February 14, 2006

Re: Getting Your Son Laid

A frequent reason guys cite for deciding to have their sons circumsized is that if he doesn't, the kid won't get any play, because American chicks love themselves a cleancut penis. [A lot of assumptions here, of course, but let's go with it.] And one of the reasons guys give for not cutting is that sexual sensastion is so much better when you're rocking a foreskin. What's a dad-to-be to do?

Fortunately, Slate's senior editor Emily Bazelon and "superintern Sonia Smith"--who went to college for four and two years [and counting! Go 'Heels!] respectively, and who are ably demonstrating that there are, in fact, bright career prospects for liberal arts majors--decided to lend a hand. Since last summer, they've been collecting accounts "from men who'd undergone the procedure as adults and experienced sex both ways. Women and men with secondhand comparative knowledge were also invited to weigh in. Soon there were hundreds of e-mails in my in-box, a surprising majority of them earnest and frank."

Their findings: for great sex, a foreskin doesn't matter. Except when it does, a little. And some guys miss it, except when they don't. So while I'm not sure you can think too much about the best thing for your son's foreskin, Slate's research shows that the real problem might be obsessing too much over your own.

Or Not To Snip? Slate's findings on circumcision and sex. [slate]
Previously: Slate's August '05 coverage of the circumcision and sex question
Other DT posts on circumcision; if size and staying power matter to you, "RE: Your Son's Penis" is the longest, and has gotten a lot of stimulating responses.

12 Comments

My first son was born on Saturday evening. The last several months were spent trying to decide whether or not to mutilate my child's body. If it is a boy. I was almost wishing for a girl just so I didn't have to make the decision.
Well thanks to daddytypes, my son is now missing part of his junk. While all of the usual arguments were considered, the one piece of info that sealed the deal was learned about right here.

"CUT! Study Shows Circumcision Reduces HIV Infection Rate By 61%"

Considering the substantial reduction in risk and the likely hood the this new generation will be dealing with this issue on a much larger scale than I ever did, there is only one responsible conclusion. Sorry kid, you can thank Greg in 16 years.

[I, wow. I guess I'd better start working on the "thanks to daddytypes, my son is now missing part of his junk" t-shirt. -ed.]

Not sure I follow the logic here. People would prefer to mutilate their children rather than educate them about proper hygeine and safe sex practices?

Circumcision just seems like barbaric tradition more than a justifiable necessity. And I've yet to get an answer from the die-hard Christians to whom I've posed the following question:

Why would God create your body with a part that was not intended to be kept? Every other part of your body has a reason to exist or a function - even seemingly trivial stuff like eyelashes, toenails, philtrum, etc. - so why assume that foreskin is any different? Gonna go ahead and cut out your newborn's appendix too since we don't fully understand its purpose? The human body can make do with only one lung as well...

The prevailing argument for circumcision seems to be "Because I want my son to look like me," but how many dads actually go around exposing themselves to their kids? Likewise with the "I don't want my son to look different than the other boys in gym class" reasoning, how many kids galivant around naked in the locker room, exposing themselves to anyone caring to look? Maybe I grew up in bizarro-land, but neither of these scenarios was present during my upbringing.

Am I missing something?

[a bit of diplomacy that enables someone who disagrees with you to reply without getting all defensive, maybe, but otherwise, I think you ID'd the key counterarguments pretty clearly. Oh, and everybody else: philtrum is the groove in your upper lip. I had to look it up. -ed.]

Ok, Rob O, here we go:

"Why would God create your body with a part that was not intended to be kept?"

Tell me the physiological rational for wisdom teeth? (with all the rigmarole that encompasses them: cost to fix, pain, etc)

(As far as the appendix thing is concerned - well, shit, in these modern times of medicine, you can still die from the operation. In fact, wasn't Andy Warhol killed in a hospital during an appendix operation? And yes, if you could zap the appendix with the ease of a circumcision, I would do it in a second)

And it's the Jews who branded Circumcision, not the Christians (not sure why you are asking them) and if I had to choose between all religions with their traditions, potions and spells, Id have to go with the Jews, since most of their gobbledygook is based on common sense.

