July 2006

I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that on October 2, 1981, my life would forever be changed by a television show that I watched, seemingly by chance. Looking back now, I realize that this happened not by chance, but by God’s design, to touch my heart and prompt me to get involved in trying to make life better for baby boys yet to be born.

That particular Friday evening, my husband and I sat down to watch television to pass time while waiting for relatives to come visit. The show “NBC Magazine” came on, with a segment about infant circumcision called “The Casual Cut.” As I watched the show, I became more and more shocked by what I saw and heard. I listened as one doctor after another explained that there were no valid medical reasonsfor performing routine circumcisions on baby boys. One doctor who did circumcisions explained that circumcisions were mainly done for parental preference in the United States. In horror, I watched and heard a newborn baby boy being circumcised.

I was stunned. Why had I never before heard any of this? Why had most parents never heard this? Why, before my second daughter was born in 1977, was I asked upon admission to the hospital if I wanted my baby circumcised if I had a boy? My obstetrician was a doctor from Israel, and no medical doctor had up to that point in time even mentioned the word circumcision, let alone told me it was unnecessary surgery, but now a woman working in admissions was soliciting me for this surgery. I’m
thankful now that I had another daughter, because I would have known nothing about circumcision or the damage it causes. When I thought back to being questioned that way, I became more and more angry. It made no sense then. It makes no sense now.

The year 1982 brought forth with it the birth of my third daughter. While walking in the hall during my hospital stay, I suddenly heard the gut wrenching screams of a baby. I overheard others say that this baby boy was being circumcised. I could not bear to hear what this poor baby was being forced to endure. I rushed back to my room, closed the door, stuck my fingers in my ears, and tried to block out the pitiful cries of this baby. Nothing I did worked. The baby’s screams reached to the far ends of the hall, and I felt like screaming too. I felt sick inside. This was not the way a baby should be welcomed into the world. This was not the way to love a child. This baby was being tortured and his human rights violated, and I determined then and there hat I would do everything within my power to try to stop circumcisions wherever I could.

Several months later, I sat at my dining room table and typed out letter after letter every day to newspaper editors about infant circumcision on an old, manual typewriter. I mailed these letters to every daily newspaper in the United States. Within a couple of years, I had contacted every newspaper, large and small. Even if my efforts resulted in only one child being protected, that made it all worthwhile. That would be one less child who suffered.

In 1987, my fourth child, a son, was born prematurely. Shortly after my son’s birth, I told his neonatologist, Dr. Rajesh Dave (a wonderful physician) that under no circumstances was my son to be circumcised. The doctor, who applauded my decision, went back to the intensive care nursery and told the nurses to write “No Circumcision” on my son’s chart. When I was well enough to walk down to the nursery, all of the nurses there told me that after the doctor had told them of my decision, they all began to smile and cheer. These nurses know what circumcision does to baby boys. Unfortunately, too many parents and physicians do not.

Later when I returned for my 6 weeks check-up, the obstetrician who had delivered my son (Dr. Iskandar Kassis, who emigrated from Lebanon) asked me if I didn’t want my son circumcised. Even at the last possible opportunity for him, he was soliciting
me for this unnecessary surgery, and that made me angry.

During that hospital stay, a woman who had delivered her second son shared a room with me for a brief time. Her son was born a couple of days after my son. I was sick in bed with severe headaches and nausea from spinal anesthesia during a Cesarean, and I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was forced to lie there and listen to this ignorant mother talk to her nurse while her son was being circumcised. The trauma and damage she was doing to her baby didn’t even faze her. When the baby was returned to her, she waited for a long time for him to urinate before they would allow her to go home with him. I wanted to scream at this unloving mother, but I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow to get out of bed and leave the room. I was so glad when she left, but I felt terrible for her son, since he had the misfortune to have her as his mother. He did not deserve to be altered from a physically perfect baby into a physically imperfect one so he could “match” his altered brother and father, no doubt.

After much reflection, a few years ago I decided to change doctors. When I had questioned my doctor in 1982 during my prenatal care, he told me that circumcisions were medically unnecessary, that he had seen infants die from them while he was in medical school, but that he circumcises babies anyway if parents want that. He called himself “the reluctant rabbi,” and I guess he thought that was funny. I didn’t. Since I could no longer in good conscience go to a doctor who would mistreat children
this way, I wrote a letter to him explaining why he was losing me as a patient. Before my daughter was born in 1982, I had told this doctor that under no circumstances would my baby be circumcised if I had a boy. This doctor did a Cesarean Section on me, and after my daughter was born and I was cut open on the operating table, my doctor told me I’d had a girl and I didn’t need to worry about circumcision. I was outraged that this obstetrician (Dr. Paul Bates) would say this and act as if he hadn’t taken
seriously what I had said before. His insensitive remark at an inopportune time will remain with me the rest of my life.

