Monday, September 22, 2008


In the comments section of my last post, a couple of people thanked me for the pictures of uncircumcised male genitalia, and Will remarked that he was glad to see that more guys are being left intact these days. It is true, obviously, that I consciously selected uncut meat pics for the last post. I like there to be some common theme to the pictures, even when the pictures have nothing whatsoever to do with my writing. But I'm pretty much an agnostic on the topic of male circumcision.

Fair warning: two or three of the pictures in this post could reasonably be considered disturbing, and in no event do you want to view them during or immediately after a meal. Sorry about that.

Or, more accurately, I'm apathetic on the subject of routine infant male circumcision. I was circumcised at birth. I certainly have no conscious memory of the procedure, and you would be hard pressed to convince me that I'm suffering from any sort of unconscious psychic wound because someone got rid of some of my foreskin (for whatever reason, the doctor performing the procedure left a fair amount of foreskin, and some of my less experienced playmates have initially mistaken me for an uncircumcised man, though that's probably because my cock shrinks so much when it's flaccid that the remaining foreskin covers the head; that mistake hasn't happened in a while, though, probably because I usually don't bare my lower half until I'm already erect).

Adolescent or adult circumcision is another matter entirely. A few years ago, my father was having another urologic procedure done, and the doctor told him that it made sense for him to "go ahead and have the circumcision" taken care of while he was getting this other procedure. Mind you, my father was over seventy at the time, so exactly why the doctor thought that there was some sort of imminent, foreskin-related problem remains unclear. My father's not one to ask questions of medical professionals, so he agreed to have himself circumcised. He told me that the recovery was very painful. That procedure certainly did strike me as a form of mutilation.

The same is true for cultures where circumcision is considered a rite of passage into adolescence or adulthood. Frankly, it seems barbarous to cut off the foreskin of anyone who's old enough to know what's going on or to remember what's happened. I don't have a problem with rites of passage per se, but wouldn't some sort of required accomplishment (I dunno: killing a rhinoceros with your bare hands or slamming the door on your first Jehovah's Witnesses or raising a tomato from seed or something) be better than painful mutilation? I mean, really, is it any wonder that men still go to war when the people who are meant to protect them take sharp objects to their penises? If you look around the web, you can find pictures of cultures where the boy is all dressed up as he's on his march to the abattoir knife. I couldn't help wondering what sort of cake one serves at the accompanying party. And one presumes that the local Hallmark equivalent has a tasteful assortment of circumcision-related greeting cards.

But I just can't get all worked up over routine infant circumcision. I don't want to get into an argument with anyone, and I understand all the reasons against clipping the skin, but there are also arguments in its favor, most notably that circumcision appears to significantly cut (ahem) the rates of AIDS transmission. And, of course, there's always smegma.

Back before I was a parent, the ex and I discussed the issue briefly, and it wasn't really a close call for us: if we'd had a boy, we'd have left his foreskin intact. I mean, I know that some men think their sons' penises need to resemble their own, but why? And why are grown men so worried about the appearance of their sons' penises in the first place? How much time are you going to spend looking at your boy's dick? If you're changing his diaper, you'd better keep it covered up, or its circumcisional status is going to be the least of your worries.

There was certainly a period during which I was fascinated by uncut cock. It was something exotic, something I didn't have, and I'm told that we, as individuals and as a society, find attractive that which we lack. (Except, of course, for when we don't: I know lots of cut men who will only play with other uncut men. Oh well, more for me.) But while I certainly enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) playing with skin when I found it, it was never that big a deal to me. And nowadays, I really just couldn't care less. I've seen enough uncut cock that it's just not exotic any more, and as a friend of mine once told me: ultimately, every cock is interesting. (I, of course, would add to that: ultimately, every cock is less interesting than the ass on the same guy, but chacun a son gout, n'est-ce pas?)

Anyway, I certainly don't mean to cast aspersions on the crusaders who are out to End Circumcision Now! but I just can't get that worked up over it. On the whole, I find circumcision a bad idea, but it seems to me that there are probably greater injustices in the world. For starters, let's get rid of flip flops in all cases where you're more than fifty yards from a major body of salt water. Or perhaps we should start with all those people who wear Birkenstocks with socks. Or, you know, maybe we could get started on that whole world peace thing.

I just think that circumcision is one of those areas where we can all get along. I mean, sure, celebrate the foreskin if they guy's got one. Treat your foreskins well. Whatever. But let's not pretend that there aren't both uncircumcised and circumcised penises of great beauty. All penises are worthy of celebration (though, again, all asses are worthy of more), but, really, what a guy's cock looks like is so far down on my list of physical characteristics (and physical characteristics are already below mental characteristics) that it's hard for me to envision a situation where two guys are otherwise so similar that the presence or absence of a foreskin is the tie breaker. And if that situation ever does arrive, I'll probably just resolve the dilemma by taking both.


