Why circumcision is wrong

You may be fine, your son may be fine, but it is morally wrong to circumcise your son just because you want to.

By Lillian Dell’Aquila Cannon

[I have spent the past ten years thinking, reading, talking and writing about circumcision.  When I began, I thought circumcision was normal and beneficial, but as I learned more about it, I became confused as to whether it was a good idea to circumcise infants, and then sure it was a terrible thing and angry at those who promoted it or chose to circumcise, despite being given information.  I suffered through some painful personal experiences because of my intactivism, and I may have even lost out on a job and grad school because of my "peculiar" interest (when you Google my name, it is penises all the way down.)  Though I now can talk about circumcision without instantly becoming furious, I still believe the routine infant circumcision of babies to be a terrible thing, and that is why I keep this blog up.  Over the past two years, I have written about many aspects of routine infant circumcision, including debunking the myths that lead people to circumcise, the hidden cultural and psychosocial history behind it, and the anthropology of circumcision, but many of these arguments require deep exploration of complicated scientific and sociocultural issues.  Now I would like to tell you why circumcision is morally wrong in plain and simple language.]

1.  Even though many circumcised men are just fine, some are not, and since you cannot know that your son will be one of the ones who is just fine, you should not risk it. 

It is true that most of the men you know are likely fine, and have fine sex lives, and are fine being circumcised.  However, some circumcised men are not fine.  Babies can and do die because they were circumcised.  It’s not common, but it happens.  Some children require repeated surgeries because of complications of their circumcisions.  Some men have sexual problems because of their circumcisions.  The thing is, the people with circumcision problems aren’t sharing their problems over Facebook or the water cooler, so you think it  doesn’t happen, but it does.  The odds are, your son will be fine if he is circumcised, but there is a real chance he won’t be fine, so you shouldn’t take the risk.

2.  The foreskin has a purpose, but you don’t have to hate your own (or your partner’s) penis to accept that circumcision is wrong.

The foreskin protects against infection, but it also plays an important role in sex.  The nerves in the foreskin and frenulum are the most sensitive on the penis, but in an entirely different way than the head of the penis.  Circumcised men cannot imagine this feeling, and so quickly discount it as unimportant for sex, but men who are not circumcised see those sensations as the most important part of their sexual feelings.  If you have been circumcised since birth, you simply do not know what you are missing, and so you are not in a position to judge that another person would be fine without those sensations.  However, this does not mean that you have to feel bad about your penis.  There are many sexually satisfied circumcised men out there, including my husband.  The way my husband and I see it, we love his penis, but we also see that there could have been more had his parents not circumcised him.  We chose not to circumcise our sons, and yet this decision has not diminished his sexual self-image.

3.  Circumcision might reduce the risk of some problems, but you could prevent those problems without cutting off part of the penis, and only the person attached to the penis is in a position to judge whether or not it is worth it.

People who say that circumcision is good often say that it will reduce the risk of various infections, including minor ones like UTIs and yeast, and major ones, like various STDs, or that it makes cleaning the penis easier.  The evidence for these arguments is not entirely clear, and the debate over it can get very confusing.  This one area tripped me up for a long time when I was learning about circumcision, and I understand that parents only want to protect their children, but if you stop to think about it logically, circumcision doesn’t make sense.  Cleaning an uncircumcised (intact) penis is super-easy: you just wipe it off.  You never have to clean under a baby’s foreskin because the skin cannot pull back, and older children and men who can pull back their foreskins only need a quick swish in the shower or bath to get clean.  All of the minor problems like bladder or yeast infections can be easily cured with basic antibiotics and creams, and girls get them more anyway.  Why do surgery for something that hasn’t happened yet and could be cured with a simple prescription?

As for STDs, even if circumcision reduced the risk (which it likely doesn’t, seeing as the other Western countries that don’t circumcise have lower STD rates than the circumcising U.S.), you would still have to wear a condom or practice monogamy or abstinence to be sure to not get an STD.  If you’re going to have a wear a condom anyway, why get circumcised?  Would you tell your son, “Hey, you don’t have to wear a condom because you’re circumcised?”  Of course not.  Only the person attached to the penis is in a position to judge whether the minor benefits of circumcision are worth the risks and sexual changes, because he is the one who is going to have to live with the consequences.  The decision is his alone.  Sometimes parents say, “Well, you have to do it as an infant, because no one would choose to do it in adulthood.”  Isn’t that actually an argument against circumcision?  If a man wouldn’t choose to do it, then why should you force it on him?

4.  The original motive for routine circumcision was anti-sexual, but we know now that sexual desire is normal and healthy.

Most parents who choose circumcision for their sons do so because they are circumcised, and their relatives are circumcised, and they think it is normal and traditional and healthy, but routine circumcision actually started as a way to prevent boys from masturbating.  It’s weird, but true.  In the 1800s, people thought that too much sexual feeling and excitement would hurt you, and so they circumcised boys (and girls, though this never was as popular) to get their minds off sex.  This became a fad that spread down through society, and after a while, the original motives were forgotten, but we can read the words of the doctors from the 1800s to know the truth.  In the 21st century, we see sex quite differently.  We want to have good sex lives and we spend a lot of time and money to make ours even better.  Whether you believe that sexuality is a gift from God to bind spouses together and produce children, or a product of evolution to make sure that the species continues, you know that sexual feelings and desire have an important purpose.  It is wrong to continue this practice whose original purpose was to reduce sexuality.

