The Unkindest Cut

Overheard at lunch

Setting: Two women chowing down in the cafeteria at work. One is hugely pregnant in her late 20s/early 30s. The other is somewhere in her mid 40s maybe, not pregnant as far as I can see. I’m waiting for someone near their table and I sort of hear them talking about babies and giving birth. This seems to be the hugely pregnant one’s first. I’m not really paying attention until:

Hugely Pregnant One: “Oh, and they’re going to charge us like a hundred and fifty bucks for the circumcision.”

Other One: (laughs) “Well, you’re not going to do it are you?”

Hugely Pregnant One: “YES! Of course!”

Other One: “Okaaaayyyy. Why? It’s not a religious thing or anything is it?”

Hugely Pregnant One then goes on to explain how totally gross uncircumcised penises are and how they never get clean and how the first time she saw one she almost gagged….long story about some boyfriend and how when she finally saw him naked she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with his penis because it didn’t look right and how he told her why and how she liked him and everything, but she couldn’t… you know…go through with it… And then they broke up. And anyway her husband is circumcised and they wouldn’t want the baby to look different from his dad.

The Other One looks like she’s not much interested in finishing her lunch and just wants to go back to work.

I really, really wanted to wade into this discussion, but I didn’t. I brought it here instead.

Things I Know & Things I Want to Know

  • I know in North America this used to be a routine procedure once upon a time, but I thought they’d stopped doing circumcisions a few decades ago except for medical, cultural or religious reasons?
  • Are people still having their baby sons circumcised for non-medical, cultural or religious reasons like:  so they’ll look like their dad? (although, in my experience young boy’s penis rarely looks like his dad’s regardless of the state of their respective foreskins)
  • I’ve heard there are men who are having their circumcisions reversed because they feel they were mutilated at birth.
  • I knew a guy once who, at age 25, went and had himself circumcised because he and/or it didn’t feel right the way it was.
  • Do women really have such strong preferences one way or another?
  • Do guys actually get rejected because they do or do not have a foreskin?
  • I understand anti-circumcision groups like, HOOP (Hands Off Our Penises) are gaining strength and numbers and are trying to outlaw the practice altogether except when medically necessary.  Even some religions are starting to do away with the practice. Generally, though you don’t really hear much about this topic. Is it really a big deal for men?
  • Does having or not having a foreskin make any difference in the (sex) lives of men and/or the people who partner them?
  • And, what do they do with the leftover foreskins after they’re snipped off?

Me, I would never have dreamed of having bits of my son hacked off at birth — if I’d had a son. And having had up close and personal experiences with at least one example from each camp, I can’t say I have a strong preference one way or another, though as a rule, I tend to lean toward the natural look in most things.


40 responses to “The Unkindest Cut

  1. My feeling on this is that of all the things that nature would have got right about the design of the human body, the genetalia would be the pinnacle of perfection.

    Fair enough, it’s a Jewish tradition and far be it for me to have a go at religious belief (even though I’m not entirely sure how hacking a foreskin off honours God)

    But penises are fine as they are, no need for bits to be added or taken away. And for goodness sake, to put your kid through that for AESTHETIC reasons, beggars belief.

    Circumcision is genital mutilation if done for any other reason than a medical problem later on in life with infection or otherwise.

  2. you actually here alot of the ‘i want him to look like his dad(‘s parts)’ which has always blown my mind.

    last i checked, little boys dont compare their parts, altho i dont have a child of the boy variety so maybe i am wrong and missed that memo

  3. There has been for decades arguments over whether the procedure reduces sensitivity in the head of the penis or not. It is pretty hard to tell since for most of us either you have one or you don’t so you can’t really kow what the other side would be like.
    I worked with a man who had to get circumcised at about 60 yrs old. When he went to hospital he wouldn’t say much about the reason and that got the rest of us worried that it might be something serious.
    One of the crew called his wife to get his room number and we sent him a fruit basket and during the conversation we found out what the impending surgery was.
    On returning he was of course given all the gentle support men are known for. “Jacks not as much of a man as he used to be.”
    “it must have been micro surgery.” You know helpful shit.
    At one time he pointed out he was one of the few men in the world who knew how it felt each way.
    A few days later I asked him the difference. He said there was none he could tell. It didn’t work worth a damn before or after.

