Monday, November 21, 2011

News flash

Dear American modern medicine,

Circumcision does NOT prevent HIV or sexually transmitted infection!!

(told you so.) Now you're going to have to find a different excuse to cut babies you sickos.


all the people who don't believe in cutting babies

Monday, September 5, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Foreskin is Great

Ok full disclosure I do NOT have a foreskin. Mine was hacked off without my consent by some asshole I'd like to have five minutes in a room alone with. However I have gleaned the following reasons from research, discussion, and partial restoration of my own circumcised penis. We'll do this Letterman style and count down ten to one:

10. Having foreskin somehow allows/encourages your penis to emit lubricant during intercourse. Feel free to comment if you know exactly how this works and can explain why I NEVER experienced this during however many years of sex as a circumcised man, yet within the first year of restoring my foreskin I produce the stuff like crazy. I don't think I need to go on here about the benefits of lubricant. If I do then honestly this is probably not the blog for you. Might I refer you to Celibate Singles Are Us?
Oh ok I'll go on about it. Creating your own lubricant means:
more slippery, sensuous sex for you and your partner
no messy, expensive astroglide or KY
Even single guys can enjoy not having to use lubricant when, you know, they have that urge. (My buddy in France thinks it's pretty bizarre that most circumcised US males require some kind of lubricant to masturbate.)

9. Foreskin protects your glans and keeps it sensitive and responsive meaning better sex. I defy anyone to find an intact guy who gets circumcised and says the sex is better after. Without your foreskin your glans has about as much sensation as your elbow.

8. Foreskins don't look all bloody and gory and purple when you change baby's diaper. They look surprisingly, well, normal. Through the first 10 or so diaper changes of my son back in the day I kept going, "Oh yeah, that's what I'm supposed to look like."

7. Foreskins don't require all kinds of weird special care like a newly circumcised penis does. You just leave them alone. (Even if your brainless circumcised pediatrician tells you otherwise.)

6. Foreskins can help with potty training (maybe.) Only saying this because when my son was potty learning he would pinch his foreskin shut as he ran upstairs to the potty. It appeared to help him with "holding it."

5. Speaking of potty learning... I don't have any stats on this but I'm guessing intact kids are easier to potty learn than circumcised ones. Reason being this: To survive the trauma of circumcision baby boys have got to subconsciously insulate themselves from thinking about what's happened to their penis. Then all of a sudden mom and dad expect them to pee in the potty. Baby is thinking, "Damn, I spent the first 12 months trying not to even think about that thing when it was all purple and bloody (see above) and now you want me to do what!?!?! Can we just leave it in my frikkin' diaper? I'm worried you're going to cut some more off."

4. Foreskins are ALL the rage right now. EVERYONE that's anyone has one: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, your dog, just to name a few.

3. If foreskin cells are so valuable for skin cream, just imagine what what they can do for your penis if they stay where they're intended.

2. Lots of women like foreskin and the more sensual sex that accompanies it. I'm sure there's plenty of men out there that like it too. The point it is you don't amputate part of your child's body in order to help him better resemble your own culturally-derived idea of what's sexually attractive. I mean what's next? Nose and boob jobs for 12 year-olds?

1. Honestly talking about why foreskin is great is akin to trying to explain why eyelids are great. Um, you're born with it thus just like the rest of your body IT'S GREAT and it's there for a reason.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Care of the Intact Male

Rule # 1: Leave your baby son's penis alone.
Rule # 2: If you are confused about something, please refer back to rule #1.

I'm sure this information will shock many Americans but I'd like to report that my intact son is now 4 and a quarter years old and doing very well despite the fact I chose not to chop off part of his penis.

He has not experienced a UTI. If he did, I suppose I would treat it with an antibiotic. Not even in the same ballpark of invasive procedures compared to circumcision. I'll take a pill over a scalpel any day.

He does not need and has NEVER needed me to "wash" it for him in the bathtub as some idiotic foreskinless pediatricians have recommended to some parents. His foreskin has gradually loosened from the glans due to his own passing manipulations, contact with clothing, etc. It does not need any "help" loosening. It's this kind of ignorance about foreskin care that leads to tearing, corresponding adhesions, and then the same idiot pediatrician saying, "You see all the problems this foreskin has caused? We need to go ahead and circumcise him now." Pediatricians are typically the most poorly paid and often the least informed type of MDs. Please remember their word is NOT gospel.

Also would like to note that my son has not caused anyone to get cervical cancer. Honestly I can't write this without laughing because this is such an inappropriate attack on foreskins in the first place. Men with foreskins don't cause women to get cervical cancer. Last I checked sex requires two consenting parties. If the woman wishes to protect herself from HPV, the virus that IF UNTREATED leads to cervical cancer, then she ought to
a) be choosy about partners
b) ask partner to wear condom
Circumcision is not the answer. If circumcision helps prevent HPV/cervical cancer how come the US reports 6 million new cases of HPV every year even though 77% of US born men born between 1932-74 are circumcised? If circumcision really works to help prevent AIDS how come so many circumcised men in America have AIDS? These are questions the American medical community just can't seem to wrap their head around. They're so busy trying to come up with research that, in their minds, justifies circumcision that they can't see the forest for the trees. People have been trying to justify circumcision as a means to treat all kinds of health problems for hundreds of years. The whole cervical cancer/AIDS bit is just more of the same. Millions of men in the world are intact and they live happy, fulfilling lives. Perhaps American docs are just trying to make themselves feel better about what they're missing! I think docs who do research on the benefits of circumcision should have to divulge their own "cut" or "uncut" status.

Now I want to be fair so here are two important issues people with intact sons have to address:

# 1: My son is the only person with worse aim at the toilet than yours truly. It appears the foreskin may interfere with aiming the stream at times but then again aiming may well be a problem that ALL boys, circumcised or not, deal with. I'm assuming he'll control this more deftly in the future. Being circumcised myself I have no idea. My wife recently broached the idea that maybe this was another reason the cleanliness obsessed Victorians got behind circumcision. Not only could circumcision cure masturbation, heck it could keep the bathroom cleaner.

