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Wise Guys: What Do You Think About Circumcision?

Tue, Sep 8, 2009

Advice, Wise Guys

scissors1photo by The_Artifex

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: What do you think about circumcision?

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): I know one person who was circumcised as an adult, so he’s the only guy I can think of who knows what it’s like both ways — sort of the Tiresias of circumcision — but he’s also a famous actor and I have a huge, huge crush on him, so if I tried to ask him about it I would probably die of embarrassment.  From a purely objective standpoint I suppose I’d say it’s a barbaric practice, but as a Jew I can’t imagine being uncircumcised. A gay Jewish friend of mine was the sperm donor for a Jewish lesbian couple, and when the issue of circumcision came up (in the event that they had a boy) it almost ruined the whole thing — my friend wanted his son to look like him, which I think is perfectly understandable, and the couple wanted not to mutilate their child, which I also think is perfectly understandable.  They had a girl, so the point was moot, but I myself intend to avoid the whole issue by remaining blissfully childless forever.

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): My friend recently asked whether he should circumcise his boy, and we found we were both passionately for it. But his wife was strongly against it (and she’s Jewish, go figure). We all did some research and found out that it’s generally healthier to be circumcised, so they decided to do it. But it’s a strange internal debate, because if you consider yourself anything close to a naturalist, then it’s almost hard to convince yourself of such a permanent and personal alteration of our time-honored design.

Straight Married Guy (Fred): As an adult you can’t really do anything about your own situation (grown men who get circumcised are nuts), so really what is there to discuss when it comes to sex?  They both work great.  It only really becomes an issue when you’re about to have a baby boy.  “To cut, or not to cut” becomes your decision — and it’s a biggie. On the one hand, no one wants their kid to be singled out and branded a weirdo in the locker room if they’re in the uncircumcised minority; on the other hand, why would you ask someone to take scissors to your baby’s penis? Ultimately, “normal” is what you know, and so I think most fathers want their sons to be like them, which means in most cases the clipped will opt to cut and the sheathed will choose to let it be.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Gay Engaged Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish. To ask the guys your own question, click here.

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71 Responses to “Wise Guys: What Do You Think About Circumcision?”

  1. kf Says:

    In Europe, the uncircumcised are a majority. It’s considered slightly odd (in the UK at least, and from what I’ve heard, in other countries too) – you’re only circumcised if you’re either Jewish or have a medical reason. I don’t know if anyone’s done a medical study on the health effects of circumcision comparing both sides of the Atlantic…

  2. figleaf Says:

    Circumcision’s weird. My parents were unusual in that they didn’t want me circumcised as an infant but a nurse did it anyway because she was sure they wouldn’t want their son to look like he hadn’t been born in a hospital. (Hospital birth, and circumcision, being a big class and race marker in that rural Appalachian town in those days.) I was obviously too young to remember but it must have hurt — I didn’t walk for nearly a year after. :-)

    In retrospect I don’t mind that I was circumcised, but I think it would have been nicer not to have been. I have loss of sensitivity in part because the job was done poorly. On the other hand I’m most sensitive in a little bit of remaining tissue on one side so I’m glad they didn’t get it all. Still I might be an outlier. Of the men and boys I know who were circumcised when they were old enough to remember (not a large number) most say they don’t really notice much difference.

    As for the “look different from your dad” argument, we didn’t circumcise my son and he’s never seemed the least bit traumatized. We thought about whether to do it or not and I realized that it would probably be best to let him decide. So my feeling is if he wants one he can save up and get one himself.

    Which, you might think, he’d never consider doing. (Opponents are sure, proponents are… also sure, which is why they think it should be done in infancy.) I’m not so sure. For one thing there are about 113 tattoo, piercing, branding, and waxing parlors in a five mile radius of my home and I’m guessing that by the time he turns 18 they’ll be offering decorative circumcisions with pinking shears for textured edges. If so fine, he can save up his money and get one. And if he does it’ll be the one he wants and not the one we hoped he might. And if he doesn’t want one? Well, we made the right call, right?

    Seriously, leave ‘em on and let them decide.


  3. Fletch Says:

    Why should this be a parent’s decision? It is the BOY’S penis for god’s sake. Unless there is a compelling medical reason that must be resolved and circumcision is the ONLY way to resolve the problem THEN parents can decide. WTH is wrong with people that hardly give a second thought to cutting up *someone else’s* genitals?? What if this child grew up desiring to have all of HIS penis? He is just out of luck?

  4. lilmissunknowable Says:

    Some of you are saying to let the boy decide if he wants to get circumcised. Do you believe the same thing about abortion? Why do(es) the parent(s) get to decide whether the child lives or not. If the child does not want to be alive, its their choice, even though I discourage it strongly. But if the child wants to live, are they “jist our of luck”?

  5. Jessica Girdle Says:

    Foreskin is awesome, ja!

  6. Flo Says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t believe that there can be a comparison between circumcision and abortion. I do have to say that as sexually mature people capable of bearing children or taking care of them circumcision is a decision that can but does not always have to be made. But its quite normal to consider it. Its not a matter of life or death we’re talking about here, neither is it a Sex Reassignment Surgery??? Those are waaaaay worse than any circumcision i’ve heard of. So honestly, foreskin or not vs. rebuilding a vagina….doesn’t seem like a huge deal. Although it is a good question to ponder.

    I’d also like to say that abortion is different because in my opinion (i can be wrong a 100%) it’s also another individual but it’s happening inside someone else’s body… seems to me as long as there are people taking decisions in the name of others, there will always be a debate. But you can’t just throw abortion into every conversation and expect the other part of the argument to stack up…. Foreskin vs. life and death of a fetus….not the same conversation going on here…. not at all….

