CIN (Circumcision Information Network) 1:12

Journal  Circumcision Information Network, Volume 1, Issue 12. Saturday, 3 September 1994.

Richard Angell

This weekly bulletin is a project of CIN, the Circumcision Information Network (formerly CIN CompuBulletin). The purpose of this weekly bulletin is to educate the public about and to protect children and other non-consenting persons from genital mutilation. Readers are encouraged to copy and redistribute it, and to contribute written material.
--Rich Angell, Editor.

"USA TODAY's editorial noting Supreme Court Cases concerning conflicts
between religious freedom and constitutional rights, incredulously asked,
'What's next?  Circumcision outlawed as child abuse?' ('Respect religious
diversity,' Our view, Debate, Aug. 24). 
"Actually, this raised an interesting issue.  Three points need to be
"-Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom do not sanction harming
another person in the practice of religion, nor the use of religion as a
legal defense when one harms another.  A child has a right to be free from
religion and violations of body integrity. 
"-Circumcision causes unrecognized harm.  We have several publications
which document the harm reported by many men around the country who
attribute emotional, physical and sexual problems to their circumcision. 
These conclusions are supported by professionals in the medical and mental
health field.  Lack of awareness, denial and fear of disclosure inhibit
greater recognition of this harm. 
"-Child abuse is abuse regardless of the adult's intention.  Though no
harm may be intended, it does not change the fact that harm is done. 
"Since circumcision is forced upon more than 3,00 males every day, and
over 90% of American circumcisions are done for non-religious reason,
isn't it time for us to ask:  'Why are we doing this to our sons?'" 
Ronald F. Goldman, exec. dir. 
Circumcision Resource Center
Boston, Mass.
CIN Editor's note:  Ron Goldman is one of many Jews questioning the
practice of circumcision.  He appeared on the M Pauvich show last summer
and was crucified, portrayed as a nut.  Such is the life of an
anti-circumcision activist in the good ol' U.S. of A. 
CIN asked to hear from international readers, especially from those of
non-circumcising corners of the world.  Following is one response from
England, where circumcision rates were once comparable to those in the
U.S...until the British National Health Service stopped paying for it: 
"Although in Britain, this mutilating operation is not done as a matter of
routine, there are calls from time to time (often from women) for its
re-introduction.  I feel so strongly about this subject that I should be
more than happy for you to use it. 
"She, a woman's magazine in Britain, carried an article by a female writer
in the August 1994 edition which contained the following: 
"'...Circumcision may seem brutal, but it can have health benefits.  Under
the foreskin there are glands which produce a white cheesy substance
called smegma.  If this is not washed away it can build up and may
encourage infection.  The partners of uncircumcised men are slightly more
likely than others to get cervical cancer.'
"It is indeed sad that after so many years, since the late-1940s when
Britain stopped this barbaric practice, there are those who now in a mass
circulation magazine, urge the re-introduction of such mutilation.  Indeed
the female author of this article appears to be unaware of much about male
genital organs: she advances the odd proposition that the size of the
average male penis when unerect is 2 inches. Unfortunately, the magazine
will be read by women and mothers-to-be who might not realise just how
mis-guided this author is and how ill-informed.  It would be a matter of
deepest regret if Britain were to return to a mutilation at a time when
North America is now waking up to the irreversible and far-reaching damage
caused to millions of male infants both in the less educated parts of the
world, as well as as a result of religious fanaticism and plain ignorance
in such countries as the US, Canada and Australia. 
"As one who suffered the fashionable mutilation of neonate circumcision in
the mid-1940s in Britain, I have always resented the fact that, far from
being a necessary procedure, my circumcision was wholly unnecessary and
has left me, because it was performed by a very junior doctor, with a
penis so tightly cut that a full erection is very uncomfortable, with a
scar that looks as if the operation were done with a pair of pinking
scissors and which wanders up and down the shaft, with a glans which is
pitted from infections contracted (my mother told me) whilst I was in
diapers from which a foreskin would have protected me (so my father, a
doctor, told me) and with a glans so insensitive that I have greater
sensitivity in my finger-tips.  In my mid-30s I finally plucked up courage
(because for many years I feared further butchery to a penis which caused
me so much distress from its appearance and lack of proper function) to
have an broad adhesion between the glans and the shaft, caused solely by
the circumcision and its aftermath, removed. 
"What struck me was that for a few weeks the part of the glans so exposed
to touch and to the sensation of my wife's tongue and vagina was intensely
more profound than I had believed possible.  For the first time oral sex
from my wife was something that I could actually feel in a small part of
my glans. In due course, the abrasion of clothing reduced that part of the
glans to the same grey, insensitive piece of flesh as the rest. 
"Having glimpsed for myself, no matter in so small a part of the glans and
for such a brief time, how life might have been had I not been mutilated
as a victim of medical fashion, my resentment and my sense of loss and
loathing increased and deepened.  At the age of 50 I still harbour bitter
anger towards my mother for giving into the blandishments of the doctors. 
In recent treatment for alcoholism, this anger and the sense of being
different from the rest of my family, all of whom were not circumcised,
were seen as being major causes of the feelings and lack of self-worth
which lead me to abuse alcohol.  My sex-life with my wife has been, to her
great distress, infrequent for most of our marriage because it was for me
rarely a source of physical pleasure;  I am now, and have been for some 7
years, almost totally impotent.  I yearn to know, with a sense that I
cannot convey in words, how it must feel to have a foreskin and to feel
not only intercourse but even simple actions as urinating with the
foreskin in its normal position covering the glans. 
"Incidentally, my wife contracted cervical cancer some years ago, despite
my being circumcised;  so she and I do not even have that so-called
'advantage' to console me for my mutilation." 
C.P. from London, England.  (Full name withheld by request.)

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