Realization of Circumcision

By James Stewart

I was 16 when I first learned about circumcision.

I was in a child development class and as soon as I had a semi-clear understanding of what circumcision was, I immediately became disgusted at the fact that there were people who would do such things to children. Of course, it only took a couple seconds for it to hit me -- the realization that this was done to me. I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t imagine that my parents would ever do something so obviously cruel to me, and right after I entered this world, but there was no denying it.

After that painfully obvious realization my disgust was dwarfed by the most intense anger I have ever felt. I felt violated. As though I had just learned that I was sexually assaulted as a baby. Which literally is what it is, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never seen circumcision as anything different. I still don’t understand how anyone can.

As I felt all these feelings, I looked around the classroom. Too my horror no one else seemed to be bothered by this new information and the teacher was casually explaining the topic as though it were any other lesson. It was like something I would see in The Twilight Zone. I have never been so disappointed in people. How could everyone be so blind, I thought? This is how felt before I learned about the functions of the foreskin...

For two years I thought I might actually be the only one in the world who felt this way. When I was 18 years old I decide to Google 'circumcision.' I knew there had to be others who felt this way. The first thing I saw was a video on YouTube of a girl expressing her feelings on the subject. It was relieving. 

And then I saw many other videos like it. Each one I watched made me feel better. After two long years I was finally able to get it off my mind and I was able to find my faith in human kind again. It took me years more before I could even talk about it with a friend. And longer still before I could confront my parents. No one should ever have to go through what men like myself have. And I will continue to fight until this cruel tradition meets its end.

Resources on circumcision and intact topics at: Are You Fully Informed?
Get involved, and save a son at: Saving Our Sons

Emily Voras on the U.S. Capitol wall during Men's Health Week 2012.
Photo ©


$700,000 Infant Circumcision Settlement

Infant sustains partial amputation during bris
Parents say they suffered severe emotional distress; $700,000 settlement
Published: 9:25 am Thu, June 21, 2012     
By Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

An 8-day-old Massachusetts baby suffered an amputation of a portion of the ventral glans of his penis at a Jewish brit milah circumcision ceremony (bris) at a private residence. The plaintiffs maintained that the doctor/mohel was negligent in his performance of the procedure.

The doctor/mohel allegedly failed to re-examine the child between the ceremony and the time that the child left for the hospital. Upon arrival, the child was rushed to an operating room for emergency surgery as a result of an amputation of his ventral glans and a traumatic hypospadias, or damage to the opening of the urethra.

The child was released from the hospital the following day with a catheter inserted into his penis, only to return to the hospital later that night because the catheter had fallen out. After a lengthy effort to re-insert the catheter, during which time the child screamed in agony, a decision was made to have family members insert a tube into the child’s penis numerous times a day over a 10-day period.

The child suffers from a permanently disfigured penis, hypospadias and remaining foreskin. He has experienced night terrors and may require further surgery for medical and/or cosmetic reasons.

His parents, who claimed to have suffered severe emotional distress, fear the emotional difficulties the child will face as he matures and deals with, among other things, school locker rooms and/or romantic relationships.

Action: Medical malpractice

Injuries alleged: Amputation of portion of ventral glans, emotional damage

Case name: Withheld

Court/case no.: Withheld

Jury and/or judge: N/A (mediated)

Amount: $700,000.00

Date: March 2012

Most helpful experts: Henry E. Simkin, M.D., and John P. Gearhart, M.D

Attorneys: Paul J. Klehm, James B. Krasnoo and Benjamin L. Falkner, of Krasnoo|Klehm, Andover (for the plaintiffs)

Related Reading: 


Circumcision to Reduce Men's Sexual Pleasure

The complete amputation of the prepuce organ (as performed in North American style infant circumcision) initially began in an effort to curtail masturbation and 'promiscuous' behavior among boys and men. The prepuce ('foreskin') was well known to be the key organ at play in whole sexual health, and the theory was that if the prepuce was removed, men's pleasure and sexual drive would also be hampered as well.

