being circumcised myself at birth, I have never known any difference and had heard that circumcision is "not needed if you keep it clean". My mind was set then and there. I was dedicated to preserving something for my son that I never had.
Quickly, the decision was made for this to be my decision for our son as this involved a very male portion of his anatomy. I found several nurses, mothers, fathers to be in agreeance with keeping a man intact and am pleased with his intact state and intend to tell him later that I wish I were but cannot blame my parents for what they were told by doctors in the early 60's. Note that my father is not circumcised.Alex, North Carolina
That's just the way we do things
Like most Americans, I had no clue what circumcision was, exactly. As a child, I was told that it was simply something that boys had done. Instinctually, I knew it was wrong since it made no sense that every single male would be born defective. While at college in the late 1990s, I was browsing the web and came upon the topic. It was a crudely drawn diagram of normal male anatomy and the subsequent removal of the foreskin. It struck me as very creepy and primitive.
A few years later, I got married and soon was expecting my first child; a boy. Prior to finding out the gender of our child, I revisited the circumcision topic. I read all of the alarmist literature on the subject; doctors and parents talking about how circumcision prevents UTIs, penile cancer, cervical cancer, and all sorts of random infections. It struck me as fearmongering. I found out that no organization in the world recommends routine circumcision and haven’t in a long time, with the single exception of when circumcision advocate Edgar Schoen led the AAP circumcision task force. I found out that infant circumcision for is almost unheard of in most of the world and is seen as a religious ritual, not a medical procedure.
Later, I learned that my initial impression of fearmongering was correct. Girls get more UTIs than any boys and are treated effectively with antibiotics. Penile cancer is more rare than male breast cancer. Denmark has lower rates of penile cancer than the United States despite not circumcising babies. Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. The American Cancer Society doesn’t recommend circumcision to prevent any cancer. And most random penile infections are caused by improper care and can be prevented with correct care and treated with antibiotics or antifungals.
Worse, most of this was well known back before I was born. My father’s pediatric book, circa 1975, even said that circumcision was unnecessary and risky.
My son was born and, of course, the most common question asked by family wasn’t (to my wife) “How are you feeling?” or “How is your baby?” It was “So when are you going to have him circumcised?” as if making him a member of the American snipped dick club was the most important thing.
By this time my parents were well aware that I think that routine infant circumcision is a horrible way to start out life. At one point I asked my mother why she would do something like that to me. Her response was, “That’s just the way we do things.” No emotion. No apology. Just a curt response. Later, she told me that their doctor recommended it. Of course he did. He gets paid for it! The doctor excuse might have flown if my parents weren’t in the medical field, but they are. My father is a doctor. My mother is a nurse. In the 1970s, it was difficult for a non-medical person to have access to medical information, but they did have access. In 1979, the AAP did not recommend circumcision. They should have shown less blind trust and done their own research.
I hate being circumcised.
Again, for all you naysayers who think that all men, without reservation, love having a snipped dick:
I’m a man and I hate being circumcised.
I know I have problems due to being circumcised. They became even more apparent when I started restoring my foreskin. I have a traditional 1970s circumcision. In other words, the doctor shoved as much as he could plus 10% in his Gomco clamp and cut it all. Prior to restoring, my erect skin was so tight it was shiny and uncomfortable. Hair was pulled up from my scrotum onto my shaft. My glans, after years of exposure, barely had any feeling at all. The only part of my penis that actually had remotely intense was the small area on the underside of my glans where my frenulum was. Honestly, it was almost like having a dildo that could pee between my legs.
I have been restoring for about two years now. Its been a huge improvement. I don’t have tight, hairy erections anymore, since I have enough skin to accomodate my natural size. Since my restoration device covers my glans, I have significantly more sensation. I can actually feel oral sex now. The extra skin restored part of the “gliding action” (google it) which makes for new and very pleasant sensations during sex for both my wife and I. Still, there are a lot of parts that restoration can’t fix, that are just gone. Baring some huge scientific advance, I doubt I’ll ever know what sex should feel like.
Well, at least I protected my son.*
Look Like Dad?
It couldn't hurt to point out the awful truth, that circumcision DOESN'T make a child look like his father. At best it may make him vaguely resemble his father's current penile appearance in 20-30 years when only he ought to care about what's in his pants.
I was cut at birth. I don’t hold it against my parents; they are products of their time. I have five sons and one daughter. None of my boys were circumcised. I figured God knew what He was doing better than a cereal-maker-wanna-be doctor. I also studied the subject a whole lot before marriage, and after getting engaged we discussed the subject - I explained what circumcision was and it grossed her out.
I have had talks about the body with all my children, and even my
daughter understands the foreskin has a purpose. I believe all my
grandchildren will be intact.
Protecting My Family
Like thousands of boys in what is supposed to be the most advanced nation on earth (?) I was cut at birth. I’m also the proud father of six year old and two month old INTACT boys. Fortunately I learned the truth and myths about circumcision before my two sons were born. When my first son was born 6 years ago I emphatically refused to have him circed. To the point my wife and relatives thought I had lost my mind. I went to the extreme to make the hospital nurses put PostIt notes on his crib saying “DO NOT CIRCUMCISE!” I even threatened them with a lawsuit if he was cut “by mistake.” It is my “welcome to the world, son,” gift to them.
A few days after the birth of our Son, we took him back to the hospital to get a circumcision. My Wife could not watch the procedure so I stayed in the examination room with my Son while the procedure was being done. I watched as the Doctor stuck a needle into my Sons penis with anesthetic to numb him from the pain and put this metal contraption on it to hold back the foreskin for circumcision. My Son wailed like a banshee in pain and it was an incredibly heartbreaking procedure to witness. Part of my heartbreak was that my Son’s arms were bound to his side and he could not move. After it was over, I gave him a bottle and he seemed to calm down right away.
I’m telling you this to lead up to what is somewhat bothering me. I read an article entitled, ‘Mohels to Mozambique’, which talked about the issues concerning circumcision, which mentioned how Dan Bollinger had flashbacks of his circumcision even though he was only a few days old. They made it seem like that was a ridiculous notion because at that age it was “biologically impossible”. Well, I believe it 100% because that seems to be an issue with my Son.
He just turned 2, and from the moment he received his circumcision until now, he does not like his Mother or myself to touch anywhere near his penis. If we need to wipe him while changing his diaper or clean him in that area when he gets a bath, he makes a fuss, sometimes cry, or may just try to block you from touching his penis or the undercarriage at all. Myself or my Wife is with him 90% of time so we are positive that he has not been touched down there inappropriately by friends, family members, or childcare personnel. First of all because we dont have him around anyone who has that type of history, secondly, because we had him checked out at our family pediatrician, and thirdly, because he has disliked any kind of touching in that area since his circumcision.
So, I strongly believe that people can have flashbacks. I cannot explain any other reason why my Son hates any kind of attention to his genitals, except that he has some kind of memory of the horrible pain he experienced while getting his circumcision. Of course, the article went on to talk about how more and doctors are not advocating circumcisions like they used to and how the benefits are “not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcisions”, and that, it is an unnecessary procedure that has no known positive bearing on a Man’s life.
I don’t like is the fact that my Son may still have some residual memory of the experience he had at the hands of his pediatrician. My reason for this letter is to say that I do believe that men may have flashbacks because of the reaction my Wife and I get when we are near our Son’s genitals, and to say that I do not believe it is “biologically impossible.”
Recovering in more ways than one
A few years ago, my wife and I were eagerly awaiting the birth of our fourth son. One day, while changing my third son’s diaper, I recognized his behavior as consistent with avoidance of actual pain. An internet search on penis pain led me to discover that circumcision is not harmless and beneficial as was represented by our past pediatrician. Instead, it always diminishes a boy by eliminating thousands of nerve endings and exposes his glans to unnatural abrasion which will lead to desensitization and may lead, as was seen in my sons case, to pain.
This newfound knowledge profoundly impacted me. For several weeks I cried when I would think about the mistake I had made with my first three boys. I was also disturbed to think that up until that point in my life, I had not realized that I might be missing something myself. In fact, until I was an adult, I was not certain if I was even circumcized. My anguish gradually turned to determination. Working to ensure that other parents did not make and suffer from the same mistake as me has been therapeutic. I have worked on the Medicaid Project and spoken to many people as well. I also have begun a personal improvement project of non-surgical restoration of my foreskin.
Although genital mutilation or amputation or circumcision or whichever euphemism is chosen, is sad, there is life beyond it. I hope those suffering from the trauma, either physical or emotional, of undesired genital alteration find consolation and peace.
Loss is the Norm
In my suburban Chicago late 70’s/early 80’s upbringing, it was the norm. Everyone was circumcised.
My mom explained it to me when I was a pre-teen—in graphic detail. When I say graphic, I mean she took my penis and pulled the shaft skin up, covering the glans, and then showed me where it was cut. She also told me how afterwards, the skin often “got stuck like glue” to the glans and my pediatrician had to force the skin back to break the adhesions. My mom told me that she continued to pull it back until I was bathing myself.
It didn’t bother me much until I had my first real girlfriend and my first sexual encounter. When it was over, she asked if I enjoyed it. Of course I said I did, but in reality I was thinking to myself, “I waited how many years for this?” It was mediocre at best. Mechanical. Tiresome. When it was done, I was relieved. I didn’t see the big deal.
I was flabbergasted. I thought sex was the end-all. I was worried. Maybe there was something wrong.
I wasn’t until college when I had access to “USENET”, “Gopher” and this new-fangled program called “lynx,” which offered me access to to the “world wide web,” that I started reading similar stories. Apparently I was desensitized, circumcision being the culprit.
I read all the articles I could and compared the written text to my own penis. My glans was gray and wrinkled. The shaft was scarred with evidence of cutting and torn adhesions. I learned that the glans was made of the same tissue as my girlfriend’s clitoral glans, yet when I touched hers, she jumped to the ceiling. When she touched mine, it was a resounding, “Meh.”
I hate my mother.
Fast forward 5 years, I have a wife (not the girlfriend form high school). We were expecting. I told her “no circumcision”. I presented her with all the evidence, and had to admit my own handicap. She agreed.
I had a girl 2 years later, and another boy 3 months ago. The policy is the same whether girl or boy. We’ve had no infections. No hygiene problems. In fact, by my mother’s account, she had to spend a good portion of time tending to my wounded penis. I have to spend no more time on my son’s than a wipe and a powder. The child will not be made fun of in the locker room. The child is not going to look like you no matter what.
Don’t hurt your children. Don’t let the doctors cut them.
Welcome to America! —now hand over your foreskin
I was born in New Zealand in 1946, to a local Kiwi girl and a G.I. father from Wisconsin stationed in NZ who was intact (not circumcised). Whether out of deference to my father—on active duty in New Caledonia at the time—or an ethical whim, my NZ birth doctor left me alone. In 1946 in NZ, the ‘sand myth’ (that intact Allied soldiers fighting Rommel’s tanks in North Africa got irritations from sand under their foreskins) had not yet taken complete hold. By the late 1950’s circumcision was nearly universal in New Zealand. I was born on the very beginnings of that wave, and made the ‘cut’ as it were, but only, alas, for a time.
I traveled back and forth from NZ to the US as a babe-in-arms, then toddler, several times, and finally fetched up in the USA for good in 1951, at age four or five.
My mother was instructed to forcibly retract the foreskins of her intact sons at each bath, common (and stunningly ignorant) medical advice of the day, not entirely eradicated in 2006. She says now she hated the task as we screamed and bled and she pitied us, weeping over us as she did as she was told. In those days, mothers, especially immigrant war-bride mothers, did not question the judgement of the doctor, no matter how counter-intuitive the advice seemed. Forced retraction seemed to her completely cruel and pointless she says today, age 84, through tears. And of course I have since showed her that her intuition was correct—foreskin retraction is cruel and stupid.
A brother, one year my junior, survived her ‘care’, if that is what forcible retraction could be called. He is intact today and very proud to be so.
But I did not escape so easily.
Perhaps I developed adhesions and an inelastic foreskin, the common and predictable result of forcible retraction, (even according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, widely known for their deep affection for their members but markedly less so for their child-patients). Or perhaps because my foreskin was still naturally adherent to my glans, despite my mother’s efforts. Whatever the reason, I was circumcised, without anesthesia, merely strapped down, soon after my arrival in America, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1951.
My mother weeps today to remember, from the waiting room, hearing me scream for her.
I have no memory of the event whatsoever. Mum tells me that I hid under my bed for days, refusing food or appeals to come out, crying myself to sleep. Then, she tells me, I suddenly appeared and made no mention of the event ever again until adulthood.
I have been urged to get counseling to retrieve the buried memory. To those well-meaning friends who have encouraged this I have two words: Fat chance. Let sleeping dogs lie.
Unfortunately, as the first and second children of ten, my brother and I shared a bedroom all our early years until age 17-18 when we both left home together to attend university in New Zealand. In our youth my brother had taunted me with the fact that he was intact and I was not, a source of some aggravation.
I now know that my circumcision was a complete fraud, either the result of an iatrogenic (Ed: doctor caused) proxy injury, years of horrific retractions by my mother, or my lingering natural balano-prepeutial lamina, the natural connective membrane of boys, which like the hymen of girls, can last as long as 17 or 18 years without harm or worry. Or more likely—sheer greed. Never mind, that physician is long dead.
The only sequelae, (clinical result) to use a physician’s term, is that I have the fastest ‘vaso-vagal’ reflex on the planet, able to faint dead-away at the mere combination of green walls, fluorescent light, the smell of isopropyl alcohol and the sight of lab coats. I have hit the floor upon the mere presentation of a tongue-depressor. Luckily I have a nurse-wife who advocates for me and always escorts me to doctor’s appointments, or draws my blood herself, a blessing. I long ago inserted a letter in my medical records, on legal stationery, that suggests that I should be protected from falling and be allowed to lie prone for all medical procedures. As a warning, it seems to work. I would like to think kindness is in evidence here, but it might be just be my legal stationery.
I have had a lifetime of vivid nightmares of being restrained and cut, and a terrible life-long fear of knives, to the extent that I cannot abide those magnetic knife holders some people use on their kitchen walls, which expose the blades all in a row. To be fair, the nightmares have faded as the years have gone by, and I cheerfully chop vegetables. At 60 years old, the worst nightmares only happen to me a manageable 3 or 4 times a year, though they are profoundly disturbing and take days to shake.
I deeply regret that my only son, now 34, is circumcised. I was told it would be better at birth than what happened to me at 4 or 5, and I suckered for that immoral pitch to my eternal regret. My son tells me our family history of genital mutilation dies with him, which is most reassuring. He is bored with my regular apologies. But I take my bitter regrets of what I did to the poor helpless lad in 1972 to my grave.
Mostly, I am a normal, outrageously outgoing and optimistic guy who has managed nicely, despite the efforts of Anglophone physicians. Some day all this circumcision silliness will be history, and the doctors and parents of 2050 will wonder what those cruel idiots of 1870-2006 were thinking. Human progress is a slow business, we could all agree.
But at least my grandsons, when they arrive, will know and feel what it is like to be real, complete, whole, intact males, with full sexual sensation, who look like Greco-Roman statues, not like mutilated slaves!
I work as a maternity nurse and if I had worked in this field when my son was born I would NEVER have had him circumcised. The OBs don't believe in any anesthetic, except sugar water, and it totally makes me ill to have to assist doctors with these awful procedures. I try to let moms here know that there is not any medical reason to do this to their babies, but this is not a real popular view around here. As my uncircumsized dad told me when my son was born, "Leave his little joint alone! God made it the way it is for a reason!" I realize in restrospect that he was right.
While I was in the hospital I came across many women who did have their sons circumcised - but offered no reasons as to why - I guess they just thought it was the thing to do. This one woman I shared a room with had her son circumcised the second day she was there. When she got him back, he was in a deep sleep and she stupidly said, "Oh, well , they must have given him something for the pain. Look how well he's taken it." The nurse assured her they did not. Then, one-half hour later, when she couldn't wake him, she started to get worried. I bet the little thing was in shock.
Anyway, I had gotten to know this baby's cries, and they were distinctly different after he had the circumcision - like a howl of an animal in pain. I waited through the first crying episode of this kind (about a half hour) biting my tongue and crying, when the mother Said, "I don't know what's wrong with him. he's eaten, he's changed. What can it be?" [...duh....] I said to her, "Could it be that he's peed on his circumcision site?" Unbelievably, this had never occurred to her. Sure enough, this was the problem. I was so annoyed and felt so bad for her baby for his pain and for having such a dopey mom. And this woman actually had a masters degree in Education!!!! I think if you're going to choose for your son to be circumcised, you should at least familiarize yourself with the procedure and its consequences.*
Put down the knife and step away from the baby.
One of the circumcisers here laid down his knife last week. So last Sunday we gave him a bouquet of orchids and a thank you note. There were eight conscientious objectors on duty that day to sign the note. It always was kind of bizarre that he was doing circumcisions anyway: he works out of a holistic office, and believes in gentle births, but he’s been doing circumcisions for years. He’s shy (yes, a shy circumciser!) so he never did tell us what made him decide.
For more detail on their protest read here: http://nurses.cirp.org/R.N._Conscientious_Objecto.html
Saw It Done
During my training to be a Registered nurse I was required to watch first hand a circumcision done on a newborn.
Typical Hospital Pressure
"It seems that a few hours after my friend Deb's delivery and while she was still sedated a nurse came into her room and told her that she had forgotten to sign a consent from regarding her baby. She took the paper and fortunately was able to read and understand it before she signed it. It was a consent form for circumcision. She informed the nurse that she had not forgotten to sign it. She and her husband had refused to sign it because they did not want the surgery performed on their son. The nurse then asked, "Don't you want your baby to be normal?" Deb said she told the nurse, "Yes, we want our baby to be normal, that is why we do not want his healthy normal body violated and I would suggest that you do some reading and research on what is and what is not normal in the care of an infant male." Can you imagine, just how close this came to violating their wishes. It makes me wonder how often this might be a standard rather than an exception".
He Lied To Me
I was thrilled and knew from the moment of conception in my heart that I would be having a little boy. I wanted to be the best mom that I could be to my sweet baby that was on its way.
While in nursing school I watched a resident perform HIS first circumcision. He totally botched it and it took about an hour. He never re-numbed the area, so the poor little guy felt EVERYTHING.
