there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime."
"The dog did nothing in the nighttime."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
Sir A. Conan Doyle,
One way circumcision is perpetuated is by ignoring its
existence. This is especially so in the sexual field, where to mention
it would inevitably bring its disadvantages to light.
about the existence of the foreskin
textbooks ( ! )
Campbell-Walsh Urology (!)
Editor-in-chief, Alan J. Wein M.D. Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine, Chief of Urology, University of Pennsylvania
The Complete [sic]
Human Body by Dr Alice Roberts, DK Publishing (2010)
"Making full use of new medical procedures and imaging
techniques, The Complete Human Body is the
definitive guide to the development, form, function, and disorders of
the human body, illustrated with unprecedented clarity by new
computer-generated artworks and the latest medical and microscopic
imaging. Exploring the body s form and function in greater depth than
any other popular reference..." - Amazon
"...it does not once describe/depict an intact penis.
All mammals are born with a foreskin. 70 to 90 % of the world's men
HAVE their foreskin. ...
The book fails to provide any information at all about the penile
foreskin, the functions, the highly specialized nerve endings like the
[ridged] band and the Meissner's corpuscles, the special antibodies
contained therein which actually help stave off infection, including
protection from HIV/ AIDS, and so forth...." - a customer review
Medical Dictionary at The Free Dictionary,
definition of penis.
Image from Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. © 2007 by
Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. The entry for "foreskin" is not
Textbook of Medical Physiology
Guyton, AC, Hall, JE.
10th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company; 2000. p. 921.
Reproductive and Hormonal Functions of the Male
THE MALE SEXUAL ACT
Neuronal Stimulus for Performance of the Male
The most important source of sensory nerve signals
for initiating the male sexual act is the glans penis.
The glans contains an especially sensitive sensory end-organ system
that transmits into the central nervous system that special modality of
sensation called sexual sensation. The slippery massaging action of
intercourse on the glans stimulates the sensory end-organs, and the
sexual signals in turn pass through the pudendal nerve, then through
the sacral plexus into the sacral portion of the spinal cord, and
finally up the cord to undefined areas of the brain. Impulses may also
enter the spinal cord from areas adjacent to the penis to aid in
stimulating the sexual act. For instance, stimulation of the anal
epithelium, the scrotum, and perineal structures in general can send
signals into the cord that add to the sexual sensation.
Sexual sensations can even originate in internal
structures, such as in areas of the urethra, bladder, prostate, seminal
vesicles, testes, and vas deferens.
New Atlas of Human Anatomy
General Editor Thomas O. McCracken
The first 3D Anatomy based on the National Library of Medcine's Visual [sic]
This book was given a half page in Barnes &
Noble's 2002-3 holiday gift book catalogue, where the author's
achievement is described as "Dazzlingly realistic imagery" "Years in
the making" "Precise in every way."
On the book's dust cover panels we are assured the
visually the exact forms of the body and all its parts" and "All the
images are anatomically correct... One only has to look at [the
illustrations presented in this book] to see that there are minor
discrepancies beween these images and the textbook examples - the
missing tooth, the removed appendix. [but
no mention anywhere of the missing foreskin].
The Virtual [sic] Human's enormous advantage over
any other representation of antatomy that has come before is that it is
real, based on an actual body, without generalisation. It is the way we
The Visible Human Project® is "the
creation of complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional
representations of the normal male and female human bodies." The corpse
of an executed criminal was scanned and sliced at 1mm intervals.
On page 155, in the "The Male Reproductive System", two
penises are depicted, without explanation, without a square millimeter
On page 149, in "The Urinary System", a standing male
figure (frontal view) is also without foreskin, as is the figure on
page 107 in "The Endocrine System".
All four illustrations imply that the reduced penis is
the natural male human condition. Unsurprisingly, the words 'foreskin'
and 'prepuce' are not in the index, and nor are they in the glossary of
this Atlas of Human
Anatomy. So much for 'anatomically correct' and
'precise' -- they must
have new definitions.
Thomas O. McCracken, is described as a medical illustrator, former
professor and director of biomedical illustration and communication in
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Colorado State University,
who has taught medical illustration and gross anatomy, co-authored
books, illustrated hundreds of journal articles and text books, and
has masters degrees in Medical Illustration, Anatomy and Physiology
the University of Michigan. Strange, then, if he'd never seen an intact
penis in his life.
Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology
Elaine Nicpon Marieb
Benjamin Cummings (2011), 656pp
"it only showed circumcised. " - a reader on Facebook
"I searched and found "proper diagram" in chapter 14 in the
reproduction section ... It does label the foreskin, but unless you
were looking for it, you wouldn't really know what they're labeling." -
The University of California, San Diego,
Practical Guide to Clinical Medicine website
has a photograph called "normal male genitalia"
in which the penis is circumcised.
Pocket Anatomy: A complete guide to the Human Body for
Artists and Students by Christopher Joseph, New Holland,
2006, "based on Gray's Anatomy". All penises are shown flayed. (Gray's
Anatomy - of course - has a detailed description of the foreskin.)
Complete Book of Men's Health
senior editor Penelope Crean
Mitchell Beazley (Octopus), UK, 1999.
No mention of the foreskin or circumcision. The only
illustration of a penis is erect, in cross-section, with no hint of a
foreskin. The double page spread on the stages of sexual arousal is
entirely based on Masters
and Johnson, admitting they have been criticised for
over-generalising, but says "Masters and Johnson's text remains the
standard point of reference."
Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male
Alfred Kinsey, 1948.
No mention of the foreskin or circumcision. A
significant but unknown proportion of men born in the
USA before 1930 would have been circumcised.
Health Care website
"Male reproductive anatomy":
The male reproductive structures include the penis,
the scrotum, the seminal vesicles and the prostate.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as
the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's
accreditation program is the
first of its kind, requiring compliance with 53 standards of quality
and accountability, verified by independent audit. A.D.A.M. is among
the first to achieve this important distinction for online health
information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial
reviewers . A.D.A.M. is also a
founding member of Hi-Ethics (www.hiethics.com) and subscribes to the
principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).