In recent years, my mother-in-law found the old bill for when my husband was born in the early 1950’s at a Catholic hospital. On the bill there is a charge of $17.50 for an infant circumcision, $5.00 of which was not covered by insurance. The doctor who did this dirty deed was named Dr. Kerin Lyons, a Catholic doctor who was from Ireland I’ve been told. He should have known better, especially if he was born in Ireland. I don’t know if he’s still alive or not, but on his Judgment Day may God reveal to him the damage that he did to so many baby boys, in violation of the Catholic teaching on “Respect for bodily integrity” and the medical tenet to “First, Do No Harm.” He denied to both my husband and myself the natural sexual experience that God intended us to both have, all for a measly $17.50. I’ve spent far more than that on lubricants as a result of the harm he did so many years ago.

I was born in New Zealand in 1946, to a local Kiwi girl and a G.I. father from Wisconsin stationed in NZ who was intact (not circumcised). Whether out of deference to my father—on active duty in New Caledonia at the time—or an ethical whim, my NZ birth doctor left me alone. In 1946 in NZ, the ‘sand myth’ (that intact Allied soldiers fighting Rommel’s tanks in North Africa got irritations from sand under their foreskins) had not yet taken complete hold. By the late 1950’s circumcision was nearly universal in New Zealand. I was born on the very beginnings of that wave, and made the ‘cut’ as it were, but only, alas, for a time.

I traveled back and forth from NZ to the US as a babe-in-arms, then toddler, several times, and finally fetched up in the USA for good in 1951, at age four or five.

My mother was instructed to forcibly retract the foreskins of her intact sons at each bath, common (and stunningly ignorant) medical advice of the day, not entirely eradicated in 2006. She says now she hated the task as we screamed and bled and she pitied us, weeping over us as she did as she was told. In those days, mothers, especially immigrant war-bride mothers, did not question the judgement of the doctor, no matter how counter-intuitive the advice seemed. Forced retraction seemed to her completely cruel and pointless she says today, age 84, through tears. And of course I have since showed her that her intuition was correct—foreskin retraction is cruel and stupid.

A brother, one year my junior, survived her ‘care’, if that is what forcible retraction could be called. He is intact today and very proud to be so.

But I did not escape so easily.

Perhaps I developed adhesions and an inelastic foreskin, the common and predictable result of forcible retraction, (even according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, widely known for their deep affection for their members but markedly less so for their child-patients). Or perhaps because my foreskin was still naturally adherent to my glans, despite my mother’s efforts. Whatever the reason, I was circumcised, without anesthesia, merely strapped down, soon after my arrival in America, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1951.

My mother weeps today to remember, from the waiting room, hearing me scream for her.

I have no memory of the event whatsoever. Mum tells me that I hid under my bed for days, refusing food or appeals to come out, crying myself to sleep. Then, she tells me, I suddenly appeared and made no mention of the event ever again until adulthood.

I have been urged to get counseling to retrieve the buried memory. To those well-meaning friends who have encouraged this I have two words: Fat chance. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Unfortunately, as the first and second children of ten, my brother and I shared a bedroom all our early years until age 17-18 when we both left home together to attend university in New Zealand. In our youth my brother had taunted me with the fact that he was intact and I was not, a source of some aggravation.

I now know that my circumcision was a complete fraud, either the result of an iatrogenic (Ed: doctor caused) proxy injury, years of horrific retractions by my mother, or my lingering natural balano-prepeutial lamina, the natural connective membrane of boys, which like the hymen of girls, can last as long as 17 or 18 years without harm or worry. Or more likely—sheer greed. Never mind, that physician is long dead.

The only sequelae, (clinical result) to use a physician’s term, is that I have the fastest ‘vaso-vagal’ reflex on the planet, able to faint dead-away at the mere combination of green walls, fluorescent light, the smell of isopropyl alcohol and the sight of lab coats. I have hit the floor upon the mere presentation of a tongue-depressor. Luckily I have a nurse-wife who advocates for me and always escorts me to doctor’s appointments, or draws my blood herself, a blessing. I long ago inserted a letter in my medical records, on legal stationery, that suggests that I should be protected from falling and be allowed to lie prone for all medical procedures. As a warning, it seems to work. I would like to think kindness is in evidence here, but it might be just be my legal

I have had a lifetime of vivid nightmares of being restrained and cut, and a terrible life-long fear of knives, to the extent that I cannot abide those magnetic knife holders some people use on their kitchen walls, which expose the blades all in a row. To be fair, the nightmares have faded as the years have gone by, and I cheerfully chop vegetables. At 60 years old, the worst nightmares only happen to me a manageable 3 or 4 times a year, though they are profoundly disturbing and take days to shake.

