In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child
"... humanity at its finest"
Thank you for your site. It is a clarion call to
sanity. Your illumination and pursuit of truth as well
as your despair at those who cause suffering is
humanity at its finest. No doubt your reward will be in
An image comes to mind upon beholding this amazing work you have done: Sydney Lumet's (1962) Long Day's Journey Into Night, with Katherine Hepburn at her finest. There is a horrifying scene, as she weaves in and out of sanity -- in this darkest of O'Neill's plays -- because of a morphine addiction started by a quack doctor after pregnancy complications. She is seated with her family and knows she is losing herself again. "I hate doctors," she screams and shatters a plate against the table, her entire body trembling in physical and psychological torment. It is one of the most chilling moments of the film.
I often feel like Hepburn.
A few anecdotes -- yes just anecdotes, but I always feel what can honest personal stories and epiphanies be but small building blocks towards a larger truth, no?
When I was quite young I felt something was wrong, the scars, the fact that I did not look like statues in museums, etc., but I assume the mind protects itself from following these strains too much, too soon. I do recall, though, from a very early age wondering exactly what the foreskin did. Did it get bigger along with the penis? Did it move? Did it always cover the tip or go back and forth? I recall thinking if it went back and forth that could be a very good thing indeed, and why on earth would anyone prevent that from happening? It seemed to me, again, just one boy becoming familiar with his body, that that of all places would be a part of the body where no one should really want anything taken away. That, though, was about the extent of my thinking on the subject for some time.
In my reshman year of college, my roommate from Nepal comes charging back into the room from the showers very alarmed at the naked fellow hallmates in the bathroom. I look at him askance and say not to worry Americans are a bit liberal and do not mind revealing themselves in the shower room. We are all guys anyway. No, he assures me the nudity is not the problem. The problem is that someone has wounded several of them. At this point I am confused, get up from my desk and ask for clarification. He had never before seen a circumcised penis and was, rightly so, alarmed. At any event, I explained we do these things over here for health reasons I presume; this he could not understand and moreover thought that any supposed "health reasons" or risks would be worth risking. Next thing I knew we were talking about anatomy. Both of us were perplexed so I asked him if he would not mind showing me. And so for the first time in my life I was shown how a working penis works. I then showed him my member and where the scar is. Nothing really strange about it save that it was a profound learning experience for us both. For me it was profound in that I recall for the first time not really feeling like a real man, and thinking how strange it should be that I should be learning about a body part God gave me at birth through someone from a more civilized culture explaining to me in as charitable a way as possible what I was missing. A peculiar thought pattern for the start of college, but what are we to do?
My BA finished, I have been working on a doctoral degree overseas. Never would I allow myself to appear in a locker room here for I know the looks of pity I would get. When I attend functions like large dinner parties, or am in chapel services, it does pain me more than slightly to realize that none of the guys in the stained glass windows covering centuries of saints or doubtless anyone else in chapel or at dinner (unless there is another Yank visiting or some such circumstance) has a body like mine. My best part was taken away. I have at any rate gotten better at knowing that this is not my fault. That, yes, I have been emasculated -- anyone who does not think so is more than a bit loopy, and even from a Jewish perspective has not read their Maimonides, who himself in the Talmud explains circumcision as a humiliation before God -- but it is not my fault and the only thing I can do as a sensible human being is express indignation and regret. I am not Jewish and thus will not speak on the religious covenant structures of others, past or present (which incidentally should have nothing to do with hospitals or doctors but synagogues anyway. Interesting thought question: How would I feel about the idea of going to a hospital to receive Communion or seeing a doctor for any other sacramental purpose? It is more than slightly strange, and in the case of medical circumcision has the double offense not only of abusing and offending the human body, but also making mockery of a religious practice; the 20th century alas has featured more than its fair share of those who make mockery of Jewish religious practice).