# 2: Speaking of the Victorians...My son's been "exploring" his genitalia for quite some time now since he wasn't met with blinding pain every time he touched it as a baby like myself and millions of other circumcised babies. I have a feeling he may, dare I say it, masturbate when he gets older. (Merciful heavens!) Oh well. Hate to break it to the Victorians and anyone else repressed enough to care but I was circumcised and it certainly didn't stop me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Burning questions I need someone to answer

Please comment if you have the answer to any of these questions. They are keeping me awake at night...

If circumcision is no big deal how come every time I forget to sleep with my foreskin restoration device attached I am anxious and irritable for a good part of the next day?

If circumcision is performed in the child's health interests how come every time I spend significant amount of time reading circumcision related blogs I come across someone who, as a result of his very "tight" circumcision experiences horrific pain every time he gets erect, much less tries to reach ejaculation.

If circumcision is such an important part of the Jewish and Islamic religion could someone please explain to me why it's so important to God that everyone has an exposed, callous glans? I'm also wondering how he sits through watching all those circumcisions performed in his name. I mean he is omnipresent after all so that means he gets to see and hear every one of those screaming babies AND since he is also omniscient that means he knows exactly how much pain and sadness and betrayal each of those tiny little babies feels. Say what you will about us atheists. It certainly requires less ethical gymnastics.

How come I never see any studies done by intact doctors from Europe "proving" how great circumcision is? Is it within the realm of possibility that the foreskin-less docs in the US and Israel are hell-bent on proving the evils of the foreskin just so they personally can feel better about not having one?

If foreskins are as bad as US doctors make them out to be how on Earth did the human race survive before some self-mutilating weirdo first decided to experiment with the idea of hacking off part of his own penis? (wonder what that guys parents did to HIM huh?)

Can anybody tell me where my foreskin is? Really. I'd like it back. I mean, it is mine after all. Isn't there some kind of inalienable right to body parts? I mean, it's not like it was some cancer-ridden lesion. It was a perfectly good foreskin. Wait, why are you giving me this skin cream. I don't want this, I just want... Oh. Yuck.

If circumcision is such a great idea how come no one is circumcising their dogs? I mean if you're willing to drop $250 at Petco on the latest food and toys for him, why not prevent penile cancer while you're at it?

Who really signs up for cutting penises? I mean seriously. It's kind of like being the defense attorney for a serial child rapist. Yes, someone has to do it but why would you want to be that person? Even for the people who have convinced themselves it is ethically ok to mutilate baby penises you would think they would be a little put off by the screaming and crying and seizuring and bleeding. You would think that would put them off enough to consider a career change.

And the number one burning question I have:
If circumcision is no big deal, how come even though my foreskin is only like maybe 15-20% restored my sex life is DRAMATICALLY enhanced. I mean it was great before but HOLY SHIT.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Circumcision Song

There is nothing funny about circumcision but sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from cryin'. Know what I mean? With that in mind check out the following song lyrics and if you like them check out the performance at

Circumcision Song

Circumcision Song
By Jeff Sanger
March 2008

Use chords G…. em…….. am…….. D…..
Repeat throughout

Circumcision is bad
For little babies
And their
Because you need the tip of your penis
For sex
And other fun

Don’t you listen
To your pediatrician
He stands to make a lot of
Money you see

Oh whoa oh circumcision
Was imported to the US
Sometime around

Doctors of the time
Were trying to figure out
How to stop masturbation, ‘cause it causes
Blindness no doubt

They cut off the erogenous zone
So he’d leave it alone
They said he felt he felt no pain
Though he cried and moaned

Circumcision is bad
For little babies
And their
Because you need the tip of your penis
For sex
And other fun

Now some people
Are trying so say
It prevents UTIs
And maybe AIDS

Well I really think
they’re full of shit
Besides what’s medical opinion
got to do with it?

It’s my boy’s penis
so let him decide
If he’s that worried ‘bout some
Damn UTI.

One more brief point
You just can’t deride
How come everyone I know with AIDS is

You want him to look like Dad?
Come on now please!
What if junior’s daddy was a
Double amputee?

Someday soon
The US will get a clue
Followed closely by that
Rotten AAP too

And then all those rotten
Docs will turn and say
Well, we never advocated circumcision

Oh whoa tell your friends
Tell your mom and dad
Tell everyone you know circumcision is……

Friday, June 24, 2011

Everyone wants to circumcise the world

"Circumcision helps prevent cervical cancer."

Really? This is like telling your friend Jim Bob who lost both hands in a farm accident that at least he'll never have to deal with hangnails again. Or telling your friend, Hank, who lost both feet in a steamroller accident that at least he doesn't have those pesky corns you do.

Statements like this are not even offered as a "reason" to circumcise/cut/mutilate your child. They are instead a pitiful consolation prize for those who have already done so.
E.g.: "Sure I cut Johnny so he'd look like me but hey, I'm also helping lower the cervical cancer rate."

Let's look at it another way: If you could "help prevent" breast cancer by cutting off your child's left ear would you do it? What about helping prevent colon cancer -- big killer by the way-- would you cut off your son's pinkie finger to do that? OF COURSE YOU WOULDN'T! So why should you cut off his foreskin to "help prevent" cervical cancer? See what a bad idea it is? You don't cut off body parts to prevent problems that don't exist. (If we did, doctors would remove the appendix shortly after birth too. After all they don't think it has much of a function and appendicitis can be life threatening.) The truth is people have been circumcising their children for thousands of years for ALL kinds of bizarre reasons. It's only in the last hundred or so years that the American medical profession has decided to try to legitimize it.

If you are circumcised and you somehow find solace in the claim that you are "helping" prevent cervical cancer, more power to you, but please don't tout this as a reason to circumcise. Do you really want to advocate circumcising/mutilating non-consenting children to deal with a public health problem (ie HPV) that is best addressed with condoms and monogamy? Speaking as a partially restored man, it is really quite ludicrous. (For me personally I'd rather have my foreskin and NOT help prevent cervical cancer. After all I'm in a monogamous relationship and thus not at risk of giving HPV to anyone. Sorry, but I've chosen to think highly of my son as well and don't think he will rampantly spread HPV just because he is intact!)

So if you are circumcised and/or have chosen to circumcise your child, STOP throwing out red herrings and face why you did it and/or why it was done to you. Was it a bunch of JAMA articles that made you decide to circumcise Jr. or was it your own fear, your own desire to conform, your own scars?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"I'm circumcised and I don't have a problem with it. What's the big deal?"

