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You Circumcision prevents self abuse. Circumcision began in the United States in the late 1860s as a method of preventing masturbation. It's cleaner and healthier. Isn't it?
The hygiene issue is hysterical to me. It goes something like this. This is dirty. So let's cut it off. In Thai, not in Taiwan. Are these physicians acting as modern day witch doctors? I don't know that they took an oath to serve as agents for a social custom. You don't want him to feel different from all the other boys. Do you? I went to the big American cop out while I want my sons to look alike. But if I had any inkling of what I know of now about it, there's no way they could have done that. Don't worry. You won't hurt him a day. I'm sobbing, baby screaming. The doctor is cutting this blood everywhere. And the doctor went into my face and he said there's no medical reason for doing this. And that was the question I think that literally changed the course of my life. During the past century, medical and social fears about intact male genitalia
have surfaced among a few Western nations. Information on the history of circumcision in the United States is very scanty. And that is why I set about doing my research. And I have to this date amassed approximately 3,000 articles. All of them detailing the history of circumcision in the United States. In this country, there is a common thread running throughout circumcision advocacy. It turns out that whatever disease is the focus of national attention in whatever given time period, the circumcision advocates will use that disease as an excuse for circumcision. During his research, Hodges learned that in the United States, genital mutilation began as a 19th century attempt to control children's sexuality by allegedly curing masturbation. Among the illnesses masturbation was believed to cause,
were insanity, epilepsy, cancer, pro-lapse of the rectum and blindness to name just a few. One of the leading proponents of circumcision therapy was John Harvey Kellogg, who also promoted the benefits of his own health invention, the cornflake. Many books of Kellogg's day alerted doctors and parents to the signs of masturbation, droopy eyelids, pivishness, rounded shoulders and nervousness, even boldness or shyness. To prevent or cure masturbation in children, a wide array of devices were invented. In 1888, Kellogg published his own widely popular book on the subject, Plain Facts for Old and Young. As a cure for masturbation, in boys, he had this to say. A remedy for masturbation, which is almost always successful in small boys, is circumcision. 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 is connected with the idea of punishment as it may well be in some cases. But in 1891, English surgeon Jonathan Hutchinson became the first physician to propose genital alteration of healthy children as a preventive of disease, an attitude that would find increasing favor over the next 100 years. I may indeed go further than this and allow my conviction that measures more radical than circumcision would, if public opinion permitted their adoption, be its true kindness to many patients of both sexes. Of course, circumcision never did prevent masturbation, but to this day, circumcises advocate its preventive aspects for an unbelievably wide range of diseases. In the 1940s, when venereal disease was the focus of national attention,
the circumcision advocates said that circumcision would prevent and cure venereal disease. In the 1950s and 60s, when cancer was the great fear of the American public. Naturally, circumcision was used as a cure and a preventative for cancer. In the late 1980s and the 1990s, when AIDS and HIV has become a tremendous problem, the circumcision advocates have advocated circumcision as a way to reduce the risks. The US military had a tremendous effect on the circumcision rates in this country. During World War I and World War II, the army kept very detailed statistics on venereal disease. Venereal disease was considered a grave problem because it kept men in the hospitals rather than on the battlefront. Military doctors published reports proving that blacks were responsible for the spread of venereal disease. And so blacks were naturally targeted for circumcision.
And many, frankly, very racist articles were written about blacks in medical journals that were published by the army, showing why blacks were so promiscuous, how they were unable to be taught, how to wash themselves, how they couldn't be trusted to learn, to protect themselves during sex, and that amputative surgery was the only possible way of controlling them. This incursion into the rights of black soldiers. At times under threat of court martial, quickly became a concerted effort to amputate the four skins of all soldiers. And when they returned home after the war, they had been indoctrinated into the belief that circumcision was necessary. And when their children were born and the doctors began circumcising them automatically, parents didn't object. They didn't have a choice, but they didn't object because they had been told that it was absolutely necessary. Almost all of today's medical literature advocating circumcision has been generated by a small but vocal group of non-intact males.
