March 31, 2009

The Dozen Or So Unhappily Circumcised Man March

If your head's not too desensitized to appreciate it, the Washington Post's story on the 50 or so intactivists who marched from the White House to Capitol Hill yesterday is entertaining. Also a little sad. Two foreskin-mourning college kids were on a hunger strike, and one guy "has been protesting infant circumcision since the '70's."

Their main objective--besides generating Google hits for the phrase "Genital Mutilation Awareness Week" [hey, you got another one!]--is to find even a single congressional sponsor for the MGM Bill, which would add circumcision [i.e., Male Genital Mutilation] to the existing federal ban on female genital mutilation.

The website explaining how come the MGM Bill has no chance in the world of becoming law any time soon includes this image, which startled me in a Matlock kind of way:

mgm_bill_clipart.jpg

Check out the guy's ring. It's on his middle finger. Is that an accident? An oversight? Could a hand model and a stock photographer working together really not notice a variation of something so commonplace? Or is there something more significant to the cause?

In the July 2007 issue of Journal of Urology, Johan J. Mattelaer, Robert A. Schipper, and Sakti Das published "The Circumcision of Jesus Christ," an historical review of the theological, symbolic, and reliquary aspects of the Foreskin of Christ. [The Guardian just got around to summarizing Mattelaer et al's paper last month.]

The paper is illustrated by Lorenzo Lotto's 1523 painting in the Accademia Carrara, The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena, in which "the Ring of foreskin of Christ is on her left middle finger." Her left middle finger, people.

nozze_mistico_lotto.jpg
Obviously, wearing a ring on the left middle finger is an ancient sign of foreskin worship; and centuries later, the Freemasons of foreskins are marching on Washington.

Rallying in the Name of the Unkindest Cut? Sharp Rhetoric Abounds In Circumcision Debate [washpost]
"The Circumcision of Jesus Christ," Journal of Urology, Jul 2007 [abstract: jurology.com]
101 uses for the sacred foreskin [guardian.co.uk]
image: accademia carrara, bergamo

16 Comments

Hmmmm . . . Oprah recently reported that there's a pixie dust that can grow a severed finger back . . . maybe there's another use for it . . .

I don't understand America's obsession with circumcision. It seems so archaic and unnecessary. Recently I was disturbed to find that when I give birth in August, I must specifically request, in writing, that my baby not be circumcised. Apparently the hospital will perform the cosmetic, surgical procedure without my consent by default? Crazy.

Cathryn that's just horrible!!! :(

I can't wait for this genital mutilation ends, for girls AND boys.

Ummm...isn't circumcision something private? People who have a problem with their infant circ should ask their parents why they had their kids cut.
I'm from europe, circumcision is no big thing here. But I studied "History of Medicine" at university. I did my exams on STD in wartimes. And, guess what, circumcision in the US was "forced" to the troops going to europe to prevent STD. When the soldiers came home, they wanted their kids "to look like me" (I found that quote in a study held in the 1960). May be someone is interested in that fact.

Over 200,000 men are enduring a painless but tedious process of non-surgically restoring their foreskins. I grew an inch of skin per year. It has been very worthwhile.

Before I restored, sex took way longer than my wife needed. Now she loves the way the slack skin gives her a plush gliding frictionless feeling. I love the way my mucosa are more supple and sensitive. In case you didn't know, the glans is supposed to be moist like the inside of your lips, not dry like the outside of your lips.

In Massachusetts, the MGM Bill is ON the docket and will be debated in committee. 95% of the non-Muslim world does not circumcise. The US is the last country routinely cutting infants for non-religious reasons, but the declining rate is close to 50/50 overall and fewer than 25% are cut in the 4 Western states.

Foreskin feels REALLY good. HIS body HIS decision.

^^ Oprah recently reported that there's a pixie dust that can grow a severed finger back ^^

Oprah also reported that there's a wrinkle-fighting face cream called TNS Recovery Complex by SkinMedica that's made from infant foreskin. An infant foreskin is worth about $40 to the doctor or hospital that hands it over for research or commercial use. The law does not now require the financial arrangement to be disclosed to the victim or his family. That will be an easier law to get than an outright ban on circumcision.

Today's infants will be able to internet archive sites to know what evidence their parents rejected when the child was born. Cut your child and you'll have some uncomfortable explaining to do.

No national medical association (not even Israel's) endorses routine circumcision.

TMI, my slack friend, T. M. I.

