This must be a history piece posted in the NewsGroups in 1993 ...
(the American anti circumcision campaign got an early start online,
letter also mentions the start of the ridiculous debates that used
to take place - and maybe still do) ... Gary had a lot to do with originally
setting up NOCIRC ... link pending
>From: gburlin-at-eskimo.com (Gary Burlingame)
>Subject: The pain of circumcision
>Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1993 01:15:10 GMT
I am very unhappy that I was circumcised severely as an infant.
This may not be my number one personal problem, but the fact that I
am 5 months into a foreskin restoration project that I expect to take
3 years, indicates that it does have some import in my life. For those
unaware, I would like to detail the negative effects I have seen personally.
It is my thought that this would be a better technique to convince
people that neo-natal circumcision should not be performed than the
horrible thread going through so many news groups lately. Maybe if
I had not been so severely circumcised, I too like many men, would
wonder what the problem is, but I'm afraid that the problems I document
below are all too common. Given that the benefits of circumcision are
so highly debatable that we don't really know if there are any true
benefits, then I have to come squarely down on the side against neo-natal
circumcision. It would be a joy to care for my foreskin, I don't think
even ridding me of any hygiene "problem" is a benefit. The cancer angles
have not been scientifically proven with a strict control group. And
it is difficult to perform a correct circumcision, which I would define
as one giving just those non-existing "benefits", and NOT causing all
these problems on an infant penis, which is too small, and not fully
grown, especially not through puberty. Maybe you are thinking that
just cutting a little off, or just a tiny piece, will make things better,
but until I see scientific studies proving what each of these types
of circumcision do to or for the person years later, I will remain
steadfastly against it. How do you know you will see what you believe
are "benefits" if you don't cut enough? What IS the correct amount
of skin to cut off?
Negative effects of my circumcision:
1) I had a skin bridge, a condition in which the circumcision incision
bonds in places with the corona of the glans during the healing process.
This causes the skin to be even tighter in those places, and covers
up part of the penis where stimulation is the most pleasurable. Finally,
7 or 8 years ago, after contemplating it for years, I cut through the
skin bridge myself. I would have done it much sooner, if I had understood
what it was, and that there were no significant veins or nerves to
be cut. This was significant trauma throughout my life, wondering why
I had this extra hole in my penis, and how it got there. What I wanted
then was a penis that at least looked like a "normal" circumcised penis.
However, I was left with an external pucker midway down the shaft,
at least the glans looks "normal". It's important to not feel like
part of your body is disfigured, although I still feel terribly disfigured
by the rest of the circumcision.
2) I was circumcised too tightly. There are several effects that
a) Intercourse can be painful. Without lots of lubrication, it
has always been too painful for me. Some women, my wife in fact, do
not fully appreciate this, and may urge me to enter, and I have found
that the anxiety produced by expecting pain, immediately ends the possibility
of intercourse. Even explaining this ahead of time isn't completely
sufficient, as in the heat of the moment, sometimes she forgets.
b) Sex, whether intercourse, self-masturbation, or masturbation
by a partner, is not as pleasurable. Some circumcised men retain some
movement of the skin during an erection, I did not. In fact, I was
so tightly circumcised, that I wasn't aware that it was even normal
for the skin to be able to move. When you can't move the skin, the
only stimulation possible, is rubbing skin against skin. The underlying
shaft can only get stimulation indirectly, instead of directly from
moving the skin. Plus, rubbing skin against skin is hampered by friction,
causing heat, dryness, chafing, and soreness. In fact, I have not found
it possible ever to masturbate or have intercourse without lubrication.
Using lubrication may be enjoyable even for an uncircumcised man, but
being forced to use it, having to search for the best type and the
correct amount, and having to deal with the extra mess and inconvenience,
is not pleasurable. Also, prolonged stimulation, whether by masturbation
or intercourse, even with lubrication, can cause problems. It even
can cause problems for a partner. As women age and get closer to menopause,
my understanding and experience is that less lubrication is produced.