Could these obsessive efforts to scientifically prove foreskin pathology also be an unconscious attempt to rationalize their own mutilation, or to validate cultural beliefs? What is the psychology of a circumciser? Two leading circumcision advocates, Dr. Edgar Schoen, and Dr. Thomas Wiswell, who might have shed more light on this subject, did not respond when asked to substantiate their advocacy. But while most doctors try to avoid controversy by appearing neutral, more health professionals are challenging the perceived necessity of routine circumcision, including Dr. Dina Del, whose popular radio and television programs advise consumers on a wide range of health matters. It's only we in America that cling to this outmoded belief. We squeaky clean Americans, you know, who have such the world and cleansed it with our products and our anti-bacterial, you know, jihad.
Hygiene issue is hysterical to me. It goes something like this. This is dirty, so let's cut it off. If indeed the foreskin is dirty, then the vagina is dirtier. If indeed an excuse for circumcision is that the foreskin is dirty, then we have a better excuse to circumcise females. Soap and water is a solution. Rather than trust personal hygiene, however, mutilation of both sexes seemed a more dependable way to prevent disease. Female circumcision was espoused in reputable American medical journals until the late 1950s. Uncontrolled attempts to surgically mold the body to their vision of health led well-intending physicians to routinely discard body parts they perceived as troublesome and nonessential, like the appendix, the tonsils, the adenoids, the clitoris, and both the female and male foreskin.
Of these, only routine circumcision of males remains as a solution in search of a problem. And if you look at the history of circumcision in America, one reason after the other, it was originally started to prevent masturbation, which obviously didn't work, then as a promotion for cleanliness, then it was decided that that really isn't necessary. That is very easy to teach people how to wash themselves, and we don't live in unsanitary conditions. Then it prevents cancer of the cervix of the women, and that has been discounted, and then prevents cancer of the penis. Obviously some validity, but there's no reason that hygiene won't do as well as statistics from other countries have proven. And now the latest, which once again, we've got a solution. Now here's the problem, the problem is now urinary tract infections. Circumcision excuses espoused by Kellogg might sound laughable to us, but 50 years from now, will today's excuses be considered just as flaky? Oddly, the majority of infant male circumcisions in the U.S. are done by specialists in female genitalia, obstetricians, many of whom do so not for medical reasons, but simply to accommodate parental fears about conformity.
I don't know that they took an oath to serve as agents for a social custom, and yet that's exactly what they're doing when they perform medically unnecessary operations on unconsenting children. When fathers consent to this surgery for their sons, they perhaps unconsciously are really more concerned about their own genital integrity than that of their sons. Fathers and sons will always look different. Sure, you may see a lot of similarities between me and my son, like the foreheads and the way our hair goes, but fundamentally we're different people, and everybody in the world is unique. The idea that you have to circumcise your son so that he will match your genital anatomy and will suffer psychological damage if this is not done has never been proven. One factor accounting for so much concern over this normal genital structure is the fact that there is still widespread, almost systematic ignorance about the functions of the foreskin, even in the medical community.
A graduated from Cornell Medical School in 1967, I was taught zero about the structure and function of the foreskin, as were most doctors of the era. As a medical student, we don't learn anything about foreskins. In my anatomy textbook, there's two lines about the foreskin. It's the skin that folds back upon itself and reattaches around the glands of the penis, and then the second line is it's the skin that's usually removed during circumcision. And that's it, in the entire textbook. And this is a very serious ethical problem for physicians because how can they be removing a part of the body about which they know nothing? Now if they are not taught this in medical school, if they don't have this knowledge, it's impossible for them to share that knowledge with parents. The best message that we could give to parents and doctors, nurses, anybody that takes care of babies, babysitters, is leave the foreskin alone.
Don't retract it, don't cut it, don't damage it, don't do anything to it. At infancy, the foreskin is actually attached to the rounded tip of the penis. As this detachment occurs during the life of a male individual and the foreskin becomes mobile, it is then working as a gliding mobile sheath. The penis then during sexual intercourse could glide in and out of its own rodagen itself. This not only increases the pleasure for the male, but decreases the abrasion and loss of lubrication for the female. A long time critic of this penile reduction surgery has been world-renowned scholar Ashley Montague, who maintains that the foreskin is an essential part of male genital anatomy. Daya, as an anatomist and neuroanatomist, can tell you that that foreskin is very highly innovative. And when separated, that is a serious injury. Montague described a piece of normal skin, the size of a quarter, as having more than 12 feet of nerves and over 50 nerve endings.