Other sequences begin with pictures of circumcised
penises identified as "normal anatomy". When this lack was pointed out
their Education Support departnment replied, "There are many images
with and without foreskin as there are people with and without." There
are amputees, but would an anatomical picture of a leg have a foot
An anatomical model
pictures of the same model.
(This seems to be a cut-and-pasted blog, with no
information about the surgical procedure shown.)
Jones and Bartlett's online Paramedic
Review of The Male Reproductive System illustrates
the foreskin -
- but does not idenitfy or test for it, though it tests for and
identifies the rectum, anus and pubic symphysis - not normally
considered parts of the male reproductive system.
"His G-Spot (and 7 Other Hidden Moan Zones)",
Cosmopolitan magazine, June 2008, p121, covers everything from prostate
massage to the ear, the chest, nipples, scrotum, raphe, and frenulum:
"This band of tissue has more nerve fibers
intersecting it than any other body part does..." [except the foreskin].
The word "foreskin does not appear in the article.
How to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed by
Graham Masterton and Liz Coldwell, Black Lace (Virgin), London, 2004,
chapter 5 The Perfect Penis:
The plum-like head of the penis or glans (sometimes,
because of its shape, called "the helmet") is full of hypersensitive nerve endings.
Probably the most sensitive part of the whole organ is the frenum [no, only the less-than-whole organ]...
Extended Massive Orgasm by Steve
Bodansky and Vera Bodansky, Vermilion, London, 2000. The chapter "Know
Your Body" explains and illustrates the clitoris, the clitoral hood and
its retraction, and says
No mention of the frenulum, let alone the penis's "own hood", its
thousands of nerves, its exquisite sensitivity, or the way it moves
against the glans as the penis thrusts in and out, making other
lubricant unnecessary. The term "apex" is not in common use. (The book
uses a number of words including "peak" "tumesce" "do" and "squirt" in
- "More nerves fill the clitoris than fill the head of
the penis: approximately eight thousand nerves, about twice as many as
the penis has." (p 51)
- "The apex, or the underside of
the head of the penis, and the clitoris develop from he same
embryologic tissue and are considered homologous. Homologous means "to
be similar to" and it describes similar structures that share a common
origin. ... It's been determined that only the uterus lacks a
homologous organ in men." (p 57)
- "It is also thought that the clitoris moves against
its own hood as the penis thrusts in and out," (p 58)
- In a section on "Masturbation for Pleasure - for men
-" it says "We recommend you use Vaseline for this exercise."
"...narrow your focal point to your apex (the underside of the head of
the cock, which is the most sensitive area)."
The chapter "How do you do?" has 3 1/2 pages (89-93)
about "Touching a Man" with no reference to his foreskin.
The Complete Guide to the Penis, in Tiscali
Health. A caption "Prepuce" on an illustration of a dissected
penis points to the corona. There is no other reference.
"Sex for Life: The Lover's Guide to Male
Sexuality" by David Saul, MD. Apple Publishing, Vancouver,
1998 - does not refer to the foreskin or circumcision in the text or
the index, only in two of the jokes with which he ends each chapter.
One has the punchline
"Don't worry," said the tailor excitedly. "When you
rub the wallet a little it turns into a briefcase."
- which admits that the foreskin is erogenous
tissue. The penises shown in a few small drawings are all
"Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating
Male Sexual Energy" by Mantak Chia and Michael Winn, Aurora Press,
Santa Fe, 1984,
- other than ambiguous photos, shows circumcised penises as if normal.
"Male Sexuality" by Bernie
Zilbergeld, PhD, "The first book that tells the truth about men, sex
and pleasure" (Little, Brown 1978), in 11 pages about the penis, does
not mention the foreskin or circumcision. Drawings of two intact
flaccid penises in a group of six and one possibly intact erect penis
in a group of five are not identified. The only anatomical
cross-section diagram is of a circumcised penis (identifying only
"erectile tissue" and "urethra").
"For many men the head is the most sensitive part of
the penis, especially around the ridge that connects it to the shaft of
That ridge is the remnant of the foreskin remaining after circumcision.
That in itself should be indicative.
The Marriage Art by John E.
Eichenlaub, M.D., Mayflower-Dell paperback © 1961, reprinted 1965,
1965, 1965, 1966, 1966, 1967 and 1967, nowhere mentions the foreskin or
"Most nerve centers contributing to sexual excitement
lie near the vaginal opening in the female and around the penile head
in the male." (p24)
The final trigger of male sexual excitement is the frenulum, the thin
fold of tissue just beneath the penile head. This fold and the small
area of tissue adjoining are a man's keenest sexual triggers." (p58)
The blurb says:
A doctor speaks:
"Dr Eichenlaub's book is frank, complete
and to the point ..."
-Richard R. Fliehr, M.D.
Word, a site for New Zealand teenagers, mislabels a
circumcised glans as "foreskin /kirimata":
These productions anomalously portray penises that would
actually be intact as circumcised:
The movie "Sex
and Breakfast"(US, 2008) includes a scene of a sex
education class including a chart on which a circumcised penis is shown
- A newborn baby in "Big Love"
- A baby born in the street in "ER"
- A penis grown from human DNA on the back of a mouse
in "South Park"
omitting the foreskin
The Incredible Machine, National Geographic Society, 1997
The normally scrupulous Scientific American ran an
article in August 2000 by Irwin Goldstein and the Working Group for the
Study of Central Mechanisms in Sexual Dysfuntion on "Male Sexual
Circuitry". The otherwise admirable article recognises the existence of
the foreskin only in a picture of an ancient Greek herm.
Its diagrams of penile anatomy show a flayed penis, the nerves emerging
from under the glans:
The New Zealand Listener, April 15
An article about the funding of \/iagra for prostate cancer survivors,
using an illustration attributed to "Getty". A search of Getty Images
on "male genitourinary" finds several others portraying the normal
penis as circumcised.
