Comedy about a young
Italian-Canadian (Luke Kirby) coming out to his parents. They tell the
parents of his hunky cop lover, Nino (Peter Miller), ending their
affair. To prove his heterosexuality Nino marries, and at the wedding,
the priest (Michel Perron) says:
"I have known Nino all his life: I baptised him;
I gave him his first communion; and when he hit puberty and started to
have certain problems caused by his rapidly increasing, um, size, it
was I who advised him to be circumcised."
6. Ethnic humor
came canned and clotted in the sitcom revels of "Mambo Italiano." Cute
Eye-talians pig on pasta, slap each other on the side of
the head, are freaked by gay offspring, then turn PC as if by remote
It came from Canada (or hell) and has a Catholic priest telling a
circumcision joke at a wedding.
Circumcision is just used as an embarassing
personal detail to illustrate the priest's crassness. There is of
course no problem caused by rapidly increasing, um, size that
The infant Superman-to-be
is again shown circumcised.
(Farce, sequel to "Meet the Parents", in which the
name in the title is milked for far more than it was ever worth)
Gaylord Focker (Ben Stiller) and his bride-to-be
uptight inlaws (Robert DeNiro and Blythe Danner) meet Gaylord's
liberated parents (Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand) for the first
time and stay at their house.
Over a very tense first meal Mrs Focker whips out
her scrapbook of
Gaylord's childhood. She comes (0:36) to a picture of a rabbi holding a
starts describing Gaylord's bris.
The Fockers gleefully tell how the heater was broken that winter and
the mohel couldn't get "the turtle to
come out of its shell." As Gaylord protests, they
continue that that is why he ended up with a "semi-circ ... a cross
between an anteater and a..." "...German army helmet."
His mother-in-law to be picks a little ring of
something out of the scrapbook and says "Don't say you kept his
umbilical cord?" Mrs Focker exclaims, "Of course not, that's Greg's
foreskin!" Gaylord tries to wrest the book from them, but accidentally
swats the foreskin: it flies up and falls into the simmering fondue
that the family was eating.
As with Mambo
Italiano, circumcision is presented only as
something embarassing and personal. The issue is talking about it, not
having done it, even badly. A baby's glans is fused to his foreskin and
can not be made to come out without force. Incomplete circumcision can
result in phimosis
(because of the scar tissue) requiring further treatment. Parents do
not get to keep the foreskin after a brit milah - nor would they want
Life imitates art:
- Lauren-Ann Spanopoulos on Facebook, July 27, 2013
A strong-willed woman (Fatoumata Coulibaly) from
an African village battles
against, and takes great pains to prevent, ritual female
"Six girls from a rural village in Burkina Faso
escape from a 'purification' ceremony, the female circumcision ritual
that is still practiced in 34 of the 58 nations in the African Union.
Two head for the city. The other four know of a woman in the village
who, some years earlier, had prevented her own daughter from being cut.
They run to her home, where she is the second of three wives of a man
whose brother is a figure in the town's power structure. To protect
them, she pronounces a moolaadé, an unbreakable spell of sanctuary that
can only be dissolved by her word, and which is marked simply by
stretching some colored strands of yarn across the enclave's doorway.
... this remarkable motion picture [is] beautifully filmed &
amazingly acted, full of agitprop theatrics & yet as tightly
& deeply scripted - I mean this literally - as any
Shakespearean tragedy. [It] won the Un Certain Regard award [for 2004]
at Cannes & was relegated to the Planet Africa series at
genital cutting is not mentioned, though in the Muslim environment of
the film it would be virtually universal.
Compliation/thriller/horror about a movie (called
"Movie 43") that if shown will cause the end of the world.
In the segment called "Truth or Dare", Donald
(Stephen Merchant) and Emily (Halle Berry) are on a date together at a
Mexican restaurant. Tired with typical first dates, Emily challenges
Donald to a game of truth or dare. She dares him to grab a man's
buttocks, and he follows by daring her to blow out the birthday candles
on a blind boy's cake.
Emily: I am going to push the
limits here just a little bit. Are you circumcised?
whispering): Am I circumcised? That's personal...
Circumcision has never taken off where I'm from. It's not, you know,
the vogue. Um, I tend to associate it with Jewish people and we don't
have many Jewish people in Europe any more because of... the trouble.
So, ah, no. But if you would need me to get circumcised, I'm sure I... (trails
off as they both chuckle.)
The game rapidly escalates to extremes, in which
both of them get plastic surgery and tattoos, and humiliate themselves.
Circumcision is presented as an example of extreme
behaviour - when it's done to a consenting adult.
and Mrs. Iyer
A young Hindu woman, Meenakshi Iyer (Konkona
Sensharma), is travelling on a bus, entrusted to the care of a young
supposedly Hindu man, Raja (Rahul Bose). The bus is attacked by Hindu
estremists looking for Muslims, who they identify by making them drop
their pants (revealing that they are circumcised) and kill. Meenakshi
identifies Raja as her husband and he is spared, but it transpires that
he is actually a Muslim, creating conflict with her strict Brahmin
Circumcision is only an identifier.
Official summary: Bridging two worlds, MRS GOUNDO'S
DAUGHTER tells the moving story of one Malian mother's fight for asylum
in the US to protect her two-year-old daughter from female genital
cutting. Expertly interweaving scenes from Mali of girls preparing for
an excision ceremony and scenes from Philadelphia where those who have
survived the ceremony share their stories, the film demonstrates
precisely why and how Mrs Goundo fights for her daughter and her future.
Recently widowed, well-to-do
Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) is at a loose end in Depression-era
London. On a whim she buys the derelict Windmill theatre in the West
End. Her lawyer friend Leslie Pearkes (Ralph Nossek) suggests
impresario Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to run it. When she arrives 20
minutes late for her appointment with him, he is on the point of
Mrs Henderson: Who on earth are
Pearkes: This is Vivian Van Damm
Mrs Henderson: Don't be silly. That's
not a British name.
Van Damm (irritated):
In actual fact, my father is a lawyer in Bishopsgate, although some of
his ancestors are from Holland.
Mrs Henderson: Oh dear God, you're
Van Damm: As it happens, I'm not.
Mrs Henderson: But of course you are,
dear; just look at yourself. But the show business is filled with
Jewish people, isn't it. One must make do.
To encourage the shy showgirls, all the production
team including Van Damm have taken their clothes off, when Mrs
Henderson bursts in on them. Seeing him, she says:
"Why Mr Van Damm! You are
Later, she sees a headline he has tossed aside,
"NAZIS ROUND UP DUTCH JEWS", and asks after his family, building the
positive side of their stormy relationship.
Implying that all and only Jews are circumcised,
though many upper-class Englishmen of this period were too. The
exchanges are intended to illustrate her rudeness and antisemitism,
common in England at that time. It is not clear how Mrs Henderson would
know what a circumcised penis looks like.
film about espionage in the Hyderabad underworld.
Sammir Dattani plays a mukhbir (informer) who has
to assume various disguises - so many that you don’t know his real
identity. He poses as a Muslim and there is a suggestion that he has
undergone circumcision, because a gang that only allows Muslim members
will put him through a lot of tests.
In India only Muslims are circumcised. In fact of
course it would be very difficult to pass as Muslim without also being
fluent in Arabic, knowing a lot of the Qu'ran, etc.
Two Israeli undercover men
are assigned to kill Palestinians responsible
for the Munich massacres. They get into an argument; one says, "He's
probably a spy - let's take his pants down and have a look." (an
seriously believed). The second man responds furiously.
If he had been Muslim, he would have been
My Australia Moja Australia
Ten-year-old Tadek (Jakub Wroblewski), a member of
a Polish gang that preys on Jews, is floored when his mother admits
she's a Holocaust survivor. So when she prepares the family to relocate
to Israel, she tells the boy they're going to the exotic country he's
always dreamed of: Australia. Tadek['s] ease at assimilating leaves him
feeling both guilty and confident. His prowess becomes crucial as the
film shifts its focus to Tadek's shame at being intact.
... Using male genitalia as a symbol for the
immigrant experience could fill volumes for Freud, but it creates
useless, unsettling moments for audiences forced to watch a gaggle of
Israeli children trying to catch Tadek with his pants down. It’s an
ill-considered plot twist from which Drozd’s slapdash film never
(Perhaps the reviewer's own discomfort with the
issue colours his experienc.)
wife is an Actress Ma femme est une actrice
Yvan (Yvan Attal, who also
wrote and directed) is a sports writer, jealous of his wife Charlotte
(Attal's real-life partner Charlotte Gainsbourg)'s on-camera love
scenes (with Terence Stamp).
His pregnant sister Nathalie (Noémie Lvovsky) "more Jewish than your
brother", browbeats her gentile husband Vincent (Laurent Bateau):
Vincent (on the phone):
Let's ask your brother.
Nathalie: There's no problem. If he's a
boy, he's circumcised.
Vincent: Find out if he's a boy.
Nathalie: What's the difference?
Vincent: You'd circumcise a girl?
There's only a problem if it's a boy.
(In a doctor's office: we see an
ultrasound image of a baby.)
Doctor: It's a boy. Vincent: Great! A little boy! Nathalie: Don't pretend.
Doctor: For a dad, nothing like a girl. Nathalie: Dr Djaoui. You're Jewish.
Vincent: What? Talk now? Nathalie: He's a doctor.
Vincent: Let's talk to a goy doctor. Nathalie: That exists?
Nathalie: So he'll feel Jewish and
Vincent: Right, so let him decide to do
it or not. Nathalie: At a certain age, it's hard.
Vincent: That'll be a measure of how
Jewish he feels. Nathalie: Could you
do it now?
Vincent: Why have my
Nathalie: To have one like your son.
Vincent: I want him
to have one like me.
Nathalie: Your son in your own image?
Like you're God?
Vincent: Why shouldn't he? Nathalie: Get circumcised. (pause)
Vincent: On the way home from the game. (pause)
Pass me the phone, I'll make the appointment. (She passes it.)
What's it listed under? (He dials.) Hello, yeah.
Your sister's nuts!
In the main story, parallel tit-for-tattery: Charlotte demands that if
she is to be naked in a love scene, all the cast and crew must also.
Yvan walks onto the soundstage with flowers, sees them all and faints.
He goes to drama classes and other students flirt with him.
(At Vincent and Nathalie's. Yvan is
talking to Nathalie when Vincent arrives.)
Nathalie: Your son is Jewish because his
Vincent: For the Jews. Nathalie: For the goys too! Enough to
send him to the camps!
(Yvan and Nathalie are at dinner with
their parents. Nathalie answers the phone and leaves the table.)
Nathalie: In the US lots of non-Jews...
So a doctor can do it. (She returns to the table. Yvan has
been telling his parents that he and Charlotte are living apart.)
So how about me? Since your son married an actress, it's like he's Mr
Perfect. I'm going to have a little boy. We argue every day about one
of the world's great problems [presumably
Jewish-gentile relations in general, not just circumcision],
and it's all him. Fuck the little people!
Mother: The mouth on her!
Yvan: Enough! Nathalie: When they gas six million
actresses, then we'll talk.
(Vincent and Nathalie are in bed. They
begin to make love. Nathalie goes down under the covers. Vincent smiles
Vincent: Pretty good foreskin, huh?
Nathalie: Asshole! (She slaps
(Vincent and Yvan are at a football game,
ogling woman spectators.)