Recent preliminary research into foreskin structure finds it to be more densely nerve-laden than any other part of the penis. Far from being a little snip, infant circumcision destroys the inner and outer folds of the foreskin, which, in the average adult male, comprise almost one third to one half of the penile shaft skin, or about 15 square inches of erogenous tissue. 15 square inches comfortably fits 15 quarters. This analogy helps us to understand that the adult foreskin contains more than 240 feet of nerves and over 1,000 nerve endings, making the intact penis capable of sending more nerve impulses to the pleasure centers of the brain than a penis that lacks a foreskin. When you're missing 12 to 15 square inches of exquisitely designed highly complex and very nerve-laden tissue from your penis, it has to affect the pleasure dynamic and the function of the penis.
Some parents have very strong beliefs that their babies should be circumcised, either this is from social or cultural or things they've heard. Rarely are they informed enough to know that they are damaging their babies by circumcising them. One of the new insights in psychology is that there is a special human reaction to trauma. Trauma goes in deep. Trauma makes a big impression. It stays around. There's often a withdrawal response. It becomes very quiet. It actually appears to be a sleep, which is one of the responses that new ones have to pain. We would like to think that it's just easily erased or that it's superficial. It may be just something physical.
And when it's over, it's over. That's the way medicine generally looks at early trauma. Psychologists are learning that this is not the case. Trauma is serious. Pain is serious. For decades, the medical profession held that babies did not feel pain or could not tolerate anesthesia. In 1985, newborn pain responses were scientifically documented. And while a few questionably effective anesthetics have since been developed, only a small percentage of these babies today receive anesthesia. What we have here is the very first experience in the newborn is to experience in all this excruciating pain when the brain systems and neural systems are designed by nature to experience pleasure. What people need to understand is that there is a common denominator to both female genital mutilation and male genital mutilation.
And its roots are in trying to control, if not eradicate, the sexual passion, the sexual pleasure that is inherently damaged and impaired by mutilation of the genitals. We have to confess that there have been no major studies, no large scale studies, no really analytic studies that I know anything about to prove what the consequences might be later in life from infant circumcision. Boys constitute 84% of all sexual mutilations in the world, five males for every female victim. In almost all cultures where female mutilation occurs, male mutilation is also widespread. Well, internationally, the places I've gone in Europe, most people don't even conceive of the idea that genital mutilations of boys goes on in the United States.
When they're told that it does, approximately 60% of the baby boys born here are circumcised, they're shocked because Europeans generally consider male genital mutilation in the same category as female genital mutilation. And attacked by some superstitious individual with a knife on the genitals of young children. I know that's cut as cut, it doesn't matter how you slice it or how you cut it, cut as cut in pain. It's just because of my own mutilation, my own pain. I felt that way, I said the boys cut as cut too. Criticism of male genital mutilation in the US predates our recent concerns about female genital mutilation. Ethiopian-born survivor Mimi Ramsey acknowledges that the common violation is not just physical integrity, but body ownership and self-determination. She questions the defense that it is done with the best of intentions.
How can that be love? Love is, we love the person without cutting. I don't understand it, I feel to understand that part still. In her book, Prisoners of Ritual, cross cultural sexologist and award-winning author Honey Lightfoot Klein, discusses what she and other professionals have discovered about the psychosexual effects of genital mutilation. The area from which orgasm is elicited in the body can vary and the mind can move it around if one area is destroyed, it moves it to another one. Male and female genital organs evolve from the same embryologic tissues. The male glands and the female clitoris are designed by nature as internal structures each protected by folds of specialized skin. Amputating these protective folds externalizes the glands and the clitoris, leaving them exposed to lifelong damaging effects of an abrasive environment.