My nephew is 3 and the first time he was circumcised the incision site fused to the head of his penis and had to be redone. Now the doctor's need to redo it again because his body has consistently been treating it as a wound and building scar tissue. It is necessary now because if/when he gets an erection the skin tears away causing more scar tissue to build.
Also I have known 3 friends with baby boys that had theirs botched and had to have additional procedures while little.
I used to assist in cutting babies
I am a former labor and delivery nurse for a major hospital. When I first started there, I assisted in infant male circumcisions. I hated it from the first but it was a part of my job, and I had children to feed.
The first circumcision I assisted in is burned in my memory forever. The screams of that poor child will never leave me. The doctor assured me that the baby felt no pain, that he wouldn't remember it, and that he was only mad because he was restrained. In order to make it easier on myself, I chose to believe that.
We were trained to never tell the parents the truth. We were always to tell them that the child slept through it, or he barely noticed, or he only cried for a minute. We would keep babies after the circumcision until they calmed down, so their parents wouldn't know how bad it was. A lot of babies did just pass out. The pain must have been completely unbearable. Very few OB's use any kind of anesthesia, believing that it's more trouble than it's worth. Only one doctor that I worked with ever used any anesthesia, and it was a lidocaine injection. Lidocaine injections hurt tremendously anyway, and the children would shriek in pain and terror as they were given the shot. I often wondered if it hurt more than the surgery would have. After that, the babies would still shake and scream through the entire surgery. Then I'd quiet them down and take them back to their parents and tell them that he slept through the whole thing and barely noticed it. Even if we didn't use anesthesia we were always supposed to tell the parents that we used adequate pain relief, which almost always amounted to a pacifier. That is what most OB's consider adequate pain relief and most likely what every child received, even if your OB told you different.
After 6 months I refused to do the circumcisions anymore, and I was willing to lose my job over it. I didn't lose my job, and I continued for three more years. But every time one of those babies was cut open it would rip at my soul. I could hear them screaming in the other room. The screams that came from the circumcision room were screams of utter agony, like dying animals. I used to pray that the babies would just pass out so their pain would be over. The lucky ones did.
I left L&D after almost four years, having assisted in nearly 100 circumcisions and been witness to hundreds more. I will be haunted by those children forever. All the babies whose bodies I helped destroy follow me everywhere I go, I can't get away from them. I now work for a pediatrician that does not perform circumcisions, but whenever I see a little boy with a circumcision scar, I can hear those screams again.
I have 2 daughters, and 2 sons. None of them are circumcised. I am lucky that my sons did not come until after my days on the L&D ward, and they were not subjected to the horrors that I participated in.
My punishment lies with realizing the horrible things I helped make happen, and living with that guilt every day. Anyone who tells you that the baby didn't notice, or slept through it, is lying. I know for a fact that no matter how well anesthetized a child is, he will be in pain. Even the children who received the blocks still screamed and thrashed in pain and fear the whole time, until they gave up fighting. Every baby boy hurts from this. The mother who says her child was looking around oblivious is either lying or is in such denial that she can't accept what she did to her child. I've been in that room hundreds of times. I know that there was never a single baby that did not notice. There wasn't a single one that didn't shake or scream. Your child was being tortured, too. Maybe you didn't know going into it, maybe you did. But don't discount his pain to make yourself feel better.
I hate myself for doing nothing to stop it, for helping it happen. I tried to tell myself that at least I could be there and hold his hand or try to comfort him, but there is no comforting a baby during that. I was just another one of his abusers, even if I tried to pretend otherwise. I helped strap down those perfect little boys and mutilate their bodies, and then lied to their mothers about how they didn't feel a thing. Instead of telling their parents the truth, which might have helped other children, I did what I was told.
Circumcision is wrong. It's as wrong as wrong can be. People who have their children circumcised are abusing them, and the doctors who perform them are doing it solely for money. A circumcision is easy surgery for the doctor and quick money. And those babies pay the price.
Day I withdrew from Nursing School
I want to share with all of you an event that drew me into intactivism
Back in 1996, I began an OB/GYN hospital clinical as a student nurse. One day, I was enlisted to attend a ‘routine circumcision.’ I did not realize how much that event would shatter the very foundation of a career choice made in ignorance. I appeared in the doorway of the circ room and saw the little newborn boy to whom I was ‘assigned’ for the day. Twenty years-old, and not having kids of my own, I did not anticipate the lurching sensation that gripped my heart. Laying strapped down to a table—so small and new, pure and innocent, trusting, all alone, and defenseless—I walked toward the baby and wanted to grab him off the table and shelter him, to tell him that nobody would hurt him.
In walked the doctor. Loud, obnoxious, joking with his assistant, as if he was about to perform a 10 minute oil change. Not once did he talk to this little baby. Rather, he reached for his cold metal instruments and then reached out for his object of mutilation, this sweet newborn’s perfect unharmed body. As I recall the screams of pain and terro, his small lungs barely able to keep up with the cries, I turned in horror as I saw the doctor forcefully pull his foreskin around a metal object. Then came the knife, cut, cut, cut.
I stood next to the baby and said, “You’re almost done sweety. Almost done.”
Then came the words as that son-of-a-bitch said while he dangled the foreskin in midair, “Anybody care to go fishing?”
My tongue lodged in my throat. I felt like I was about to vomit. I restrained myself. My duty was to then take the infant back to the nursery for ‘observation.’ Here is where I realized I couldn’t do it. I could not be a part of such a cold, sterile, out-of-touch medical model. Rather than observing, I cradled the infant. I held him and whispered comforting words as if he were my own. I’ll never forget those new little eyes watch me as if in a haze. He knew I cared about him. He knew he was safe in my arms. He knew that I was going to take him to his mommy, but deep in his little heart, at some level, I know he wondered where his mommy was while he lay there mutilated in what was supposed to be a safe and welcoming environment.
I made a note in the chart and then caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. My chest and face had broken out in purple splotches. My next thoughts? I can’t do this. I refuse to do this. This is NOT for me. I took the baby to his mother, who was complaining about ’some pain’ she was experiencing. I never addressed her pain because I left to go to my locker. I grabbed my belongings and hoped that my rejection of this ‘medical system’ could serve as some type of redemption for the violation of that newborn that I cradled in my arms that day. The next day, I withdrew from nursing school and never looked back.
Finally Heard the Screams
Many years ago, I witnessed an infant circumcision in person at the invitation of a mutilator. He invited me to attend, to prove to me that there is nothing wrong with mutilating babies. He also decided and told me that he would not do a complete circumcision, just a little dorsal slit, to minimize trauma, damage, injury, and blood loss. “I will cut on the center line. There are no blood vessels there.” (Right.)
I decided to go. White mutilator, black baby, southern USA, 1972 or so. With the first probe under the foreskin the baby screams a blood curdling scream and keeps screaming. With the crushing of the center line of the top of the foreskin with the hemostat the baby’s screaming and thrashing ratchet WAY up (he was restrained by tie-downs, put in place in preparation for this human hurricane they already knew from long experience was coming) and when the clamp comes off and the dorsal cut is made the baby begins to vomit—projectile vomiting—the most violent vomiting I have ever witnessed from any human being. Blood from the baby’s penis spurts everywhere. The vomiting interrupts the screaming and the screaming interrupts the vomiting. The mutilator takes out his sewing kit and starts sewing. With every puncture of the needle a new blood-curdling scream comes rushing out, with every pulling of the thread through the foreskin the baby turns bluer and screams louder and harder and finally, when I think the police are going to arrive, or the baby is going to die, or God is going to strike us all dead on the spot—the baby goes totally silent and completely limp. He passes out, knocked cold by the trauma of the mutilating. [Ed. Some babies dissociate and this may be what Mr. Lewis observed] The mutilator can now work in peace.
He finishes his sewing, cleans up, and we head for the stairs. On the staircase he looks at me and starts to talk. I thought he was going to tell me how he had never seen anything like that in his life, that babies never respond like that, or something at least. Instead, what he revealed with his off-hand question was that this was a normal operation, nothing out of the ordinary here. “Did you have any objection to that?” he asked.
I was momentarily speechless. What I wanted to do in answer to the mutilator’s insane question was kick him in his groin as hard as I could and then ask him, “Did YOU have any objection to THAT?” I supposed he would have objected to my reaction, so I didn’t do it. Also I didn’t want to go to jail; I wanted him to go to jail. So I responded calmly, “I think the baby objected to it.”
I have since learned from a reformed circumciser, who did scores of circumcisions, that he didn’t hear the babies he circumcised screaming. He was so intent on doing his work “correctly” that he literally, as hard as it is to believe, did not hear the screaming. Then, one day—why, he didn’t know—he heard it. He heard the baby and knew what the screaming meant. He was injuring the baby, deeply. He’s never done another one.
The mystery of how people can do this to babies and allow it to be done and think it normal gets deeper for me every day.
I used to cut babies
As a medical student at America’s oldest hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, I was happy to be on the obstetrics rotation. While still in college, I had heard an obstetrician speak enthusiastically about his optimistic specialty. So now I was enjoying helping to bring babies into the world. While professors provided good background information in formal lectures, my real teachers were residents only a few years older than I was. They took turns talking me through normal deliveries.
Almost every doctor can recall the joy of delivering a healthy normal infant. This joy was shattered one day when one of the residents said, “There are some circumcisions that need to be done, go and do them.” At the time I guess I knew what a circumcision was, but that was about it. I had certainly learned nothing about the subject in medical school. Obediently, I proceeded to the newborn nursery, where another medical student was already waiting. I felt nervous, and he looked quite nervous, too. Strapped to a board on the long counter in front of each of us was a bawling male infant. Beside the infant was a surgical tray filled with instruments. Imagine our consternation when we found there was no one to tell us what to do. Obediently, we put on surgical gowns, then surgical gloves. Then we began to try to figure out how to use what I later learned was a Gomco Clamp.
As far as I know, I made a fairly neat job of it. But my abiding memory of that day is of my colleague. He was one of the more brilliant members of our class, and was planning to become a radiologist. As for surgery, forget it. He was all thumbs. I still remember him, standing beside me, fumbling with the complicated instruments, proceeding to use them on the helpless penis before him, all the while just shaking his head!
I look back on the only time I have ever performed any circumcisions with regret and resentment. I resent having had no opportunity to study circumcision in medical school or to consider whether I thought it a treatment for anything. I resent the resident commanding me to do it, while offering no further guidance or help. In fact, I was treated just as the medical profession treats innocent new parents today. Doctors tell them a circumcision needs to be done. Before the new parent has time to consider, it is all over. Then it is too late to say no, and everyone has to live with the consequences. I was a medical student, so a lot of the responsibility was mine. I clearly violated, all in one instant, the Golden Rule (I certainly would not have wanted that done to me), the major tenet of medical practice, First, Do No Harm, and all seven principles of the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics. Mind you, I did not realize it then, just as unwary medical students do not realize it today. Now I know there are no valid medical indications for routine neonatal circumcision. I realize much harm can be done, evidenced by the thousands of men who have written their testimony and who have told me personally of the harm done to them. Now I also realize that I violated my patient’s basic human right to enjoy his entire body intact, while all he could do was scream his tiny head off. That was some years ago, but it might just as well have been last year.
The United States is the only country in the world that, for no religious reason, severs part of the penis from the majority of its newborn males. I speak out in the hope that many parents and doctors will read this before getting swept into the cultural madness of routine neonatal circumcision. What should one do if called upon to consent to or to perform circumcisions? Just say NO! In so doing, you will be taking the only ethical position there is on this issue.
If I had not seen it done...
I am choosing today, Mother’s Day, to share it with my friends and family. Sharing this information with all of you is my Mother’s Day Gift to myself and all of you.
I guess my story really started when I was young. Somewhere in my childhood I must have learned about circumcision as something that “gets done” to baby boys, “extra skin” that gets cut off the penis because it is “better” for them. I never questioned it as a child or teenager, it was the “norm”. Everyone in my family was circumcised (until I later learned that my mother’s father wasn’t!) and it was the expected thing to do. I too held the false thinking that boys who weren’t circumcised were “dirty”. I’m still to this day amazed that even as a young child, this thinking was so ingrained within me, as I’m sure it still is in those mothers/parents who continue to circumcise.
When I was in nursing school, one of my classmates did a presentation on the pros and cons of circumcision. I can remember her clearly saying, “Dude, there are just no pros to circumcision.” Even so, I can still remember thinking there must be since “everybody does it.” I remember being excited to have my turn to see a circumcision during my postpartum nursing school rotation. Please hear me when I tell you, I was horrified by what I saw. My role as a nursing student was to just stand there and observe. Now I am not somebody who gets squeamish or grossed out or anything, and I wouldn’t describe the procedure as gross, I would describe it as torture. It was a life changing experience for me and I need to tell you what it meant to me. I couldn’t believe what I was bearing witness to. This perfect new baby, his legs strapped down to a white plastic board called a circumstraint, betadine splashed on his genitals as the doctor jabbed him with a couple shots of lidocaine. The baby was screaming and as I watched the doctor quickly get to work with her tools a rush of weird sensations came over me. Every intuition in my body was screaming NO! It was like I was frozen and couldn’t move or speak. I didn’t want to look but I couldn’t look away. I watched the doctor repeatedly jam an instrument under the baby’s foreskin to separate it from the glans (which I later learned feels comparable to separating a fingernail from the finger by carving under it with a knife) After she separated it, she was able to cut around circumference of the penis and remove the foreskin. And then she tossed it in the trash like it was a worthless piece of skin.
When I got home that day, it was all I could think about, that poor baby and the glazed look he had in his eyes after the procedure, like he had given up, had been defeated. I couldn’t believe this procedure had become a routine thing to do to babies. I felt awful knowing that men in my life had endured this procedure. It was one of the first things they had had done to them. Some welcome to the world. And just because they can’t remember doesn’t make it right. I tried to describe to my husband that day what I had seen and told him that I could never do that to my baby. We didn’t really talk much more about it since we were still a few years away from starting a family.
Fast forward to when I became a post-partum nurse. Luckily, working nights I never had to deal with a circumcision taking place, but I did have to take care of babies in the nursery who had been circumcised earlier that day. You could tell which boys had been circumcised. They were the ones that awakened with a scream as they peed. No doubt it stung their fresh wound. It was during that time that I entered my second trimester with Noah. My motherly instincts must have been in overdrive. I remember knowing that I would never let my baby hurt like those poor babies. I took those weeks to do some internet research and my husband and I both read a couple of books that one of our doctors had donated to the postpartum unit. The Hidden Trauma of Circumcision, and Circumcision: What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About. Everything I learned further cemented in me that circumcision is wrong. I remember the day we found out we were expecting a boy. We were so excited and felt so blessed. There was never a dilemma as to whether or not he would be circumcised. We were, and still are, at peace that both of our boys have their whole perfect bodies. It horrifies me me knowing what I know now, that had I not gone into nursing, I may never have explored circumcision and I would have “just done it.” I am so grateful I am a mother who found out before it was too late.
I have been researching circumcision information for 6 years now and try to keep up with the lastest studies and statistics. I have tried in the past to gently share this information with some friends and some family and some patients….and sometimes I just don’t have “the fight” in me or the know-how to talk to certain people about it. I am sad to say that there are some people I never even tried to educate, and now it’s too late. It can definitely be a hard topic to bring up with some people, it has taken me years to realize that sometimes social conformity is more powerful than me, but to not be afraid and to not be silent. I hate feeling sad when I hear someone is having a boy just because I’m sure they’ll circumcise him. I hate feeling that because as the mother of two little boys, I know that little boys are amazing little people with or without intact genitals. I’m not some “crazy hippy” and parents who don’t circumcise their boys aren’t part of some “tree-hugging cult” or bizarre stuff that pro-circumcision people sometimes spout off because the truth is too painful to fully comprehend.
I am a firm believer of when you know better, you do better. I’m sharing my story with you, because if life hadn’t taken me down the path that it did, I may not have learned the truth about circumcision. I just can’t fathom this barbaric “custom” going on for another generation. I can’t be silent anymore.
Punishment for Masturbation
I was circumcised at the age of about six soon after my mother found me “playing with myself” when she walked into my bedroom unannounced. (At the time, the mid 1930’s, it was widely believed that circumcision would prevent or at least lessen the likelihood of masturbation, which was supposed to cause all sorts of illnesses.) When I was taken to the hospital I was told that I was to have my tonsils removed (tonsillectomy was another “fashionable” operation having purported “benefits” at that time), but nothing was said about the other operation. When I woke up from anesthesia I asked my mother, “Why does it hurt down here when I was operated on up here?” My mother looked confused; the nurse looked at my mother quizzically; and I got no answer. This experience has caused lasting psychological harm, in addition to the physical mutilation.
I was circumcised when I was about 4. I was fortunately left some inner foreskin and frenulum. Unfortunately he removed to much outer foreskin and my scrotal skin is somewhat pulled up onto the shaft of my penis. This means the hair came with it. My wife has complained about this for
years. I only recently realized that the reason for this was circumcision. My erections used to be painful but I did some restoring for while that has seemed to have helped.
I feel betrayed and angry because I was circumcised. The doctor told my parents that I had balanitis and had to be circumcised. This was also the same doctor who told my mother to forceably retract my foreskin and scrub it. Now I found out it should be left alone in the first place and that balantitis could have easily been treated without amputation...argh. I am 45 and have a great deal of sensitivity loss and chafing when I have intercourse. The medical profession has had a real money maker for years. I hope this is a practice that dies soon.
I personally had my perfectly normal, functional, significant and beautiful foreskin amputated at age 9 years, during a "routine" tonsillectomy was not forewarned that my penis would be involved in the surgery. I did know, and consent to the tonsillectomy, and it was supposed to limit my severe and painful earaches. It did not limit my earaches. I awoke in the hospital with a huge bloody dressing to my penis. I was horrified, humiliated, and felt anger, sorrow and deep personal loss. I now feel that I was raped, or at least sexually abused. I was unable to wear underwear for the whole summer. Any cloth or touch to the tender glans was painfully sensitive. I was left with ugly skin tags, skin bridges and emotional scars which remain with me nearly 30 years later. To this day I am apprehensive if anyone sees, touches, or becomes intimate with my penis. I have had a lifetime of inability to form a sexual relationship. - D.S. Hawaii
Can't Even Try It Out
"If American men who were circumcised at birth could know the deprivation of pleasure that they would experience, they would storm the hospitals and not permit their sons to undergo this unnecessary loss. But, how can they know this? You have to be circumcised as an adult, as I was, to realize what a terrible loss of pleasure results from this cruel operation". - R.T. - Denver, CO
His Ignorance = My Loss
When I was 8 years old, the pediatrician told my mother that since my foreskin would not retract, I had to be circumcised. Apparently when the day came, arrangements had been made for him to show me off to his medical school class. I have never felt such intense pain before or since as when he forcibly retracted my foreskin while pointing out to his students and my mother what was wrong. Fortunately to my great relief, the operation was done in private and compared with the pain of forced retraction was easy. After I healed up, I actually don't remember noticing too much difference as it mostly seemed an external change to my prepubescent self. I just accepted that it had be done and that was that.