5.  Though they mean well, people who promote circumcision have their own biases.

It is true that some doctors recommend circumcision.  In other modern countries beside the U.S., though, circumcision is very rare, and most doctors do not recommend it.  Bodies and penises are the same the world over, so why do doctors disagree?  Because doctors are human, and we all have our own biases.  A circumcised doctor is also a man who loves sex and his own penis, and who doesn’t want to think that he is missing out on something.  That is why he can look at all the same evidence as a European doctor and come to the opposite conclusion.  Sure, those European doctors might also be biased against circumcision because they are not circumcised, but they still have the opportunity to change their minds and get circumcised if they feel the weight of the evidence has shifted.  The circumcised doctors are more likely to hold onto their opinions even if the evidence changes, because they cannot go back in time and be un-circumcised, nor can they undo the circumcisions they performed on babies.  This alone makes them more likely to be biased, though it does not make them bad people, nor does my caution mean that I am anti-doctor.  They are very smart and very hard-working, but they are also human beings whose advice is not entirely disinterested.  The ancient fable of the fox without a tail shows this quite nicely:

It happened that a Fox caught its tail in a trap, and in struggling to release himself lost all of it but the stump. At first he was ashamed to show himself among his fellow foxes. But at last he determined to put a bolder face upon his misfortune, and summoned all the foxes to a general meeting to consider a proposal which he had to place before them. When they had assembled together the Fox proposed that they should all do away with their tails. He pointed out how inconvenient a tail was when they were pursued by their enemies, the dogs; how much it was in the way when they desired to sit down and hold a friendly conversation with one another. He failed to see any advantage in carrying about such a useless encumbrance. “That is all very well,” said one of the older foxes; “but I do not think you would have recommended us to dispense with our chief ornament if you had not happened to lose it yourself.”

Distrust interested advice.

“The Fox without a Tail”
by John Edwin Noble

 

6.  It doesn’t matter if your son’s penis looks like yours or anyone else’s.

People get hung up on this idea of penises “matching.”  They say that the son’s penis should look like the father’s, or like the other children’s.  But why?  Little children who see their father’s penis mainly notice the size and hair.  Only older children will notice the lack of foreskin, and even then, all you have to say is, “When Daddy was born, they thought it was a good idea to cut off the foreskin, but now we know that it is not.”  That’s it, and it is the truth.  Even the “locker room” argument fails now, as only half of babies born in the U.S. today are circumcised.  People are aware of the controversy surrounding circumcision, and by the time these babies are in a locker room, it will be impossible to ignorantly mock the half that are not circumcised.  Your child will not want to cut off part of his penis and will not suffer.

7.  Circumcision is wrong because it is unjust.

Parents want to do right by their children, and it can seem like circumcision is the right decision: the son will “match” the father, he will be protected from infection, he will be part of a family tradition, his penis will look like what you are used to seeing.  These reasons are powerfully attractive, and the motives are good, but all of them are incorrect.  Unfortunately, it can be hard to change your mind about circumcision.  Your spouse or family may object, or you may have already had one son circumcised, or you might just think that uncircumcised penises look weird.  Overcoming these obstacles can seem difficult or impossible, but many other parents have faced them and succeeded.  It is possible to leave your son intact, stay married, keep relationships with your family and friends, and get over how your son’s penis looks to you.

Though it may seem tempting and easy to ignore this new information on circumcision and say, “He’ll be fine,” and have your son circumcised, it is morally wrong to do so.  The goal of parenting is not that your child be “fine.”  Many things turn out “fine” that would have been better avoided.  You are your son’s parent, but you do not own him.  Parents and children have duties to each other, but one of them is not that the child serve to provoke only positive feelings in the parent.  In fact, becoming a parent is the beginning of a long series of decisions in which you have the responsibility to do your best by your child, even when it is not easy or comfortable.  It is wrong to have your son circumcised in order to avoid being uncomfortable or pretend that you do not know what you now know.  If you choose to circumcise your son, that decision cannot be undone, and your son may not be happy about it, and he may suffer problems.  Putting your emotional discomfort above his right to his whole body and health is wrong.

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74 Responses to Why circumcision is wrong

  1. Bravo, Lilli! I always like your writings, and this time is no exception. For what it’s worth, a chapter of my book The Metaphysics of Stupidity is about circumcision and how it relates to being stupid. I posted the chapter (titled “Stupid Penis”) in its entirety on my After Books blog, which can be found here. Thank you, once again, for another informed and well-articulated contribution to our cause of solving this cultural problem.

  2. Sam says:

    Ah, nothing more asinine than declaring something “morally wrong” in a factual matter.

    I’m circumcised, I’m glad my parents had me circumcised, and despite you tryhard non-issue activists who have no real plight to piss and moan about, I’ll have my son circumcised (unless fools that pander to pseudintellectuals ban it, like the Germans).

    • Lilli Cannon says:

      Thank you for providing an example of how not to be. You surely know your son will be happy with your decision, just as you are. What you propose to do is morally wrong, because nowhere in your comment do you show any care for your future child’s feelings or rights, only that you like your own penis, and you think that is enough. It is not; in fact, your feelings are totally beside the point. But good job reading to the end.

      • A very thoughtful and reasonable article Lilli. It never ceases to amaze me how many people in this world are plainly quite ignorant. What amazes me more however is that not only are they proud to boast of their ignorance, but that they would also rather wallow in their ignorance and stubbornly refuse to let themselves become less ignorant. The saddest part is that they impose their ignorance on others who are powerless to resist their ignorance. Someone much wiser than me once said: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

    • hsextant says:

      @ Sam,

      I am circumcised as well yet not all that terribly happy about it. Perhaps you could share in what ways you find joy in your circumcision and tell us how it has improved the quality of your life.

    • LucidFir says:

      Dear Sam,

      Why not let him make the choice himself when he is 18?

    • Robert says:

      Translation:
      “I can’t come to terms with the fact that my genitals were mutilated, so I’ll inflict it on my child, too”

    • Rob L says:

      @Sam Isn’t that quaint… I was on the receiving end of a botched childhood circumcision that has pretty much ruined my sex life, and I’m now 36. Though you may not have problems, I do everything I can to make sure no one puts their kid through the same thing I went through. Perhaps you should read this:

      http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/796.full.pdf

      The fact you know nothing about circumcision, yet banter on like you do amazes me.

  3. hsextant says:

    Excellent post Lilly as always. Glad to see you post again.

    In regards to your comment in about men not being fine, I consider myself damaged by circumcision. I have always had premature ejaculation. Tried doing the Masters and Johnson’s exercises to no avail. The only way I can bring my wife to orgasm is to take her to the edge with cunnilingus and then penetrate her.

    Can I prove definitively that circumcision is my problem? No. But I have this problem and I am circumcised.