When this kind of damage occurs in infancy, could it explain why the non-intact male generally remains unaware of his loss until much later in life? He's done what everyone who is damaged has to do, which is to compensate and move the mind, moves it to another area. Or we might even say that because he is not familiar with the orgasm that he's able to have with a foreskin, what he has is normal. For a man in this culture to say, my penis is not normal and my penis has some kind of deformity. This takes a great deal of strength of character. So not every man is going to do it. I'd say what amazes me most about it, that has been a women's movement. It's been a mother's movement that men haven't spoke out. That has shocked me.
In 1992, a body image survey by the men's magazine Journey Men discovered that 78% of respondents with a foreskin were happy to be intact, while 20% of non-intact respondents were dissatisfied with their lack of a foreskin. A preliminary poll of over 300 non-intact men in 1993 by the organization No Harm may explain this dissatisfaction. Their report revealed a wide range of physical, sexual, and psychological damage to men circumcised in infancy. When I think about it, I think about it with outrage. Iolation, mutilation, does not fully erect or it erects with a bend. Loss of the moving parts of the normal penis. Deep psychological trauma, sexual dysfunction, progressive sensitivity loss. Pitting and scarring of the glands that can last a lifetime. Damaged goods.
And that it provides me with no benefits whatsoever. There really is a long-term harm to circumcision. Aside from the initial trauma. Anesthesia does not solve the fundamental problem of infant circumcision because all anesthesia does is it masks the pain. Unfortunately, anesthesia will never mask the mutilation. That will always be there. Many men don't know and don't want to know that they've been scarred, that they've been desensitized, that there may be other complications in their sex life. Many men wrote in to say that they had to resort to prolonged exaggerated thrusting in order to achieve enough stimulation to reach orgasm and this not only impacted them in terms of their sexual experience, in terms of abrasion and bleeding, but also in many cases their female partners. And it resulted in abrasion and bleeding and lack of lubrication for their wives or girlfriends.
It took me a long time, even after I knew about the real dangers in harm involved with circumcision. Before I could fill out the harm documentation form. I procrastinated, I put it off, I filed it away, I did everything but think about my own harm. The reason that we find men coming out in larger numbers now about long-term adverse outcomes from infant circumcision is because when you look at the demographics of how infant circumcision was performed in this country, it just about reached its zenith in that period between 1940 and 1960. That would place men born during those years at the age grouping right now in 1995 between age 35 and 55. So you have the largest pool of circumcised men probably in history in any one location here in the United States and these men are beginning to report this type of harm because that harm is showing up in record numbers.
I am angry about my own circumcision, but that was a long time ago in my mind. But when I think now, 33 years later, that it's still going on, still going on even though we've landed on the moon, we have computers everywhere and we've gone through such tremendous social upheavals, such tremendous re-evaluation of society in our values, that this thing is still stuck in our practices. That makes me angry. Does a child's body belong to his parents or to a religion or to the culture? And what about the child's right of self-determination, the one who will ultimately have to live with the consequences?
Circumcision does more than just remove a foreskin. Circumcision removes a choice. That choice should be the right of every individual boy and man to make on their own. And to circumcise an infant, whether at a day or eight days, is to permanently remove that choice and that right that that human being has to control their body. What concerns me as an attorney about newborn routine infant circumcision is that each of these babies are born with the entire full slate of rights of both the state and the federal constitution. You may say that baby is wrapped in the United States flag and then the California flag and all the constitution protections that go along with those flags. And what we see happening routinely is these particular rights of this infant are invaded without any kind of constitutional safeguards, without any kind of procedures to protect the sick rights of the child.
I believe that this was really, for me, the first political cause in my life. I had been involved in peripherally in some different political causes. I had worked some for the equal rights amendment for nuclear disarmament. It always felt very far away from me. It felt like good causes, you know, in the abstract. I could believe in them. I did work on them. But it didn't feel like me. It was altruism. And this was something that was very me. It really politicized me. And I think it also opened me up to realize that if this had been done to me, then this culture can do so many things to so many people. And you really have to look behind whatever you're told is for your own good and whatever you're told is right. And really question it. Not take it on for face value.