I deeply regret that my only son, now 34, is circumcised. I was told it would be better at birth than what happened to me at 4 or 5, and I suckered for that immoral pitch to my eternal regret. My son tells me our family history of genital mutilation dies with him, which is most reassuring. He is bored with my regular apologies. But I take my bitter regrets of what I did to the poor helpless lad in 1972 to my grave.

Mostly, I am a normal, outrageously outgoing and optimistic guy who has managed nicely, despite the efforts of Anglophone physicians. Some day all this circumcision silliness will be history, and the doctors and parents of 2050 will wonder what those cruel idiots of 1870-2006 were thinking. Human progress is a slow business, we could all agree.

But at least my grandsons, when they arrive, will know and feel what it is like to be real, complete, whole, intact males, with full sexual sensation, who look like Greco-Roman statues, not like mutilated slaves!

I am a 57 year old, white, Canadian, Anglo-Saxon woman of Irish/English decent, non-religious but deeply spiritual. My story is still in the rough stages. It has only been a matter of weeks since I became aware that I am missing a couple of genital “pieces”. The new awareness has certainly answered many questions for me, and explained a lot about who I am. I was flipping through a book when I came across a picture of two fingers holding onto a clitoris. Impossible! They were describing the head of the clitoris as a wee button. No way! I got out a mirror and studied myself ever so carefully. I have done self explorations before, and pictures in books never looked like me. My conclusion was always that there was something wrong with the pictures! Not this time. I got onto the web, and studied as many pictures as I could find. I couldn’t find one that looked like me. I called my youngest sister. She was adamant that there was a tangible something in the clitoral region, known as the clitoris. You could touch it. It felt good to touch. Interesting. I called a childhood friend with whom I still talk regularly. She agreed with my sister. I called my other sister—two years younger. She would have nothing to do with any self-exploration, she wasn’t interested, sex had always been painful, could we change the subject, please. I have reason to believe she too endured a “cut.”

Anyway, further research on the net turned up a procedure called a clitoridectomy. From my research I determined that this procedure was quite common in the 1800’s, less common in the early 1900’s, yet still being conducted in North America into the mid-fifties, was covered by Blue Cross until mid ’70’s, and not completely banned in the U.S. until 1996. Although the tone of this paragraph sounds all whitewashed and devoid of emotion, my whole being was coming apart as I dredged up this data.

I was beginning to open the door to a truth which I had somehow managed to bury just under the surface of my consciousness. Flashbacks began. I remembered, as a child of 3 or 4, having “something” I could hold on to down there. Being of insatiable curiosity, I questioned my mother about it—as I did for just about everything that entered my line of vision. She was a staunch Roman Catholic of the extreme variety, hung up on sex and particularly masturbation. Somehow she managed to turn my question around to understand that somehow I was upset, disturbed and did not want this thing I was giving my attention to. She could make me “nice and pretty” and in this manner she solicited my agreement. I recall nothing of the actual procedure, but I have had flashbacks of events after the procedure. I recall sitting on the toilet seat and my mother tending the area, and telling me I was “nice and pretty” now. The “tending” happened over numerous occasions.

At the point I was having the above flashbacks, there was still a place in me which wanted to believe I was making all of this up. However, I had another friend who I had shared my concerns with. She had been sexually abused, and as part of her healing process, she had attended a women’s workshop, where they did shared self-exploration as part of getting to know and love their bodies. So she had seen many clitoris’s and felt that perhaps mine was simply small enough that somehow I just couldn’t find it. We arranged a show and tell. She couldn’t find it either! It seems that the “head” of the clitoris is missing. The rest is still in place. She noticed something else. Part of the clitoral hood was missing! There is no scar tissue, no discolouration …nice and pretty!

That same night, as I was in the place between waking and sleeping, I experienced the most intense pain in the genital area. I could actually feel the places …which are not there! Because this experience was not a fleeting thing, taking nearly a half hour to subside, it left no question that my suspicions were true. I had yet another flashback about trying to tell my mother how much it hurt, and how it hurt to pee. It hurt for the longest time. I remembered confusion, connected to pain, connected to my mother. My mother always used corporal punishment to discipline us and she began her disciplining as soon as we could crawl. I associated pain and my mother with being a bad girl. I believe I spent the rest of her life trying desperately to please her, so that I would never endure this pain again. Then I married her clone and spent 31 years of marriage following the same pattern. Now that the pain has resurfaced, it feels like it has always been there. Anytime I want to direct my attention to that area I can feel the places …which are not there! When I am very tired the pain returns like a nagging headache. I am amazed at the degree of denial I had to exert in order to block the pain and the memory.

