Sexism is the product of the patriarchy, and the patriarchy must die. One way to help kill it is to end the genital mutilation of male infants, abbreviated here as RNC (routine neonatal circumcision).
Sisters, stay with me. Yes, we all know that “female circumcision” (a term with several meanings, none of them good) is ghastly and wicked, but it is illegal in the civilized world, and there’s not much we can do about the benighted places where it is practiced. This is about baby boys, and why preserving their genital integrity is crucial to the safety, happiness and well-being of women. What’s bad for women is the patriarchy, and RNC is the patriarchy’s tool.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and postulate that RNC has been and continues to be responsible for an overwhelming amount of damage to men, which is then passed on to women. But judging from the evidence, it’s a pretty stout limb. There’s a ton of information available, and if you pursue it, I think you’ll find that RNC is behind a plethora of the male traits that women find deplorable. After some background material, I’ll list some of those traits and show how it all connects.
The first thing to know is, there’s no such thing as a foreskin. The inaccurately named foreskin or prepuce is actually the forefold of the skin system. It isn’t a distinct anatomical feature, but an integral part of this ingeniously engineered mechanism which belongs to both the penis and to the body’s largest organ, the skin. What so many casually accept as RNC is actually the partial amputation of a healthy organ.
A look at circumcision’s disreputable past takes us into some very murky psychological territory, with lots of sick motivations at work.
Way back in history, the typical marauding army would bring back to its overlord a pile of trophy so-called foreskins (or entire penises) to verify the body count. In the Bible, there’s King Saul, whose price for his daughter’s hand in marriage was a hundred Philistine foreskins. David, always the overachiever, went out and got two hundred. Egyptian tombs and other stone monuments of war depict piles of chopped-off trophy penises. Throughout time, castration was the worst thing, short of killing, that could be done to a man. As a symbol of defeat for enemy warriors, the substitution of “only” castration rather than execution is said to have represented humane progress.
Even later, circumcision was in some cases substituted for castration: more progress. The religious leaders rationalized that the gods would accept a mere “foreskin,” rather than a life, as sufficient tribute, and human sacrifice went out of style. So circumcision became entrenched as a religious rite – this allegedly symbolic loss of a small bit of flesh which is not symbolic, but all too real.
Though the religious motif is still widespread, modern and unsuperstitious Americans are also urged to support RNC on hygienic grounds, because it supposedly prevents some medical conditions. Need I say that excising a portion of an organ to prevent future problems is absurd? Do we perform compulsory double mastectomies on teenage girls, so they won’t get breast cancer some day? The arbitrary removal of a body part because something might go wrong with it, is beyond madness. Many sources detail the complications and, far too often, the life-long damage. Except in a few rare instances, RNC is medically indefensible.
And on religious or “cultural” grounds, even more so. Especially where they use an unsterile glass shard, rusty razor, shell fragment, or whatever other sharp instrument happens to be available – an excellent way to contract septicemia or AIDS. Face the psychological reality: old men enjoy punishing the young and lusty. Freud named fear and jealousy as the motivations for ritual circumcision, and though he wasn’t right about everything, he hit that nail squarely on the head.
There’s a point past which no custom can be justified. Some Australian aboriginal tribes would knock out a kid’s front tooth – a permanent tooth. That probably isn’t done any more, and the young generation is the better for it. Today, a conscientious dentist will tell you that the extraction of one tooth is equivalent to the amputation of a limb. How much more heinous is cutting off a piece of a baby boy’s penis?
How can anyone cry out against child abuse and at the same time allow this thing? We have laws about “invasive” procedures and acts, as if that were the worst possible violation. What could be more invasive of a body part than its excision? In backward nations, poverty-stricken parents used to purposely scar and disable their babies so they could make at least some kind of living as pathetic beggars. American parents allow their kids to be mutilated with even less justification!
Granted: plenty of circumcised men are absolute sweethearts. Granted: there are plenty of belligerent and misogynistic uncircumcised men. And I’m going to stipulate that multiple forces other than genital surgery are at work to make men violent and woman-hating. But let’s enumerate some of the things about men which inspire fear and loathing in women, and connect the dots.
RNC severely messes up the bonding process between baby boy and mother: step one in a lifelong War of the Sexes. The medical and religious fanatics claim the pain of the procedure is minimal. In truth, an infant may be too wounded even to cry, entering a state of traumatic shock that can be passed off as evidence that he didn’t feel a thing. If a tiny helpless infant is so injured as to be unable to accomplish the most primal, basic bond of all, how in hell will he ever bond with any other woman, later on?
Lack of true sensuality
The glans of the penis is meant to be moist and enclosed, just like an eyeball or a tongue. After RNC, the glans rubs against clothing and develops a thicker skin, and its nerves become desensitized. But the true crime of this obscene operation is that the excised portion of the penile skin system contains 240 feet of nerve fibers and 20,000 nerve endings. With foreskin intact, the glans has mucous membrane gliding against mucous membrane. As a voluptuous sensation, it must be the next best thing to giving yourself head.
Why should women care? Because intact men aren’t the only ones who enjoy sex more – their female partners do too. When a man retains his full capacity for sensuality, it can mean the difference between a splendid lover and a “wham-bam-thank you ma’am” guy. Many an experienced woman not only prefers an intact cock, but raves about it. For starters, due to the slack allowed by the loose skin, she doesn’t need supplemental lubrication, and what moisture there is won’t quickly evaporate when the shaft is withdrawn during the “out” phase of the in-and-out cycle.
A woman friend: “The most amazing sex in my life, I was over fifty. And the guy was intact. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
An anonymous man: “I always wondered why women seemed so much more naturally sensitive until it finally dawned on me that I was born equally sensitive, but they cut it off.”
