richnewman's picture

Fragments of Evolving Manhood: Do You Like Your Body 3 (Preliminary Notes On the Expendability of the Foreskin)

In 1834, Sylvester Graham—inventor of the cracker that continues to bear his name—published a book called A Lecture to Young Men, in which he warned that masturbation would transform a boy who practiced it regularly into:

a wretched transgressor [who] sinks into a miserable fatuity, and finally becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot, whose deeply sunken and vacant, glossy eye, and livid shrivelled [sic] countenance, and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head—covered perhaps with suppurating blisters and running sores—denote a premature old age, a blighted body—and a ruined soul! (Quoted in Kimmel)

richnewman's picture

Fragments of Evolving Manhood: A Full-Throated Protest Against Existence and the World

As a Jewish man, like it or not, my identity within the Jewish community as both a man and a Jew is defined by the fact of my circumcision. Even though I am Jewish first because my mother is Jewish, at least according to the tradition accepted by most of the Jewish communities in the world, I entered God’s covenant with Abraham, became fully a member of my own people, only after my foreskin was removed, and for the first fifteen or so years of my life, I romanticized the moment of that cutting. Imagining a bloodless ceremony saturated with self-conscious majesty, I saw my boy’s body wrapped warmly and securely in a blanket, held peacefully at ease in the lap of my Uncle Max, smiling drunk on the wine-soaked cloth I’d been given to suck on to dull the (as it was explained to me by my grandmother) very small pain I would feel. Prayers were uttered over my flesh, and after the cutting was done, my membership in the covenant, not to mention into the community of Jewish manhood, was celebrated with food and drink. I pictured myself being passed lovingly among the guests, cuddled and coddled as they talked about the man I would grow up to be.

Elizabeth's picture

NewsFlash: Egypt bans all circumcision of females

The AFP is reporting that Egypt has banned all circumcision for females. This is major news in a country where, despite a past limited ban on the surgeries the vast majority of girls were circumcised anyway.

I'm not entirely clear yet on a key aspect of the ban. The AFP article linked, via Yahoo!, above, contains the following statements which appear to me to conflict:

On Thursday, Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali decided to ban every doctor and member of the medical profession, in public or private establishments, from carrying out a clitoridectomy, a ministry press official told AFP.


Any circumcision "will be viewed as a violation of the law and all contraventions will be punished," said the official, adding that it was a "permanent ban".

Elizabeth's picture

"The Foreskin Dialogues"

This conversation started on my Wordpress Blog and I'd love for it to continue here. If you posted there and would repost your comment here, that would be wonderful. If you don't feel like doing that, but don't mind if I do it, send me a note. If you haven't jumped in yet, please do!
Elizabeth's picture

Contribute to The Foreskin Dialogues!

I began asking people at SexInThePublicSquare.Wordpress.Com to participate in a discussion of male genitals. Specifically, "The Foreskin Dialogues" seeks to get a sense of the range of feelings people have about circumcision. I've now moved this project to the forums here. If you would like to contribute, click here to visit the "Foreskin Dialogues" forum!
Elizabeth's picture

Should baby boys be routinely circumcised?

* No, unless in response to a true medical problem.\n* Yes, its okay for religious reasons but not "just so he can look like his father"\n* Yes, parents should be able to do whatever they're most comfortable with.\n* I don't know. I'm confused about the whole circumcision thing.\n* \n

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