Monday, April 5, 2010
Concerning Circumcision

Any of you who have been to my book signings know I tend to move back and forth between reading my stuff and doing Q&A.

I do this partly to break up the potential monotony of an hour of straight reading, and partly because I really like to answer questions. Any sort of question, really. That's part of the reason I became a teacher, I think. And it probably factored into my decision to keep writing my College Survival Guide for about 10 years.

I even, believe it or not, wrote a sex advice column for a while. Under an assumed name.

When I do Q&A at a reading, there are some things that get asked a lot. Things like, "Where do you get your ideas?" or "Do you base your characters on real people?"

Then there are the questions that don't get asked very often. Like, "Do you like cats?" or "How do you feel about circumcision?"

This last question got asked when I was down in Lexington. Strangely, wasn't the first time I'd been asked. I actually wrote an column on it back when I was doing the Survival Guide. As luck would have it, I had a copy of that column with me. So I read it.

After the reading when I was signing books, someone said, "You should post that one up on line."

"I probably should," I said.

So here it is...

Dear Pat,

I'm in a weird situation. Normally I pride myself in minding my own business. I keep my nose out of my friends affairs (literally) and generally keep my opinions to myself.

But recently I ended up doing some research into circumcision. Not female circumcision, which everyone in their right mind generally admits it barbaric and creepy, but good old fashioned guy circumcision. The type that's done to almost all newborn boys here in the good old U S of A.

I found out not only is it totally unnecessary, but it's generally bad for the little kids. Despite the fact that it's the standard thing here in the US, where almost 90% of guys are circumcised.

My problem is, I have a friend who is about to give birth. Maybe to a little boy. Now that I know all the horrible things that can result from Circumcision, I feel like I should try to tell her about it so she won't do it.

But isn't this kinda sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong? I can't think of a good way to approach her. I mean, I don't have a penis myself, so I can't really speak from experience. I have been with guys both cut and uncut, and I was surprised to find out how much I liked the unedited penis. But again, I doubt that's the right way to approach things with my friend.

How can I mention this to her without offending her for getting in her business?

Student Not Into Penis Slicing.

Your College Survival Guide, the place to go when you really need to learn the finer points of dick discussion etiquette. I'm like Miss Manners with tourettes.

Alright, SNIPS, I'm going to glide right by a few too-obvious jokes about your nose, and get right to the business of answering your question. Back when I was younger I would have taken this as a golden opportunity to make a lot of wang jokes.

But I've matured since then. So, instead, I'm going to slide as many innuendo-laden puns into the column as humanly possible. Also, just to make it a challenge, I'm going to use a new euphemism for the male member each time I refer to it.

First I feel like I need to correct one of the statements you made in your letter. Uncircumcised fellas are more common than you make them out to be. Back in the 1960's about 90 percent of baby boys got the chop, but the circumcision rate these days is closer to 60%, as more and more people get clued in to the situation by helpful folks like you and me.

Secondly, the proper slang term for an gent's uncircumcised dangle-bob isn't "unedited," it's "director's cut." Occasionally it's even a "special edition director's cut," but that's very rare.

Hmmm. You're right though. This is a touchy subject. But there's a big difference between being pushy, and just giving your friend some valuable information. Still, it should be handled delicately. Here are some opening lines you might want to avoid:

"Jenny, lately I've been thinking a lot about your baby's penis."

"Have you ever thought that hacking a chunk off the end of your newborn's wing-wang might not be the best way to welcome him into the world?"

"Y'know, if I was going to have sex with your son, I'd prefer him to be uncircumcised."

The more I think about it, maybe you don't want to try to get a rise out of her. Instead maybe you could just try to bring it up casually instead.

Maybe quoting a few facts would be the way to go. Don't be accusatory, just point out why, exactly, chopping someone's fireman off isn't cool. Point out that since the foreskin actually has about a third of the penis' nerve endings on it, cutting it off it pretty much the same as a partial clitorectomy. In plainer terms, it's like cutting off a good chunk of a little girl's clit. As you said in your letter: barbaric and creepy.

Think of it guys. You know how you think your Johnson is pretty awesome now? Imagine if it was 33% more awesome. Yeah. I know. It boggles the mind. I expect some manner of radiant light would constantly be emanating from my pants. Most of us would never leave the house. The fact that a piece of my winkie was torn off without my approval leaves me feeling a little bent out of shape. Figuratively speaking.

You could also direct your friend to a good website or two, so she can gather her own facts. has a remarkably well-researched and easy to read FAQ on the subject. Including some information about how the surgery might be seriously traumatic for the newborns involved.

In closing, for all my fellow fellows out there, if your parents gave your special purpose the snip, don't hold it against them. Because, y'know, that would be pretty weird.


It's interesting to note that I wrote this a couple years before I became a dad. It was nice, actually, having done this research ahead of time. Because I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to circumcise the baby if it was a boy.

But even if I hadn't done the research, I probably would have been convinced when I saw The Circumstraint:

That's really what it's called. It's the plastic thing they strap your baby down onto so he doesn't struggle around too much while they're trying to cut off a piece of his dick. The nurses thought I was kinda weird for wanting to take a picture of it.

While part of me, the scientific part, can acknowledge the fact that something like this helps keep the baby safe during the procedure. The rest of me is filled with a mute horror at the thought of someone tying my baby down onto this thing so they can cut him. Not because he *needs* it. Just, y'know, because. Tradition. And stuff.

A lot of times when people meet Oot, they say things like, "He's such a happy baby." Or "He's so friendly and trusting."

Sometimes I want to reply, "Well, we got things off on the right foot by not cutting off a piece of his dick."

Can you imagine what sort of an introduction that must be to the world? There's a big, long squeeze, then suddenly everything is really bright and cold. Maybe you get a bit of a cuddle and a taste of breast. Then you're strapped down and someone cuts off a piece off one of the most sensitive areas of your body. Welcome to being alive, little guy.

That's all for now, folks.


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Blogger jtrax13 said...

That's a new perspective on the subject. Makes me angry that the man in white stripped my "willy-wonka" of his parasol.