  4. Ah finally a topic near and dear to my heart!
    Jobthingy I can’t speak for this day and age but when I was in grade school I was asked why I was “different” so you did miss that memo.
    I was once involved in a conversation (drunken of course) that went like this:
    Uncircumcised man: “Its better for the man “uncut”!
    Circumcised man 1: “Vat are you talking about – women prefer it cut – thats why my people have done it for thousands of years!”
    Circumcised man 2: “Being the only man at this table who can speak on this topic from both sides of the argument it is better to be uncut”
    (seems that at the ripe age of 27 our hero went and had a “BRIS” took some 20 stitches in his yoni stick and has regretted it ever since. Oh yah, getting “it” cut for your wife is like getting your girlfriend’s name tattoed on you – its the first sign that you are gonna get dumped.)
    I was always a fan of what Arthur C. Clarke said in his book 3001 – “God made us – circumcision is blasphemy.”

  5. MisssyM- I’m not sure about the relgious significance of this either — God told them to do it in the bible as kind of a pact to prove they’re his people or something. I also understand that it’s done without anesthetic of any kind!

    Jobthingy – You didn’t have brothers? Boys compare their parts ALL the time. I think it’s their favorite hobby. It’s their #1 toy. Their favorite possession. The focus of their existence. I’m not sure that this ever changes, actually.

    Bandobras- Well, it would be interesting to know why a guy at 60 would have himself circumcised. At 25 I can see that maybe things in the sexual intercourse area weren’t working properly or something and he wanted to remedy that, but by 60??? Go find out, okay and report back.

    Lebowski – Yes, I was pretty sure you’d enjoy this topic. Whether it’s near to your heart is another question entirely. I would have thought a bit further south…. Anyhow, Number 2 had this done because he was converting for marriage or what? Not just because his wife thought it would be cuter, right? ‘Cause I can’t imagine any guy being that much in love.

  6. This is one of the biggest debates, especially on all the “expecting boards” (the places pregnant women go to converse with other pregnant women online). Like political and religious discussions, I politely decline to offer my opinion, because people are SO judgmental on the topic!

    That being said, this isn’t that kind of forum. So, I’ll just say this: I come from the Midwest (in the US) where a very high percentage of the boys are good, clean cut boys (so to speak). If you’re not, it’s considered weird. Or, your parents must be hippies. Or, even worse…liberals! (Not that there’s anything wrong with it.) 😉

    Even where we live now (western US), circ’s are routine. There is no religious or cultural background needed. It’s a matter of cleanliness or tradition. But, out here, things tend to be more progressive, and they aren’t as routine as they used to be.

    My friend’s father had his circ done when he was in his 50s because he kept passing infections back and forth with his wife. That was the suggestion by the doctor, and he had it done. The infections stopped, and he couldn’t be happier. Why he waited so long, I won’t know. (Or why the doctor suggested such a drastic procedure, I don’t know either…but that brings me to my next statement…)

    We’ve known about four little boys who weren’t circ’d at birth but were later due to cleanliness/medical issues. These aren’t filthy families. They aren’t unclean. They just had issues that could only be resolved by getting their sons circ’d after the fact. I shudder to think about that…

    Thankfully, we had a girl…so it wasn’t even an issue. (Because like it or not, you’re judged one way or another.) 🙂

  7. Without citations, I can try to give my opinion about things you want to know:

    – circumcision used to be nearly universal in the US and parts of Canada. Now, it is almost unheard of in Canada (except the prairie provinces). In the US, there are sharp regional divides. The prairie states still have near universal circumcision. In the South and West, rates are below 50% and in the northeast they hover around 50%. Mexico, the maritime provinces, and Quebec have never had a significant rate of circumcision.
    – I would say that nearly every circumcised male infant has had the procedure for a non-medical reason, for the simple fact that circumcision is (almost) never medically indicated in a newborn. And yes, people do use ‘Well, his dad looks this way’ excuse.
    – Some men try reversal, with mixed results
    – I’ve heard of adult circumcision for religious reasons, but I would say for cosmetic reasons is probably rare
    – I’ve have heard preferences from women for one or the other
    – Rejection: see above
    – Is it a big deal for men? Unfortunately, no. Partly because the topic can’t be discussed seriously. My experience it tends to result in either giggling and jokes or uncomfortable evasion, depending on the sex of the person involved.
    – Research is mixed , although I believe the evidence tends to support better sex for uncut men (but I am biased). As for if it feels better for women (sarcasm), well why would researchers be interested in investigating that? (end sarcasm). From anecdotal evidence, I have heard that the default penis is much more enjoyable for women.
    – Most are thrown in the biohazard bin, but some are used to create stem cell lines to grow more skin. I believe the biggest application is for skin grafts. While this is a positive benefit of the procedure, I don’t think this can be used as sufficient justifcation for mass circumcision, as just one foreskin can be used to produce many thousands times it’s own surface area.