As I got into my twenties, I think one day I just looked down and I saw this scar there that it always been there. And for some reason I just popped in my head and I said, why is there a scar here? Why is there a scar around my penis? I first became aware of the circumcision issue in therapy. I went to a workshop where a man was being worked with on his circumcision. And I found a very visceral reaction to what was happening there that I wound up working on in my own healing. As I did the research, I got more angry and more upset as the rationale that my mother had originally given me when I was five years old and that everyone had given me and the culture gives us started to slip away.
When I didn't have that reason anymore to feel like this was done for my own good. And I know that the most painful part of my life was the surgery circumcision experience. First, the complete lack of information, much less decision making than I had on a major thing that was happening to my body. Secondly, how we in this culture in general, especially, do not regard the wishes and needs of young people, babies in particular very much. It tells me that we don't listen, that we could go on for years believing that babies don't feel any pain when this is done to them. Without thinking that if this was done to me, what I feel any pain, why is a baby different? Doctors were telling this to parents. Doctors who did it, who had seen it done, who had seen the baby screaming, were telling parents this. And I really think they probably believed it. Even though that baby was screaming in front of them, I think they probably believed that that baby was not feeling pain or that because the baby as a man later would probably not remember what he had been through.
It, therefore, was not important that it had no impact. There are many, many reasons why I think we did the right thing by leaving our son intact her. First of all, he didn't get the psychological trauma that I got that ruined a substantial portion of my childhood. He has the choice to do it himself if he wants to have that done at a later time for some reason, which I couldn't fathom. His sexuality is unimpaired. He has got his God-given sexuality. The scar that 80% of American men carry, circumcised American men carry, is not simply the dark ring around the penis, where the cut healed. But it's actually everything from that point forward, including the glands, which has scarified and characterised over years because it had to be torn apart in order to successfully complete the circumcision. He escaped some of the other horrible things that can happen like skin bridges, hemorrhage, the sepsis. I mean, for heaven's sake, some children actually die from this.
The medical providers hide this information. For example, the lawsuit that took place up in Alaska recently, which involved a boy who developed paralysis as a result of an infection to the brain from his circumcision. His circumcision was lost at the trial level and was just recently overturned by the Alaska Supreme Court because the hospital conveniently lost all of this child's medical records. These are injuries that are occurring unnecessarily because the circumcision procedure itself is unnecessary. Doctors do, in fact, try to market circumcision to people. I think that they try to make parents feel guilty that they're not doing the best technical possible medical things for their children. I think it is a money game for the doctors. I think it's a money game for the insurance people.
We're talking about a billion and a quarter dollars a year industry, a million, 250,000 infant boys circumcised in the United States yearly at a hundred bucks a pop, pal. That's a billion and a quarter a year. That's a lot of incentive. Let me tell you. Monetary incentive for male sexual mutilation is a recent development. For centuries, male elders have mutilated countless millions of boys and for centuries, men have borne these childhood genital scars in isolation and silence. But times are changing and men are talking to one another about the impact of sexual mutilation on their lives. They're meeting to discuss methods of regaining their natural genital integrity and they're coming together to challenge both the secular and the religious practice of infant genital mutilation. One frequently hears the argument, well, it's better to have it done at birth because at least it's over with. But there are a number of reasons why it's really worse to have it done at birth.
At least in an adult, the foreskin is fully developed, differentiated tissue, as is the glands, but for an infant with the membrane that binds the foreskin and the glands together at birth in the normal infant, the Sinekia, that needs to be torn. Just the fact that you need to tear this tissue off of an infant, this undeveloped tissue in order to cut it, that should tell any reasonable person that this is obviously an operation that should not be performed. Circumcision became an issue for me about five years ago and prior to that I had the same attitude as anyone else. It was subject for jokes, nothing else. I barely knew what it was, but I was attending a sexuality conference in which they used live models to demonstrate genitals. And they were not even talking about circumcision, they were just showing normal genitals and their male model happened to be uncircumcised.