April 5, 2010 7:38 AM  
Blogger wirelessrobin said...

Ahhh, I love reading you're blogs....
I didn't have either of my boys circumsized either.... and neither of my boys fathers were....

April 5, 2010 7:40 AM  
Blogger Sylph said...

Circumsition is completely unnecessary. If I have sons, no blade is getting near their little buddy.

April 5, 2010 7:56 AM  
Blogger franti said...

I had a conversation with a few of my friends recently about how, if given the choice, I would have chosen to go with the Director's Cut, instead of the studio-edited wanger. After the childish giggles, we had a discussion about it, but were having trouble finding a solid factual website for actual info about it. So thanks for that, and generally being a stand-up dude.

April 5, 2010 7:58 AM  
Blogger Been said...

I dislike being "that guy", but your maths are a little off. Statistically speaking a guy who hasn't had parts of wang stripped off feels 50% more "awesome" than those who have.

And yes, it does make it difficult to leave the house sometimes ;)

April 5, 2010 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Kat said...

I had a friend in college who was horrified I wouldn't circumsize my hypothetical child. It would make him "socially unacceptable" and he would get made fun of by other boys for looking different. So just remember everyone, conformity first.

April 5, 2010 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

hah, a no fun introduction to the world, to be sure.

Now i actually have to research the whole topic, as I have no idea about the cost/benefits of circumcision...
I have never thought anything of it really.... But 33% more awesome?
I'll have to look into this it appears...
pretty funny though!

April 5, 2010 8:47 AM  
Anonymous isaac said...

Just a couple of notes:

Traditional Jewish Circumcision rituals do not involve restraints, but in fact make the situation as comfortable for the child as possible. (They even give you a bit of wine...just saying...)

I for one am glad to be circumcised...I have an epic amount of belly button lint at the end of the day...if I had a foreskin, I cringe to imagine the Ring O' Lint that would gather in there...

April 5, 2010 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Is circumcision really that common in the US? As far as I know only jewish and a few muslim children get circumcised, at least in my country.

April 5, 2010 9:00 AM  
Anonymous J.W. said...

You know, there are worse ways to be circumcised than being strapped into the Circumstraint.

I have a family member who inadvertently circumcised himself at age 12. He was out walking in the woods when he found an old bicycle pump. Being a typical 12 year old boy, the first thing he thought of was to hold the end of the pump to his penis and press the pump handle very hard. The resultant air pressure explosively removed his foreskin.

So, you know, if it has to be done, doing it when the child is a baby makes sure the poor kid won't remember it for the rest of his life.

That being said, I do wish my penis was 33% more awesome.

April 5, 2010 9:04 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

Isaac: That doesn't actually happen... at least I'm pretty sure it's normal that it doesn't happen that you get a 'Ring O' Lint' down there... just saying. But yea even if I'm a bit adverse to the whole concept I totes agree it's different when there's a cultural/religious aspect. Unless it's female circumcision obviously... then just no.

April 5, 2010 9:07 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

MEN'S HEALTH did a write up on circumcision last year. It had some pretty interesting things to say, not the least of which is that the doctor who is the subject of the article is named Dr. Wang (seriously). MEN'S HEALTH didn't even make a joke.

Anyway, the article notes that the question isn't as clear cut (pun intended) as some may think. Here's the article:

April 5, 2010 9:10 AM  
Blogger Avaz said...

isaac, speaking from personal experience, I, too, have an epic amount of belly button lint at the end of the day, and exactly NONE of it ends up inside Man's Best Friend.

April 5, 2010 9:14 AM  
Blogger Myles said...

Dang it. 1/3 of the nerve endings just gone.

I personally think that uncircumcised penises are pretty disgusting, but that's probably because the first one I ever saw was on a full grown man in Europe. And there were 20 other men behind him with the same extra appendage.

In retrospect, though, I wouldn't mind having my penile envelope back.

April 5, 2010 9:19 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

damn it Pat! Now my thoughts are all challenged and stuff and I have to actually do some research to figure out what I think instead to blindly doing what I think is supposed to be done.

I hate it when that happens.

April 5, 2010 9:25 AM  
Blogger maddergrey said...

What if we got our first boy circumcised, then realized that we would not have done that if we had all the info in the first place, and now we have another boy to be born REAL SOON? Would ya cut the new one so both boys would not feel different of upset but one getting something the other one did not get?

April 5, 2010 9:29 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

We made the same decision with our little guy.

April 5, 2010 9:30 AM  
Blogger Elicius said...

Great post Mister Pat!

I for one am glad my parents decided to leave my manhood intact. I find it's a great place to store things for the long winter months. My Pink Oboe for example.

I have a feeling Oot will thank you for it when he's old enough.

'though not literally. That conversation could be a little weird.

April 5, 2010 9:32 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I never knew any details of circumcision before. Above all else, now, I'm glad I'm choosing not to have kids.

But this will stay on my back burner along with all of my other "If we ever accidentally have a kid someday..." plans.

April 5, 2010 9:35 AM  
Blogger Gregory said...

While I respect the opinions of a fantasy author and the other blog commenters, I would prefer to acquire my medical advice from documented medical standards, such as the stance of the Center for Disease Control on male circumcision:

April 5, 2010 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan Entwisle said...

I'm so glad that circumcision has far less prevalence in England than in the US. It seems a little odd that such a high proportion of the male population gets edited

April 5, 2010 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm gonna echo Sarah's question: is circumsision REALLY THAT COMMON IN THE US??! Whoa.

April 5, 2010 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Armin said...

I didn't even know so many guys in the US are chopped.
As far as I am concerned this should be a decision everybody makes for themselves. So do not make this decision for your infant boy. Religion in my opinion is the most stupid reason ever to cause harm to others, this includes circumcision. Likewise is tradition. "But it was done to me too, when I was young" is just not an excuse.
HIV prevention, if it really helps, wont affect your baby until he can make that decision for himself (or he is helplessly premature).
And for other diseases: Circumcision might have helped in a time where there was no soap and flowing water handy every other day.
So, no, there is no medical reason whatsoever to circumcise newborns. Once they grow up and either need it because its growing too tight (no joke this happens to some) or they intend to have lots of unprotected humping and bumping with HIV-positives, well it wont come upon them all of a sudden so there should be time to have someone cut the tip.