Yvan: Do it for her. It bothers you so
much? Vincent: I'm not Jewish, or religious.
Yvan: So who cares?
Vincent: It's a religious thing. She
goes to the Synagogue once a year.
Yvan: It's sentimental. We all have to
be white, uncircumcised...?
Vincent: We are all the same.
Yvan: Just have your son circumcised.
Charlotte and Yvan are reconciled and Nathalie and Vincent's son is
born. Charlotte greets him by name, Moses.
(In the hospital)
Vincent (to Yvan): We're having him circumcised.
... I've never cut myself so much. [?]
Nathalie: Just cut it off once and for
(They begin to argue and Yvan and Charlotte leave.)
Predictibly, circumcision is only a token for the
conflict between a husband and wife to counterpoint the conflict
between the main couple. The value of a foreskin to its owner
is not touched on.
In the song "Bliss of a Bris" the mohel carries a huge
pair of shears and one cast member turns away to vomit as the "baby" is
The credits include:
No penises were injured during the cutting of
this film. www.nocirc.org
A couple of wide-eyed boys witness the
circumcision of the baby John the Baptist. A little knife goes beneath
the bundled boy. There is a flick of the wrist, the two boys give a
startled jump and scurry off.
...typically minimising and trivialising what actually happens. Some
reviewers call this "an amusing bit".
Dead Gay Guys
"Bob & Ted's Excellent Adventure" meets "Father Ted")
Two down-and-out Irish youths in London batten on gay men to get some
money, using sex and/or theft. (The film is perceptive about their own
sexualities. Penis-size is a theme, but none are shown.) The film
deliberately includes every stereotype - queens, a fat ferocious
lesbian, an ill-hung and hence desperate dwarf, four well-hung blacks,
a rich Orthodox Jew - and "Dick-cheese Deepak" an Indian taxi-driver
with a "foreskin problem". It has not retracted in five years, and he
has not had oral sex for the same time. One youth gags, the other
solves the problem by filling his mouth with vodka, but Deepak's
reaction is so intense that he crashes the taxi, becoming Dead Gay Guy
US readers should note that the existence of
Deepak's foreskin is not at issue, only its non-retractility.
about a reluctant father. Has had generally poor reviews.
Rebecca Taylor (Julianne Moore) gives birth to a boy at the same time
as Gail Dwyer (Joan Cusak) gives birth to a girl, in spite of the
assistance of Dr Kosevich (Robin Williams). Samuel Faulkner (Hugh
Grant) and Marty Dwyer (Tom Arnold), the fathers, encounter the doctor
outside the nursery. Samuel asks him if he has been drinking. He
replies that he has, and they should have a shot together, "but first,
I'm just going to circumcise your son." and starts to go into the
Samuel: What? Marty: Shit! Samuel: Dr. Kosevich! (Samuel
runs to stop him.)
The film makers imply the additional risk is the
only reason he should be stopped, perhaps not knowing that British
fathers now almost never have their sons circumcised.
Short film. Two young men are driving on a
motorway, one (Jakob Svensmark Møller) urgently needing a comfort-stop.
He is obsessive-compulsive, the other (Jonathan Harboe Moreira) the
Tellingly, the circumcised man is "dirty", the
intact one "clean". (Hitler and John Lennon were not circumcised.
Anders Breivik, who knows?)
Onikola is the story of Kumbi (Funmi Fiberesima),
who has a firm resolve to not to be circumcised. She sacrifices
everything, including her love for Okiki (Sunday Afolabi), and risks
being rejected by her people, most of all her mother, Abebi (Bunmi
Meanwhile, on the flip side is Omosewa (Ronke
Ojo), who is circumcised and suffers ridicule at the hands of her
husband. She however develops the courage to express her feelings
about a tradition which challenges her sexuality.
"Actress, producer and media personality... Funmi
Fiberisima's first film as a producer.... Onikola
brings to light the harmful side effects of female circumcision without
flogging the viewers over the head with the message. It is a very
entertaining-romantic movie as well as complete with all the elements
that bring it home as a unique and entertaining movie. ...the movie
weaves a blend of iconic and traditional scenes with the compelling
story of love without losing sight of the issues at stake."
Romantic comedy. A Jewish family struggle to come
to terms with their son's gaysness, and his Italian Catholic boyfriend.
When the gay couple adopts a child and it makes headline news, their
families come to defend them and realize how much they love them.
In the very last scene, the infant is baptised,
surrounded by relatives. The head of the Jewish family (Saul Rubinek)
yells "He must be circumcised!". The head of the Catholic family
(Vincent Pastore) yells "No, he'll need every inch!". Everyone laughs
and walks away.
Baby is not
circumcised. An excellent reason.
Tina (Martha Plimpton) is an MC/barmaid at a gay
go-go club who describes the dancers' biographies and statistics on a
microphone for the patrons in lurid detail. She refers to one of them
as "uncut" - clearly meaning it as a positive and desirable attribute.
In this autobiographical
fantasy, the narrator (Kidlat Tahimik), a boy growing up in the Philippines, is
circumcised with his friends, in accordance with custom.
closeups, not for the squeamish.
Drama set in Vietnam.
All right, you cheese-dicks, welcome to the Nam.
I ain't getting greased, so you keep this sorry cheese-dick off my ass!
Hey... cheese-dick, you're up.
Come on, get your dick-skin on that thing! Dig!
You ain't got all day! Dig! Dig!
Clearly "cheese-dick" is an all-purpose insult -
implication: "The foreskin is disgusting" - and none of the lines
refers to actual circumcision status.
I got my request in for a circumcision! I'm
gonna get my big ass outta here!
You gonna become a rabbi?
Implying only Jews circumcise.
Self-referential drama set in Hollywood
On the original Criterion DVD release, director
Robert Altman and
writer Michael Tolkin give a running commentary. In the scene where
Griffin Mills (Tim Robbins) is climbing, naked, from a mud bath, Tolkin
"A lot of people don't know this but when I
wrote the character, I wrote it for an uncircumcised man.
Unfortunately, Tim Robbins is circumcised, but he wanted the role
really badly so we had to get a prosthetic foreskin built for him for
this scene. Look how fake it looks."
seems to have
in the book or film requires the character to be intact. While several
other characters in the book with whom Griffin is at odds have Jewish
names, there is no direct reference to Judaism, and of course to be
gentile in the USA does not guarantee intactness. The unpleasant
thought arises that Tolkin wanted Griffin to be intact because he is an
II: The Next Day
The boys of Angel High are being harassed by the
KKK, among others, for casting Seminole boy John Henry (Joseph
Runningfox) as Romeo in their Shakespeare evening.
They lure the Klansmen into the gym, surrounded by
where a Jewish teen, Brian (Scott Colomby) "circumcises" them - shaves
their heads with a "zimel" (izmel?) and perhaps
really circumcises them.
assumption is that only Jews circumcise or are circumcised. An
implication is that circumcision cures them of their bigotry ...
Price Above Rubies
Sonia Horowitz (Renee
Zelweger) is a Jewish mother who is questioning her husband's strict
Hasidism and has a baby son. At his bris, she says,
"It's like they're sacrificing him."
Her sister-in-law tells her, "Don't watch" and she replies,
though it was about them or her.
Queen of the Desert
road-movie through the Australian outback.
Trumpet, younger partner of transsexual Bernadette
dies in Sydney. At his funeral, a trumpet is on his coffin. To take
Bernadette's mind off her loss, drag-queen Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) invites
her to perform in Alice Springs. (Priscilla is their bus.) In the
outback, they talk:
Mitzi: I never heard Trumpet
play Bernadette: Play? He didn't play,
dear. Trumpet didn't have a single musical bone in his body. No,
Trumpet had an unusually large foreskin. So large that he could wrap
the entire thing around a Monte Carlo biscuit.
whole scene was cut from the US version of the film.
Australia website describes the Monte Carlo biscuit (US:
cookie) as "a coconut shortbread style of biscuit sandwiched with a
raspberry cream filling". A Monte Carlo biscuit today is 6cm x 4.6cm x
2.3cm (2.4" x 1.8" x 0.9").
film is remarkable in referring to the foreskin but not
circumcision. Circumcision was already declining in Australia when Trumpet would
have been born, so the existence of his foreskin is not at issue, only
its size. Even so, it would not have to be as large as you might think,
because the foreskin is remarkably elastic.
In contemporary Latino Los Angeles, an Anglo gay
man tells his friends about a recent sexual adventure with a young
"It was great. Eight inches...uncut!"
A rare exception, perhaps because of its Latino
context, to the theme that "The foreskin is disgusting."
A cop, trying to humor his wounded partner, says:
"Hey Andy - Two boys were sharing a hospital room. So, one boy asked
other why he's there for. So the boy says, 'A circumcision.' And the
other boy says, 'Oh man, I had that done right after I was born and I
couldn't walk for a year.'"
Andy: "That's the worst fucking joke I ever heard, John."
John: "I know, I know."
The joke has an underlying message: "Circumcision
isn't that bad."
in Cars with Boys
A couple are expecting a
girl, but when the newborn baby is presented to them in the recovery
room, he has a penis (shown for two seconds) - already circumcised and
The film makers either
think all boy babies are circumcised without the
parents being consulted, or
weren't able to get hold of an intact baby boy, or
Mel Brooks plays a travelling rabbi who enters on
a horsedrawn wagon with a sign on the side advertising circumcisions:
He pitches the idea to the Merry Men, who all say
"OK, sure, I'll try it," until Mel demonstrates the procedure using a
miniature gilloutine and a carrot.
Suddenly they all change their minds, making
excuses like, "Oh I forgot, I already had one."
In the legendary time of Robin Hood, it would have
been true that only Jews circumcise, but not that they offered it to
gentiles, or that rabbis did it. It's encouraging that it is presented
as something people would turn down - reflecting Brooks' own
ambivalence towards it?
Romance and Cigarettes
down-and-dirty musical set in the world of working-class New York,
tells a story of a husband's journey into infidelity and redemption
when he must choose between his seductive mistress and his beleaguered
wife." - IMDB
Nick (James Gandolfini) is having an affair with
Tula (Kate Winslet), a Welsh woman who "gets around".
During sex she keeps mentioning his foreskin, so he asks a friend
at work if women like circumcised penises better, and he says yes,
they all look circumcised in porno movies. He asks "Are you
"Hell no, man, that shit hurts!"
Undeterred, Nick gets circumcised. While he's
still in the hospital, his mother finds out, and beats him with her
purse, saying "We're not even Jewish!"
Later, Tula has wild sex with him, excited because
do that for her.
A worldly Welshwomen would not be surprised or put
off by a foreskin. Porn movies focus on size and otherwise use what
they can get. Implied (and false):
Foreskins are universally unusual
Only Jews circumcise
Circumcision makes sex better
The Rugrats Movie
A young (presumably female) baby says to another
in the hospital nursery "They cut my cord", looking at her bellybutton.
The boy in the next bassinet looks down his diaper and says, "you
should see what they cut on me".
inviting adults to laugh at the innocence of children and an early
start to gender rivalry, but not to consider the actual issues.
