The AAP 2012 Circumcision Policy Statement and What I Have Learned from a Decade of Intactivism

By Karen Glennon
Further reading on the 2012 AAP Policy Statement

I have long said that the medical community will not stop soliciting circumcision voluntarily. I have long said that the most effective way to significantly reduce circumcision in America is by educating the individual of child bearing age (or younger) because circumcision happens one parental consent, and one baby at a time.

Each parent that says no to circumcision will raise a child to whom the whole body is normal. I am on the 40 year plan with my intact education and advocacy. If I reach a young adult in their teen years now and they go on to have a whole child in a few years - then that child grows up with a normal whole body. In 20 years, that (1st generation) whole child will be an adult who may have a (2nd generation) whole child of their own. In 20 years that 2nd generation whole child may have one of their own and we’ve arrived at the 40 year mark with 2 generations of acceptance and appreciation and normalization of the natural male body.

How do we get young people to leave their future children whole? We educate them about the anatomy and function of the foreskin. In all my years of face to face demonstration/education on this issue, I have never failed to get a young person to listen to me talk to them about normal sexual development and function of the sexual organs. Young people do not get this information from their parents, from school, from text books, from porn, from their peers or from pop culture. I cannot tell you how many people (of all ages) have said to me “No one has ever told me this.” (I get this same response from older adults too!)

If you do not know what something is made of and how it works, it doesn’t have value to you. You never go to a yard sale, an antique shop, an auction and pick up an item you do not recognize, you know nothing about and say “Wow, this is so neat, I just have to buy it!” You cannot find value in something if you do not know what it is and what it does. The same is true for the foreskin. This is exactly why the prevailing myths in America of “oh, it’s gross” and “it’s dirty” and “it’s a useless flap of skin” thrive – people know nothing of its structure and function.

They do not know:
  • that the foreskin contains far more fine touch nerve receptors than the exterior parts of the female clitoris (over 20,000 verses about 8,000).
  • that the foreskin is a double layered skin system and is approximately 12-15 square inches in an adult. 
  • that the end of the penis is supposed to be mucosal tissue like the inside of the cheek or the inside of the eyelid.
  • that the foreskin slides and has a gliding action during intercourse, all the while providing exquisite sensations for the man that shape his orgasmic response.
  • that this gliding action maintains a woman’s vaginal lubrication and does not dry her vagina out, making for a more comfortable experience for both partners and eliminating the need for artificial lubricants. 
  • that having the foreskin increases the girth of the penis and that it allows a man to have enough skin to accommodate his whole penis – intact men are larger. 
  • that intact men often use shorter, gentler strokes, thus maintaining more contact between his pubic bone and hers, and her clitoris. 
  • that intact men do not need to pound and thrust like many circumcised men do to achieve orgasm.
When they learn this – suddenly the foreskin has value! Once a person sees it has function for the man and for his partner, it is much easier for them to allow into their minds the idea that a man shouldn’t be robbed of this function and value. All of a sudden his bodily integrity seems important. His right to choose seems important.

The fact that the medical community is performing amputative surgery on a baby with no deformity or disease seems important (and wrong). The fact that the American government enacted federal legislation to protect girls from genital cutting but doesn’t protect boys seems important (and wrong).

It’s easy to counter the myths when you believe the foreskin has some importance. All of a sudden hygiene is easy to explain with a shower and “retract, rinse, replace” is easily understood.

All of a sudden infection is easily explained by the fact that girls get genital infections and we medicate them, we do not amputate their genitals. We can do the same for men. (Also, if penile infections were really such an issue, we’d have a section in the drug store for penile infection creams. We certainly have a female genital infection medication section – full of creams and products to “freshen” our nether regions. Ever wondered why we don’t have these products for men? Perhaps these infected penises are truly a myth!)

All of a sudden it’s not just a little snip. It’s the elimination of what will ultimately become 50% or more of the penile skin. It is the destruction of an exquisite system designed to protect the glans in babyhood from the diaper environment, and from abrasion with clothing for the rest of life.

None of these facts sway people until they first establish a value for the foreskin. Until they understand and believe a value in it, circumcision will always be a valid 'parental choice' to protect a baby from disease and to conform to society (in America).

The medical community will not stop soliciting circumcision until the liability of risk outweighs the profits to be gained. This will only happen when lawsuits for damage are greater than profits. While there have been many gross injuries and even deaths, they don’t get the attention they deserve because we don’t value the foreskin more than the risks of cutting babies. The uneducated public is willing to ignore the few horrible mishaps for the greater myth of a cleaner, prettier penis because they don’t know the value of the foreskin.

The general public will say NO to circumcision when the medical community solicits it - IF they know the value of the foreskin, the truth of the procedure and what their son loses forever. It is my commitment that they be informed and that they know the value and that they make the right decision for their son and the man he will become.

I know that so many of us are disheartened by the AAP’s new policy statement, but we have to realize that the AAP is a professional trade organization and it exists for the promotion of its members – pediatric doctors. It is not, and never will be, a patient advocacy group. They have a profit line to maintain and a drop in circumcision rates is not beneficial to them.

They will not stop soliciting circumcision until one of two things happens (or both):
1) The financial risk of performing this unethical surgery outweigh the profit to be made: lawsuits for botched circumcisions or bodily integrity violations cost too much.  
2) The majority of parents staunchly refuse, forcing them to do an internal evaluation of the procedure. I suspect it would take 75% or so refusing before this happens.
Don’t lose faith. The truth has its own longevity. The human body is genetically programmed to form a foreskin. It will always do this. All we need to do is understand its function to give it value. That which we value, we care for. It’s all about education.


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