I'm writing this blog because of an extensive facebook debate with three guys who are "friends of a friend" and didn't like their friend posting a blog about how circumcision hurts babies. Each of the guys attempted to make a point about why he felt the way he did but, interestingly enough, all 3 of them mentioned that they themselves were circumcised and did not think it was a big deal. I admitted that my own feelings of anger and loss about my circumcision came AFTER my wife and I decided to leave my son intact which basically forced me to think about what I was missing every time I changed the little lad's diaper! However, I think it's important to connect with guys who are not yet dads who think circumcision is "not a big deal." If you are one of those guys please read on and follow the instructions carefully so you can be absolutely SURE that you don't mind being circumcised. If you are not one of those guys please read on anyway as you can share this exercise with male friends who report to you that they do not mind being circumcised.

1) Take out your penis and look at it. You know that ring around your penis that is a little darker than the rest of the skin on your penis? Do you ever wonder about what that is? Sadly I used to think that was somehow part of the anatomy of a penis, that it was supposed to look that. Um no. That is a scar from where we were circumcised. Just like any part of you body, making a deep cut and removing tissue creates scar tissue. Don't know about you but I'm not a huge fan of having a scarred penis.

2) Now, grasp the loose skin just below your scar with your thumb and forefinger on either side of your shaft and gently pull the skin over your glans/head. How easy this is for you to do is closely related to how much skin the doctor or mohel cut off of you as an infant during your circumcision.

3) Still grasping the skin, use one of your middle fingers to gently press down on the glans. Again, depending on how much skin you have you may be able to almost completely cover your glans with skin.

4) Look down at your covered glans. This is how you were born. This is how your body was created by your DNA, or God if you are religious. It's not gross or weird though many people try to described intact penises this way. It's kind of like a sheathe for your mighty sword.

5) If you were intact and had that skin covering your glans, your glans would be MUCH more sensitive. Without that foreskin your glans is left to chafe on your diaper, pants, etc. your entire life until the poor thing has about as much sensation as your elbow. Touch your glans, erect or not doesn't matter. Now touch the middle of the arch on your bare foot. Doesn't it seem odd your foot is more sensitive than your sex organ? For intact men this is NOT the case.

6) Do you use lubricant, saliva, etc to masturbate? Most circumcised men do. If you were intact not only would your glans be more sensitive but your penis would secrete natural lubricant to help with sex and masturbation. Also, the extra skin would provide you with additional "rolling" stimulation of your glans. Unfortunately for us who are circumcised our glans only understands THRUST, REMOVE, now repeat. Most intact guys don't use/need lubricant for vaginal sex and masturbation.

If you've done/thought about all this and STILL feel like circumcision was a "good thing" for you, that's great (I guess) but before you go removing part of your son's body without his consent review the above list again and consider whether you are comfortable altering your son's anatomy and future sexual experiences for the sake of cultural tradition, to look like you, or to supposedly prevent diseases he will STILL need a condom to protect himself from.

If you've done these exercises and are now pissed this was done to you without your consent, don't dispair. You can, eventually, restore your foreskin if you want to. Stay tuned for future blogs or check out

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Top Ten Reasons not to circumcise

#10: Circumcision removes healthy tissue that is attached to your child's penis for a variety of damn good reasons including creating lubrication during sex, protecting the ever-so-sensitive glans thus keeping it sensitive, and MORE...

#9: Circumcision hurts your child. If you don't believe me watch a video of one. By the way this hurt goes on for a long time after the actual circumcision. I'm still hurting, personally.

#8: Your infant son cannot give his consent for this surgery you are considering performing. Surgery, particularly one that removes healthy body parts, ought to have consent from the person on the table.

#7: Fewer and fewer people are choosing to circumcise their sons in the United States. Yes, we're finally catching up with the rest of the world on that one. So even if you're worried about Jr. "fitting in" in the locker room (which I sure the hell am not) you may want to think twice before you sign off on genital cutting.

#6: If you think Female genital mutilation is wrong you will want to do some brief study of anatomy 101 before removing your son's foreskin which serves many of the same functions as a woman's labia. All forms of circumcision are wrong and hurtful to children and adults.

#5: Circumcision harms your son's sex life. Message me or others who are in process of restoring if you don't believe me. Better yet talk to someone who signed off on a circumcision late in life. There are some dramatic, um, changes to your ability to experience pleasure without your foreskin.

#4: Circumcision is not medically necessary. Shouldn't we keep the body parts we're born with? Whether you believe in God or not you have to admit that the human body is a pretty amazing thing. I'm just not a big fan of cutting off parts of it willy nilly.

#3: Circumcision does not prevent AIDS. This is just a bald-faced lie. Millions of circumcised Americans are living with AIDS right now. I'm related to one of them. Condoms and monogamy prevent AIDS. Circumcision does not.

#2: Does circumcision prevent penile cancer? Hmmm. Do I really care? Penile cancer is extremely rare and besides we don't remove breasts, colons, ovaries, or prostates to prevent cancer even though those cancers are MUCH more common and deadly than penile cancer.

and the #1 reason not to circumcise your child is (drumroll)

Circumcision is morally and ethically wrong. You run the risk of your children not being happy with your decision when he grows up. Are you prepared to explain to him why you felt you had the right to sign off on cutting part of his penis off? No one has the right to alter/mutilate someone else's body without their consent. Circumcision will continue to decline and will someday become illegal. Consider being a force for change instead of a someone fighting it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dr. Demented (revisited)

Recently while out bowling with my wonderful children at the every bit as wonderful Dormont Lanes I slipped while trying to perfect my hook-- ok not perfect more like actually complete a hook that knocks down more than two pins-- and managed to crush my pinkie with a bowling ball. It was a wonderful little injury with pieces of fat and other gore oozing out and bright red blood. I had no intentions to visit the ER; it was my son's birthday for goodness sake and in no way did I want the day to revolve around me and one or two stitches. I wrapped my injury with paper towels and watched the kids bowl. Unfortunately later on, back at my home, my son managed to slip and fall while he was bowling with his home bowling set and ended up splitting his chin; not as much blood, but enough of a wound that the wife thought, Daddy's doctor aversion aside, we ought to have him looked at.