April 5, 2010 9:51 AM  
Blogger Nemeslith said...

Well, I'm Spanish. Here most of boys aren't circumsized. It is even seen as something extrange. Like " Serious? Are you circumsized? O.o"
So, I think it isn't important at all. But, about hygiene matters, according to what I've heard, it's better to be circumsized.

April 5, 2010 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anony... said...

huh...interesting about the skin getting too tight for some. But, not to gross anyone out, but I know someone who...ahem...well, they were in the shower and pulled it back to wash and the skin wouldn't go back when they were finished and got stuck! He tried and tried, until he still couldn't get it back, until he shouted for his mom, (that's right), and even she couldn't get it back. They had to rush him to the hospital. Sad thing about it is that the guy is 18 years old, called his mom and not his dad, and was showering before his he missed his graduation. No lie, this happened to a cousin. It's sad, but I couldn't help bursting out in laughter when my aunt told my mom over the phone what happened to him. tsk.

April 5, 2010 10:03 AM  
Anonymous KT said...

Gregory, the data you are referring to has numerous flaws. A link and a quote:

"Even if the African studies were internally reliable, differences between the study population and social environment
in sub-Saharan Africa and the American context render them unsuitable for drawing any conclusions about HIV
prevention in the United States. First, sexual behavior and sexually transmitted diseases are notoriously difficult to
study and draw reliable conclusions from. Second, HIV is transmitted through various means in addition to sexual
intercourse (e.g., contaminated medical instruments and blood supply); prevention measures that focus exclusively on
sexual transmission are limited. Third, the United States and sub-Saharan Africa differ in many ways, including:
! varying cultural and sexual practices, both hetero- and homosexual
! different viral strains
! different sanitary conditions
! different levels of access to preventive services and general health care "


"Only abstinence or the use of condoms can prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Moreover, condom usage protects women as well as men. Even if circumcision were effective for preventing disease, removing part of a baby boy's penis at birth to prevent the potential for disease in the future makes no more sense than "routinely" removing healthy gall bladders at birth to prevent the potential for gall stones in later life, or removing healthy teeth to prevent dental caries."

April 5, 2010 10:04 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Interesting article that Chad posted. Everybody that is vehemently against circumcision should read it.

I don't have any children on the way so I don't have much of a personal stake in the issue, but the AIDS angle brought up in the article would be important to me if I were.

April 5, 2010 10:12 AM  
Blogger D said...

I'm a nearly 40 year old woman in the US. Until I didn't have my son circ'd, I'd never seen a penis with a turtleneck. I, uh, saw my fair share of penises, too, back in the day, lol. No Jewish or Muslim guys, at least none religious enough to practice any religion.

My daughter spent about 3.5 months in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, since she was premature and had a lot of growing to do. The room they circ'd the boys on was across the hall from the NICU.

After a few weeks of her being there, once I knew she was going to live and I started paying attention to my surroundings, I noticed that from time to time there would be these just horrible shrieks from somewhere nearby. Babies just screaming-way worse than they ever did for a blood draw or heel stick, and those could be some pretty rough screams.

I finally asked and found out that the screaming was babies having their foreskins cut off, as we usually do in the US, with no anesthetic. Because they won't remember it later.

I remember it. My son has a normal penis, even if it means I've had to fight with a pediatrician over him and it.

If he wants it removed when he's an adult, he can.

As for hygiene, little girls' have far messier genitals, and we don't cut off part of theirs to make clean up simpler. I think my son can manage to use soap.

WTG Pat for bringing this up ;)

April 5, 2010 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, but do you like cats?

April 5, 2010 10:31 AM  
Anonymous LaurafromNY said...

lol. Yes, Mr. Fussy, do you like cats?!

April 5, 2010 10:32 AM  
Blogger D said...

regarding the AIDS angle. Use a condom.

April 5, 2010 10:38 AM  
OpenID waltzwithme said...

To answer Sara et. al. - yes, it IS that common in the States. I live in California and have only ever been with one uncut guy. It didn't freak me out, but it *was* embarrassing to have to admit out loud to the guy that I had no idea what to do with a foreskin, having never before seen one. Even American pr0n is populated almost entirely by the circumcised!

The practice is so common that it wasn't until well into my thirties that I even thought to question whether circumcision was good or bad - it just was.

April 5, 2010 10:40 AM  
Blogger Elveny said...

It was only when I took a tour with an international group through Ireland - involving Americans, Australians, English, French, German people - and talked with some of the other girls about it (don't ask me how we came to talk about 'with or without', I really don't remember) when I realized how common it is in the US to have the boys circumcized. It's a strange thought that so many people let a mostly unnecessary operation been taken with their newborn. I mean - it's an operation! Why would you do it? Hygiene? Like "D" said: "I think my son can manage to use soap." And voil√°, no hygiene problem. ;)

Here in Germany, circumcision is something done solely out of medical necessity or for religious reasons, which means that most guys are not. I never heard a girl complain about it, I certainly don't mind it.

And for the AIDS "reason": Circumcision. Does. NOT. I repeat: NOT! Protect. You. From. HIV.
If you want to be protected, use a condom. I'm always shocked at what stupid things people believe in regard to this lethal disease.

April 5, 2010 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Restoring Tally said...

I was circumcised at birth. I dislike not having that 30 to 50% extra sensation so much that I am restoring my foreskin. Even though I cannot restore to the original equipment, my restored tally is soooo much better than my cut version. My wife loves it too, particularly since she does not get sore like she used to. Another bonus is we don't need lube like we did with the chopped unit.

April 5, 2010 11:17 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I, for one, am glad my folks didn't permit the doctors to snip me.

Two notes for the anatomically curious:

1) I haven't had debris in my turtle shell since before my age had double digits. Three seconds of attention in the shower is a sufficient preventative measure.