  7. Flo Says:

    Oh, and when I mean sex reassignment, i mean children with intersex genitals, not adults making advised decisions!

  8. james Says:

    With this issue I see 2 elements that need be considered.

    1) Health issues .
    2) Decision making.

    There is a third element I would throw into the mix, although collateral to men. That would be, what women think about the prepuce, not about circumcision per se, but what do they think about , sex with a circumsiced penis vs sex with an uncircumsiced one.

    On health issues, I was circumcised as a kid, at birth time, so I never experienced life with a prepuce/ foreskin. All I can say is that by having been circumcised, I have no issues whatsoever with smegma and the issues expressed as the cons of having a prepuce/ foreskin. Life is care free when it comes down to my penis. I feel thankful for having had this surgery at a time I was an infant . I have no recollection whatsoever of that event. It would be painfull and time consuming to have such proceedure fashioned as an adult.

    On the issue of decision. I feel my parents made the right decision, which was not based on any religious imposition on their part …( it would be an imposition had it been performed on my body for such concerns, religious concerns.)… it was performed after consideration of the health issues already mentioned.

    I hear the argument about being natural, untouched, etc. Religious concerns aside, I believe it is a good practice to fashion this surgery, it takes that element of danger from a male, danger of the posibility of developing problems witrh smegma and other similar concerns.

    Sometimes there is the issue of foreskin that does not retract, phimosis I believe is the name, which circumcision would eliminate completely.

    Many girls have told me that a penis that is circumcised looks better than a non one. I am sure there are plenty of women that think otherwise, reason why I included that concept in my issue list.

    I would want my son(s) to get circumcised, because I take into account the medical issues expressed, and I think it would be time consuming and painfull for him ( them ) to do it as adults.

    Religious reasons would be an imposition, so I would not impose circumcision based on religion. Medical issues and the time and suffering likely to emerge had the surgery be performed on an adult is sufficient reason for me to go ahead and recommend circumcision to my son(s).

  9. james Says:

    For those that think that a body should be left intact. Why do most parents go ahead and take care of their children crooked and bad teeth? Most of us would want our kids to enjoy a nice smile, and also enjoy all the psicological boost of enjoying such nice smile, as opposed to a messed one.

    Not only that, maloclusion and bad bite is a problem that requires orthodontics, so that procedure is fashioned not only for looks, but for good facial structure development as well as good bite / oclusion.

    I see circumcision as a similar procedure. Those that decide not to go ahead with it are leaving that decision to their kids upon growing up, but they are also giving their children a problem upon that time, because the procedure, as described, is painfull and time consuming for an adult.

    I do not think most parents ( able parents, with the wherewithal to take care of the issue ) would want to let their kids grow into adults, with a bad set of teeth that not only look bad, but imply bite problems.

    By the time the kids become adults, their facial bone structure as well as the jaw is already set and finished. Moving teeth around in adulthood would never have the permanent results nor the opportunity to grow in with the facial structure. Leaving that work for the kid to decide as an adult , provided the parents have the wherewithal to take care of it, would be malpractice.

  10. Angie Says:

    I disagree with comparing orthodontic work with circumcision. Orthodontic work is lot more time consuming, often taking years, while circumcision for an adult does not take nearly the same amount of time to heal.
    I agree there are some health benefits, such as the risk of phimosis, but this isn’t common, and smegma can be prevented with proper hygiene. Looks wise I think its beauty in the eye of the beholder. Uncircumcised is much more common where I live and so a circumcised penis would look strange to me.
    I’m all for letting the boy decide when he older. The health benefits I think are minimal. Most people wouldn’t condone female circumcision but why male accepted?

  11. Fletch Says:

    There is no overwhelming health benefit from circumcising an infant. No major medical organization in a developed country recommends infant circumcision because the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

    I’m not sure I understand the argument regarding abortion. We are speaking of rights of individuals and these rights increase dramatically at birth. There is *good reason* to assume that a child that IS born, and will likely grow to be an adult, would desire to have all of HIS normal, healthy, sensitive, functional genitals. It sounds as if some people here think infants have no right to bodily integrity, as if they are the property of their parents. This is NOT the case. Parents are to act as medical proxies for their children. There is no reason to assume that a child would desire to lose a part of his penis when there was nothing wrong with it. Unless there is a significant medical need for circumcision to resolve an EXISTING medical issue then the boy should be left intact and no decisions need to be considered by the parents.

    The argument regarding what ignorant (ie: mostly American) women think is irrelevant. It is putting the emphasis on THE WRONG PERSON. How is what some hypothetical woman will think more important than what the individual with the penis will think? Honestly, I think a foreskin is probably a GREAT way to filter out shallow women from the gene pool. This bias that women in the US have is due to ignorance. 80% of males in the world are intact. These intact men seem to have no problem getting mates. In fact, if you look at the countries with the most famous “lovers” (Italian, French, and Latin lovers) you will see that they are from non-circumcising countries. How can this be if the foreskin is such a turn-off?

    As far as smegma is concerned, women generate more of it than men. Should we circumcise women, too, so they meet some subjective standard we have of of “cleanliness”? Of course not. At most, boys need to be taught how to keep their genitals clean, just like every other part of their body. Hygiene for men is as simple as “retract, rinse, replace”. Besides, I have yet to find a man that doesn’t mind fondling his penis for a few extra seconds in the shower.