Scary Movie 4
Leslie Nielsen plays the U.S. President at a time
an alien invasion spoof of "The War of the Worlds." In a parody of how
President Bush was informed of the
World Trade Center attacks, Nielsen is visiting an elementary school
class and listening to a teacher reading about a pet
duck. Upon being informed of the alien attacks,
Nielsen first seems to care more about the fate of the
duck, then panics the children, then suggests they
move on to the book he's holding, calling it: "Rumple
Foreskin." He is corrected by an aide, who says it's
Later, Nielsen addresses the UN General Assembly
the alien threat. He begins with a mélange of
parts of old off-color jokes (a la "A priest, a
Mexican and a Texan are on an airplane. The pilot
announces ....") There are two circumcision
references in the disordered speech that follows, one
about separating the uncircumcised from the
circumcised in the group, and another that made less
While the sequences play foreskins
and circumcision for uncomfortable laughs, it was not
clearly tilted. The speech was such a mess it will
require transcription once home copies are available.
Two Chinese youths, Jason/Ah Loong (Choo Seong
Ng) and Keong (Linus Chung), are sitting in a restaurant waiting for
Jason's girlfriend, a Malaysian Muslim.
Keong: Chinese boy should not
go out with a Malay girl. They'll only be troubles later. It'll only
break your parents' heart. You have to change your name, your religion,
no more roast pork for you.
Jason: I know
Keong: They'll snip off the tip
of your little brother.
(He reaches for Jason's crotch.
Jason tries to avoid him)
Though shaky on the details, Keong is in no doubt
that circumcision is harmful.
Sex and Breakfast
Includes a scene of a sex education class
including a chart on which a circumcised penis is shown as normal.
Rose (Helen Mirren) and stepson Mikey (Cuba
Gooding Jr.) are contract killers. They spare Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito)
because she is pregnant and deliver the baby themselves, then call
seedy Dr. Don (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who brings along his girlfriend
Later, at Dr Don's office:
Dr Don: Do you want me to
Precious (taking the
baby): Hell no. They don't want you going anywhere near his
This is apparently more a swing at the character
than anything contrary to circumcision.
She Hate Me (sic)
(Comedy directed by Spike Lee) Biotech executive
John Henry "Jack" Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) is fired when he informs
on his corrupt bosses. When his former girlfriend offers him cash to
impregnate her and her new girlfriend, he is persuaded and soon in the
baby-making business at $10,000 a try. Most reviews are unfavourable.
A potential client: Is he circumcised? If not, (looks
disgusted) then I won't even get close to him.
Reinforces the tedious theme that intact penises
Ever since he was a child, the seventeen-yearold Edoardo has suffered
from a malformation of the foreskin that stops him from masturbating
and makes him insecure and ill at ease with girls. Shut up in his
sexless microcosm, Edoardo reacts with irritation to the pressures of
the outside world, which do nothing but exacerbate his insecurity. No
one around him seems to be capable of talking about anything but sex:
his friend Arturo, obsessed with the idea of losing his virginity; his
parents who urge Edoardo to make overtures to Bianca, the girl next
door who has arrived from Milan as she does every year to spend the
vacation with her grandmother; even his little sister Olivia,
frantically in search of a bitch with which to mate her dog. It will
not be the pressures of others that will release Edoardo from his
shyness but the close encounter with a girl he meets by chance and an
unexpected receptiveness toward him on Bianca’s part. Forced against
his will to emerge from the shadows in which he has hidden for years,
Edoardo will initially try to solve his problem by clumsy stratagems
before finding, at last, the courage to face his own fears.
Shriek if you know what I did last Friday
Teacher asks teenage pupils if they knew
Frankenstein was circumcised.
details needed (but the movie is so uniformly panned that it would be
inadvisable to watch it all just to find out).
about Bernie Reubens (Gregg Sulkin), about to have his Bar Mitzvah. It
clashes with the World Cup final and has to be radically scaled down.
Friend: Will you have your
tonker cut off?
Friend: My mum said when you have your
bar mitzvah you have your tonker cut off by a rabbi with a cake knife.
Bernie: It's not called a tonker, it's
called a cock and I've already had a bit cut off. (Friend's
dad looks up in astonishment.)
Gentiles commonly confuse Bar Mitzvah and Brit Milah, but the
cake knife and penectomy
are added touches. Cake knives are especially blunt. The lines are
presumably to illustrate Bernie's knowledge and urbanity, but the
scriptwriters' own knowledge of Judaism is shaky: a rabbi tells Bernie
there's nothing in "the Old Testament" about hoping your home side
loses. ("Old Testament" is a Christian expression; Jews acknowledge no
South Park Movie: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
In the TV trailer, after the word "Uncut", the
cartoon boys can be heard in the background shouting "Eeeewwwww!"
casual bigotry against intactness is one of the most insidious ways
circumcision is promoted.
For South Park, the TV series, see the TV Sitcoms pages, S-Z.
A woman is about to make love
to a man and asks him if he is Jewish. He replies, "Yes, why do you
She says, "I love Jewish men."
He asks, "Why?"
She then looks at his crotch excitedly and says, "Ohh, you know why!"
This reinforces the first myth, that only Jews (and all Jews) circumcise.
(She might as well have asked, "Are you American?")
For him to know why would assume that all women prefer circumcised
about a young rower coming to terms with being gay during a training
session camped by a lake.
One of the rowers is brought to the camp in agony.
His body is hunched up, and when they force his arms and legs apart one
lifts the blanket that wraps him and says "His foreskin is caught in his zipper."
Then some woman rowers come to complain that a man has been peeking at
them, and they identify him as the culprit. He is taken away to see a
doctor. Some of the youths joke about serving his foreskin at a
barbecue. At the end of the film he confesses to one of the women that
he had been "choking the chicken" and she slaps his face.
Having a foreskin is taken for granted. There is
only a comical suggestion that it, rather than the zipper, will be
The baby Superman
walks out of the crash-landed rocket from Krypton, circumcised.
question arises, coming from a super-civilization, why?)
Things I Never
[Cosas que nunca te dije]
In two scenes of traffic
jams, we can hear the drivers' thoughts. In the first, a man says, "Why
was I circumcised, anyway?" In the next, he answers himself, "It's cleaner and healthier, women prefer it."
Threads Khait Errouh
synopsis: Hayat, a young American woman, accompanies her dying father,
Mehdi, on a trip to his childhood home in Bejjaad - a small Moroccan
town teeming with people she may never meet, but whose lives unfold
before our eyes: Karim (Mohamed Farhat), a young boy, is plagued with
nightmares on the eve of his circumcision. ...
As each of these characters undergoes a rite of passage, Mehdi embraces
the end of his life.
of the Coment
(Koha e kometes) Germany/Albania, 2008
Upon learning that Albania is no longer under
Ottoman rule, Shestan (Blerim Destani) ... ventures forth with his men
to seek out and defend the newly named German king of Albania. ...
The makeshift troop finally reaches King Weid
(Thomas Heinze), who has ethnic problems of his own. Faced with a
choice between his throne and his foreskin (Albania's considerable
Muslim population demands he be circumcised), Weid abdicates."
She asks her mother why some boys aren't
circumcised and the mother replies: "The
better question is, why are boys circumcised?"
She goes on to explain the foreskin and how much
extra sensitivity it has, and that it is a shame that we cut them off
our sons at birth.
touch of spice
(Politiki kouzina) Greece, 2003
A drama set in Greece and Turkey.
A Turkish customer and his son enter a spice shop
owned by a Greek in Istanbul. The son is dressed in festive garments
resembling a king's or sultans's dress. While the two men talk about
politics, the boy approaches the merchant's grandson, but his father
forbids him from doing so. He explains to the merchant that the son is
to be circumcised shortly, but he will allow him to come another day to
play with his grandson.
(Later in the movie the two boys meet again as men
and we realise that the
promised visit - after the circumcision - never took place.)
Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
unfilmable 18th century literary classic becomes a comic
film-about-a-film." Laurence Sterne's 'The Life And Opinions Of
Tristram Shandy, Gentleman' is a mock autobiography renowned for its
digressions and its asides, These are paralled in this film version by
stepping out of the story into its filming.
Two Of Us Le viel homme et l'enfant
The parents of a little Jewish boy (Alain Cohen)
decide to evacuate him
at the height of the bombing of their town in 1944. He goes to stay
with an elderly couple. Jews are being rounded up and the old man
(Michel Simon) is superficially anti-Semitic, so the boy is told to say
he is Catholic, and even learns the Lord's Prayer. The drama is about
the developing relationship between the boy and the man. He has a
couple of near-disclosures, especially when he's told to bathe in the
iron bath in the middle of the kitchen. We
see his "problem", the determined old lady (Luce Fabiole) who wants to
wash him does not.
Daisy (Desiree Del Valle) has inherited, from her
abusive father, the role of circumcising all the young men in the
village, and she bristles against the expectation that she must then
marry one of them. “Let’s show all the men here our world doesn’t
revolve around their balls,” she tells her friend Botchok (Vanna
Garcia). There are several scenes of circumcisions in the first hour.
I rented the movie Tuli from
netflix. I expected, from the descriptions I'd read on various
websites, that Tuli was an anti- circumcision film,
as it is repeatedly described as the story of a young woman bucking
against traditional Filipino society and her circumciser-father.
And so it seemed, throughout the entire movie,
beginning with the horrible opening scene of children being
circumcised; the circumciser (Bembol Roco) portrayed as an evil drunk;
then his daughter, Daisy (Desiree del Valle), specifically choosing the
one intact young man in town, Nanding (Carlo Aquino), to impregnate
her. The movie is filled with depictions of the evils of superstition;
from villagers who believe that dwarves and lesbians curse
children; to Catholics who whip themselves with instruments of torture
Holy Days. The recurring theme is that all the 'bad' men in town are
circumcised, while the one kind man in town is uncut: contrary to what
the villagers believe, circumcision does NOT make the man.
At the movie's climax, the village people get
together to violently tear Daisy and her female lover, Botchok (Vanna
Garcia), from their home. It is Nanding
alone who comes to their defense, fighting off the attackers, and when
succeeds, Botchok shouts to the villagers: "YOU are the uncut ones
all!" ("supot", the derogatory term in Tagalog for intact -- as well as
homosexual -- carries the connotation of "bad".)
And yet, after all that, just like ALWAYS, the very
last scene of the movie, after spending two hours depicting their
uniqueness and independence, shows Daisy circumcising Nanding, because
he, after all, is a "REAL" man - and, like
the idiotic villagers shouted all along, "REAL" men are circumcised.
There are repeated Catholic images and scenes
throughout the movie; even
the ending credits are adorned with various Christian drawings. The
current pope has even again reminded Catholics
that they are "a church without circumcision." Why won't his church
Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story
summary: The first of three parts, we follow Tulse Luper in
three distinct episodes: as a child during the first World War, as an
explorer in Mormon Utah, and as a writer in Belgium during the rise of
fascism. Packed with stylistic flourishes, it's a dense, comic study of
20th century history, revolving around the contents of one man's
During Tulse's childhood (5'40" in), he (Richard
Pask) and his friends are playing war and explain to their friend David
(Joshua Light) that he must be Jewish because he's "lost a piece of his
Circumcision was also a class marker in the UK in
the early 20th century.
A comedy set in Ottawa in 1979, about three gay
men named Peter - one, Cort (Matthew Ferguson), is writing a book about
male circumcision; another, Koosens (Michael Achtman), is transcribing
that book in a typing agency and is obsessed with Prime Minister Pierre
Trudeau to a degree that draws the attention of a police officer; the
third, Peter Denham (Damon D'Oliveira), seduces the first two and then
betrays them both. "[a] witty, imaginative and frequently subversive
reapraisal of cinematic form... this is certainly different and
refreshing viewing." - Time Out
Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
about two dopers, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) and their
dangerous quest for a Chrismas tree.