2) Occassionally, the monk's cowl falls by accident from his face and he is exposed to his immediate environment. Adjustments are required to remedy the situation. When in public, such adjustments must be postponed. In the intervening time, the devout brother will become substantially desensitized as he is roughed up by garments not his own. I can only suppose that this desensitization is the standard for those holy men who forsake their hoods entirely.

April 5, 2010 11:36 AM  
Blogger dillivered said...

Ya. Among all of the other complications that can stress an infant, this one seems like a real treat, does it not? The theory used to be that the infants will not remember the ordeal, so no big deal. Then they discovered that infants who did not receive much attention in these giant understaffed nurseries were showing signs of reactive attachment disorder later on. Seems to me like it's a bad idea to wire your kid for, "if I let somebody other than Mom and Dad pick me up, somebody's gonna slice fuck you world."

April 5, 2010 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Baldsilver said...

I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that you're one of those who will believe whatever they are told and defend it as long as its plausible and exciting. I'm disappointed that you think a site is "remarkably well-researched" just because its easy to read and not a .com website. Yes, the cut off skin has nerve endings, but that simply means you can feel it when your poked. And a guy's orgasm is chemically induced and is in no way affected by the amount of extra skin one has. I suppose in the end its up to personal choice. Personally, I like having my penis clean and not jizzing after three minutes. You're very much entitled to your opinion but please don't pass off bogus as fact and be aware that a lot of your readers, or rather, your commenters, are easily convinced. I seem to remember one saying that he was reattaching his foreskin. You still write good books though.


April 5, 2010 11:57 AM  
Anonymous BoredomHeights said...

There's a whole Penn and Teller episode on this subject bashing circumcision. Now they may not always be completely unbiased, but it's still interesting to watch. Apparently a baby is even more sensitive "down there" than he will be when he gets older, so it's even more painful when cut than it would be later. ouch.
here's a link to the episode, it's kind of graphic:

April 5, 2010 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Personally, I like having my penis clean...

C'mon now. All this "But it's dirty!!" stuff is such unmitigated nonsense.

Yes, if you don't clean it, it can get dirty. The same applies to armpits and butt cracks, but nobody would advocate amputating arms to solve BO problems or colostomies to steer clear of skidmarks.

... and not jizzing after three minutes.

Outside of clinical premature ejaculation problems, this usually isn't an issue once a guy's older than 14.

April 5, 2010 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly you sir - have not worked in the health field. You do realize that CNAs really have a tough time keeping the DIRT UNDER YOUR PENIS SKIN from causing you serious problems. For more horror stories regarding dirty penis skin and CNAs - just ask one that works in the field - after they puke I'm sure they will have a lot of fun stories to share with you and your holy penis skin.

Your Truly,

- Concerned about your diseased dick

April 5, 2010 12:43 PM  
Blogger Erin Jump said...

Hey Pat, This is why I enjoy being a fan of yours. I never know what I am going to get! Today it's penis' who knows what tomorrow will bring. Thanks for being open and talking lightheartedly about things most people will never discuss in their life.

April 5, 2010 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Baldsilver said: "I suppose in the end its up to personal choice."

You are absolutely right. This should be a personal choice, and not one made for you by your parents based on tradiotion, religion or anything short of a medical problem.

April 5, 2010 1:54 PM  
Blogger D said...

For the CNA-

Do you suggest removal of girl's labia, as infants, as well? From the nursing home workers I know (I live in Central Florida, land of the Elderly, so there are a lot here), the gals have really messier bodies than the men do, and helping an old man clean his penis is way faster than the labia of an old woman.

::where the rustle of the Depends in Wal-mart is more prevalent than the sound of the surf, and doctors don't want to see you depending on who you voted for::

April 5, 2010 2:00 PM  
Blogger Elveny said...

To Anonymous: Oh yes sure, and the whole of Europe's men with most of them being not circumcised is having diseased penisses. This is ridiculous.

April 5, 2010 2:09 PM  
Blogger SWEETDADDY_73 said...

This post has been removed by the author.

April 5, 2010 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Arthur said...

Kvothe is circumsized???

April 5, 2010 2:23 PM  
Blogger Wafaa said...

This is something where in the old days (before the availability antibiotics and condoms), it was healthier and safer to do because of the high risk of infections.

Nowadays, it may not be necessary, but there are some benefits with it, and no real downside. Orgasms are not achieved by the nerve endings removed, unlike in female circumcision. I mean the only real downside that is being mentioned here is some perceived emotional trauma for the baby. How many circumsized guys out there are actually traumatized.

I've no problem with it, and generally where I come from, pretty much all baby boys are circumsized. But it is an interesting topic to learn about before parents make their decision.

April 5, 2010 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Yes, let's base our judgments on horror stories from those who are charged with the care of people who, for one reason or another, aren't (or haven't been) able to take care of themselves. That's a perfectly reasonable and non-trollish thing to do.

This nursing student once told me what a nightmare it is when homeless diabetic patients come in. They get grimy, persistent open sores from not taking care of their feet. Sometimes maggots set up shop. They get cleaned up, sent on their way, and end up coming back eventually, in roughly the same condition.

So, when shall we begin lopping off our feet?

Yours, etc.

-- Concerned for the vile infestation magnets that are your feet.

April 5, 2010 3:12 PM  
Blogger Rocephin said...


Yes, far better to base our judgments on a random sampling of people on the internet rather than someone in the medical profession...

You are perhaps being willfully obtuse, but on the off chance that you are not, let me address your concern.

We should not make decisions based on "horror stories" as you describe them. That is the point of science, to study a problem. In this case, the medical data is, ultimately, conflicted. A quick search of the medical database (PubMed) shows there are over 350 review articles, and several thousand original papers on the benefits and risks of circumcision.

My evaluation of the data is that there is some decreased risk of infection with circumcision, and personally, I would circumcise my child. I have no problem with others who choose differently.

I do have a problem with people who take absolutist positions based on whatever limited data is available on the internet and then try and make other people feel stupid if they disagree.