Thankfully we were seen by a P.A. instead of an MD. However I was surprised when she told me it was my mother's fault that I had smashed my finger.
"Really?" I asked, shocked.
"Well yes, the AAP is now recommending routine infant pinkie removals to prevent just this type of injury. If your mother had been more forward thinking this would have never happened to you."
"I'm surprised since, you know, it was kind of a bizarre accident. Doesn't seem worth removing a baby's pinkie to prevent something that probably won't happen when he gets older."
"You do have a point. Actually I'm not supposed to tell people this but penile cancer is even more rare than serious bowling accidents statistically speaking and we tell people that one of the reasons circumcision is so great is because it prevents penile cancer."
"Hmmmm," I mused. "Do you ever think people are just trying to come up with bogus reasons for an awful thing that they do to because it fulfills their own psychic needs?"
"No, doctors are too wise for that. They're so wise in fact they don't even bother sewing people up anymore if they can help it. Hold still now..."

(OK I didn't really get to have that conversation with her, but isn't it interesting that the foreskin is the only part of the human body that docs advocate removing to prevent cancer? They don't remove colons or ovaries or breasts at birth even though millions of people die of cancer related to those parts of the body. Seems a little fishy if you ask me.)

She glued my son's cut chin together and then stitched me up while he watched. Then they charged my insurance company an exorbitant amount of money and sent us on our way. It was very straightforward. Nothing "preventative" about this care. We came in bloody, we left less bloody. Hard to give that kind of care a bad evaluation. Now I'm not against a routine visit to your dentist once in a while or your eye doctor-- especially if you wear contacts like I used to and have to worry about getting one of those weird eye diseases if you don't keep them clean, ugh-- however, I think this whole idea of preventative care is a big part of the circumcision problem, outside of the previously explored all important need to preserve ego. Most doctors are pretty good at fixing things if you indeed have a genuine need for care, best evidenced by loss of huge amounts of blood, a cavity that feels like it's boring a drill into your gum, etc. It's when we take healthy adults and children to doctors that they become dangerous.

Think about it this way: You've got a brand new Caddy. 6 miles on it from the lot and that's it. You take it in to your trusted mechanic and say,
"Can you do something to be sure my car continues to run good."
"Well sure I can!!!" he says.
$300 later he assures you he's extended the life of your new car and you have little evidence to disprove his claim. It is, after all, a new car.

Babies don't need doctors to keep them well. If they did the human race would never have evolved past the middle links of the food chain. Heck we probably wouldn't be here at all. But somewhere along the road to current medical practice "First do no harm" got replaced with "There's always something you can do to make this body better." Once the medical profession sold us on the idea of preventative care we as healthcare consumers were basically cooked. We would buy whatever modification they said our car needed and hey if Dr. Demented says we can prevent future rust problems by hacking the entire tailpipe off our new Audi then we should probably do it. He ought to know about these things. He wouldn't let us sign up for anything that did HARM to our car, I mean child, would he?

It's sad because I think there are a lot of well-meaning people in various medical professions who themselves have bought into the all-important nature of preventative care. Case in point:
My oldest daughter brought home a coloring book from a recent trip to the veterinarian's office. One of the pictures had the following caption:
"Veterinarians help keep our pets healthy and happy."
Shouldn't the caption read,
"Veterinarians help sick and injured pets get better?"
Unfortunately veterinary medicine needs preventative care to stay afloat, just like your doctor, and, of course, your mechanic. The coloring book was interesting because it made me think this is probably how some vets conceptualize themselves: keeping healthy pets from keeling over and dying for no reason, making sure everything goes according to plan health-wise. Again, how did dogs survive for 2,000 years without veterinary care? Somehow sometime in the last 50 or so years human and animal medicine decided bodies were inherently flawed just because these bodies tend to eventually expire, that the doctor's job was not to fix what was broken but to set out on a relentless and at times ethically questionable quest to make the body and everything about it Perfect.

My finger is not perfect. It's ten days post injury and my digit is still sporting bright blue stitches and a jagged red mark a little too wide to consider completely healed. It's condition will improve with time and, eventually, the scar will probably fade. However it looks I'll be happy with the outcome since it was without a doubt damaged and in need of medical fixing. Unfortunately, like all circumcised males, I still bear the scar from that injury. It will never heal. I will see it every time I have to pee and almost every time I dawn a device to help with restoration I will experience an emotion at varying places along the continuum between peeved and devastated. Please keep in mind part of the reason my foreskin was removed was because a doctor told my parents there were health benefits. Harm was done to me with the claim it would prevent future harm.
"I know I'm not supposed to but let me do a teensy bit of harm now," Dr. Demented says, "I PROMISE it will mean less harm later."

I for one am not signing my kids up for any kind of harm. Even if JAMA or some other medical journal publishes a double blind study proving that circumcision will make people live 20 years longer and prevent Alzheimer's disease I still would not do it to my child; I would still advocate against circumcision until the day I die. I will never trample any child's rights for some nebulous future benefit no matter how much "cutting-edge" research has supposedly been done. After all do you think it's a coincidence that all those researchers are they themselves circed or else they're women from circed families or even women who have circed their own children and want/need to justify this thing that every fiber of their motherly instincts tells them is WRONG?

Interesting final digression: I once met a girl on the bus who was reading a text from nursing school. I asked to see it and tried to find an entry on circumcision and could not find one. I found this odd and broached the subject with her. She eventually informed me she had "observed" a few being done and went on to make a feeble attempt to tout the health benefits of this procedure. I did my best to make her see how the real crux of the issue was the fact that it was unethical to remove body parts of children without their consent. But she already had her walls up. I could see she didn't want to let the information in. Why? Because she had witnessed circumcisions being done and had not intervened. If this procedure was indeed ethically wrong she would have to bear some ethical responsibility for standing there and doing nothing. She was kind of like the guy who delivered lunches to the guards at Auschwitz. She was kind of like the guy who gassed up the plane that dropped the A bomb on Hiroshima. She played a role, albeit a small one, in the genital mutilation of those children. She stood by and did nothing while that baby screamed. Millions of doctors and nurses have had this same kind of training. I suppose trying to find reasons to justify circumcision is the best way to distract them from the blood on their hands.

