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by Karen Squires
"In looking at both Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Male Genital Mutilation (MGM), it appears that there is no equal protection under the law for male infants and boys under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Illegal to perform FGM, fine to perform MGM. Yes, willful destruction of the primary male sex organ is unethical. Or is it much more than unethical?" -Ken Derifield of The Intact Network
In the June 2, 2002 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune there is an article titled African Girls Suing Parents Over Circumcision. As I read it, I wondered how many others reading the article were reacting the same way I was. Did they see the same similarities between female and male circumcision. Were they wondering how we can be so blind as to not see we do the same thing everyday here in the U.S. to our baby boys?
Over the years I've read news articles, magazine stories and watched television documentaries on circumcision rituals in other countries. The images show boys, 12 years old, or around that age, being held down, legs apart, crying, as they are circumcised. I would look at the expression on the boys face and just cringe. How could the adults do that? How could the parents allow that to happen? My instinct is to protect my children. If anybody held one of my sons down like that, with a knife in hand, I'd be on top of them, attacking, saving my child.
When I read about, and see images of girls being circumcised, I react the same way. Some parents want their sons circumcised. If they had a girl would they want her circumcised? Genital mutilation is genital mutilation, male or female. A rose is a rose is a rose. Is there a difference between female and male circumcision?
Is there is a difference between our male babies being circumcised, and the older boys being cut in other countries. Lets talk about it and we'll see they are not so different.
Circumcision in the U.S. was started at the end of the 1800's in a vain attempt to stop or lessen masturbation which was blamed for dozens of diseases with unknown origins at that time.* Tens of thousands of girls were also circumcised (removal of the clitoris) for the same "reason." This was also recommended and found in U.S medical journals as late as 1959.
The goal in circumcising boys was to reduce sexual feelings. This was accomplished by damaging the penis as much as possible, without jeopardizing procreation. Most of the sensuous nerve endings were removed, exposing the remaining near surface nerve endings for destruction over time, and removing the natural mobility of the penile skin system. Changing the fully functional, sensuous, and mobile male sex organ into a desensitized, dowel-like organ was the desired result. Male circumcision remained very limited in the U.S. until new excuses were invented in the 1930's and 1940's.
In female circumcision, the goal is to ensure chastity by eliminating the girls' sex drive by removing the sensuous nerve endings in her external genitalia. The most common form of female circumcision is the removal of the entire clitoris, including the unseen shaft or root, creating a deep hole where the organ was located, and cutting away the labia minora (inner labia). The male foreskin is analogous to the female foreskin (clitoral hood) and labia minora. The loss of sensuous nerve endings and motion to the penis penile mobility is quite similar to this form of female circumcision. In some cultures one of the labia majora (outer labia) is also removed, the other outer labia is stretched over the wound, sewn, and holes punched through the now hidden female external genitalia for the passage of urine and menses. This is called infibulation.
Some girls have bled to death, died of infections or other complications. Some of our boys have bled to death, died of infections, gastric rupture or other complications. Damage is created in both cases.
Female circumcision is a custom. Circumcision of our baby boys is a custom. The American Academy of Pediatrics policy on circumcision concluded by saying "however, that it is legitimate for parents to take into account cultural, religious and ethnic traditions..." I disagree. In countries where girls are circumcised because of those reasons we shudder at the thought and consider the practice barbaric, so why is it okay to take those into consideration here.
Kenya has outlawed female circumcision. Anyone who circumcises a girl under age 18 years old can be fined $650 and may spend a year in prison.
This practice is obviously being carried out against the wishes of the girl. Why would anybody want that done to them? I would never agree to it being performed on me or my child. Would you? When we allow our baby boys to be circumcised should we be fined? After all, the baby is too young to be asked for their permission. If we waited until our sons were older and asked them if they wanted to be circumcised, what do you think they'd say? It's their body, not ours. The older boys we see are held down against their wishes. Our baby boys are strapped down on a board, their legs apart. They can't move. They are helpless.