  8. Ouch! That picture looks so painful…! And I agree, if a person is born with a body part, that usually means it’s there for a reason. I read of a young man who was mutilated during his circumcision as a baby, and he was raised as a girl as a result. Long story short, it screwed up his life completely. And just because something is done for “religious” reasons that doesn’t make it okay. Look at female circumcision, done for “religious” reasons. Both male and female circumcision are bodily mutilation.

    I have often wondered why religions are so concerned with human reproduction and genitalia. The whole process is perfectly normal and natural, but somewhere along the way it all became “unclean”. As far as I am concerned it’s all as normal as eating and sleeping. It’s part of the human condition.

    “Birds do it, bees do it
    Even educated fleas do it”

  9. From the U.S. here, DC specifically, and I didn’t circ my boy, despite some mild pressure to do so. When I told immediate family members (that asked, I wasn’t announcing it or anything), they seemed surprised, but only because it was not expected.

    Funny though, my final decision was made when I asked a gay friend who favored international partners if he had an preference. His was a strong opinion: uncut, all the way! Since I was more than over the fence, his input just helped clinch it.

  10. I didn’t want to have my son circumsized, but not having that particular body part, I deferred to the The Dad. He is circumsized and had no qualms whatsoever about not having our son done. As for keeping it clean? I taught my girls proper hygiene and I taught my son proper hygiene. Not sure what the big deal is there? Has my son ever come back to my and yelled at me for ruining his sex life (trust me, he’s very open, he would)? Nope.

    Does it matter to me as a sexually active female? I’ve *had* both. Doesn’t seem to make any difference.

  11. Hi, this being my first visit, I think I will stay away from commenting on the shapes and forms of penises. However, are you from Ottawa? I was there for four years back in the early 1990s. I miss it.

  12. CP – Aha! I figured there was a heated debate going on somewhere. I’m wondering about this man passing infections back and forth with his wife and how getting snipped would stop that?? They’re not that hard to keep clean, surely?? And where were these infections coming from in the first place, eh??

    Missy – Yup this blog is practically and encyclopedia of information and misinformation. It’s up to you to sort out which is which. Glad you’re enjoying it.

    Tantalus- THIS is what it took to get you to comment? Thanks so much for all your research. “default penis” — I love that term. Wish I’d thought of it. And I’m in awe that they actually use all that left over skin to benefit mankind. Do the donors have to sign off on this or does the foreskin automatically become property of the research people? Are there contractors who deal in foreskins (collection and distribution)? Or how does that work? Can money be made from this skin cutting and growing enterprise?

    Jo – Ya, that’s some pictograph, eh? Like a little snipping party — you do me and then I’ll do you — pass the grog.

    Nylon- I assume your son has never regretted your decision? I think that would have been a hard choice to make once upon a time when it was the norm to cut and ask questions later.

    UP – Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out — is it a big deal? I could never see a good reason for performing this surgery on an infant, for chopping off a piece of him. I know lots of men had it done as infants and lead perfectly normal lives. It’s just an odd practice in this day and age and I found that lunch conversation amazing.

    Squirrel – Yes, I’m in Ottawa and don’t worry, topics here don’t always involve genitals.

  13. 1/ It became almost universal in Norh America for the same reason corn flakes did. It was supposed to stop al that awful masturbation. ( It didn’t)
    2/ Some boys/men have medical reasons, adhesion of the foreskin, too tight, etc. Jack the 60 yr old had circulation problems and it was causing some difficulty so off it went.
    3/ Problems arise like in every type of surgery and these can in fact be grossly damaging but usually it’s just discomfort and no one remembers it.
    4/ Good friends who were debating the, it will look like his dad decision several years ago, were told by the doctor, who was himself circumcised that there was no medical reason to do it. He said he would on condition that they be present to hold the baby and understand just how much discomfort they were causing him. They didn’t and as far as I know the boy grew up ok even though he wasn’t like his father.