And when I saw how he looked and how he function, I didn't describe the feelings that he had in areas that were essentially destroyed in me. I was immediately overwhelmed, I began crying, I was just blown away, but its emotional impact was couldn't be denied. And as a gay man, I have had a lover who was intact and through that I have become aware. I was able to have that conversation and became aware that it is very different. And things that I thought were just genetically different in us were in fact physiological because of my circumcision. My sons were born, I didn't know anything about it really. I had a gut feeling. I really didn't want it done, but I grew up in this fundamental religious background and it had to be done. It's the American way, it's a Christian way, you've got to do this, but something sent me said I didn't want to do it.
But I succumbed with my first son because I didn't know why. You just have to cut. Wounding the sexual organs of male infants is increasingly being questioned not only by the general public, but by many in the Jewish community as well. This is my son and this is a life that I cherish and I'm not even going to cut him for God. So what do you think God's response would have been to that? I think that God would have said, good, you passed the test. I agree with you. Miriam Pollock has spent over 20 years as a Jewish educator. As a mother of two sons, she witnessed the amputation of their foreskins in the traditional Jewish ceremony or BRIS. Those experiences have led her to reexamine the BRIS ritual. What does it mean when we take a knife to a child's genitals and where does that come from inside of our culture and inside of our psyches?
And I've had to ask these questions even though or because I chose to circumcise my boys as thinking this was the only way to bring them into this faith and people that I love and am very connected to. What I have learned and what I understand about circumcision is that it was a pre-Judeic right. It did not originate with Jews. That Judaism had been a very powerfully matrilineal culture. In terms of Orthodox Judaism and even the law of the state of Israel, the whole issue of who is a Jew, the identity of a Jew is if your mother is a Jew, you are a Jew. The use of the foreskin to that organ is evident. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired. There is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment.
Our sages say distinctly, it is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. Most of my monides was a very great 12th century Jewish philosopher, physician, and rabbi. My monides revealed to us that circumcision performs two functions. One, it deals with the fear of woman and the other, the fear of pleasure. And part of circumcision, I feel, is a way of competing with this matrilineal, this very strong matrilineal heritage within Judaism. Circumcision accomplishes this by violently breaching the maternal infant bond by mutilating the baby on his sexual organ by bonding the baby boy with the men of the community and the men from generations before him and with a God that is imaged as male. And by psychosactually wounding this baby boy.
Circumcision is fundamental to patriarchy, but it is not holy. And so we must ask, who is defining what is sacred here? Where is the sacredness of the mother's feelings to protect her newborn child? My father is a rabbi, so from the very early age I was trained in religious teachings and had full exposure to all of the Jewish rituals. I was taught to believe that circumcision was very special, that it made me special, that somehow it made me elite, it made me part of a greater family of Jews, and also that I was better in some ways, because I had been circumcised. I was more civilised, I was more clean, I was more disciplined. Well, even the circumcision that we do today is a relatively modern procedure in that it came during the Hellenistic period. And it's much more drastic than the original circumcision, which was a removal of the bit of the foreskin that was past the glands.
It was changed because of what was perceived as assimilation into the larger Greek society. I feel very proud of being a Jew because of our long tradition of education and our long tradition of discussion. And I feel sort of sad that although even among religious Jews you can question God and question the decisions of God, it seems like you can't question circumcision without being labeled an anti-Semite. And that's absurd. What kind of ceremony can we create, or have there been ceremonies that have already been created that will make up for the Brieke Milat, that will also be a Brieke, the Covenant, that will bring the child into the Jewish family? I attended one and it was a wonderful ceremony. The parents and grandparents were there, actually there were cousins and aunts and uncles that were there. There won't be a Milat with that Brieke, which means there won't be any surgical procedure.
Everybody was smiling from ear to ear, there was no reason for anybody to get ill at it as I've heard of some people getting ill at Brieke Milat. Blessed is your coming in the name of God. Philosophy and science have brought us to a new understanding of laws and relationships between mankind, God and nature. Thank you, O Lord, for bestowing on us this understanding. There was just incredible joy in welcoming this child into the Jewish family. Jews should also know that if they are considering not circumcising, that there are other Jews who are doing that and who are remaining Jews and remaining active in their communities, their children are being barren, bot mitzved, and they are not being excluded from the community.
