An intact man's comments.

I got a note in email the other day and thought it would be interesting to share the point of view from intact men as well. Here is the first I got and I will post more as they come in.

40 years ago, I worked in PA. After each shift, we had 20 minutes to shower and change clothes. And that's how I discovered that in the real America, circ was unknown before WWII, but was almost universal among Baby Boomers like me. Every guy in my shop over 35 was intact, and only two guys younger than that were, me being one of them.

What happened during WWII? Medical insurance became a standard work benefit. In those days, health insurance paid for baby circ without question. Also, military docs thought that being intact made it much more likely that a soldier would catch VD from a sex worker. They also thought that having foreskin often caused problems when fighting in a desert or jungle. The views of the military carried enormous weight in those days.

In high school locker rooms in my town and at the Y, and in pool locker rooms in summer, I saw all of one intact boy. The boys I grew up with were a potty mouthed lot, but one sexual subject they never touched on was foreskin and circ. I very much doubt that most of them knew that their johnsons had been surgically altered. Those of who went on to attend better colleges began talking about it a bit when we were in college.

I was surprised to discover in the 1980s, by reading Rosemary Romberg, that there were American men who were very unhappy about their RICs. I was even more surprised to read, starting in the 1990s, that RIC can have deleterious consequences for the pleasure and functionality of both genders. American intactivism is, in my opinion, a social consequence of the internet and of the rise of sex positive feminism. It is also surprising that nearly all of the passion and leadership in this cause comes from married mothers like yourself.

Why did tens of millions of mothers in the English speaking countries, starting as far back as the 1880s, see nothing to get fussed about, or saw it as positively good? The fact that RIC was done without anesthesia was not a hidden Secret of the Temple. It was freely admitted in most of what I read about sex and baby care from 1965 onwards. Nobody was grossed out by the screaming boys until the 1980s!!

My French mother refused to have me circumcised. When her American mother in law said that she was thinking of having it done without my mother's consent, my mother replied saying that if I were circumcised without her consent, her marriage to my father was history. This was in 1949.

When the history of American sexuality is written, the 20th century obsession to make the penis bald will look very very bad.


Anonymous said...

I am the author of the above post. For me, intactivism is a movement with four objectives:

1. Surgeons should not alter the genitalia of the intersex until the latter can give informed adult consent, unless there is serious difficulty with urination. Surgeons must not pander to distressed parents.

2. Female genital mutilation must cease immediately.

3. Intactivists call on Jews and Moslems to reexamine the ritual circumcision their respective faiths require. These religions adopted circumcision at a time when soap and running water were unkown. The Koran is silent about circumcision. Jews who deny any of God, the Chosen People, or the Covenant made with Abraham, should not circumcise.

4. No minor should be circumcised by the medical profession, unless there is a pressing medical indication. The routine infant circumcision still common in the USA does not satisfy this criterion.

5. All circumcisions should be performed with state of the art pain relief.

Anonymous said...

Most women between the ages of 16 and 24 have sex with several guys before settling down with one. This reality emerged in the 1960s among the older siblings of my contemporaries, and appears here to stay. If the young women who live this life insist on condoms, the damage is well controlled. The days of people marrying because they were itching with lust are probably behind us forever. The divorce rate has come down over the past 30 years.

The narratives of women who have been intimate with both kinds of men make up what is called anecdotal evidence, and there is ample anecdotal evidence that circ detracts from sexual pleasure and functionality, especially in older couples. I am very much struck at how American medical and sexual research is blind to the possibility that circumcision has adverse long term implications for sexual pleasure and functionality.

I know all too well that fully appreciating the sexual difference between cut and intact requires a personal sexual history that cannot be recommended: unprotected vaginal intercourse with more than one cut and intact partners. I do NOT recommend that any woman discover for herself the difference between cut and intact. I do not mind, though, if women who have crossed this bridge share their experiences with wider humanity via the internet, especially if this sharing convinces current and future mothers not to cut their baby boys. My wife has revealed to me in conversation that she fully appreciates what it means for a man to have all the moving parts he was born with.

When I was in college in the 1970s, I heard quite a bit of harsh feminist sarcasm about the sexual abilities of young men. I heard more than one young woman express sweeping derogatory views about the sexual and romancing abilities of all young men! I was not offended, because I was a virgin at the time. I now wonder if these women were the sort who cannot enjoy intercourse with cut men, or women who had been victimised by the frantic pace some young cut me adopt because of their lack of feeling. It's quite simple, really. Men should go in and out no faster than she breathes. Porn encourages young men to go faster than that, in a way that strikes me as little more than date rape.

"but masturbation is no longer that evil practice that will cause us to go blind and wind up in hell, so we are seeing that we do not need a practice that cuts down on the sensitivity of the sex organs."

Straight laced Moms fell in love with routine circ 100 years ago in part because they thought that it discouraged boyhood masturbation. Worrying about masturbation faded, but not the routine circ it gave rise to. You are also right that routine circ came out of a world that viewed all sexual bad behaviour as the fault of men. Reduce the male sex drive, and the prudes thought they could declare a victory over all sexual problems. Circ became popular because it was seen as reducing the male sex drive. This thinking too faded, but the bald penis is with us still. Why? Because millions of parents don't want to see foreskin when they change a son's diaper or give him a bath. Dad doesn't want to be reminded of what he's missing. Mom doesn't want to see an intact penis several times a day for several years; that might put inappropriate thoughts in her head...

Between 1930 and 1980, many American maternity wards circumcised all boys unless the mother specifically objected. This is why it was common in my generation to grow up seeing nothing but circumcised in locker rooms. Your grandparents may have had no say in whether your father and uncles were cut at birth. In those days, nobody dared argue with what doctors and hospitals did. It was very widely assumed that they knew what was best. Doctors, profs in medical schools, seriously abused the trust we placed in them.

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