RECAP recap


Dear Readers:

Since the major anticircumcision group is called, rather cleverly, RECAP (RECover A Penis), and since the letter below refers to an exchange in the column going back years, I think a recap might be in order. Way back when, I briefly shared the militantly anticirc bench with the rest of the loons, although I must admit I did not much enjoy their company. By the time I ran the original columns I'd — oh hell, here's the original, slightly edited:

"I have actually put a great deal of consideration into my stance on circumcision, or rather, lack of one. Growing up Jewish among Jews, plus growing up American in an era in which American boys were just sort of automatically clipped, like Dobermans, I never really gave it much thought. Then I became a sex educator and a huge advocate of consensuality in all things ... and developed a fairly militant opposition to cutting healthy parts off innocent children. Then I talked and talked with men and men ... plus attended my nephew's bris, which was lovely, and by the end I was all, 'Huh. Well, this is problematic, but I think people are making too much of a fuss.'

"There's no question that the procedure is both unnecessary and nonconsensual, and it's obvious that the nerve-rich, self-lubricating, and glans-protective foreskin is meant to be there. But most men get along just fine without theirs ... get plenty of pleasure out what they do have, and are able to leave behind whatever grievances they might have against their parents and the medical establishment."

While I'm waxing autobiographical, I'll add that since I wrote that, I found myself rekindling a romance with my roots, having a nearly irony-free traditional Jewish wedding, and eventually not only agreeing to circumcise my son but basically insisting on doing so. I'm still against routine, pointless medical circumcision, but I don't think I'd be welcome on the radical anti bench anymore. Sorry! Maybe Savage will sit with you. He's interested in penises.



Dear Andrea:

I think it goes a lot deeper than that the sensitivity-loss issue alone. Having part of one's sex anatomy removed without your consent can tap into some strong and perfectly valid feelings of violation. It can involve a lot more than a simple "OK, I have lost X amount of sensitivity, but hey, I can still enjoy sex, so no big deal." What does one do about feelings one is not supposed to be having and that nobody takes seriously?

I liked your statement about American boys being "automatically clipped, like Dobermans." I hope you can see how being treated like a dog can be somewhat dehumanizing. Sure, parents and doctors had the best intentions, and I suppose we can look at it as a medical mistake carried out when there was less medical information and less consideration for ethics and individual rights, but that doesn't mean we have to take it lying down.

Sit idly by and accept that doctors continue to perform the same surgery on infants that should not have happened to me a couple decades ago without speaking up? I wish more people had spoken up then — maybe I might have escaped this needless surgery.


Another Concerned Penis Owner

PS Circumcision is apparently protective against HIV, and we all know Africans can't possibly be educated and entrusted to use far more effective and far less invasive measures than surgery to avoid contracting the virus.

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