I did this to my child because I've heard from men, not many mind you, but a couple who said they got infections because they weren't circumcised. Some even BECAME circumcised as adults because of the sores. Now, were they dirty animals? Maybe. Were they filthy pigs? Probably. But they knew what the problem was, how to cure it and it still got them - so what's your retort to that?

But ultimately, the real reason I did it was because Matt in Nip/Tuck ended up, drinking booze, googling the process and butchering himself because his know-it-all plastic surgeon father mind you, wouldn't do it to him, (probably because God didnt intend man not to have a foreskin ) just to get some head cheerleader ass.

I didn't want little Stanislaw Jr. going through the same thing.

Ps: people mutilate their kids all the time see earrings.

Wow! The "Matt in Nip/Tuck" reason is the best I have ever heard for circumcision. It's very similar to the reason we have our dog; the whole "what if my kid ends up like BabyJessica?" scenario prompted our purchase of a collie named Lassie. See, TV is good.

[Wow! I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. How empty my life suddenly feels without a fluency in "Nip/Tuck" references... brb... ah. gotcha. Now on to Baby Jessica. -ed.]

Hey Rob, my personal opinion about mutilating my son is not that far off from yours. However, after watching a close friend, who was educated in personal hygeine and safe sex, battle Aids, I will do whatever I can to reduce the chance of anyone I love from having to go through the same pain. All it takes is one lapse in judgement. I know I have regrets concerning more than one decision that I have made in my life. I decided to circumcise for the same reason I bought the safest car I could afford, the highest rated carseat I could find, stopped smoking, stopped just short of demanding that my wife breast feed, and why I am a regular reader here at daddytypes... I wan't what is best/safest for my child.


As far as looking like me... I think I covered that when I conceived him. You know genes and stuff.

Greg, please put me down for two of those t-shirts. And thanks for posting info that may save my sons life.

I apologize for my lapse in diplomacy, Greg. The snappish tone was unintentional...

I work with two guys who just recently both had their sons circumcized at nearly age 2. Given the options to research and truly think about the choice being made, they both fell back on the age-old lame justifcations that seem to stem more from tradition and fear than reason and love. One of these guy's wives - the boy's mother - actually said, "I don't feel that I should have an opinion on the matter since I don't have a penis." So you can see how this could be something of a (no pun intended) sore subject.

As for the "Tell me the physiological rational for xxx ?" rationale, I'm convinced that God designed every part of our bodies and that to cut out/off parts of our anatomy simply because we don't yet possess the scientific data to fully understand its purpose is, well, a little foolish.

I'm certainly not making light of HIV or STDs, but it seems fairly easy to grasp that the presence (or not) of foreskin has far less to do with diseases than where you choose to put the thing.

[no sweat, it's just/obviously a topic that can create a lot of friction and get people all worked up. Meanwhile, as your work colleagues demonstrate, sometimes the nerve endings in the head can get desensitized, too. -ed.]

Listen, if you're going to use "God" in your argument then you can justify anything. In this case, you can use it for both sides:

For - I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. . . . I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God. . . . Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:6,8,10)

Against - why would we adapt/enhance/mutilate any of God's creations.

I for one don't believe in God and if there is one, he's a putz because we're built pretty badly with a ton of potential defects.

I mean c'mon, look at the knee - it's a poorly designed construct with a weak interior build. Or even the back - if you were going to erect (haha, he said "erect") a building with the same type of engineering, the city inspectors would never let it happen.

Rob O, what's your take on the cleft palate? If your child was born with one - would you fix it?

Your arguement states you are convinced that "God designed every part of our bodies and that to cut out/off parts of our anatomy simply because we don't yet possess the scientific data to fully understand its purpose is, well, a little foolish."

One could say we don't understand the benefits of a cleft palate so let's not tamper with it.

[dude, considering that circumcision is a tenet of at least three of the world's major religions--Islam, Judaism, and Mid-20th Century The American Wayism, I think it's fine if someone uses a religious argument against once in a while. The only problem, of course, as you demonstrate, is that they don't carry much weight with people who don't share the same religious beliefs. -ed.]