Something I do remember vividly is that when I reached puberty, my mother took me to the doctor without any notice or explanation where I was subjected to a visual genital exam. There I was at 12 or 13 years of age, on the examining table, fully displayed for the doctor and my mother. who were at the end of the table, discussing and pointing at my genitals. This was so totally unexpected, I was so embarrassed and humiliated, that all I could hear of their conversation was Charlie Brown’s Blah! Blah! Blah! As we were leaving the doctor’s office I asked her why I had the examination, and she told me it was “none of my business!” I can only conclude that for whatever reason related to puberty there was a need to check up on their handiwork.

I have always been a deep thinker with an insatiable curiosity. So I have noticed a number of things about myself which I could attribute to this early childhood trauma. For instance, I have always noticed myself not being fully present in the moment. Whenever the going gets rough, I get going, right into some sort of comatose-like, dissociative state where I am not fully present, not fully alive. Could this be a learned behaviour from a childhood trauma?

Although I am 57 years old, there is a little girl in me who has never grown up, who is “unsure” of herself, who is easily frightened, who second guesses absolutely everything I do and say. I have done enough personal growth work that I can actually “feel” her. She is ever longing for parental love and approval. So sensitive, always needing reassurance. Years ago, a mentor once said to me how she gave me credit for all my accomplishments, but was very aware of a part of me which was still so childlike. She asked if I could explain it. I knew what she was talking about, but pretended I didn’t because I couldn’t explain it and was embarrassed by it. Can I explain it now? Is it arrested development as a result of childhood trauma? Will I be able to get a handle on it now? It has definitely stood between me and fully coming into my own as an adult.

And sexually speaking? Sometimes one will never know, what one never knew. I wasn’t a tomboy, but I didn’t go through the girly-girly phase either. I had no longing to dress up, make up and strut my stuff. I didn’t understand flirting. I didn’t understand the chemistry thing that happens between teens when their hormones are raging. My ex-husband picked me out of a group of girls I was with, and decided that very night that I would be his wife. I was flattered beyond words that some guy would actually pin point me in this way. I was 21, and there had only been one casual boyfriend in my entire young life. I was in love with love, and we were married a year later. In my limited opinion, he was a highly sexual man. The little girl in me wanted to be everything he wanted me to be. Perhaps that is where the real problem was! Psychologically perhaps, I just never grew up enough to be a sexually mature woman. Like I said, perhaps I will never know, what I never knew.

I didn’t know what circumcision was when I consented to have my three sons circumcised. My doctor had told me the surgery was a necessary health measure, that it didn’t hurt, and that it only took a moment to perform… like cutting the umbilical cord, I thought. I certainly wasn’t prepared when, in nursing school several years later, I saw the surgery for the first time.

We students filed into the newborn nursery to find a baby strapped spread-eagle to a plastic board on a counter top across the room. He was struggling against his restraints—tugging, whimpering, and then crying helplessly. No one was tending the infant, but when I asked my instructor if I could comfort him she said, “Wait ’till the doctor gets here.” I wondered how a teacher of the healing arts could watch someone suffer and not offer assistance. I wondered about the doctor’s power which could intimidate others from following protective instincts. When he did arrive, I immediately asked the doctor if I could help the baby. He told me to put my finger into the baby’s mouth; I did, and the baby sucked. I stroked his little head and spoke softly to him. He began to relax and was momentarily quiet.

The silence was soon broken by a piercing scream—the baby’s reaction to having his foreskin pinched and crushed as the doctor attached the clamp to his penis. The shriek intensified when the doctor inserted an instrument between the foreskin and the glans (head of the penis), tearing the two structures apart. (They are normally attached to each other during infancy so the foreskin can protect the sensitive glans from urine and feces.) The baby started shaking his head back and forth—the only part of his body free to move—as the doctor used another clamp to crush the foreskin lengthwise, which he then cut. This made the opening of the foreskin large enough to insert a circumcision instrument, the device used to protect the glans from being severed during the surgery.

The baby began to gasp and choke, breathless from his shrill continuous screams. How could anyone say circumcision is painless when the suffering is so obvious? My bottom lip began to quiver, tears filled my eyes and spilled over. I found my own sobs difficult to contain. How much longer could this go on?