Regardless, my main issue is simply about my own body and how I feel about what has been done to it. I was raised Roman Catholic and my religion SUPPORTS my views. I know not only that my Church, but St. Paul and any medic in Europe as well as the United Nations, etc., etc., are quite strong in their stance on the subject, and rightly so. Circumcision is not to be tolerated in hospitals; it should not have been done to me. It is a violation. There is no debate. My parents doubtless thought what they were doing was best, and they clearly did not have information to make a sound decision. I do not fault them, for they are fine parents who would never intend to cause harm. I do, however, fault the medical establishment in the U.S. for its perpetuation of this madness. It is sick and insidious. Anyone who does not think this way clearly has not gotten out of the U.S. all that much, or even if they do live in the U.S. has not thought too much about the human body, be it their own or those of others. Try walking through a locker room in a school overseas and feeling like a circus freak; just the idea of it is not a good thing for one's sanity.
Again very personal and confessional, but if it helps anyone I do not mind the embarrassment of talking about it: I recently have had some medical problems develop that would not be occurring if I had been left alone. A painful vascular clot has formed that will need to be cauterized; problems can arise. I am sorry but no one should be cauterizing penises, EVER. I lament the fact that 24 years after the day I was born I shall encounter another cauterizing pen in my genitalia. I saw a doctor over here who looked with pity at me and my scarred member, as well as the clotting forming. He said to hang on; wait on the surgery, for it might go away. Almost four months along, no improvement. Well, needless to say, I have not been a happy camper as they say. The worst is that I saw one urologist at home in the U.S. on holiday who told me it was all in my mind. As he examined me and I told him it hurt, he told me I was being over-sensitive and not to worry. "At least you can be thankful you were circumcised," he said with a happy grin. "No worries about penile cancer." As soon as he said that I thanked him and walked right out of the office. Disgusted. (Interestingly enough, as I was waiting in the examining room, there was a chart on the wall, sponsored by some drug company working on prostate cancer. It explained prostate exams and had color drawings of the body. The poster said: "The Human Male" and had images of "the human male," cut of course -- as if that were how he naturally should be. Good heavens!) I have been in touch with more sensible people over here and have found out about a sympathetic urologist back home in the U.S. who is good at fixing problems, and would never as a doctor say a nice word about circumcision.
All I can say is this: thank you again for the site. It gives me tremendous joy to read the stories of other people, to know that I am not alone, and not crazy. I do not plan on having children in the foreseeable future, but of course if I did I would be VERY protective of them and never let them alone with any doctors in the U.S., not just in light of circumcision, but also forced foreskin retraction or any other destructive humiliations endured as part of "examinations." I really mean this. There are moments when I feel like Katherine Hepburn, upset and enraged at doctors, and where they have left me. Now I know of course there are hosts of good ones and I am sorry they are caught up in this, but I do know this: I am a 24 year old male who is blessed with coming from a stable background and being given a fine education. I should be happy as a clam, and I am save that I am ashamed of my body and the scarring and missing piece, how I know that I have been altered and am not fully in God's image as I was made, but have been branded, that's the word, branded by a crazed American medical aesthetic, and I am, rightfully so, indignant and more than slightly saddened. It is wrong. Something wonderful was taken from me.
There is a secret joy, though. I do know this because my parents raised me with a strong faith, a wonderful gift. I fervently believe that if we are good in this life and do our best, in the next we find heaven and at the end of time we are re-united with our bodies free from disease and afflictions done to them, and will have them for all eternity, and there are no cauterising pens in heaven.
Could be the name of a good book of short stories: "No cauterising pens in heaven," one of those medical horror sorts of books for the beach. Alas, you know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction.
Thanks again. Do keep up the good work. I hope you realize the amazing extent of therapy you are providing. I can think of no better service than helping parents make wise choices about the birth of their children, and providing those who feel afflicted with the awareness that it is not their fault.
I'm a 25 year old woman, married to a circumcised man, which has
never really been an issue one way or the other, I might add. I've
never dated an intact man, as you call them. I've never even seen one
naked in person.