PS: final final digression. RD left comment touching on circumcision practices during the Korean war. I worked with an African-American woman whose father served in Africa in World War II. She informed me he was forcibly circumcised by the military upon entering the service, the excuse being that he might contract some kind of dreaded disease. She assured me this was done against his will, basically do it or be court-martialed. I found this quite frightening and couldn't help wondering if this happened to more black soldiers than white ones or if the military was just cutting everyone they could get their hands on back then. If anyone has links or additional info about the military's approach to circumcision past or present please share!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dr. Demented

Anybody who knows me knows I don’t trust doctors. Sure, if I ever manage to acquire a gunshot wound or if I’m ever in a horrific car accident and need my arm to be reattached I will happily entrust my future wellbeing to an MD. I think very highly of emergency room doctors. Most of the time I imagine their job as being fairly straightforward: person comes in broken, they need to fix the person enough so they don’t die and then refer on to a specialist from there. However, that’s about the only doctors I trust. I haven’t gotten a physical in years and have no intentions of doing so unless I actually feel seriously ill for a long time—- wild concept huh? Why not, Jeff? Don’t you want to prevent cancer, don’t you want to live to be a 103? Well, here’s the problem, I don’t think US medicine can entirely be trusted. Now here’s one caveat to this entire post: I work in the behavioral health industry. While the job I do is focused mostly on improving the lives of people labeled for whatever reasons as having “mental illness” I do work with psychiatrists and these are, in my opinion, some of the worst doctors there are out there. (chiefly because none of them can actually fix anything. Too squeamish to mend bones or stitch flesh, they join an industry that serves the interests of, primarily, the pharmaceutical industry.) This has a great deal to do with why I don’t trust doctors, I suppose. However, I have a sneaking suspicion it may also have something to do with the fact that almost 34 years ago a doctor rubbed my penis until it became semi-erect, clamped some sort of metal device to it, and sliced off my foreskin with a scalpel.

Let’s really consider this for a moment. Throw out all the arguments that doctors give for why circumcision can be a good thing—- we’ll return to that parade of snake oil salesmen later. Let’s look at it from me, as a little baby, my point of view: “Oh god, that really hurts. I have no idea why this is happening. You are hurting me. Where the hell is my Mom?” I did not give consent for this to happen. No one talked to me about risks vs. benefits of this operation much less the permanence of it. I was not consulted. Hmmmmmm.

I like to carry things through to their logical, or in this case illogical, extension. So I have three kids. Let’s say I decide that my son, little Sullivan’s nose is too big, it’s quickly growing into that enormous Sanger nose I’ve been sporting my entire life. After much involved discussion with my wife we decide it would be better to give Sully a nose job NOW. If we do it now he won’t remember it hurting and then when he grows up he won’t have to face the challenges of having a big nose. Now I realize plastic surgeons care about money perhaps even MORE than the average doctor does but do you think I could find any doctor in the US who would be willing to perform such an operation? Maybe, but it would be difficult. Why? Perhaps they would cite the fact that it’s not a good idea to perform cosmetic surgery on a child, or perhaps they might even point out that I ought to wait until little Sully can give his consent. At what age does a child’s consent start to matter I wonder? At what point do they stop being property and become little citizens. Here’s a strange thought: regardless of how you feel about abortion, isn’t it kind of funny that pro-lifers want the state to protect unborn children but not their foreskins after they’re born?!?!?!?! Yes, I believe in consent, even for people who can’t speak. If they’re not equipped to give it as infants perhaps we should wait until they are able to. Now I’ll admit I may be a bit of a fanatic in this regard: I refuse to even cut my kids' hair unless they want it to be done. To date none of them has had a haircut. But perhaps I’m so conscious of the sacredness of their right to control their own bodies because I never had this control over my own body.

Back to Dr. Demented. Do I think Mom and Dad made a mistake signing off on part of my body being cut off? Yes. However, they’re from that generation that believes doctors can do no wrong, that they can’t be influenced by money or powerful corporations, or politics, or their own cultural biases. I know better. More and more people these days know better. But for Mom and Dad they read the APA statement of the day which said circumcision was not really necessary but did, honest to god we promise, prevent a bunch of horrible, dirty, health problems. Well, Dad’s cut, they thought to themselves, it must have been because of the health benefits. We should do it to Jeff too.

That’s what all of this goes back to: all of us circumcised guys have this moment shortly after we realize we are “cut,”-- and I have heard of people who didn’t even know what the word meant until their 20s-- sometime after this moment we ask ourselves, “Why was my foreskin cut off?” And that question leads to some pretty difficult feelings you've got to start repressing ASAP.

Let’s pretend you woke up this morning to find your right ear was hacked off. All that was left was a bloody hole like that poor cop in “Reservoir Dogs.” You come down to breakfast screaming and your mother informs you she cut it off because your doctor told her it was the most hygienic thing to do, especially considering the fact you’ve got two of the damn things and all they do is fill up with wax anyway. You’ve got two choices at this point:

Choice #1 You believe the doctor. This is oddly comforting because now you can look down on all the people that have two ears: “Yes, they have two ears but they’ve got that extra wax to deal with and besides, I’ll have the last laugh if they develop that rare but horrific ear cancer the doctor told mom about.” This also absolves your mom of responsibility so you don’t have to admit there’s any kind of issues in that relationship. Mom cut off the ear because she was looking out for you. End of story.

Choice #2 Your mother has done something horrible to you which she refuses to acknowledge as horrible. This is obviously the more difficult choice: not only must you admit that the person who is hardwired to protect you from harm has instead volunteered you up for it, you must stand up and assert that Dr. Demented who has lots of important letters after his name and who, after all, was REALLY good at chemistry and biology does not know what the F*&# he is talking about.

