Circumcised at 22: A romantic epic.
December 4, 2003 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Circumcised at 22: A romantic epic. It didn't feel as good. It really didn't feel as good. It was an entirely different experience from sex with a foreskin, kind of like Star Wars vs. Star Wars: Episode I. I never realized how much sexual pleasure was derived from my foreskin rubbing back and forth against my glans - a little bit of masturbation mixed in with sex.
posted by skallas (59 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

Waaaaaay too much information.
posted by Pericles at 7:45 AM on December 4, 2003

Gosh, I feel so left out when anyone talks about their foreskin. And who would have thought having it removed at age 22 would change things? Clearly the exact same experience as having it removed at age 8 days. And the psychic trauma. Don't forget that.
posted by yerfatma at 7:55 AM on December 4, 2003

You can have mine when you pry it from my cold, dead...
posted by Mick at 8:42 AM on December 4, 2003

Why remove something that has evolved?
posted by kenaman at 8:51 AM on December 4, 2003

Great story. I'm not circumcized, so I've wondered about this....

My wife's childhood friend demanded that her boyfriend - Irish - convert to Judaism as a precondition of marraige. Converting to Judaism requires a lot of work and dedication.

Now, there is much speculation as to the underlying reasons for circumcision. According to "We can only speculate about the reasons for the Commandments, but it has been suggested that male circumcision reduces sexual desire, which is often hard to control."

OK then. In any case,

G_d takes circumcision VERY seriously - as the centerpiece of his covenant with the Jews - and Talmudic scholars are very emphatic about the singular importance of the practice which is even considered to be the sine qua non for the creation of the world itself! - ' "Rabbi Joshua Ben Karha says: "Great is circumcision since but for that, the Holy One would not have created his world." As it is written, "Thus said the Lord, 'But for My covenant by day and night I would not have set forth the ordinances of Heaven and earth'." [the] Rabbis' teaching also relates that "Great is circumcision for it counterbalances all the other precepts of the Torah." As it is written in Exodus, " ... For after the tenor of these words I have made a Covenant with thee and with Israel." "The tenor of these words" refers to all G-d's precepts, "Covenant" is used synonymously with circumcision."

A very serious affair, this little flap 'O skin - or it's lack thereof.

To put things on a lighter note:
( sung to the tune of 'Going to the Ritz' )

"Rebecca told her honey, "Yo!....
"I love you, but just listen Joe,
G_d's covenant you'll not despoil.
You're going to a Mohel* !"

[ *Mohel is pronounced Moy-ell, like oil ]

So, ___ had to go to call up the friendly neighborhood Mohel and arrange for a Bris - and not a fake one either - but a real one, one in which the Mohel (highly competent at this, of course) uses a nasty looking surgical tool which is like a combination of a hinged straight razor with two blades, and a big toenail clipper. It's actually extremely similar to the tool which is used to cut the ends off cigars.

I haven't asked ___ how his sex life has changed as a result.

In researching this comment, I came upon this fascinating tidbit, from an historical exegesis of the evolution of the Bris tradition: "Metzitzeh: (Mezzizza/Mizizah) The sucking of blood from the wound
During the Talmudic period (500-625 A.D.), a third step was added to the Orthodox circumcision ritual. It was not universally adopted by all Jewish groups, but became a practice of the more Orthodox groups. This third step was called "Metzitzah". During "Metzitzah", the mohel takes the now badly bleeding penis into his mouth and sucks the blood from the wounded part. This was most probably adopted to collapse the major blood vessels to stem bleeding and to extract any induced bacteria from the wound and blood system. In affect, it often introduced infection, such as tuberulosis and venereal diseases, with very serious and tragic consequence, as reported throughout history. More modern day mohels use a glass tube placed over the infant's penis for suction of the blood when performing metzitzah."

Some more background on circumcision
posted by troutfishing at 8:59 AM on December 4, 2003

I never bore a grudge toward my parents for making a certain decision until I had a relationship with a guy who was uncircumcised. The difference in ... uh, expression ... is marked, astounding, and makes me so fucking jealous it's not even funny.

Damn you mom and dad!! Circumcision is at best only rarely necessary and at worst ritual mutilation.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:43 AM on December 4, 2003

I totally had mine snipped last year.

At 23.

If you want to ask questions, go ahead.
posted by jon_kill at 9:57 AM on December 4, 2003

No, no. Really.