That means more friction through rubbing, more pain, or more artificial
lubrication, with all of its inconvenience. I would think that women
would NOT want men circumcised. It only adds to the abrasion in the
vagina, which is fine while the lubrication lasts, but not as good
and not natural.
c) My penis was always pulled in closer to the body, appearing
smaller. This is significant, especially during adolescence in places
like the gym class showers. It even affects how you feel about yourself
in relation to other men. Living with such a shortened penis isn't
as pleasurable, either, because it won't stay where you put it in underwear.
If I were to put it down, the tight skin pulled it up at the first
opportunity, and it would stick straight out. Wearing boxer shorts
doesn't seem to be as comfortable in this condition, either. In any
case, it takes a lot of work to overcome the feelings of inferiority
of a smaller than average flaccid penis.
3) There is all the mystery, shame, and embarrassment caused by
circumcision. Parents don't in my experience sit their boys down and
explain what was done to them, and why. They have to learn it essentially
in the streets, or in religious classes where circumcision is talked
about. Even then, it is not easy to understand what was done to you.
I could never figure out where the skin covering the glans came from
before it was cut off. All of this is what I believe generates the
cruelty that circumcised boys often deal out to the minority uncircumcised
boys. Without being taught what it is, and what is was for, they have
to find a way to feel good about themselves, and being better than
an uncircumcised boy helps. So not only are the victims of circumcision
affected, so are those who were not circumcised. What a sad way for
an advanced society to operate!
4) There are many things I do not even know I am missing. For instance,
the sensitivity of the glans and mucous tissue is most likely reduced.
I am beginning to know what it is like to have some mobility of the
shaft skin, but just barely. In my restoration program, I am most pleased
with the little bit of gliding mechanism I have achieved. During intercourse
I can now move in and out without the outside circle of skin having
to move against the vagina. How much more comfort and pleasure can
be realized by having enough skin for it to stroke the glans during
intercourse? That I don't know yet, but I am eager to find out. Unfortunately,
I will be missing my frenulum, as well, and I will never completely
know how pleasurable my complete foreskin would have been.
Summary: There are too many problems with neo-natal circumcision
for no proven benefits. Maybe some people were lucky enough to get
a perfect circumcision, but I as well as many other men were not. For
these and many reasons, neo-natal circumcision should not be performed.
I would like to add here, that I have read victims' accounts of having
been circumcised as a "punishment" for masturbation. This, and any
other circumcision against the victims' will must be stopped. It is
simply NOT acceptable.
For parents having their baby boys circumcised, I ask what kind
of circumcision is he likely to get? Some of you know, but I expect
that most do not. Why would you risk a poor job for so little benefit
if any? I also think that if you ARE going to have your baby boy circumcised,
that you OWE it to him to explain it to him, and be prepared to justify
it. I don't think this should wait until the boy asks, either, as that
is a difficult task, and the boy may already being feeling negative
effects if only psychological, without you knowing it.
For those of us circumcised that either have difficulties with it,
or simply wish that it had not been done, it's time to step up and
let yourself be heard. Let's tell the community the pain, humiliation,
embarrassment, anger, shock, guilt, inadequacy, resentment and grief
that this needless neo-natal circumcision causes. If you happen to
be very pleased with your neo-natal circumcision, maybe you were lucky,
maybe you don't know what you are missing, or maybe your point of view
has been affected by it. But those of us who ARE suffering should speak
up. Otherwise, you are responsible for allowing it to continue.
This is my point of view. Anyone who wants to argue with me, good
luck. I am certainly willing to listen to corrections I could make,
ideas on how I could have stated this better given my sincere feelings
on it, and I may entertain recanting part of it if need be. But I am
against circumcision before the age of consent, especially neo-natal
circumcision. And certainly, anyone with questions or needing clarifications
is welcome to e-mail me.
Gary Burlingame gburlin-at-eskimo.com