To the (Happily) Circumcised American Man

By Ethan Wright © 2013

Dear Sir:

If you are like me, you were circumcised at birth by a medical professional, in a hospital or a clinic of some kind. Your parents made the decision to have your foreskin amputated, and the doctor (or, perhaps, the nurse) performed the procedure without asking any questions, and without providing your parents with any information about what circumcision truly entailed. Of course, you don't remember any of this, because you were just a baby at the time. Your brain was too raw, and your memory-making faculties were not yet sharply defined. Nevertheless, the fact remains that you grew up not with the penis you were born with, but with a sculpted, man-made one -- the only unnatural thing on your otherwise un-altered body.

When you first learned of your own circumcision, you were somewhat confused, but came to accept it through the indifferent attitudes of those around you. You considered it an oddity, but believed that your parents would never have done something to you unless it was an indisputably good thing. You remained unsure of precisely what the foreskin was, because no one ever bothered to explain it you; indeed, most of the people you looked up to were unsure of it themselves. You resisted the urge to question the the procedure, and to ask why it was done to you, because you believed that whatever the reasons were, they must have been good ones. You never suspected that your native country, which you had been taught was in many ways an ideal society, would ever have allowed anyone to hurt you - especially when you were an innocent, defenseless newborn.

The unfortunate truth is that you were circumcised for the painfully simple reason that you were born in the United States of America, and that genital cutting has been a cultural norm here. There is no other 'reason,' just as there is no 'reason' why so many children around the world are unfairly condemned to death by starvation before they reach the age of ten. Go anywhere else in the so-called 'developed' world, and you will see that the vast majority of men are intact (never having been circumcised). Our country is unique in its promotion of this bizarre surgery. We don't see it as mutilation, for the same reason that the men and women of Sierra Leone don't feel that they are mutilated: we are used to it. It's hard to imagine, at first, that something so evil could have become acceptable to us through ubiquity alone, but one needs merely to take a retrospective glance at the horrors of the slave trade, or the atrocities of the Holocaust, to understand that ubiquity is sometimes all it takes to normalize the outlandish, to trivialize the inhumane.

As I stated above, the USA stands alone among 'developed' nations in its obsession with the compulsory amputation of the prepuces of its infant males. The benefits of the practice are hugely overblown, to the extent that many are simply invented out of thin air. The undeniable (yet heavily obscured) truth is that, whatever its supposed long-term benefits may be, circumcision constitutes a dramatic and irreversible alteration - nay, an inhibition - of a man's sexuality, achieved through the removal of a highly specialized, multi-purpose organ which has been carefully honed through millions of years of evolution to make sex as facile and as pleasurable as possible.

Allow me to take a guess at what you are thinking in this moment: "But the point of circumcision THESE days isn't to inhibit male sexuality! We do it for a number of valid reasons. We do it because it makes the penis cleaner. We do it because it lowers the risk of contracting and transmitting STIs when boys become sexually active. And we do it for aesthetic reasons - the circumcised penis is far more pleasing to the eye." I make the claim that all of this is pure and utter bunk from top to bottom, and none of these so-called 'reasons' is what really motivates the procedure. The true historical explanation for why this practice persists is far more pernicious than any of the backwards, vanilla justifications we have created for it.

The United States began its tradition of male circumcision with the explicit and unabashed intention of punishing the male organ, and suppressing our natural inclination to release sexual energy through masturbation. The practice persists because men and women who were wronged are more likely to trivialize what happened to them, and to inflict it on their own children. Whatever conscious justifications the modern parent may have for cutting their baby boy are a distraction from the true, historical purpose of it: to crush his sexuality, to obfuscate his manhood, to kill his spirit and virility forever. If this were not the true intent of the original proponents of circumcision, it never would have caught on, because it is the one thing that circumcision DOES achieve with an astoundingly high rate of success.

Another thought you might have: "But I was circumcised, and I don't feel I was sexually damaged." I'm sorry to be the one to inform you of this, but you were damaged, undeniably and irreversibly. You were damaged because healthy tissue was ripped and sliced away from your penis for no medical reason. You were damaged because your foreskin, which contains the majority of highly specialized, fine-touch nerve endings in your penis, was amputated, and as a result, you will never know what it would have felt like to have your whole body intact. You were damaged because you will never experience the ease of masturbation that comes with having a highly sensitive, motile tube of skin capable of massaging your entire sexual organ at once. You were damaged because you were taken from your mother's arms, strapped down on a table, and violated on the most intimate and sensitive part of your entire body, before you were able to speak, walk, or even see properly.

Luckily, the human body has an astounding way of compensating for all this damage, both mentally and physically. It is capable of clotting up the wound so you don't bleed to death. It is capable of relocating sexual pleasure so that you CAN still achieve orgasm. It is capable of growing new skin so that you don't hurt yourself during masturbation. And it is capable of suppressing painful memories that would haunt you forever if you were to remember them. But you can't regain what you lost, and that fact will never go away. It will remain true till the day you die, and you'll only ever get one life. This is your only chance to get a taste of what it means to be alive. Your reality is cruel and devastating: a whole human body is something you were simply not allowed to have in your short time on Earth, because you were born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong sexual organs.

If you choose to face this reality, life is soon going to become nearly unbearable. As the days, weeks, and months go by, you will feel overwhelmed with painful emotions, including denial, anger, sadness, resentment, embarrassment, and disbelief. You may feel the need to confront your parents about what they did to you, and your parents may not want to hear it. Be prepared for all of this. Be prepared to spend some time mourning for what was taken from you, something beyond a piece of flesh; a piece of your humanity was stolen, and you can never get it back. This is as brutal as it gets. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't. Don't allow anybody to tell you that you were not violated. They are wrong, and you are right. If you believe in your pain, and allow yourself to experience it fully, you will find your way back to sanity. Keep sharing your feelings with everybody, including those who ridicule you. Don't be afraid of the backlash. It will get better.

If you choose to deny what I have written here, I beg you to reconsider if you ever are lucky enough to have a baby boy of your own. He will depend on you like no one else in the world ever will, and it is your duty to protect him from harm, even if his own government callously refuses to grant him that protection. You have a responsibility as a man, and as a human being, to question the society you live in, and to decide for yourself what is acceptable and what is reprehensible.

More Men Speak on Infant Genital Cutting

Infant Circumcision
Video by physician for educational purposes.

Georgetown University Lecture on Circumcision
Dr. Ryan McAllister

The Whole Story on Circumcision
Dr. Christopher Guest

Circumcision Research
Doctoral student and scientist, Ben Selfridge


* Real Photos Below *
May not be suitable for the workplace.


Top Right: Circumcised by Plastibell
Bottom Right: Circumcised by Gomco


No national health organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision.
A sampling of what is highlighted in circumcision policy statements:

Informational materials may be obtained at Etsy.



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