    5/ Did you hear about the Rabbi that performed circumcision for no fees. He just did it for tips,

  14. knock knock, might I join in?

    Circumcision is WRONG whether for cultural or religious beliefs. I’m sorry, If I was born with it It’s supposed to be there. By no means is this as destructive as female genital circumcision and at least (for the most part) preformed by either medical or other ‘professionals’ and not in a hut with a rusty blade, but it’s mutilation non the less…

    And yes you can guess that I am indeed cut. (Thank you Mom and Dad. NOT) Given the option I’d have said HELL NO!

    While I cannot talk from both sides of the coin as to there being a difference of being cut or uncut, I can tell you that in the gay world that there is an iconic view of the natural penis. Circumcised penises are not overtly shunned but you DO feel like you don’t ‘measure up’ compared to your uncircumcised brothers.

    Personally I prefer partners that have a foreskin. I prefer how it looks and feels -and we’ll leave it at that.

    As far as the cleanliness issue… hygiene is hygiene. Wash it and it’s clean. It might not smell like a bed of roses when you’re done (unless you use overly scented soaps – which in all likely hood are causing you more harm than they are helping) but like all other dark (generally covered in fabric 24/7) moist areas of the human body – both male AND female “clean’ is a state of mind at least as far as smell is really concerned… pits, and crotches are NAUTURALLY scented… they’re called pheromones and they are an intrinsic part of our biological make up.

    – – –

    To “Hugely Pregnant One” LEAVE IT BE!

  15. I think if men were meant to not have a foreskin they would be born without it. And those who say it doesn’t really hurt a baby are bullshitting themselves. Imagine urine hitting the cut. Sorry, but ouch. Beyond ouch!

    As for the cleanliness issue, that is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard it a lot). I mean c’mon, you can teach kids to wash behind their ears, you can teach them to wash their genitals. It’s not that tough a concept to grasp. To keep an uncircumcised penis clean, just… um… clean it!

    Yeah, ok, I’m against circumsicsion. Does it show?

  16. This was a tough decision for us when we found out our oldest was going to be a boy, and that’s just over five years ago now. My husband is circumcized, but he said he’d leave the decision up to me. There was a lot of pressure from my mother, in particular (mother of no boys!!) to circumcize because it was “unclean” not to do it. She also seemed to have dozens of horror stories at her disposal of boys who had to have it done as teenagers and it was humiliating and painful and blah blah.

    In the end I decided not to do the circumcision. It just didn’t seem necessary at all, and I didn’t really have a problem knowing that GASP, he might MASTURBATE some day. The biggest clincher for me was something I read that said that the chances of having to have a circumcision for medical reasons later in life (I think around 1.5%) were almost the same as the chances that there would be problems or complications from the procedure itself. I had also heard of stories of something going wrong and baby boys having to lose their penis, so…it was out!

    I definitely think we made the right decision. In my Mommy And Baby group, the year after the Captain was born, there was only one boy among 10 of us who was circumcized (for the “he needs to look like his dad” reason, by the way). The boys who live next door to us are circumcized as well, and my son asked me one day why they “look different” — looks like “cut” is the unusual situation now.

    As for grown men, I’ve also been with both and noticed no difference. It’s all in the technique, baby!

  17. I forgot to mention…and I really hope this is not too much information…that when the Captain was a toddler (2-3 years old), he went through a “humping” stage. He discovered that rubbing his penis on stuff was fun! fun! fun! and so, when bored or tired, he’d sometimes hump a pillow or stuffed animal. I’ve had very few friends who are willing to admit to this, but whenever I’ve been brave enough to bring it up, there’s a flood of, “Oh my God, yes, and PLEASE do not do that in front of my mother-in-law!!!”. So it seems like it’s a pretty common thing among toddler boys.

    I’ve wondered since then if circumcision at birth was a solution to this uncomfortable situation, rather than teen/adult masturbation.

  18. Bandobras – 1) Is this a joke or is there some basis in reality to the corn flakes/circumcision/masturbation theory?? 2)Ok, makes sense 3) Doesn’t a newborn have enough shit to deal with already? 4)Go figure 5) That one is almost as old as you are.

    Kitty – Im SO glad you gave us your perspective on this, because, really, there is no one more knowledgable about the subject from a variety of points of view, than the gay man. Thank you and I totally agree.