I didn't give circumcision a second thought until several years later when I was a teenager. I was googling around to see if the uncomfortably tight erections I had were normal. It was then that I learned that aggressively done circumcisions were the main cause of erection tightness. I then started reading about foreskin and it floored me to learn that not only does it do useful things like protect the head from rubbing(duh, it's obvious when you think about it) and allow for easy self pleasuring without commercial lotions, it also may not be retractable until adolescence or even as late as 18 and that this was NORMAL.
So basically the reason I was circumcised is that the doc(who probably didn't have his foreskin either) didn't know how to properly medically care for foreskin. He should have just kept his probing hands to himself and left my foreskin alone. He turned his own lack knowledge into an imaginary problem for him to 'solve' via surgery on me. Man was I upset when I realized that. I've calmed down since then but still it bothers me to know that there are probably other fully normal healthy boys out there who are being inappropriately touched down there and told they have to get circumcised when in truth if their doctors were actually taught anything about foreskin care in medical school they wouldn't be so narrowly focused on amputation as the only possible course of action.
The medical profession's obsession with cutting off healthy natural parts of little boys and babies is really seriously messed when you stop and you think about it. Of course the trouble is, that here in the good ol' US of A, no one thinks seriously about routine circumcision or gives it as much as a second thought.
Why think about what should come naturally?
When I was a child, I was very curious about my body. My penis had always been the most interesting part of my body to me, but not because it provided pleasure as you are probably thinking. I was intrigued because I could not understand the thing. I would play with it, but get bored with it because it did not seem to do much. Many times, when I would get a sharp tingle of happiness or pain from it as it rubbed against clothing, my curiosity would be renewed.
Rubbing my glans on fabric had always been painful, but it was the only way that I had known how to elicit feelings from my penis. By age ten or eleven, I gained enough courage—or frustration—to rub the top of my penis (mainly the glans) on my bed sheet. I did not know what to expect, but it was all that I knew how to do, so I did it despite the pain until I ejaculated. It did not feel good, but hurt instead making the ejaculation quite a relief! There was no pleasure though, so I never did that again.
Within a couple of years, I learned how to masturbate more traditionally as a circumcised boy. I used moisturizers and oils, which gained pleasure but it always came with a pain like that which I had experienced with the bed sheet. I did not like that feeling, so I seldom went back to lubricants. Instead, I stuck with dry stroking that lead to ejaculation, but nothing else. There was no pleasure nor orgasm, but it was safe because there was no pain and it usually meant a minor relief from my desires.
But the world kept telling me that sex was joy and beauty. “Where is my joy?,” I kept asking myself.
I thought that my joy must be visual as the appearance of women was by far my strongest sexual stimulant. Not being able to satisfy myself, I turned to pornography. For years, pornography tortured me as I felt that it was wrong but it was the only way that I could attempt to feel the way that I thought that I should sexually. Eventually, sometime during college, the excitement wore off and I was left in the same place that I had been before I turned to visual stimulation. Sometimes I came back to porn, but only out of frustration.
While still in college, I was watching a news broadcast in which they very briefly mentioned something regarding circumcision, though I recall not what. Whatever it had been, it quickly prompted me to do some internet research. I found out that very evening that I was missing a part of my body that I never knew existed. My foreskin. I learned how my penis would have functioned, and also that I might be able to regain some of that function.
I was bewildered, but determined to restore my foreskin. I have been trying for the several years since that epiphany to restore, but it has been mostly unsuccessful thus far.
Super Tightly Cut
My name is Nickolas Kusturis.
I got circumcised when i was 18 and it has been a complete Nightmare since then. There really are no words to explain how traumatizing & devastating this has been. I did it because of various stupid insecure reasons (got made fun of in school, was told it would be a lot better etc..) not knowing at all the Hell i was getting myself into. Being young & naive i did not look into the dark history or anything else about circumcision thinking that they would tell me everything i needed to know. I also didn't know that it was really only done in America for the most part.
Well if i only knew then what i know now.... I did it strictly for the look (just to fit in) and of course the doctor did not let me know anything at all or tell me any of the consequences (which is their responsibility to do if they are operating on someone and someone's life is in their hands). I actually was told that I would have more feeling & sensation which I know now is the biggest Lie in the world Ever. I still can't believe that they told me that.
After they did it i basically had no sensation or feeling at all in my penis. I knew something was completely not right but i thought if i just waited maybe things would change but it only got worse. I was in total denial for a long while because i didn't want to believe that things were as bad as they were. One day reality hit me though. And it hit me hard. As hard as it was i knew i had to stop being in denial to move on and heal.
When i called up the doctor to tell him how upset i was he said that it's me and that kind of thing does not happen. He cut me off and said he's busy and not to call him again. Then he hung up on me. They never even charged me for having it done which i didn't understand at the time. He knew though after i talked to him that he screwed up not telling me what the consequences were and they were hoping that i didn't pursue legal action (which i did try to do a little too late). I received a statement in the mail saying "Thank you for your complete payment." I didn't even pay them yet either so i didn't understand what the hell was going on at the time.
Sexually though i seriously went from a 10 to basically a zero and i did not really understand what was going on and had no idea what to do. It was just such a shock and so traumatizing to experience such an extreme difference in feeling and sensation. I really got into a very deep dark depression and basically have been really depressed since then. I maybe have gotten a little better but not that much. I try not to be as suicidal and self destructive but it's definitely not easy because it still comes back to haunt me all the time, constantly. I have nightmares a lot too. I just can't believe people and doctors can completely ruin a person's life like that and still get away with it. It does not make any sense at all. Circumcision is just evil and should be outlawed.
I did finally try to sue but they said i waited too long. I guess i wasted too much time locked up in my room being depressed and numb. If only i had known i could and looked into suing earlier. I didn't have a computer at the time and the internet is where most of the information was. I really wish i had a computer at that time. Maybe things would have been different.
I joined NORM in Pittsburgh to get some kind of help through this nightmare and hopefully i will eventually get some sensation and enjoyment back again. I've been restoring for 3 1/2 years and i seemed to have grown a good amount of outer skin. I'm almost completely covered when soft. i think i'm at a plateau now though. I still have had no increase in sensation at all which is what i'm really worried about and don't know if i ever will.
I was cut extremely bad. I had a very long foreskin. They took my whole frenulum and practically all of my inner mucosa. I really would like to learn how to grow the inner mucosa. I know that does take a lot longer to grow than the outer skin. I don't know though if i will have any enjoyment again because of the circumcision.
I'm really trying to be patient though and to keep hoping that with time maybe i will get something back and there will be some kind of improvement hopefully. Right now though it's like i don't even have a penis. I can't even masturbate anymore and it's definitely not psychological. I know for a fact that it is because of the circumcision.
It's extremely depressing. My brain still kinda remembers how unbelievably good it always felt being intact and how i so enjoyed it then, so that makes it even worse. It's really a battle every single day to just keep it together. I know it will never be like it was but any improvement of sensitivity is better than what it's like now. I get no sexual enjoyment at all anymore because of circumcision.
[Note: You can see him talk briefly about it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAHGFx95D80]
Loosely Circumcised versus Tightly Circumcised
I found your home page while "surfing the net" and found your remarks on circumcision interesting, as well as those of the other men whose letters you included. I am sorry that being circumcised has
It seems to me that there are different kinds of circumcision: some much less radical than others. I have always felt, or suspected, that the kind of circumcision practiced in Hospitals in the USA has been more extreme than that practiced in Canada, although, of course, I've never done a study to prove it!
I was born in Ontario, where the circumcision rate was, until recently, similar to that in the USA 20 or 30 years ago: about 80%. Although, like all my peers, I was circumcised at birth, I have never felt particularly disadvantaged by it. In fact, I have quite a lot of foreskin remaining, have never needed lubricants, and have always had a great deal of sensation around the corona and on the shaft of my penis. This has also been the case with other Canadian men I have spoken to. In college I had an American room-mate. One night we got rather drunk and our conversation became quite free. He mentioned to me that he resented the fact of his circumcision. I was surprised, as I had never heard a man express such a sentiment. He showed me his penis: I observed that there was very little loose skin on the shaft and that the scar was extremely close to the head. Also, he had no frenulum.
SInce that time I have noticed that other American friends have a similarly radical form of circumcision.
I am willing to concede that routine infant circumcision is a foolish practice (I agree with you there), but, if it is to be done, it doesn't have to be a disaster: it can be done judiciously, and, while the glans is exposed and loses its sensitivity, yet a great deal of the inner foreskin can be retained with all its sensation.
No Going Back
In 1960 at age 21, I was circumcised. I know how it was being intact and I know how it is circumcised. Why did I do it? Peer pressure in a way. In college, a majority of men were, especially in locker room environments. And..college kids often do stupid things. Besides, my roommate talked me into doing it. I guess I was kind of like kids today wanting tattoos or earrings. I really never considered the consequences. I had no medical problems with my foreskin at all. During, my childhood days, probably one-half of the boys in my little town were intact. I was never teased or made fun of. I really had no good reason for wanting the circumcision other than I just thought I would be more like the college guys in my gym classes. It did not ruin me for life but I can tell you (and I am sure many other men will also tell the same story who were circumcised as an adult) there is no comparison in feeling and sensitivity.
There is much more there than just a little patch of skin. The male foreskin does have a very important purpose which unfortunately I didn't realize until it was gone. I have regretted having it done ever since and would urge others especially those having children to leave their sons intact. If you feel you must circumcise, then please ask your doctor to remove minimal skin and leave his frenulum (a leader that runs underneath the penis and is attached all the way up to the urethra opening...sometimes referred to as the males G-spot) intact as much as possible. And, really he will not care if he does not look like his father or not! As far as the locker room, no problem. He will blend in just fine since the mix will be about 60-40 based on current national averages. Yes...an intact kid is different. He is different in that he has 100% of his body parts as nature made him....gloriously different!!
Wasn't Really Necessary
I am now 21. I was circumcised under a year ago as recommended by my doctor and a consultant. I had absolutely no problem retracting my foreskin whatsoever, and enjoyed a happy sex life with my longish (4 years) term partner. During the hotter months of July and August I found that I secreted more smegma than usual and needed to wash my glans and foreskin twice daily to keep satisfactorily clean compared to once a day in winter. I was seeing my doctor about hay fever pills and thought I would mention the increased secretions while I was there. He offered examination to which I consented. He admitted there being no difficulty in retracting the foreskin but noted a little inflammation around the ridge of the glans. He suggested a circumcision as a permanent solution to the problem. I knew nothing of the procedure apart from the fact that a couple of my best friends were circumcised. I asked him if he could do it there and then (I didn't know it required general anaesthesia) and obviously he told me that it needed a night in hospital and a general anaesthetic. I was told it was a quick and simple operation where the excess foreskin is pulled forward, and cut back to just behind the glans. I knew what it would eventually look like as I had seen other boys circumcised penises at school when I was younger and to my mind it wasn't unsightly so I agreed with my doctor and he arranged for me to see a consultant. I saw the consultant and he examined me too - the examination took all of 15 seconds a nod from the consultant and I was told I would receive notification of the appointment in the post.
I totally regret agreeing to such an unbelievable experience which I along with millions perceive to be a "quick and simple snip". I wish that maybe I'd looked a little closer at school at changing time as I didn't realise the degree of scarring I'd be left with. I can't understand why people do this for no reason whatsoever. Although I was told circumcision would be a remedy for my trivial (even normal) irritation and underwent it for medical reasons I feel it would not have been necessary. I would much rather wash twice daily for a couple of months a year (as do most men probably) than go through circumcision. People need to know the facts about it - not the reassuring "Oh it's really a very simple procedure, nothing to worry about" but the "well there is considerable scarring, loss of sensitivity and your penis will look dried, thickly keratinized and generally unsightly" If only that is what my doctor had said to me.
I did not consent!
Like most men I was circumcised shortly after birth (now 38) and was not given a choice in the matter. Growing up I didn't give much thought to this because I was told it was always done for health reasons. I have a younger brother who was born at home and was not circumcised. As I got older I became more curious about this and noticed that my brother had not experienced any health problems with his normal penis. Also I went into the Air Force and went overseas and found out that there most men are NOT circumcised! They do not have any major health problems and so I began my search for the truth behind this brutal ritual. What I found was shocking!
The practice is unnecessary and very painful for the child. There is a loss of feeling and even a more important loss. That of self-worth. I feel that I am not a whole man! It was like finding out that I had lost a limb or something. Something was taken from me that can never be replaced and I was not asked my opinion.
I believe EVERY man should be allowed to make such an important decision on his own. No one should be allowed to make it for him! I am very angry at the medical community for allowing this sort of brutality to continue for so long. I have forgiven my parents as they did not know the facts. The doctor lied to them and they accepted his word. This practice MUST be stopped!
My Childhood Abuse
Try to imagine you are a healthy, natural boy of age 8 years. Life is good and your parents are loving. True, you suffer from too many ear infections, but no other health problems at all. During the summer of the year of your 8th year, you are told you will have a tonsilectomy to reduce the number of painful ear infections that you suffer. It’s not a great thought, but the ear infections are numerous and painful.
Imagine now that you awaken from the anesthesia and find that besides a sore throat, your most personal and private body parts are covered with a huge bloody gauze bandage. Try to imagine the horror and confusion. At age 8 you are unable to formulate words to express your feelings of abuse, assault, and fear you experience.
Yes, that is the beginning of my story. During the rest of the summer, I was unable to wear underwear because of the pain and irritation to my suddenly exposed inner body part. To the dismay of my parents, everywhere I went I held my pants away from my body to not touch the sensitive, previously protected end of my penis. My most private and personal body part was now a swollen, purulent, oozing, painful mess. I was horrified, humiliated and disgusted. Even my parents, who thought they were doing the right thing, were saddened and sorry for what had been inflicted upon me.
As I grew older, I was embarrassed by the scar on my genitals. I made certain they were always well hidden from view. At my school, we had to have nude showers after gym classes—my hands never allowed any other boys to see how mutilated I had become.
Instead of ‘getting over it’, as I advanced into adulthood, the embarrassment stayed with me, and I was unable to be sexual with anyone because of the shame of my appearance. It was many decades before I heard that others were also unhappy with their circumcision and were seeking ways to restore their brutally amputated foreskin.
What I could not express at that tender age, I now know that what I felt as a young boy was much the same emotion that one feels if one has been raped. Yes, raped. Without my consent, my gentials were manipulated, attacked and permanently altered. Fifty years later, I still suffer embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional pain.
Eventually, I became a Pediatric Registered Nurse and began an intensive study of the surgical process of genital alteration, commonly called circumcision. My only outlet is to attempt to educate and protect other innocent and unsuspecting boys from the life of pain, humiliation and embarrassment that I have suffered. Call me what you will; I know that there are tens of thousands of American men who came to realize the same thing that I did. I only realized it much, much earlier, for the sexual assault happened to me at an age that I was aware and knew how my natural body had been and was attacked and altered.
What was I thinking?!
Yep, tomorrow is the day. Hopefully, I will get something good enough that I won't remember what's going on for a few days. Frankly, this is not something that I want to experience or remember.Update!
The burning question: How much sensation did you lose?
The burning answer: A WHOLE FREAKING LOT.If I had known I was going to lose as much sensitivity as I did, I would not have gotten circumsized until it was a last resort. The old saying about the palm of your hand vs. the back is an understatement- the nerve endings in my foreskin gave me a completely different dimension of sensation, but now it's gone. Crap.
So there it is, people, proof from a cognizant person who knows the before and after: Circumcision DEFINITELY reduces the amount of sensation in your penis by an large amount- maybe even half. It's not a percentage, nor is it accurate to say half- it's a whole different set of sensations that complement and add to sexual pleasure. I'm sorry for all you guys who never got to know that sensation- it's FAR superior to what I have now.
Penis, I'm sorry. I'll never forget the time we had together with our foreskin.
RIP ForeskinThe conclusion: If you hate your child, have him circumcised.
Much later update!
It's been 110-ish days since the operation, so here's a long-term update for you. I think that anything that will happen has happened by now, so this should be the last one. First off, let me say this- being circumcised was the worst decision of my life, and I can never go back on it. As far as physical changes go: I still have ugly stitch marks that haven't faded at all. They sting occasionally when that skin-penis joint it being pulled on. This is one thing that I hope goes away, but I've seen no improvement recently; so if it does happen, it won't be for a long time. My glans is fully 'roughened' now. Let's say this about loss of feeling. If you call what I had pre-surgery as normal, then what I have now feels like I'm humping a bowl of pudding. It's really that drastic. I don't know if it's a screwup during stitching but what's left of my frenulum is... exposed now. I can't think of a good way to put it, but it's just kind of stickign out in a way that you wouldn't expect it to be. Now, I'm not exactly an expert on what the underside of a penis should look like, but what I've got seems rather out of place.
Other effects: Huge decrease in libido. Seriously. Motivation is still there, but it's nothing like before. Frequency of erections is the same, but intensity and sensation are decreased markedly.To conclude- circumcision is bad, bad news. Please don't circumcise your children unless it's medically required.
Effects of My Circumcision
I am very unhappy that I was circumcised severely as an infant. This may not be my number one personal problem, but the fact that I am 5 months into a foreskin restoration project that I expect to take 3 years, indicates that it does have some import in my life. For those unaware, I would like to detail the negative effects I have seen personally.
