Because religious leaders were preaching that masturbation was BAD, it was "self-abuse" and that by cutting off a baby boy's foreskin, the boy in puberty would be less inclined to pleasure himself because circumcision reduces sexual pleasure. It's the same rationale they use in Africa when they circumcise a girl's clitoris.
Living abroad one can learn a lot about one’s home culture. About assumptions we make here in the U.S. About practices that we tend to take for granted.
If you do a Wikipedia search for “circumcision,” the first thing you encounter is the following: “This article is about male circumcision. For female circumcision, see female genital mutilation.” One learns in the very well-documented article that follows that approximately one third of the males in the world are circumcised. The piece also says and I can tell you from experience that few of those men are European.
As you likely already know, almost all male babies of Jewish and Muslim parents get their foreskins cut off shortly after birth. Most American baby boys with parents of a big range of religions also get this done to them. I’m not writing today to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. I am writing to seriously call into question the practice of making this important, irreversible decision for a baby.
As a gay man who has a cut penis who has been intimate with many uncircumcised men and talked with men at length (nyuk, nyuk) about the topic, I’m here to say that parents of boys, by unquestioningly following the pack and routinely having their sons’ foreskins cut off, are making a big decision for their sons.
Only 4% of infant circumcisions are done for medical reasons. The other 96% are done for religious tradition, cultural expectation or simply because that’s what was done with the father.
Unlike most straight men, gay men talk about their dicks. We talk about and we experience the differences in hygiene, sensitivity and aesthetics with cut and uncut penises. I’ve known a few men who either chose or were advised by their doctors to get circumcised as adults. That’s just fine.
But dear Reader, except when medically indicated with a baby boy that the partial or complete cutting off of the foreskin is necessary, how dare we adults make that decision for a child. Baby’s first haircut comes when mommy and/or daddy decide that the time has come. But hair grows back and doesn’t entail a painful and traumatic operation on the little one.
I know numerous Jewish and Gentile men who deeply resent the fact that their parents robbed them of their foreskins. It feels thoughtless, barbaric, savage. The idea that so many American parents have their baby sons’ genitals mutilated just so their boys won’t look different from their peers in the locker room is to me appalling.
Why don’t you hear more about this? Because we are as a culture so uptight about sex that it’s considered impolite to mention the subject and parents should be able to make such choices without “being made ti feel self-conscious.” And since most guys don’t talk about their cocks, the topic of what they might be missing out on in terms of sexual pleasure had they not been circumcised never …um.. comes up.
I understand that had I not been circumcised I would have had to learn some simple hygiene habits that I might not have to think about as a cut man. Big deal. And yes, in areas of Africa where HIV is much more prevalent than is education about transmission, circumcision can save lives. But men who are educated about health issues in developed countries do not need to be mutilated in order to stay healthy.
What’s the diff? Well, for one, we’re born with foreskins and they serve a purpose. My sex partner may be a wonderful lover, but there’s really no way he or she can “make me feel like a natural ma-an,” because my folks chose to have some doctor chop off part of my manhood. We don’t think that’s okay to do to girl babies, so why would it be okay to do to the boys?
When a person comes of age they can decide to have themselves cut and pierced and re-shaped any ol’ way they choose. But parents-to-be, please consider my point of view. Do some research. Talk about the choice.
And remember, we’re not talking about a haircut.
and to the memory of Isaac