A Jewish man who has converted to Christianity is
extolling the new-found joys of being a Christian at Christmas:
"Next week I have an appointment to get
uncircumcised. That's right, I'm going to get my snozzle!"
Implying only Jews are circumcised, even though
the two main - gentile - characters' circumcised penises both appear in
the film. Harold's is absurdly stretched when he tries to pull it from
a post to which it has frozen, and is probably a stunt-cock.
A romantic comedy about becoming a flight
At a dinner party, a veteran flight attendant,
Sally Weston (Candice Bergen) married to a rich Texan, is host to
several new flight attendants.
Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow): So
what was it like, Mrs Weston, when you started flying?
Sally: Sally, please. Oh, it was
wonderful! The exotic cities -
Christine (Christina Applegate): I hear
all those Europe men are uncircumcised.
Randy (Joshua Malina, informatively):
Uh, not all. (Mr Weston looks pained)
The humour lies in the inappropriateness of the
question, topped by the inappropriateness of the answer, with a mildly
homophobic dig at Randy's supposed promiscuity (though one
circumcised European would be sufficient for him to be correct).
On another level, it is anti-intact: he is
reassuring her that she can date a European without having to put up
with a foreskin.
Justine Parker (Laura Fraser), 17, wants to lose
her virginity. She goes to a virtual reality fair for a date with
self-styled superstud Alex Thorne (Kieran O'Brien),
but he stands her up and she goes with her friend Chas Lovett (Luke de
Lacey). In a machine intended to give her a virtual makeover, she sets
the controls for her ideal man (Rupert Penry-Jones) instead. An
explosion puts her into his body and she calls herself Jake, but has
much to learn about being a man.
Jake and Chas are in a locker-room, where naked
men are horsing around:
Jake: Jesus, would you look at
Chas: Don't point.
Jake: But he's got no - the
Chas: He's been circumcised.
Jake: Poor bastard!
scene that would probably have been turned on its head in the US.
A semi-improvised comedy.
Blaine, Missouri. To celebrate the town's
150th anniversary, an off5-Broadway director is
mounting an historical pageant. (Guffman is a Broadway theatre critic
who has been invited to the opening night.) Two of the cast - a travel
agent who has left town only once and the dentist - and their partners
are having dinner together.
Ron Albertson (Fred Willard):
How'd you find this place?
Dr. Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy,
who played Dr Wasserman in "Off
Centre" ): Well, we've been, uh coming here for many years
Sheila Albertson (Catherine
O'Hara rather the worse for wear)
What's it.. what's it..
Ron: Shhh ...
Sheila: Girl talk. What's it
like to be with a circumcised man?
Mrs [first name not given] Pearl (Linda
Sheila : I'd ask you more
about that but Ron said the whole Jew
Ron whispers in Sheila's ear. Reaction
from Dr Pearl.
Sheila: When Ron had his
surgery... when Ron had his surgery ...
All right, all right ...
Sheila: ... I said, 'Hey
circumcise it while you're at it,' you know... because I had never been
with anyone else. Ron's the only man I've been with. [This does not follow. ~75% of the
world's women have never been with any but intact men.]
Dr. Pearl: What surgery did he
Ron: A minor corrective
surgery. (to a waiter) Can we have some coffee at
the table please?
It's not minor anymore. [?]
Dr. Pearl (noticing
Ron's embarrassment): Well maybe we should change the
Ron: I had, uh, what most guys
would, um, dream of: I had penis reduction surgery.
Dr. Pearl (startled):
Ron: Penis reduction surgery.
Which there aren't many. You're gonna say, 'I've never heard of that,'
because there haven't been that many cases.
(Reaction from Mrs Pearl)
Sheila: I said, 'Ron do
something' and he said, 'Why don't you get one of those vagina
The scene continues without further reference to
Israeli-German and straight-gay relationships, among other
An Israeli intelligence man, Eyal (Lior
Ashkenazi), is hunting down an old Nazi. He poses as a tourist guide
and befriends the Nazi's grandson, Axel Himmelman (Knut Berger). They are
showering after swimming in the Dead Sea.
Eyal: So they didn't
circumcise you? I think I never saw one. You know, we used to talk
about it in the army. If it looks bigger and if it's better in bed...
Axel: I don't know. It's the
only one I ever had.
Eyal: Is everybody like that in
Axel (as they get
dressed): In Germany, hardly nobody's circumcised - except
for the Turks. In other countries of Europe...? Let me think...
Italians? Definitely not circumcised. Also the English and the French.
Definitely not. Actually, only the Muslims are circumcised in Europe.
And the Jews, of course. I think it looks better circumcised.
I see you know quite a lot about it.
Circumcision is a plot device to develop the
relationship between the men. Axel is giving away that he is gay, but
Eyon doesn't notice. Not many gay Germans would think a circumcised
penis looks better than their own - perhaps he is flirting.
Musical about a would-be Broadway actor whose CV
is switched with a stripper's.
In a song "Gays, Jews and Girls Who Need Love"
about people who support musicals, is the line:
No-one is more loyal
Than those who use a mohel.
- underlining "Judaism = circumcision"
documentary by Larry Clark about a group of Guatemalan American and
Salvadoran American teenagers in South Central Los Angeles who, instead
of conforming to the hip hop culture of their gang-infested
neighborhood, wear tight pants, listen to punk rock,and ride
Jonathan (Jonathan Velasquez) and a young woman
have been pulling their clothes off as they go upstairs. When they
reach the bedroom, Jonathan takes off his trousers.
(0:50) She: You're not circumcised. Jonathan: No, I'm Latino. Why, it looks
different? She: It looks dangerous!
(Kisses him passionately. They begin to have sex.)
A welcome change from "Eew!"
Comedy-drama about two days - around Thanksgiving -
in the lives of four Los Angeles families, African-American,Vietnamese,
Latino and Jewish.
On Thanksgiving morning, Ruth Seelig (Lainie
Kazan) is showing Carla (Julianna Margulies), the partner of her
daugher Rachel (Kyra Sedgwick), how to stuff the turkey, and
complaining about her son, Art, and his wife.
Ruth: You know they haven't
spoken in over a year? It's terrible. That's it, Carla. Just make sure
it goes all the way in the back.
Carla: Mmm, that's my favorite
Ruth: I mean, our only grandson
not circumcised, yet. It's a shanda [disgrace, scandal]. And, and, and
they spoke to the moyel in Beverly Hills about the bris
Rachel (who is pregnant by
artificial insemination, unknown to her mother): But it's up to his
Ruth: It's tradition!
As usual, circumcision is not treated seriously in
its own right, this time merely as a prop to illustrate the generation
gap, and the grandson's rights or wishes do not get a look in.
To Expect When You're Expecting
Comedy about pregnancy and parenthood. Stars
Cameron Diaz and Matthew Morrison joke nervously pre-release about the
decision how much detail to include about circumcision.
(Christopher Hitchens said, "Genital mutilation is
no joke.") Keeping the larger-audience rating seems more important than
informing parents about the grim reality of circumcising.
The preview is not encouraging and Matthew
Morrison seems to agree with his character, Evan:
In their arguments, Ewan's case for cutting is
"How is it even a question?"
People will make fun of their son
He likes sex just fine
"I'll feel shafted if he's not done." [We may hope that this means that
if circumcision is unnecessary, he'll feel that he was shafted by being
Jules's case for intactness is
There's more sensation [intact]
Circumcision is violent and
A passing nurse says "Actually a lot of couples
are choosing not to circumcise these days."
A woman listening to their conversation says
uncut guys are better and she had a blast in Europe.
In the (happy) event, the baby is a girl, so the
question never needs an answer - and the moviemakers are off the hook.
They discuss the issue a few more times – MM tries
to trivialize the idea of circ. While CD is in labor, she
mumbles something about “I don’t care about his penis.” The
issue is resolved when, to their surprise, the sonogram was wrong and
she delivers a baby girl.
Cameron Diaz told Jimmy Fallon she thinks it's
strange that men want their sons to be circumcised and aren't
comfortable with [a child having] a foreskin.
There’s reality TV stars Jules (Cameron Diaz) and
Evan (Matthew Morrison), a high-maintenance pair who argue about
circumcision purely so the writers can throw in a few dick jokes but
without the slightest degree of truth about how parents can disagree
about major decisions even before they know the sex of the child.
... There are so few moments or scenes in “What to
Expect When You’re Expecting” that don’t feel like they were processed
by a machine. “What do we need to put in this movie? Nipple pain?
Check. Flatulence? Check. Circumcision jokes? Check. Gags about how
awful dads are? You bet.”
For circumcision critics, it is a slam-dunk in
terms of pop-culture attention to this issue. Jules (Cameron Diaz) is
an LA celebrity who is determined not to circumcise her son despite the
protestations of the baby’s father Evan (Matthew Morrison). When a
tabloid magazine prints that Jules won’t be circumcising on its front
cover, the couple’s tensions over the issue escalate. The circumcision
issue is not merely addressed in passing. It is a major plot point in
When Father was
away on Business
[Otac na sluzbenom putu], Yugoslavia, 1985
A drama-comedy directed by Emir Kusturica and set
in 1950s Yugoslavia.
Early on the film, the father decides to have his
two boys, Mesa (Miki Manojlovic), aged about nine, and Malik (Moreno
D'E Bartolli), 12, circumcised. The adults throw a little party in the
house. The boys are presented and circumcised by their uncle who is a
butcher. Their father tells the butcher to "go easy" with the skin and
is told that there is "enough skin left for a good fuck".
Later on, Mesa shares a bathtub with a little
girl. He resents being circumcised since a friend of his "can stick a
stone in, while he can't". The girl tells him that her father, who is a
doctor, performs such operations and that it is better to be cut by a
suspense/horror. A Calvanistic Scottish police sergeant (Edward
Woodward) goes alone to an offshore island where the locals, led by
their Lord (Christopher Lee), have abandoned Christianity in favour of
pagan fertility rites, and becomes more involved than is good for him.
A scene in the local chemist/photographer's shop
opens with a closeup of jars labelled "Foreskins" and "Dimethyl
glyoxime" (used to detect nickel, of no apparent significance) and
tracks past jars containing "Rat Brains", a weasel, "Snake Oil
Embrocation", "Brains" and "Hearts" and ends on a tank of calf embryos.
The foreskins appear to be from adults.
This is explained by a scene that was cut from the
(Lennox leads the way into the shop.
Howie's attention is taken by a large bottle marked "foreskins".)
HOWIE: Foreskins? How do you
LENNOX: Circumcision - how
else? I pay Ewan a reasonable price for them.
HOWIE: But what for?
LENNOX: If ritually burnt they
bring the rain. But, of course, up here there's very little call for
them. Now, how can I help you?
A character is credited as "Doctor Ewan". It is
most unlikely that he would ever need to cut off as many foreskins as
appear in the jar, suggesting he did it without medical need.
tu mamá también
[And your mother, too]
Two best friends, 17 years old, spend most of
their time horsing around, swearing, smoking dope and having sex with
their girlfriends. One, Tenoch (Diego
Luna), is the son of a leading politician and a
psychotherapist (very well off). The other, Julio (Gael García Bernal), is
the son of a secretary (middle to middle/lower class) whose husband ran
off many years ago.