Personally, I think that anyone who is not a medical professional has no business offering their medical advice (...but I saw it on a really good web-site!) to others.

April 5, 2010 3:31 PM  
Blogger D said...

From the American Academy of Pediatrics-the first line of the Circumcision Policy Statement.

"Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. "

Good enough info from a doctor?;103/3/686

The risks-

Penile cancer- Negligible difference. Very tiny rate of such a cancer.

HIV- Use a condom. As my child is not an uneducated person in Africa (probably the same for everyone reading here), this isn't a very high risk. Condoms should be used to prevent STDs and pregnancy.

UTIs- Girls have far higher risks of UTI. If we cut off part of their labias, I'm sure it would lower the risk as bacteria couldn't climb the much shorter female urethra. Anyone want to sign on suggesting that?

Hygiene-let me say again. Soap. Amazing thing. Add it to water and hygiene problems disappear when used properly.

As for the "perceived" emotional trauma for the infant. I dunno, hearing them scream like that while it happened seemed like it was a little more than emotional. There was a certain level of screaming that was them being strapped down, then it went to an entirely new pitch. I'm guessing that's when they actually performed the circumcision.

As soon as I found out that was what was happening to those babies...there's no way I could do that to mine, or think it's a good thing to be done just to make someone's penis look a certain way. Once you remove the other arguments (see above) there's just not much else left.

April 5, 2010 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...


By 'judgment', I wasn't referring to deciding whether or not to circumcise one's baby. I was referring to the judgment that foreskins are dirty, made by the Concerned Anonymous Citizen.

That hygiene chestnut is tiresome and, frankly, insulting.

April 5, 2010 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...


I have three sons and was horrified at the thought of cutting off bits of them before they even knew what was going on. Like being born isn't traumatic enough what with the being born part, cutting the umbilicus, vitamin K shot, slimy goo in the eyes, etc.

They are all grown up now and it doesn't seem to have harmed them a bit to leave that extra bit intact.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world. It's a difficult thing for many people to discuss...



April 5, 2010 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I just say, as a British reader of your blog, how incredibly peculiar this debate seems to me? Over here, male circumcision is restricted to certain faith groups and is declining as a practice even among them. I had not the FAINTEST idea the practice was so widespread in the US. Not to sound all judgey, but to me it's just barbaric - completely unnecessary in the absence of urgent health grounds. This is a part of the human body, and to remove it without the owner's permission is a violation of their human rights. Creepy, fetishitic etc. etc. Okay I'm being judgemental. (I'm also female, BTW.)

April 5, 2010 4:43 PM  
Anonymous kmc said...

Wow. I haven't heard such a spirited "debate" (read: public free-for-all) since I had to give up breastfeeding for a medical reason - I was told so much crap by people who were just projecting their own issues on to me & spent so much time bawling over the necessary decision...

Do the reading yourself & make up your own mind. And if you're not particularly religious, remember that tradition is entirely based on religion in this case.

Lots of websites run by orgainsations with an agenda spout information & data with dubious statistical back-up. I'd be going with the PubMed searches and even then only looking at the articles printed in unbiased & reputable scientific journals.

And if you have ever seen a new-born baby in pain, real pain, you will know that it IS very real. Any parent who has had to hold their baby down while the dr takes a blood sample would have seen the VERY REAL pain in the eyes of their child. NO WAY could i ever inflict pain willingly on my bubba without STRONG, ROBUST and DEFENDABLE scientific data

Right now I'm thanking my lucky stars i had girls & skipped this
"energetic" public free-for-all. The breastfeeding issue was bad enough.

Sorry about the lack of frivolity & wang-jokes...

April 5, 2010 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I point out that you used the word an before the word column without looking like a dick?

April 5, 2010 5:42 PM  
Blogger Erin Jump said...

You know, I find it (as a woman) difficult to believe that it's 60% circumcised in the states... I would think it is far more, simply because I have never encountered one. And neither have any of the chicks I know. Granted I haven't slept with THAT many guys, but with those stats 4 out of 10 I should have encountered someone. After reading this I polled the gals in my office and they hadn't encountered one either... and Chad Thank you for the Men's Health article. Really appreciate that. So yes ladies that are asking, it is that common in the sates.

April 5, 2010 5:57 PM  
Blogger Wafaa said...


This statistic is relatively recent so it's for newly born boys. I think pre-1999 in the U.S. circumcision was performed routinely, so most adult men right now are likely circumcised.

April 5, 2010 6:39 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

And I had to miss you being here in lexy.... I would have rather enjoyed this discussion. Husband being from Iceland and having European family members definitely changed my mind about the whole circumcision thing! My ob was kind of weirded out when I strictly said in no uncertain terms, if the little girl I was carrying, ended up having a penis, we were NOT cutting his little winkie. But neither ended up with an extra appendage between their legs, so no worries.

April 5, 2010 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Isaac said...

I'd like to agree with Baldsilver, in that I have a hard enough time staving off orgasm as it is, sometimes...33% more difficult of a time? Good lord...

April 5, 2010 7:41 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I happened to marry a woman from sweden and fathered two boys. Neither have had circumcisions. I didn't know the science behind it and just assumed they would be just like their papa, but once she enlightened me (apparently in sweden it's actually banned), I changed my view.

April 5, 2010 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, I've put too much research into this subject. I'm of the opinion is neither good or bad. It's a matter of context.
My expertise is in mental health. Most of the research I've found is those boys growing up circumcised in cultures that do not routinely practice it, have some minor self-esteem issue. The reverse is also true. Boys that aren't in a culture where most are get a little self-conscious. Not always, but often enough to register statistically.

That said, foreskin has it's uses. In some cases it does need to be removed. Strictures were previously brought up. Certain diseases are another issue. There are some sanitation issues depending on how the foreskin developed. But leaving it can be useful for urethral restorations after injury and for correcting certain common deformities (hypospadias and epispadias in particular).

Course, circumcision has strong cultural roots. I don't particularly like calling other cultures barbaric. It seems rather ethnocentric to do so, in my opinion. It is something different from my own perspective, but not something I'd call barbaric. I can see from this discussion that the argument that those that don't and those that do can call each other barbaric endlessly.