Therein lies the explanation for why circumcision is a vicious cycle. Ironically I think the docs themselves go through this same process. A lot of these guys are cut too and they engage in the same thought process that the rest of us do. After deciding on choice one, they go on to be doctors, to help people. "If removing ears helps people then by God we’ve got to do it. These people are just not smart enough to know what’s good for them." Suddenly they’re wielding the scalpel themselves and instead of acknowledging the true, deeply buried subconscious sentiment of satisfaction at having ensured someone else will not have the opportunity to have any additional equipment they themselves were deprived of, they can instead tell themselves they are helping this little baby, sparing him from a life of potentially unhygienic choices. My favorite part is even as they lower the scalpel and blood gives from the crease in the skin and baby screams and writhes against the circumstraint, doc tells himself, “Hey even if I’m wrong, which I never am, and this is all bullshit I’m still ethically clean because it’s mom and dad’s choice and it’s ok to let them pay me to cut off part of their child’s body if it’s important to them. Really!?!?!?!?!? It’s kind of like the guy at Auschwitz saying, “Hey sorry I burned all those kids but talk to Hitler man, I was just following orders.” We all have to face the choices we make. Believe me I’ve made some dumb ones myself. But the thing about doctors is they still maintain this air of authority. Enough so that millions of mothers let their pedes or OBs “convince” them that circumcision is the right thing to do. "Why would Dr. Demented lie? He wants what's best for my baby." Well, here’s the problem, it’s kind of like getting advice on choosing shoes at a double amputee convention. If Dr. Demented is cut, he's probably not hip to the benefits of being intact. He can’t help but tune out information about the benefits of being intact, it is likely psychologically painful to him. He's got to hold his penis in his hands to pee and stare at his poor exposed, toughened, centurion helmet-top the same as I do. He really doesn't want to spend continuing education hours on learning about why it stinks to be circumcised. It’s much more palatable to find reasons why it’s great since he's got to live with it.

That’s my beef with docs in a nutshell. They have perpetuated the cycle of circumcision to protect their own egos. They’ve claimed circumcision cures seizures, masturbation, laziness, bad behavior, etc, the list goes on. HIV is just the latest addition. Once it’s proven circ doesn’t really prevent that either they’ll find something else it prevents. Um thanks, but until you’ve got some hard, ha ha get it?, evidence I think I’ll let my son make his own choices. If he hates wearing a condom he can always sign up for a circumcision later in life I suppose. As for masturbation, well, I haven’t met too many adolescent boys who want to cure themselves of that!

So Dr. Demented, first do no harm. If you’re cut I think you should recuse yourself from supporting circumcision. You have a conflict of interest, unless of course you circed yourself. Regardless of whether mom and dad are behind it you should not be removing body parts without the person’s consent. Face it: your profession did some very sick, very bad stuff back in the day. You said smoking was good for us for God’s sake! Could you please just admit you blew this one and stop making excuses to protect all the penis cutters out there? It’s wrong. Even if you can fabricate oops I mean produce a study that shows circumcision extends lifespan by 50 years it’s still just wrong to alter/mutilate people’s sex organs without their express consent. I’m sorry it was done to you, Dr. Demented, but no matter how many baby penises you mutilate it’s not going to make you feel better about your own. No matter how hard you try to make the whole world look like you, you can’t escape the fact that every new baby boy is born exactly the way he should be and you’ll never, ever, be able to cut them all.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mother, do you think they'll cut my nob?

Thanks to all who commented on and shared the last post and also provided links as well! The title is a Pink Floyd reference in case anyone is wondering.

How's the saying go: God bless the child that's got his own. Billy Holiday sings that so nicely. I think it's supposed to mean, "Aha, now that you've got a clue how hard it might have been to raise you, now we'll ask for blessings on ya." I got along with my parents tolerably well as a teenager, typical screaming matches and what have you but never any police involvement or tearful encounters over drug use since after all I was a certifiable square until I got to college (thank you suntan U I mean ASU for curing me of that.) HOWEVER, I always felt kind of weird when I'd go home to visit after I moved out into the dorm. I felt out of place, like a stranger. Not that I didn't belong, just that there was something between us, a separation. Not any kind of dislike or hatred but rather the kind of separation you would feel from say your neighbor or the guy you buy your coffee from at the convenience store. You may say hello to this person and smile at them every day but you're probably not going to invite them to your daughter's wedding and you're certainly not going to call them in tears when your wife leaves you. It felt kind of like I wasn't really related to them and we were all victims of some kind of child swap at the hospital and were just laboring in denial instead of trying to find out where our real birth parents/child were. A case of pre-adulthood angst. Perhaps. The overgrown child finally detaching self in hopes of recreating self in new, private, and most importantly novel image. Certainly plausible. I satisfied myself with these explanations for some time. As I got older, shedded my squaredom, and acquired a serious, and hot, girlfriend, she would often ask me after visits back home, "Why don't you like your parents? They're so nice." I would typically shrug because I honestly did not know the answer myself. I started to wonder if I was just kind of a jerk.

Fast forward just around 9 years or so. I have wedded the hot girlfriend and we now have a child. "Hmmmm," I wonder, "I feel so attached to this wonderful infant baby girl and yet oddly distrustful and hostile towards Mom and Dad. What's the deal with that?" A year passes. I chalk it up to New Dad-itis. (The disease that makes you get all hot and bothered when someone coughs near your child or when you forget the baby's coat on a day when the temperature is expected to drop below 60. You get the drift.) Second baby is on the way, only this time it's a boy. NOW this post starts to get interesting.

After wife and I agree we are not going to circumcise our beloved son (see previous post) I at first, for some reason, have absolutely nothing to say to my parents about this decision. It's like there is some enormous, thick wall in my brain. I know my parents are on the other side but since I can't see or hear them it never even crosses my mind to tell them about this. (In case you didn't already guess that's the wall of Denial baby! And let me tell you it was big and thick and took a shit-ton of explosives and some bulldozers for me to finally clear it out of my subconscious.) My wife doesn't do denial. This is one of the many things I love about her. She has this fascinating idea that truths should be faced even when they make you uncomfortable. So she tells my mother during a phone conversation shortly before the birth that we are not going to circumcise our son.
"Well that's good," she says after a pause, "I wished we hadn't done it to Jeff but the doctors said that was the best thing to do and everything we read agreed with them."
My wife shares this with me when she gets off the phone and I am, needless to say floored. My wife states the obvious to make sure it gets through my denial wall (she has grown accustomed to dealing with it at this point and has drilled some nice holes she can shout through when she needs to.)
"So what the hell, that's how she feels and she was going to just not say anything and let us do that to our son?!?!" my wife says.
"It's either that or, more likely, she is just saying that so she doesn't have to feel bad about having done it," I say. "Either way it sucks."
So now I'm starting to get a little pissed. I'm starting to wonder why this was done to me, but it still makes me pretty uncomfortable so I shelve it for a little while. My wife is a little more pissed and having many conversations with our intactivist friend which I find a way to not overhear even though my house is not that big and it's awfully quiet in those days before I had three children.