The reason this genital surgery started to be performed on infants without anesthesia is twofold:

(1) It was commonly believed that babies 'do not feel pain' the same way adults do. Today, we know this is entirely false - newborn babies actually have a heightened sense of touch/feeling/pain so that they are able to feel their way around their mother's body in the early days/weeks of life.

(2) It was believed (and heavily promoted by key physicians at the time) that if this intense - almost unbearable - pain of genital cutting was connected with sexuality, it would further reduce a boy's desire to touch himself or use his penis 'inappropriately' as he grew older. Connect pain with sexuality right from the beginning of life, proponents taught at the time, and sexuality would take a back seat to more 'righteous' endeavors in boys' and men's later lives.

The plan to end masturbation and sexual behaviors did not work -- boys and men masturbate and have sex whether they are intact or not -- but men's sexual health in North America was impacted by this early push, and many of the myths fired up at the time still haunt and hurt us today.

What follows are several quotes from influential practitioners at the beginning of the North American push to circumcise, to offer up an example of where and why such madness began in our culture. To dismantle such pervasive myths, we must first understand where their roots lie. It is very clear when reviewing early materials on the foreskin and circumcision that physicians knew this organ played a key role in men's sexuality, normal functioning and pleasure, and that its amputation would impair each of these components of men's lives to one degree or another; a desirable outcome at the time.

"[The foreskin] is a source of serious mischief." ~William Acton, physician and venereologist (1814-1875)

"Circumcision, when performed in early life, generally lessens the voluptuous sensations of sexual intercourse." ~William Alexander Hammond, NYU physician and professor (1828-1900)

"[The physiological benefit of the foreskin] is that of maintaining the penis in a condition susceptible to more acute sensation than would otherwise exist. It may increase the pleasure of coition and the impulse to it. [...] One should be thankful [for the reduced pleasure due to circumcision and increased self-control]." ~Jonathan Hutchinson, physician, surgeon, pathologist (1828-1913)

"A remedy which is almost always successful [to stop masturbation] in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed. If any attempt is made to watch the child, he should be so carefully surrounded by vigilance that he cannot possibly transgress without detection. If he is only partially watched, he soon learns to elude observation, and thus the effect is only to make him cunning in his vice." ~John Harvey Kellogg, physician (1852-1943)

"I suggest that all male children should be circumcised. This is ‘against nature’ but that is exactly the reason why it should be done. Nature intends that the adolescent male shall copulate as often and as promiscuously as possible, and to that end covers the sensitive glans so that it shall be ever ready to receive stimuli. Civilization, on the contrary, requires chastity, and the glans of the circumcised rapidly assumes a leathery texture less sensitive than skin. Thus the adolescent has his attention drawn to his penis much less often. I am convinced that masturbation is much less common in the circumcised. With these considerations in view it does not seem apt to argue that ‘God knows best how to make little boys.’" ~R. W. Cockshut, Circumcision, British Medical Journal, Vol. 2 (1935): 764.

Meme of original Kellogg's Corn Flakes advertisement. Kellogg's Corn Flakes and other 'bland' foods, as well as circumcision, were touted as being good for the reduction of men's sexual pleasure, masturbation and 'extramarital sexual relations' (especially during war times) which would, in turn, build strong men.

Related Reading:

Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America (book)

Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery (book)

Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy (book)

History of Circumcision (website)

History of Circumcision (

Edward Wallerstein, "Circumcision: The Uniquely American Medical Enigma," Urologic Clinics of North America, Vol. 12, 1985, p. 123-32.

Circumcision in Canada: A Short Chronology of Events

The Rise and Fall of Circumcision in New Zealand

Intact vs. Circumcised: A Significant Difference in the Adult Penis

Functions of the Foreskin; Purposes of the Prepuce

Additional books on circumcision.