    What never ceases to amaze me about the circumcision argument is the complete disregard that people have for the rights of the infant. All the pro-circ arguments are extremely flimsy. The constitutional rights of the child should trump even a strong argument RIC, and yet, it continues to be promoted. One in 8 women will suffer from breast cancer at some point in their lives. How much traction would routine infant mastectomy gain in our society? Whoa! I forgot, never mention any thing female in an argument about RIC, it is a straw man argument and used in poor taste to inflame passions. Yes, and it does point out just how absurd RIC is, ergo it is critical to not use such arguments, and incite passions. Meanwhile the pro-circs shamelessly tell us that it reduces the chance of getting penile cancer. A male in the US has a 1 in 1437 life time risk of getting cancer of the penis, in Denmark where circumcision is rare, the rate is 1 in 1694.

    There is something pervasively sick in a society that, counter to evidence otherwise, continues to perform a tribal ritual under the guise of medical efficacy in complete disregard to the human rights of the infant.

    • Lilli Cannon says:

      Thank you so much. I agree with all your inflammatory arguments, and have made them myself, but I wanted something simple and shareable.

    • Nate says:

      I would recommend purchasing a cock ring. It helps maintain an erection, prevent ejaculation from happening too quickly and has helped me train myself to not have the same issue you are speaking of. It came to me when I began having sex and using condoms versus my own self pleasure (always without). I found it very hard to not ejaculate by myself but with a condom it was harder. It wasn’t till I had been sexually active with a woman that I trusted and was on birth control that I realized the problem was the lack of constriction. So I removed the upper portion of the condom and used the ring from the base; IT WORKED! I am just trying to say that just because you have an issue with pre-mature ejaculation does not mean you have to point the finger at circumcision, we are all made differently and although taking a blade to your man parts at a young age may seem horrendous to some, I, just like many of the men on this post and in this country are circumcised and I am very happy with it. Given I do not know what it’s like to be otherwise I cannot share my opinion on the other side nor will I ever understand. However, if the parents find a reputable doctor who they know will do a good job and the husband can assure the wife that his life was fine and they were able to reporduce without issue then why not? It’s no different than African tribes wearing plates in their lips or rings on their necks to extend them to ungodly lengths. Traditions exist for a reason and although some of them seem barbaric and down right cruel, this world was founded on stupidity and superstition. I am no more offended by people circumcising their children in the safest way possible than I am parents taking their children to church. You may think they are completely different but are they really? Tradition proven by the words of others who say they know what’s right and wrong but then judge those who do not follow in their ways. Neither should be allowed but we shouldn’t try and judge those who do not follow in your steps as ignorant no more than worshiping a man in the sky might seem to another. I’ve chosen to pick my battles and unless the parents are intentionally mutilating their children I do not see this as the epidemic that many try to bring it up as. I hope I did not offend anyone by this post, I just want to try and shed another angle of perspective on the discussion.

      • hsextant says:

        @Nate,

        Interesting post. I may have to try your suggestions at the beginning of your reply, although at my age I may feel a bit silly with said device.

        You said: “I am just trying to say that just because you have an issue with pre-mature ejaculation does not mean you have to point the finger at circumcision, we are all made differently and although taking a blade to your man parts at a young age may seem horrendous to some, I, just like many of the men on this post and in this country are circumcised and I am very happy with it.”

        I believe I did allow for the fact that I can’t prove my PE is from circumcision but there is a growing suspicion that PE can be linked to circumcision. But do tell, what exactly is it that you are happy with regarding your circumcision. I am extremely unhappy with mine and I suspect that PE is one of the reasons. Another reason I am unhappy is that women who have experienced coitus with both cut and intact men report that sex with intact men is more enjoyable due to the gliding action of the foreskin. They also report that intact men last longer, and because they can maintain an erection with less stimulation, they do not thrust as hard. As such, coitus is less traumatic to their vaginal walls. I love my wife, I would like her to experience that. So those are some reasons I am unhappy with my circumcision, so I am curious, what specifically makes you happy about yours?

        You said: “However, if the parents find a reputable doctor who they know will do a good job and the husband can assure the wife that his life was fine and they were able to reporduce without issue then why not?”

        Well for starters let’s go with rights of the child. Does the infant have the right to make these sort of decisions for himself eventually in his life? Does a child have a right to be unhappy about a surgical procedure done on his penis when he was he was a newborn infant? Or is he just a hot head radical? I am very unhappy that I was circumcised against my will. Is it just tough shit? Too bad? My rights do not count, only parents have rights regarding male genital integrity. Somebody in another post mentioned nose jobs. Do you think that you could get a nose job done anywhere in the US on an infant with a normal nose for cosmetic reasons? I want his or her nose to look like mine. Would that fly anywhere in the US?

        You said: “Traditions exist for a reason…”

        Nate, I am not Jewish nor Islamic. So what exact tradition was I circumcised too? Perhaps the Victorian tradition of fear of masturbation? The Victorian belief that sex is immoral except for the generation of children? Or was it the British upper class distaste by mothers and nannies for having to clean the penis and instruct their sons on how to wash an uncut penis? Indeed some traditions go back to Abraham, but mine seems to go back to Dr. John Kellogg (yes, of the corn flakes fame). Dr. Kellogg was convinced that masturbation would lead to the ruin of modern society. So he circumcised boys and applied carbolic acid to the clitoris of girls. Well Nate, as you said…” some of them seem barbaric and down right cruel, this world was founded on stupidity and superstition.” So is that a tradition that we should continue?

        You said: “I am no more offended by people circumcising their children in the safest way possible than I am parents taking their children to church. You may think they are completely different but are they really?”

        I was forced to go to church and to religious instruction in my early teens. In my mid teens, I decided that I was not going to do that any longer. I quit the church. Can I do the equivalent with circumcision? Yes, I realize that there are restoration devices. Do they bring back the frenulum delta, do they restore the ridged band, do they bring back the mucuosa layer, does it restore any one of the 15,000 to 20,000 nerve endings that were destroyed in my circumcision? Will encouraging my son to procure one of these stretching devices ever alleviate the shame that I feel that I allowed this barbaric procedure to occur to him out of stupidity and ignorance?

        You said: “…unless the parents are intentionally mutilating their children…”

        OK, so what qualifies as mutilation? How many nerve endings have to be destroyed before it is mutilation? Would the surgical removal of of just the pad off the little finger on the left hand qualify as mutilation? What if that is some one’s tradition? Given my choice between my foreskin and the said pad, take the pad, I got nine other digits.