    Jazz – Amen! Poor little things. So much to adjust to — the cold cruel world, the noise, the lights, the handling, the scratchy diapers — after months of quiet warmth floating naked in liquid. Then they get the end of their penis whacked off.

    Lynn – First of all, I can’t believe your husband made you make that decision all on your own! My brothers were always humping stuff, too and they were circumcised. I think you actually have to remove their testicles to stop them doing that!

  19. Unfortunately the corn flakes and snipping weren’t a joke. You must be aware that there is hardly anything more damaging than masturbation and both were at one time thought to cut down ( no pun intended) on that horror.
    Doc Kellog thought that hot cereal was too inflaming and developed Corn flakes as a cheap healthy and non sexual alternative.
    I don’t think that worked either. Now I have to go get my eyes checked again.

  20. My doctor is Jewish. He flat out told me not to have The Boy cicrumcized. He said there was not good reason medically to do it. Which is exactly what I wanted to hear. It can’t be good for them. I think it’s mutilation and it’s wrong.

    Oddest thing, à propos of nothing, when my sister had a boy, they had him circumcized. They are Lesbains, I asked him why they did it. They said to look like the other boys. Odd thing is the majority of the other boys (that will be his age) didn’t have it done.

  21. I would agree that circumcision is mutilation, but in so saying I do not necessarily ascribe the negative connotations of the word. That is to say, getting a tattoo or piercing is also “mutilation”, as is cosmetic surgery.

    That said, I think most will agree that such cosmetic procedures should be up to the person on which it is being performed, and not be imposed upon them (except for medical reasons, etc.).

    Misster-Kitty: Good unintentional pun with “which in all likely hood”!

    Bandobras: LOL at “Now I have to go get my eyes checked again.”

    – RG>

  22. Bandobras – Wow, that’s the weirdest thing I ever heard. What do you suppose the take is on muesli?

    Jobthingy – At least you finally caught up!

    Nat – Good for the Jewish doctor and how peculiar for the Lesbian mothers. Oddly, it’s usually women who opt against circumcision and the men/fathers who push for it.

    RealGrouchy- Welcome and thanks for joining this peculiar conversation. I agree about the mutilation thing. I never like to see people getting their baby’s ears pierced either

  23. Hey, XUP! Just a side note…the womb is actually a rather loud place. The mother’s heart and digestive system and blood flowing, all noisy…which is why you add the shhhhhushing to the swaddling and rocking to settle a baby. 😉 (Also why vacuums and washing machine noise works, too…)

    Not that it has anything to do with circumcision…just that I’d comment on your comment. 🙂

    Carry on…

  24. Mutilation? Undue pain? Well, if it did hurt, I don’t remember it. It certainly didn’t affect me emotionally — my God, I was in the first few hours of life outside the womb at the time!

    I will not pick a circumcise/don’t circumcise side. It’s something parents should decide together, for whatever reasons either way. I will say, however, that peer pressure does enter the picture later on, when the boys are playing sports and begin showering together. Being in the minority can be an uncomfortable thing, because yes, boys do check each other out and talk openly about such things in such situations.

    Where I come from, circumcision was routine, so it was the aardvark dick who was the minority — musta been born somewhere else.

    And as a long-time minor hockey trainer who the boys often felt comfortable seeking my ear to listen and my shoulder to lean on (trouble at home, girlfriend pregnant, etc., etc.) the discomfort of one uncircumcised boy was once brought to me for discussion. I assured him it made no difference, and that seemed to make a difference to him.

    As a Big Brother, I was once asked by Little Bro about his buddy who whipped it out for a pee one time while they were playing in the woods near home, and it looked weird and all pushed in at the tip. Thus came the talk about circumcision and how it really makes no difference in terms of someone’s value as a person, or his virility.

    By the way, the subject of masturbation was also floated by me by Little Bro at one time, along with the question of whether it was okay for the boys to do it together, as some of them were doing. That provided the opportunity for the talk about it being okay to do it in private, and the advice about not doing anything you’re not personally comfortable with. Rather non-judgmental, I thought, while also expressing my own feelings about such things.