When older boys and girls are circumcised it is often done without anesthesia or medication to ease the pain. Until recently our baby boys were not offered pain medication either. The pain is so intense that enough pain medication cannot be injected. Even a little Prilocaine or Lidocaine (and EMLA cream) given to an infant can result in nerve damage, brain damage or death (Canadian Nurse, Aug. 1994). Even now some Dr's perform the procedure without pain medication. If the baby does receive medication it is only during the procedure, and does not eliminate all the pain. The pain persists for days, and any friction, contact with urine and normal erections are painful for weeks. The baby gets nothing during the healing time.
Some believe there are medical reasons to circumcise our babies. There are none, not one single reason to routinely circumcise girls or boys, of any age. Today there is not one medical association in the entire world that recommends circumcision.
For every 100 circumcised males in the world there are 21 circumcised females. Routine circumcision is unethical to say the least, whether it's a girl, an older boy, or a baby. So before we all gasp in horror at what is going on over seas maybe we should look at what we are doing right here in our own country.
*A university of Chicago study (Journal of the American Medical Association) Found that males who are circumcised masturbate more often than intact males. More friction is necessary to excite the few remaining deep nerve endings of the desensitized penis. So much for that initial "reason." Like the masturbation myth, the later excuses have all been found to be false.
Find out more about circumcision by reading Complete, As Nature Intended. Available FREE via the internet in a pdf file. You'll need Acrobat Reader® to view this file. Acrobat Reader® is available free on the internet. Please email us for this pdf file and we'll email it to you. If you need a booklet please send $3.00 plus $1 S+H to: The Wise Mother, 1905 West 4700 South #402 SLC, Utah 84118
My deepest thanks to Ken Derifield of The Intact Network for contributing to this article. He can be reached at the following address; The Intact Network, 703 E. Walnut St. Washington, IN 47501
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by Jill Galano © 2011
My Unexpected Journey to Bris Shalom
As a Jew I grew up thinking circumcision was normal. All of my younger cousins and the sons of family friends were circumcised. All of the children I babysat for were circumcised. The sound of a wailing baby at a Bris was something familiar – as was the apparently peacefully sleeping baby afterward. In fact, the first time I saw an intact baby boy I thought he looked strange.
When I was a teenager, my father started complaining about circumcision. He would say things like “I don’t understand why, in a world full of pain, we choose to put our baby boys through even more pain.” It was only when I was pregnant with my son and had a serious conversation with my father about circumcision that I discovered he would not have wanted to cut a son of his own. He said to me, "There is enough pain in this world, why would anyone want to inflict pain on a newborn baby so that pain is all he knows of life."
Although I grew up as a conservative Jew, learned to read Hebrew, had a Bat Mitzvah, and even kept kosher for a while, I gradually became a more secular Jew. I discovered a reconstructionist synagogue in Miami and loved the Rabbi’s philosophy that “Judaism is like you grandmother’s attic – you take things down and try them for a while. You keep what works in your life and put the rest back.”
Then, I moved to Gainesville and met my husband. A non-Jew, a heathen, an atheist. Yet he has more integrity and a stronger moral base than many of the very religious people I know. He also has his foreskin. When our relationship became serious we talked about how we would raise our children. Although he was totally on board with raising our children as reconstructionist or reformed Jews, he was adamant that they be left intact. I was fine with that, but I also really wanted to be able to honor deceased relatives through the Jewish tradition of giving a Hebrew name if we had a son. I just hoped we wouldn’t have a son.
We got pregnant after five years of marriage. I prayed for a daughter so that I wouldn’t have to face criticism from my family or search for a Rabbi who would do a baby naming without a Bris Milah. We had a baby boy. I called the Rabbi at the reconstructionist synagogue I had gone to in Miami and discussed our decision not to circumcise and our desire to have a baby naming ceremony. He agreed to do a naming ceremony for our son. We went to Miami when Devin was 3 months old and had a beautiful baby naming ceremony with most of my family and many family friends in attendance. To my surprise nobody criticized our decision to keep Devin intact.