The glans appears
to be turned three-quarters towards us. The veins encircling the shaft
end at the glans without explanation.
Evolution and Human Behaviour
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 00:44 GMT 01:44 UK
is a competitive beast
Scientists believe the shape of the penis may have
evolved to help men remove the semen of love rivals during sex.
Tests led a team of US researchers, headed by
Professor Gordon Gallup, to conclude that the penis acts as a "semen
displacement device" and its shape has evolved in part to displace
another man's semen.
The team from the State University of New York
believe the thrust of the penis during sex may help to clear a woman's
reproductive system of a previous lover's semen.
They tested their theory in experiments using
latex phalluses, an artificial vagina and a mixture of starch and
New Scientist magazine reports they found the
coronal ridge of the penis, found where the glans, or head, meets the
shaft, could scoop out more than 90% of the cornstarch mixture with
just one thrust. A phallus with no coronal ridge only managed to remove
35%. They found the depth of thrusting was also important. A
three-quarter thrust was found to clear out less than 40% of the
mention of the contrary action of the foreskin in all this. Did the US
scientists even remember that it was there for most of our evolutionary
'Far fetched' theory
Mr Derek Machin, a urologist at University
Hospital, Aintree, said the theory seemed "far fetched".
"The research might very well be accurate, but I'm
not convinced that just because the penis does something like this it
was necessarily designed to have that effect."
The research is published in the journal Evolution
and Human Behaviour.
In the issue of 14 September 2002, in an article ("Frontiers" p 14) on
the growing of penile tissue in vitro, a
cross-section of a penis is shown, circumcised for no apparent reason.
"The Myth of Monogamy"
"The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People"
by David P Barash PhD and Judith Eve Lipton MD, Freeman, New York, 2001
has a page (167-8) about the size and shape of the human penis and the
possible role of its corona
glandis in removing previous partners' sperm from the vagina,
but no mention of the foreskin.
"Body Bazaar: The
Market for Human Tissue in the Biotechnology Age" by Lori B. Andrews
and Dorothy Nelkin blows the whistle on the ethics of tissue research,
patenting of DNA and genomes, and the harvesting of body parts, from
the dead as well as the living (including their use in art).
Its index does not include the words "skin" "foreskin" "circumcision" "Apligraf (TM)"
Chapter 2, "Biocommerce" (rather mysteriously subtitled
"The People in the Body") focuses on the medical trade in body parts,
- but not foreskins.
- pheromones (in sweat)
- stem cells
- ovarian tissue
- the meninges of the brain and
It is, nonetheless, an
excellent resource for legal precedents for challenging this
A sexual theme park!
Contrast this with the Penis Day
celebrations in Japan. Wikipedia entry
A "sex theme park" called "Love Land," featuring a Phallus Garden, was
opened in 2004, on Jeju Island, Korea. Apparently none of the many
phalluses there are intact.
reprinted at Nospank
Rage Behind Islamic Terror
FrontPageMagazine.com, October 4, 2001
ALL SERIAL KILLERS, almost without exception, are
abused as children. The kind of people who hijack a plane with innocent
people and drive it into a building with thousands of other innocent
people are related to this phenomenon.
When sociopaths rape and kill, they do not see
their victims as human
beings, but only as objects. This is because the sociopaths were
themselves, at one time, used as objects - as their bodily integrity was
repeatedly violated. The rage that results from sexual abuse is one
but when combined with living in a dysfunctional culture of sexual
repression and misogyny, where love is reduced to violent domination,
is quite another. ...
The sexual privileges that are allowed in Islamic
permitted to men. ... A deep-seated fear of, and hostility to,
individuality prevails, and its main expression exists in misogyny.
Socially segregated from women, Arab men succumb
behavior. ... The male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy,
not, since it is rationalized that he is not yet a man.
...As the scholar Bruce Dunne has demonstrated,
sex in Islamic societies is not about mutuality between partners, but
about the adult male's achievement of pleasure
through violent domination.
silence around this issue. It is the silence that
legitimizes sexual violence against women, such as honor crimes and female circumcision. It is
also the silence that forces victimized Arab boys into invisibility.
Even though the society does not see their sexual exploitation as being
humiliating, the psychological and emotional scars that result from
their subordination, powerlessness and humiliation is a given.
Traumatized by the violation of their dignity and manliness, they spend
the rest of their lives trying to get it back. ...
[Unmarried males'] sexual outlet mostly includes
victimizing younger males -
just the way they were victimized. ...
It is ...no surprise that many of these males
find their only avenue for
gratification in the act of humiliating the foreign "enemy," whose
masculinity must be violated at all costs - as theirs once was.
Violating the masculinity of the enemy
necessitates the dishing out of
severe violence against him. In the recent terrorist strikes,
violence against Americans served as a much-needed release of the
terrorists' bottled-up sexual rage. Moreover, it served as a desperate
pathological testament of the re-masculinization of their emasculated selves.
is silence in this article around the circumcision of virtually all
Arab boys - at an age they can remember it. It is the same silence that
legitimises the victimisation of boys by circumcision throughout the
world - but especially the US.]
Jamie Glazov holds a
Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Soviet
Studies. He is the author of 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist.. ...
writes the Dr. Progressive advice column for angst-ridden leftists at
EnterStageRight.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The entire article
may be seen on a separate page.
"Crossroads: The Quest for
Contemporary Rites of Passage" edited by L.C. Mahdi, N. G. Christopher
and Michael Meade, contains 49 articles about initiation. Circumcision
is not mentioned once. Asked why, Mahdi replied, "we intended that
"Crossroads" would focus mainly on rites of passage at adolescence."
Historically, circumcision is by far the most common rite of passage
for adolescent men.
"Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill" by
Col. Dave Grossman. He writes about TV, movie and video game violence
turning boys violent, and how military indoctrination is to turn a man
into a killer but, challenged to consider circumcision, he scoffed,
"Right, cutting off a boy's dick makes him violent."