    Who is to say that adult circumcision is more painful? Can you quantify the pain experience between an adult and an infant? There was a study done that showed that circumcised infants had a lower future pain tolerance than uncircumcised boys. At least with an adult they can say they are in pain and can get adequate pain relief. With in infant, they often go into a withdrawal reaction due to the pain. There is also a measurable increase in stress hormones, the heart rate speeds, and blood oxygen diminishes. Just because an infant can’t speak doesn’t mean they are not negatively affected.

    Congenital phimosis, which is fairly rare, is not a reason to circumcise unless it is not able to be resolved using less invasive measures. Topical steroid creams work great at resolving phimosis within a month or two. Forced dilation with topical anesthetic is effective in virtually 100% of cases and only takes a few minutes to perform.

    These things which are presented as foreskin “problems” are almost non-existent in non-circumcising countries. We know from Scandinavian studies that foreskins are typically as trouble free as any other healthy body part.

    Oh, if you want to toss in “sex reassignment” look at the case of David Reimer, who had a botched circumcision and was turned into a girl. He lived a tragic life and committed suicide at the age of 38.

    What I hear is a lot of talk about what parents and women feel but very little about what the boy with the affected penis will feel. Does he want all of his penis or not? Do you know the definitive answer? Of course not. Only HE can make the determination for HIMSELF. This is why the decision MUST be left to the individual. I think a LOT more weight needs to be given to protecting the rights of infant boys and a lot less weight given to the American society’s biases.

  12. Jessica Girdle Says:


  13. TS Says:

    Always much more to do and enjoy with an uncircumcised joint! Both for the guy and the gal…

  14. Vincent Says:

    A barbaric completely unnecessary mutilation.

    How would you feel at “sexual maturity” if your parents strapped you to a table and cut off your foreskin?

    Not a pleasant picture is it, so why would you do this to your newborn baby?

  15. oy Says:

    There oughta be a Godwin’s Law about circumcision discussions.

    Well two of them.

    For the anti-circ people, it’ll be the word “mutilation”
    For the pro-circ people, it’ll be the word “smegma”

    Personally, I think circumcision is a ridiculous thing to do to a child, but I could really not give less of a fuck about other people’s children’s dicks.

    I think all those hundreds of millions of high-functioning circumcised dicks puts the lie to the first godwin’s law, while basic, even rudimentary hygiene does the same to the second.

    Grow up people.

  16. Rolando Says:

    “A barbaric, completely unnecessary mutilation.”

    I concur.

  17. Johnny Says:

    “Hey! Mom! Dad! Doctor! I want my foreskin back!” – Scott Thompson

    I think uncut cocks look weird because they’re not what I’m used to. I’m cut. And as a kid, I was sure glad I wasn’t one of the uncut weirdos.

    Now that I’m an adult, though, I’d kind of prefer the extra sensitivity. I know that with – ahem – bigger guys, you almost can’t tell it’s uncut when hard.

    A friend of mine put it this way – “imagine a woman had no external labes, so that her clit was just rubbing up against her underwear and pants all day. That’s what your dick-head is doing. No wonder it loses sensitivity.”

  18. james Says:

    I do not see any connection between female circumcision and male circumcision. Comparing those two shows lack of knowledge and an ill intention to deceive.

    It is not mutilation, and it is not an unnecesary practice. Where I see the similarity between the abotion issue and this issue is inthe way anti circumcision people reply. Anti abortion people seem to have that element of entittlement, where they think they have the right to go overboard and intimidate the other side.

    Here I see that anti circumcision followers reply in a belligerant tone.

    This is a matter of opinion, you like circumcision, the other person does not, so hey, each to its own. There is no law that prrohibits or promotes circumcision, so there is no need to get beligerant.

    You are pro it, then do what you think is better for your child. You are against it, then do what you think is better for your child.

    In reply to Fletch, adult circumcision is painfull. I have seen a couple friends go through it, I would say 4 people in total that I know, and all of them told me how awfull it was, the recovery phase ( you are under anesthesia, no recollection of the actual procedure ).

  19. james Says:


    The sensitivity issue you are expressing is not conclusive. I do not think I have any diminished sensitivity due to circumcision.
    I run and exercise hard ( done it all my life ) and rubbing against my penis has done zero, nothing, nada to my penis.

    Had I been an australian aboriginee or a Amazon jungle native running naked through the forest, that might be a concern, but my days and my ancestor’s days of running naked through jungles have been over for a long time.

    In the porn industry, 9 out of 10 penises are circumcised, non seems to have any problems with sensitivity.

    Both sides inflate their pros and cons. It comes down to what the parents want to decide is best for their kids in good faith.

    There are decisions parents must take for their kids, decisions that can not wait untill the kid is older. You are not going to wait for your kid to be of age to ask him if he wanted to go to a school that teaches foreign languages , which under my vision it is an asset. You are not going to wait for your kid to tell you he liked Spanish as opposed to French. Those are the quandaries of parenthood.

    You can only try being the best parent you can be. I see both arguments, one calls for leaving a penis intact, another calls for circumcision. Each has its points of view. The decision taken in good faith , w/o religious considerations, but with understanding of the pros and cons is the valid decision.

  20. Fletch Says:


    You don’t see a clear connection between FGM and MGM. It is one of ethics and rights to bodily integrity and security of person. ANY unnecessary cutting of a girl’s genitals is illegal in the US because it violates the right to genital integrity. The illegality is not a measure based on harms done. The parents of a boy can remove what will become 15 sq in of normal, healthy, functional, sensitive tissue from a boy’s genitals for no reason at all. There is a great disparity in the recognition of rights between boys and girls. You would probably go to jail if you tried to circumcise your dog, but do it unnecessarily to a boy and no one seems to care.