I'd leave the decision up to the parents to decide based on what culture they intend to raise their child in. They're the ones that have to raise the boy in the end. And if they mess up, well seriously, there are far more abusive things that parents do to their children. (Sorry, there are centuries-worth of examples showing that both circumcised and uncircumcised can live happy lives.)

April 5, 2010 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Baldsilver said...

Thomas said: You are absolutely right. This should be a personal choice, and not one made for you by your parents based on tradiotion, religion or anything short of a medical problem.

Parents make choices for their kids ALL THE TIME. Just as well, otherwise, the amount of shit kids would get into would be absurd.

And look, if I weren't circumsised, i'd probably be on your side. The only thing I object to is people acting so horrified and saying what a travesty it is. Its not. People assume its awful and that a third of ones sexual pleasure is lost. Its not. If you are completely uneducated regarding a particular subject, do not impose your ignorance on others. Most likely, they'l take it for true.

April 5, 2010 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Caden Canyon said...

How MALE circumcision also *hurts* WOMEN... during sex:

To that ignorant Jewish male Isaac, I say:

Hmm, funny... you're probably straight and have nooooooo problem "going there" w/ a *female* who has dozens of tiny folds in her genitals. Hypocritical much?

Also, since you couldn't even be *bothered* to research the issue (I guess Chinese foot-binding for infant girls and African brass rings neck-elongating would be fine, too, eh?), you wouldn't know that there's LOTS of smart Jewish parents of today REJECTING the CUTTING part of a bris ceremony and having a naming ceremony *only*... like GIRLS have!

April 5, 2010 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a 27 year old male, living in America and up until a few years ago I'd never given this subject a seconds thought. I knew I was circumcised and that was that. Then one day while my girlfriend was away for an extended time, I watched some porn. The male actor's dick was very strange indeed. It looked like a slug! Then I realized 'Wow, this must be an uncircumcised wang!' And instantly, I was curious. Why do we do it? What is the benefit, and if its so important, why doesn't everybody get it done? Upon reading for hours at various websites, I discovered that I had lost something that could do me no real harm, and would have actually protected my manhood from the harsh rigors of my boxers. As for stronger, more robust orgasms, obviously the evidence isn't solid, but regardless, there was only one word to describe how I felt at that point. Raped. I had something done to me, without my consent, that was irreversible. I could never get it back. This knowledge dropped me into a dark depression that lasted several weeks to be completely honest. To the best of my knowledge, the only advantage to my circumcision was a pretty penis (it is quite nice to gaze upon). This was several years ago, and since then I've come to accept that missing something you never had (you know what I mean) is quite silly. TMI bareback orgasms with the woman I love are so intense and powerful that my eyes roll up in my head and I can barely catch my breath. If uncircumcised are even more can keep them. I will, howerever, not circumcise my child and leave that choice up to him should I ever have a baby boy. That's my long-winded two cents.

April 5, 2010 8:45 PM  
Blogger Rhys R said...

Pardon the anon 27 male comment above, that was me, couldn't remember my password to save my life.

April 5, 2010 8:51 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

It's interesting that only two or three people have tried to advocate for circumcision, and their only response was an immediate and harsh attack. Unfortunately, the pro-cutters tend to respond in kind. Name-calling isn't going to bring anyone to your point of view.

Still, there's one thing I wanted to point out regarding the pain. Emotional pain and physical pain are two different things. There's no denying that a baby experiences pretty severe physical pain when circumcised. The question is whether that pain causes any kind of permanent, emotional harm. I haven't seen any evidence that it does. Babies and adults both experience severe pain from time to time, but it's relatively rare for it to cause permanent emotional scars. The 60% of male Americans who have been circumcised seem to have no mental issues from their operation. Others have mentioned this, including a mental health professional.

I'm not advocating circumcision, just trying clarify what you're saying when you cite the "don't hurt the babies" argument.

April 5, 2010 9:31 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

I wasn't going to comment until I saw this
"To that ignorant Jewish male Isaac, I say"

Firstly, as a Jewish male I find your tone highly offensive. I'm not sure how this discussion got so personal, so fast, but this type of language is both offensive and unproductive. If you disagree with someone, fine. If you find something they say offensive, say as much, in a civil tone. Making someone's religion the point of contention is an incredibly bad way to deal with a discussion. As far as the last part of your comment, I can guarantee you that Jews against circumcision are outliers only. Circumcision in the Jewish religion represents the Covenant with God that Abraham made, and whether you believe that or not(I happen to be significantly secular at this point in my life) telling an entire religion that one of the basic practices that has been done for something along the lines of 2000 years is unnecessary isn't going to change a whole lot of peoples minds.

As far as the meat of this discussion: I can't discuss how it would have felt to have sex without being circumcised, as that would require time travel and a religious conversion, but what I can say for certain is that I can and do enjoy sex. Male circumcision is VASTLY different from a female circumcision. You can make the argument that it is unnecessary. Fine. That is the parents choice. But describing the practice as barbaric assumes some long term damage that I haven't seen in my personal life. I don't remember it happening to me. I don't have some phobia to doctors(my dad is one) or hospitals, or synagogues, or lab coats. If I have some vast psychological trauma it has yet to present itself to me. Past that I enjoy sex, masturbation and all the other fun activities that the human mind can think of. If I'm missing out on something, I'm not missing it. As some have already pointed out, the scientific community is conflicted. That means that the choice is up to the parent. Feel free to disagree with what that parent decides, but respect the fact that regardless of that parent's decision, they are trying to look out for the best interests of their child.

April 5, 2010 10:05 PM  
Blogger Michail said...

I support the decision not to get a kid circumsized! I'd also support the decision to go ahead and do it, though.

I wasn't at birth, but had to at 17. I don't miss it at all. (Though, towards the end it caused all sorts of very painful issues, so there's that. See below!)