"The Shrine of Jeffery Dahmer" by
Brian Masters (Coronet/Hodder & Stoughton, 1993) discusses the
infant Jeffrey's vaccinations, breastfeeding, an operation for inguinal
hernia ("an invasion near his genitals") and their possible effects on
his self-image - but not circumcision. (Whether he was circumcised or
not we still do not know, still less what effect this might have had on
his self-image and subsequent career as a serial killer; but a late,
remembered circumcision does seem to have been influential in a similar case.)
"Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a
Maverick Criminologist" by Richard Rhodes
"Angry Young Men" by Aaron Kipnis
and articles about unnecessary surgery
You Need This Surgery?
Millions of Americans are having operations on
their knees, backs and sinuses. Should you?
By Dr. Ranit Mishori, PARADE Magazine
More on this in Health & Fitness
Courtesy of PARADE
More than 70 million Americans face surgical
procedures every year. Are they all necessary? Probably not. Even the
simplest operation is a serious undertaking. “No
surgery is minor,” says Dr. Thomas Russell, executive
director of the American College of Surgeons. There
is always a possibility that something can go wrong when someone sticks
a sharp blade in your body.
Sometimes surgery is the only available treatment.
In other cases, however, less-invasive options should be tried first.
Whether or not you go under the knife may even depend on where you
live. “There’s evidence that in some parts of the country, certain
procedures are overdone,” says Dr. Russell. [One
procedure is overdone in all
parts of the US.] “But other communities take a
conservative approach and require you to go through hoops and hurdles
before you have surgery.”
... Knee surgery ... Back surgery ...
Sinus surgery ...
Ultimately, elective surgery is about making you
feel better. And it’s you, the patient, who must decide the right
course of action for your needs, carefully choosing the time, the place
and the doctor. Educate yourself about any procedure and ask questions.
You must be convinced that the benefits of what may be a short-term
solution to your problem outweigh the risks.
Questions To Ask About the Surgery
- What are the risks and benefits?
- What are the latest techniques and surgical
- Is there evidence that this surgery is effective?
- How many people achieve full recovery?
- How long is the recovery?
- What can go wrong?
Questions To Ask About the Timing
- Do I need the surgery right now?
- Do I have other options?
- What happens if I wait a while?
- Can I wait too long?
BY MARTHA COVENTRY
On New Year's Eve, I
sit with an acquaintance and talk. We are nearing the end of a long,
pleasant evening. My friend, also a writer, leans towards me into the
little circle of privacy we've created "So
you mean what happens to African girls?" she asks, after I
tell her what I am working on. "No,"
I say. "I mean what happens to children in the United States."
Or rather, what happens to girls...
As late as 1937, Holt's Diseases
of Childhood. a respected medical-school text, stated that
the author was "not averse to circumcision in girls..."
This is the only use of
the c. word.
Over the past 50 years,
medicine has established standards for female and male bodies. ...
Girls should have vaginas fit for future intercourse, and boys should
have urethral openings at the tip of the penis.
...so the true tip of the penis, the
foreskin, is cut off. But this is not what she means, she's referring
to operations to "correct" hypospadias,
where the urethra does not emerge from the tip of the glans.
children a year have genital surgery in the U.S.
Experts say the vast majority are girls who lose parts of their
clitorises and, less commonly, little boys who are changed into girls
in an attempt to give them what doctors believe will be a better life.
|The true figure is approximately 1,200,000
children a year...
Journalist John Colapinto
recently wrote a book called As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who
Was Raised as a Girl. It's about the boy John Money put
forth as evidence that we can make a child any sex we want if we get to
her or him early enough.
... but no mention that David Reimer's
troubles stemmed from a botched, unnecessary circumcision.
After reading of [John
Money's PhD thesis arguing against genital reassignment surgery] and
knowing what followed - the
long-unexamined practice of cutting into children's genitals to make
them more acceptable - the practice seems like a sad,
... but the sad, avoidable, mistaken
practice of cutting into healthy boys' genitals to
make them more acceptable remains unexamined a bit
...we're appalled by
countries that routinely clitoridectomize their daughters. But we still
treat a bigger than average clitoris on a child as fair game.
With all its wilful
blindness to male circumcision, this article does make the point that -
even today - doctors will partially or wholly clitoridectomise baby
girls at the drop of a hat if their clitorises are "too big", and all
the familar "locker-room"-type arguments will be wheeled out.
The struggle against genital
mutilation - whether of boys, girls
or children of other gender
- is one struggle.
Ms Coventry has written another article, below.
On The Issues
The Progressive Woman's Quarterly
The Tyranny of
Most Intimate Violation
by Martha Coventry
Sexual conformity at the point of a knife is being
forced on women whose genitals are declared not "normal" [and on baby boys whose genitals
are perfectly "normal"] -- with devastating
... Clitoral surgery on children is brutal and
illogical, and no matter what name you give it, it is a mutilation. When I use the
word mutilation, I can hear doors slamming shut in the minds of doctors
all over this country. John Gearhart, a pediatric urologist at Johns
Hopkins, has said, "To compare genital mutilation of young girls in
Africa to reconstructive surgery of a young baby is a giant, giant leap
of misrepresentation." ... Gearhart's mistake is to judge surgery only
by the surgeon's intent, and not by the effect on the child....
Of the notable feminist voices raised long and
loud in outrage over traditional genital surgeries practiced in parts
of Africa, which are now denounced as "female genital mutilation"
(FGM), not a single woman has said a word about the equally mutilating
practice of surgically destroying the healthy genitals of children in
their own country. [And in
her treatment of circumcision, Ms Coventry carries on that tradition.]
... Could their silence be because they don't know what is happening in
American hospitals? It's possible, but this issue has received media
coverage in the past year, and many of them have had the facts
explained to them in person or in writing.
I could speculate that these women don't want to
take on a foe as formidable and familiar as the medical profession, and
that it is simpler to point fingers at more barbaric countries. They
may not want to dilute their cause with the sticky subjects of sex and
gender that surround the issue of ambiguous genitalia [and "normal" male genitalia].