We're trying to get pregnant and if our children are all girls, no problem, end of discussion. But if we have boys? I've never talked about circumcision with my doctor. Never thought twice about it. Never really considered what went on in a circumcision. We're both Catholic, so there's no religious reason for it, but I'd always heard these rumors that it prevented disease, cancer, or that it simply looked better, cleaner, etc.
Your website showed up on a search I did this evening for information about sexual abuse--I am working up a DFS case against a parent at my school, and was looking for info. I wasn't looking to spend an hour scrolling down your page. I wasn't thinking about circumcision at all, even--I was looking for more standard definitions of sexual assault/abuse. But I clicked on your page and indeed spent the time, checked out the links, read the articles, saw the pictures.
I had no clue.
I'm not the sort who believes everything she sees on the Internet. So I'm not going to say right here this very moment, "I will never ever circumcise my boys." But I will say that I wound up at your page for a reason, I believe, and that was to open my eyes to something I had never given any thought to. Now I have another thing to think about as I carry our first child. If it's a boy, what do we do? What does my doctor believe? What are the statistics for my hospital? Do I get to give my consent--and there's the big question for me. If it's a "routine" and automatic procedure, then I'm not giving birth there. I need to be given the choice, after careful reading and research, to say yes or no with full knowledge.
You've opened my eyes. I've jotted down some of the book titles you listed, and I plan (I've got the time) to spend some time looking around, seeing what other sources tell me. (But in my heart, I think I know what my decision will be--I think I'm just looking for more evidence than "I read on a website once...").
Great site! (In a depressing and sobering kind of way) I'm 18, UK, intact and staying that way!
Thank you for your informative and well-researched website. I have
just explored it at length and was duly shocked by most of what I
found. The photos of a circumcision in progress were so sickening
that I had to turn away from the computer - this from a woman proud
of her cast-iron stomach. As an ardent feminist, I had previously
dismissed most men's issues as secondary to my purpose - I wished
you guys all the best, but I had my sisters to think about. Not any
more - this is a human rights issue (not that I need to tell you,
obviously). When this letter is finished, I will being going to
www.nocirc.org to see what I can do.
One request for clarification on the website - many times, male circumcision is compared as identical to female circumcision. This is not the case. While some forms of female circumcision are equivalent to the removal of the foreskin, your readers need to know that millions of girls are subjected to a far more drastic procedure. The most severe form, infibulation, is basically the removal of the entire external genitalia. If the same procedure were performed on a male, it would be the complete amputation of the penis.
This aside, your site was deeply moving. I had no idea so many adult men had such strong feelings about the subject, although I know realize they are completely justified. At 16, I'm not yet involved romantically with anyone (male or female), but after reading about the consequences of circumcision on heterosexual intercourse, I hope the men I fall in love with will be intact, and I will help them celebrate this. Should I fall in love with a circumcised man, I will try and encourage him to arm himself with the facts, in order to help him heal.
In closing, just a few facts to show you that activists like you are making progress. Although my father is circumcised, my 14 year-old brother is not, and should I ever have sons, I can guarantee you and them 100% that there will be no cutting up of my children.
Greetings from India. I had written to you earlier while I was visiting USA in 1998 (Muslim living in India circumcised at age 10 by a barber). I am happy to note that you have included my comments in the comments section of your excellent website. Since my return to India I have been meaning to write to you about my further observations. I recently saw a movie which more or less conveys the perspective of several Indian & Pakistani Muslim children who become victims of circumcision and would request you to see it. The name of the film is East Is East. It is produced in part by BBC & deals with a Pakistani Muslim settled in England in 1970s. There is a part where the father who becomes aware that one of his sons has escaped circumcision goes about getting the problem fixed. The boy clearly emotes what millions of children in the age group of 5-10 years feel when faced with the prospect of Khatna (circumcision). The film is in English as well as Hindi. I shall be writing again.