    BTW, do you think I care if I am called belligerent? I am much more concerned with fighting for the rights of defenseless boys than what people think of me. Nor do I see a problem with verbal intimidation. And you summed it up perfectly with this: “This is a matter of opinion, you like circumcision, the other person does not, so hey, each to its own.” How about living by your own standards and recognizing that only the individual can make the right choice for himself. You seem to equate parental proxy authority with perfectly reflecting the desires of their male children.

    There are no laws against circumcision so I can’t protest it? Isn’t this just a form of intimidation for you? “It’s not illegal so shut up”. Whatever. Apply that same logic to something like slavery. Legality is not necessarily equivalent to morality. In the case of elective circumcision, all that I see that matters is what the child desires.

    Regarding adult circumcision, men in Africa must not be such wimps. They report little pain and fast recoveries. And the ones doing the HIV studies report a complication rate similar to that of infants. Of course, there is a bias in these studies so I’m not sure how much I trust the reports. BTW, I never said adult circumcision is not painful. I am saying infant circumcision is painful, too, and that at least adults can say they need more pain meds.

    As far as sensitivity is concerned, would you agree that the sensitive tissue that is removed from circumcision no longer transmits sensations to the brain? Would you say there is a net increase in sensation, no change, or a decrease in sensation, resulting in circumcision? Are you aware that the foreskin contains some of the most sensitive skin on the penis?

    While there are decisions parents must make for their kids, removing healthy body parts is not one of them. Why is that? Because it is reasonable to assume that a person will want ALL of THEIR normal, healthy, functional, sensitive body parts. Removing healthy body parts without consent and in absence of a significant gain is never a valid decision, IMO.

    Remember, I am not opposing circumcision generally. I am only opposing medically unnecessary circumcision of non-consenting individuals. If an adult wants to have his foreskin removed, or all of his penis for that matter, I would fully support the decision.

    BTW, why is it that you say to submit to parental authority but not in regards to a parent’s religious beliefs? Your position sounds inconsistent to me.

  21. Elizabeth Says:

    So – I am first going to clarify that I am repeating information secondhand… It comes from my (future) father in law, who is the only man I know who was circumsized at an age old enough to remember it.

    He had a series of very bad infections downt there, and as a teenager, had to be circumsized. In his opinion, it is better for a boy to be circumsized as an infant (and chose to do so for his own son). He has told me that the entire process was incredibly painful – from the infections, to the exams, to the pre-op procedures, all the way to the recovery. He also said that he was humiliated in that he had to go through that as a teenager… It was, at the time, quite embarassing to him.

    Because of his experience, I probably will circumsize my own son if I ever have one. (Well, that and the fact that my fiance is not okay with that not happening). I have no idea how to teach my son how to best clean that area, how often, etc… And neither will his father. To me, it makes sense to have that done, rather than risk my son’s physical and emotional health later in life. I get that it’s a scary sounding practice but it’s been done for thousands of years… Just like the opposite has been around for eons. Maybe we shouldn’t sit around calling each other bad parents (or future parents) because of an arbitrary decision that really doesn’t actually affect our sons futures all that much.

  22. Mark Lyndon Says:

    If your father-in-law had needed his appendix out, would you have that done to a baby too? Circumcising a baby to prevent circumcision later in life just doesn’t make sense. In the UK, less than 1% of males need a circumcision for medical reasons, and it’s getting rarer.

    If you wait, it hurts *less*, it’s safer, and the results are cosmetically better anyway. Almost males seem to prefer to stay intact anyway. If they want to get circumcised, it should be their choice. You take that choice away if you do it for them.

    Drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 9.2%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

  23. Fletch Says:

    Gosh, maybe you are right. We should cut off part of all boy’s penises because your father was embarrassed. Are you *really* making that argument???

    Oh, and then you are going to use the “ignorance about a boy’s penis” argument? Did you consider asking a doctor for advice instead on opting for cutting up a boy’s penis out of convenience? Did you consider researching it online (pssst: you just leave a boy’s penis alone and wipe off the outside. After the foreskin can retract you tell him to “retract, rinse, and replace”). How about if your husband said “You know, I don’t know much about keeping a girl’s genitals clean, I think we should cut off our daughter’s labia so I don’t have to think about it”. My GOD, folks, we are talking about a boy’s penis here. It is every much as important as a girl’s genitals are. WTH is wrong with Americans that they give no regard to bodily integrity? Oh, and I have no problem labeling a parent as being bad for unnecessarily removing part of their son’s penis. I would do the same for unnecessarily removing part of their daughter’s genitals. Who is to say how much it will affect your son’s future? Things have changed since 10 or 20 years ago. Your son will grow up KNOWING it was an unnecessary procedure and not recommended for infants by medical organizations in developed countries.

  24. Frank OHara Says:

    James: Life for uncircumcised men is also carefree. A man who bathes daily will not see any smegma and cleaning one is a simple matter of retracting the foreskin and washing exactly the same way as a circumcised penis. You are repeating myths that are unfounded.

    Circumcision for an adult is not necessarily a painful or time consuming endeavor. Modern medicine can provide absolute pain relief and after care pain management. Adults who are circumcised can be at work the next business day if they are not involved in an occupation that requires great exertion. Another myth of circumcision!

    The health benefits are also a myth. The AAP’s Taskforce on Circumcision could not find significant health benefits despite reviewing 672 studies on circumcision. As a result of that review, they decided to not recommend infant circumcision.