The baby is born! Hooray! I am so lucky to have all three of my children. I remember the days they were each born as clearly as if it happened yesterday. Well after the exciting newness wears off I actually start paying attention as I change my man's diaper. Damn! This is not "the tip" people. This is not a small flap of useless skin. I mean, it's like some creepy guy who would've been a serial killer if he hadn't been an MD said, "Hmmm, I wonder what that looks like under there? Let's grab my trusty scalpel and find out." (Well actually the MD KNOWS what it looks like under there because chances are his looks the same way so really it's probably a thought process that is closer to, "Well if I don't get to have one you don't either you little bastard! Why should you get to hide your glans in that nifty little flesh covered, rollable, nerve-laden, snug fitting foreskin. That foreskin is bad! It has to be bad dammit. We have to find a reason to remove it RIGHT NOW!" Sorry that's another post cropping up again.)

So yes it had just dawned on me that my little son's penis looked quite a bit different than my own. I had never seen an intact penis before I saw my son's-- outside of one time when I think I must have glimpsed my friend's penis which was probably uncut because I remember asking my mother why his penis looked "square." Looking at my little son protected and safe made me suddenly feel vulnerable and, well, like I was missing something, particularly when I had to pee. There were no secrets about where my urine was coming from. My son's urine however squirted in all kinds of bizarre directions as it emerged from the thick folds of foreskin that appeared to come almost completely together at the tip, only allowing enough room for the pee to escape and spatter whatever or whoever was close at hand during the diaper change. That was not how I peed. This was starting to mess with my head now. The fact of my own "difference" became harder to ignore because everytime I went to the bathroom I found myself thinking about it. My son's body looked quite normal to me, natural, so suddenly my own did not. Crap. I did not know I had signed up for this kind of denial busting or I would have started drinking more before he was born.

So Mom and Dad are out to visit. I don't want them to change his diaper. I'm worried they are going to accidentally or, worse, forcibly retract my son. I use my obssessive worry that they will accidentally harm him to keep me from facing the larger and more obvious question: Um why the hell did you remove part of my body without my consent? Thanks to the Internet I do finally confront them about this. (Isn't it nice to use email to communicate all those points you inevitably end up stuttering through or forgetting when you get in face to face conflicts with people?) I send them an email. My dad says he's sorry, sort of. He does say he wouldn't have done it if he had known I'd feel this way. Much later on he actually says he understands I feel he failed to protect me. This is somewhat helpful, certainly more so than if he tried to tell me I was an idiot or that my son would be unclean now or any of the other ignorant things that some people resort to saying when they are caught in having done something embarassingly idiotic and hurtful. My mother is another story. She makes it all about her. Yes, she's one of those mothers who could find a way to make you feel guilty for getting into a car accident that claimed both of your legs because of how it made her feel. She sends a rambling response to my wife about how she's so depressed now because I've attacked her and she was only doing what she thought was right after extensive research. (After some research of my own I'm wondering what kind of research she was doing since I was born in '77 and in '75 the AAP said there was no valid medical indications for circ. In dear old Mom's defense the AAP of course went on that same year to list all the GREAT benefits of circumcision should you decide to do something that had no valid medical indication. Interesting enough that year the AAP said the decision should be based on "true, informed consent." The only problem is they were talking about the parents' consent instead of the little baby. Oops. Um yeah, that's not a pet dog there, doc. That is a living breathing person who, ethically speaking, you might want to check with before cutting off part of his body just because mom and dad say it's ok. Damn that anti-doc post is just itching to get out.)

I ask my wife to please respond that no I am not angry at her (my mom,) even though I am and just know better than to try to argue with that woman about anything. Her defensiveness, needless to say, is painful and makes me more angry. It makes me feel like I'm crazy for feeling hurt by this. A little, "I'm sorry" would have gone a long way with me on this one but she just couldn't muster it. "I'm sorry I did that to you" validates the person's hurt and also acknowledges that what you did was ethically wrong. We say it when we step on someone's toe or bump into someone on the bus but no one wants to take any kind of responsibility when it comes to circumcision. The parents blame the docs, the docs blame the parents (um who's holding the bloody scalpel on the blog background there, buddy?) Very few people are willing to just throw up their hands and say "I messed up. I shouldn't have done this. I'm going to do everything I can to stop others from doing it." Those that take responsibility and work to stop circ are some of the most powerful forces for change in our culture. I admire their bravery and authenticity in an age where all that seems to matter are surfaces. I guess that was what disappointed me about my dad's reaction: I kind of felt like he said what he thought I wanted to hear. Once he sent the response that was kind of the end of the discussion. I mean I knew he wasn't going to be shouting, "STOP CIRCUMCISION" from his rooftop but if he really felt bad and thought it was wrong shouldn't he do something about it? Bare minimum I was hoping he would have wanted to at least talk to me about it a little more.

Hmmm. Maybe I should buy him a TLC tugger.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ouch! You motherf$*#er!

I never thought much about having kids when I first got married. Marriage was about retaining the excellent partner I had found in a more permanent fashion. I know that's not very romantic but I think most husbands, if they're honest, will say the same kind of thing. I read a quote one time that said, "Woman marry the man they love the most, men marry the woman that loves them the most." Us men, we need to be loved, see? We need our mommies more when we're little (just ask my son) and when we're teenagers we want sex all the time but that's just because we've got that confused with love and once we get old enough to have some sense we get really scared at the prospect of losing this person that loves us for some strange reason so we put a ring on their finger in hopes of discouraging them from considering the prospect of loving someone else who may be better looking, make more money, dress better, or, ugh! all three.