But go on it did. During the next stage of the surgery, the doctor crushed the foreskin against the circumcision instrument and then, finally, amputated it. The baby was limp, exhausted, spent.

I had not been prepared, nothing could have prepared me, for this experience. To see a part of this baby’s penis being cut off—without an anesthetic—was devastating. But even more shocking was the doctor’s comment, barely audible several octaves below the piercing screams of the baby, “There’s no medical reason for doing this.” I couldn’t believe my ears, my knees became weak, and I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that medical professionals, dedicated to helping and healing, could inflict such pain and anguish on innocent babies unnecessarily.

What had I allowed my own babies to endure? and why? The course of my life was changed on that day in 1979. I have now dedicated my life to bringing an end to this horrendous practice.

Editor: Marilyn Milos is the founder and director of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) www.nocirc.org

Reprinted from: The Truth Seeker, “Crimes of Genital Mutilation.” (July/August) 1989; 1(3):3.

Try to imagine you are a healthy, natural boy of age 8 years. Life is good and your parents are loving. True, you suffer from too many ear infections, but no other health problems at all. During the summer of the year of your 8th year, you are told you will have a tonsilectomy to reduce the number of painful ear infections that you suffer. It’s not a great thought, but the ear infections are numerous and painful.

Imagine now that you awaken from the anesthesia and find that besides a sore throat, your most personal and private body parts are covered with a huge bloody gauze bandage. Try to imagine the horror and confusion. At age 8 you are unable to formulate words to express your feelings of abuse, assault, and fear you experience.

Yes, that is the beginning of my story. During the rest of the summer, I was unable to wear underwear because of the pain and irritation to my suddenly exposed inner body part. To the dismay of my parents, everywhere I went I held my pants away from my body to not touch the sensitive, previously protected end of my penis. My most private and personal body part was now a swollen, purulent, oozing, painful mess. I was horrified, humiliated and disgusted. Even my parents, who thought they were doing the right thing, were saddened and sorry for what had been inflicted upon me.

As I grew older, I was embarrassed by the scar on my genitals. I made certain they were always well hidden from view. At my school, we had to have nude showers after gym classes—my hands never allowed any other boys to see how mutilated I had become.

Instead of ‘getting over it’, as I advanced into adulthood, the embarrassment stayed with me, and I was unable to be sexual with anyone because of the shame of my appearance. It was many decades before I heard that others were also unhappy with their circumcision and were seeking ways to restore their brutally amputated foreskin.

What I could not express at that tender age, I now know that what I felt as a young boy was much the same emotion that one feels if one has been raped. Yes, raped. Without my consent, my gentials were manipulated, attacked and permanently altered. Fifty years later, I still suffer embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional pain.

Eventually, I became a Pediatric Registered Nurse and began an intensive study of the surgical process of genital alteration, commonly called circumcision. My only outlet is to attempt to educate and protect other innocent and unsuspecting boys from the life of pain, humiliation and embarrassment that I have suffered. Call me what you will; I know that there are tens of thousands of American men who came to realize the same thing that I did. I only realized it much, much earlier, for the sexual assault happened to me at an age that I was aware and knew how my natural body had been and was attacked and altered.

When I was a child, I was very curious about my body. My penis had always been the most interesting part of my body to me, but not because it provided pleasure as you are probably thinking. I was intrigued because I could not understand the thing. I would play with it, but get bored with it because it did not seem to do much. Many times, when I would get a sharp tingle of happiness or pain from it as it rubbed against clothing, my curiosity would be renewed.

Rubbing my glans on fabric had always been painful, but it was the only way that I had known how to elicit feelings from my penis. By age ten or eleven, I gained enough courage—or frustration—to rub the top of my penis (mainly the glans) on my bed sheet. I did not know what to expect, but it was all that I knew how to do, so I did it despite the pain until I ejaculated. It did not feel good, but hurt instead making the ejaculation quite a relief! There was no pleasure though, so I never did that again.

Within a couple of years, I learned how to masturbate more traditionally as a circumcised boy. I used moisturizers and oils, which gained pleasure but it always came with a pain like that which I had experienced with the bed sheet. I did not like that feeling, so I seldom went back to lubricants. Instead, I stuck with dry stroking that lead to ejaculation, but nothing else. There was no pleasure nor orgasm, but it was safe because there was no pain and it usually meant a minor relief from my desires.

But the world kept telling me that sex was joy and beauty. “Where is my joy?,” I kept asking myself.