        I guess here is the thing, I really enjoy coitus, masturbation, and oral sex. Yes, I have no idea of what sex is like with an intact penis. But I have this vivid imagination that thinks that playing with my wife’s inner labia through my foreskin and vice versa might be a hell of a lot of fun. I imagine what penetration feels like with a highly innervated foreskin being pushed back by my wife’s vaginal wall. I imagine coitus for long periods without premature ejaculation, hypersensitivity of the glans, or genital abrasion for both my wife and I. It doesn’t take a hell of lot of imagination to figure that 15 square inches of specialized skin, and 15K to 20K of additional nerve endings is probably going to make sex far more enriched that what I experience. It doesn’t take a hell of lot imagination to wonder what effect circumcision may have on male sexuality, male coital performance, and extrapolate that out and ask what effect does circumcision have on relationships and marriage. But as you say traditions exist for a reason…and the tradition that I was circumcised under was not that of Abraham but that of aVictorian perverted prude who not only despised masturbation and coitus, but seemed to have an anal fetish for enema. And you know what Nate? It pisses me off that I was circumcised, but what really pisses me off was that I was stupid and ignorant enough to allow my son to be circumcised. So let me ask you, what do you think of a tradition that was founded on the fear of masturbation and the notion that sexual pleasure between spouses is immoral? To use your words, do you think that it may seem barbaric and down right cruel? Do you think that such a tradition may have been founded on stupidity and superstition?

        Is this a tradition that we should carry on? If so then, perhaps those of us with daughters should keep a bottle of carbolic acid handy in the medicine cabinet. Do you have the balls to do that to your daughter? Are you ignorant enough to put carbolic acid on your daughter’s clitoris because you caught her masturbating?

        I suggest watching this video (thanks to SM for linking to it) and

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD2yW7AaZFw

        All this is theoretical. We really have no idea if the things that I piss and moan about are 100% factual. Ergo in some peoples minds, it is just a bunch of crap promoted by hot heads raising hell about nothing. But here is what we do know, in the United States surgery with no medical efficacy is illegal to perform on minors. It is illegal to perform cosmetic or religious ritual surgeries on the genitals of female minors. Children in the US are protected from any kind of unnecessary surgeries except circumcision. That is tradition and that tradition exceeds the right of the individual.

        My right to get circumcised or not was usurped by my parents, and I usurped my son’s right. Once you put a steak through a meat grinder, you have hamburger. You are never going to get the steak back. That is not theoretical, that is fact.

      • Alexandra says:

        I may not be understanding your description correctly, but to me, it sounds like you are using the cock ring/condom ring to simulate the gliding action of the foreskin..

    • roger desmoulins says:

      sextant, you are one of the best male American anti-circ voices.

      The American upper upper middle class has been circumcising some or most of its boys for 130 years. You’d think by now there would be studies of how circumcision does or does not damage normal marital sex. Especially PE. 20-50 years ago, it was commonly asserted that circumcised men last longer and hence women enjoy them more. There never has been a study of a random sample of couples where he is intact cut, to get to the bottom of this. We don’t even know whether circumcision status affects condom use. The lack of studies on the long term sexual and other outcomes of RIC is consistent with RIC coming from a dark irrational corner of the human mind.

  4. Alison Whyte says:

    Ahhhh Lilli…when I was pregnant 3 years ago I had a massive row with my mother in law about circumcision.

    She said well now that you know you are having a boy if you want us to pay for his circumcision we will. I was knocked sideways, hadn’t even thought about it. My instant response was no way…what for???

    So here ensued months of arguing about the subject…My argument was why have surgery that could have complications if it’s not needed, if he’s 4 and needs it for medical reasons then so be it.

    I was met with, well the father in law wants it done, he’ll look like his daddy, it’s cleaner, his future girlfriends will thank you and hell I don’t want to clean poop out from under his foreskin…*face palm!

    Jesus Christ I just wanted to punch her in the face…my last argument was if you don’t want to see your grandchild because he’s not circumcised them that is your choice…he will NOT be getting it done…end of discussion.

    As it turned out my son was extremely ill the day after being born and was in the NICU the very last thing he needed was a completely unnecessary surgery.

    I have nothing against a man having a circumcision that was medically needed or a personal choice. To me it’s like getting your baby a tattoo…would you really make that choice for your child??

    • Lilli Cannon says:

      So does your mother-in-law still talk to you? Does she see your son? Has she ever said anything, or was your firm statement the end of it?

      • Alison Whyte says:

        Yes the mother in law sees my son and shock horror her and the father in law even change his diaper!!!
        It was most def the end of the discussion, in fact she just had to get used to the fact she couldn’t control a 35 year old woman…like she does her kids.
        We’ve had our ups and downs and she just says well I guess you think differently because you’re English and I’m Canadian. I’m happy with that.

        • Lilli Cannon says:

          Well, that’s a great ending! I do believe that when one is faced with an angry relative, even if it is one’s spouse, it is best to be firm.

          • Alison Whyte says:

            I would have upsticks and moved back to the UK if that hadn’t been the end of the discussion.
            My biggest failings in life have been when I have done what other people have thought I should do.
            At least if I make a mistake nowadays it’s all my fault no one elses.

        • roger desmoulins says:

          Ms Whyte, welcome to the interior of North America, the Empire of the Bald Penis.
          You Brits gave up RIC in the 1950s — hooray! Canadians are still transitioning away from it.
          My mother had to threaten divorce in order to shut my grandmother up re getting me circumcised.

    • roger desmoulins says:

      My mother and her mother in law had a very similar row when I was born in the 1940s. My mother finally threatened to divorce my father if he and his mother did not STFU. That’s what it took to keep me intact. My mother did not reveal this until she was in her 80s and nearly 20 years after my father’s death. My father and grandmother never said or did anything inappropriate in my presence after my mother won this showdown.