Each woman has her own reasons for turning away
from this issue. But I challenge them to pay attention to the fact that
in hospitals just down the street in any big American city, five [no, 3,300]
children a day are losing healthy, erotic parts of their bodies to
satisfy a social demand for "normalcy." There is no Federal ban to save
them. The surgery is left out of the law against FGM because it is
deemed "necessary to the health of the child on whom it is performed." [Boys do not even have that much
protection. Circumcision may be legally performed for any reason or
none.] But as social psychologist Suzanne
Kessler at the State University of New York at Purchase points out,
"Genital ambiguity is corrected not because it is threatening to the
infant's life, but because it is threatening to the infant's culture." [or rather, to the parents'
and parents believe society will reject a child with atypical genitals,
and the child is made to pay with her or his body for this shortcoming
of our culture. What is happening in American hospitals to healthy
children is just as mutilating to the bodies -- no matter how exquisite
the surgical craftsmanship -- and violating to the souls of these
children as FGM. And frequently, the surgical craftsmanship falls far short of exquisite.
The strict sexual agenda for bodies in America
extends to little boys as well. [Yes!
- and then, more silence:] To grow up to be a
real man, a boy will have to be able to do two things -- pee standing
up and penetrate a vagina with his penis. If a little boy has to sit
like a girl to urinate because his urethra exits somewhere along the
shaft of his penis rather than the tip (a condition that can occur in
as many as 8 out of 1,000), he may be subjected to many disheartening
surgeries over the course of his childhood to correct this "defect,"
and be left with a lifetime of chronic infections and emotional trauma.
And if the baby is born with a "too-small" penis that doctors decide
will never be big enough to "successfully" penetrate a woman,
physicians will probably make him into a "girl" through surgery and
hormone treatments, because, in the words of one surgeon, "It's easier
to poke a hole than to build a pole." [And
if a baby is born with any penis at all, US physicians will probably
remove his foreskin.]
In the 40 years since surgical intervention to
"correct" genitals that are viewed as abnormal was first prescribed [and in the 120 years since
circumcision was first prescribed for "moral hygiene", i.e. to hinder
masturbation], treatment protocols have rarely
been questioned. After all, it is much more comfortable for doctors to
assume all is well than to start digging around to find out if it's
really true. Until recently, all discussions of what is done to
people's sexual bodies have been hidden safely away in the pages of
medical texts, where real lives are only "interesting cases," and
pictures of genitals are disembodied curiosities or teaching tools.
Many doctors would like to keep things that way. For example. Dr.
Kenneth Glassberg, a pediatric urologist associated with the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), insists that people who speak up and tell
their stories are doing a disservice by "scaring patients away."
genital surgery on children is out of control. As the
practice has careened along unexamined for decades, illustrious careers
and reputations have been made, consciences have been swallowed, and
terrific damage has been done. For
a doctor even to hesitate before operating takes tremendous effort and
self-reflection. The need for babies to have genitals that look typical
has been perceived as so unquestionable
that surgeons travel all over the world to perform surgery on children
free of charge as a "humanitarian gesture."
Dr. Justine Schober challenges her fellow surgeons
to realize that "when you do [this kind of] surgery on someone, you are
responsible for them for the rest of their lives." ... No one is naive
enough to say that a life in a body seen as abnormal is a ticket to
bliss. But it is not the bodies of
these children that are wrong, it is the way people see them. And if
these children grow up and want to change their bodies one day, that
will be their right. Nobody, but nobody, no matter how loving, no
matter how well-intentioned, should have the power to steal precious
parts of a body from a child before she or he even gets started in life.
Martha Coventry is
currently writing a book about childhood genital surgery in America. [We wait with bated breath to see
what it will say about circumcision - if anything.]
She lives and works in Minneapolis.
On The Issues. Summer '98, Vol. 7, No. 3 / Web
They can not argue that circumcision is omitted because they confine
themselves to women's issues, since an earlier article asks Do
feminists need to liberate animals, too?
surgery is a violation of the human right to genital
integrity. To grant the validity of part of that right is not to deny
the validity of another part.
of “Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan”
The Independent Institute
September 24, 2007
...I start with an argument for personal choice, for the
right of every person to make peaceful choices with her or his own
body; this human right transcends gender and culture. For me, opposing
FGM is not about saving African or Arab women from making a non-Western
choice; adult women should make their own choices with their own
bodies. What I oppose is the imposition of FGM upon unconsenting women
or upon girls who have not reached the age of consent. When someone
imposes FGM upon another, then the procedure becomes an act of violence
against an innocent person. Intervening in the act is as valid as
rescuing a woman who is being raped. I dismiss the protestations of
those who wish to impose FGM on four-year-girls in the same manner as I
dismiss the rapist who complains that I’m interfering with his cultural
view of women. I similarly disregard complaints from cannibals, slave owners, foot-binders and
those who conduct human sacrifice [...and...?].
The common denominator: these people use violence to impose their
cultural beliefs despite the great harms inflicted. They claim a
‘right’ denied to their victims, the right to choose a cultural
practice. To me, infibulating a four-year-old is the very definition of
cultural imperialism, not to mention mutilation.
McElroy did, however mention Male Genital Mutilation in a 2002
essay for Fox News.]
Grand Rapids & Detroit News
|Friday, October 19, 2001
By KATHLEEN LONGCORE
it a girl or a boy?"
Booth News Service
In a book published last year, "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was
Raised as a Girl," author John Colapinto wrote about his own [no,
David Reimer's] failed surgical transformation. Born a boy
and re-made into a girl [after
a more than usually botched
circumcision destroyed his penis], he
still felt like a boy despite large doses of female hormones.
"The Undergrowth of Science:
delustion, self-deception and human frailty" by Walter Gratzer (Oxford
University Press, 2000). Specifically about "the way false theories and
imagined phenomena sometimes spread through the scientific community"
(as distinct from deliberate fraud and "scientific lunacy"). Chapter 7,
What the Doctor Ordered, is about
- but not circumcision. Notwithstanding, the book is a good one, with several passages
applicable to circumcision.