    The phimosis issue is another myth. The incidence of phimosis that requires circumcision to resolve is one case per 1,000 males. In fact, post surgical (after circumcision) phimosis is more common than phimosis in uncircumcised males.

    Your comparison with bad teeth is a red herring. Bad teeth are a genetic defect. A foreskin is not a defect.

    There is a very direct comparison to male and female circumcision. You have to consider the function of the parts, not any visual similarities. The male glans is a pressure receptor comparable to the female G-Spot. The frenular delta is a tactile sensory receptor, the same as the clitoris and it is removed/disabled during circumcision. The frenulum is a stretch receptor as is the frenar band. Removing it is analogous to removing the vaginal sphincter. The inner mucosal surfaces of the foreskin is analogous to the labia and is removed during male circumcision. Therefore, the equivalent of male circumcision in the female would be to remove the clitoris and clitoral hood, the labia and the vaginal sphincter. Most women would be highly upset that such a thing had been done to them but since it is so common for men to have it done, they accept it. Our culture has taught us that we can’t complain and we should be grateful for this mutilation. Quite the contrary! We should be up in arms!

    Infant male circumcision completely neglects that males have dominion over their bodies and transfers their right of autonomy over their own bodies to others who will never use that body.

    Because you do not believe you have lost sensitivity is not conclusive. You have no basis for comparison. Men who have been circumcised as adults report significant loss generally. That loss has been shown to be cumulative. Studies find that circumcised men reach impotency 7 years before men who have not been circumcised. The US consumes 54% of the world’s supply of Viagra. Indonesia (Muslim and circumcised) has the highest percapita use of Viagra type products and Israel (Jewish and circumcised) is the world’s leading counterfeiter of Viagra. Alternately, Viagra has yet to find a substantial market in Europe or Japan. There must be something there!

    Elizabeth: You are also repeating a myth. An inconvenient scientific fact is that bacterials, fungals and virals can not discern or discriminate between male and female cells. This means that the same pathogens that affect males also affect females and they respond equally in either sex. Females never get surgical amputation of infected tissue to address these infections. The only reason males do is because male circumcision is socially acceptable and far more profitable for the physician.

    Hygiene for the intact penis is virtually the same as for the circumcised penis. The only difference is the fraction of a second it takes to retract the foreskin. After that, it is exactly the same. Boys have the intelligence to figure this out all by themselves. No parental information is required.


  25. james Says:

    It is useless, some people are plain intolerant of others.
    I am leaving this argument. No amount of evidence will stop some people from repeating and repeating that circumcisions are bad, that circumcisions in adults hurt less than in infants, in other words, a campaign of missinformation and fact fabrication.

    Circumcise your kids if you feel it is right an do not do it if you feel the contrary.

    This really reminds me of the abortion issue, while one side advocates for tolerance, do as you desire, the other one advocated for arbitrarism.

    And those trying to equate female circumcision to male circumcision, please stop the terror campaign, female circumcision has nothing to do with the male issue.

    Bonvoyage…… cool off…..have a nice summer ( or what is left of it.)

  26. SarahMonster Says:

    I have two young boys, both of whom I had circumcised at birth. My decision to do so was based primarily on
    1) it was the common thing to do, and I being young (21) at the time my oldest was born, was easily swayed.
    2)No one really had exposed me to any information to give me the other side of the debate, or even asked if I was making an informed decision.
    I was given an opportunity to be with my boys while the procedure was performed, but declined. Had I been with my first son to see the procedure, I never would have agreed to allow my second son be cut.
    When my youngest was 2 years old, I saw of a video of infant circumcision, and I immediately felt like I had allowed a truly barbaric act to be committed against my children.

    I am currently pregnant with twins, one of which is a boy. After much debate and discussion, my husband and I have decided that our newest son will not be cut. The U.S. really is outdated in the practice of cutting all baby boys, and remains that way, in my opinion, due to lack of information being made available to parents.

    As a side note, women who say they are creeped out by an uncut penis, or prefer to be with a man that has been cut, think about this: 99% of American men are cut, the other 1% seems odd because it isn’t what you are used to, not because there is something gross about it.
    It’s like saying goats milk is gross, because we grew up in a country that relies on cows to provide our milk. Go to Afghanistan and offer them cows milk, and they’re going to look at you like you’re gross. Just some food for thought.

  27. lisa Says:

    My son is uncircumcised—I figured he could always cut it off later if he didn’t like it, but putting it back on might be problematic…..neither was cleanliness a problem. Infant foreskins are fused with the glans, and separate later on. When? In the words of my doc, ‘when he finds it!’ And James, you are a riot–a self-righteous prig who can only see things one way.

  28. SarahMonster Says:

    Another interesting thing I learned through this:
    At 19 months my oldest son’s foreskin tried to GROW ITSELF BACK.
    This caused him serious pain, and it had to be forcefully pulled back, away from his penis while I held him for the doctor.

    When I asked the pediatrician why this happened to my son he simply replied, “Happens to about 40% of circumcised boys, it just goes with the territory”

    Which made me think, if it needed to be removed, why would it try to grow itself back?!

  29. Reese Says:

    Circumcised men are better protected against various STD’s. That is the reason why so many adult men in Africa are having the procedure done. It will lower their chances of getting AIDS. A baby will feel pain, but will not remember anything. I was 8 when mine was done and remember everything in great detail. Also it is none of your damn business if I have a legal procedure done on my son. Why don’t you worry about your own kids.

  30. Lannie Says:

    Men who wear condoms are better protected against various STD’s. Being circumcised won’t do you much good if you sleep with an infected person while not wearing a condom.