It is my thought that this would be a better technique to convince people that neo-natal circumcision should not be performed than the horrible thread going through so many news groups lately. Maybe if I had not been so severely circumcised, I too like many men, would wonder what the problem is, but I'm afraid that the problems I document below are all too common. Given that the benefits of circumcision are so highly debatable that we don't really know if there are any true benefits, then I have to come squarely down on the side against neo-natal circumcision. It would be a joy to care for my foreskin, I don't think even ridding me of any hygiene "problem" is a benefit. The cancer angles have not been scientifically proven with a strict control group. And it is difficult to perform a correct circumcision, which I would define as one giving just those non-existing "benefits", and NOT causing all these problems on an infant penis, which is too small, and not fully grown, especially not through puberty. Maybe you are thinking that just cutting a little off, or just a tiny piece, will make things better, but until I see scientific studies proving what each of these types of circumcision do to or for the person years later, I will remain steadfastly against it. How do you know you will see what you believe are "benefits" if you don't cut enough? What IS the correct amount of skin to cut off?
Negative effects of my circumcision:
1) I had a skin bridge, a condition in which the circumcision incision bonds in places with the corona of the glans during the healing process. This causes the skin to be even tighter in those places, and covers up part of the penis where stimulation is the most pleasurable. Finally, 7 or 8 years ago, after contemplating it for years, I cut through the skin bridge myself. I would have done it much sooner, if I had understood what it was, and that there were no significant veins or nerves to be cut. This was significant trauma throughout my life, wondering why I had this extra hole in my penis, and how it got there. What I wanted then was a penis that at least looked like a "normal" circumcised penis. However, I was left with an external pucker midway down the shaft, at least the glans looks "normal". It's important to not feel like part of your body is disfigured, although I still feel terribly disfigured by the rest of the circumcision.
2) I was circumcised too tightly. There are several effects that this has.
a) Intercourse can be painful. Without lots of lubrication, it has always been too painful for me. Some women, my wife in fact, do not fully appreciate this, and may urge me to enter, and I have found that the anxiety produced by expecting pain, immediately ends the possibility of intercourse. Even explaining this ahead of time isn't completely sufficient, as in the heat of the moment, sometimes she forgets.
b) Sex, whether intercourse, self-masturbation, or masturbation by a partner, is not as pleasurable. Some circumcised men retain some movement of the skin during an erection, I did not. In fact, I was so tightly circumcised, that I wasn't aware that it was even normal for the skin to be able to move. When you can't move the skin, the only stimulation possible, is rubbing skin against skin. The underlying shaft can only get stimulation indirectly, instead of directly from moving the skin. Plus, rubbing skin against skin is hampered by friction, causing heat, dryness, chafing, and soreness. In fact, I have not found it possible ever to masturbate or have intercourse without lubrication. Using lubrication may be enjoyable even for an uncircumcised man, but being forced to use it, having to search for the best type and the correct amount, and having to deal with the extra mess and inconvenience, is not pleasurable. Also, prolonged stimulation, whether by masturbation or intercourse, even with lubrication, can cause problems. It even can cause problems for a partner. As women age and get closer to menopause, my understanding and experience is that less lubrication is produced. That means more friction through rubbing, more pain, or more artificial lubrication, with all of its inconvenience. I would think that women would NOT want men circumcised. It only adds to the abrasion in the vagina, which is fine while the lubrication lasts, but not as good and not natural.
c) My penis was always pulled in closer to the body, appearing smaller. This is significant, especially during adolescence in places like the gym class showers. It even affects how you feel about yourself in relation to other men. Living with such a shortened penis isn't as pleasurable, either, because it won't stay where you put it in underwear. If I were to put it down, the tight skin pulled it up at the first opportunity, and it would stick straight out. Wearing boxer shorts doesn't seem to be as comfortable in this condition, either. In any case, it takes a lot of work to overcome the feelings of inferiority of a smaller than average flaccid penis.
3) There is all the mystery, shame, and embarrassment caused by circumcision. Parents don't in my experience sit their boys down and explain what was done to them, and why. They have to learn it essentially in the streets, or in religious classes where circumcision is talked about. Even then, it is not easy to understand what was done to you. I could never figure out where the skin covering the glans came from before it was cut off. All of this is what I believe generates the cruelty that circumcised boys often deal out to the minority uncircumcised boys. Without being taught what it is, and what is was for, they have to find a way to feel good about themselves, and being better than an uncircumcised boy helps. So not only are the victims of circumcision affected, so are those who were not circumcised. What a sad way for an advanced society to operate!
4) There are many things I do not even know I am missing. For instance, the sensitivity of the glans and mucous tissue is most likely reduced. I am beginning to know what it is like to have some mobility of the shaft skin, but just barely. In my restoration program, I am most pleased with the little bit of gliding mechanism I have achieved. During intercourse I can now move in and out without the outside circle of skin having to move against the vagina. How much more comfort and pleasure can be realized by having enough skin for it to stroke the glans during intercourse? That I don't know yet, but I am eager to find out. Unfortunately, I will be missing my frenulum, as well, and I will never completely know how pleasurable my complete foreskin would have been.
Summary: There are too many problems with neo-natal circumcision for no proven benefits. Maybe some people were lucky enough to get a perfect circumcision, but I as well as many other men were not. For these and many reasons, neo-natal circumcision should not be performed. I would like to add here, that I have read victims' accounts of having been circumcised as a "punishment" for masturbation. This, and any other circumcision against the victims' will must be stopped. It is simply NOT acceptable.
For parents having their baby boys circumcised, I ask what kind of circumcision is he likely to get? Some of you know, but I expect that most do not. Why would you risk a poor job for so little benefit if any? I also think that if you ARE going to have your baby boy circumcised, that you OWE it to him to explain it to him, and be prepared to justify it. I don't think this should wait until the boy asks, either, as that is a difficult task, and the boy may already being feeling negative effects if only psychological, without you knowing it.
For those of us circumcised that either have difficulties with it, or simply wish that it had not been done, it's time to step up and let yourself be heard. Let's tell the community the pain, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, shock, guilt, inadequacy, resentment and grief that this needless neo-natal circumcision causes. If you happen to be very pleased with your neo-natal circumcision, maybe you were lucky, maybe you don't know what you are missing, or maybe your point of view has been affected by it. But those of us who ARE suffering should speak up. Otherwise, you are responsible for allowing it to continue.
This is my point of view. Anyone who wants to argue with me, good luck. I am certainly willing to listen to corrections I could make, ideas on how I could have stated this better given my sincere feelings on it, and I may entertain recanting part of it if need be. But I am against circumcision before the age of consent, especially neo-natal circumcision.
Where is my head?
In the past 10 years or so, there has been a lot talk about circumcision and that it is an unnecessary procedure. I never gave it much thought, but after I began to read about it, I began to think more about my own situation, which is…
As an infant, I underwent the usual (then) circumcision procedure. Of course, I have no memory of this era. I’m from the upper Midwest area of the US where this was common practice. My mother was not one to talk about such things, but one day she related some basic information about the event.
It seems something went wrong during the supposedly “simple” procedure. My glans was sliced off, but not my foreskin. Apparently there was an attempt to re-attach the glans, but without success. So I was left without the usual head on the end of my member. My mom felt a bit guilty about this, and eventually filled me in on what had happened.
Of course, as a child growing up, I had no idea that I was any different from any other kid of my age. Ignorance is bliss. I never really began to think about the genital area until I reached high school, where the boys all showered together after gym class.
I do have some vague recollections of sticking my little finger into the end of my foreskin at a very early age and playing with myself because it felt good. Being that I never saw what was inside that covering of skin, as far as I knew, all was normal. Until my mom revealed what happened to me, I’ve always felt quite norma. Apparently, the doctor who performed the mishap felt a bit guilty about the whole affair (as he well should have) and at some point later in my infancy modified my remaining foreskin (which was apparently fairly long) so that I would appear to have a normal intact penis. Perhaps it was originally quite long and he intended only to remove the tip of skin, I can only guess. Thus, for a long time, I never knew that I was any different from anyone else.
My biological father left our family when I was perhaps 3 years old, and my mom was left to raise me as best she could. She was never comfortable talking about personal matters, so my condition was never discussed. I was pretty well left to grow up on my own without any counseling about personal, genital matters. I think the father usually handles things like this, so being that I had none, I was on my own.
After my mother’s revelation about my condition, I of course at once became greatly interested in such matters and spent lots of time at our small town library reading up on the subject of circumcision and related issues. Up to that time, I knew nothing of this, other than the fact that some guys penises seemed to look a bit different than others (what few I had ever seen up to that time.)
The skin at the tip of my penis had a small opening, so I was not able to retract it at all. I thought nothing of this, because to me, this was just the way it was. By exploring the inside with my little finger through the small opening, my condition was confirmed, along with the appearance of the shape of the end of my shaft. I didn’t have the usual bulge at the end. There seemed to be a few bumps at the end, suggesting the remnants of a coronal ridge, but that is all.
I think I felt somewhat relieved that my condition was covered over by foreskin. I didn’t have to explain to anyone about my condition because it was concealed. As a teen, I occasionally received comments from other guys in the shower about my penis looking like an ant eater, because of the way the skin hung down in a snout at the end, but I didn’t care. as long as they didn’t get too personal and I had to do some explaining.
I think the knowledge about my condition caused me to develop a lack of confidence with girls. I never dated any through high school and later in my 20s. I pretty much just got along on my own and with a few other male friends I had at the time. I was a loner. I think my mom’s disposition about not talking about sex and personal matters was ingrained in me, so I just got along without discussion of such things. I don’t really recall having any desires for women. I think this is a very unusual situation for a teen to be in, but for me it was normal and I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until I began to surf the internet and read about other guy’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes on botched circumcisions that I began to better understand my myself.
So now I don’t know what to think. I still don’t want to get my skin back and look at what’s left at the end of my shaft. I still don’t feel good about it, so what’s the point. So that’s my story. I’ve apparently suffered more subconsciously that I could ever imagine. Reading the other experiences here brings tears to my eyes. All of my pain is deep down there hiding, and it’s just starting to come out.
Does Sex Feel Good Or Just the Ending?
All throughout my childhood, I could not understand my genitals. I remember that when my clothes would rub on my penis, sometimes it would briefly feel good while other times it would hurt. Eventually, I realized what erections were. When I was about eleven, I understood that society was telling me that my penis should give me pleasure. I started experimenting for the hope of finding that pleasure.
I learned how to masturbate, and for years, I searched for pleasure, but to no avail. I got into pornography. I tried everything from vibrators to lubricants. Lubricants make me feel good, but always with some pain, too. I found that I preferred the plain old flogging of molly without the aid of lubricants or devices, but not because it was pleasurable, rather, because it was the least irritating way to scratch my itch of sexual desire.
When I was about twenty, I learned about circumcision. I felt so sick. For the first time, I realized that I was missing something. After several years of more experimenting and learning, I have come to terms with the state of my genitals. I now know that I do not feel genital pleasure easily. I now know that I was using pornography in an attempt to counteract my numbness by focusing my sexual excitement visually rather than sensually. I now know that my penis is not my sexual center for it has been rendered incapable thereof. I now know why men are known for rushing: there is no pleasure but only orgasm for men like me.
Because of these realizations, I have since been able to get over porn, which I am glad about. I had merely been trying to compensate for what had been robbed.
After all of my experiences with sex, I understand that orgasms are mainly what I can achieve if I am disciplined. I have not been able to find pleasure during the act, at least not with my penis. I have read and heard that men can have pleasure during sex, but, for me, such sensations are occasional, accidental, and fleeting.
Orgasms are great, but I do not need a penis for that. I have experienced sensations that are identical to orgasms without any genital contact. You know what? Those body generated orgasms can go on indefinitely unlike what my penis generates which lasts for mere seconds.
Tell me: where is the pleasure in my genitals? I have been looking for it since it was stolen so long ago.
Forced Genital Cutting
I grew-up in a circumcising culture (father, brothers, other boys) and one day saw an intact boy at the urinal as a young boy in primary school. The shock recognition at the time - instantly and instinctively knowing that I was missing an important part of my penis - remains the most significant and profoundly life-changing moment I've ever experienced. 40 years later, the deep and bitter resentment of having a harmful and disfiguring surgery on my most private parts remains undiminished. For years I thought it was 'just me', but my participation in various online forums over the last few years made me aware that the harm of circumcision goes way beyond the obvious physical harms and the deep psychological distress is very real and very common. I look forward to the day when all children are protected by law from forced genital cutting.
It Was Like a Callous
I began restoring my foreskin at age 55 because masturbation and sex with my wife was becoming more and more difficult due to lack of sensitivity. I had no idea it was because I was circumcised at birth. I did an internet search on improving sensitivity and found so much information it was mind boggling. After some thought and discussion with my wife I decided to try to restore some of the damage that was done. I found that the reason for the loss of sensitivity was the keratonization* of the head due to the lack of protection that a foreskin provides. Years of rubbing against clothing and having to masturbate without a foreskin caused most of the damage.
The method I chose to use to restore was manual tugging and t-tape. I did have a bit of a head start because I was cut loosely. After 7 months of restoration I’m happy to report amazing progress. When flaccid the shaft skin covers about half the head which has caused the keratonization to disappear and leave me with a very shiny head when fully erect.
The sensitivity that has returned is overwhelming at times. To be very frank I never used to get any pre-cum due to lack of sensitivity. I wasn’t even aware of that phenomenon. When fully erect I am beginning to be able to learn how to use the shaft skin to stroke with during masturbation. I need to do this at this point because it is almost too sensitive to directly stoke the area with the hand like I used to. I plan on continuing this process although it probably will be more difficult to get such great results as I continue.
I am quite delighted in the improvement in gliding movement which helps me mentally cope with the knowledge of how insensitive my penis actually is.
Feelings about my own circumcision: RAGE, HATE, BETRAYAL, SEXUAL ASSAULT, MUTILATION.
On an INTELLECTUAL level, I can understand that child circumcision is a complicated issue buried in both ancient and modern mythology. There is no one particular person I can blame for my circumcision. We are the products of our past. I know that I can be just as oblivious to injustices that I don’t feel affect me directly.
However, on an EMOTIONAL level, I can place LOTS of blame. The ARROGANCE of our societies and, in particular, the medical communities which continue to circumcise children, fills me with rage. Human rights apparently mean nothing unless they coincide with one’s cultural, traditional, or religious beliefs. Human rights, by definition, are supposed to override other considerations.
I think it is terribly important that people should know about the pain and trauma experienced by a baby during circumcision. I was born into a family who circumcise their infant sons for traditional reasons and, until fairly recently, I never questioned the practice. However, throughout my childhood I had a ‘waking nightmare’ that I never understood. I would see myself lying helplessly, gazing up at a group of smiling monsters who were standing around me and staring down at me. I was completely at their mercy and I knew they were going to torture me – but I never found out how.
Then some years ago, while I was undergoing psychotherapy, I began to spontaneously relive the nightmare in its real context. The ‘monsters’ turned out to be the male members of my family. They were holding my penis and were about to cut it and I started to actually relive some of the pain, shock and, worst of all, the terrible sense of betrayal of my circumcision.
I was having psychotherapy because of sexual problems which made it almost impossible for me to have a relationship with a woman, but I never guessed where the problems had originated. After reliving the trauma of my circumcision I had my first successful relationship with a woman.
What horrifies me more than anything is that my well-meaning and smiling relatives had no idea of the pain they caused me or of the scars it would leave on my mind. I don’t have a son, but if I ever do have one he will not be circumcised. I have promised never to do to a son of mine what was done to me.
I first found out about it when I was a kid at camp and didn’t like the idea that someone had cut off part of my body. Especially there. As I grew up, and learned more and more information through sex education, etc., it started to bother me more, to the point where by my late teens it would make me feel bad if I thought of it or if it ever came up. It always struck me as unfair, finding out the shabby reasons or being told it didn’t really matter much one way or the other. If it didn’t really matter either way, then why was it done to me? A lot of my friends weren’t cut.
Physically, I haven’t known any different, but I suffered psychologically from the feelings that go with having a healthy part of my body cut off without my consent. I really feel violated by it. I also hate the fact that while discovering sexuality, like all guys do around puberty, involved me finding the scar and being bothered by the fact that I was cut. I don’t think discovering your own body should involve that kind of thing at all. A kid shouldn’t have to deal with that. It wasn’t done for any medical need but because my parents happened to think it was ‘cleaner’ or ‘healthier.’ I really don’t think I’d have had trouble having to spend an extra 5 seconds in the shower to clean it if it meant having my whole sex anatomy intact the way the male body is designed. I find it appalling that the medical community allows this to continue, whose body is it anyway? It still pisses me off to this day and can upset me because it brings up feeling violated and the physicality of it is permanent. I find the attitude some people still have around it a little disturbing like its business as usual. I’m not saying worse things don’t happen, but I don’t get how some people still to this day think that cutting off a part of a healthy child’s penis is normal. Cutting off body parts is supposed to be a last resort in medicine. I really do hope that the doctors will step up and do the right thing on this. Regardless of whatever slight possible medical benefits doctors should recognize that it is wrong to cut off healthy body parts from someone who can’t consent. It should be a individual choice not a parental one. Parents have to decide a lot of things, but permanently removing part of their kid’s penis, when he’ll be able to decide for himself later, shouldn’t be one of them.
Being harmed by the actions of a doctor, I really find it hard to accept that they allow this to continue. Nobody should be harmed by medicine, and especially when there isn’t even some specific reason why they might be needing a treatment that could go wrong. I was healthy and would have probably stayed that way. And the harm I experienced was caused by the actions of a doctor ‘treating’ me for absolutely nothing except for the fact that I was born having a anatomically complete body.
Nothing But Sheep
The first time I heard the word circumcision was when I was still a young child, it was mentioned on TV for some reason that I cannot remember. When I asked what it meant my mother told me, “Just a tiny little piece of skin cut off the penis, you were circumcised.” I felt my jaw drop to the floor and my eyes get as big as saucers at this news. She then said “Oh don’t worry, it’s nothing. Your dad is circumcised too. Just a little useless piece of skin.” I still had the feeling in my gut that something was off, but my concerns were dispelled for the time being.
Fast forward to Middle School and the best friend I ever had. We’d talk about anything and everything and were as close as 2 straight men would ever want to get. One night when he slept over we did a little compare, he must have had a short foreskin or been partially erect because the only difference I noticed (besides the fact that he was bigger and still is) was that his glans had a sheen that mine lacked. When I pointed this out he said it was because he had never been circumcised. There’s that word again… but I didn’t continue this line of questioning and we sat down to play video games. Besides, there was no internet back then to do research on the subject.