I feel it is exactly the right time to talk about my cock on the internet.
posted by jon_kill at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2003

Actually, a freind of mine at work told me that he had his snipped off a few years ago cause he was getting a lot of UTI's and he said after the tuck-n-roll they stopped. He didn't tell me if sex got any better and I din't ask. This was mainly because in the middle of a water cooler discussion about pedophile preists he revealed that he "wished" his parish preist from childhood was a pedo because he was "hot."
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on December 4, 2003

Damn, there's a mention of the Johnny Cash song, "Ring of Fire" in there -- I have had that stuck in my head for the last 24 hours! Didn't know the song, had to Google the one stuck lyric that I knew to find out what it was, and now it's in an article I am randomly reading.
posted by sycophant at 10:33 AM on December 4, 2003

The difference in ... uh, expression

I'm picturing a smiley face forming, but that can't be what you meant.
posted by yerfatma at 10:33 AM on December 4, 2003

posted by matteo at 10:36 AM on December 4, 2003

Ah, the turtleneck vs. crewneck discussion.

As a V-neck, I can't contribute, but I'm reading with interest.
posted by orange swan at 10:36 AM on December 4, 2003

I really don't see what the big deal is. Some people prefer it one way, some people prefer it the other way, and still others will have nothing to do with it in any way whatsoever. Crying "ritual mutilation" on one side of the debate is as silly as my "ew, that looks pinched and gross" reaction on the other. This is one of those discussions where people assign moral value to their preference of one flavor of ice cream over another.

Either way, please don't evangelize your unit to me. I'm perfectly content with my own.
posted by majick at 10:47 AM on December 4, 2003

Hey, Skallas ... thanks for giving me a forum to finally post this:

What Happens During Circumcision?
medical photos; not for the squeamish
posted by anastasiav at 11:02 AM on December 4, 2003

ornage swan: quite frankly I'm amazed that any woman can look at any penis without laughing or gagging, but the generosity of the fairer sex never ceases to amaze me.
posted by jonmc at 11:06 AM on December 4, 2003

It depends on the penis, actually. Some ARE quite ugly (veins, funny colour, wrinkles) but others are more appealing. I have fond memories of one in particular - it was pink and smooth, of a size that I thought just right, and looked (deceptively, of course) like it had never been used before.</nostalgia

I DID laugh the first time I saw a penis in a condom, and the words "sausage in a baggie" escaped my lips. Judging from what followed I surmised that this was a sexual no-no.
posted by orange swan at 11:22 AM on December 4, 2003

It depends on why you're crying "ritual mutilation". If you're crying it because parents are getting their infant sons snipped, then yeah - it's ridiculous. There's no reason to hit a newborn with that kind of pain, although I guess if the religious are going to do it anyways, it may as well be in a hospital.

If you're crying it when a 22 year old gets it when he converts to marry a Jewish woman, then whatever. His choice.

Decent read, but disconcerting. Uagah.
posted by kavasa at 11:25 AM on December 4, 2003

Originally from the UK now living in the US, I'm continually surprised by just how many men are circumcised here. Going on research in the showers at the local health club, it seems way more fashionable here. Is there any truth in this? If so why?
posted by marvin at 11:32 AM on December 4, 2003

I don't know why, but it's much more common in the US to circumcise male babies than it is in the UK. I don't know the exact percentages, but it's so common to circumcise that it's kind of an oddity to come across an uncut penis.

Not that I'm out taking informal polls or anything.
posted by jennyb at 11:43 AM on December 4, 2003

*Mohel is pronounced Moy-ell, like oil.

You should never buy rugulah from a mohel. Very chewy. [/Mrs. Doubtfire]

kavasa, I'm not "crying" ritual mutilation, I gave the endpoints of a scale and you latched onto the extreme that suited you. I'm very much not in favor of parents deciding for their infant boys, true. After he can make an informed decision, more power to him. Personal experience leads me to believe such a decision would be a mistake unless it's medically necessary, but if an adult wants to change his or her body to suit themselves ... right on.

marvin, it's been my observation that guys younger than 30 in the US are more likely to be uncircumcised, whereas circumcision is nearly universal in men older than that. I've conducted many informal, uh, polls on this.

on preview: jennyb, obviously we need to formalize this stuff, get a government research grant, live high on the hog...
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:51 AM on December 4, 2003

Apparently, circumcision was promulgated in the U.S. to prevent masturbation. Fat lot of good it did, though.