In an early scene, the boys are showering together
alone at a
country club. As Julio dries off, Tenoch comments on his "ugly dick."
Julio ignores the comment but Tenoch continues by saying Julio's penis
looks like a "deflated balloon." Julio tells him to "blow up my
balloon, faggot!" winning the exchange.
Later, during a road-trip with a Spanish relation
of Tenoch's, Luisa (Maribel Verdú), they banter about the relative size
of their penises.
Tenoch: Plus, Julio has a
really ugly cock.
Luisa: Oh really? Why do you say that?
Tenoch: It looks like a deflated
balloon. It has a hood on it; it's really gross.
Luisa: Mmm, yummy. Foreskins. I love
Tenoch: Well, I think a hood is just
Julio: Ah, you're just jealous 'cause
As the film goes on, they express the sexual
tension between them in class terms. Tenoch calls Julio "white trash"
and "a peasant", while Julio calls Tenoch a "spoiled preppie" and the
beneficiary of a corrupt politician father. A voice-over mentions that
Tenoch uses his foot to lift the toilet seat in Julio's home.
Circumcision is just one clear line in the sand.
The message is that boys in upper- and middle-class Mexican families
routinely circumcised, like the Americans they envy, while intactness
is a mark of social inferiority in sophisticated Mexico City, where
both boys live.
Julio is unfussed about being intact, but Tenoch
has a hangup about foreskins - not that they're dirty, but rather that
they label social class. His best friend's intactness is a daily
reminder that they're from different sides of the tracks.
"What's with all the genital
mutilation?" asks Oh, a sensitive gatherer (as opposed to
hunter), upon hearing the circumcision action plan put forth by Hank
Azaria's Abraham. Don't worry, the bearded one says. "It's a very sleek
Many a true word is spoken in jest! This could be
the first time "genital mutilation" has been used to describe male
circumcision in a mainstream movie. (Actually, Oh didn't ask that until
a eunuch in Sodom offered to show Oh his testicles.)
With its exposed corona and sulcus, and dried
surface, a circumcised penis is far from "sleek".
The most hilarious character of the whole lot is
undoubtedly the wonderful Hank Azaria as Abraham - a man who tries to
convince Zed and Oh that circumcision "is going to catch on".
Zed (Jack Black): "Let me get
this straight, you're saying you have too much cock?"
Most reviews have panned the movie.
Don't Mess with the Zohan
Mossad agent Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler) fakes his own death so he can
re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist who gives his elderly
female customers "special services" in the back room. But he is
eventually recognized and risks losing his newfound life and career.
Zohan has been staying with Gail (Lainie Kazan)
and her son Michael
(Nick Swardson) for several weeks, and had sex with Gail several times.
He reveals to them that he's an Israeli counter-terrorist:
Michael: Wow. You're an
Gail: I knew it!
Gail: Well, the Israeli part...
'cause he's circumcised.
In NYC? She has to be joking.
about a mediaeval quest.
Confronts the Last Taboo
Why are so many actors dropping their pants?
A film’s success rises or falls on the
smallest of details. And so it was that the director of this month’s
medieval stoner comedy Your Highness found himself
in a boardroom with the suits at Universal Studios, discussing every
last facet of his minotaur[, Brian Steele]’s manhood. How to light the
half-man/half-bull’s prosthetic appendage? How large should the
dimensions be? And what would the anatomy suggest about the beast’s
religious leanings? [As
though only Jews circumcise.] “We took the leap,
culturally, and we circumcised him,” the director, David Gordon Green,
Or rather, they did the Amurrican thang and they
In Pokot, a remote village in the hills of
Northern Kenya, two teenage girls start a revolution by refusing to be
the victims of female genital mutilation.
The film tells the story of how Nancy and Gertrude
stood up to their parents and their traditions and emerged as leaders
and role models for future generations of girls in their village and
their wider community.
shows circumcisions of crying male and female children (with broken
glass or a razor blade) clearly, and an infibulation. Female
circumcision is described as severe mutilation, male circumcision as
just a hygienic measure.
African Activism Against Female Circumcision Is
Focus of New Film
A new film focuses on the fight by African
“I was forcefully cut when I was 14 years,” says
Kenyan anti-FGM activist Agnes Pareyio. “I tried to resist; everybody
was calling me a coward. There was a lot of peer pressure on me that
forced me to prove to them that I was not a coward. But I hated it. So,
I grew up hating it and made sure that not my daughter, not anybody who
can listen to me, will undergo FGM.”
The village-by-village effort of education and
persuasion that Pareyio and others like her in Somalia, Tanzania,
Burkina Faso and Mali have taken on is the subject of "Africa Rising:
The Grassroots Movement to End Female Genital Mutilation," made by
Paula Heredia for Equality Now, a group that works to promote human
rights for women.
The film opens with 14-year-old Mary Solio
remembering the day she was cut. "My father decided to marry me off. I
told him no, because I wanted to continue with my education,“ Solio
says. “They beat me. They removed all my clothes and they beat me
nakedly. I ran, but they got me on the way. I cry, but nobody was there
in the forest. I cried but I don't have anybody to turn to. They beat
me the same day and they took me to the husband's home."
At least 100 million African women and girls have
undergone FGM, which involves the removal of all or part of the female
genitalia. Sometimes the remaining flesh is stitched closed, a practice
called infibulation, leaving only a tiny opening for urination and
menstruation, and making intercourse and childbirth painful and
hazardous. FGM can cause immediate hemorrhaging and death or a lifetime
of pain, disability and severe emotional problems, doctors say.
Activists fight FGM by pointing out it is not
practiced in most Islamic countries, and is not mentioned in the Koran.
In Somalia, where most girls are cut by the age of eight, the film
shows anti-FGM activist Hawa Aden Mohamed visiting a classroom. She
tells the schoolgirls that God created female organs for a purpose, and
so removing them cannot be right. "People are just trying to change His
creation," she says.
She described how she was considered crazy when she began speaking out
against FGM seven years ago. Her husband left her after others said she
was trying to spoil their culture, and she raised her four children
“In the beginning, it was tough,” Pareyio said. “My
life was in danger, because I was trying to break the silence about a
culture that was deeply rooted among the people. People believed in it
and had never looked at it or even known the dangers, or wanted to talk
about it. So, it was like I was crazy, because I was talking about the
private part of a woman, which was a taboo in Africa. Nobody can even
mention the part that I used to mention when teaching them. But I
insisted, because I knew having seen some communities who don’t perform
it, I knew that this was just another way of oppressing our women.”
Now the subject is no longer taboo. “I’m happy now
because at least everybody is talking about it openly, compared to
those days,” she says. “These days I go to the field, and say ‘Well,
I’ve called you here because I want to talk about FGM.’ So, we are
moving towards stopping it.” Pareyio also invokes her Maasai culture in
explaining why she does not let herself become discouraged by the
decades of struggle that she sees ahead. “When you go to war, always be
faithful [that you will succeed],” she says. “I have faith in me that
one day women in the Maasai community will be free from the cut."
un film de Nurith Aviv
From a review:
"Sensitively done interviews, in English and French with subtitles,
with a variety of people from various cultural backgrounds,
circumcising and non-circumcising, and especially mixed couples,
discussing their feelings about circumcision and facing the decision
whether to circumcise.
"One secular Algerian man describes how, under
colonial French rule, to be circumcised was a proud mark that one was not
French. In Paris, his family threatened to disown him if he didn't have
his sons, 6-8 years old, circumcised. His French wife was opposed. They
ultimately didn't, and he was ostracized from his family of origin. The
film honored the depth of people's emotions and conflicts, while
leaving no doubt that circumcision was a violent and sexually and
emotionally disruptive thing."
doesn't explore the religious dimensions of circumcision; the men and
women expressing their views here are not religious. However, for them
circumcision remains a major issue. Their questions focus upon this
mar[k]ing of the body, but also upon lineage, cultural heritage and its
transmission. These are particularly sensitive issues for mixed
couples, for whom the decision of whether to circumcise or not can give
rise to powerful emotions, sometimes leading to conflict.
[Not the 2009 US comedy, Circumcise Me!]
BBC Documentary by Christopher Sykes. IMDb summary:
Is it better or not for men to be circumcised?
Sudan’s unsung film hero
By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI
HE MIGHT HAVE LOST HIS sight, but Gadalla Gubara
is determined not to abandon the skills of film-making that he has
mastered over 60 years in his career. ...
In the film Circumcised (Sudan, 1999, 20 min),
Gubara makes a strong statement against the practices of circumcision
as performed in Africa, particularly in Sudan.
\ a film by Ari Libsker, 21 minute documentary in Hebrew and English,
with subtitles.. The film itself.
Interviews with recent immigrants who regret being
circumcised for conformity (2'35"):
"It was very, very stupid."
parents who did not circumcise, though their son later wanted it
"A child has to be very hard on himself to hurt
himself in a place where you learn how to love."
a man who sued his parents for circumcising him (13'22"), and Israeli
parents struggling with conformity and custom (16'26"):
"In order for him to be called a Jew, he has to
suffer these hellish experiences."
Court Cut Short
summary: Infant circumcision is a delicate subject. For some,
it stands as a religious law, impossible to circumvent; for others, it
amounts to a serious lapse from children's right to physical integrity.
This documentary gives an opportunity to men and to women to express
freely their concern with this question.
Producer: Evelyne Guay
Production Productions VF Inc.
A documentary by Eliyahu
Ungar-Sargon which examines male circumcision from a
religious, scientific and ethical perspective. "Using cutting-edge
research, in addition to interview footage of rabbis, philosophers, and
scientists, Cut challenges the viewer to confront
their biases by asking difficult questions about this long-standing
practice." Primarily about Brit
Milah, the Religious
News Service says the film "respectfully questions the
An independent review: I approached the film with a complex set of
preconceptions and, to the filmmaker's great credit, after it was over
my certainties were utterly shaken.
It would be entirely too easy to make a joke about
the subject of Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon’s thoughtful new documentary,
“Cut:Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision.” After all, Jewish
comedians have been doing that for decades. And at the beginning of his
film, one expects from its tone that Ungar-Sargon may be planning to do
But “Cut” is a deadly serious and admirably
balanced look at the medical, sociological, ethical and religious
aspects of male circumcision. The filmmaker interviews a profusion of
doctors, activists and rabbis, returning periodically to a
non-observant Jewish couple who are preparing for the brit milah of
their second son, which we see towards the end of the film.
Ungar-Sargon was himself raised as an Orthodox Jew,
and describes his uneasy investigation of this issue as one more step
in his “lifelong struggle with Jewish tradition.” As his father notes,
he was circumcised by the same mohel who had performed the rite on the
filmmaker’s grandfather and father, a detail that underlines the
significance of circumcision as a practice that unites Jewish men
Despite his own misgivings about circumcision,
Ungar-Sargon is admirably even-handed in his choice of witnesses and
the use of their statements. It would be very easy to caricature some
of the odder “intactivist” activists , and one cannot help but bristle
a little at the non-Jewish anti-circumcision organizer who says, “I
don’t prescribe for Jews at all,” with a certain air of disdain, or the
non-observant Jewish anthropologist who takes obvious delight in
pointing out the preponderance of Jewish physicians doing research to
support the purported medical benefits of the procedure.
would bristle even more at Intactivists who do
prescribe for Jews - damned if we do and damned if we don't, it seems.