Which brings my point -- if you leave your kid uncircumsized, make sure you know what to tell him about how it should work. Phimosis ( -- very NSFW) is a not uncommon problem where the foreskin doesn't stretch the way it ought to. Which means masturbation, or just fiddling and washing, can tear it. It's really painful! And because so many kids _are_ circumsized, a boy might not realize what's up etc.

There's also general cleanliness issues etc. that the uncircumsized don't have to think about as much but that the circumsized might never be told.

So be aware and stuff!

April 5, 2010 10:20 PM  
Blogger Hex said...

Circumcision is and should be a choice - definitely. And it needs to be a choice by your parents at that stage in your life. Whether we agree with our parents or not, the choice was made. We can either continue with the tradition with our own children or not.

I have several friends who wish they were circumcised. Why? Because, like myself, they prefer the look of the circumcised penis. Personally, I feel that they are much more physically appealing and am perfectly fine with my parents making that choice for me.

April 6, 2010 12:08 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Be polite, people. There's no excuse for rudeness here.

April 6, 2010 12:28 AM  
Blogger Catie* said...

To Baldsilver: I have had a few different relationships with men, with and without foreskin and have never noticed that the uncircumsized guys came sooner.
Also, makes an HJ about a hundred times easier. I would prefer uncircumsized every time. Luckily where I live very few guys are circumsized!
As for cleanliness, I agree with whoever said girls' bits are harder to keep clean! All the guys I know can easily manage to keep it clean.

April 6, 2010 12:40 AM  
Blogger Landonstein said...

I was circumcized at the age of 9 due to having an extraordinarily tight foreskin that was apparently cutting off my circulation, at the time I was naturally scared of the operation but it really wasn't that bad, they basically knocked me out, cut it up and within a few hours I was awake talking deliriously to some old man I was sharing the room with, sure it was extremely tender for a few weeks to the point of having to abandon my tighty whities for the freedom of going commando but I'm pretty sure I didn't develop any long term psychological problems. Here in New Zealand circumcision isn't as popular as it appears to be in the states and during the earlier years of high school I kept my circumcision secret simply because all my friends considered it weird but now I wouldn't have it any other way, I think it looks much better this way and I already have enough trouble lasting even with my desensitized schlong.

April 6, 2010 2:32 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Even if it was scientifically proven and universally acknowledged that circumcision came with a cape and all sorts of awesome penile superpowers it still would not justify non-medical procedures being performed on infants, a parents vanity even less so.

And to X (somewhere above) who suggested the readers here are impressionable, don't imagine you are any different. After all, every opinion you have you got it from somewhere else and since there is evidently few uncontested hard facts on this subject those opinions are likely flavored by something else. Tradition doesn't necessarily make more sense than fantasy authors...

April 6, 2010 2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually did a stand up bit on this. I feel that there is sufficient evidence/tradition that either way can be supported with decent rationalization... I fail to understand groups like norm or recap. The idea of weighing down that area, or stretching that skin... it's already been messed with once you know? just because my head has a hat doesn't mean its something other men should aspire to. I put my pants on just like everyone else, three legs at a time

April 6, 2010 3:13 AM  
Anonymous dimensionallyT said...

Excellent fun, and lively debate. As a pointer, the jewsagainstcircumcision website is awful and a very poor example of its kind. This one is much better, with a lot of articles to the debates on circumcision for faith-based reasons:

April 6, 2010 5:11 AM  
Anonymous New Fan said...

Lame..... Imagine what I could do with 33% More Awesome!!!

On a more serious note it doesn't really bug me so much - I now have a legend Battle-Helmet!!!!

good post Pat

April 6, 2010 5:27 AM  
Anonymous Federico said...

i would never had thought american male population to be such. Here in Europe (i'm Italian) is a very rare thing, traditionally regarded to jewish culture. And i can say european males are "penisly" sane, so medically/statistically speaking there's no reason...

April 6, 2010 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok...I just have to say that this was not my decision to make. My son was born why would I make a decision to alter his penis? If he wanted it done when he is an adult...he can. He is 24 now...happy and healthy. Everyone should watch a video of a child being circumcised...that will open your eyes and tear out your heart!!

April 6, 2010 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the British woman who left a comment (far) above. I emailed a link to this blog to a friend who works in a maternity unit over here. She was utterly horrified by the photo of the baby restraint tray. She also told me that a newborn can only be circumcised by a British surgeon if there is a specific medical need, and not because of the parents' cultural/religious background. If the procedure did go ahead, all nursing and surgical staff party to it would be suspended immediately by the hospital; their professional bodies would haul them up before review panels; and...they would expect a visit from the police, who would almost certainly charge them with assault - at least. The charge could be 'actual bodily harm' (not sure of the US equivalent) or even higher. This issue raises some grave professional ethical issues.

To me personally, it seems to be another example of the fact that, just because we in the UK and the US share (most parts of) a language, it can blind us to the huge cultural and ethical divides that exist between us on some issues. And I'm afraid that, yes, I'm still being judgemental. This is about ethical behaviour.

April 6, 2010 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those two commenters that "had to be circumcised" after infancy because of phimosis: circumcision is not the standard of care for this condition. Steroid creams, manual stretching are the first course of action. The last resort is surgery but you should have a choice between preputioplasty and circumcision. Circumcision is almost never required. You either were circumcised years ago when this was not known or were circumcised without full informed consent.

p.s. Phimosis is more common in the US than in non-circing countries because parents are incorrectly told to retract the foreskin in infancy for cleaning. This is analogous to peeling back finger nails to clean underneath them. It can lead to scar tissue which causes the phimosis.

April 6, 2010 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are so dumb, my god. If there is one thing you can count on it is human stupidity.

I posted the CNA comment...

Last time I checked EVERYONE GETS OLD. Sure, it might not be a problem for you now - but guess what? When you are having BOWEL MOVEMENTS and you have literal SHIT wedged in your penis SKIN - GASP you can get an infection (or worse)


Don't be so quick to jump on Pat's bandwagon - nothing against him but he is very wrong here and i HIGHLY DOUBT he worked as a nurse/CNA.