It was only months after we had made our decision that I began researching circumcision. The videos of circumcisions looked like torture and made me sick. I think I was impacted even more by my research because I had never even considered not circumcising my son until I met my husband. I made the decision to keep Devin intact so he would look like his father (as if a child’s penis could ever look like an adult’s) and to eliminate what I thought was a slim chance of circumcision complications or penile injury. How little I knew! Complications and death from circumcision are actually common and the procedure alone is penile injury. I wonder what would have happened to my son had my in-laws not made the decision to keep my husband intact. Would I have unknowingly mutilated my son so that he could look like his mutilated father? It frightens me to admit that I probably would have. My awareness of the luck of our decision to keep our son whole makes me even more dedicated to spreading my story and promoting Bris Shalom so that other children will be spared.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Bris Shalom since then:
http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/ is the primary website I've used to get information about Judaism and circumcision. There is debate among biblical scholars about whether circumcision was even part of Abraham's covenant w/ God. Here's an article on that http://salem-news.com/articles/november172010/genesis-deciphered-hn.php Even if it was part of the covenant, the Hebrew term Millah (as in Bris Milah) means to snip or clip, not to remove or amputate. There is a different word in Hebrew that has that meaning. Here is an article on how Bris Milah evolved from just a small slit to allow a few drops of blood to fall (like a pinprick) to snipping off only the part of the foreskin that hung past the end of the glans (so there was no forcible separation of foreskin from glans) to the modern Bris Millah that looks much like a typical circumcision as performed by a doctor http://www.cirp.org/library/history/peron2/. IMO even if you are a religious Jew, your child is not. He will have to make the choice to as an adult whether to abide by the mitzvoh or not. I am a reconstructionist, secular Jew. My son, Devin is nothing yet. He is just a child. If he chooses to be a conservative or orthadox Jew in the future that will be his choice and he can have a Bris Milah at that time. His body, his choice. Here is a collection of articles and websites related to Jews who choose to keep their sons intact http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/circumcision-jewish-fathers-making.html Here is a facebook page for Jewish parents who plan to or have kept their sons intact http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=141962229156708&ref=ts
Written & contributed by
Do you know that your father and I tried to conceive for almost a year and had no luck? When I did get pregnant with you, I was so happy. Words cannot even explain it.
I was so careful during my pregnancy, maybe even overly so. I researched many aspects of having a child, but one aspect fell threw the cracks. We didn’t know if you were going to be a boy or a girl. By the way I “knew” you were going to be a girl. Seems silly now, I know.
At the hospital I filled out all the paperwork and one was for circumcision and I am ashamed to admit it, but your father and I didn’t think anything of this at the time. We thought of a few things a little before though…one being every male is pretty much circumcised. Two That there were health benefits(reduced infections and diseases) . Three, no doctor would perform this unless it was a needed preventative measure.
I have made many mistakes in my life and none I would really change but this one. I would take that consent form and rip it to shreds. I sadly admit I didn’t read the fine print and it was kind of confusing, but again, I just went to number 1,2,3 and sign away I did.
I birthed you and held you close to my chest after your birth. I was in shock you were a boy. Later the next day after lots of snuggles, I handed you over to the doctor for your circumcision with no apprehension at all. Frankly I think because I was brainwashed and like the saying goes “ignorance is bliss”.
You were gone awhile and when you came back to the room you seemed “ok”. I changed your bloody diaper, but again I figured this was a means to an end. This would protect you. We took care of your penis exactly as we were supposed to: always pulling down the remaining skin and using lots of Vaseline.
It wasn’t until check ups when the doctors had to detach your skin that was reattaching that I was sent into my first shock. You screamed a horrid horrid scream and you bled.
One time I took you over to your grandparents, so you grandmother can attest to the sight we saw in your diaper…quite a bit of blood. More than a little. I almost took you to the doctor and maybe I should have, but the doctor said a little bleeding was fine. I think he should have been more specific, because looking back it was more than a little. We dealt with these reattachments for a while.
When you were maybe 9 months I met some mothers who were intactivsts and did NOT believe in circumcision. One actually said that the procedure was one of insanity. I took great offense to this. How dare she…I was protecting you, not harming you.