Heedlessness of consequences
Safe sex? The circumcised man is more likely to reject a condom, because his ability to feel is already messed up. In his quest for intense sensation, he’s more likely to prefer the back door to the front – which is fine if the woman likes it, but dreadful if she doesn’t. He may be less willing to use a rubber for birth control, too. Is there a tiny atavistic voice in his head saying “I endured sexual wounding – why shouldn’t she?”
During intercourse, a cut man is more likely to slam away like a pile driver, regardless of the discomfort it causes – because he is desperate to feel. Some experts trace the need for extreme sex (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) back to the desensitizing effects of RNC.
Quote from a man who restored his foreskin: “With all the recovered sensations, feelings, sensuality and complexity … I have no need to go through all those machinations just to come. Intercourse… just plain old, missionary position, normal, slow-motion intercourse is interesting enough.” (Rio Cruz)
Defensiveness, superiority, the unremitting need to be right and to put women down – you know the drill. This comes from castration anxiety. A man gets all obsessive about how long or hefty his unit is, when he might have been perfectly content with the thing if it hadn’t been butchered. It’s no wonder some men have to spend the rest of their lives proving how very macho they are.
On a deep level, the subconscious knows: it is the enemy who collects foreskins. By this pre-emptive act of hostility and grievous assault, whoever was responsible – the parents, the doctor, the hospital, the State – have declared themselves as enemies. If theories of the subconscious have any validity at all, this must be so. Of course minds will be warped.
If I were a man who’d been RNC’d in infancy, I’d be righteously angry for sure. I’d like to see some hospitals sued…… except that would only contribute to making the health care situation more impossible for everyone. I’d like to see some doctors sued ….. except that would only raise the cost of malpractice insurance and thus of patient care.
Sure, a thousand things can mess up a person’s psyche, from potty training to environmental toxins. But this much is certain: no matter what else is going on with a kid’s heredity, environment, or reincarnational status, having a piece of his dick cut off doesn’t help.
There’s the ingrained knowledge that a major choice has been made without his consent, which causes pigheaded resistance to even useful authority, an unwillingness to accept anybody’s opinion, including reading the instructions or consulting a map. Nobody’s going to tell them what to do, ever again!
An uncut man has options. Operating on a baby takes away his options. An uncut man can change the look of his cock and make it resemble, at least temporarily, a circumcised one. The cut man doesn’t have that option – unless he’s willing to spend a lot of time and attention on the rehabilitation project. The uncut look is, to a certain extent, recoverable by means of skin expansion techniques which, although the process takes a year or two, involve minimal risk and are said to be almost universally successful.Yes, there is a surgical procedure: expensive, multi-staged, hazardous, and recommended by no reputable practitioner. But even for a guy who successfully remodels the appearance, and restores the protective function, and achieves better sex, the fact is there’s still a big, functional piece missing. Those thousands of nerve endings are never coming back.
Violence against women
RNC causes an unquantifiable but vast amount of “normal” sexual problems in men. Scarring, deformity, tightness, numbness, and numerous other conditions impair function. The nervous system is confused, the brain aware that it should be receiving messages from a body part that’s not even there any more. Why should women care? Because we often catch the blame. If his dick doesn’t work right, it must be our fault – for being too old, too demanding, having the wrong shape ass, not wanting to suck his cock, whatever. When he can’t get it up, gets off too soon, can’t get off at all, there’s an inchoate rage. Something is wrong and it must be this woman’s fault – because she’s here. Whap!
Serious mental/emotional illness
To claim that a baby or child can be genitally mutilated without a lasting traumatic effect, defies reason. The younger the child is when molestation occurs, the greater the likelihood of severe emotional damage. And anyone who thinks RNC is not molestation, is profoundly out of touch with reality. If he belongs to the statistical majority, the first thing a baby boy learns about his penis is, it’s the source of unthinkable agony. The first thing he learns about other people touching it is, they’re going to torture him. How can there not be huge psychological fallout?
Fiction writers rack their brains to think up childhood traumas horrifying enough so their readers can believe a kid would turn into a predatory murderous monster. In a novel I read once, the cruel grownup told the little boy: “Get that big pair of scissors, take off all your clothes, lie down on the bed, and wait for me.” Kind of makes you sick, doesn’t it? After waiting there for hours, he didn’t even get his dick cut off – just the threat of it was punishment enough. But the terrifying incident caused him to grow up to be a sexual sadist serial killer. And every day, in the U.S. of A, a few thousand baby boys actually have pieces of their dicks sliced off. It’s the number one surgical procedure in this great land of ours.
In the ‘70s, RNC in America was flying high, with 4 out of 5 baby boys chopped. The madness reached its height in the early ’80s. Take 1980, with a victim tally of about a million and a half infants cut. If only a tiny fraction, like say 1%, of those boys developed some kind of psychosexual pathology, that would make, in the 26-year-old age group alone, a total of 15,000 sexual psychopaths.
And what about the temperament that leads to wholesale destruction of humans and the environment? Note which major groups circumcise: Jews and Moslems, who have been at war since the beginning of recorded history. By a strange coincidence, these same two cultures, in their most virulent forms, keep women covered up with their hair concealed or shaved off. The other major group that practices RNC? Americans. Q.E.D.
Circumcision is one of the strongest methods by which the patriarchy replicates itself and maintains control. In the most hidden recesses of each victim’s brain, it implants the stern warning: “We already took part of it, and if you don’t fall in with the party line, we’ll be back for the rest.”
Originally published for Blog Against Sexism Day 2006