I was born in a small hospital in a British Colony in Africa. Shortly after, my mother consented to have me circumcised. My parents were essentialy of British descent, and not being a particularly modest family, I later learned that my father had been circumcised also. I can recall no mention of circumcision in my preschool years, and indeed was not aware of any other kind of penis. However, I do remember one occasion, when my brother and I were splashing around in the bathtub.
My mother was in the room with another lady (who I now think was her younger cousin). I heard her remark that she thought the doctor had done a “neater job” on me. I am fairly sure that my brother got a looser cut. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. Her cousin, incidentaly, had a boy some years later and left him intact.
We lived on a fairly remote farm, and at the age of 6, I was sent to a boarding school. The shower rooms were completely communal, with no privacy whatsoever. That first night was when I discovered that a lot of the other boys had a penis that did not resemble my own. It was clear that something was missing from mine, and I was very curious about this. I vividly remember , one night after ‘lights out’, when a friend and I were standing in the doorway to our dormitory, in the light of the hallway, staring down at our denuded penii wondering out loud to each other “What happened to us ?”. He had a theory that our foreskins had been removed because we peed too often. Kid’s logic? I envied those boys who were intact. From that point on I was very curious about penii, circumcision and foreskins. I must have felt too shy to question my mother, so I looked up these words in every dictionary I could find, and right on into adulthood, I searched for information in every library I came across. Of course, I found virtualy nothing until the early ’90s when I located Rosemary Romberg’s book “The Painful Dilemma”. This was a revelation.
When my youngest brother was born, I was 13 and away at school. He was about 1 1/2 months old when I came home and I remember watching my mother bathing him. She must have sensed that an explanation was in order, and told me that he, too, had been circumcised on the advice of her father (who had been born in Ireland in 1888, and passed away a few years earlier). Apparently my Grandfather had told my mother that at the age of 12 his foreskin had gotten so tight that he could not pee, and he had to be circumcised. His advice was to do the procedure in infancy rather than possibly later on.
At the time this explanation made absolutely no sense to me at all, but I have come to the conclusion that , maybe , he suffered a paraphimosis. Many years later, I again asked my mother why she had circumcised her sons, and I got the same answer. I often wonder if we would have escaped loosing our foreskins if my grandfather had kept his mouth shut about his unfortunate experience. I wish I would have asked my father what his views were, as I suspect he would have been in the circumcised minority during his years in boarding school in the twenties and thirties.
Through my 12 years of boarding school I certainly had a few thoughts and observations. About a third of the boys were intact, yet I never saw a foreskin being retracted and it was not until my late teens that I learned of this feature. I was fascinated, and wished even more fervently that I had been left intact. I can recall at least three families in which one brother had been circumcised and the other left intact. I do not remember even one instance of teasing based on circumcision status, although one poor boy was teased for his unusualy large glans. His nickname was Topheavy. I don’t remember being self-conscious about my circumcised state, as I had lots of company, but I did become very adept at ‘hiding’ myself in those communal showers because puberty came extremely late for me. It was mental agony.
Since the advent of the internet, much of my curiosity has been satisfied, but as I have learned that there is absolutely no valid reason for anyone to loose their foreskin, I have become even more angry that I was a victim of this barbaric custom. I remember when I was younger and could experience exquisite feelings from the remnants of my inner foreskin and frenulum. Now, in my mid fifties, alas, these are just a memory. I do not feel much of anything any more. I read of intact men almost passing out from the intensity of their orgasms. Mine were never like that. Every time I look at my penis, with it’s bare glans, I feel disappointment. Some of the papers published on pain response have been very interesting too. In my earlier years at school, they would line the whole school up for injections such as polio shots. I would be in tears long before they ever got near me with a needle. To this day I am terrified of anything surgical, and have a distrust of the medical profession.
Circumcision has been a major concern all my life, and I am sure that the effects are much more diverse and far reaching than we could possibly imagine. I fervently believe that it is both ethicaly and morally wrong to subject anyone to this procedure, except for a fully informed and consenting adult.