  5. EN says:

    I hate you do-gooder, hippie bastards for your social pollution. I wasn’t circumcised as a baby and I hated my parents for it. As soon as I learned I was a freakshow who could produce something called “cheese” and that the rest of the boys got to have a penis that women actually wanted, I tried slamming my foreskin in a drawer…at age 4, hoping that useless flap would die & fall off. It never did. I did my best to avoid exposing myself after that…dropped out of swim camp, refused to participate in sports that might have exposed me in the change rooms, breaking off dates before she got too far. I kept my foreskin retracted for years, used benzoyl peroxide to keep it dry and non-disgusting until I was 21 and finally, FINALLY got myself circumcised. You might think you’re doing a favor to your sons by leaving them primitive & non-upgraded, and in that case, I imagine you hate braces & vaccines too. Your self-righteous crap is the subject of cocktail-parties for you, but for your sons, it means the difference between being a guy who doesn’t have a butt-ugly, canned catfood smelling, penile papule having penis, vs just being allowed to be a guy. I will never, ever forgive my parents for stealing my chance to just be another kid because of their self-righteous hippie bullshit, and I hope that your kids repay the favor.

    • hsextant says:

      @EN

      Your parents gave you the choice for circumcision. Mine didn’t. At age 4 you certainly seemed to have a precocious foreskin awareness. I wished my parents were do-gooder self righteous hippie bastards.

    • roger desmoulins says:

      EN sir:
      Your thinking is a fine example of what I call American anti-foreskin bigotry, that is, contempt for the millions of years of evolution that finely crafted the tip of the human penis. I prefer to give Mother Nature the benefit of the doubt.

      If having foreskin discourages boys and girls from having sex while in high school, than I’m all for foreskin!

      Have you ever been to European nude beach? To a European sauna? To a Japanese public bath? In such venues, nearly all men have the penis you despise. Yet somehow, Europeans and Japanese manage to have normal sex and family lives.

      What women expect of men in the bedroom is not fixed by God or evolution, but evolves over time. The internet has made it possible for millions of American women to look at explicit images of natural male genitalia. Some are disgusted, but others are accepting, and some are even intrigued. Do not assume that the penis which may have disgusted many American women of your generation when you were of high school and college age, will also disgust, 20-25 years in the future, the female peers of a boy born now. Sleeve length is a matter of fashion, and the foreskin is a long sleeve on the short arm. If there is one thing that is certain, it is that women’s ideas of what is fashionable evolve over time and across cultures.

      I am a baby boomer who grew up intact in the midwest. For years, I was typically the only pointed dick in the locker room. But I was never made fun of, because my point of peculiarity was easy to conceal. Intact guys can pass for cut by sliding the foreskin back. As a teen, I wanted to get cut as a young adult, but when I became old enough, I procrastinated. Good thing, because in my 40s, I came to discover the sexual advantages of the intact penis. I learned more about this in my 50s, thanks to the emergence of social media.

      I have been married for 24 years to an American woman who grew up with no brothers, and whose college boyfriend was intact. Hence she completely accepts my erotic body. When we get together, she typically climaxes 3-4 times. During the early years of our acquaintance, it became clear that she knew more about the sexual virtues of the intact penis than I did. I was a willing learner at her feet. During her free spirited younger days, she dated many men. Every man she dated who had tragic PE, was cut. In her experience, cut men do not last as long, and never remain hard after ejaculating.

      Outspoken sex positive women who have praised the sexual virtues of the intact penis include Gloria Brame, Nina Hartley, Betty Dodson, Rachel Rabbit White, Laci Green and Patricia Robinett. Finally this video:

      • hsextant says:

        Interesting and good video Roger. Check out the the YouTube link that SM added below. It discusses the innervation of the foreskin. It is excellent.

        • roger desmoulins says:

          North American women are getting stronger, smarter, and more self-aware about sex by the year. These Canadian women are cases in point. I have seen many 25-30 year old foreskin friendly American women say that they were all for RIC when they started college. Young women are willing to change their views.

    • Lisa Blair says:

      This makes me so sad on so many levels. I’m so sorry for the emotional pain you have obviously felt for so many years…. and I hope that you are some day able to make peace with yourself and your feeling for your parents.

      It seems so much more complicated than what could be caused by a foreskin…

    • Lilli Cannon says:

      It’s very unfortunate that you suffered, but at least you had the choice to change your parents’ decision. Boys who are circumcised and become unhappy with their parents’ decision have no such recourse.

    • Robert says:

      Wow. Way to deflect. You weren’t denied a chance to be like every other kid, you and every other kid you knew were deprived the right to your whole body. To experience sex as it was intended, to not have your glans rub against clothing your entire life until it’s so desensitized you can’t even get it up anymore.

      But then, I have a feeling you’re just a troll. No 4-year-old understands foreskin. My son is four – he enjoys his foreskin, but has no real idea why my penis doesn’t look like his and hasn’t asked.

    • Aurora says:

      85% of the worlds males are intact & perfectly fine with it. You had a natural bimbo repellent & did away with it. As for “cheese” it’s called smegma which is the Greek word for “soap” & women produce it in larger quantities than men do & yet no one is advocating cutting their labias off when they’re babies & I have yet to hear of a woman having this problem with “cheese”.

      Why is it that only AMERICAN men don’t know how to wash?

      • hsextant says:

        @Aurora

        We don’t have to know how to wash, most of us have had that taken care of at birth. You know if they would have circumcised our eye lids we wouldn’t have to clean sand out the corner of our eyes in the morning. They call it sand, but that is a euphemism. The sand man is actually a purveyor of aged hard cheeses that must be grated.

        Seriously, I don’t know where this no need to wash concept come from. I am circumcised and before I go to the bedroom, I drop by the bathroom and freshen up old pete and the surround area, if not take shower. So what has circumcision saved me? The 500 milliseconds it takes to retract a foreskin? Circumcision does absolutely nothing for ball sweat. Oh no, now they will be gunning for our scrotums.

      • roger desmoulins says:

        Why is it that American mothers are the only first world mothers who think that having to explain penis hygiene to their sons is an indignity?

        Women have genital hygiene issues. The continental European response is to include bidets in baths, not remove the labia minora at birth. English speaking people are too embarrassed to use bidets, but they too respect the integrity of the female intimate body. Somehow, the fiddly bits on the end of the penis are fair game, however.

    • JMI says:

      I am calling BS. You did not, at 4 years old, worry that “women wanted” some other penis. If you were even aware of what women want sexually, at age 4, something was really sickeningly wrong in your family.