  25. this is an AWESOME post! i just had this conversation with one of my best friends about this b/c she is pregnant and they are having the baby circumcised.

    my son is not circumcised, and mainly b/c i left it up the husband to make that decision seeing as how i don’t have a penis. my husband is circumcised, and not worried about them looking alike. you are right, sons and dads don’t necessarily look alike. (i’ve heard the reason for this is that the size of a penis is determined during puberty and how much testosterone they have in their bodies at the time of puberty.)

    i’ve never seen a real life uncircumcised penis except on the internet, and of course now, my son’s. i really admire the look of a circumcised penis, but probably b/c that is what i am accustomed to.

    my mom disclosed to me that neither of my dads were circumcised. (i have one birth father and the father who raised me.)

    i’ve been meaning to tell you that my husband is the first american born son in his family, they hail from canada. the sascatoon (?) area.

    p.s. do you mind if i tweet this post?

  26. Wow, a lot of strong opinions here. I’ll just be my usual shallow self and say I think circumsized ones are more attractive. “Turtlenecks” sort of creep me out. And I’m glad I didn’t have a son and have to think about it from that perspective.

  27. Sorry, I had meant to consult a dictionary for “mutilate” before committing my earlier comment but found myself in a rush.

    Many of the definitions in a Google search for “Define:mutilation” imply a significant disfigurement or to “render unrecognizable”. As for pain, if you had your arm cut off with a meat clever and no anaesthetic shortly after birth, you probably wouldn’t remember any pain from the event as an adult, either. That doesn’t mean it isn’t painful.

    Of the many on that site, has one definition of mutilate which is closer to what I was getting at: “to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts.” With a circumcision, as with a tattoo (and less so for some piercings), you are irreparably removing or damaging a part–in this case removing the foreskin (and likely not damaging it).

    That is the denotation I intend with “mutilation”–and not necessarily the common-but-optional macabre connotation.

    For the case of tattoos or other body modifications, the macabre or painful elements can be part of the enjoyment for some people.

  28. CP – But they’re nice muffled noises not the harsh jarring noises of the outside world. My midwife gave me a perspective-altering book before my daughter was born: The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. She talks about the first moments/days of a newborn’s life and how stressful/shocking it is to go from a warm, muffled, dark, cosy environment to the loud, harsh, bright world. It all lead to the idea of leaving infants in their cribs to cry themselves to sleep and how terrifying that must be for them on cold sheets, alone in the dark, no comforting mama’s heartbeat, none of the sounds or movements they’re used to. Anyway, it’s truly an awesome book if you ever get a chance to read it. There’s lots of other great stuff about child rearing, naturally, etc.

    Bob, Bob, Bob – As RealGrouchy says later on, just because you don’t consciously remember it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t painful. Do you have any idea the sort of things that imprint on an infant? That first year of life (even though you don’t remember it) has such an impact on the rest of the person’s life. The infant brain is so complex… Anyway, it’s nice that you’re happy with the way you are and that you were able to help lots of young boys enjoy their own penises (though I’m sure you never referred to them as “aardvard dicks”, right?). I know in your day circumcision was routinely done at birth — I don’t even think they asked the parents for their preference. In the last 2 or 3 decades that’s changed, though and I think less and less parents are opting for circumcision, so you’re premise of doing it just so the boy will fit in in the locker room is turned on it’s head (so to speak). I think we’ll save the masturbation discussion for another time. You’ve said something kind of oddly interesting there.

    X – Have you actually experienced this? Do tell.

    DP – I’m not sure what “tweeting” is but go ahead and then let me know what exactly it involves. I may want to tweet something some day!! Yay for your Canadian husband. And, you’ve NEVER seen a uncut penis? And you call yourself a piglet. They’re quite handsome, too & really when they’re in a “business” frame of mind they tend to look very similar anyway.

    Geewits – Thanks for being so frank. Your strong anti-turtleneck stance is a nice balance for the pro-turtleneckers. I don’t agree with you, but that okay — as long as the one you have regular access to makes you happy, that’s all that matters, right?

    RealGrouchy – Thanks for clearing that up and for the meat cleaver analogy. I’ve referenced it for Bob who thinks it doesn’t matter what you do to your baby since they won’t remember it anyway. I know piercings are mile forms of body mutilation, but I’ve never had anything pierced and I resisted until this year to allow my daughter to even get her ears pierced. It still gives me a queasy feeling to think I let someone poke holes into her body. When I see those kids with those giant earlobe things or tattooes all up and down their arms and legs or piercings in odd places like their cheeks or chins or lips, it makes me cringe. But, to each his/her own, I guess.