The question of Sammy not being circumcised and living in a sea of Jews who's Jewish boys are circumcised. Again, has not come up. He knows that something wasn't done to his penis, but he views his penis as being good and I hope that all of us who have circumcised penises view our penises as inherently okay despite what was done to us. Not all circumcised men feel good about what was done to them, and growing numbers of non-intact men from all walks of life are seeking to undo the damage of their mutilation, to regain their natural genital integrity, and to experience renewed wholeness, many are pursuing non-surgical forced-kin restoration. That's what the change has been for me, never knowing the level of sensitivity I could have had, had I been intact, and then to be restoring, and it was within three or four weeks I acquired a sensitivity that I had never known in my life.
In 1990, the National Organization of Restoring Men, Norm, was founded to provide men with the necessary technical and moral support for reclaiming their bodies. I come to the groups so that I can find some support. I mean, it's hard to be out there alone dealing with the issue of someone thinks it's a kooky idea, and it's a real relief to find other men who understand and share the same feelings. What I get out of coming to the norm meetings is support and encouragement, and new information, and we're kind of like pioneers all of us, and each of us have something to contribute as we're experimenting. Jim Bigelow is the author of the joy of uncircumcizing, a scholarly work dealing with the history and the methods of uncircumcision. His book Shed's Light on the Motivations of Men seeking to take back their body from the circumciser.
Many men who as a young circumcised male had no notion that anything was diminished about their penis, have discovered as they get older that the toughening of the glands is an ongoing process, and then when they begin to get some information, particularly information from intact males, that that's not necessarily so. So you get then a whole group, there's a group of men who say, hey, I've been robbed, I've been cheated, I don't want that to happen to me, I want to reverse that process, I want to stop it. I think restoration is a great outlet for that kind of angry emotion that rises up, I've had a lot of it myself, and in fact it was the anger that allowed me to decide that I should be restoring. I thought if I have this much emotional energy around this issue, then I should be doing something to try to correct the situation, and restoration gives me the sense that I am doing that.
There's a sense of empowerment, isn't there? You're reclaiming that part that they took in from us. Then there are an increasing number of men who feel that their rights were violated, I mean, the whole concept that as an infant, someone made this choice about your body, and that you didn't have any say in the matter, is a concept that is, I think, in raging, an increasing number of men. Once the male discovers that he has some injury from the circumcision, for example, just the fact that he's missing a foreskin, and that, like a foreskin, has caused, let's say, decreased sensitivity. He can relate that to some kind of sexual dysfunction, some kind of emotional problem, and he can certify that through a mental health provider.
Then he will have one year from the date of the discovery of that injury to bring a lawsuit. Men who are just turning 18, they will have until their 19th birthday, one year from the age of majority, to bring a lawsuit on the basis of, say, lack of informed consent. Once the public understands and knows that these routine infant circumcisions are causing the kinds of injuries that we know about, people will, I believe, storm the hospitals and demand that this particular procedure stops. While those seeking social change have not stormed hospitals, they have stormed the offices of those who profit from, or remain silent, about the American circumcision industry. The California Medical Association refuses to sit down and talk with those people who are concerned about an unnecessary medical surgery that's being done to our babies.
And as the only organization, the only medical organization in the world that advocates the surgery that most of the world scorns, you refuse to talk to us about these things. The only mammal in the whole of the earth, and are you not suspicious that men, human males are the only mammal, but this is supposedly necessary, immediately after they're born. Hey, hey, what is a shame? We don't do our voices. I work as a statistician for the California State Health Department. When you look at the facts of the situation, there's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for circumcision. These studies that are used as an excuse to mutilate millions of boys every year are completely species. I've come down here to help protest for the innocent babies that can't protest against the genital mutilation by circumcision that the doctors are performing daily on thousands of couples' babies like they did to me 55 years ago, and it's time for it to stop.
This is probably the last imprint that I made on this planet as a whole human being. This is the first time we have a Palestinian-Ejou defending protecting our children instead of killing them. This is the board that is used to restrain your child. Circumstreet board is a board that straps down a struggling infant so that somebody who has more power can retain that power while they hurt the baby. Circumcision is not okay, it doesn't give, it takes away. Why do I have to say that speaking out to Jews and telling them not to do this is not anti-Semitic? I shouldn't even have to say that. Hearing about babies is not an anti-Semitic position.