So many American men were circumcised as infants that American men and women alike are often unaware of what they are missing in sex. About three-fourths of an intact man's erogenous nerves are in the foreskin and the foreskin makes sex a more mutually gratifying experience becvause of its frictionless gliding action as opposed to the often painful thrusting many men need to exerience orgasm. The only reason Americans choose to laugh at men who mourn the loss of their foreskin or devote decades to trying to educate those who are unaware is that they have more invested in striving to maintain sexual self-esteem than in learning the truth.

Uh, no, I laugh at you--actually, I kind of pity you--because the idea of lifelong mourning of a small body part seems mentally unhealthy, but mostly because I really do not want to hear about other men's penises' gliding and thrusting, and anti-circumcision zealots seem physically incapable of talking about anything besides every picayune detail of their sexual activities.

There are plenty of men--the vast majority, I'd wager--for whom sexual stimulation and enjoyment is NOT limited to the nerve stimuli of one of their erogenous zones, and for whom a foreskin--or a lack thereof--has no bearing whatsoever on either their sexual satisfaction OR their self-esteem.

Even though I have two daughters and thus no personal stake in the infant circumcision debate, I don't shy away from raising the issue on Daddy Types. I think expectant fathers by default are expected to make call whether to circumcise a kid or not. And I think a clear-eyed examination of the reasons a guy has for choosing one option or the other may yield some surprises or some inadequate assumptions. Just on the issue of it being someone else's body, I personally think the most respectful thing would be to wait and let the kid choose for himself when he's older.

I am very glad that if you have a son you will not choose to have him circumcised. If everyone would take the same enlightened stance we would have a much healthier, happier world. I can't imagine any boy who is not coerced ever deciding on his own to be circumcised. (Such coercion does happen, by the way.) As for my "picayune" comments about the "small" foreskin, you must not realize that the foreskin on a natural penis is the entire outer sheath of the penis. It is the only part of the penis that is in nearly constant contact with a woman in intercourse and it is 15 square inches in surface size. I won't go on, since I know this information makes you uncomfortable. You needn't worry about my mental health because I sometimes mourn what was taken from me. It has taken a lot of courage to learn the truth and I am proud to be among the few who ever venture that way. The problem with not being willing to learn about these things or have feelings about them is that this perpetuates the kind of ignorance that causes most men to want their sons to be circumcised like themselves. It takes a lot of courage for a man to choose to let his son be different and if you ever follow through on that pledge, you will have my great respect.

I really think that this is going too far. Is the US really this idiotic? First, we are told that coffee can kill your fetus. And then we are told that it can be good for your fetus. Same thing with beer. And beer with breastfeeding. I have never heard as many people as I do in the US essentially making their kids into a pile of mush!

Greg, is this as foolish to you as it is to me? Why is it that the US is really the ONLY country to really give a damn about such trivial, small issues like this?

well, if it's that small, all the more reason not to chop off the top 20%, right?

Discussion of this further.

Oh and BTW Greg,

Been a while since I commented on your blog so thought I would let yet you know we just delivered up k3 about 6 weeks ago. A large (10lb4oz) girl to join the Boy and previous Girl. This one is number "last". Now excuse me, I'm going back to sleep.

how unfortunate - my previous comment didn't post so the above looks semi-silly.

Matt,

We aren't the only country to give a damn - just the last. Most of the world (outside of Israel) no longer circumsizes the majority of its male infants. They recognize the practice to be a holdover from the Victorian era and devised purely to discourage genital play. Every other reason for its practice has been dismantled by more reasonable heads, for example: the risk of penile cancer is indeed higher in uncircumsized males than in circumsized but the incidence of death from breast cancer in males is greater than penile cancer and yet there are no calls for post-natal, prophylactic, double mastectomies in boys.

It is not trivial - it is at best cosmetic surgery, at worst, an act of barbarism, performed on non-consenting infants.

Here's a short list of those that see it as such;

how unfortunate - my previous comment didn't post so the above looks semi-silly.

Matt,

We aren't the only country to give a damn - just the last. Most of the world (outside of Israel) no longer circumsizes the majority of its male infants. They recognize the practice to be a holdover from the Victorian era and devised purely to discourage genital play. Every other reason for its practice has been dismantled by more reasonable heads, for example: the risk of penile cancer is indeed higher in uncircumsized males than in circumsized but the incidence of death from breast cancer in males is greater than penile cancer and yet there are no calls for post-natal, prophylactic, double mastectomies in boys.