  29. Tantalus- THIS is what it took to get you to comment?

    Sorry. I have been busy lately with family things and school things. I don’t reciprocate blog comments as much as I should, and I will be working on that in the future.

    Do the donors have to sign off on this or does the foreskin automatically become property of the research people? Are there contractors who deal in foreskins (collection and distribution)? Or how does that work? Can money be made from this skin cutting and growing enterprise?

    I think it generally becomes the property of the hospital unless the parents really want to keep it (of course if that were the case, would it have not made more sense to simply leave it where it was? It would be far less likely to get lost or misplaced).
    From there, if the hospital has a stem cell research lab that needs some specimens, or if they have a trauma unit that is in need of some skin cells for grafts, it would probably be made available. My guess is that, since their are plenty of prepuceectomies to go around, that the vast majority are discarded as medical waste. And I doubt there is money to be made. But I’m not a doctor or a stem cell researcher, so this is just my understanding of what I have heard.

  30. I’ve only slept with one American man who WASN’T circumcised. It’s not for health, it’s for, um, looks? (Yee-ikes). I much prefer the other-side-of-the-pond types.

  31. There is scientific research on whether or not sex is more/less pleasurable for circumcised men. Circumcised men take longer to ejaculate during sex, so it’s argued that sex is less pleasurable for them (but possibly more pleasurable for their partner, since they last longer). I’m too lazy to look up the link. Take a gander at the Quirks and Quarks website and find their story on AIDS and circumcision.

    I agree that circumcision of a newborn infant is mutilation. The parents are landscaping the kid to look the way they want, which isn’t really fair, since it’s a body modification that can’t be undone.

    I’m all for adults getting the chop, if they want it. It’s supposed to dramatically reduce HIV transmission rates (which is why it’s being floated as a preventative measure in African countries), and it increases sexual endurance, so I can see why an adult might want to get it done.

  32. Tantalus – Oh well, here I thought there’d be a retirement business in there somewhere for me.

    Ellie – I would have thought most North American men under 30 are now uncut while those over 30 ARE cut. Very interesting that you have a definite preference when you only have on to compare against. He must have been spectacular!!

    Erigami – Well, that seems fair. If they’re too stubborn or reckless to practice safer sex, let’s lop off their joy sticks. Now, I wonder if that threat hanging over their “heads” would encourage the use of condoms and/or reduce promiscuity?

  33. wow, we were sold on having the babes circumcized if they turned out to be boys (but they were girls, so we didn’t have to go there). why? i dunno, dad is, it’s all i’ve ever known, also three friends in adulthood opted to get circumcized because they weren’t comfortable with how they looked, and it was very painful as adults (erections, etc) so maybe we thought we’d save them pain in adulthood? well, just being honest. don’t be hatin’, we’re done contributing to the population.

  34. tweet is short for a message you send out on twitter.

    twitter is a program that lets you know when your friends are going to the bathroom, doing their nails, having sex, whatever a person wants to tweet in 140 characters or less. is my “handle”. it’s sort of like mini blogging that you can do from a phone or your computer.

    i hope i didn’t “over explain” it.

  35. Meanie – THREE?? The painful erections, “etc.” I can see as a motivation, but “they didn’t like the way they looked”?? Now that is vanity cubed. I can certainly see why, with your experiences, that you would have opted for the cutting. But I’m still shocked about your experiences.

    DP – So this twitter thing notifies you by phone or email whenever your friends have a cramp or sneeze or whatever they’ve conveniently chosed to “tweet”/posted to this twitter thing? I have heard twitter mentioned, but I assumed it was some sort of RSS feed type thingy. But from what you’re saying it’s above and beyond — something completely different? I’ll go look it up so you don’t have to keep answering questions. Thanks

  36. Until recently I was all about the “natural” way of life and letting it be. But after a recent trip to Africa I learned that male circumcision is actually 65% effective in preventing HIV. The foreskin has a membrane underneath it that actually attracts HIV antibodies where as a circumcised penis forms a carotene lay or scar tissue that actually prevents against transmission. While in America we may think that we’re not as risk for getting HIV as many in Africa are but you never know what the future holds for you son. Maybe getting him circumcised could mean that one mistake—one accidental hook up without a condom—could be an unpleasant memory instead of a horrible life altering event.

    Just wanted to throw that perspective out there as it’s something I personally was not aware of until recently. Sorry if HIV was already mentioned, I didn’t read all the other comments.