For a long time I thought I was the only person who was against circumcision, and I was surprised to find that there were other people who feel the same way. And when I got an invitation to come to this rally, I thought it was important that somebody stand up and people who do small stand up themselves. And I'm here because I'm a human being and a humanist and I think a little baby is count. I'm pro-circumcision by the way. I think that everyone has a right to have themselves circumcised when they're at the age of consent. 52 years old and I've lived 52 years very successfully with an intact horse in, and I want to tell the world that circumcision is stupid. We do not need to do this. The silence has to be broken and men have to start speaking up against us to change this social custody in the States. Increasing numbers of men are finding their voices, not in the streets, but in literature and the arts, including the authors of books about men.
Musicians, multi-media artists, sculptors, performance artists, feel, cut, and slice. No pain, no gain. It's a boy. Quick cut is dick with a knife. Welcome to America. It's a man's world, dear people. The head of our dix is designed as an internal organ, like the eyeball or the tongue. Shall we pull out your teeth because we don't like the way you clean them? And filmmakers, like Barry Ellsworth, who interviewed a group of New Mexico nurses that collectively refused to assist any longer with routine infant circumcisions. What had they seen behind the closed doors of the circumcision room? What did they know that parents didn't know? What could they tell me about an event that I bear the scar of, yet cannot remember? This is not ethical, and especially when you're taking someone who has not consented. Parents can consent all they want. This does not mean the child is consented to this.
You saw a baby, how beautiful a baby is. Perfect. And then if you saw a circumcision, the very next day of the same perfect baby, I think what we're doing, it's not radical at all. It's common sense. It's sanity. And it started bothering me. I think it started bothering myself. Doctors have the ability to educate and stun surfaces. They could do it any day. Any day they'd trust. This is a sign that really steady ordinary people like me are taking a stand like this. This should be a sign for other people that they need to look into it and see what's going on. The information discussed in this program may provoke in us mixed or even negative feelings. Feelings about traumas we may have experienced, about loss of function, or about having allowed our children to experience such traumas.
What's important is that we let these feelings inspire us to change our old patterns. When this is abandoned by the medical community, everyone will want to forget that it was ever done. I believe that suddenly it will seem like common sense not to do it. And nobody really want to think about why we once did it. And what it's done to the majority of men in this country who are now living. And actually speaking, a child has a right to have its body left intact by meddling adults and doctors who think they're improving on God's design. Whatever you believe, whether you believe in nature or God, you got to ask the question, why is the force in there? Circumcision is not holier than God. And there is a lot to be questioned when we take a knife to the genitals of our newborn baby boys.
Circumcision is a violation of human rights. It's the violation of the human right to an intact body. The child's right to make a decision about healthy, normal body parts and the function of his reproductive organs is of compelling interest over the parental right to determine if and when a child is circumcised. This thinks it's cruel. We torture our children for so many years, for 2,000 years. Enough is enough. Let's stop it. For more information on this subject, contact NoCircuit post office box 2512-San and Selmo, California 949-799.
Whose Body, Whose Rights?
Producing Organization
KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Dillonwood Productions
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Program Description
Documentary about circumcision of boys in the United States. Includes interviews with medical experts, sociologists, religious leaders, and those who have undergone circumcision.
Includes segment 1, "Wounding Our Children, Wounding Ourselves"; segment 2, "Healing Ourselves, Healing Society";
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Social Issues
Human Rights
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Moving Image
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Director: Dillon, Lawrence
Editor: Dillon, Lawrence
Executive Producer: Hammond, Tim
Narrator: Christian, Troy
Producing Organization: KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Producing Organization: Dillonwood Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: cpb-aacip-9f953b5874b (Filename)
Format: VHS
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: Color
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Chicago: “Whose Body, Whose Rights?,” 1995, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “Whose Body, Whose Rights?.” 1995. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Whose Body, Whose Rights?. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from