A Lewis said...

One never really does have a good grasp on what he'll find in these pages, does he? Good thing I hadn't had my lunch yet.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

Darn, and I did my best to publish that right in the middle of your lunch time. I never did have a very good grasp of that whole time zone thing.

franck said...

Like you, I couldn't care either whether a guy is cut or uncut.
As for the smegma argument, a little personal hygiene is NOT that difficult nor time-consuming

Will said...

But Ted, it goes well beyond appearance. There is the fact that boys who are circumcised grow up to be informed that men who aren't enjoy a sensitivity during sex that they themselves will never know. Uncut cock works differently during masturbation, and offers a greater variety of options to someone who goes down on you.

More to the point, a man who is circumcised in infancy isn't consulted about an operation that forever alters his most personal body part. Female circumcision is now accepted in most civilized societies as an outrage. I don't think male circumcision is any less unacceptable.

And yes, my foreskin is gone and I'm not happy about the fact.

Tork said...

IF you are cut and want to try uncut, there is hope.
But personally I'd rather console myself for my loss of foreskin with more sex.

And more to the (ahem) point, if you decide to go the other way and get circumcized as an adult, there is a 6 week no boner(ie, no sex) recovery time.

tornwordo said...

Thank god someone agrees with me on the flip-flops.

It's hard for me to fathom finding an anus more interesting than a dick. Chacun a son goût, indeed.

Tell me that's NOT a picture of dick cheese. Please.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

Franck, I realize that the smegma argument isn't very strong. I just wanted a reason to write "smegma" on the blog. I don't think I've ever actually encountered smegma.

Will, from everything I've read about the topic, female genital mutilation is much more vicious and damaging than even adolescent male circumcision. In fact, people call it "female circumcision" in an attempt to make it sound less awful than it is. Clitorectomies are intended as a tool for female subjugation, and I don't think that circumcision is meant as a tool of subjugation, no matter how strenuously I object to adolescent circumcision. I just don't buy the argument that all mutilations are equal. Also, I am sorry that you lost your foreskin, but if it's any consolation, it has been generally reported, and it is my own experience, that uncut men ejaculate more quickly, so while men on their knees may have fewer options for what to do with your cock, at least they'll be doing it for longer.

Tork, despite my intense curiosity on all matters sexual and genital, I'm afraid to check that site out.

Torn, I think you'll find that many men, especially men over 35, share your distaste for flip flops. As for the other matter, I don't want to lie to you. I did say that some of the pictures were disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Aesthetically, yes I agree about Berkies & sox, but if the toes are as gross as mine, sox are required & Berkies are the ONLY footwear I can endure for my waking hours.

The search for apt photos must take you longer than the writing and you do both wonderfully. Thanks. Where IS that window?

I'm natural & my three sons are cut. I can explain if required. Don't think they know we differ.

Lawrence Wade said...

I was circumcised when I was 22. I did a hell of a lot of research into circumcision before I had it done, and I concluded that I wanted to be circumcised.

A little over 24 hours after I was circumcised under a local anesthetic, I was dancing on a speaker in a nightclub. Sure, the bandage made it look like I'd stuffed my crotch somehow, but there was absolutely no pain.

I've now had sex both with and without a foreskin. During sex, there's the IN stroke and the OUT stroke. With the foreskin, during the OUT stroke, it rolls over the head and you don't feel a damned thing. Without the foreskin, I have to pace myself a little better, but I like it a lot more.

It's been 13 years since I was circumcised. Long enough, I would think, for me to have lost the sensitivity the anti-circumcision activists claimed I would lose. My glans is just as sensitive as when it was always covered, and the foreskin was no more sensitive than any of the other shaft skin.

Daily life (and let's face it, even Hugh Hefner spends at least 90% of his time NOT having sex) is also improved by circumcision. You just don't feel like you're wearing a heavy winter jacket on a Florida beach.

Pants make the foreskin redundant, and cause its liabilities to exceed its benefits. Society requires me to wear pants, but it doesn't require me to wear a foreskin.

I wish I had been circumcised at birth. I feel deprived of circumcision's benefits for my first 22 years.

If I ever have a son, you can rest assured I will find the best doctor, ensure the doc uses the best anesthetic, and I will hold my son's hand while he is being given the gift of neonatal circumcision.

CaryKlemmer said...

Every one should be circumcised every where in a world where the AIDS pandemic still rages on. The underside of foreskin has a mucus membrane which facilitates infection by HIV. Cut off the foreskin, cut down the risk of transmission by nearly 60%!