Circumcision: Slice of (Boy's) Life

Straight Guy,

Thanks for your February 24 piece, no pun intended, on circumcision. You chopped off the detail that you are likely kissing the ground with joy for having daughters only.

This post might not be for everyone, so skim and skip if necessary. But, SG asked, so I answer.

Don't know if I have anything special to say on the topic of circumcision, but because, as a gay man, I am both an owner/operator and consumer of penile products, here goes.

Much as I like thinking about men and their little buddies, I don't like thinking about the mechanics of how the hood in what's under the hood becomes obsolete. In fact, as I sit on the sofa writing this I've noticed that I've subconsciously pulled a pillow between my thighs.

Consistent with the vast majority of post-World War II, hospital-born, middle-class American men, I'm cut. I doubt my parents spent ten seconds thinking about what to do with my newborn junk. Nor did my friends' parents. I can count on exactly two fingers the number of uncut boys I saw my entire K-12 locker room career. They were brothers who moved to our town when we were in about the sixth grade. I was trying not to look at their stuff despite how fascinating it was, but someone in the locker pointed and asked, in essence, "What the hell you got going on down there?"

Circumcision was so common that I never thought about it either. Looking back on it, I see now that it was one of the few ways I wasn't different than other guys. In fact, when I learned that there was cut and uncut, I didn't really understand it and agonized trying to figure out which one I was. This is where pictures can really help in the learning process.

My personal penile Consumer Reports is that this is all about aesthetics not utility. As long as you like the look, either brand is fine and provides the same amount of customer satisfaction. But, this is something that men can really get hung up on. I have friends with strong preferences.

My educated guess is that guys who prefer uncut are probably cut and turned on by the difference. The guys who are cut-only consumers are probably cut and just want to stick with their own kind. Personally, I don't care if the little guy sports a crew neck or a turtle neck, though I must admit that the foreskin version feels like it should have a foreign accent attached.

Men use cut and uncut in their online profiles to describe either what they want/don't want or what they have to offer. It's usually written as 'c' and 'u/c'. Avid cook that I am, the first time I saw this I thought that 'c' was like something in a recipe. . . a cup of what I wondered?

The creepy part of the circumcision debate is the father/son identification issue. As the author of the article you found writes:

"That's when I realized my quest to keep my son uncircumcised was at least partially ego-borne. I wanted him to resemble me -- and I don't mean I just wanted strangers to tell me he had my eyes."

I've read and been told that pediatricians advise parents to have a son shall we say coifed to match the father to facilitate father/son bonding. If I were to compare scars with my dad, I hope it would stop with a vaccination mark. Who bonds over something like this? What ever happened to chess? I'm just as happy to know that I resemble my dad because we have matching noses and are insufferably moody and leave the rest to the imagination.

There has to be a better way. If the surgical vanguard can fix a cleft palate and invent a new face for Joan Rivers, you think they could come up with a baby boy demi-cut. Sort of a half and half. Just a trim, please. It'd soothe the guilt factor and split the decision making like Solomon's sword. Figuratively only, I mean.

--Gay Guy


Anonymous said...

Or maybe we could just let people decide for themselves if they want cosmetic surgery on their genitals. Circumcision later in life is safer, less painful, and the results are cosmetically beter.

Straight Guy said...

I guess the main point of my original post was that of course circumcision doesn't really matter... until it matters. The author of the original essay thought his wife was happy with his package, until he learned that she adamantly wanted something different for their son. That's a hurt that will linger. He only thought it didn't matter.

The issue can be debated as a religious or health concern, but that will always pale in comparison to the fact that guys will always want to sell what women (or gay men) are willing to buy. Sorry to pass off this issue, but when they stop caring, we'll stop caring. And nervous parents will stop caring, too.

Anonymous said...

My view (British gay man) is that circumcision (male or female!) is nothing but genital mutilation and serves no purpose at all. Doing it to a child who has no say in the matter is just cruel. All this rubbish about "it's more hygienic" annoys me - do you guys not know how to wash?! Ditto with the alleged "lower risk of catching HIV" - whatever happened to safe sex?

Gay Guy said...

I agree that circumcision is about social custom and aesthetics.

I don't think parents are worrying about lowering their sons' risk of catching HIV when they schedule the procedure -- I think they are thinking about locker rooms and social expectations. (I am not willing to take on the practice as a religious imperative -- not my field of expertise.)

Most of my friends chose not to circumcise their sons. Is this a trend? Maybe the practice will just die out over time.

I think if we all stopped using vague, pain-free words like 'circumcision' and used 'cutting' instead, we could speed up the demise of the procedure. As in, "So, would like like to set up an appointment to have your newborn son cut up this week?"

Tig, I don't know if your comment "Do you guys not know how to wash?" was a generic all-men "you" or if you were referring specifically to SG and me. FYI, I could hose down a surgical suite with the best of them, so I feel pretty secure in my ability to maintain good hygiene.

Tig, welcome to GG/SG. We hope to hear more from you.

Anonymous said...

I meant the guys who claim it's for hygiene reasons, not GG and SG :O)

Straight in Upstate said...

Congrats, GG, you retain your title as my funniest friend, esp. when describing painful medical procedures. Maybe I've already said this but for me it comes down to:
Haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it - I'm playing the hand I was dealt ( to speak)

Never checked out my dad after the age of 9, not a real bonding issue

Women don't have a dog in this fight - let the owner/operators decide

Gay Guy said...


Phew. Glad you know that you aren't going to cross the Atlantic to check if my soap is getting used.

Joe said...

GayGuy Said:
"Most of my friends chose not to circumcise their sons. Is this a trend? Maybe the practice will just die out over time."

That is encouraging to hear. Might I ask what state you're in? I hope the practice will die out. I think it will but bad habits die hard. The best way to move it along is to keep talking about it. Strike down the myths.

GayGuy Said:
"I think if we all stopped using vague, pain-free words like 'circumcision' and used 'cutting' instead, we could speed up the demise of the procedure. As in, "So, would like like to set up an appointment to have your newborn son cut up this week?""

While this can be an important point, I don't think it is the best one to structure our arguments against circumcision with. It implies that by making it painless makes it ethical. It doesn't. This is really more of a personal rights issue.

Note to author: This might be a double post, I didn't see my first and I don't know if you have approval turned on.

Hugh7 said...

"As long as you like the look, either brand is fine and provides the same amount of customer satisfaction."

It would be very strange if this was true. The foreskin contains about 20,000 nerves, concentrated near the tip on the inside, specialised for fine touch. If they don't add to sexual pleasure, what was God/evolution thinking? And it's not just a matter of "more sensation" it's better sensation. The world's hospitals are not full of men who had heart attacks from the "excess" stimulation their foreskins gave. Men circumcised in adulthood compare the difference with going colourblind.
(The famous Masters and Johnson claim, and subsequent ones, that "circumcision makes no difference" have a simple explanation: they never measured the foreskin. Those who did, found a big difference.)

The health claims for circumcision are bogus. The myriad diseases it is supposed to prevent are either vanishingly rare or readily treated by other means, or the protection it offers is marginal or non-existent.

Adults are free to get circumcised if they want, but only if they were left intact in infancy. Infant circumcision is a human rights violation. How dare anyone decide for someone else how much irreplaceable sexual tissue they may have? No other part of the infant male body (and no part at all of the infant female body, or the adult body) is subject to another person's whims like this.

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