The real epiphany came after I became old enough to legally purchase porn. In the first scene of an amateur audition the girl comments, “Uncircumcised, hmm?” as she peels back a tube of skin from the guy’s penis revealing a bright pink and very shiny glans before commencing oral sex. That was enough, I had to find out what was going on here. By that point the internet had taken off and I immediately logged on and typed circumcision into a search engine, and it changed my life forever. There it was, “…keeps the glans covered and lubricated, nerves and receptors, diminished sensations, medically unnecessary.” I felt sick. I was in complete and utter shock. For the next few days I spent hours on the net finding out everything I could about the subject. The self pity permeated my life, “Why did they do this to me, they had to know it would destroy my sex life?” It was time to talk to mom and dad.
As I expressed my outrage at what had been done to me at birth without my consent, my mother would say that all male babies were being circumcised at that time; it was automatic. She would also say that it was necessary to avoid the problems that would come up with 100% certainty if I retained my foreskin, making it sound like male babies were born broken and had to be fixed at birth. My father (a good and loving man) said nothing and kept his eyes averted. Clearly uncomfortable and surely never expecting to be confronted with this. As my mother and I volleyed back and forth the one thing I never heard anyone say is, “I’m sorry,” or “I’m sorry that they did that to you.” That day my feelings towards my parents were forever changed, they are still my family but there is a distance in my heart that remains.
To this very day I find it hard to accept the loss of my foreskin. They say you can’t miss what you never had, but what do they know? I can only imagine what it would have felt like, but I know what it feels like now. As I age I find myself experiencing the penile numbing described in other men’s stories. The responsive organ and mind blowing orgasms of my youth seem to be gone now, rushing to orgasm seems to be my goal now. I had read in another man’s story about feeling helpless in sexual situations, and tracing the cause to circumcision through primal scream therapy. I have had those same feelings, and now I know why. It makes sense when you’re still an infant and the first time someone pays attention to your genitals is to skin it alive. Knowing I have been brutally altered in this way also causes me resentment towards women since they apparently are protected from this, and men are apparently not worthy of such protection.
I have been told, “What’s the big deal? There’s nothing wrong with it.” Although I have been spared the skin bridges and excessive scarring that are the complications of “routine” circumcision, it is still a mutilation and a violation and is still a life altering event. When my cousin had her boy a few years back, she had him circumcised shortly after birth. I said to her “Why the hell would you do that?” She replied, “Better to get it over with now then when he’s older.” I said nothing, just gave her a sideways look. There was no point. Society is still populated with mindless sheep and die-hard fans of penis chopping. I am, and forever will be a victim of their unbridled stupidity. I am ashamed to be a human being
My Restoration Journey
Hi, my name is Tom and I’m from Michigan. Here’s my story and where I’m at now.
I always thought being circumcised was “normal.” As normal and necessary as cutting the umbilical cord on a newborn baby. As a teen, I remember often getting in an argument with a friend who was originally born in Germany about how the uncircumcised penis needed to be cut, because there was “too much” skin, and it was ugly and didnt look like a “real” penis. When I say often, I mean just about every time we’d be out hiking in the forest or were a little far from home and had a piss. I guess comparing penises is something kids do.
Anyways, I always thought I had the most perfect penis that anyone could possibly have. It never came across to me that the reason I always had to wear one-size-too-small briefs was to keep it from rubbing and causing a terrible pain or sensation with nearly every move I made. I always thought it was “normal” to have to experience that terrible pain when I moved certain ways, or every time I got up or sat down. When I was 17 I decided that if I switched to boxers like all my friends were doing things would get better. I end up wearing nothing but boxers until I was 21, and by that time, the head of my penis totally dried out. With briefs, it was always a little moist from being “snug” against my body. Also, for the first month or two after switching to boxers the constant friction and rubbing of head with every movement I made was almost too much, but I just “took it like a man.” Soon everything got better as far as comfort was concerned while moving around doing everyday activities. Four years down the line, my penis became so insensitive that to reach orgasm I would be swimming in sweat, with a heart rate similar to running a 2 mile sprint, and by almost popping a vein in my forehead. That left me feeling sexually satisfied, but the orgasm was so weak that I could barely feel it.
In 2004 I read an article at wired.com about people restoring their foreskins to regain sensitivity. It focused mainly on people wanting to restore their entire foreskin, but I didn’t want to do that because I still thought a foreskin was nasty and disgusting looking. Then there was a part that talked about regaining a ton of sensitivity just by restoring for just 3 months. I spent quite a while researching restoration and learned you can make a restoration device for a couple dollars out of rubber O-Rings, I went to Home Depot (Ed: a hardware store) and got a couple O-Rings of each different size that I thought might work for me, and eventually found the perfect size, then I kept at the routine of putting them on for 3 months.
Once in a while I’d do more research on restoration and circumcision, realizing the pro-circumcision crowd shared almost the same opinion as I did. I tried to find the most unbiased info that I could, because its obvious there’s a lot of hype and far-fetched claims on both sides. I watched the Penn and Teller Circumcision episode, along with various videos of babies and kids being circumcised against their will at their parent’s demand, and eventually learned everything I could about this ugly piece of skin.
Once I got to the 3 month point in my restoration, the ability to orgasm became much less work and my orgasms improved drastically! So I thought, this is working out great, lets keep at the restoration thing, because the feelings can only get better from here, right!? At this point, I still thought foreskins looked disgusting and unattractive, and would never want to fully restore mine no matter what. (period).
Another couple months went by, and I had enough new skin to cover a little bit of the head of my penis when I sat down, and the feelings leading to and during orgasm were indescribable—it hadn’t felt this good since I was in my early teens! Things weren’t looking too different, so I thought, lets keep going, this can only get better from here. And it did. So much that when I got the skin to cover the head of my penis halfway—I cant even begin to describe it—masturbation was much easier due to the extra skin and the orgasm was many times beyond what I’ve ever experienced in my life, and it was this good EVERY TIME I had one, never hit-or-miss like before I started the whole restoration project.
At this point, I finally gave in and accepted the look that I once thought was disgusting. When a part of you, no matter how weird or ugly you think may look or how you think other people might think of it causes so much pleasure, then looks aren’t even a concern. The pleasure that can be had with a foreskin, in my case a restored one, is so great that its true “inner-beauty” will overcome any negative aesthetic thoughts whatsoever.
So I kept going. Currently I’m at the year-and-a-half mark in my restoration project. When I’m not “sporting wood,” my penis is totally covered sitting down or standing up and is almost impossible to tell the difference between it and any of the pictures of natural, uncut penises that I’ve seen on the web. My girlfriend absolutely loves my new penis, and prior to mine, she had never seen or felt a natural penis (or even knew they existed in the first place), she is very open minded and supportive of my continued efforts in restoration.
I plan on continuing this project until I get a quarter to a half inch of skin past the tip of my penis, to help keep things nice and always covered when I do decide to stop restoring. Several months ago I would have never ever dreamt of going this far, and now that I realize what has been cut off of me as a kid for aesthetic/hygienic purposes and to “fit in” is just absolutely disgusting. Think of it, they’re basically cutting off a piece of skin that can cause so much pleasure, and denying you the experience of orgasms and sexual pleasure better than you’ve ever experianced in your lifetime (that is, assuming the reader of this message is circumcised).
I think its unfortunate mothers do this to their babies, if they only saw another baby getting circ’d and read the unbiased information on keeping their child “natural”, they might have it in their heart to change. I also think its unfortunate that in some public forums, which are dedicated to neither anti-circumcision or circumcision, a majority of the people are pro circumcision for all the same reasons I once was. Their ignorance is very “thick” like mine was, and I think the only thing that could ever change their mind is if they end up in a position similar to mine when I started out.
I wrote this message, not in the hopes to change the world, but if this message inspires just one person to try restoration, with a very good chance that they will be happy with the results - then it was worth it for me. If I can help just one guy with insensitivity or orgasm issues, that would be awesome. I’ve always been the kind of person that likes to help others out, especially if its a problem that I had and was able to overcome.
In August, 2002, my wife and I, then ages 57 and 56, left our daughter at a freshman orientation session at her college and drove off into an uncertain future. I had planned numerous fossil-collecting excursions for our trip home, because collecting fossils had long been one of our favorite mutual activities, something boring to our daughter whose lack of interest was no longer a problem. This newfound freedom to do as we pleased was in many ways a delightful prospect, though edged with a familiar and disturbing fear. For the next three years, we mined several mutually enjoyable and engaging interests, including trips to historic places, household renovations, gardening, fossil-collecting, and hiking. I resurrected my long-latent interest in golf during those years and spent many hours on the golf course, but generally did this with annual leave while my wife was at work, not wanting to make her a “golf widow.”
Although we had sex occasionally during our time together, it had become clear to both of us over the years that for me, the desire to have sex was always at war with an inexplicable fear that often invaded our intimacy, stopping my excitement, leaving us both disappointed. I had gone to a urologist several years earlier with this concern and he had assured me that nothing was wrong with my genitals, hinting that I might have a psychological problem. I asked him what other men did about such problems and he said most men didn’t wish to discuss psychological issues related to sex. As I look back at this experience, the most remarkable thing to me is that the urologist could see nothing wrong with my penis, even though my foreskin, including more than two-thirds of my erogenous nerve endings, was completely gone, leaving the dry, dulled glans unnaturally exposed and keratinized. At that time and for years afterward, it never occurred to me that there was anything unnatural about my genitals.
It had occurred to me, however, that I had long had a psychological problem. When I was thirteen and people began to hint to me that I ought to be taking notice of and pursuing girls, I wondered why this in many ways enticing prospect filled me with a vague terror that caused me to blush and want to hide whenever in the presence of an attractive girl. For me there was never any doubt which gender I found sexually interesting, but the prospect of doing something about it made me feel not only afraid, but helpless as well… as helpless as an infant in some nameless, agonizing situation. The astonishing power of this feeling finally provoked me, at the age of eighteen, to ask my parents if I could see a psychiatrist. They were quite distraught over this and wondered if they had done anything wrong. I assured them they had not, though, in retrospect, I now see this was not entirely true.
The psychiatrist I first saw assessed that I was a “big sissy” who needed to grow up. To his credit, he did at one point ask me if “everything is okay down there” pointing at my genitals. I said “yes,” because it had never occurred to me that my genitals were unusual, since the few I’d seen in camp or swimming pool showers were generally like mine. This psychiatrist, and a subsequent one, took the course for the next several years of encouraging me to venture forth, dating and exploring the world of sex, in spite of whatever fears I might have.
I read Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” and many books by Albert Ellis about getting your head on straight about sex. I read books about self-esteem by Nathaniel Branden and other authors. And I did eventually meet and marry a woman I met at graduate school where we were both English majors. Our first experiences of intercourse were during the year and a half we were married, and all-in-all we were indeed able to function sexually, but the woman I’d married was also quite shy about sex and continued to feel ambivalent about it. My concerns were that I continued to feel that I was suppressing fear in order to have sex. When my wife asked for a divorce, I was devastated, but in some ways relieved to be free for a while of this fear.
Several years later, while I was teaching English in high school, I met an attractive woman who seemed interested in having a sexual adventure with me. I remember pacing back and forth in the living room of my apartment for hours before our first scheduled rendezvous, psyching myself up for making the “move” on her I sensed she wanted. This did happen, but nervousness prevented me from being able to follow through until I finally relaxed enough to genuinely have sex with her three days later. This affair continued off and on for a year or so, but she ultimately chose someone else for a sex partner… someone less nervous. She gave me a book this other fellow had given to her, called “The Primal Scream,” by Arthur Janov. She said she knew of a place in Washington, D.C. where people were going “primal.” She thought it might help me to think about how I could solve my problem.
Within a month I was signed up for a three-week intensive of primal, gestalt, bioenergetic therapy at the Community of the Whole Person in Washington. The Center was different from Janov’s, I have learned, in that it borrowed from various related disciplines. I discovered that I could cry very easily, particularly when women in my group cried. I spent much of my time “getting into my anger,” often pounding mattresses and saying “I am a MAN!!” in defiance of whatever force it was that seemed to contradict my assertion. In the third week of this intensive, I was encouraged to make the movements a baby makes when having a tantrum. To everyone’s astonishment, I proceeded to have a full-throttle baby tantrum that ended with a wonderful sensation of having expressed a long inhibited feeling of rage at some unknown assault. No one ever suggested what this assault might have been, and I now suspect none of the therapists actually knew or even guessed that it might be something like circumcision. That awareness would only come to me thirty years later.
My first primal therapy experience gave me a degree of energy and confidence that helped me move forward in new directions socially and professionally. I began to date more frequently and developed a degree of sexual confidence in casual relationships that was new to me. During this time I introduced myself to the woman who is now my wife. A couple of years after we met, she and I got married and settled down in an apartment in Washington, D.C.
I was surprised by how frightened I was as the marriage date arrived. After our small, private courthouse wedding I sat on a curb and wept, much to my wife’s embarrassment and chagrin. I discovered that I was still unequipped for a long-term intimate relationship. Our sexual relationship seemed to awaken all the demons I’d feared in adolescence, and my uncorked anger led to episodes of violence. I sought help and got back into psychological counseling which helped me steady myself enough to pursue a good job as an editor and to behave decently toward my wife. Eventually she got pregnant and our focus shifted toward our wonderful daughter… the one who is now in college.
While on one of our fossil-collecting trips, I was resting on a bed in a motel when my wife came over to speak to me affectionately. I was astonished as I looked up at her by a profound sensation of being a baby in pain, looking up pleadingly at my mother. I hid this feeling from my wife, but the experience started a train of thought leading back through a lifetime of inexplicable fear. As we drove home from that trip, I realized that my brief experience with primal therapy had just scratched the surface. I needed more.
It turned out that the Washington, D.C. area was no longer a haven for primal or bioenergetic therapists. Determined to face my fear, I found an online guide to how to do primal therapy by Paul Vereshack, called “Help Me, I’m Tired of Feeling Bad” (the printed version has the title “The Psychology of the Deepest Self”). This guide enabled me to do what is called “self primalling,” which I began to do during long lunch breaks, driving home from work, primalling, then returning to work. I did this routine because my wife—though supportive of whatever I needed to do—was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of my doing primal therapy while we both were at home.
In a nutshell, primal therapy involves steps one can take to recall and even relive, in a therapeutic context, unresolved or otherwise forgotten traumatic experiences. Reconnecting to these early experiences helps a person become fully aware of memories underlying current reactions to experiences that are difficult to understand in any other context. Reconnecting to an early trauma turns out to be a step-by-step process over a long period of time, because assimilating the intense pain of these traumas usually cannot occur with a single episode of re-experiencing. The process involves developing a sensitivity to areas of feeling that we ordinarily are obliged to ignore. Tensions we try to disregard at work become, in primal therapy, the focus of our attention.
My experience was that my earliest years involved much crying and pleading for help, usually aimed at my mother. Although I found the experience alarming, it was enlightening to realize the extent to which, as an infant, I was desperate for my mother’s help to ease my suffering. Part of this that I could distinctly remember related to the pain of eczema, which led to scratching and bleeding at night, and pleas that my mother come to help ease the pain. My early recollections of my father were of an angry, impatient, disapproving person.
One day I decided to try to relive an episode of my reactions to my father’s angry disapproval. He once told me that he had found me at home one time in a puddle of urine I had peed onto the floor. He said he’d given me “living hell.” I didn’t consciously remember this, but I tried to establish in my mind a congruency with the situation and to react defensively to whatever his “living hell” must have been. Part of what I did to recreate this involved a flailing of my arms and legs, as if I were trying to deflect his blows. Much to my surprise, this effort immediately triggered a long series of sharp pains in a circle around the shaft of my penis. The sensations were so specific and intense that I immediately stopped my flailing in order to try to assimilate what I was experiencing. The word “circumcision” popped immediately into my mind.
Although I was 60 years old at the time, I knew next to nothing about circumcision and had always vaguely assumed that something may have been done down there when I was little but it must have been a necessary thing like severing the umbilical cord. I knew my father surely wasn’t the person who would have done this, but something about the impulse to fight back, flailing arms and legs, must have brought back the memory. I didn’t realize immediately, but soon figured out, that flailing arms and legs in an effort to ward off circumcisers is precisely what is prevented by the plastic circumstraint boards designed to restrain baby boys while doctors do their work. My effort to fight back freed feelings of rage that had been suppressed for 60 years.
I drove back to work to look up circumcision on the Internet to learn about why this is done and its value or rationale. You can imagine my astonishment upon discovering website after website decrying the barbaric practice of circumcision and its effects on male sexuality. A lifetime of inexplicable, humiliating reactions to the opportunity of sex suddenly became understandable. My genital integrity had been brutally and agonizingly violated the day of my birth. Most of my erogenous nerves and the sensitive sheathe that protected the mucous membrane of the glans had been severed and ripped from my remnant penis. I had deliberately been deprived of much of my sexual capacity because men like John Harvey Kellogg believed male sexuality was wicked and excessive and needed to be tamed or muted by medical procedures. Moses Maimonides similarly believed the love bond between men and women would be too intense if men were allowed to have all their natural genital equipment. Both men believed the weakening of the male sexual organ was a great benefit to civilization.
I would like to say that this knowledge has made me immensely happier, but in fact I have been seriously disillusioned by what I have learned. I have discovered that my parents did not do all they could have done to protect this important part of my life. In fact, I’m angry that they never owned up to or apologized for what they had allowed to happen to me. I have learned that the doctors who oversaw my birth did not care about my eventual sexual happiness and may have performed this procedure out of revenge for similar treatment they had received as babies. I have shed many tears over these betrayals of my best interests and the interests of the women I have known and the woman I am married to.
I have taken up the task of stretching my existing shaft skin to create a new foreskin and am hopeful that this will help as time goes by. But meanwhile I and my wife are growing older and our days are limited and there is much that has been lost irretrievably.
I would like to think that modern times would bring enlightenment and the practice of circumcision would seem certain to end in light of so much suffering as others besides myself must have experienced. But the daily news of studies purporting that circumcision is a cure for AIDS and the way these studies are heeded and used to justify genital mutilation makes me very angry and sad. I would like to think that my own story might make some difference, but I am doubtful that many really will care. I am glad, nevertheless, that there are organizations of like-minded men who are helping me to see that my objections to this practice are not crazy and that it is justified to do whatever one can to alert those who can read and feel that circumcision is an act of criminal violence on the bodily integrity of a human being. In the name of humaneness and human rights, this practice must end.