I thought that my joy must be visual as the appearance of women was by far my strongest sexual stimulant. Not being able to satisfy myself, I turned to pornography. For years, pornography tortured me as I felt that it was wrong but it was the only way that I could attempt to feel the way that I thought that I should sexually. Eventually, sometime during college, the excitement wore off and I was left in the same place that I had been before I turned to visual stimulation. Sometimes I came back to porn, but only out of frustration.

While still in college, I was watching a news broadcast in which they very briefly mentioned something regarding circumcision, though I recall not what. Whatever it had been, it quickly prompted me to do some internet research. I found out that very evening that I was missing a part of my body that I never knew existed. My foreskin. I learned how my penis would have functioned, and also that I might be able to regain some of that function.

I was bewildered, but determined to restore my foreskin. I have been trying for the several years since that epiphany to restore, but it has been mostly unsuccessful thus far.

A friend & I found out the same weekend in April, 1999 that we were both unexpectantly pregnant.  We were shocked, yet also a little excited.  This would be my second birth, her fourth.  I had encouraged her to breastfeed her third daughter and supported her through their extended nursing.  We had talked about how my first son was intact; there were no secrets between us.  We were very open and close to each other, and I felt that if they had any questions they knew they would ask me for my opinion.  That was a huge mistake I will regret the rest of my life!

My pregnancy was very stressful which resulted in my son being born 3 months before his due date.  Our babies had been due within days of each other.  They moved a few times during our pregnancies, but we remained close and they were a great support for me and my children.  Their child was born without complications, healthy and perfect in every way.  Now this is their story:

The new father and his parents were in the hospital room the day after his son’s birth when a nurse came to get the baby for his scheduled circumcision.  After the nurse had left with the baby, the grandfather spoke up and told his son and daughter-in-law that routine infant circumcision was not necessary.  The new, proud, and macho dad said, ‘But I am!’ to which his father responded, “I’m not.”  He was shocked—he never knew that his own father had his foreskin.  He had grown up in the same house for 20 years and had never known his father was intact.  He immediately decided to pick up the phone to call the nurses station.  They had only had the baby for a few minutes.  The dad remembers that the nurse never put the phone down to check, before she said, “it’s probably too late”.  The boy was cut. 

My friends asked his parents why they had had him (and his brother) circumcised.  His father explained that his wife didn’t want the boys to feel ‘different’ than other boys, and thought it was ‘better.’ 

We visited them when their son was 4 months old.  In the process of changing his diapers one afternoon, I caught a glimpse of his penis—or what was left of it!  There was absolutely no shaft showing and only the top quarter of the glans was noticeable.  I was horrified!  I couldn’t say anything, but did research on ‘it’ and discovered that he had what is known as a buried penis.  I printed out everything I could find on this subject.

Neither parent of this new male child ever felt comfortable with the way their son’s circumcision looked, but never said anything to anyone about their feelings. Just before their son turned two, I received a call from the father asking me when we could get together again.  I was hesitant because his voice sounded urgent.  He then explained that the baby had been waking them up with groaning and moaning, but not enough to wake himself up, and knowing that I had been working with NOCIRC for a number of years he wanted my ‘expert opinion’ on their son’s circumcision.  I was relieved that they had finally mentioned something to me. 

I told them that their son had a buried penis, that I had been shocked when I had seen it and had accummulated a wealth of information for them.  I went up the following weekend to deliver everything and talk to them.  The dad said his son’s penis made him uncomfortable because it didn’t look anything like his own (I think they originally thought it would change in time).  On every doctor visit they had asked the numerous doctors about his penis, and every single one of them commented on ‘the fine job’ and what a ‘beautiful circumcision’ had been done (this reinforces that doctors won’t, or don’t, want to say anything negative about another doctor, as obviously this circumcision botched this baby’s penis).

Eventually, they found a doctor to ‘fix’ the baby’s penis, it required another surgery with sedation to remove the glans and shaft from the fatty pouch in his groin, and with a long recovery time.  The father had a conversation with their daughters, (the oldest was then 13) and begged and pleaded with them to promise that IF they ever have sons that they never circumcise them.  I have tried numerous times without success to have them file a lawsuit for the damage done.  They want to put it all behind them.  I have made a promise to myself and them, that when their son is an adult that I will contact him and give him all the same information that I’ve given to the parents, including support for filing a lawsuit.  I have doubts that this boy will ever have a satisfying, non-painful, erection.  I regret that I didn’t speak up and discuss not circumcising if they had a boy and the benefits of natural, intact genitals!  Maybe I could have saved this baby, his parents, and family from this doctor’s injustice who was too aggressive with a knife.