- how treatment by bleeding (phlebotomy) overstayed its
welcome, lasting well into the 19th century
- a now-forgotten "ailment" called "ptosis" or "dropped
organs" which was treated by surgery to hold them up, at least until
- colonic irrigation and its monstrous sibling,
- excision of the colon
- implanting of testicular extracts ("monkey glands")
- drinking salts of radium (causing an unknown number
- oöphorectomy - removal of the ovaries - for
- prefrontal lobotomy and leucotomy
and babycare books
"Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the
Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood" by Naomi Wolf (Doubleday,
2001). Most of the book is about the birth of her daughter and the
horrors of episotomy, caesarian section and unfeeling doctors, but the
epilogue is about the birth of her son, with more of the same.
Circumcision is not mentioned. Perhaps, given the bad reviews this book
has had for its self-pity, it's just as well.
"A Guy's Guide to Pregnancy:
preparing for parenthood
together" by Frank Mungeam. Beyond Words Publishing Inc, Hilsboro,
Oregon, 1998. It includes sections on vasectomy and sex after birth,
but not circumcision.
"Everything Your Baby Would Ask...if
only he or she could talk" by Kyra Karmiloff and Annette
Karmiloff-Smith. Golden Books, New York, 1999 - No mention of
circumcision, let alone "Hey Mom, why would you even think
about cutting off part of my peepee?"
"The Father Book: Pregnancy and
beyond" by Rae Grad, D Bash, R Guyer, Z Acevedo, M A Trause and D
Reukauf. Acropolis Books, Washington DC, 1981.
And the winner is...
Everything Get Ready for Baby Book
From buying the right gear to
preparing a room
by Katina Z Jones
pages of babies' names
about astrology, Chinese astrology and numerology for baby
a passage headed "Hey, where are
they going with my baby?"
(about him/her being taken for tests) and -
not one word
Dishonourable Mention: "vigorous forms of
"The World of the Newborn" by Daphne & Charles
Maurer, Basic Books, New York, 1988, p. 213:
"He feels discomfort
from intense lights and sounds, bitter flavors and smells, cold,
and other vigorous forms of
[Endnote: The baby's reaction to circumcision is described in Gunnar et
al. in Child Development, 1985.]"
(Gunnar et al. actually describe disturbances in sleep and elevated
cortisol levels after circumcision.)
There is no other mention of circumcision in the 240 pages of text.
and TV about maleness and manhood
"Iron John: a book about men" by
Robert Bly, Addison-Wesley, 1990
This book, much-hyped in its day, about the "mythopoetic" construction
of maleness, has a 30-page chapter called "The Wound by the King's Men"
including a one-page section called "A wound to the genitals" - and no
mention of circumision.
"Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers:
Testosterone and Behaviour" by James McBride Dabbs with Mary Godwin
Dabbs, McGraw-Hill, 2000.
"This difference between the sexes is reflected in
the initiation ceremonies of men and women ... there are more
initiations for males than for females ... the Sabiny tribe in eastern
Uganda celebrates a girl's passage into womanhood with a brutal
ceremony that ends her ability to feel sexual pleasure. A "traditional
surgeon" cuts away her clitoris and labia minor with a razor blade as
the girl's friends and family watch. She endures the pain in silence,
because if she cries out she becomes an embarassment to her family. ...
A boy's entry into the club of men is biologically
less dramatic ... Initiations do exist in the modern world, but they
get less attention than they did in primitive society. Modern
initiations today are pale remnants of old traditions. They exist in
ceremonies like joiing a fraternity, entering a new job, taking first
communion, or having one's shirt bloodied after a deer hunt."
"The War Against Boys: How Misguided
Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men" by Christina Hoff Sommers, Simon and
Amazon.com: "The author of the provocative
bestseller Who Stole Feminism? returns with an equally eye-opening
follow-up. 'It's a bad time to be a boy in America,' writes Christina
Hoff Sommers. Boys are less likely than girls to go to college or do
their homework. They're more likely to cheat on tests, wind up in
detention, or drop out of school. This book tells the story of how it
has become fashionable to attribute pathology to millions of healthy
Yet The War on
Boys nowhere mentions that they're almost infinitely more likely to
have part of their genitals cut off. It nowhere tells the story of how
it has become fashionable to attribute pathology to millions of healthy
"In Christina Hoff Sommers's splendid new book . .
. she shows the damage that is being done to our sons by adults
determined to stop them from being, well, boys."--Danielle Crittenden,
New York Post
But not all
"Stiffed: The Betrayal of the
American Man" by Susan Faludi
"The Stormy Search For The Self: A
Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crisis" by Christina
Grof and Stanislav Grof, M.D.Tarcher/PutnamNew York 1990 - lists
post-natal events that can
cause long-term damage: "... anesthesia, the pressures of the
forceps, and the sensations associated with various obstetric maneuvers
or postnatal interventions."
"HomeComing: Reclaiming and
Championing Your Inner
Child" by John Bradshaw, Bantam Books, New York, 1990, New York
"Bradshaw On: Healing the Shame That Binds You"
by John Bradshaw, Deerfield Beach, Florida Health Communications, 1988.
"From The Hearts Of Men" by Yevrah
Ornstein, Harmonia Press, Woodacre, CA, 1991.
"Within the hearts of men lie secret yearnings, needs
and fears that have long been held captive by the taboos of society.
The authentic voices in this book, and the magnificent spirit that
ennobles them, cry out to be heard."
"The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving
the Myth of Masculine Privilege"
by Herb Goldberg, Greenburger Associates, New York, 1976 - doesn't
mention the first hazard of being male in the US.