      The hatred for leaving boys intact speaks volumes about your lack of maturity, as does your pedofilial fantasy.

      And it’s not “hippie bullshit”, it’s biology. Do they teach that in your warped little child-butchering world?

    • SM says:

      The ignorance and foolishness in this post is astounding. It’s ignorance like this, caused by the misinformation and idiocy in some social circles, that perpetuates the ignorance on this subject. Don’t be such a sheep. If it were custom to amputate your child’s’ legs people like this would go along wholeheartedly, and children who had their legs spared would hate their parents for leaving them intact—i.e. not an amputee.

      Luckily, being uncircumcised is the normal state in the majority of the world and in places like the United States circumcision is on a downward trend. Once people realize that not being butchered at birth is just fine, they tend to leave their children intact as well. They realize that circumcision is an unnecessary cosmetic surgery unless the infant has a related health concern, which is rare.

      And no, being circumcised is not an upgrade. It is an amputation of an organ that serves numerous functions. Have fun with your keratinized, desensitized, dry glans.

    • Lauren says:

      That’s called body dysmorphic disorder and is along the lines of an anorexic hating their “fat”. You should have been treated for your psychological condition. I’m sorry that disfigured boys so deeply injured your self-image that you resorted to self-harm.

  6. Lisa Blair says:

    I was a young mother who circumcised her first son because “That’s just what you did”. He had no problems. With my second son, I was better educated, but still succumbed to social pressure and had him circumcised. It was traumatic for all parties involved. He was brought to me shaking and in shock, I was horrified, and my son had trouble with the healing process and we struggled for months to get it healed properly.

    I swore then that if I ever had another male child he would absolutely NOT be circumcised. When I married my second husband it just so happened that he had been born overseas and wasn’t circumcised. He was extremely happy having all his sensations in tact, my boys asked normal questions and were satisfied with the answers, and all parties went on to live happy lives.

    I had a girl the third time around…. and she is now a mother of my beautiful 3 yr old uncircumcised grandson. He loves his penis just the way it is and I am so proud of my daughter from learning from my own mistakes.

    BTW…. Not trying to be dirty or inappropriate here, but if I ever questioned if there was a reason to leave the a little boy’s penis intact, all I would have to do is remind myself how much my grandson loves playing with his foreskin! ROFL

  7. Lm says:

    Circumcision has certainly been around for longer than the 1800′s, considering Moses did it, and heres the shocker It had NOTHING to do with masterbation. You don’t know your history at all. And there is nothing “wrong” with circumcision. Its a preference, for some its religious, others health, and for others its just aesthetics. To say that its wrong implies consequence of punishment by society or religious backlash. Certainly in todays and yesterdays society quite the opposite is true. Its this type of thinking that causes bigotry on both sides. I suppose your against nose jobs and ear piercing too? If not, you should, cause these are surgical body transformations as well. Its placement makes no difference. Geez…why don’t we make an issue our of genital piercings as well? The only thing that is wrong here is you guilting others over a perfectly normal thing.

    • Lilli Cannon says:

      Religious circumcision, which only is prescribed in the Jewish Bible for Jews, has been around a long time, but non-religious circumcision as practiced by Western non-Jews only dates back to the 1800s, and if you follow the links and read the article about the Victorian-era doctors who recommended it, you will see that it was indeed all about masturbation. Saying it is wrong to circumcise an infant does not imply punishment or religious backlash; a thing can be wrong to do even if one is never punished. Nose jobs and piercings are cosmetic alterations chosen by the person whose body is being altered and which do not affect the functioning of the body part. Infant circumcision is forced on the child and affects his sexual functioning. They are not at all alike. If you choose to have yourself circumcised, fine, that’s your choice. But can you not see that it is entirely different when your aesthetics are forced onto another person who cannot resist and who may suffer problems because of it? As for guilt, I do know many parents who feel guilty that they had their sons circumcised; the previous post was all about that, and we even have a comment above yours about feeling bad for circumcising. They feel guilty because they did something they later found to be wrong. Guilt and mistakes are a part of life; it’s what you do about it that matters more. Will you shoot the messenger, or find a way through the guilt? One is emotionally and intellectually honest, the other is not.

      • bobbie says:

        I read a article on the internet that said that circumcision done back in Old Testament times was not like it is done today, that actually only the tip of the foreskin was cut off NOT the darn thing like now! Wish I could remember the book something like Jewish Book of History??

    • Zilia says:

      Exactly my point, Lm!
      My son is intact and my daughter has no ear piercings. To me, they are both body alterations (although circ is a bit more extreme in my eyes) and I will not make a permanent change to their bodies.
      Its their bodies so I have no right to modify it!
      Normal you say? Certainly not once you step outside the US. Trust me, as an European I know what I’m talking about.

    • SM says:

      Your ignorance is showing.

      “Perfectly normal”…what a moronic phrase in this context. “Perfectly normal” means nothing. In some places female genital mutilation is “perfectly normal.” In some places foot binding is “perfectly normal.” Just because it’s perfectly normal doesn’t mean it’s not a morally unjust butchery of infant boys. Religion or custom should not take precedence over the right to ones own body.

      As for the laughable attempt at equivalency: would you give a healthy infant a nose job or genital piercing? I assume most people are against giving healthy newborns nose jobs, genital piercings, breast implants, or any other unnecessary cosmetic surgery. Circumcision is even worse, because it is irreversible and forever alters the function of the penis. No one has a problem with an adult man electing to be circumcised just as we have no problem with piercings and nose jobs—in these cases it is a consenting adult making choices for their own body. That is the key. Those who are circumcised at infancy have no capacity to consent to the cosmetic, wholly unnecessary surgery.

    • Lm, you said to someone else, “You don’t know your history at all,” after you said, “Moses did it.” Moses didn’t circumcise his son, which is why his wife Zipporah did in that wild and crazy scene. Zipporah was daughter of a pagan priest from a tribe that practiced circumcision, so in her mind, her husband had “sinned” against her “god”. Moses sent her home to her father shortly after. So perhaps you meant Abraham?