Ungar-Sargon: Would you argue that Jews should discontinue
the practice of circumcision?
Harry Meislahn (NOCIRC
Illinois): No, I don't - I don't prescribe for Jews at all. This is an
absolute loser, I'm not Jewish. One of the other things about it is
that I would maintain that a Jewish baby feels pain just as a
non-Jewish baby feels pain, and there are Jewish men, just like
non-Jewish men, who are real angry that this was done to them so at
that point I withdraw from this field because it generates lots of
heat, very little light, and I understand a lot of people have used
arguments against circumcision - hundreds of years ago - to convert
Jews from Judaism, and Jews know that.
As I studied the history of American circumcision, the names that came
up repeatedly with most prominence - Wolbarst, Ravich, [Fink], Weiss,
Schoen (still active today) - the names - with the single exception of
Thomas Wiswell (who's the main proponent for [circumcision to prevent]
Urinary Tract Infections) - but with that single exception, really in
recent times, I think it's accurate and reasonable and fair to say that
the names of Jewish physicians are inordinately prominent.
men being insincere in some sense? Did they have "ulterior motives"? I
really don't think so. I think in their own conscious minds, what they
were doing was recommending a Jewish practice that had turned out to be
a very good medical practice, one that everyone should adopt.
at all influenced by the fact that they were Jewish? I think it's
pretty hard to conclude that they probably were not. I would say that,
whether consciously or unconsciously, they would have been pleased or
satisfied to know that a Jewish practice that had been vilified for
centuries was now being accepted by their fellow physicians -
non-Jewish physicians - as something worth doing. (Prof. Glick
spells this out in more detail on page 183ff of his book.)
Yet it is hard not to be moved when both a midwife
and anti-circumcision speaker and the woman rabbi who runs the Reform
movement’s Berit Milah program speaking passionately about the
responsibility to protect our children. The question remains, of
course, whether that is best done by circumcising the male infants or
eschewing that practice.
In a sense, the entire film is leading up to the
final scene between the director and his father, who has been a highly
articulate but intransigent defender of Orthodox ritual. Over the
course of making the film, Ungar-Sargon returns to his father in his
home study repeatedly, but it is only in their final chat that the
older man admits that even he is prepared to acknowledge that the
question is a fraught one and that he can live with his son’s answer
(or lack thereof).
The questions surrounding male circumcision do not
admit of any easy answers but, to his credit, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon has
resisted the easy laugh and the pat response to convey something of the
thorniness of the issue. He has confronted in a specifically and
intensely Jewish way, and that is all you could possibly ask of a
filmmaker under these circumstances.
Cut is a sound piece of
documentary filmmaking on a difficult issue.
A 29-minute dramatised
documentary about Somalian FGC.
Synopsis: The film tells the
story of a small contemporary North African family having to deal with
the traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). The main
focus of the film falls on a young mute woman, Haadiya, who has lived
with the effects of FGM all her life. Now that the time has come for
her own daughter, Karida, to be circumcised, lost memories about her
own experience start to return and fill her mind with doubt. However, a
culture that demands the infabulation for social acceptance makes her
situation more complex. When Tawvah, bearing the scars of her own
infabulation, shows up to do the circumcision on Karida, Haadiya is
forced to make a quick and drastic decision. The film investigates the
cultural reasons for the continuation of this practice in North African
societies. During this short period, actual experiences and scientific
facts are condensed into the lives of the five fictional characters,
predominantly on the four female characters, who are forced to evaluate
their roles as women bound by tradition as well as the life-long damage
this cultural practice inflicts on their minds and bodies. The film
thus examines through the genre of docudrama the cultural and personal
reasons why such a practice still exists in Africa today. Trailer
Day I Will Never Forget
UK (TV), 2002
A low-key documentary with
From a review:
Set in the Somali community of Nairobi, Kenya,
where female genital mutilation is still a common practice, The
Day I Will Never Forget takes a many-faceted look at the
complex social and cultural forces that continue to thwart effective
reform. A Western-trained nurse confronts a new husband with his wife's
need for corrective surgery, only to see him put his fear of being
shamed by his friends before his wife's well-being. A men's fraternity
leader, wearing traditional dress, claims that the clitoris is no
different from the foreskin and therefore must be removed. Middle-class
mothers sit around a living room rationalizing their own suffering and
justifying why they have passed the practice on to their daughters. But
filmmaker Kim Longinotto ... provides a larger context for the practice
with a look into Somalian marriage customs... Ultimately hope is found
in a group of young girls who petition the court for a restraining
order against their parents.
- Jeannine Lanourette
San Francisco Film Festival
Justifications offered for FGM are tradition, to keep girls from
sleeping around, and cleanliness. The elder argues that the clitoris is
the male organ in the female, as the foreskin is the female organ in
the male, and claims God has ordered both to be removed. Opposition to
(female) circumcision is largely Christian-based, and religious
justification for it vaguely Muslim (the man who puts this forward is
sure there is something in the Qu'ran about it.) The most harrowing
scene is of a young girl, who has just watched her elder sister being
mutilated, being suddenly and unexpectedly held down and subjected to
the same process.
US (TV), 2001
A video documentary
about two Jewish couples wrestling with the decision whether to
circumcise their sons. Karen Markuze made the video as her master's
thesis in broadcast journalism.
Circumcision: Eight Physicians Tell Their Stories
US (TV), 1998 (20 mins)
Seven family practice
physicians and one emergency room physician in Santa Fe, NM, struggle
with their consciences as they examine the ethical and human rights
issues of infant circumcision. Three of them tell why they stopped
circumcising, the others why they continue to circumcise or to advocate
circumcision and discuss what might lead them to change their minds.
Available through NOHARMM:
Circumcision in Indonesia: The Weight of Tradition
In Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the
world, female circumcision remains a firmly rooted tradition. Starting
very young, little girls must undergo genital mutilation. In some
Indonesian provinces, the vast majority of young girls are circumcised.
Today, many ulema [Muslim community] members
fervently argue in favor of the necessity of female circumcision. Their
influence is strong, and they are forcing the government to back down
on its plans to ban female genital cutting.
We followed Arista, a three year-old little girl
who must go through the procedure according to her family’s wishes. Her
mother drives her to Bandung in Southeast Jakarta where a circumcision
ceremony is orchestrated by an Islamic group.
Who is responsible for perpetuating this religious
tradition? Why is the Indonesian government allowing medical staff to
continue to perform female circumcision? And who will help the country
break free of this ancestral tradition?
Hidden In Plain
Sight: Trauma in America
US, in production
"The effects and costs of traumatic stress,
America's largest health care crisis"
This documentary proved to be
more anti-circumcision than its makers ever intended: the bris they were filming
went wrong. The mohel
told them to stop the camera but they carried on. The baby had to go to
hospital, where he developed an infection, went into intensive care and
needed antibiotics, oxygen and drips. Excerpts from this circumcision
were used in a mainly pro-circ US current affairs item, with the
outcome not mentioned. The makers of "It's a Boy!" were, predictibly,
denounced as anti-Semitic and the filming was blamed for the mishap,
yet brisot are commonly videotaped by relatives, as in "The Nanny", and the
producer, Victor Schoenfeld, is the Jewish father of a circumcised son.
He also presents details of two babies who died
as a result of their circumcisions and an interview with the mother of
a third who almost bled to death. It reveals cases of permanent genital
disfigurement, claiming that, at a conservative estimate one in 50
circumcisions leads to serious complications. The film also shows
the River on your Right: a modern cannibal tale
Includes documentary footage
(virtually irrelevant to the subject, an elderly anthropologist, Tobias
Schneebaum, who wrote an important book of the same title) of Muslim
ritual circumcision of terrified Malaysian boys.
close-ups, not for the squeamish.
Me and the
Jewish Thing Mig og Jøderiet Denmark, 2009
about, and by, Ulrik Gutkin
Through conversations with his wife, Signe, we
learn that Ulrik, who is Jewish, and Signe, who is Christian, do not
share the same opinion about the need for circumcision. Ulrik, a 4th
generation Danish Jew, feels strongly that their son should be
circumcised. Signe, however, sees circumcision as a "medieval" act of
mutilation and cruelty.
The film covers four years of the couple's life,
spanning from the last weeks of Signe's pregnancy, through the first
few years of their son Felix's life. Interwoven with Ulrik and Signe's
ongoing debate, we learn about Ulrik's Jewish history, his attachment
to his religion and culture. In addition to questioning the physical
purpose of circumcision, Signe wonders why it's important to Ulrik to
become more Jewish, [and] make a film about this Jewish topic, when
Judaism wasn't a big part of Ulrik's life prior to having kids.
Ulrik struggles to articulate why he feels
strongly in favor of circumcising their son. As it becomes clear to him
that their son won't be circumcised, he looks for other ways to impart
Judaism on Felix, though he and Signe again feel differently about
of St. Vincent's: Saying NO to Circumcision
US (TV), 19
In 1992, more than 20 nurses
of St Vincent Hospital, Santa Fe, NM, refused to perform any more
circumcisions, and in 1995, two of them, Mary Conant and Betty Katz
Sperlich, founded Nurses for the Rights of the Child. This is their
Produced by Danae Elon - "a
personal examination of the ritual of male circumcision. In it, Elon
travels the world with her husband after the birth of their son."
No decision made about a newborn son is as consequential and
irreversible as one made by parents around the world, often without a
second thought: What to do about that pesky foreskin? [Since Muslims, Filipinos, South
Koreans and tribal people cut years later, and neonatal circumcision is
residual in the Commonwealth, in fact only in the US (and Israel) do
parents have to give it even a first thought.]
To filmmaker Danae Elon, who grew up in Israel but is a secular Jew,
the entire ritual of circumcision is ridiculous. But her partner,
Phillip, comes from a traditional French/Algerian Jewish family and
believes wholeheartedly in the tradition of the bris. So what else does
a documentary filmmaker do but explore the issue on the big screen?
Intimately opening her own personal experience to
the world, Elon (Another Road Home, TFF '04,) takes a witty approach to
a complicated and serious subject, turning Partly Private
into a fun and entertaining movie that is as much about family as the
subject of circumcision. Traveling around the world during her
pregnancy, she examines how people from other cultures in other
countries feel about what she considers an absurd and outdated ritual,
and yet Elon never allows the film to become overly preachy for one
side of the debate or the other. Partly Private is
an ironic and clever look at a topic to which most new parents may
never give enough thought.
It all began when Philip, my partner told me about
a story his father had told him: “In Algeria”, he said, “there is a
tradition of putting the foreskin in the couscous dish after the
ceremony”. “In the couscous dish?????”
We never really spoke about what we would we do if
we had a boy… It was only when I became pregnant with my first child
that I realized that other people’s dilemmas were now my own. My
husband humbly came to me one day and said: Danae, we will do it…,
right? I realized that my response was both completely simplistic: “No!
Are you insane?”, and yet contained a
bizarre atavistic reaction that would inevitably bring me to agree with
him, one that was laced with ancient historical baggage. I
decided that this would make the perfect dramatic setting for a
documentary on circumcision. I
wanted the film to be most of all witty and humorous and
not a dogmatic report on the issue. I realized that it was a way to
expose something about our nature as human beings rather than make a
statement about whether circumcision is right or wrong.
Making the film and mostly writing and editing it
held within it immense potholes, I knew I was going to be walking a
very thin line of between taste and balance. It
was my intention to portray everyone taking sides on this issue as
equally crazy. Using my personal story was a mechanism of
touching upon intimate truths that regard us all, a prism through which
to look at relationships and sacrifices that go into making a family.