Once married there was a lot of confusion about what exactly I was supposed to do next but I won't digress any further than I already have. Let's cut to kids. The pun will become more apparent later on. So I'm married, I wasn't planning on NOT having kids so it seems like the logical thing to do eventually. My wife at one point tells me she had rather not drag me kicking and screaming into this thing, as she has so many other things, as that would really take the fun out of it for her. I figure what's the point of stalling and hemming and hawing and worrying like I do about everything else (you should see what a frikkin' battle it is for me to pick out the right melon at the grocery store, not because I want it to be perfect but rather because I am so hyperconscious of screwing it up.) I figure what's the point of indulging my cynical side when I'm going to agree eventually anyway, because remember I don't NOT want them, and then she'll just feel like the whole process is tainted somehow. For any of you who don't have a clue: women don't like it when things are tainted. So I go along with it. "Sure, let's have a baby. It'll be fun." It turns out we are as fertile as two sixteen year olds in a low income neighborhood and we get pregnant the first month we try. Pregnancy is awesome, it's great, but it's not what I'm here to talk about. Fast forward 21 months. New baby girl is one year. We love her dearly, love being parents. We want more. Yes, I actually actively want one this time as opposed to entering into the plan as a way of treating my career of reluctanct hesitation with some exposure therapy. Again, we conceive on the first try. Bam! I was not surprised. I WAS surprised that we were able to avoid pregnancy for the first ten years of our relationship utilizing primarily the pull out method after deciding birth control pills are overrated and bad for your health and condoms feel like you are jacking off through a grocery bag. (Sorry for those of you who aren't in a monogamous relationship and have to use the buggers routinely. Perhaps if my writing career remains in this nascent stage when I am 50 I will instead set out to invent a more "sensitive" condom and make my million that way.) This time the baby is a boy and now you, you patient reader you, finally see why this post belongs on this blog.

Like most Americans we're not even really thinking about the question of circumcision when we learn we're having a boy. We're excited about a million other things, a million other potential lives for him and for our budding family. Eventually the question is broached by my wife as to what I think about circumcision. I say, "I don't know but I don't think I can sign off on someone doing that to my son." The wife is equally circumspect. We don't spend much time researching it even though we are compulsive researchers. (I shudder to count the hours I spent online researching our eventual decision to not vaccinate our children.) In retrospect, I didn't research it because my subconscious had built up a healthy resistance to not thinking about the fact that some asshole doctor had cut off part of my dick. Thankfully we had a dear friend who HAD researched it and, unfortunately, directly experienced some reasons for why it should not be done. We were sort of looking for a reason not to do it at that point and this friend, without premeditation, gave us just that. Yet even after we decided not to cut off part of our child's penis I still found ways to avoid thinking about it. I'm ashamed to admit I told myself it was not that big of a deal, that I was glad we had decided not to do it but that our friend was making too big a deal of it. Again, in retrospect, of COURSE I didn't want it to be a big deal. To admit it's a big deal is to admit that I'm not happy that part of my dick is MISSING due to being forcibly removed by some asshole that deserves a Sisyphusian fate. Well I labored in denial for quite a while. I would get irritated when this friend would call and talk to my wife because it would force me to consciously think about what had been done to me. I fought it for a long time. I refused to read the literature my wife acquired about the subject. When she told me she had heard that our friend's husband was restoring his foreskin I'm ashamed to say I laughed and said that was crazy and I would never do that. Little did I know that within the next year I myself would begin the process of restoration, but that's another post entirely. My awakening was fairly gradual as I suppose most awakenings are. I do however remember an important moment in that process. My wife and I were talking in the bedroom after showering. We only had one kid then so yes we actually talked and had uninterrupted conversations back in those days. We were talking about circumcision. I'm sure I was irritated that she had brought it up. She mentioned my scar. "I don't have a scar!" I said with cultivated indignance.
"That's what that ring is right here, honey," she said as gently as possible.
In that moment it dawned on me how little I knew about my own body. My next question was how the hell I could not know that and that was when I finally started to realize I was using this minimalization of what had happened to me to avoid dealing with how I really felt about it. She then proceeds to tell me how this idea of restoration works. She rolls some of the skin on my dick past the scar and it really freaks me out. I stop her twice before she is finally able to do it. Again, I'm left wondering what the hell my problem is when this woman has touched my dick a substantial number of times without ever inspiring this feeling of abject terror and discomfort I'm currently experiencing. Then I realize it doesn't even hurt when she does it, it feels kind of natural and I realize all of it, the discomfort that is, is in my head.
It wasn't like all the lights turned on at once that night but it was the beginning of a kind of awakening that culminated in my realization that I was not happy my parents had signed up for part of my dick to be removed and i was really pissed that the American medical community had encouraged them to do just this and had made a practice of doing it to people for all kinds of bizarre invented reasons since the 19th century. Now I was REALLY uncomfortable. I realized that what had been done to me was really, royally screwed up but I had no idea what the hell to do about it. Boy was I a miserable jerk for a few weeks there. Apparently the first mental breakthrough I had was that cutting in general was bad. I look back at pictures from that time in my life and I had allowed my beard to grow down almost the base of my neck. Coincidence? I kind of doubt it. By then my son had been born and I saw what a real, normal penis is supposed to look like. Um, yeah, it's like the difference between going out to play in the snow with your coat on and walking outside naked. It's like looking at one normal finger and than looking at a finger than has the fingernail ripped off and here's this naked nail bed all dried out and fucking weird. That denial really started to fall apart after the first twenty or so diaper changes. But I'm glad of course. That's a hell of a thing to live your life without realizing that a huge part of you has been missing since you were about 4 days old.

Now my son's almost four and I look back on this time for me and I think how obvious it is why this cycle of circumcision perpetuates itself. We are hardwired for survival. It's a hard thing to face this stuff when you can't even remember it being done and your whole life everytime you hold your dick in your hands to take a piss you think it's perfectly normal that it looks that way. You're talking about rising up against decades of cognitive dissonance. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to come to such a realization after you've already circed your child. Anyone who has the gumption to face a mistake like that and speak out about it deserves a frikkin' medal in my book.

That's what this post is about I guess: facing things. I wrote it the day I found out belatedly that David Foster Wallace had died and he was just about the most authentic writer I have ever read. I thought I am going to write something authentic even if it sucks and voila. There's a lot of reasons why people try to justify circ but I think one of the most important reasons is because it's so hard to face what has been done to them and call it what it really is: VIOLENCE against children for the sake of preserving the ego of adults.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"But I want him to look like his dad..."

Scene: Public restroom somewhere in Ocean City, MD My son and I are peeing.
My almost 4 year old intact son, Sullivan: Daddy, why does your penis look like that?
Me a circumcised Dad: What that ring?
Sullivan: Yeah that ring.
Me: That's a scar. I was circumcised without my consent when I was a baby. Your mom and I didn't want to do that to you.
Sullivan: Hee hee! We are peeing! Can we go bowling later?

(Note: At no time did he express concern, regret, or sadness that we didn't "look alike.")

Many more ridiculous reasons for circumcision will be explored and blown apart on this page in the future. Stay tuned.