Ode to the Circumcised Male

American Journal of Diseases in Children, Volume 141: Page 128, February 1987.

Sir.-- Before the mid-1970s, the American standard of care included neonatal circumcision, a minor surgical procedure that promoted genital hygiene and prevented later penile cancer as well as cervical cancer in female sexual partners. More recently, evidence has suggested that adequate hygiene is all that is needed and that circumcision is an unnecessary and traumatic procedure. In 1983, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology jointly agreed that routine circumcision is not necessary,1 and third-party payers are increasingly refusing to pay for the procedure. Whether recent evidence of a decreased incidence of urinary tract infections in circumcised male infants2 can stem the anticircumcision tide is questionable.

The purpose of this communication is to offer some solace to the generations of circumcised males who are now being told they have undergone an unnecessary and deforming procedure, which may also have been brutal and psychologically traumatic. To them I offer these lines:

Ode to the Circumcised Male

We have a new topic to heat up our passions --
the foreskin is currently top of the fashions.
If you're the new son of a Berkeley professor,
your genital skin will be greater, not lesser.
For if you've been circ'ed or are Moslem or Jewish,
you're out side the mode; you are old-ish not new-ish.
You have broken the latest society rules;
you may never get into the finest of schools.
Noncircumcised males are the "genital chic"--
if your foreskin is gone, you are now up the creek.
It's a great work of art like the statue of Venus,
if you're wearing a hat on the head of your penis.
When you gaze through a looking glass, don't think of Alice;
don't rue that you suffered a rape of your phallus.
Just hope that one day you can say with a smile
that your glans ain't passe; it will rise up in style.

Edgar J. Schoen, MD
Department of Pediatrics
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
280 W MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA 94611


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Guidelines for Perinatal Care. Evanston, Illinois, AAP/ACOG, 1983.
  2. Wiswell TE, Smith FR, Bass JW: Decreased incidence of urinary tract infections in circumcised male infants. Pediatrics 1985; 75: 901-903.


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