Probably more in the gay male community than anywhere other than mohel school, circumcision is a topic almost everyone has an opinion about. And with us being in the ‘hood, I figured we could have an uncut discussion about it right here.
Think of it as group therapy: Are you foreskin or anti-skin?
Totally upfront here: I’m one of the majority who was bris’d as a babe. Hey, I was born on an army base, and the guvmint docs did it pretty much without asking permission. Anyway, it was the ’60s (1960s, haters — I wasn’t born in the Confederacy … well, I was, but only in the minds of the rednecks in Georgia at the time). As a kid, I didn’t know any better. I didn’t “miss” it (if memory serves, my dad was circumcised as well, so I “looked” like him). It was only as I got older that the subject came up at all. I was probably in my mid-20s before I’d ever seen an uncut male in person. It was kind of exciting.
Which brings up a point: A lot of guys I know have a near-fascination with uncut men. Mostly, they themselves are cut. It’s like some kind of taboo. Here’s the thing, though: I’ve never had strong feelings about it one way or the other. I’d imagine roughly half the men I’ve been with in a state of arousal were uncircumcised (in general, many of the African-American and Latinos I’ve dated). The ages of intact vs. untact varies significantly, as well. It’s not like only older men are cut and younger not; there seems little pattern to it.
Do I enjoy a circumcised penis? Hey, I’m not one to criticize any penis that shows an interest in me. I’ve had good experiences with cut men … and no-so-good. The same with the uncut. I try to judge on a wiener-by-wiener basis, without painting all tools with the same brush.
But I also have a strong libertarian streak in me. And news breaking this week that the Centers for Disease Control weighed in this week, for the first time, about the benefits of circumcision “health-wise” made me pause. The argument I heard mounted by one author of the policy explained how there are “few risks” involved in circumcision (swelling, bleeding, etc.) and that the benefits included a substantial decrease in rates of HIV contraction.
This, to me, is muddle-headed. The cut/uncut debate has nothing (or little) to do with health. It is first and foremost an issue of personal autonomy and, to an extent, aesthetics. It is a decision made by parents (often brand-new to having a son) about a tiny infant that ultimately affects a huge psychological issue he may have in his later life. For Jews, it is a sacrament that precedes inclusion in a faith community, which I don’t have a problem with. But what about people like my folks, who were basically told, “We’re snipping your newborn — be right back”?
And if the health benefits only manifest themselves when the child becomes sexually active — at a time of presumed physical and emotional maturity — why not leave it up to him, as a teenager, to decide for himself? Or just teach proper hygiene? Speaking from experience, that’s a good thing for anyone who’s sexually active.
There’s even the possibility that telling men (and their parents) that circumcision decreases the transmission of STIs leads to a false sense that cut men can be less careful about having safe sex. That’s not true — cut or uncut, you shove your willy in enough places unprotected, you’re gonna risk a disease. (And what about guys who are total bottoms anyway? Who’s thinking of them?!?!?)
So, let’s talk about it. Are you cut or uncut? Prefer one or the other in your partner? Have any mental scars from your parents decision?