I defended circumcision for months after that…until one day I sat down and really dug into research. I cried and I cried. These “crazy” intactivsts were right. I was shocked, absolutely shocked to find out the AAP doesn’t recommend routine infant circumcision. They said the potential benefits(so not guaranteed) DID NOT outweigh the risks. WHAT? Why are doctors performing this surgery then.? All other surgery on children the opposite is true. The benefits outweigh the risks.
I was shocked to find out that in many other countries circumcision is just not done(except sometimes for religious reasons). In Europe the Circumcision rate is almost nil. What, again! Then I read about the little boys that died from this surgery. DIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess even though I knew it was a surgery, I didn’t view it really as a surgery. If that makes any sense.
So, I knew after all this, that no other boys would be circumcised. So now came the hard part, convincing your dad. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Maybe it would have been if you DID NOT have complications, but since you did, he agreed after a few discussions.
I did have apprension about saving your brother…I mean I knew no matter what we would NOT circumcise him, but I didn’t want you to think we cared more about your brother. He kind of just got the luck of the draw being the youngest. I know that sucks and isn’t a good enough reason FOR you, but it is what I have.
I want you to know though, that in protecting your brother, I was also apologizing to you . I was saying, I do this for him, but I do it for you too. Maybe that won’t make sense to you, but it did in my head. I loved him enough and you enough to save him. I will regret that I didn’t save you and didn’t look into this matter more closely. I am hoping you will forgive me and knowing your nature you will. I have saved a few other babies from circumcision as well. Those babies are for you too. I do this in your honor. Of course I do this for them, but you are always in my mind when I handle this delicate subject.
Written by Lindsay, who I made acquaintance with on Facebook. Thank you, Lindsay, so much for sharing your letter to your son. I wish you healing.
A picture of a freshly circumcised infant penis. How can anyone look at this and think we need to have this done? How can anyone think this is normal?
I am an anti corporal punishment activist (search "Swayseeker corporal punishment" on the internet.)
Adelle Davis, in Lets Get Well, tells us this: "It is now generally accepted that severe crippling arthritis is a psychosomatic illness resulting largely from unconscious accumulated anger" (for example, the beaten pupil is not allowed to express his anger to the teacher beating him or her). Dr Hans Seyle found that emotional stress (corporal punishment is very stressful) and harm to soft tissues produced by hitting and so on can cause calcium to be laid down in the damaged soft tissues of the body of animals. Dr Seyle produced the counterparts of such human diseases as arthritis and hardening of the arteries in this manner. Diseases such as scleroderma myositis, dermomyositis and bursitis have in common calcification of soft tissues. The tissues may become calcified following such slight injuries as bumping into furniture, pressure of brassiers and so on. It seems to me that many could be suffering permanent damage due to excess calcium having been deposited because of corporal punishment and this permanent damage could be causing anger.
The Anger and Stress Management Centre of South Africa agrees with me that stress can cause many diseases.
In my view the combination of stress and hitting is particularly bad.
Calcification at the circumcision site?
Eddie Miller (Swayseeker - find me on the internet)
DD, DO, CPI
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
There are plenty of penis pictures on our sister site... warning, again, this is NSFW but it's not porn... just some healthy beautiful penises, both cut and intact. Anyone may submit photos to be displayed here anonymously.
On this blog itself there are plenty of comparison photos as well:
Another Telling Shot
Cut and Uncut
Keratinization and Circumcision Status
Cut Vs Uncut
Photos of Prepuce
Also, someone referred me to a gallery of photographs of men on Circumstitions. Take a good look, ladies. There's really nothing weird at all about these men. In fact, I think the foreskin makes it more interesting. These men have a special secret place on their bodies, just as women do. Why do we feel the need to cause men to be *exposed* constantly? The glans is intended to be *internal*. Let's leave it that way.