  31. Reese Says:

    Actually Lannie you could not be more wrong. It actually cuts your risk in half even without protection. Just look it up. There are numerous studies on this subject. This is why there is a big push to have the procedure done on adult males in Africa.

  32. Restoring Tally Says:

    It does not matter if being circumcised reduces the chances of getting HIV. Babies do not have sex. Let the adult man decide if he wishes to have a portion of his sex organ removed by circumcision. If the man is smart, he will wear a condom when having at-risk sex with his foreskin.

    Many men are finding out that they miss their foreskin. They, like me, are restoring their foreskin to regain what was taken from us at birth. See http://www.RestoringForeskin.org to read stories of men who wish they had never been circumcised and are doing something about it.

    Also, many of those men are very upset with their parents for having them circumcised. This is particularly true of the younger men, who can easily research circumcision on the Internet and wonder why their parents ignored the evidence available to them.

  33. Reese Says:

    Not everyone feels like you do Tally. I wish it had been done when I was younger so I would not remember. I have never met any guy who felt so wronged he needed to join some missing foreskin support group. Most people I know don’t give it a second thought. I agree that everyone should have safe sex, but that is not reality. There is a very real AIDS epidemic. If having babies circumcised reduces their risks in the future then parents should consider the procedure. Parents have decided to give young girls the HPV shot even though some had bad side effects, and some even died. Parents trying to protect their kids make these kind of choices all the time. What I do with kids is my business, thank you very much.

  34. james Says:

    Yes Lisa, go to your thread, the cheaters thread, and see who is a riot … you are funny.

    You would not miss an opportunity to stab others right?

    I really think you need professional help.

    Good night Lisa. :)

  35. james Says:

    Lisa, if you foget how to get there, here is your favorite thread:

    Writer Defends Adulterers, Calls the Rest of Us “Holier Than Thou”

  36. lisa Says:

    well, if you were to actually read some of the ‘foreskin’ studies, you might see that the preferred form of sex is ‘dry sex’ or sex where the woman is not lubricated. Women actually use stuff like alum to dry their vaginas—one might think that in those circumstances, absence of friable tissue might be an advantage? In addition, there is a sociological bias in those groups that practice circumcision–towards less indiscriminate sex. Which would, I think, tend to make those who do indulge more careful…..

  37. Katie Says:

    I haven’t heard of anyone dying from the HPV shot–where is a reliable source that states this? Sounds a little exaggerated. You can rarely prove a direct correlation between these things.

  38. Fletch Says:

    James. I don’t blame you for leaving the debate. You have expressed a lot of opinions but have not really defended any claims. What exactly is wrong with intolerance when the intolerance is against those that want to unnecessarily cut off part of a boy’s penis? Should we be tolerant of unnecessary genital cutting? I certainly don’t think so. Did I not affirm my position that adult circumcision hurts and so does infant circumcision? Can you explain why you think infant circumcision is any less painful than adult circumcision? This debate is not about what a parent can get away with. It is about leaving decisions to individuals whenever possible… especially when the decision is removing a normal, healthy, functional, sensitive part off the genitals without medical cause. I also explained how there are similarities between ethical concerns of FGM and MGM. If you want to show that no comparisons exist you must show why they ethics of unnecessary genital cutting of girls cannot also be applied to boys.

  39. Fletch Says:

    Reese- Are you really advocating circumcision as a good way to prevent HIV infection? Do you realize that even if circumcised you must still wear a condom to get full protection. If this is the case then why advocate circumcision at all? What it does is give someone a false sense of security. If a circumcised man is going to have unprotected sex, even at a 50% reduction, it is only a matter of time before he get infected if he continues to take part in risky sexual practices. If you look at the African studies, you will see that there is a relatively small difference between the numbers of HIV infected circumcised vs. uncircumcised (tens of cases out of thousands in a study). This difference could easily be attributable the additional counseling and followup on safe sex practices. In addition, don’t forget, circumcision provides no protection for a woman if the man is already infected with HIV.

    As a circumcised man, I can certainly understand that most men don’t feel wronged by circumcision. I think there are a number of reasons why this is. First of all, most circumcised men don’t know what they are missing. It was not until I started researching this topic, when my wife was pregnant, that I realized what had been done to me. And it isn’t just about lost sensitivity, it is about the change in the functioning of the penis with the loss of “gliding action” of the foreskin. (Google ‘foreskin anatomy noharmm’ to learn about this) I think another reason why men won’t talk about these harms is because it would mean understanding at a deep level that their genitals were harmed, and that the harm was caused by a direct action of their “loving” parents. There are psychological reasons why most men don’t want to even consider these things.

    One last point… does it creep you out at all that parents are cutting up a child’s genitals out of a fear of what they might do sexually in 15 or 20 years? What if a boy grew up and chose to not have sex until he got married? What if they develop a HIV vaccine in 10 years? Why should boys be punished with a mutilated penis? Do parents REALLY need to be concerned about this stuff when a guy is fully capable of taking part in the consent process prior to becoming sexually active? Wait until a guy is old enough to make the decision for himself where he can weigh the options against his own personal values. It is obvious that parents circumcise in infancy because the boys can’t complain and they can’t fight back. It is one of the first acts of bullying that a child experiences. Oh, and don’t compare this to the HPV shot. That is given at an age where a child could say “no, I’m not interested” and it does not involve removing a functional part of her genitals. BIG difference.

  40. E Says:

    While I do not discount the statements made by individuals asserting that circumcision of males should be a choice because it is every person’s right to determine their bodily integrity, I do think there is an unfair comparison when putting it next to FGM.