In the past 10 years or so, there has been a lot talk about circumcision and that it is an unnecessary procedure. I never gave it much thought, but after I began to read about it, I began to think more about my own situation, which is…

As an infant, I underwent the usual (then) circumcision procedure. Of course, I have no memory of this era. I’m from the upper Midwest area of the US where this was common practice. My mother was not one to talk about such things, but one day she related some basic information about the event.

It seems something went wrong during the supposedly “simple” procedure. My glans was sliced off, but not my foreskin. Apparently there was an attempt to re-attach the glans, but without success. So I was left without the usual head on the end of my member. My mom felt a bit guilty about this, and eventually filled me in on what had happened.

Of course, as a child growing up, I had no idea that I was any different from any other kid of my age. Ignorance is bliss. I never really began to think about the genital area until I reached high school, where the boys all showered together after gym class.

I do have some vague recollections of sticking my little finger into the end of my foreskin at a very early age and playing with myself because it felt good. Being that I never saw what was inside that covering of skin, as far as I knew, all was normal. Until my mom revealed what happened to me, I’ve always felt quite norma. Apparently, the doctor who performed the mishap felt a bit guilty about the whole affair (as he well should have) and at some point later in my infancy modified my remaining foreskin (which was apparently fairly long) so that I would appear to have a normal intact penis. Perhaps it was originally quite long and he intended only to remove the tip of skin, I can only guess. Thus, for a long time, I never knew that I was any different from anyone else.

My biological father left our family when I was perhaps 3 years old, and my mom was left to raise me as best she could. She was never comfortable talking about personal matters, so my condition was never discussed. I was pretty well left to grow up on my own without any counseling about personal, genital matters. I think the father usually handles things like this, so being that I had none, I was on my own.

After my mother’s revelation about my condition, I of course at once became greatly interested in such matters and spent lots of time at our small town library reading up on the subject of circumcision and related issues. Up to that time, I knew nothing of this, other than the fact that some guys penises seemed to look a bit different than others (what few I had ever seen up to that time.)

The skin at the tip of my penis had a small opening, so I was not able to retract it at all. I thought nothing of this, because to me, this was just the way it was. By exploring the inside with my little finger through the small opening, my condition was confirmed, along with the appearance of the shape of the end of my shaft. I didn’t have the usual bulge at the end. There seemed to be a few bumps at the end, suggesting the remnants of a coronal ridge, but that is all.

I think I felt somewhat relieved that my condition was covered over by foreskin. I didn’t have to explain to anyone about my condition because it was concealed. As a teen, I occasionally received comments from other guys in the shower about my penis looking like an ant eater, because of the way the skin hung down in a snout at the end, but I didn’t care. as long as they didn’t get too personal and I had to do some explaining.

I think the knowledge about my condition caused me to develop a lack of confidence with girls. I never dated any through high school and later in my 20s. I pretty much just got along on my own and with a few other male friends I had at the time. I was a loner. I think my mom’s disposition about not talking about sex and personal matters was ingrained in me, so I just got along without discussion of such things. I don’t really recall having any desires for women. I think this is a very unusual situation for a teen to be in, but for me it was normal and I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until I began to surf the internet and read about other guy’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes that I began to better understand my myself. I found these stories to be very revealing. Their struggles to deal with non-retracting foreskins really hit home. I’ve never had any desire to retract mine, and here are all these guys trying to get theirs back—what a contrast!

So now I don’t know what to think. I still don’t want to get my skin back and look at what’s left at the end of my shaft. I still don’t feel good about it, so what’s the point. I’ve amassed a collection of pictures off the web of what I consider to be good looking penises with lots of foreskin. I suppose I’m subconsciously bitter about what was done to me, and don’t want to have anything to do with circumcision or dicks without the normal skin covering, which I consider to be beautiful.

At the same time, I don’t feel that I am gay. I have no desire to have relations with other guys. I just enjoy a natural looking penis. Fortunately mine outwardly looks fairly average, though rather short.

So that’s my story. I’ve apparently suffered more subconsciously that I could ever imagine. Reading the other experiences here brings tears to my eyes. All of my pain is deep down there hiding, and it’s just starting to come out.

After my step-daughter’s ultrasound for her first child she came to me livid with her pediatrician. As soon as the physician and nurse learned the sex of her fetus, he said, “Congratulations, you are having a boy!” in the same breath he continued, “And, you NEED to make a decision about circumcision.” He shoved a piece of paper in her hand about circumcision, and then both of them began telling her why they thought her son would be better off with part of his genitals missing.