"In younger children, with whom moral considerations will have no particular weight, other devices may be used. Bandaging the parts has been practised with success. Tying the hands is also successful in some cases; but this will not always succeed, for they will often contrive to continue the habit in other ways, as by working the limbs, or lying upon the abdomen. Covering the organs with a cage has been practised with entire success. A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed without administering an anaesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed. …
...In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement, and preventing the recurrence of the practice in those whose will power has become so weakened that the patient is unable to exercise entire self-control."
from this link: http://www.historyofcircum
In the 1950's and onward, circumcision was encouraged for other reasons, notably that of "hygiene". Some proponents held that it was a great way to reduce std's (something unproven as of today). Soap and water, people! We do not cut off baby girl clitorises or labia for better "hygiene"...or actually, not any more. The fact is, circumcision was routinely practised against minor boys AND girls in the US., until the 1997 passing of the FGM Bill! I actually know some women who have been circumcised! Until March 30, 1997, female circumcision was a free-for-all. When will our baby boys get the same protection?
To mark the enactment of the FGM Bill, and to pressure for the protection of baby boys, last week was Genital Integrity Awareness Week. There were demonstrations held all over the U.S. and Canada, notably, on Capitol Hill.
There are NO and cannot be ANY HEALTH BENEFITS to cutting off healthy functioning tissue! STOP propagating myths and allowing child abuse!
I LOVE foreskin. I wish that were all I had to say. Unfortunately, there’s a comparison to be made, and it isn’t one of two different naturally occurring penises. If it were, I wouldn’t bother to tell people why I liked one and not the other. But, because there is force involved, and because I’m an activist opposing that force, I must also say that I can’t fully enjoy circumcised sex, and why. This is my personal opinion, and not something that anyone has to agree with in order to understand that forced circumcision is wrong; but it is just another example of how forcing amputation on one body effects more people than just the one who was cut.
When I first became sexually active, I wasn’t comfortable touching my boyfriend’s penis. Something was just wrong about it. Even though he said he enjoyed it, I felt that what I was doing must be painful. I didn’t know how hard my touch should be, and the friction creeped me out in a way I didn’t even understand. All it took was ONE stroke of an intact penis and I understood everything! There was no hesitation or worry that I was doing something wrong. It was sexy and fluid. I realized that there was a big difference and I started paying attention. I’ve been lucky that a good percentage of my lovers have been intact, and this is what I’ve learned about myself, and both types of penises.
Feeling connected is what I enjoy the most about sex. In fact, it’s probably 80% of my arousal. Intimacy is the point; the physical acts are just how I get there. So, if I don’t feel connected, the physical act is literally less pleasurable.
I am really oral. Meaning, using my mouth is a huge sexual turn on for me. There is something incredibly intimate about it. This is why I cannot date a smoker. Kissing should be deep and sexy, and the taste of unhealthy lungs really gets in the way of that. When I am giving head, I am not performing a service for the sole purpose of stimulating the penis. I am connecting, and making love with my mouth. I am right there, enjoying everything in the moment. I love to look at it, and smell it, and feel it, and taste it. I’m engaging in a dance with lots of different moves. If the foreskin is gone, my dance has fewer moves; that’s less enjoyable, but not actually the problem.
I’m a very compassionate person. That’s why I speak out against violating human rights. I see a crime against someone’s rights almost as a crime against myself. I’m sensitive, and the idea of pain causes me distress. The idea of a baby being forced to endure pain . . . well, you get the point.
When I discovered how a circumcision was achieved, I was VERY disturbed (read: cried all night). After that, when I gave head to a man who had been circumcised, the physical proof (a scar instead of a foreskin, and possibly other damage) of the torture he endured as an infant was an immediate mood kill. How could I connect with that? I quite literally had to regress myself to an immature place. I had to be me before I understood how circumcision was done. I had to forget what I had learned for a little while. Forget what I was seeing when I wanted to connect by seeing. Forget what I felt when I wanted to feel. This was like a numbing of my senses, a wall against reality. It worked, and I was able to feel connected and enjoy myself, but I was pretending to be a different person. It wasn’t ME connecting; it was the me of a few months, or years before.
As I am further removed from that person by time and change, that task has become harder and harder. The intimacy in that moment is about being fully immersed in the other person’s body. Trying to connect with a constant reminder of parts being forcibly removed from a screaming infant is impossible. Finding someone inside me who can do it is now so difficult I’m tired of trying.