What were some of the biggest challenges
you faced in developing the project?
I knew that taking sides in this story would be its
downfall. It is a highly controversial subject that easily becomes
banal and redundant. Avoiding this redundancy was the most difficult
part of making the film. It was also a challenge to find humor within my search and not
include graphic materials.
We look forward to Ms Elon's witty and humorous
documentary about Female Genital Cutting, portraying everyone taking
sides on this issue as equally crazy, finding humour and not including
Judaism is a religion that welcomes the act of
questioning. But few question the act of circumcision, which is
commanded to Abraham by God, according to the Bible.
In her documentary “Partly Private,” which
premieres at the Tribecca Film Festival, Danae Elon wonders whether or
not she should circumcise her son. She is leaning against it and her
father is against anything religious. Yet her husband, Philip, wants to
keep the tradition of his father and his grandfather, who was a rabbi.
Should she stick to her guns or acquiesce to her husband’s wishes out
of a love for her spouse?
In her quest to learn more about circumcision, Elon
travels to Italy, Israel, Turkey and England, but gets arrested on the
Upper West Side of her native Manhattan. Elon visits a sex-toy-shop, a
church, a spot where Abraham may have circumcised himself and a
location where Jesus’ foreskin might have been stored.
The film is fascinating, humorous and disturbing.
You’ll be mystified as you see the “Circumcision Palace,” in Turkey
where boys between the ages of six and nine dress in elaborate outfits,
wave to clowns and go on a ride, only to be to shot up with Novocain
and then circumcised. One boy cries
that he doesn’t want to go through with it.
In London, Elon meets a mohel, or one who performs
the circumcisions. He proudly shows
her a glass jar of foreskins he’s kept. In Calcutta, a man
manages to keep a straight face while insisting that they had Jesus’
foreskin but it was stolen in the 1980’s. In Washington D.C., there are
even men with an odd contraption they claim helps them restore their foreskins. Early
on the film, a young man shows off his song
and illustrated book about his angst over being circumcised.
“What is wrong with me?” This is the question Elon
wonders aloud, trying to figure out why she questions the tradition of
circumcision, where the majority of Americans do it without thinking so
much about it. It doesn’t help when Dr. Howard Shaw shows how a medical
circumcision is done in the hospital. Using a dummy, he show how the
baby is strapped in and a metal device is sued to expose the foreskin
on the metal, making it easier to cut and allowing less blood. This
seems much worse than the ritual circumcision, which takes less time.
Shaw is a funny character, but the scene where he shows how a baby is
strapped down will make men want to turn away and might actually make a
mother think twice about having a circumcision in the hospital. It
surely doesn’t make Elon feel any better. [They
might think more than twice if they could see a real circumcision close
up - surgical or ritual.]
Some interesting tidbits are that England’s health
care system stopped covering circumcision, whereas it became prevalent
in the United States after World War II because it was though to be
more hygienic. The film gets a bit sophomoric, when Elon asks young New
York City women if they prefer their men to be circumcised or
uncircumcised. She’s told that based on the HBO show “Sex and the City,”
it’s better for the men they date to be circumcised. ...
Elon goes to places you wouldn’t expect to go and
manages not to trivialize the ordeal. Her husband Philip is a likeable
character and it’s clear that circumcision
is important to him, even though he isn’t religious himself.
And Elon’s father, noted Israeli writer Amos Elon, tells her to ignore
a psychoanalyst’s claim that symbolic castration and is motivated by a
husband’s jealousy of the newborn. [Pay
no attention to the man behind the curtain!]
The film is in English with subtitled dialogue in
Hebrew and Arabic 1 hr. 24 minutes
This all serves to underline Leonard Glick's point
that "whenever circumcision is discussed ... the defining motif is
for a Day
US (TV), 2000
In 1998, after speaking at a
congress for Indonesian midwives, Royal Philips went on a cruise in the
Banda sea. At the island of Sumbawa, she witnessed the circumcision of
41 terrified boys, in circumstances very similar to the Schneebaum
documentary above. Her documentary makes one small but very telling
connection with routine infant circumcision.
for the squeamish.
Quest for the Missing Piece
look at the practice of circumcision" Dir: Oded Lotan. 52 mins
Described by Brandon
Jodell as "endearing".
The Quest for the Missing Piece could also be
titled “the unkindest cut of all.” It’s a funny, disconcerting romp
through the debate over circumcision. Using a gentle touch in a
sensitive area, filmmaker Oded Lotan takes us on a bris tour: a Jewish
baby, a Moslem seven-year-old, and an adult Russian-Israeli soldier.
Circumcision may be a Biblical mitzvah, but many commandments are
routinely ignored by most Jews. Why not this one? Lotan introduces us
to his gay, goy lover (oy); to his mother, who endorses circumcision,
but not gay love (oy yoy); and to a Tel Aviv anti-circumcision group
dedicated to having “intact” Jewish children (oy yoy yoy!). Does
secular circumcision survive because Jews are afraid their children
will no longer “look like” them or because this sign carved in flesh is
really what binds the tribe?
Bill Maher: And then there is
circumcision, I mean we're used to it now, but don't you think when
they thought this up there wasn't some guy saying, "Now let me get this
straight; you want to do what?"
Indeed, if circumcision were not prevalent, we
would all regard it as too outlandish to contemplate for ourselves or
anyone we know. In the beginning, as now, it was probably always done
by the powerful to the powerless. Only recently, threatened by HIV (and ostracism), have any
significant numbers of healthy adult men volunteered to be circumcised.
Cut Babies, Don't They?
US (TV), 1999 (30 mins)
Subtitled "one man's struggle
against circumcision". Angered by his own circumcision, James Loewen
documents anti-circumcision protests, creates a series of satirical
photographs about doctors who circumcise, lobbied politicians, and
chalks slogans on busy sidewalks. He is also restoring his foreskin.
Available from NOHARMM:
Truth About Gay Sex
UK (TV), 2002
This UK documentary, aimed at
a heterosexual audience, mainly takes intactness for granted, but the
only direct reference to the foreskin is to say it can be retracted for
oral sex, and
a discussion of anal sex uses a (US-made?)
diagram of "The Male Reproductive System" on which the penis is
a discussion of how gross penises may appear
shows only intact penises
it covers such byways as rimming (oral-anal
sex) and fisting, but not the only thing that gay men can do that a
heterosexual couple can not, docking.
Body, Whose Rights
US (TV), 1995
Uses footage of a
circumcision and interviews with restoring men and others hurt by
circumcision to build a powerful case.
Available from NOHARMM:
Greece, 425 BCE
Aristophanes, contrasting the pleasures of peace with the sorrows of
A group of run-down, poorly equipped Thracian
mercenaries called Odomantians are being offered to the Athenians to
aid the defense against Sparta.
Dikaiopolis (an old farmer, the
main character): Odomantian balls! And while we're in the area (examines
their genitals) What on earth has happened here? Tell me, who
cut the leaf off your fig?
Theorus: They are excellent
light infantry, and for two drachmas a day [a generous sum]
they will overrun the whole of Boeotia for you.
Dikaiopolis: Two drachmas for
that lot, with not a whole prick between them!
translated by Alan H. Sommerstein, Penguin Classics, 1973
"Who docked the Odomantian cock?
... They don't even come with foreskins!"
Arrowsmith, ed., "Aristophanes: Four Comedies"
Translated by Douglass Parker
University of Michigan Press, 1969
This seems to be a clear expression of the belief
that circumcision damages masculinity.
Greece, 423 BCE
Aristophanes, mocking Socrates as being in "cloud-cuckoo land".
Chorus: My Comedy's a modest
girl: she doesn't play the fool
By bringing on a great thick floppy red-tipped
To give the kids a laugh....
translated by Alan H. Sommerstein, Penguin Classics, 1973
The Greeks considered the glans to be obscene. A
red-tipped phallus would have belonged to a circumcised Egyptian or
Phoenecian (leather intact phalluses were part of the costume in all
comedies, including The Clouds).
The first time Christopher Campbell converted to
Judaism, he changed his name to Yisrael and got circumcised. He became
a Reform Jew.
The second time he converted to Judaism, he became
a Conservative Jew. He got circumcised again.
The next and final time he converted to Judaism,
he became an Orthodox Jew. And yes, he got circumcised again.
At that point, says Yisrael, “Circumcision is not
a religious covenant. It’s a fetish.” ...
Conversations (with my penis)
New Zealand, 2014
Fringe comedy by Dean Hewison, covering four
decades in the life of Tom and Tom's Penis, played by a woman in a
penis costume with a hard and detailed glans and ridged [by keloid
scarring?] sulcus stitched to a cloth
shaft painted with veins, with a fur hem and balls hanging below.
The only set is chairs, a table, and a side table
with beer and coffee.
The 70 minute show is in five dialogues
monologues by Tom's Penis (TP). The dialogues take place when Tom is
15 (embarassing erections / masturbation/chafing)
25 (courtship / trying to get laid / Premature Ejaculation)
- Monologue: getting caught in a zip, "the third-worst pain I ever
35 (infidelity / Sexually Transmitted Infection - "the second-worst pain I ever experienced")
- Monologue, TP tells of "the worst pain I ever
experienced, just a few hours after I was born. I saw the doctor
approach me with a metal thing, and he was smiling. Then he cut my tip
off! You liked it, you sick fuck! If I ever get my hands on you... "
45 (testicular cancer) The doctor who tells Tom he
may have testicular cancer, and must
have his testicle removed just in case, is male, and TP thinks TP
recognises his voice as the doctor who cut TP at birth. Tom has to
restrain TP from attacking the (invisible) doctor.
55 (Erectile Dysfunction/Viagra)
TP's one mention of the "tip" is the only
reference to Tom's foreskin, yet the chafing, the PE, the failure to
protect him from STI, and the ED are all related to his being
or Bagels and Butchery
One of ten playlets in the sequence,
"Pew-ish: Artists Responding to the New Jewish Identity," given a
staged reading on June 26th 2014 at the Judson Memorial Church, New
Israel and Circumcision Top List of
Concerns in New 'Pewish' Plays
The Pew Survey
of American Jewry came as a shock to the chattering classes ...
anybody with eyes could see that interest in the religion has dwindled
But the decline was much steeper than anybody expected. ...
David Shmidt Chapman, an energetic young theater director, ...
was inspired to commission short plays from ten Jewish playwrights who
usually don’t write about religious issues. ...
standout was “The Covenant,” or “Bagels and Butchery,” by Ken Weitzman.
In this playlet, new parents debate whether they should go through with
their son’s bris when the mohel who shows up is crosseyed. It’s an
amusing beginning to a serious subject, especially when the wife isn’t
Jewish: the word “mutilation” comes up a lot.
Jake Goodman is
charming as David, an ambivalent secular Jew tortured by his indecision
about the excision, and Megan Ketch is appealing as the sharp-tongued
but loving wife and mother. And, as a Jewish father, I can attest to
how well the play captures the horror of parents facing the insanity of
Cut/Uncut: A Play Against Circumcision,
first performed in Purchase, NY December 4, 5, 6, 2008.
Drama Studies senior James Dier directs his senior project, his
play entitled Cut/Uncut: A Play Against Circumcision.