She and her husband had already agreed that they would not consider circumcision if they were having a boy, since they saw no NEED, imperative, or necessity for it. She was very angry with her physician and nurse for promoting an unnecessary surgery that would put her son at risk now and in the future. She trusted them to protect her AND her child.

Promoting is the right verb. They mentioned circumcision even though she hadn’t asked about it. They had literature prepared in advance. When she said she and her husband had already decided no, they did not give her information on caring for an intact boy, but they continued to talk her into circumcision. What they didn’t do was provide her with what she wanted information—either verbally or written—on the care of a natural penis.

Does greed, peer-pressure, or simple stupidity drive physicians to promote circumcision? I don’t know. What I do know is that I would be very angry and grief stricken if any of my grandsons were cut, just as I would be equally furious if someone cut my grandaughter.

I am a white, anglo-saxon, protestant woman who was circumcised in the USA in the 1950’s. Some women advocate routine infant circumcision for males while decrying FGM in Africa. I cannot advocate cutting anyone, ever, for any reason.

What follows is my story. Thank you for reading it with an open heart.

As far as I can tell, I have scars on my labia set at 90 degree angles where flesh obviously met metal, and a “V”-shaped scar where a clitoris used to be. An expert on female genital anatomy told me I was also missing my clitorial hood.

My parents are both dead so I can’t ask them for details, but I have pieced events together and it seems to make sense that I was cut in two stages: the labia when I was one year old, and the clitoris and hood when I was six. I didn’t find out about it until I was over 50 years of age, so I lived in a bit of hell for many, many years.

My early photos show that I was the happiest of children — until I was in the first grade (see the photos on my website). Then a cloud came over me and after that time photos were full of anger, resentment and rejection. I lived that way for decades. I wanted to be dead. I rejected everyone and everything. I ran away or pushed away everyone who tried to love me… and I had no idea why. I was miserable and thought it was “normal”. I couldn’t understand how people could be happy and love each other. I had few friends. Although I usually had a boyfriend, I was always was exceedingly lonely. I am grateful that I did not turn to alcohol or drugs. A brush I’d had with an angelic voice when I was a little girl let me know suicide was not an option. Eventually, I learned all I could about healing. But nothing seemed to help me out of my own empty anger and grief.

No one could understand me, including myself. And then — a miracle! — I was wondering why most “men” were so different from most women and I realized that most of the men in the United States had been traumatized, when they were just babies, by circumcision. How cruel!. I was shocked, appalled, aghast. Due to my crisis counseling work, I knew that such a terrifying event could ruin an entire life. I felt quite safe around the people I met who were clear about not cutting children and I began to work with them to prevent circumcision. After I’d been involved for a couple of years, through a series of interesting “coincidences,” I discovered that I too had been circumcised. I had lost my clitoris, clitoral hood and labia. All of a sudden, my
life made perfect sense. Knowing that I had been traumatized made sense of my feelings and behavior. A year or so ago, I met a wonderful therapist who was safe enough that I could allow myself to think about my childhood and piece together the memories. Healing the trauma came fairly quickly after that. After 50 miserable years, my little black cloud evaporated. I look in the mirror now and I see the happy smile I’d lost at age six. I am happy, at last, to be alive.

I found that I was always good at handling emergencies, so I specialized in dealing with people in trauma… at a crisis center and in private practice as a hypnotherapisst. This gave me a good background for dealing with my own situation when I discovered I’d been mutilated.

My entire life was hell before I found out I’d been cut, so when I found out, a lot of bad old feelings actually went away.. So I am hoping that healing can begin for many of my sisters and brothers who are still unaware that they were traumatized as children. Until they know the horror of it, and until they release the fear and terror around it, they might just be wondering why they kick the dog, throw the cat against the wall, yell at the wife, beat the kids, hate the boss, and frantically accumulate wealth to the detriment of their own integrity.

I hope this blog and my book will plant seeds of hope for your healng and/or compassion for the overwhelming number of people—both men and women—who have had this awful thing happen to them.

I am hoping to find out, by way of a book I wrote (and this blog), how many American women in the United States have been subjected to female genital mutilation. I suspect there are far more than we would ever imagine. I hope, if you were cut, you will get in touch with me. I am sorry it happened to you, and we can support each other in the process of healing the mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds… maybe we can ever figure out, like men have, how to restore our bodies to their original function.

You can read excerpts from my book at www.AesculapiusPress.com. I hope you will enjoy it and it will be of value to you.

Next Page »

All images, content, and stories are copyright 2006 for Project: OUCH!

Theme downloaded from www.vanillamist.com