The changes circumcision brings to sex are drastic and vast. I won’t state them all here, but I’ll go over the mechanical ones that affect me the most. Once the man has penetrated, the skin is pulled back to the base of the penis and when there's outward motion, the foreskin is what slides up the penis, NOT the vaginal skin. This keeps the wet inside, whereas, without the foreskin, it is dragged out with every movement and exposed to the air where it dries. Not only is there a risk of drying, but there’s friction too. By the way, the sexually responsive nerves in the vagina are pressure sensitive, not friction sensitive. So, while some women may find friction to be a psychologically arousing sensation that reminds them of what’s going on down there, I find it distracting and often painful.
The foreskin has tens of thousands of nerve endings. When it is pulled back the man has sensation down his shaft, so his strokes are deep and short, which keeps the partners close and intimate. A circumcised man usually wants to stimulate the head by pulling it out to the tighter vaginal opening, because it is the most sensitive part of the penis after the foreskin is removed. These longer strokes create a feeling of being further away, and can cause air to be pulled into the vagina (something I hate).
When I am distracted by all of these uncomfortable sensations and worries, then I am not really connected; I’m not really there. I’m dealing with the stress of the situation in my head instead of being intimate. So, since intimacy is a big part of what makes my sensations pleasurable, then I’m just not feeling as good, sometimes to the point of it not feeling good at all. And don’t forget, all of these differences remind me of WHY, and I’m back again to screaming babies.
It breaks my heart to think that what I have to say would make a man feel bad. Naturally there’s a variable in all men, circumcised or not, and there are lots of other things that make sex good or bad. For a lot of women, the issues here may not affect them as much, or at all. But I have to honestly say that as the genital integrity movement grows, more and more women are realizing why they have at times found sex to be uncomfortable or painful. I share because it’s the truth, and because it needs to be shown that the pain of circumcision isn’t momentary, or exclusive to the circumcised.
Discovering the truth was a pretty dark and painful moment, but luckily I found out about foreskin restoration that same night. It gave me the tiniest bit of solace to know that a man who feels this loss can do something about it. I know it’s not a perfect fix, but when I have to be the bearer of bad news to a man who doesn’t know what he’s lost, I’m so grateful that I can give it to him wrapped in the bright side: it can get better!
The only words I removed from this reader's letter are anything that could identify people that he refers to since I do not have specific permission to publish their points of view. I am happy to publish this letter from a reader, though, because it addresses the efforts of all the wives and mothers of the intactivist movement and I want to share this with all of us, for there are so many of us putting our energy into this, and getting this kind of acknowledgement every so often gives us a little more encouragement to go on another day. ~Monica**************************************************What will the historian of the far future think when they encounter the 20th century English speaking obsession with making the penis bald, almost always without pain reduction? The obtuseness of Masters & Johnson to how foreskin enhances intercourse? The reluctance of parents and doctors to implement the recommendation of the AAP, first made in 1971? The reluctance of People magazine to touch intactivism? They will see us as a seemingly advanced scientific society held in thrall by a neolithic sexual right of passage. As a culture restlessly talking about and exploring sexual activity, but missing a central point. Feminists pounded the table about sexual violence to women in relationships and on the streets at night, but were silent about the sexual violence done to infant boys in every maternity ward.
I know of one American medical school prof who has gone on record as opposing RIC: a fellow who teaches pediatric urology at medical school. The Head of Pediatric Urology at a teaching hospital, an Australian woman who holds no brief for RIC, estimates that about 25% of her caseload is due to circumcision problems. But even she won't take a public stand against it. "Official" and "polite" America still ain't ready for foreskin in the bedroom and locker room.
The American obsession with circumcision has led a surprising number of women of your generation to throw caution to the winds, open the doors to their bedrooms, and risk TMI. I wonder if this struggle is not changing the entire women's culture of sex and the body. Again, this is for future historians to decide. Victory is ours, but it will probably require another 30-50 years, and will be almost entirely due to lay women like yourself.