    FGM is done for a myriad of reasons, depending on the culture, with the primary reason being that “circumcision” of the woman prior to puberty will control illicit behavior and keep a girl pure until marriage. In my opinion, this is nothing like circumcizing the penis to prevent infection and promote better hygiene (the main reason parents may opt for circumcision when it is not of religious nature.)

    FGM is a horrific practice that is not carried out until the girl is older and then must endure being forced, often physically restrained, through this ritual. In many parts of Africa, including the one I worked in for 2 years, this was done around the age of 8 or 9. I’ve pasted below an excerpt from the World Health Organization’s website on FGM regarding the 4 most commonly practiced forms. In East Africa, where I worked, infibulation is the predominant practice. The girl’s clitoris and labia are cut off and then the opening to the vagina is sewn up leaving a very small hole to allow urine and menstrual flows. This type of FGM causes a host of health issues, not to mention the girl must be cut open in order to be penetrated by her husband on their wedding night.

    So, forgive me if I don’t think male circumcision compares in the slightest to FGM.

    Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types:

    Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, rarely, the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris) as well.

    Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).

    Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, and sometimes outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

    Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

  41. Fletch Says:


    Do you understand that ALL unnecessary genital cutting on girls is illegal? You don’t have to cause long term harm to go to jail. Do you realize that a parent can remove what will become 15 square inches of functional, sensitive tissue from a boy’s genitals for NO reason at all? Would you be opposed to a parent that just wanted to remove a girl’s clitoral hood (about 1 square inch of tissue) because they desired that it be gone? A girl will still be able to orgasm, right?

    I understand if you want to assert there are medical benefits that must be weighed before a boy can be circumcised, but there is no criterion for doing so. A parent need not consider ANY medical reasons. In fact, it has already been mentioned here that parents often do it just because of how they think it looks or what women might think in the future. If you want to make a compelling medical argument I think you would need to show some sort of significant medical benefit from infant circumcision. We already know from non-circumcising countries that no such significant benefit exists.

    The ETHICAL issues regarding FGM and MGM can be compared because boys have the same right to genital integrity as girls have.

  42. Elizabeth Says:

    My FIL was not a myth. Maybe it’s uncommon, but it did actually happen to him. My Fiance has seen the medical records that prove it. I never said his situation was one that was quite common, and I have no idea if his infections were caused from not cleaning or something like that – just that they happened 9 or 10 times a year for 3 years and then not at all after he was circumcized. And on top of that – when he was circumcized, it was after 3 rounds of intravaneous in hospital antibiotics didn’t make the infection leave. Doctors will remove infected tissue – no matter where it is – if they can’t make the infection heal.

    Oh – and the “just cut off your son’s penis” argument is just ridiculous. It’s not nearly the same thing.

    Like I said, I don’t really see this as something to argue about… Because the fact of the matter is, medical doctors (in this country at least) consistently recommend circumcision. No, I don’t know why… But I do know that for the most part, I take my doctor’s reccommendations. Perhaps the cleaning thing is a myth, like you say, but my doctor says it’s not. And I’m sorry, but I trust his medical degree (the one I absolutely KNOW he has… sorry, you just claiming to have one doesn’t cut it) to random opinions on the internet.

    I know that there are people that feel really strongly about this matter… And honestly I don’t. I just feel really strongly about being told that I’m considering mutilating my son’s genitals. It’s not even close to the same horrific practice as FGM. Someday, if my kid wants to sue me for his lost sensation he can go ahead… If he actually CARES that it happened, then maybe it’s an issue. But most men don’t. In fact, I know a couple of uncircumcized men who actually wish their parents had – because they don’t WANT to have that extra bit (they both have said it’s turned women off, or made them treat them like a novelty toy in a bad way), but they don’t really want to remember it happening. It goes both ways.

  43. Raavynn Says:

    Actually, American doctors as a whole DON’T recommend circumcision. http://www.aap.org/publiced/br_circumcision.htm How old is the doctor who told you there’s a measurable medical benefit? That may be a factor.

  44. Fletch Says:


    I am sorry to hear about your FIL. He is a rare case and I would be curious to know why he had this particular, rare, problem with his penis.

    The problem is that you don’t know what you son would want. Once you make the decision the foreskin can’t be put back on. And making this decision because of shallow American women is a really bad reason. Since the circumcision rate in the US is now 57% it is almost as likely that a woman would be turned off by a cut penis. BTW, the term “mutilation” is as applicable to a guy that has part of his genitals unnecessarily cut off as it is to a girl. Remember… a foreskin becomes 15 square inches of sensitive tissue in the adult male. That is more skin than is removed from most FGMs.

  45. Elizabeth Says:

    I never said I plan to have my son circumcized precisely for that reason. It was just the reasoning given to me by men who wished they had been circumcized as infants. It was in response to people who keep insinuating that no man who has an intact foreskin could possibly be upset that his parents left it that way. On top of that, I know the men I personally know are not alone, because there are support groups for men who feel exactly the way they do.

    My FIL is fairly certain that his particular issues are genetic issues relating in part to low functioning immune systems, as well as some other stuff (which is exactly how he has explained it to me… sorry I can’t be more clear). He believes it’s genetic as his brother and father both experienced more mild cases of the same problem in the years leading up to puberty. They, thankfully, did not require surgery.