It was at age 10 that I remember asking my mother, “What is the dark ring on my thing?” I don’t recall her exact response, but it was something about it being the scar from the removal of some skin. Possibly it was for my own good, maybe authority knew best as they are the adults, etc. Nevertheless, the scar looked odd and unnatural. I remember also telling my mother, “I’ll cut it off if they try to make me go to war.” She replied, “You’ll bleed to death.” How did I survive when they removed the mystery skin? Did they put the band aid on really quickly? How did it heal so fast without me dying? Imagining that it must have really hurt, I was glad for my lack of recollection. She had also informed me that playing with my penis could lead to what happened to my mystical Uncle Benny, Grandmother’s brother. “It would turn green and fall off.” I knew that really wasn’t true.
It wasn’t an earlobe, finger, or tongue. It was different and mysterious. She was largely not credible due to my experience of self exploration, which had proven otherwise. My father, slightly less mystical than Uncle Benny, didn’t speak to me at all about down there, so I never asked.
In school, half asleep from a sugar coma or breathing related sleep disorder, those “morning erections” would commence on queue as my hormones were surging during the usual daily testosterone peak. My glans would strain against my trousers causing discomfort and agitation. The few classmates I knew intimately had scars too, and we really didn’t give it much thought. That’s just the way it was.
Seeing my father naked on one, brief occasion, I saw his glans. He wasn’t any different from myself. Much later, he told me he actually had been left intact. Was it that I had given him a mental “circumcision,” or was he in a state of retraction?
Feelings of tiredness, depression, anger, and frustration were part of my life. Emotional and sleep disturbances, self hitting, low self esteem, and learning disorders may not have been related to my genital disfigurement. But what if they were? There are no dress rehearsals, right? There were no white coats saying, “Run him through again, only this time…”
The male Greek drawings either had fig leaves covering their genitals, or something that looked pointed, worm like, and different than anything I had ever seen. There were the testicles, but I had no idea why the artists hadn’t finished. Was this cheating? Where was the helmet? They were either lazy, prudent, or acting under some law that forbade them from drawing the real penis precisely, which was taboo of course. Somehow upon discovering that theirs was the truth, and I had been the one cheated out of a real penis. Someone had erased my mystery skin. Slowly the truth became evident. My sex had in fact been redesigned by this bombastically deceptive, socially, and psycho-sexually puritanical society. My helmet was missing it’s hood. The mystery skin was revealed to be the foreskin.
Throughout my young adulthood, there was the faintest spark of sensation in my glans. Why did others say oral sex so great? I could never feel it. That’s where the action happens, right? It was as if I were a child, looking through one of the distorted glass windows in church. There were people, but no fine details. Quite fitting for a church where a man stands on a stage, shakes his fist, and rants about something concerning a man in the sky called God who I couldn’t sensate either. My penile sensations were phantom, but slightly more real than God. If the orgasm didn’t happen within a certain amount of time, the sensations in my glans would fizzle with a numb tingling, then it would be gone. And forget about a second attempt after the first success. The second would have to be the first on another day. It always seemed as if God had assembled my penis on a Saturday at 23:00, and a circuit board was missing, or there were some dislodged wires.
After learning about N.O.R.M., I began non-surgical restoration of my foreskin by dermal expansion. Within a week my glans became moist and pale pink. The sensations left me saying, “Wow! I could’ve had a foreskin!” I had solved part of the mystery. However, the newly developing foreskin would only be a panacea. No amount of restoration could never replace those nerve cells or remove the curdled, jagged scar. But there was no turning back. What I had regained was too good to lose. If this is more 3 dimensional, I thought, what could the missing nerve cells have brought to my life? My anger increased, and the investigation went further.
Studying photos left me wondering what it must be like, feeling quite cheated and wishing for baptism instead of circumcision. The former would have left a mental scar from the fear of drowning in that glass mini-pool-fish-tank behind where the man stood on the stage, but nothing visible, or irreparable. (The fabric from the Preacher’s robe would flower up in the water, reminiscent of some exotic jelly fish that had escaped the fisher’s net. Was he wearing anything under that robe, and was he “circumcised,” too?)
On my hospital records, beside the printed words “reason to operate,” are the scribbled words “live birth.” Since when is live birth a pathological disease? After filing a complaint, I am told that , “there is no reason to investigate as all of the proper forms have been signed.” Mother claims not to remember signing anything. Had they forged her signature?
Wanting to get the word out to unsuspecting parents, I enquired about booth space at a local human rights fair and was informed by the organiser, “Just because a few thousand men are unhappy with their penises doesn’t mean we should let your organisation have a space at our fair.” Trying the baby fair route, the mother-of-three-boys organiser said, “We don’t want to step on the mother’s toes.” After my questioning the safety of the babies’ toes, she turned me away. At least I can watch the sad faces in the rear-view mirror roll their eyes, snigger, or ponder morosely after they read the words “Circumcision: A Crying Shame” on my bumper.
I’m an artist, and once didn’t feel as if it were okay to draw nudes without shame. Like me, the men in my drawings had penile scars. Upon beginning restoration, my drawings were restored as well. In my act of pentimento, they magically regained their foreskins. If only that had happened before the show. However, they are more lucky. Although part of my numb glans has revived, gone are the circuit board of nerves, mucosal tissue, and unique structure which no surgeon could recreate. There is almost no ventral dermal tissue remaining, as the quack had excised around 60 percent of my total skin. And there’s a limit to what can be expanded upon by restoration. It’s a bit like pulling and retaining an extremely shrunken, loose shirt sleeve around my wrist. Everyday I use a tape ring to recreate the missing frenar band and think, “That bastard quack. If only I had been born in Europe.”
When in Europe, “the land of the foreskins,” I look at every man and think, “I know what he has, that lucky bloke! He doesn’t have to wear that damned tape.” I’ve realised that I’ll never recover, but only cope. On those trips, I wear a clear, waterproof, rubbery tape ring on my restored skin allowing me to appear authentic upon a quick glance when I’m at a urinal. (Oh, admit it, everyone looks.) But then there’s the truth, which they don’t see. Those of us with scars, hidden or visible, are forced permanently into a censored minority category for the rest of our lives.
Devoted to Protecting Others
The trauma of circumcision has hit me hard, reared its head many times in my life.
As a very young child I was painfully shy around strangers, and learned that I wasn't even really safe at home. My father was abusive, when I was 2 he invited me to put my finger in a live electrical socket. I did and after the resultant shock he tried to comfort me in front of my mother, pretending he had nothing to do with it.
At age 7 I found out while playing with a neighbourhood boy that I had been circumcised. The gentle explanation he gave for our physical difference went through me like a shock (of physical recognition) and when I (thoroughly shaken to my core) went into the house to question my mother, (she who had always said, "We can talk about anything in this house") became very angry with me and told me, "never to play with that boy again." I instantly learned that we most certainly cannot talk about circumcision, and that I had deeply disappointed her by being intimate with another child.
Attempting to discuss circumcision with sexual partners in my youth (I came of age in the early 70's so sexual partners were plentiful) I found a pattern. Circumcised men were almost always defensive, "At least we were cut when we were babies and couldn't feel it!" Intact men were cautious, wanting to know how I felt about it before they shared their feelings. Once they knew I was pissed about it they ventured that circumcision was a very bad thing and that they were sorry it had been done to me.
In 1993 I saw the NOHARMM video of a baby boy being circumcised and realized instantly the severity of this early abuse. I understood the shock of recognition I felt when my wise six year old playmate revealed the truth of why we were different. Seeing the barbarity of this infant boy being sexually mutilated in that video was a Eureka! moment for me. So this is what every man whose been circumcised as a baby had to go through. Torture. Human vivisection. After that there was no turning back.
In the 17 years since then I have spent most of my waking energy working to educate myself and others, to eradicate circumcision of all children while trying to make sense of it all. Personally to try and understand which parts of my personality were formed from this trauma, and to decipher the additional confusion of a father who was cruel and abusive, and a mother who I believe was also living with a great deal of deeply buried childhood trauma. (As a child my mother was subjected to two tonsillectomies, once under general anesthesia and a second time fully conscious in a "dentists chair.")
Seventeen years delving deeply into the issue of circumcision and all the related discussions about birth trauma, child abuse, religion, sexual orientation, childhood bullying, thoughts of suicide, etc did not prepare me for a recent event that brought all the trauma fully forward again.
I was editing video of a circumcision into an interview with a circumciser who had just appeared on a US talk show. The bloody and horrific images of the baby being sexually mutilated interspersed with this adult idiot in pearls blathering on about how she cut baby boys to fit in in the locker room, set something off in me. For many days after I could hardly move, a darkness set in and I felt myself loosing the ability to relate to anything or anyone.
A dear intactivist friend who works as a psych nurse cautioned me to be very careful. She said the symptoms I was describing were consistent with PTSD. She had a client, a hardened senior cop who was accustomed to some pretty horrific crime scenes, bodies etc, who helped bust a kiddie porn ring. The evidence, a large number of photos of children being violently, sexually assaulted had affected him deeply. A year after he was still having nightmares about these photos.
I didn't mean to go on at such length. I meant to write some of this as a submission, but its difficult. Its difficult realizing the extent of the trauma, and difficult being productive in a society that ignores or ridicules discussion of it. I keep my sanity knowing that a growing number of people are waking up to this. Without my intactivist friends I would be lost.
There is no end to this. I feel that the depth of these feelings is immense. I certainly do not want anyone to feel sorry for me, because I recognize how common child abuse is, how many people are trying to deal with it. Sadly our society still punishes the victims and rewards the perpetrators, so most people deal with it by squelching it. Not just circumcision but all of it.
I have to be careful. As much as I try to deal with this squarely, to speak out truthfully about it I realize how easily the strength and stability I now have can slip away."
- James Loewen
I was cut twice
I was born at Community Memorial Hospital in Sidney, Montana. At that time it was rare for anyone to escape the knife, although I know a few who did. It was probably considered medical malfeasance at the time if they missed you somehow. The majority of boys in the U.S. are still cut, but the rate is getting down a lot closer to half nationwide, though it’s much higher in some states and much lower in others. It’s like the luck of the draw anymore, rather than a done deal, although the chance of growing up with the dick you were born with is still poor.
Having been cut twice, I feel I am qualified to write on this topic. I remember about the time of puberty, around 12 years of age or so, how uncomfortable the glans of my penis always was in my pants. I guess because I was growing. I was always grabbing it and trying not to be obvious about rearranging it in my pants so it wouldn’t rub the wrong way. Even after half a lifetime, certain things are maddeningly uncomfortable. Before I started restoration, when I rode a bike there was just no way to keep the glans of my penis from being irritated. Cross-taping gave immediate relief and is one of the biggest reasons I began restoring. Initially, I did not care about benefits down the road. I just wanted an end to the maddening irritation.
As a child, I often wet the bed. When I was fifteen we were on welfare briefly due to my dad being between jobs or something. Some medical benefits were part of the welfare benefits. I think it always bothered my mother that I wet the bed more than it did me. She took me to a urologist to see if anything could be done about it. He said that my peehole was small and enlarging it would help. Even at the time it didn’t make much sense to me, but “doctor knows best,” so the urologist cut a small wedge out of my glans to enlarge my peehole. I now know that the condition of having a small urinary opening is called meatal stenosis and is a common side effect of genital cutting caused by the wounded glans being unprotected from urine and feces when I was in diapers. This time I got a needle in my dick for the pain, but I can tell you that the burning of the urine on the raw wound later is plenty painful, even if you don’t feel the cutting. Even with pain pills I could barely urinate for three days. How does a newborn react to this unnatural pain? He can do nothing about his discomfort besides wait for his diaper to be changed and wait for the wound to heal up. There is a growing body of evidence that abuse during development can cause deleterious permanent changes in our brains.
I’ve always wished that I’d have had the common sense to refuse this procedure, because lacking a foreskin, enlarging the peehole only exposed the even more tender flesh inside my urethra to abrasion in my underwear. My mother was concerned with my bedwetting; the doctor saw another welfare case. He has to make money to keep his “practice,” so he practices on me. At fifteen, I was too naive to think things through, so I got another unnecessary operation with nothing but pain and more irritation to show for it. To add insult to injury, the procedure had no discernible relationship to bedwetting. I went on wetting the bed until I was a senior in high school when I spontaneously began waking up at night when I had to urinate. I have no idea why I wet the bed and I have no idea why I quit.
After these experiences I was understandably interested in the topic of circumcision. Several years ago now I walked into the public library and noticed on the cover of Mothering magazine [Winter 1997, pp. 36—45] a picture of a cute baby with the caption, “Where is my foreskin?” I also heard Dr. Dean Edell’s comments about circumcision on his talk radio show. It didn’t take much research to figure out that the glans of the penis is supposed to be naturally covered and protected just like the clitoris.
Routine infant circumcision (RIC) is unique among surgeries. First, it’s the most common surgery in North America. Second, the foreskin is not a birth defect—circumcision does not address a disease, injury or abnormality of any kind. Third, it is not possible for the patient to request or to receive informed consent about the procedure. Fourth, the patient never knows whether or not the surgery has any consequence as there is no prior experience to compare with. Fifth, when I reached the age of reason I had a truncated knowledge of male genitalia. Because my peers were also routinely circumcised, I did not know that my penis was altered at birth. I mistakenly believed that my condition was normal. In fact, I always wondered why I had what I call a two-tone dick (where the scar is) and why the veins there run back on themselves in the form of a capital W or M (depending on your point of view). I thought everyone’s dick was probably this way. I personally never saw an intact penis in all my years of public school. (It’s quite likely that some kids would keep their foreskins back in the showers so I would not have known the difference. I never considered it.) It’s also quite likely that nearly all of my peers were cut at birth.
The circ rate was really that high. I heard stories about how anyone lucky enough to have escaped the knife was ridiculed and I laughed about the stories along with all my truncated peers. I was inculcated with strange notions about the foreskin, even though no one in my experience possessed a foreskin. I didn’t even know that my grandfathers and my mother’s brothers all have a complete set of genitals until I was well into adulthood. Later in life I felt betrayed by my culture’s disinformation campaign and angry that, of all things, a part of my penis was amputated. It took many years just to envision where the stolen bits were originally attached or how they might have functioned. With the advent of the internet, and as 80–85 percent of the world’s men still have the genitals they were born with, it was easy to find pictures showing that they have a lot more skin on the penis and scrotum than I do and everything moves very freely. I realized that I was cut very tightly. I wanted to understand why such a thing was done to me. Only with difficulty did I put the pieces of the puzzle together. In my youth, I had a false pretense of superiority. Now I know that my condition is one of inferiority.
Excuses aren’t adequate in this age of information. My parents can plausibly claim they didn’t know any better, but there is no longer such an excuse. No man or woman likes to think that they may be any less sexually than they could be, and no one likes to think that sexual response may be unequal because parts of their partner’s genitals are missing. The reasons you may have heard for circumcision don’t make any sense now, if they ever did. One comment I have read is, “Instead of studying circumcision, we should study circumcisers.”
It is inconceivable that nature does not have a purpose for the foreskin. Circ is not a decision I would have made for myself. I’m not underendowed, but I still find myself contemplating what it would be like to be full-sized instead of circumcised. I’ll never know. Because I had a nephew cut three years ago, I’m still holding my parents responsible until the cutting ends. Genital cutting does haunt relationships.
Well, predictably my family was not overjoyed with my discoveries. Can you say “cognitive dissonance?” We are Mormon. As it turns out the Book of Mormon specifically states that circumcision is “done away with.” [Moroni 8:8] Somehow unaccountably my family was not aware of this, but not inclined to follow it anyway. It is discomfiting and disorienting to learn that something perceived as the gospel truth is not even a part of the gospel. To say they were not receptive is an understatement. My mom and sisters shouted me to silence, including my sister Luana who did not circumcise her son because her husband had been listening to Doctor Dean Edell’s talk radio program. So as not to break ranks, Luana asserts that genital cutting is a “parent’s right.” Well so is smoking and drinking while pregnant, but no one will say that this is necessary and good. Anyway, my sisters and mother have all of their genital parts and all of their husbands were reportedly blissful when they were cut at birth so they are unable or unwilling to see the problem as a problem.
I have six sisters, also six stepsisters. My sisters are still bearing children, so I’ve been trying to protect my unborn nephews from genital cutting. My mother has been undermining my efforts by insinuating that I am a very unhappy person with psychological problems. She says, “Everyone else is okay with it, what is the matter with you?” This is very typical of what I have learned to expect from my parents—inability to empathize, accept responsibility and feel remorse. It’s better just to not think about things that are discomfiting or upsetting.
I was a lot more forgiving before I started talking to my family about this. My mother says, “That’s just the way it was,” and “What is wrong with you?” I’m to blame for how I feel about an injury that I had nothing to do with and could not have prevented. That is abusive. Saying that’s the way it was is not an apology and does not absolve people from responsibility for their actions. I can’t count the number of times my parents said to me, “If the neighbor kid jumps off a cliff, would you jump too?” Anyway, that’s not the way it was. All of my mother’s brothers are living and with a full set of genitals.
It’s too late for me, but my nephews are another story. As their uncle, I have a legitimate interest in their welfare. My mother’s characteristic behavior is to let things happen, and then play like she had nothing whatever to do with it. Before I broke off contact when my newest nephew was circumcised forty-odd years after I was done, I wrote to her in part, …”I’ve thought about what you told me at length and you are wrong. Because there are so many ways of looking at things I don’t usually use the word ‘wrong,’ but here’s why: If you hurt another person in any way, it never hurts to say that you are sorry, try to repair the situation and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Purposeful ignorance is inflammatory. Besides, you are no longer ignorant. You are responsible if you allow genital cutting where you have influence.”
If I had been in any way the cause of a genital injury to her, say we were involved in an auto accident, what would I do? I’d start with, “I’m sorry.”
With my unfaltering tutoring in deductive reasoning, logic, and moral responsibility, she’s begun to understand that circumcision is wrong. Instead of pretending that it will go away if she does nothing, I want her to take an interest in the safe and peaceful arrival of her grandchildren and make a little restitution by talking to my sisters. Of course they listen to her better than me, even if she had not been trying to protect herself by undermining me. She will not do this because (still, according to her) it has nothing to do with her (as if to say she has no influence). Am I in error in thinking that it has a lot to do with her? In a way, she is completely responsible. I’m the oldest grandson on her side of the family. Her dad and brothers, my maternal uncles, are all genitally intact. (Yes, they had all their sons cut.)