      Problem is, there is no circumcision covenant in the Abraham story in the original history of the Jewish people… it was added much later. The “Rape of Dinah” story was also changed to include the gruesome, bloody massacre after mass circumcision. Circumcision was not demanded by God and Jewish scholars know it. They call the editors of the original Jewish history, “corrupt priests”. See “The Book of J”.

      The tale about the tricky dicky fox and his lost tail seems to have been written to clue in those who are being hounded, to to speak, to mutilate themselves – and others – because, “Hey, it’s better to be mutilated – because I am.” The wise fox in the end nails it. “You wouldn’t be pushing circumcision if you hadn’t lost your own foreskin.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Aesop had the circumcision situation in mind when he wrote this story.

      What is wrong with circumcision is the same thing that is wrong with any form of child abuse and power-over; the child feels betrayed, powerless, helpless, hopeless, impotent, and a myriad of other unfortunate feelings.

      What is wrong with circumcision is imprinting a child with fear, for it replaces his natural intelligence and curiosity with a preoccupation with his personal safety. Fear fills his natural, relaxed, healthy body with tension and stress that cause all sorts of physical ailments now and later. The trauma fixates him on his penis and causes him to obsess on sex – and especially sex in combination with blood and violence.

      What is wrong with circumcision is that some form of post traumatic stress disorder will follow him throughout his life. Circumcision steals a child’s life. His relationships forever after will be a replay of that early sexual trauma.

      What is normal is loving, honoring, protecting and respecting a child’s autonomy — not following the crowd, inflicting physical, mental and emotional harm and conformity on him.

      How do I know all this? Because they used to circumcise little girls in Kansas in the 1950s, and they got me. I put a great deal of time, energy and research into the subject so I could write a book. I am also a trauma counselor. I regress people to memories of things that happened “then” that repeat the feelings over and over throughout their lives – until they find the source and file it away in the past – so they can have a new, happy “now”. Much honesty is needed in our country, so that our men (and some of us women) can heal and let go of the fear of circumcision. Please stop defending and promoting this form of child sexual abuse. Thank you.

      • hsextant says:

        Patricia
        Good God, I believe you are the only woman I have run into that has endured this horrid practice. I have heard that it was done at various times and places. I am truly sorry for you.

        I like most circumcised men have no idea of how the trauma of circumcision would affect us. But common sense would dictate that if one of your first experiences in life is a severe painful trauma it has to imprint something very negative on a new born brain.

        • roger desmoulins says:

          Sextant, no gender is safe from the obsessive belief that the natural genitalia are disgusting and promote an unsavoury lewdness, is in no way confined to one gender. 300-400M people in African and the Moslem world believe that children of both genders must be cut.

          Into this black cesspool of hatred directed at the normal sexual body, there is a lit candle: the internet. The penis images in the Wikipedia entry “Human penis” show foreskin. Middle class young women from FGM cultures can see intact vulvas in Wikimedia Commons. These facts have the potential to end genital cutting by the end of this century.

  8. Peg says:

    Unlike the rest of the people commenting on this article (I assume), I know Lilli personally. Actually, she is my daughter, married to my oldest boy. I am the mother of five sons, all of whom are circumcised. Our boys now range in age from 23 to 35 so when they were born it was the thing to do. Knowing Lilli and listening to her and reading things she referred to me, if I had to do it over again. My boys would not have been circumcised.
    Bravo Lilli. I’m very proud of you.

        • roger desmoulins says:

          Ms Peg Cannon, don’t cry over the fact that your adult sons are circumcised. I suspect that a large majority of circumcised American men are OK before middle age, and some have decent sex lives into their 70s. Rather, embrace the fact that your descent will be mostly or entirely intact. Here’s hoping that Lilli’s views command respect throughout your extended family.

    • hsextant says:

      @Peg
      “Bravo Lilli. I am proud of you.”

      As you should be Peg. My son is 30 and circumcised, because as you said it was the thing to do. I had seen exactly one uncut penis in all my years at school and the military. Why wouldn’t I get him circumcised? I had no idea why we circumcised, but it was the done thing. Thanks to the Internet and sites like Lilli’s, there is no way I would do that today. It is a source of shame to me now that I allowed this barbaric stupidity to be conducted on my my son.

      It breaks my heart to read some of the mean spirited comments directed at her and I admire her courage and pluck to keep at it.

    • Robert says:

      As a 43-tear-old man who kept my son intact, I applaud you for realizing you were duped. My other also is completely against it now. Too late for me, but oh well…

  9. clearly_abused says:

    Circumcision is not just wrong, it is clearly sexual abuse, and clearly harmful.

  10. Lex says:

    This is a wonderful factual post. Thanks. Ill use it as a reference if anyone argues with me over this issue.

  11. SM says:

    Good summary of the facts. I’ve done a great deal of research myself and this is one of the best compilations of information I’ve come across, especially including the other linked blog posts. Circumcision is just a foolish, physically and sometimes mentally harmful custom that infringes on the right to ones own body. Outside of Jews and Muslims, the US is practically the last bastion of circumcision. Reason: it’s just a plain stupid practice.

    One of the more interesting things I’ve come across is this matter-of-fact discussion on the anatomy of the foreskin focusing largely on sexual function:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD2yW7AaZFw

    Kind of random, but it’s such an interesting video I wanted to share with others here who may not have seen it.

    • hsextant says:

      SM

      The video that you linked to in above post is excellent.

      I can personally attest to the surprise orgasm (always early) and the post orgasmic over sensitivity of the glans discussed from the runtime of 11:00 minutes to the end of the video.

      Thank you for sharing.

  12. Stacey says:

    I did all the research on circumcision before having my son five years ago. I started out being simply uneasy about the idea of circumcision, and quickly I became an advocate for leaving baby boys intact. In fact, it wasn’t until making this decision that I learned from my mom that my own father was intact. It was never discussed in our house, and they even had my little brother circumcised to fit in with other boys! So now my son is five, and I’m pretty sure he is happy with his penis. I also have a daughter, and would never consider piercing her ears – she can make that choice for herself when she’s older. It has become socially acceptable to punch holes in our little girls ears as babies. Does anyone else think that’s messed up, too? She’s 7 and we recently discussed tatoos- it might be really popular right now, her aunt has some cool tatoos and all the young people these days have tats all over, but you just don’t make permanent decisions like that for your children until they are adults for a reason – they can change their mind and might not want a stretched out purple pony on their upper thigh at age 30. Babies shouldn’t get tatoos. Or ear piercings. Or have their genitals partially removed. I think we do need to compare male genital cutting to that of females. More people should be shocked at what doctors and parents are doing to babies, and we should all be just as willing to protect boys as much as we do girls.