    FGM is done with malicious intent. It is done in cultures where women are property and so is virginity… and it is done to make sure that a woman will not be remotely interested in sex, and in some cases, specifically to make sex more painful for her. On top of that, it is usually done in a non-medical situation (i.e. a sharp rock out in the middle of nowhere) and generally just before she hits puberty. If a doctor wanted to take my 10 year old son to Congo and cut off his foreskin with a rock, I would not allow him to do so. If my doctor – for a legitimate medical reason (i.e. probable debilitating genetically caused infections) – wanted to trim the clitoral hood of my infant daughter in a hospital, I would probably not object.

    Like I said before – I am not trying to say that my situation or choice is the best choice. I am saying that for me and my future family, this seems like the best decision. All I am saying is that there really are people who do have to have this done, or are fairly certain that their kid WILL have to have this done… and in that case, they are doing what is medically sound for their child. Not mutilating.

  46. Elizabeth Says:

    Oh, and Fletch – ALL unnecessary cutting on female genitals is not illegal. There are a number of “cosmetic” procedures a woman can elect to have done down there… Just for your random information…

  47. Fletch Says:


    I’m not sure how intent matters. To the individual, the outcome is what is most important. It is like saying “My father beat me every night, but he did so with the best of intentions.” I also don’t see how mutilating a female’s genitals in a clean surgical setting makes it ethical, as if that somehow makes everything OK. BTW, I have never opposed circumcision when there is a legitimate medical reason for doing it and circumcision is the least invasive means of resolving an actual problem. Regarding future sons, what are the odds of this genetic problem will be passed on to him? Isn’t it prudent to wait to see if he has a problem before hacking off body parts? Apply the same logic to a daughter where the mother is predisposed to breast cancer. Would you recommend removing the infant girl’s breast buds?

    Oh, and Elizabeth, I was not speaking to elective cosmetic procedures, which BTW, are not considered “unnecessary” because they are done for psychological reasons at the request of the patient.

  48. Elizabeth Says:

    Sorry I misunderstood about the elective procedures fletch. They really aren’t considered “unnecessary”? How odd. I always thought “elective” and “unnecessary” were… well, synonymous. :)

    Just to clarify – I would only allow any surgery done on my child for a legitimate medical reason. I am not saying it’s likely that I would have a daughter who would need that procedure – Just trying to make a comparison, and to explain why I don’t see medical circumcision as mutilation. Clitoral hood trimming for a medical reason wouldn’t really be considered mutilation, either.

    The only reason I would not wait is because of what I stated about my FIL’s feelings about the matter. He explains it as this: If his parents had chosen to have him circumcized as an infant, the likelihood of the problems he had would have been significantly decreased. He would not have had to miss weeks on end of school, become hugely embarassed in gym (Not because he had intact foreskin, but because the infections were noticible), and dealt with incredible pain from infections, hospitalizations, pre-op/operations, and recovery… as well as the humilation of having that occur to him just as he hit puberty. Because this is in part related to genetic immune system issues that my fiance has, and, unfortunately, I have as well, it’s fairly likely (roughly 50% if my science classes were right about that phenome thing) that our children will have similar problems. I feel that saving my son fairly probable pain and humilation (Again, not because of having a foreskin, but because of the infections) is a decent reason to do so.

    I do see your point, though. I agree that in theory, it would be best to see if this problem exists. However, we wouldn’t know that the problem existed until it was too late and my son would endure what my FIL did. All I can say is that I promise that I will listen to the advice of our physician when the time comes. If he feels circumcision, even with our genetic history, is unnecessary – and can convince my fiance – then we won’t go there. :)

  49. Fletch Says:


    I suppose there is little point in arguing the specifics of whether or not circumcision is justified in your son’s case. I would say it is a definite gray area and I just don’t have enough information to evaluate that. You certainly have a more persuasive argument than that typical parent.

    But in light if this issue with your son, what is your opinion regarding parents choosing circumcision where their son does NOT have this genetic anomaly? Do you think infant boys have any right to genital integrity as girls do?

    BTW, this is from the Encyclopedia of Surgery: “Some elective procedures are necessary to prolong life, such as an angioplasty. However, unlike emergency surgery (e.g., appendectomy), which must be performed immediately, a required elective procedure can be scheduled at the patient’s and surgeon’s convenience.”

    In addition, regarding elective cosmetic procedures (excluding reconstructive plastic surgery for anomalies), they are done for psychological reasons. The patient needs to have a psychological evaluation before such procedures can be done. A purely cosmetic procedure could not ethically be done on an infant because the psychological evaluation could not be performed.

  50. Jacob Says:

    I think there is a question parents should ask themselves regarding circumcision – is it good for my daughter?

    I believe that it is an established fact, that clitoris is the same tissue as penis (you can even see the same structure). Therefore I suppose, that clitoral hood is the same tissue as foreskin of a penis and all (medical) benefits gained by removing foreskin also applies to girls.

    In my opinion looks and tradition are not valid reasons. Elective surgeries such as breast augmentation is not routinely performed for young girls, but instead tolerance for all shapes and sizes is promoted. And female genital mutilation is considered tradition in many countries and we would have to withdraw our interference against it, if we accept surgeries on infants based on tradition.

    Also I would like to add one thought to circumcision/HIV debate. HIV is a very special case of virus – instead of being fought by immunity system, it feeds on it. Removed foreskins are used for anti-virals. Removing this bodily part therefore removes one prominent entry point for HIV (for male in case of penis-vagina intercourse), because it contains more immunity cells. I accept the conclusion that circumcision lowers chance for getting HIV, but then I have to also conclude, that this should also increase chance of getting other STDs. I don’t think removing any bodily part is a replacement for irresponsible behaviour – especially when in this case as it only lowers chance of getting, not passing on, HIV under quite specific conditions.

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