I don’t know where this adult fixation on infant genitals comes from. I just know it’s not healthy for me to be around these people anymore.
Where was my mom?
I was born in New York to Reform Jewish parents. I was circumcised at eight days in a traditional Jewish circumcision ritual. This means that my parent’s family and friends were all there to witness and celebrate the occasion of my public genital mutilation. I am told that a lovely brunch was prepared for everyone attending.
On the advice of her friends and family, my mother chose to leave the room where the ritual was taking place before the actual cutting of my genitals, and only returned after I was done screaming. Not one Jewish parent I have spoken to finds this remotely hypocritical, a fact that amazes me. The one time I asked my mother about it she said she just couldn’t stand to see me in that kind of pain. Couldn’t see it, but had no problems arranging for it and absolving herself of her clear guilt by simply not being present during it. I love my mother, and I understand that her person faith prevented her from even considered not having me cut, but the fact that she would not witness what she was cheerfully helping to prepare brunch for, makes me hate her just a little bit.
Because my genital cutting was a traditional Jewish ritual, it was done freehand with only a guide plate to prevent damage to the glans (well damage right then, circumcision could be said to “damage” the glans in the form of desensitization). It would be many years before I realized how dramatic the damage to my penis was.
Growing up Jewish, a religion I should disclose that I no longer belong to, I had no idea that circumcision was anything but the norm. I was a sexually interested child (and gay) from a young age and over the course of many sleepovers I saw many of my non-Jewish friends’ penises as well and, this being the early ‘80 they were all altered in the same way as mine.
I still remember the first time I ever saw an intact penis. I was eight years old and attending a Jewish sleep-away camp for the first time. The boys section of the camp had group showers for the different age groups, but the grounds keeping crew used the same shower rooms and they were mostly European college students who would come to America to work for two months and then spend another month touring the United States before class resumed. Most of them were not Jewish, and being European, not circumcised. The first time I saw an intact penis I had no idea what I was looking at. The only conclusion I could come to was that the man’s penis was diseased or malformed in some way. It would not be until I was a teenager, taking sex ed, and more importantly looking at gay porn, that I would realize that his penis was the “normal” one.
Looking back now, I can clearly see that my adolescent sexual development was strongly shaped by the nature of my circumcision. Because so much skin had been removed, having an erection was often painful. As strange as it sounds to others, I had no idea that this was not normal. The only penis I had experience with from the inside was mine and this was how it worked. I did not find the skin tearing or even bleeding a bit during erections or masturbation to be strange. Since I had always grown up with the idea of a circumcised penis as being the norm, surely I couldn’t be having problems connected to having been cut.
Right before I left for college, I learned about foreskin restoration on the internet. My interest at this time had nothing to do with being unsatisfied with the function of my penis. Rather as I became more and more involved in Neo-paganism and spirituality, I felt that something about my body was just wrong. Then, in several meditations I found that when I tried to visualize my body, I kept feeling that that something had to do with my genitals. Finally when I mediated with the intent of finding out the origin of this feeling I found my body being pictured as having a foreskin and the feeling of wrongness being gone. This was a strange idea for me, that having a foreskin could be more “normal” or “natural” than not.
After getting to college and becoming sexually active I would, of course, discover that pain and bleeding are NOT normal parts of having an erection. This strengthened my interest in restoration. The first several months of trying restoration were discouraging to me as I did not seem to have any change in the tightness of my skin or the discomfort of erection. This was until my partner at the time noticed that I was gaining penile length. I would eventually “gain” over and inch and-a-half of penile length, allowed for by the loosening skin freeing shaft tissue previously pushed back into my body, before any skin mobility would begin to show.
Years later, I am finally getting closer to being finished with restoration and some of the feelings of unhappiness with my genitals have eased. It has taken me years and years longer to restore than most people in part because I choose to go very carefully to minimize the impact of the radical and irregular nature of the mutilation itself. Also, I have at times given up for months at a time because of the knowledge that my restored foreskin will still not be the one that was taken from me (the possibility of re-sensitization of the inner foreskin and glans always gets me going again).
My partner of five years is intact from birth and the difference in our status caused issues early on in our relationship as I struggled with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.
The questions I find I ask myself regarding the circumstances of my own mutilation are this, “How did my mother bath me and change my diaper for the seven days before the ritual and not find herself satisfied that I was perfect the way I was?. How did she look at my body and think to herself, ‘He’ll be even better after we cut some of him off.’”
My mother considers my anti-circumcision activism to be a personal attack on her. This is fair, since I consider her endorsement and arranging for, my involuntary genital mutilation to have been a personal attack on me.
When I was a young man trying to figure out how my genitalia worked, I remember wondering whether other guys had to hold their scrotum down when they became erect as well. When I had erections they were really uncomfortably tight with coarse pubic-area hair and my scrotum being pulled far forward onto the shaft so that my testicles were splayed out separately on each side. I also noticed, but didn't understand why, there was a brownish line around my penis, or why the skin below the line felt like ordinary skin but if I rubbed the skin above the line and below the head it felt good, or why the two skin sections were different shades.
In the course of my research, I have happened on a lot postings by guys with questions about not being able to get enough stimulation to ejaculate or use condoms, being told by the sexual health expert that they have commitment issues; no one ever even suggests to look into the fact they are likely missing their protective hood for their penis's most sensitive bits.
Intact In America
Before It Became Routine
I was born in southern California just before circumcision became routine in the late 50's so most of my friends were intact. I moved to the Midwest in junior high school and was surprised to see everyone in gym was clipped.
When I was about six years old my father (a physician) took my older brother and me to a pediatrician for school physical exams. Normally my father took care of whatever medical problems we might have. We sat in the examination room wearing only our underpants. My brother was examined first and I watched as the pediatrician pulled down his underpants and VERY briefly examined his genitals. My exam was quite different. The doctor immediately grabbed my penis and pushed the skin back. It HURT and I nearly jumped off the table. I had never seen my glans before—I can’t even say that I knew that intact men had a glans. He grabbed my glans, which was extremely sensitive, and I immediately got an erection. I was shaking—scared, horrified, humiliated. Instead of my father or the pediatrician saying anything to me about how my erection was normal, etc. the two of them just stood there and LAUGHED. NOTHING was said to me. The pediatrician masturbated me for a while (moving my skin up and down repeatedly). I cannot adequately describe how absolutely mortified and petrified I felt. It is inconceivable to me that both the doctor and my father could not have noticed my distress. It was not an enjoyable sexual experience.
Glad to be Whole
Escaped the Knife
Where is my clitoral hood?
”The other day I had one of many debates that I have with a particular man in my life. This debate is on how he tried to defend his newborn circumcision and his reasons why all boys should be circumcised. His final argument when he realized none of the standard careworn and overused ones were working?
"You are a woman without a penis so you really have no right to weigh in on this circumcision debate anyway."
It was then that I knew it was time to step forward and to stop hiding. I am thirty years old. I am white, not Middle Eastern or from Sudan or Malaysia or of the Muslim faith. My father is Irish Catholic. My mother is a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism when she married my father. Both of my brothers are circumcised and my mother is adamant in her defense of their circumcision.
I step out of the shower and I stand in front of the mirror and I look like your average European American, pale skin, red hair, green eyes. I am not your average woman though.
I am circumcised.
I am a white American, non-Muslim woman who was circumcised as a toddler by the same pediatrician that circumcised my brothers and at the same hospital at which I was born. I have no clitoral hood and only a V shaped scar and the tiniest bit of inner labia they were kind enough to leave behind. I always knew something was different. I have a half sister seven years my senior and she had a normal looking vagina. Mine always looked wrong to me but I never said anything because after all, every woman is unique and different.
I also have this vague and disturbing memory from when I was two and the most uncomfortable sexual feeling even at a young age around male doctors. When I married young to my now ex-husband on our honeymoon he said, "I have never seen a vagina like yours! It is amazingly perfect, too perfect, like something is missing." That too perfect vagina was most certainly missing something, and would cause me serious sexual issues that I chalked up to a sexual assault at the age of eighteen. If only I had know that it had been assaulted by a knife long before that perhaps I could have come to terms much sooner.
It was only as I was nearing my late twenties, had been divorced and had other sexual partners all of which commented in some way or another on the difference of my vagina, that I had an uncontrollable urge to dig deeper. Then at a well woman check up with my now favorite Ob/Gyn he told me or rather asked me why I was a circumcised female. He felt awful when he realized that I did not know and he had assumed I had consented to vaginal cosmetic surgery. As an aside I am happy to report that because of my experience and continued dialogue with him he is now against MGM (Male Genital Mutilation) a practice he used to support.
After months of demanding, digging, and putting my foot down I obtained the records from my birth that told me nothing but did lead me to my childhood pediatrician. Those records revealed the ghastly truth of a two-year-old girl circumcised at her mother's request. In sadness I confronted my mother and was adamantly told that she had always done what was best for her children and had no regrets but did not want to speak of it.
I made an appointment to speak to the now retired physician only to have him move away before I could speak with him. I am still searching for him. I know he was an old friend of my parents who also did my brothers' bris. Surely he will know why my mother would request such a thing for her daughter. My father remains largely silent on the issue. "You know your mother," is the only answer I receive from him.
When my son was born I was young, I had familial and societal pressure. But I did NOT allow him to be assaulted with a knife . As a mother all that was in me cried out to truly research and know that genital mutilation is not okay. And now I know that not only as a mother but also as a survivor of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) every instinct told me not to allow him to be cut.
I will speak out against MGM because just like those innocent baby boys my prepuce has been removed. Can I orgasm? Yes I can. Within about sixty seconds of sexual contact I orgasm. Sounds good right? WRONG. After I orgasm I experience oversensitive raw pain for the duration of the sexual contact. There is no hood to protect my clitoris. I may very well be the only woman out there who is looking for a partner who is a "one minute wonder" to spend the rest of my life with. Even now, years later, clothing, undergarments, contact... all of these irritate my overexposed clitoris. I also have to deal with the fact that if I choose to have a new sexual partner I will deal with the inevitable comments and questions which leave me feeling unattractive and just plain wrong down there.
So I say: I DO have a right to speak out against MGM and I will continue to do so. I know the continued frustration and all that is missing due to being circumcised and no baby, boy or girl, should ever have to live with this choice being forced upon him or her.”
American Female Circumcised by American Doctors
I am a white, anglo-saxon, protestant woman who was circumcised in the USA in the 1950’s. Some women advocate routine infant circumcision for males while decrying FGM in Africa. I cannot advocate cutting anyone, ever, for any reason.
What follows is my story. Thank you for reading it with an open heart.
As far as I can tell, I have scars on my labia set at 90 degree angles where flesh obviously met metal, and a “V”-shaped scar where a clitoris used to be. An expert on female genital anatomy told me I was also missing my clitoral hood.
My parents are both dead so I can’t ask them for details, but I have pieced events together and it seems to make sense that I was cut in two stages: the labia when I was one year old, and the clitoris and hood when I was six. I didn’t find out about it until I was over 50 years of age, so I lived in a bit of hell for many, many years.
My early photos show that I was the happiest of children — until I was in the first grade (see the photos on my website). Then a cloud came over me and after that time photos were full of anger, resentment and rejection. I lived that way for decades. I wanted to be dead. I rejected everyone and everything. I ran away or pushed away everyone who tried to love me… and I had no idea why. I was miserable and thought it was “normal”. I couldn’t understand how people could be happy and love each other. I had few friends. Although I usually had a boyfriend, I was always was exceedingly lonely. I am grateful that I did not turn to alcohol or drugs. A brush I’d had with an angelic voice when I was a little girl let me know suicide was not an option. Eventually, I learned all I could about healing. But nothing seemed to help me out of my own empty anger and grief.
No one could understand me, including myself. And then — a miracle! — I was wondering why most “men” were so different from most women and I realized that most of the men in the United States had been traumatized, when they were just babies, by circumcision. How cruel!. I was shocked, appalled, aghast. Due to my crisis counseling work, I knew that such a terrifying event could ruin an entire life. I felt quite safe around the people I met who were clear about not cutting children and I began to work with them to prevent circumcision. After I’d been involved for a couple of years, through a series of interesting “coincidences,” I discovered that I too had been circumcised. I had lost my clitoris, clitoral hood and labia. All of a sudden, my life made perfect sense. Knowing that I had been traumatized made sense of my feelings and behavior. A year or so ago, I met a wonderful therapist who was safe enough that I could allow myself to think about my childhood and piece together the memories. Healing the trauma came fairly quickly after that. After 50 miserable years, my little black cloud evaporated. I look in the mirror now and I see the happy smile I’d lost at age six. I am happy, at last, to be alive.
I found that I was always good at handling emergencies, so I specialized in dealing with people in trauma… at a crisis center and in private practice as a hypnotherapisst. This gave me a good background for dealing with my own situation when I discovered I’d been mutilated.
My entire life was hell before I found out I’d been cut, so when I found out, a lot of bad old feelings actually went away.. So I am hoping that healing can begin for many of my sisters and brothers who are still unaware that they were traumatized as children. Until they know the horror of it, and until they release the fear and terror around it, they might just be wondering why they kick the dog, throw the cat against the wall, yell at the wife, beat the kids, hate the boss, and frantically accumulate wealth to the detriment of their own integrity.
I hope this blog and my book will plant seeds of hope for your healng and/or compassion for the overwhelming number of people—both men and women—who have had this awful thing happen to them.
I am hoping to find out, by way of a book I wrote (and this blog), how many American women in the United States have been subjected to female genital mutilation. I suspect there are far more than we would ever imagine. I hope, if you were cut, you will get in touch with me. I am sorry it happened to you, and we can support each other in the process of healing the mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds… maybe we can ever figure out, like men have, how to restore our bodies to their original function.
If you would like, you can read more about my book here: http://rapeofinnocence.com/2010/12/17/fgm-circumcision-in-the-usa/. I hope you will enjoy it and it will be of value to you.
Missing Pieces of Myself
I am a 57 year old, white, Canadian, Anglo-Saxon woman of Irish/English decent, non-religious but deeply spiritual. My story is still in the rough stages. It has only been a matter of weeks since I became aware that I am missing a couple of genital “pieces”. The new awareness has certainly answered many questions for me, and explained a lot about who I am. I was flipping through a book when I came across a picture of two fingers holding onto a clitoris. Impossible! They were describing the head of the clitoris as a wee button. No way! I got out a mirror and studied myself ever so carefully. I have done self explorations before, and pictures in books never looked like me. My conclusion was always that there was something wrong with the pictures! Not this time. I got onto the web, and studied as many pictures as I could find. I couldn’t find one that looked like me. I called my youngest sister. She was adamant that there was a tangible something in the clitoral region, known as the clitoris. You could touch it. It felt good to touch. Interesting. I called a childhood friend with whom I still talk regularly. She agreed with my sister. I called my other sister—two years younger. She would have nothing to do with any self-exploration, she wasn’t interested, sex had always been painful, could we change the subject, please. I have reason to believe she too endured a “cut.”
Anyway, further research on the net turned up a procedure called a clitoridectomy. From my research I determined that this procedure was quite common in the 1800’s, less common in the early 1900’s, yet still being conducted in North America into the mid-fifties, was covered by Blue Cross until mid ’70’s, and not completely banned in the U.S. until 1996. Although the tone of this paragraph sounds all whitewashed and devoid of emotion, my whole being was coming apart as I dredged up this data.
I was beginning to open the door to a truth which I had somehow managed to bury just under the surface of my consciousness. Flashbacks began. I remembered, as a child of 3 or 4, having “something” I could hold on to down there. Being of insatiable curiosity, I questioned my mother about it—as I did for just about everything that entered my line of vision. She was a staunch Roman Catholic of the extreme variety, hung up on sex and particularly masturbation. Somehow she managed to turn my question around to understand that somehow I was upset, disturbed and did not want this thing I was giving my attention to. She could make me “nice and pretty” and in this manner she solicited my agreement. I recall nothing of the actual procedure, but I have had flashbacks of events after the procedure. I recall sitting on the toilet seat and my mother tending the area, and telling me I was “nice and pretty” now. The “tending” happened over numerous occasions.
At the point I was having the above flashbacks, there was still a place in me which wanted to believe I was making all of this up. However, I had another friend who I had shared my concerns with. She had been sexually abused, and as part of her healing process, she had attended a women’s workshop, where they did shared self-exploration as part of getting to know and love their bodies. So she had seen many clitoris’s and felt that perhaps mine was simply small enough that somehow I just couldn't find it. We arranged a show and tell. She couldn’t find it either! It seems that the “head” of the clitoris is missing. The rest is still in place. She noticed something else. Part of the clitoral hood was missing! There is no scar tissue, no discoloration …nice and pretty!
That same night, as I was in the place between waking and sleeping, I experienced the most intense pain in the genital area. I could actually feel the places …which are not there! Because this experience was not a fleeting thing, taking nearly a half hour to subside, it left no question that my suspicions were true. I had yet another flashback about trying to tell my mother how much it hurt, and how it hurt to pee. It hurt for the longest time. I remembered confusion, connected to pain, connected to my mother. My mother always used corporal punishment to discipline us and she began her disciplining as soon as we could crawl. I associated pain and my mother with being a bad girl. I believe I spent the rest of her life trying desperately to please her, so that I would never endure this pain again. Then I married her clone and spent 31 years of marriage following the same pattern. Now that the pain has resurfaced, it feels like it has always been there. Anytime I want to direct my attention to that area I can feel the places …which are not there! When I am very tired the pain returns like a nagging headache. I am amazed at the degree of denial I had to exert in order to block the pain and the memory.
Something I do remember vividly is that when I reached puberty, my mother took me to the doctor without any notice or explanation where I was subjected to a visual genital exam. There I was at 12 or 13 years of age, on the examining table, fully displayed for the doctor and my mother. who were at the end of the table, discussing and pointing at my genitals. This was so totally unexpected, I was so embarrassed and humiliated, that all I could hear of their conversation was Charlie Brown’s Blah! Blah! Blah! As we were leaving the doctor’s office I asked her why I had the examination, and she told me it was “none of my business!” I can only conclude that for whatever reason related to puberty there was a need to check up on their handiwork.
I have always been a deep thinker with an insatiable curiosity. So I have noticed a number of things about myself which I could attribute to this early childhood trauma. For instance, I have always noticed myself not being fully present in the moment. Whenever the going gets rough, I get going, right into some sort of comatose-like, dissociative state where I am not fully present, not fully alive. Could this be a learned behavior from a childhood trauma?