It is not trivial - it is at best cosmetic surgery, at worst, an act of barbarism, performed on non-consenting infants.

Here's a short list of those that hold that view:

The International Child's Rights Information Network stands opposed to MGM, equating it with FGM.

Doctors Opposing Circumcision have produced a document demanding all human rights laws be extended to children and equate MGM to FGM

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights produced this document arguing that MGM is a violation of Human Rights and equivalent to FGM.

Anthropologist Kirsten Bell, writing in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, describes the remarkable disconnect between the West's abhorence of FGM and acceptance of MGM. The abstract is here.

Also from Medical Anthropology Quarterly, A Rose By Any Other Name, which explores the double standard applied to FGM and MGM.

The Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project offers a table pointing out the similarities between FGM and MGM, including justifications, physical damage, and their respective cultures' acceptance.

A History of Circumcision makes the comparison between FGM and MGM, finding both to be abhorent.

And lastly there is: Erroneous Belief Systems Underlying Female Genital Mutilation in Sub-Saharan Africa and Male Neonatal Circumcision in the United States: a Brief Report Updated, by Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, and Presented at The Third International Symposium on Circumcision, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, May 22-25, 1994.

I am looking for someone to do an expose' on a custom. I am a nurse in newborn nursery. The pain that sweet tiny baby boys go through during a circumcision horrifies me. It is surgery without anesthesia. It is 10 minutes of pure hell. The pain is so horrendous that many babies go into shock immediately. They just stare and make gurgly noises. They are the lucky ones. The others remain perfectly aware of the pain that goes on and on. Their piercing screams haunt me.

In history, the earliest surgery was done without anesthesia. Just tie them down and do it quick. Some people were willing to have surgery once. But I've read that people refused to endure surgery a second time - even if it meant death. They knew how severe the pain was, and decided they would rather die than endure that pain a second time.

How can intelligent, educated people not realize that a scalpel causes a horrendous, sharp, excruciating pain that no human being should ever have to endure. Tell me how a custom can be so strong that it overpowers intelligence and common sense.

For example, the Chinese custom of "binding" young girls' feet. The toes were forced down under the foot [ breaking bones, I believe ] and tightly bound forever. So the feet couldn't grow. Forever small. Big feet were considered UGLY. No one would marry a girl with big feet. Can you imagine the pain? Americans are not under the influence of Chinese customs and from a distance, we are apalled! But in China, even after a law was passed against foot-binding, some parents would still do it - knowing that they were going to prison. That is how strong a custom can be. It can cloud judgement.

The pain of circumcision wouldn't be quite as bad if the foreskin was fully developed at birth. But it is still adhered to the glans [ head of the penis ] and does not separate naturally for several years. Mother Nature may be slow, but it produces an exquisitely sensitive sexual organ.

The first step of a circumcision is to rip the adhered foreskin off the glans using a metal probe. But the two skins are still fused as one. And patches of skin are ripped off the glans in the process. I see the glans of these tiny penises with skin missing and the tissue exposed every day. The pain is supposed to be comparable to having a metal probe forced under your fingernail and ripping it back and forth until the fingernail comes off. Imagine the pain! It is now recommended that a pain block be used. But it is not a law. So only a few babies get it.

So why do we do it? Because it is what we are used to. A custom. Explain that to a baby that is enduring a pain that no human being should ever have to endure!

There are many other reasons not to circumcise. It is removing the best skin of the penis. The foreskin contains approx. 20,000 specialized nerves that enhance sexual pleasure. The skin remaining is crude and has only a fraction of the sensation. The foreskin is NOT extra skin. It is there so that the penis can get longer during an erection. It is designed to unfold and stretch out, allowing the penis to grow. In the process, the foreskin is pulled off the glans. The glans is then uncovered and now the intact penis looks the same as a circumcised penis. They end up looking the same during an erection. But the intact penis is larger and has more sensation.

Over the years, doctors have invented excuses for circumcision and the public latches onto them. These excuses are false and misleading. There is no reason good enough to inflict such sharp, excruciating pain on someone you love. To forever decrease his sexual pleasure. To amputate the best, most sensitive part of his penis. To violate his human rights.

As I watch parents hug and kiss their new babies. Then insist that their babies endure a pain that is comparable to a fingernail being ripped off with a metal probe. And then a scalpel cuts - with no anesthesia. I want to scream, "Do you love your baby, or hate him?"

There are many organizations that would help you with an expose'. They are easy to find on the internet. Please help! Babies are weak. This custom is strong.

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