It seems clear that the desire to do what's best for our sons is why we are even discussing this subject. I would never imagine that I could determine what is or is not best for another's child. I can only do what I believe is best for my own based on the best available information. That said, I'm still not quite certain the AIDS argument can justify the "big snip". Circumcision doesn't rule out infection, it only (possibly) lowers the odds if one fails to take other precautions (abstinence, condom, et al). It isn't a giant leap (notice, I said giant) to consider removing your child's penis altogether and thus seriously inhibiting the chances of AIDS infection (though not entirely removing the possiblity). No one would (I hope) do such a thing just as no one would sew up their son's anus arging that anal transmission is more successful than vaginal. But the degrees of mutilation are exactly that; degrees.

We buy the best carseats, strollers and cribs because we want our children to be safe. We want to lower the odds of injury should something go wrong. But our infants and toddlers are not having sex and with a little luck (and good parenting) they won't for quite a while. By the time they are one hopes they will have been well briefed in the particulars of safe sex as well as the options available, including elective circumcision. It would then be a choice they make for themselves. I can choose my son's carseat because it concerns his safety BEFORE he can begin to decide safely for himself. But his sexual choices will be his own and I don't believe I have the right to determine "how he will be kept safe" in his adult life any more than I have the right to determine the house he will live in or occupation in which he toils based on my desire to keep him out of harm's way. It may be far more difficult in the long run to inform and advise than to "snip" our way around the dangers they may face but ultimately I feel it's the better call.

[actually, I might call that "giant", but that's just me. -ed.]

That was a typo on my part. It should have read, "It's a giant leap". Though that might have more to do with the size of the equipment in question.

[yeah, that's what I meant. don't worry about it, pal, it's not the pen; it's the penmanship. -ed.]

Stanislaw, you said if you're going to use "God" in your argument then you can justify anything. and I've gotta agree with that.

I am a Christian, but by no means a Bible-thumping, WWJD, foisting my beliefs upon others type. But even aside from the "God argument," I'd contend that if your personal beliefs revolve around any kind of supreme being creating man, then my same reasoning applies. For that matter, I kinda think it still works even if you subscribe to evolutionism rather than creationism.

For if we've evolved into this current state of physical being, why wouldn't portions of our body that aren't needed (or have a negative impact) simply have gone away over the course of that evolutionary path? So, for an evolutionist, wouldn't the fact that baby boys continue to born with foreskin indicate that there's indeed a valid reason for it to exist?

[actually, Rob, I'm a Christian who generally accepts evolution, and I can easily envision a belief in a God that does NOT automatically ascribe to that body sanctity you describe. In any case, I think that religious views on circumcision really exist aside from any cultural, social, psychological, emotional, or medical perspectives about it. And anyway, if the God--or G-d, depending-- of the Old Testament is to be believed, circumcision was a divine commandment for the Jews. So does that mean we were all given foreskins just so that the Jews could cut theirs off as part of their covenant? Because that'd be big news. -ed.]

Hi. As I wrote about here, I am conflicted about circumcision, but not for the usual reasons.

I am half cut, and my uncut side is much more sensitive (and has a different KIND of sensitivity) than my cut side. I have another half cut friend who confirms this experience. Therefore, I am totally certain that circumcision reduces male sexual pleasure. I just can't decide if that's a good thing.

On the one hand, men are the world's worst sexual predators, and why give them that much more incentive to be sexually aggressive? On the other hand, it seems cruel to deny an individual the fullness of his natural sexual potential.

I am sincerely conflicted about this public policy decision, but I am completely confident that circumcision does, in fact, drastically reduce male sexual pleasure. But maybe that's for the best?

[1) like the guy who got a Chinese nanny so his kid will be better "prepared" for the future, you seem to be trying to fit macro-level generalizations or trends to an individual child. Good luck with that. 2) On the other hand, "half-cut"? Never heard of that. But maybe splitting the difference is the perfect solution for someone who can't decide if he should circumcise his kid. I'd say "tell me more," but the kid's got swim class right now, so I'll just keep my eyes open in the locker room at the Y. -ed.]

to all the people who talk about god, god created us with a foreskin because he "intended" for us to walk in the world naked, like this we have the foreskin to protect us, now, we all don't walk naked so this argument doesn't stand...think about it.
i m Jewish and I'm for circumcise, it just looks better. (this is what i was told by my girlfriends ) :)

[ah, see, it's a Fall of Adam thing. Although people walk around naked at Burning Man without foreskins all the time... I gotta say, the "how many angels can dance on the head of a penis" comments are still off topic. -ed]

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