Are You Fully Informed? (websites, articles, books)

HIV Higher Among Circumcised Men in Zimbabwe

By Shamiso Yikoniko
for The Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Circumcision Poster

The HIV prevalence rate among circumcised males between the ages of 15 and 49 in Zimbabwe is higher than that of intact males owing to the misconception that circumcision completely shields people from HIV infection.

According to the latest Zimbabwe Health Demographic Survey (ZHDS 2010/2011), the prevalence rate among the circumcised is 14% while that of the intact is 12%. The circumcision status of participants was established during pre-test counseling. However, the country’s overall prevalence rate for the same age group declined to 15 from 18%, according to the same survey.

National Aids Council (Nac) public health officer, Dr. Blessing Mutede, said authorities were concerned about the high rate of infection among the circumcised. He said it was largely a result of “risk compensation behaviors.” Most men, after circumcision, harbour the false impression that they have been equipped with an invisible condom, he added. “It is a worrying development that at a time when we are promoting male circumcision as a preventive measure to combat HIV, we are recording a high prevalence rate amongst the group that has been circumcised largely due to uninformed risky compensation behaviors." He continued, “Most people forget that being circumcised will only safeguard a person from contracting HIV up to a certain percentage and they are still at a 40 percent risk of contracting the virus. What we encourage everyone, circumcised or [intact], is to practise safe sex all the time.”

During the survey, a sample of 5,650 men ages 15 and 49 were tested for HIV. They were also asked about their circumcision status. The information was, thereafter, used to determine the relationship between HIV prevalence and circumcision. The World Health Organization recommends adult male circumcision for HIV prevention in “generalised epidemic settings” where prevalence of the virus is high and male circumcision is low. Zimbabwe embraced this recommendation and anticipates that it will prevent 42 percent of all new infections between 2015 and 2025 if 80% of males in the country are circumcised. The country also hopes to reduce HIV prevalence to about 7 percent, in addition to other benefits. The country has carried out about 70,000 circumcisions since the program began in 2009.

Original report here.

Related Reading:

The Circumcision Song

African AIDS / Circumcision Propaganda Posters

Sub-Saharan African randomized clinical trials into male circumcision and HIV transmission: Methodology, ethical and legal concerns[pdf]

Circumcision and HIV: Harm Outweighs BenefitABC: Not Circumcision

South African Doctor Warns Against Using Circumcision to Fight HIV

African HIV/Circumcision Study Ends Early: Too many women becoming infected

Uganda Woman Divorces Husband for Getting Circumcised

African Healer Sees Higher HIV Rates, Lower Condom Use After Circumcision 

Two Boys, One Man Die From Circumcision in Eastern Cape

Malawi rules out circumcision as AIDS-prevention: No evidence that it works 

The Nuts and Bolts of HIV in the USA and why Circumcision Won't Protect Men

Flawed Studies Used to Claim Circumcision Reduces HIV

Why is Circumcision so Prevalent in Africa?

Political determinants of variable etiology resonance: Explaining the African AIDS epidemic [abstract]

Double standards in research ethics, healthcare safety, and scientific rigour allowed Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic disasters

Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention: Insufficient Evidence and Neglected External Validity [pdf]

Male circumcision and its relationship to HIV infection in South Africa: Results of a national survey in 2002

How the Circumcision Solution in Africa Will Increase Infections [abstract]

Male Circumcision is NOT the HIV Vaccine We've Been Waiting For

Circumcision is Not a Cure-all for AIDS

The Use of Male Circumcision to Limit HIV Infection [NOCIRC]
The Use of Male Circumcision to Limit HIV Infection [Doctors Opposing Circumcision]

The Cost to Circumcise Africa [pdf]

The Truth About Circumcision and HIV

Norm Cohen [video interview] on HIV and Circumcision

A Myth that Kills: AIDS Industry Feeds on Fear

Uganda: Mad Rush for Male Circumcision

Circumcision: Already Illegal?

Here we go again: New York Times publishes headline on HIV and Circumcision

Male Circumcision and HIV [website]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...