In Cut/Uncut, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of
corn flakes, gives a speech about sexuality from his 19th century
ideals as a story unfolds behind him
of a young couple about to have their first child, a boy.
act is set in a rugby changing room. In a practice heard but not seen,
an ambitious but unsuccessful cop known as Clean covertly kicks his
captain, Ken, in the head (in order to take over the position), and the
issues around this - fair play vs winning - are discussed (largely in
the nude, since they're headed for the showers), mainly by Tupper the
win-at-all-costs coach, and Foreskin (real name Seymour), a
non-conformist universty student.
In a rugby match between the two acts, Clean kicks
Ken again, and during the second act (set at the after-match party) Ken
dies in hospital. Foreskin's lament, for Ken but also for rugby, which
he is giving up, and for human values, closes the play.
There is only a passing reference to circumcision,
and that ambivalent:
Moira (Foreskin's girlfriend):
Why the funny names ... Foreskin? I never noticed it. Foreskin: Are they that unusual ...
Honey? Moira: All right. Foreskin: Progress has a lot of chops to
answer for - trees, animals, sensibilities of all kinds, what's a piece
of skin? Moira: Can cover a lot of sensibilities. Foreskin: Ha ha. Moira: Well? Foreskin: Pretersensual pain - the chop
I missed and have always been bound for.
playwright Greg McGee says he based the name on someone nicknamed
"Foreskin" because his real name was Fawcett.)
Since 1981 the play has been revived several times, and the title is so
familiar that at least six newspaper articles about circumcision have
used it as a title, and variants have been used on unrelated topics,
such as "Forwards' Lament" about Rugby and "Foreshores Lament" about
seashore ownership. From this it may be concluded that the concept
"foreskin" has no negative connotations in New Zealand.
A radically revised version was first broadcast on
New Zealand TV on October 19, 2003. Renamed "Skin and Bone", the lament
is replaced by an upbeat hymn of praise to rugby, Seymour's nickname is
reduced to "Skin" and he explains it to Moira as being because he used
to be skinny, "all skin and bone". This could be because the decline in circumcision in New
Zealand means a foreskin is no longer the distinguishing
feature among men of rugby-playing age that it was in 1981.
Alan Bennett about a rehearsal/workshop of a play about a (fictitious)
reunion at Oxford in 1973 between W.
H. Auden and Benjamin Britten. Before Britten arrives, Auden
has an appointment with a rent boy, Stuart.
Auden: Tell me about your other
customers. Are many of them uncircumcised? ... I was circumcised at the
age of seven, not a good [time].
Stuart: Well, I meet more
uncircumcised at the bus station than [in the Oxford colleges]
Stuart accurately describes the class difference in
circumcision in England in 1973. Circumcision itself is not an issue
(except for Auden - Stuart is more interested in Auden's facial
wrinkles). The dialogue illustrates Auden's lack of inhibition about
sexual matters (compared to Britten), and is a springboard for the
outer-play cast to discuss how much the inner play should expose
Play by Arthur Miller set in the German-occupied
French town of Vichy in October 1942. The Germans have
rounded up ten men they suspect are Jews, and plan to deport them to
Some of the ten are in denial, others are shocked
and bewildered, but gradually the truth is revealed to them as their
identity papers are scrutinized and they are checked for circumcision,
the central event of the play.
("Only Jews are circumcised" was almost true in
France in 1942.)
choreographer Michael Parmenter's autobiographical solo piece
"My tonsils and foreskin ran off together when I
- coinciding with the arrival of a new stepfather.
Removal of tonsils and foreskin together was so
common in the mid-20th century that Tonsillectomy and Circumcision was
abbreviated to "T & C".
Moth farewells Costard with "Adieu!" Apparently
mishearing him - or pretending to - Costard replies
"My sweet ounce of man's flesh! my incony
[pretty, delicate] Jew!"
(iii 1 142)
In modern, literal English, perhaps: "Me with this cute foreskin? Some
Jew!" On stage, he would probably use some business to indicate his
Solo play by Terrence McNally about diva Maria
In a cutaway scene the actress plays both Callas
and Aristotle Onassis and, as Onassis, says that in return for her
glamour and fame he gives her his “thick uncircumcised Greek dick”.
There is no reason Onassis should mention being
(Greek or) intact - a detail only salient to the (American) playwright.
Callas' first husband was Italian, and there is no reason to suppose
she knew any other kind.
History of gay men in New Zealand by Ronald
Triferio Nelson, based on the book by Chris Brickell, with a cast of two
During World War Two:
Rangi: How, pray tell, am I
expecting, you ask? To be truthful, Ma'am, your Johnnie takes his
little ole Yankee Doodle and sticks it up my...
Johnnie (an American
on Rest & Recreation in New Zealand): “Little ole”?
But all Americans are hung like horses. Everybody knows that. (to
the audience) He should talk, half of what Rangi had was
fucking foreskin! In fact, he had enough foreskin to upholster the
backseat of a ’39 Chevy coup'.
[At that time
the circumcision rate of both Americans and New Zealanders would have
been about 50%]
In the present, Trevor, a Māori, and Simon, a
Pākehā (non-Māori), are admiring a carved wooden box:
Trevor: It’s a waka
huia, box for taonga, a box for treasures.
Perfect for the bedside table don’t you reckon? You know, for amyl,
condoms and lube, well, maybe a few somewhat smaller toys.
Trevor: This is amazing
Simon: Look at that, they’re
[carved figures on the box] sixty-nining. (Pause)
Pretty hung for Maori...
When Jessica prepares to run away from her father
Shylock to marry the Christian Lorenzo, she promises to bring some of
her father's money with her, and Lorenzo's friend Gratiano jokes that
"...by my hood, a gent[i]le and no Jew." (II iv
His "hood" in this context is his foreskin, Shakespeare borrowing an
existing oath (used previously by Chaucer in "Troilus and Criseyde")
perhaps in reference to a monk's cowl.
Circumcision is never directly mentioned in the Merchant.
Shylock proposes that if Antonio fails to pay his debt, Shylock will
take a pound of his flesh "in what part of your body pleaseth me." (I
iii 150). But "flesh" was a euphemism for penis, so an Elizabethan
audience would understand that Shylock intended to circumcise and/or
castrate Antonio. Only in the trial scene does Portia remind Shylock
that the flesh is "to be by him cut off / Nearest the merchant's heart"
(IV i 232-3) and Shylock admits '"Nearest his heart," those are the
very words.' (IV i 255) - though he (or rather Shakespeare) may have
intended the words to mean that Antonio's foreskin was the dearest
thing to him.
In Shakespeare and the Jews,
James Shapiro points out that "Shylock will cut his Christian adversary
in that part of the body where the Christians believe themselves to be
truly circumcised." (quoted in Glick,
p 104) Thus, Shapiro points out, forcing Shylock to convert to
Christianity is a particularly accurate turning of the tables:
Shylock's baptism "will metaphorically uncircumcise him," and "the
circumcising Jew is metamophosed through conversion into a gentle
Hebrew about the life of Moses, composed and designed by Yoav Gal
Mosheh Offers a Testament to. . .
Bible sci-fi awaits you at Here
Moses's early life unfolds in slow-moving, abstract tableaux set to
shimmering songscapes: the patriarch's babyhood boating among the
reeds; his sojourn at the Egyptian court; an emergency circumcision by
his wife as a prophylactic measure against demons (a scene left out of
The Ten Commandments) [referencing
Exodus 4:24-6, which does not mention Moses being circumcised or demons]
is a very uneven experience. ...
Jacob Gallagher-Ross in the Village Voice, February 2, 2011
Musical revue about male
anxieties, largely presented in the nude by nine men.
Includes a number, "The Bliss of a Bris",
sung by a Jewish man "remembering" how he was feted and admired up to
the moment of his circumcision, which is presented as comic, without
blood or significant pain - or any change to his penis, visible
throughout. The emphasis is on the change in treatment of his sexuality
Bliss of a Bris
said it was
And toasted it with wine
And behaved as if it had a
Of a Bris
When they all congregate to
Admire your penis
And the glare
Of their idolization
Is brighter as Venus.
As they thrill at the sight
Of its dazzling perfection
As they grasp
How sublime it will be
When it has an erection
at the length
And the marvelous angle
They kvell at
And they plotz at
It doesn't get better than this
The bliss of a bris
suppose that these roses
Are going to be thrown every day
Ah, but then...
They snip off the tip
Once you've shown it
And that's when they say
"Don't expose it again!"
& Lyrics by Marie Cain
Another song, about varieties of penises,
includes a chant "Cut! Uncut!"
but the fact goes unremarked that most of the men in the show are
circumcised, or all, depending on the production - or seem to be:
As Othello kills himself he
reminds his hearers that depite his despicable killing of Desdemona, he
did the state some service:
I took by the throat the circumcised dog, and
smote him - thus. (v ii 354)
Othello, being a Moor, would have been, like his Turkish foe,
circumcised. It is not clear that Shakespeare knew that.
Regardless of these ambiguities, there is no doubt
that Shakespeare valued the foreskin and deplored circumcision.
an itinerant seller of books and amulets, returns home after a long
sales trip to find his adored wife, Susan,
stripped to her petticoat and in the arms of the shirtless Zyosha, a
Cossack [and therefore intact] tailor.
Though Susan insists she’s done nothing wrong,
Tsurik chastises her
She moves back in with her parents.
In Act Two Tsurik immediately regrets forcing her
departure based on circumstantial evidence alone, but he reminds
himself that if Susan slept with Zyosha, he will never be able to win
her back, quoting Bereshit Rabba (the midrash on Genesis) to the effect
that it is hard for a woman who has slept with an uncircumcised man to
separate from him. “Perhaps,” he says, “I might have been able to
satisfy her if only my parents of blessed memory hadn’t subjected me to
a ritual circumcision at the age of eight days!” Alas, his condition is
irreversible, and he has no choice but to rummage among his papers,
find his marriage contract and begin divorce proceedings.
“Not so fast,” an unearthly offstage voice
declares. Tsurik is frightened and wonders whether he is hearing the
voice of God, an angel or his next-door neighbor, Lazer. “You’re
wondering what it would be like to be uncircumcised,” the voice says.
“See for yourself whether it makes any difference.” As thunder rattles
and sparks fly, Tsurik is transformed. Peeking into his pants, Tsurik
says, “What a schmuck!” [=penis, in this context]
Susan admits that she still loves Tsurik but that after he was on the
road for ten years she had herself declared a widow by a rabbinical
court. “I couldn’t wait any longer,” she says. “But why Zyosha?” he
asks. “Because,” she explains, “Zyosha claimed me. He is your long-lost
marriage requires the brother of the
deceased to marry his brother’s widow (if and only if there was no
issue from the original marriage). The
upshot is that Tsurik and Susan will once again take their vows beneath
a wedding canopy.
But before the wedding takes place, Tsurik once
again is left alone on the stage. He beseeches God to restore his
member before his wedding night. Miraculously, God responds. “When you
say ‘restore,’” he says, “do you mean to the original way or how it’s
been since you were circumcised?”
agrees to return Tsurik to his circumcised state. “But you realize,”
God tells him, “that now you’ll never know what it’s like to…”
“I don’t want to know,” Tsurik says.
“Then,” God says, “you probably also don’t want to
know that you never had a brother, either.”
After a brief blackout the wedding music begins.
Unsurprisingly, one point of all this is to
reconcile Jewish men to being circumcised, and not to wonder what