"Violent Attachment" by J. Reid Meloy
"Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from
the Myths of Boyhood," by William Pollack
"Gods in Everyman" by Jean Shinoda
"The Life of Brian: Masculinities, Sexualites
and Health in New Zealand", edited by Heather Worth, Anna
Paris and Louisa Allen:
The Man with Two Brains:
The Discursive Construction of the
The centralisation of the penis in normative
notions of heterosex may be
interpreted as an effect of phallocentrism - that is, of the dominance
phallus in Western cultural symbolism. In Lacanian theory the 'phallus'
represents the Transcendental signified in the symbolic order (that is,
of language and power). Power, authority, and control over desire are
on the subject's relation to the phallus. The penis and the phallus are
in a metonymical [one thing standing for another] relationship, whereby
the penis comes to represent the phallus,
and thereby is invested with the power attributed to the phallus. By
penis, men may seem closer to possessing the phallus and the power
to it. While much has been written on the metonymical association
the penis and the phallus,2 this chapter focuses instead on the synecdochical
[part standing for the whole] relationship
between the penis and the man.
In particular, this relationship is
explored with reference to the inside/outside dichotomy and the
of sexed bodies.
Spatial tropes are pervasive in Western society.
Indeed, Derrida argues that the inside/outside dichotomy is the 'matrix
of all possible opposition'. The modern human(ist) subject is
constituted in terms of the spatial division, mind/ body; this binary
operates by crediting the mind with 'interiority': it resides 'inside',
possesses the quality of 'depth', and is intimately aligned with the
all-important 'self. In contrast, the body occupies an inferior
position on the 'outside' of 'personality', as a superficial, albeit
necessary, shell or casing for the interior psyche. Furthermore, the
spatialisation of subjectivity is gendered: mind-the 'superior' term in
the hierarchical pairing - is associated with man, and body with woman.
The differential spatialisation of subjectivity also produces
specifically gendered 'experiences' of corporeality, depending on
whether one's body is classified as female or male. However, in
relation to sexed bodies, the inside/outside dichotomy is deployed in
reverse: in this context, men are associated with exteriority (an
effect of the visibility of the penis in a culture privileging visual
over other sensory modalities) and women with interiority (due to their
inner, invisible, reproductive organs).
is no mention anywhere in the 204-page book that about half of the men
born in New Zealand in
the 20th century had their foreskins cut off, making their
achetypically phallic, but interior, glandes
penis, exterior. ]
"A Man's Country: The Image of the
Pakeha [non-Maori] Male - a History" by Jock Phillips, Penguin,
Auckland 1987, revised 1996, does not mention circumcision, which
became nearly universal in New Zealand
in the 1950s and fell to residual levels by 1996.
Teen Species: British TV documentary
about the development of teenagers. Part 2, about boys, shows five
penises to demonstrate growth, the third circumcised (with a small skin
bridge) without comment, the fourth and fifth with short foreskins.
Boys and teenagers with inadequate information have not infrequently
imagined they would either gain or lose a foreskin on adolescence. This
would not reduce their confusion.
omissions of circumcision
The Moral Landscape: How science can determine
human values by Sam Harris
Many social scientists incorrectly believe that
all long-standing human practices must be evolutionarily adaptive: for
how else could they persist? Thus, even the most bizarre and
unproductive behaviors - female
genital excision, blood feuds, infanticide, the torture of
animals, scarification, foot binding, cannibalism, ceremonial rape,
human sacrifice, dangerous male
initiations, restricting the diet of pregnant and
lactating mothers, slavery, potlatch, the killing of the elderly, sati,
irrational dietary and agricultural taboos attended by chronic hunger
and malnourishment, the use of heavy metals to treat illness, etc. -
have been rationalized, or even idealized, in the fire-lit scribblings
of one or another dazzled ethnographer. But the mere endurance of a
belief system or custom does not suggest that it is adaptive, much
less wise. It merely suggests that it hasn't led directly to a
society's collapse or killed its practitioners outright.
Thus - instead
of simply saying "genital cutting" - Harris apparently skirts around
male genital excision because it is not (or so he supposes)
I don't think one has fully enjoyed the life of
the mind until one has seen a celebrated scholar defend the
"contextual" legitimacy of the burqa, or female genital mutilation, a
mere thirty seconds after announcing that moral relativism does nothing
to diminish a person's commitment to making the world a better place
Blindness in the Name of "Tolerance"
There are very practical concerns that follow from
the glib idea that anyone is free to value anything - the most
consequential being that it is precisely what allows highly educated,
secular, and otherwise well-intentioned people to pause thoughtfully,
and often interminably, before condemning practices like compulsory
veiling, genital excision,
bride burning, forced marriage, and the other cheerful products of
alternative "morality" found elsewhere in the world.
context, Harris clearly means only female genital
excision, ignoring a cheerful product of indigenous "morality" found
closer to home.
In his wonderful book The Blank Slate,
Steven Pinker includes a quotation from the anthropologist Donald
Symons that captures the problem of multiculturalism especially well:
If only one person in the world held down a
terrified, struggling, screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with
a septic blade, and sewed her back up, leaving only a tiny hole for
urine and menstrual flow, the only question would be how severely that
person should be punished, and whether the death penalty would be a
sufficiently severe sanction. But when millions of people do this,
instead of the enormity being magnified millions-fold, suddenly it
becomes "culture," and thereby magically becomes less, rather than
more, horrible, and is even defended by some Western "moral thinkers,"
It is precisely such instances of learned confusion (one is tempted to
say "learned psychopathy") that lend credence to the claim that a
universal morality requires the support of faith-based religion.
The Story of God: a personal journey into the
world of science and religion by Robert Winston, BBC/Bantam
Discusses Abraham's relationship with God at length, with no mention of
the most dramatic requirement God is said to have made of Abraham and
The Road to Wellville
Slapstick comedy movie (1994, screenplay by Alan
Parker from the novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle) starring Anthony
Hopkins as Dr John Harvey Kellogg and centred on his Battle
Creek Sanitarium. Kellogg is portrayed, probably accurately, as a crank
obsessed with bowel movements and suppressing sexuality. "Any use of
the sexual act other than procreation is a waste of vital energy!