So yes its not problem NOW - but have fun when you hav a stroke at 40, or are placed in a nursing home for any of 3743024832 reasons and you are sent in because you have BM on your dick.

-Concered about your dick

April 6, 2010 9:24 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

"parents are incorrectly told to retract the foreskin in infancy for cleaning. This is analogous to peeling back finger nails to clean underneath them. "

At what age does retracting the foreskin become the correct procedure? Should it be obvious to a parent? To me, retracting the foreskin would be the obvious way to set about cleaning for a child before he can do so for himself so I'm a bit surprised to hear that this can cause permanent damage.

April 6, 2010 9:29 AM  
Blogger D said...

The only person who should retract the foreskin is the owner of the penis.

No one else, ever.

That's what causes tearing and pain.

As for the CNA-if you guys are sending people to the hospital for BM on the penis, what do you do for BM in the vagina? I'm sure that happens a lot more.

You probably...clean it.

It sounds like your facility needs to teach the staff how to clean an uncircumcised male, which would prevent these "infections" you mention.

April 6, 2010 9:41 AM  
Blogger D said...

also to the CNA-

You are seeing loads of people posting here from other countries that don't circumcise nearly as many men as the US does.

How do you think they handle the BM/Penis issue you seem so concerned about?

Seriously. Think about it.

April 6, 2010 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ainstvothe now, will you make an wirte up?

April 6, 2010 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

In sum: get circumcised so that your nursing home staff will have an easier time providing negligent care.


April 6, 2010 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Ciceronius said...

Honestly, after reading around about this whole circumcision debacle, it seems quite clear to me (though many may not agree) that it has nothing to do with "preference" or "nerve-endings."

What it boils down to is the fact that circumcision reduces the *risk* of diseases and some STDs.

In countries that are more modernized (like the U.S.), the risk of getting such diseases is quite miniscule; perhaps you would probably be more likely to be run over by a drunk driver.

There's risk involved with getting circumcision done, which isn't a whole lot of risk, and even when there is an error, it's not serious enough to do any sort of permanent damage.

It's all about the insurance companies, and their attempt to weigh risk/reward in their favor.

Why waste money on such a procedure?

April 6, 2010 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most amazing part of the whole foreskin debate is that there really isn't one. You probably know more people that have an opinion on cropping a dogs ears and tail (like a boxers) then on circumcision. Whatever your viewpoint on this issue I hope that you agree that it needs more public discussion. All parents out there should be able to make an informed decision for themselves. Better yet, let the boys make their own decisions when the time is right. I think all of us parents can take responsibility for keeping everything sanitary right? And I don't think that STD's are a problem for pre teens are they?

April 6, 2010 11:09 AM  
Blogger Michail said...

I'd like to point out that it's not just us ignorant Americans that don't understand how the foreskin works. I'm not actually American by birth--was born in the Soviet Union, where they'd decided to not circumcise kids (I think more for anti-semetic reasons than for health or idealistic reasons).

You think American parents improperly trying to stretch a kid's foreskin is bad? They used a scalpel to separate the foreskin from the head of the penis when I was like 4 or 5. With no anesthetic. Now _that_ was fun!

So, another fun foreskin lesson: as I understand it, the foreskin is attached (sort of glued) to the head of the penis for several years. And the tip of the foreskin itself can take a long time to actually become stretchy the way it's supposed to.

To the anon. who said I should have had the option of the sort-of-cision and creams instead of a full circumcision -- I actually did have the sort-of option, but decided against it. The doc said it would look odd, so I thought, ok. If he'd offered the cream option, I would have said no, because at that point I was just really tired of having to deal with it. I've never regretted my decision.

My point isn't "you should do it because of phimosis", though. My point is to be educated with how the foreskin works, or is supposed to work, so you know what to tell your son. :)

April 6, 2010 11:53 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Technically speaking...your penis would be 50% more awesome. That would equivalent to the brightness of the sun...

For the nerds....
(If you take away 1/3 you end up with 2/ to become 3/3 again you're adding back 1/3....but it's an increase of 1/2...or 50%)

April 6, 2010 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D - you are an idiot. We do clean, keep in mind most CNAs HATE their job and are getting paid minimum wage.

ALSO SOME PENISES dont exactly get a workout so they are so shrivaled and tiny you litereally CANNOT pull the skin back far enough to clean properly.

PUS and other things will come leaking out once finally retracted properly...

Most nursing homes DO NOT even check this or require/train this. THIS IS THE PROBLEM.

Many times patients are sent into the hospital (where i work now) and we are cleaning under there for the first time.

I think if you have read any of my posts you would realize (if you are not a moron) that there are serious health risks from not having it.

Unless, naturally you have learned some sort of penis growth trick so when your old your balls wont balloon and your penis wont shrink - you probably have not done this, and you probably are going to be regarded as disgusting to the teeny bopping girls at your nursing home and won't have your penis/pus filled membrane cleaned properly.

Enjoy that,

-Concerned about your gross dick.

April 6, 2010 1:46 PM  
Blogger Aries327 said...

This post has been removed by the author.

April 6, 2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger D said...

Chris-looks like you were right.

If a nursing home staff is seeing penises infected by feces getting left under the foreskin, they aren't cleaning them well. I'd hope that the hospital that the poor men who are dealing with those infections go to is reporting them to whatever state board of health is available.

It shouldn't be happening.

It's neglectful. If you aren't willing to do your minimum wage job well, go get some education and move into something you are willing to do well.

I have a disabled 17 year old, who requires full care. I clean feces off her butt and genitals pretty regularly. I compare that with my now 9 year old son's diapers. Uncircumcised.

Boys are much, much simpler to clean than girls.

If the penis isn't getting clean, the staff isn't doing their jobs. Yep, it might be work, but that's part of a job.

I cannot see advocating to cut off a healthy body part that has a function, in order to allow a nursing home staff to neglect my son when he's old.

The professional groups of doctors in the US also don't see that as a good reason. When I go read the peer reviewed studies giving reasons to circumcise, I don't see "so the nursing home staff doesn't have to help clean the penis properly" listed.

April 6, 2010 2:02 PM  

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