Although I am 57 years old, there is a little girl in me who has never grown up, who is “unsure” of herself, who is easily frightened, who second guesses absolutely everything I do and say. I have done enough personal growth work that I can actually “feel” her. She is ever longing for parental love and approval. So sensitive, always needing reassurance. Years ago, a mentor once said to me how she gave me credit for all my accomplishments, but was very aware of a part of me which was still so childlike. She asked if I could explain it. I knew what she was talking about, but pretended I didn't because I couldn't explain it and was embarrassed by it. Can I explain it now? Is it arrested development as a result of childhood trauma? Will I be able to get a handle on it now? It has definitely stood between me and fully coming into my own as an adult.
And sexually speaking? Sometimes one will never know, what one never knew. I wasn’t a tomboy, but I didn’t go through the girly-girly phase either. I had no longing to dress up, make up and strut my stuff. I didn’t understand flirting. I didn’t understand the chemistry thing that happens between teens when their hormones are raging. My ex-husband picked me out of a group of girls I was with, and decided that very night that I would be his wife. I was flattered beyond words that some guy would actually pin point me in this way. I was 21, and there had only been one casual boyfriend in my entire young life. I was in love with love, and we were married a year later. In my limited opinion, he was a highly sexual man. The little girl in me wanted to be everything he wanted me to be. Perhaps that is where the real problem was! Psychologically perhaps, I just never grew up enough to be a sexually mature woman. Like I said, perhaps I will never know, what I never knew.
*Clitoral Hood Circumcision
My wife is circumsized, she is from Malaysia and I am from England. Apparently her clitoral hood has been removed which is the mildest form of the procedure, but I am unsure if any other part of the clitoris has been removed or cut in the process. What is clear though, is that she does not masturbate and has little sensitivity in her clitoris. I previously have gave her oral sex when we were first married, but as there seems to be little enjoyment from this, I no longer do. We do have sex occasionally and she gets wet and it is enjoyable for me, but she does not orgasm and it is more like a chore for her, and this is saddening to me. She even says to me to go find somebody else to have sex with, or find a second wife if I complain I don’t get it enough.
It is great to have a faithful wife which I think is supposed to be the objective of this ridiculous procedure apart from cleanliness, but disturbing we can not enjoy each other the way I have intimately felt with other women who need sex. She wouldn’t have it any other way, as it is seen as the only way to go in islam and in her family traditions, sex is seen as unclean. She simply does not know what she is missing out on. We love each other and will probably stay together, but clearly if I need sex regularly, which I do, then it must be with somebody else, either an affair or another wife. I do not want that, I would prefer it to be with my wife and only 1 wife.
I can see why muslim men need up to 5 wives, so they can have sex with each one of them occasionally to be satisfied. Sex once a month with one wife is simply not enough. Also can see why many Muslim men also play around behind their wives backs, with little protest from their wives, because their wives don’t particularly care, so long as they still provide to the family, and there is little desire from the wife, so the man is free to get it else where.
Apart from cleanliness, it only makes sense that in islam men are circumsized to avoid sexually transmitted diseases when they sleep with other women behind their wives backs. Plenty of prostitutes available for men in most underdeveloped islamic countries where prostitution is usually a booming trade. I am not circumsized which increases my risk to contract STD’s if I were to sleep with other women, so maybe better in my case to get another wife…..?
I generally have no problems with people who are Islam and love my wife, but how can we stop this stupidity of Muslims feeling compelled to have this done to reduce sexual enjoyment for women? This is the only thing I have against islamic tradition as it can damage a normally functioning husband and wife relationship. In addition, it is not a must in islam, and is more so a cultural tradition for islamic people; not all islamic people have this done. Religion wise, I believe people should be free to believe in what ever they like, but this part of islamic tradition is completely wrong, and has serious effects on marriage and behavior of people in society, both men and women.
It is saddening that Muslims in some countries feel so compelled to do this to baby girls (removing of clit hood for bullsh*t reasons cleanliness). They are that determined, that after my wife agreeing not to have it done to our daughter, then her family still had it done behind my back whilst I was not around, I found out 3.5 years later!! So I am worried my daughter will be in the same situation with her husband in years to come, and will ultimately have an unfaithful husband or a husband that needs more than one wife.
I can only hope that in my daughters case only the clit hood was removed which seems to be the case, and nothing else was cut which may ruin her sexual desire. Some people say removing the clit hood actually increases sexual pleasure, so I can only hope this is the case for my daughter.
So beware all Western people planing on marrying a Muslim, either think twice, or get a complete understanding about these issues first prior to going through with the marriage…
IGM MGM and my own FGM
In the last ten or 15 years, there has been a growing movement among men to reclaim the foreskin and to regard circumcision as a procedure that should not be done routinely. Female circumcision, more properly called female genital mutilation (fgm), is not done routinely in the West. It is done in some Islamic countries and some non-Islamic tribal cultures. The purpose of cultural fgm is to limit sexual pleasure in women. There is no reason of hygiene to excuse it. An excellent resource on cultural fgm is the book Warrior Marks by Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar.
I felt sure I was right
My regret is not over having my own son circumcised, but for bullying my brother to get my nephew circumcised.
I feel an enormous amount of guilt. My sister-in-law wanted my nephew circumcised, and my brother said, "Absolutely not. Nobody is going to operate on my son's penis!". She appealed to my mother and me, as the oldest sister, I was also encouraged to tell him the error of his ways. Mom and I told my brother he was uneducated about the issue (we, who had NEVER read a single article on circumcisions), and that he was putting his son at serious risk. At the time, both parents were teenagers.
I don't know that what we said had a great deal of effect on my brother, but the fact remains that his son was circumcised.
When I found out I was pregnant and was having a son, my friend got a video to watch about circumcision. She watched it, and still had her son circumcised. I watched 2 minutes, almost threw up, and started doing research. I shared my research with my husband and he was not totally swayed. I showed him the video. He watched the entire thing, and said we'd never do that to our sons.
I was disgusted with myself. Had I not happened to find out about the video, would I have changed my mind? Would I have gone with status quo? Of course I would have, convinced that I was doing everything right. Why don't the doctors try to talk you out of it? Why don't they at least try to educate you on the issue? Even the professional papers of our major medical associations admit there is no justifiable health benefit to circumcision. It angers me that so many people are doing this simply because they believe if the insurance pays for it, and the doctor does it without discussion, it MUST be right.
Since then, I've tried to convince 2 people close to me not to have their son's circumcised, and I failed. I wish insurance didn't pay for the surgery; that might make people think twice about it.
Oh, my mom did change her mind after I did my research. She admitted that, like me, she had been assuming it was normal and healthy. She says she doesn't believe she would have had my brother circumcised if she'd realized she had a say in it. She really thought it was something required by law, back in 1978. So we are both reformed; it is tragic that it had to happen after my brother could have really used us on his side. All he had was his gut feeling, and we let him down.
He had no choice
I have just started to see a man who was circumcised as a baby and was shocked when he told me that he has very little sensation at all in his penis and that he can’t really feel anything during penetrative intercourse as a result. This lead me to do some research on the internet and there is so much information and similar stories out there about this.
From what I can tell he has had the foreskin removed as well as some of the skin from the shaft rendering this area numb effectively. I was amazed too that he has never discussed his parents decision with them, as personally I would be angry and hurt that someone had made this life changing decision for me at such a young age.
From a woman’s perspective, I can see no benefit from circumcision. I prefer it when a man is complete. Failing that, I'd rather he didn't have a really noticeable circumsision scar, or such a tight circumcision that the skin looked stretched when he had an erection. If men were not meant to have a foreskin they wouldn’t have been born with it and I truly believe you shouldn’t mess with what nature provides us. I’m saddened that men have to live with the results of their parent’s decisions and the impact that this choice can have on their sexual relationships.
Tight Circumcision and Intimacy
BOTH of my nephews (my brothers son and HIS brothers son) had botched circs and had to be re-circed at 8-9 months old under general anesthesia. My husband also had a botched circed that was never corrected. It took a while for my husband to realize that the issues he had with his were a direct result of a poorly done circ...
I've only been with ONE person. Someone with a tight circ. I thought it was normal sex. What did I have to compare with? At that time, the other women I knew, even if they'd been with multiple people they were all circ'd. So, they didn't know any better either.
I do know a couple of women who had an encounter with an intact man as well as circ'd. Those women seemed to think that the guy was particularly talentend and experienced. They never seem to make the connection. One of them was with a Romanian athlete. Anyhow, she STILL talks about those months with amazement, a glow in her eyes (she's now married to a cut american engineer with two kids, two cut little boys ). The best sex she has ever had in her life. It wasn't until after I suggested it may have something to do with the circ status that the wheels started turning.
The first encounter I had with a woman who outwardly professed the difference was with my doula. She was engaged to an intact man. She called him "super sexual", and said that the simplest touch would evoke the deepest pleasure. He was easy to please and their sex life was amazing. She was very experienced sexually (unlike myself) and told me that from her multiple experiences that she *knew* the difference first hand.
Anyhow, for all those years after I was married I thought what I was feeling was normal. That it was normal for a man to need such rough stimulation, that to pound away like that was normal. Sure, it hurt, and left me sore, but I thought that was my problem...KWIM? We had to buy extra lube, and that helped somewhat.
My husband too thought that it was normal to have a mixture of pain/pleasure during masturbation/sex as did I. Even though things would feel "good" there were also many negative/painful sensations as well. And, he couldn't O unless there was rough pounding stimulation.
The first so many years after we were married, I thought there was something "off" but tried my best to just put it in the back of my mind. Didn't want to deal with it...especially as I was going to be having sex with this person the REST of my life. I figured I'd better tolerate/get used to it. As I got older, and pregnant, the rough stuff became even MORE disturbing to me. So, I started learning more and the circ stuff explained it!
I learned about this while reading about circ, then after having a bleeding episode while pregnant (due to rough sex) I started to just get fed up with it. I resented that I had to keep reminding him to slow down, tell him that it was hurting, and I would get so overwhelmed during intercourse I was feeling like I was being raped (seriously felt disconnect) and I would cry afterwards. Here I was, pregnant, and worried that he was going to cause me to have a miscarriage. I am not kidding .
Learning all the information (I had bought the book in conjunction with a DOC book on amazon), it made me realize I was not alone. That I shouldn't have to suffer these negatives and not speak out. That what I had been experiencing wasn't really "normal", well, it was normal for a typically circumcised penis here in the US, but it wasn't normal human intercourse.
Of course, my husband was so upset at first, honestly he told me that I should just go start a relationship on the side with an intact man (I kid you not). Though, I was very reassuring that I did not want that, I just wanted him to be back to what he was meant to be so we could have the intimacy we were meant to. I told him..."if someone told you that you could have better sex and intimacy your whole life by doing this, wouldn't you at least CONSIDER it?"
So, we started the process of restoration. VERY slowly. It's already made a remarkable difference. My husband went into it, for me , not expecting anything. It's been pleasantly surprising for both of us. Whole new sensations exist for him that didn't before. There have also been many benefits for me as well.
He's definitely not as intactivist as I am, though he will speak out if asked. Not about the restoration, but he is very proud that our son is whole!
What I could have done
A friend & I found out the same weekend in April, 1999 that we were both unexpectantly pregnant. We were shocked, yet also a little excited. This would be my second birth, her fourth. I had encouraged her to breastfeed her third daughter and supported her through their extended nursing. We had talked about how my first son was intact; there were no secrets between us. We were very open and close to each other, and I felt that if they had any questions they knew they would ask me for my opinion. That was a huge mistake I will regret the rest of my life!
My pregnancy was very stressful which resulted in my son being born 3 months before his due date. Our babies had been due within days of each other. They moved a few times during our pregnancies, but we remained close and they were a great support for me and my children. Their child was born without complications, healthy and perfect in every way. Now this is their story:
The new father and his parents were in the hospital room the day after his son’s birth when a nurse came to get the baby for his scheduled circumcision. After the nurse had left with the baby, the grandfather spoke up and told his son and daughter-in-law that routine infant circumcision was not necessary. The new, proud, and macho dad said, ‘But I am!’ to which his father responded, “I’m not.” He was shocked—he never knew that his own father had his foreskin. He had grown up in the same house for 20 years and had never known his father was intact. He immediately decided to pick up the phone to call the nurses station. They had only had the baby for a few minutes. The dad remembers that the nurse never put the phone down to check, before she said, “it’s probably too late”. The boy was cut.
My friends asked his parents why they had had him (and his brother) circumcised. His father explained that his wife didn’t want the boys to feel ‘different’ than other boys, and thought it was ‘better.’
We visited them when their son was 4 months old. In the process of changing his diapers one afternoon, I caught a glimpse of his penis—or what was left of it! There was absolutely no shaft showing and only the top quarter of the glans was noticeable. I was horrified! I couldn’t say anything, but did research on ‘it’ and discovered that he had what is known as a buried penis. I printed out everything I could find on this subject.
Neither parent of this new male child ever felt comfortable with the way their son’s circumcision looked, but never said anything to anyone about their feelings. Just before their son turned two, I received a call from the father asking me when we could get together again. I was hesitant because his voice sounded urgent. He then explained that the baby had been waking them up with groaning and moaning, but not enough to wake himself up, and knowing that I had been working with NOCIRC for a number of years he wanted my ‘expert opinion’ on their son’s circumcision. I was relieved that they had finally mentioned something to me.
I told them that their son had a buried penis, that I had been shocked when I had seen it and had accumulated a wealth of information for them. I went up the following weekend to deliver everything and talk to them. The dad said his son’s penis made him uncomfortable because it didn’t look anything like his own (I think they originally thought it would change in time). On every doctor visit they had asked the numerous doctors about his penis, and every single one of them commented on ‘the fine job’ and what a ‘beautiful circumcision’ had been done (this reinforces that doctors won’t, or don’t, want to say anything negative about another doctor, as obviously this circumcision botched this baby’s penis).
Eventually, they found a doctor to ‘fix’ the baby’s penis, it required another surgery with sedation to remove the glans and shaft from the fatty pouch in his groin, and with a long recovery time. The father had a conversation with their daughters, (the oldest was then 13) and begged and pleaded with them to promise that IF they ever have sons that they never circumcise them. I have tried numerous times without success to have them file a lawsuit for the damage done. They want to put it all behind them. I have made a promise to myself and them, that when their son is an adult that I will contact him and give him all the same information that I’ve given to the parents, including support for filing a lawsuit. I have doubts that this boy will ever have a satisfying, non-painful, erection. I regret that I didn’t speak up and discuss not circumcising if they had a boy and the benefits of natural, intact genitals! Maybe I could have saved this baby, his parents, and family from this doctor’s injustice who was too aggressive with a knife.
I've always thought circumcision was dumb, pointless, idiotic, puritanical, and downright mean! It wasn't until I became the mother of a son that I began to think of it as much, much worse. It wasn't until then that I would wince at the sight of someone who has had that done to him. To me, it looks creepy; it is creepy. It looks bruised , stripped, broken. Mutilated. Unnatural. Painful and numb at the same time.
It wasn't until I became the mother of a son that I thought of circumcision as the root of all evil"or at least the root of misogyny. How could they not grow up and stomp us under their boots after we allow such a hideous, agonizing torture to be inflicted on their freshly born little bodies?
A gestating and newborn person's mother is absolutely everything to him. No matter how much dad talks to the baby in utero, or plays Chopin for him on his violin, no matter how well the baby recognizes other people at birth, mom is still the only one he really knows. Inside out. She is not just the source of life; she is life. Mom is Goddess. Her body is Eden. She is paradise, bliss, and eternity. A minute away from her is an eon of exile and agony. Without her there is no life, only interminable desolation. She looms so large and all-important that he can't see beyond her. And to imagine her as a separate being, or as weak, or as under someone else's influence is unfathomable.
So that's why if something terrible happens, it's mom who allowed it. (In our society, whatever is wrong with a person is usually "their mother's fault.") It is She who betrayed him. There just isn't anybody else. It's Woman who's responsible for Man's fall from Grace"according to the circumcised, Old Testament, patriarchal lot. It doesn't matter who actually does it--they are just pawns, devices, minions, tools, instruments of torture"it's Her Will. It doesn't matter who actually wants it or what the alleged reasons are.
How could a betrayal so huge, so profound, NOT take root in the tons and tons of societal garbage heaped upon the heads of little boys and produce such misogynous crap as wife-beating, witch-hunting, prostitution, pornography, mother-blaming, rape, sexism, endless perversions of every kind, and just general cold, unemotional, not-able-to-talk-about-his-feelings kind of guys? It couldn't.
But one, whole, feeling little boy raised with integrity will grow up to be one whole, feeling man with integrity. He will be horrified when he learns of the atrocity committed by his fellows. He will speak against it. He will have a whole, different outlook on life"one not based on pain, fear of pain, suppression of pain, or administering of pain"and therefore a life that touches others in a whole, different way. This boy will make a difference.
Echoes in the Body
Recently, I completed a doctoral research project in which I investigated the possible link between the way children do selected yoga postures for the first time and their individual birth experiences. The body language of 22 children, five to nine years old, was carefully videotaped and analyzed. To learn about the children's birth experiences I interviewed the parents. After analysis of the data, I was able to identify spe-cific elements in the performance of the yoga postures that could be perceived as clues to the child's prenatal and birth experience.
In the course of this research, I made an unexpected observation related to male circumcision. It can only be considered preliminary at this point, as the study was not designed to focus on this issue, and, had it not been so evident in this small sample, I probably would not have noticed it. Asking about circumcision had not been on my original list of questions for the interview with parents. Fortunately, the first father inter-viewed mentioned it, so I included a question about circumcision for all of the boys in the study.
What I observed was that the seven boys in the study who had been circumcised did not place their hips on the floor when doing an abdominal-lying-arch posture (the "cobra" pose for those of you familiar with yoga postures). In contrast, the two boys in the study who had not been circumcised did it easily.
When I mentioned this observation to a colleague who is a body-worker, she said she had noticed that her clients who had been circumcised were much more rigid in the pelvic area than those who had not been cir-cumcised. If this very preliminary observation is confirmed, it would be coherent with a recent finding on the long-term effect of circumcision on pain tolerance. A team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario (1995) studied the pain responses of children having routine vaccinations four to six months after birth. They discovered that boys circumcised as infants had higher behavioral pain scores and cried longer.