    • Alexa says:

      Just wanted to point out that ear piercings are not permanent.

      This is a very interesting thread. It’s not very becoming or helpful to attack those with differing opinions in an angry and accusatory tone. Open discussion about pros and cons of both sides should be welcomed without the holier than thou attitude. If the author’s idea is to change peoples minds about circumcision, than we do her no favors by calling those visiting the page who support circumcision “child mutilators” and the like.

      • hsextant says:

        Here are a few select quotes from the above discussion:

        “Ah, nothing more asinine than declaring something “morally wrong” in a factual matter.”
        “despite you tryhard non-issue activists who have no real plight to piss and moan about, I’ll have my son circumcised (unless fools that pander to pseudintellectuals ban it, like the Germans).”

        “I hate you do-gooder, hippie bastards for your social pollution.”

        “I imagine you hate braces & vaccines too. Your self-righteous crap is the subject of cocktail-parties for you, but for your sons, it means the difference between being a guy who doesn’t have a butt-ugly, canned catfood smelling, penile papule having penis, vs just being allowed to be a guy.”

        “You don’t know your history at all.”

        “The only thing that is wrong here is you guilting others over a perfectly normal thing. ”

        But you are correct, I do need to tone it and maintain a polite demeanor.

  13. bobbie says:

    I have been married twice my first husband was intact. My second was circ’ed, and there is a great difference when having intercourse. My circ’ed husband is crooked, dry and rough vice smooth and moist. Don’t get me wrong I love my husband very much but I just want to say there is a BIG difference! I had my children in the late 60′s and early ’7o’s and was very fortunate to have found a pamphlet about circumcision at a local La Leche League meeting. I swore after reading it that my children would NEVER go through the pain and torture of that unnecessary procedure. I ended up having three girls but was able to educate my girls and only one of them had her son done.

    • roger desmoulins says:

      Find a safe woman friendly place on the internet to tell your story in more detail, anonymously. I have a lot of time for women who’ve been married to one of each kind. A case in point is Marilyn Milos who founded NOCIRC.

  14. Plzdontcutbabies says:

    I love my circumcised husband, but having been with both circumcised and uncircumcised men, I am wholly convinced that the foreskin plays a huge role in sexual pleasure.
    I see circumcision as cosmetic surgery at best, and I don’t know many people who advocate performing cosmetic surgery on babies. I also find it strange, and interesting, that the same people who are horrified by female circumcision think nothing of routine male circumcision.
    I work in a pediatric operating room. I have seen babies rushed emergently to the OR for “repair” of circumcision after almost bleeding to death and I have seen a baby and the tip of his amputated penis rushed to the OR for attempted reattachment after a bri gone wrong. Not to mention numerous “re-do” circs after poor initial healing.
    I can only think, and hope, that the pro-circ side is on the wrong side of history.

  15. Sjors says:

    Your argument that circumcision doesn’t help against STDs is foolish. It is PROVEN that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission with 40%. Wipping doesn’t. Please read some literature about that. Then just citing some statistics. Look at studies performed in Africa.

    • hsextant says:

      I thought it was 60%. Do you play Russian Roulette with 4 bullets in the chambers? Believing that circumcision will spare you from HIV is dangerous. The African studies have been faulted for a variety of reasons. And you will reply back that the studies of the faulted studies are faulted. So one can either study studies of studies ad nauseum or one can use some common sense. Once again, compare European (rare circumcision) HIV stats to the US (common circumcision) HIV stats.

      I will give you your 40% or 60%. So what? If one wants to avoid HIV, they must use condoms and practice safe sex. So you can get circumcised and practice safe sex, or you can remain intact and practice safe sex.

      In either case it should be your decision, not your parents.

    • Robert says:

      No, it isn’t proven. And even if it was, you would still need to wear a condom to make sure you were safe, so your options are 1) get circumcised and wear a condom, or 2) don’t get circumcised and wear a condom. Sounds like a tough choice to me…

  16. Michelle says:

    This is the most down-to-earth, non-apologetic, and factual article on infant circumcision I have ever read. Thank you! I have two sons that are circ’d, and one that is not. I struggle with the guilt for the first two, and I don’t know if that will ever go away. I have had two friends that read the information I gave them on circumcision, and still chose to circumcise their sons. It was heartbreaking. I’ve also been put through the wringer for posting anti-circumcision articles on Facebook. Otherwise intelligent and compassionate people seem to morph into ignorant and callous human beings when confronted by this unpleasant truth.

  17. larry says:

    Thank-you!

  18. DrGreen says:

    All of the back and forth is so pointless. I dont understand how the only thing people can and will cut apart and remove from a child based on what everyone agrees is a CHOICE is the external genitalia of one sex. I find people’s fixation on the appearance of their sons penis very disturbing. You are, quite plainly, saying you enjoy a clear view of the most private part of your own sons penis, a part that is supposed to remain covered until sexual interaction. I cannot imagine how people would react if i, as a man, made a post about how pleasing to the eyes my daughters clitoris is since i had all the “useless skin” cut away from it. I cant imagine the reaction from me saying i got the “extra” cut away from her vagina because i didnt want to clean it well. Imagine if, since there is no ACTUAL guideline, the doctor cut so much skin away her vagina could no longer close, or her clit sunk below her flesh, or poked straight out all the time. What would be my proper punishment if it all went wrong and her entire vulva was cut apart? A doctor can completely remove every inch of skin from the penis and call it a success, but a pin prick on a clit is “wrong”?

    Everything i just typed is 100% pointless. The only argument any child should need to maintain the integrity of a healthy body is that it is not YOURS!

  19. John Trammell says:

    Very nice article. Over the past few years I have become an advocate to spread the word that circumcision is wrong. I myself am intact, and with much research, I have learned that I am one very lucky person to be left intact when I was born in the late 80′s in the US. I hope many people will read this and get a better sense about this important and ignored issue.

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