Wasted seeds are wasted lives!" "An erection is a flagpole on your
grave!" (Much of the comedy involves his clients evading his bans. One
woman speaks glowingly of a rival who "wrote an excellent piece on the
clitoris.") He performs an operation on "William Lightbody" (Matthew
Broderick) to remove a "kink" from his colon, and one sequence involves
Kellogg finding out that Lightbody uses an electric belt for genital
stimulation, but there is no mention of Kellogg's predeliction for circumcision to
ones, um, mention it...
Discovering the Human Body: How pioneers of
medicine solved the mysteries of the body's structure and function
by Bernard Knight, MD. Bloomsbury Books, London,1980. 192pp, 6 about
"The Male Generative Organs".
"The fold of skin which is removed at circumcision
is the prepuce and this is anchored underneath the shaft by a narrow
band of skin called the fraenum, meaning bridle." (p137)
Not even a comma to slow his hurrying past! Let
alone any mention of the functions of the foreskin, which have
described for centuries (Less well more recently, as this
page shows). Earlier, Knight is critical of "the poor draughtsmanship
and worse observational powers of the medieval anatomists" yet his own
diagram of the end of the penis looks like this:
The prepuce is shown almost invisibly pale. The
line from "prepuce" and "corona" ends on the corpora
cavernosa, that from "glans" on the meatus,
and that from the fr[a]en[ul]um on the shaft/foreskin border. The white
ring encircling the penis is mysterious.
Knight's only illustration of the intact anatomy
is by Vesalius (1543) of which this is an enlarged detail:
Readers who have never seen an intact penis can be
forgiven for imagining they are looking at a circumcised one (with a
rather small glans). In fact, Vesalius - who may have never seen a circumcised
penis - was portraying a short penis with a large glans covered by a
foreskin that extends forward in an acroposthion,
and the folds of the preputial sphincter.
Knight also shows two diagrams of flayed penises -
which of course lack foreskins - calling them "accurate".
"Becoming Satisfied: A Man's Guide to
Sexual Fulfilment" by Joseph Nowinski, Spectrum/Prentice-Hall, New
Jersey, 1980. 356pp.
"Touch your penis next,
noting the texture of its skin and the way it feels when it is stroked.
Look at the glans of your penis (pulling back the foreskin if you are
not circumsized [sic] [The
only reference in the entire book to the existence of the foreskin.])
and the shaft. Stroke the glans lightly with your fingertips and notice
the sensitivity. See if there are places on your glans that are more
sensitive than others."
"Your body contains many erogenous
zones.... The one erogenous zone men tend to focus on is the glans, or
head, of the penis. ... However, it would be a mistake to think that
this is the only erogenous zone on a man's body. He can, and will, get
turned on by having many other parts of his body caressed, for example,
his lips, nipples, ears, and thighs.
"Each of the above sources of erotic stimulation contributes something
to your total sexual arousal. The more you are able to use each of
these channels of stimulation, the more turned on you will be.... the
man who is able to utilize, say, four separate channels of stimulation
is in a position to get more highly aroused than a man who can use only
one. It also makes it more likely that his arousal will get high enough
for him reach orgasm. How many he uses depends, of course, on both him
and his partner."
"Wisdom of the Body" by Sherwin
Nuland (Knopf, New York 1997) describes the glans
as "exquisitely sensitive".
It says the value of the foreskin is controversial, and then proceeds
to witter on about the "value" of the foreskins harvested by David as a
"The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio" by
Violet Blue (Cleis Press 2002) has only circumcised penises in its
illustrations, refers only in passing to the foreskin.
"The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex: a Medical
Handbook for Men" by Stephen E Goldstone (Dell, New York,
1999) has four pages headed "Circumcision". He claims medical benefits
for infant circumcision, but counsels adults against it. He refers to
the foreskin's rolling action.
He warns that "stretching"
the foreskin may desensitise it - his only reference to it having any
sensitivity to lose. Of docking
he says with no evidence (nor, one may guess, experience), "any
pleasure may be more psychological than physical" (whatever that may
mean - and it would be no less true pleasure for that).
"Tackle Happy: 2 men, 2 dicks, 2 much spare time"
a 74-minute documentary about two Australians who tour Australia with
their show, "Puppetry of the Penis" (a sort of adults-only version of
making hand-shadows on the wall). Both men are circumcised, but a
talkback host who rings them while they're performing at a wildlife
reserve comments about "fauna, flora and foreskins". They do not
"Secret Men's Business - Manhood: the Big Gig"
by John Marsden, Pan, 1998
has two pages about the penis, 16 pages about puberty, 16 about sex and
only brief definitions of the foreskin and circumcision in the
Oral Sex He'll Never Forget by Sonia
Borg, Quiver 2009
This has one short paragraph about the foreskin.
"...[the foreskin is skin that covers the glans ... and is removed by
circumcision]". Earlier it says the glans is the most sensitive part of
the penis. There is of course nothing about how to use the tongue,
teeth and lips on the foreskin.
"Manhood: The Rise and Fall of the Penis"
by Mels Van Driel, Reaktion, 2010
(short-changes the man-hood)
Mentions the foreskin only as it pertains to possible illness and its
treatment - the accumulation of smegma, the development of phimosis.
Does discuss the history of the medicalization of circumcision from the
Victorian Era to today, but does not challenge medical claims for it.
All pictures and diagrams portray the penis without the foreskin (Van
Driel claims that Michelangelo's David on the front
cover is also circumcised). [From a review by Joe Cortez]
"The Human Body: a Visual Guide to
Human Anatomy" by Dr Sarah Brewer, Quercus (London) 2010
Reproductive System ...
It is covered in a loose sleeve of thick hairless skin containing
muscle fibres that folds over itself to form the prepuce (foreskin).
The prepuce is tethered to the glans penis on the underside to form a
bridge of skin, the frenulum, which contains a small artery. The
foreskin helps to keep the glans penis moist and sensitive. In
circumcised males, the forekin is surgically removed (usually soon
after birth for religious reasons. After circumcision the skin of the
glans penis loses its soft moist texture, more fibrous protein
(keratin) is laid down and the glans become more like normal skin. Some
sexual sensitivity may be lost.
forms a shaft topped by the glans penis - the most sensitive part.