I'm amazed at how the intact organ works. And reading
about the loss of sensation makes me angry. Looking at the
photos of the infants undergoing the "painless" operation
and reading the mothers' descriptions of the operation is
infuriating. The doctors who do this almost seem like
sadists, or make the Nazis look civilized. How could they
hear the crying and/or look at the child's expression and
say there's no pain?
I'll pass this information along to my son so that if he has sons, he can prevent their mutilation.
Thank you for the service you are providing.
I was circumcised.
It was the worst thing anyone has ever done to me. The circumciser should have been killed before chopping off my foreskin. Circumcision should be outlawed.
My first experience with intactness was one of my friends. We were playing "I'll show you mine, you show me yours." And I saw he was intact. I then realized I was not whole, that I had been mutilated. I was jealous of intact men for several years before finding out about foreskin restoration. Now I have started the process myself, in secret.
I do not hate my parents for letting me be circumcised. I hate the medical establishment. My parents were uninformed, and they gave consent for the mutilation. Doctors who circumcise should have their medical licenses taken away, just like what happened to my foreskin.
I have visited your website many times, usually for inspiration when necessary. I became aware of and got involved in the circumcision issue in early 1998, just before my wife and I adopted our son. I had never given it much thought, and was amazed to learn that over 80% of the world's males are intact. Luckily, we learned enough to spare our son. But since I am mutilated, the issue gradually drew me in with ever increasing gravity. It still does. I just want to say "Thank You" for your wonderful site. It is a continuing source of inspiration.
I have for about a year now lamented that my circumcision was wrong. Not
only because I'm not a Jew, but for the following reasons:
1) It's NOT medically necessary. Should we remove everyone's appendix and tonsils in advance because they COULD cause trouble? NO! OF COURSE NOT! It's a waste of money and destroys part of the body that normally has a useful function. Nature intended it to be there.
2) It's devastating to pleasure in masturbation. With a butchered always dry tightly-skinned penis, I believe I will never know the pleasure that nature had in store for me. Masturbation will never be as it is for natural men, and I'll never known what it would have felt like to have natural skin and natural moisture in that area. I am resolved to only have artificial moisturizers to make masturbation feel at all comfortable or pleasurable.
3) My sexual partner(s) will never know the pleasures of hassel-free sex. Because I have to use artificial moisturizers ("lube"), I can't just go from erection to insertion into my partner. I have to stop and grab a bottle of lube to prepare something that didn't naturally always need preparation.
4) A part of me is missing, something I was supposed to grow up with and be used to and for this I am desolate.
I curse the "doctor" who did this! I wish him 100,000 such "procedures" to be done to him over and over without pain medication, without anesthesia, and in the burning pits of retribution we call hell!
-A butchered adult male in search of what he can never have.
Your site is a wealth of information for those of us fighting this
battle in the trenches. Thank you.
In the summer of 1998, a baby boy died at University Hospitals of Cleveland from circumcision-related complications. The story was posted on Channel 5's website (ABC affiliate in Cleveland) but a couple hours later was removed. I searched AltaVista to find it and found it on the www.noharmm.org website. After I browsed it thoroughly and compared photographs to my penis, I determined that I was circumcised. No one had ever told me.
I find it repulsive that such an activity occurs in a so-called civilized society. I hope to restore my foreskin either by stretching or surgery. I often wonder what intercourse and masturbation would feel like with a complete penis. Certainly they are nothing spectacular without one.
But this is part of the purpose, numb the sensation to make it less attractive for men, for we certainly can't trust them to make proper decisions on their own! This is precisely the same reason given to mutilate women in Arabia, yet that is seen as a horrific crime, while male mutilation is simply a "cultural decision." That my own friends and relatives fail to see the double standard in this is quite frustrating to me.
By contacting you, I hope to join the online community fighting against circumcision. I am in the works of writing my own personal website on my own personal web server. When it is finally running, I hope it will be a source of information for those who are living with the horror of mutilation.