Not as many boys are cut these days in America as were done in the past. Modern parents are questioning and abandoning the practice in droves.
posted by beth at 11:59 AM on December 4, 2003

From here:

The ratio of boys circumcised to boys preserved intact continues to decline in America. In 2001, it had further declined to a ratio of 55 percent circumcised, while the percentage of boys preserved intact had risen to 45 percent.
posted by beth at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2003

Good stats. Thanks Beth!

How are your grant writing skills, WolfDaddy?
posted by jennyb at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2003

My god, the distance advantages alone have made it well worth it.

Take off the silencer and watch the fun fly.
posted by jon_kill at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2003

I think they basically do it as the norm in the US - you have to ask to not have your son circumcised, rather than as an exception, where you ahve to ask to have your son circumcised.
posted by goneill at 12:21 PM on December 4, 2003

Apologies in advance. This may be long.

Coincidentally, I read this article last night. I thought it rather poorly written but the information was interesting. There used to be a magazine called ICON (maybe it's still around, though i haven't seen it in years) that had a superb article on this topic. Fascinating stuff.

I'm uncircumcised and am very happy about it. JennyB, you're correct that in (North) America, more men are (or were) circumcised, at least based on my research of just how many women I "meet" who are unfamiliar with the foreskin ("What am I supposed to do with it?").

I've dated a number of Jewish girls--who in my experience rarely date goys--and they're always interesting to watch. Heh. One ex of mine decided to bring my foreskin up (the topic) during a Sunday dinner with the folks. She declared that if she had a boy she wouldn't circumcise him. Her father and brother were shocked and curious about why... but not as much as her mother. ;)

A friend of mine, who is cut and furious about it, has done much research into the topic and has stated that one reason circumcision is so popular on this continent is that it's a cash cow for hospitals. A rather quick and "easy" operation that puts a couple hundred bucks (or whatever it costs--I've forgotten though he's told me) in the hospital's books.

Many parents fear that their uncut sons will be ostracized in the locker room at school, but hopefully as more and more parents become aware of the dangers and lack of necessity for circumcision, this will change.

In my own school's locker room (I went to a school that was 90+% Jewish), I was never bothered about it. However, I did sort of feel weird... I'd grown up under a single mom (and two sisters and no brothers) and no one ever talked to me about my penis. When I was younger, and surrounded by my cut schoolmates, I thought that my foreskin was something that would... fall off, or something, later. I remember even considering cutting it off myself when I was maybe 10 or so. I was terrified to bring the subject up with my mother (and haven't, to this day).

The thing that prevented me from the self-mutilation was that I didn't understand how the other boys could stand the pain. How on earth could they walk around with the head of their cock exposed to their underwear or direct water from the shower?! It was baffling to me. If I touched the tip of my penis when it was dry, it hurt. I couldn't imagine fabric, or pressure of any kind, being in constant contact with it. (Of course I've now learned that the constant exposure desensitizes the penis so that the body can "ignore" the pain--which is one of the reasons that men are now complaining about being circumcised as children: sex is duller.)

One anti-circ doctor I know tried explains the results of circumcision to mothers-to-be as, "Imagine walking around with your clitoris constantly exposed to the elements." He has a pretty good track record of swaying women to his side.

In short: if it's not for religious reasons, don't do it to your newborn. At least, that's my opinion.
posted by dobbs at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2003

marvin, it's been my observation that guys younger than 30 in the US are more likely to be uncircumcised, whereas circumcision is nearly universal in men older than that.

I can't think of a single US man I know that is under 30 and uncircumcised. I think the threshold must be younger than that.
posted by jennak at 12:34 PM on December 4, 2003

jennak, I agree with you. I'd put the age at 20 or younger. The majority of the women I've been with have been in their 20s and, for the most part (me being the exception, I'm 35) date men their age. I'm almost always the first uncut man they've been with.

One of my more sexually adventurous female friends has told me that the 3 best lovers she ever had were all uncut. The reason? She thinks that circumcised men have no concept of how sensitive one's sensitive parts can be and as a result are terrible at gauging pressure. This, she believes, is the reason women orgasm far more often when they're on their own or, in her opinion, when they're with uncut partners. Though I'm sure there are other factors, her theory as to why so many men are, um, ham-fisted in bed, is an interesting one.
posted by dobbs at 12:43 PM on December 4, 2003

Spinfillter, the conclusion: The new intensity and lack of spurt control have since outpaced the old, safe friction. Chloe and I are as happy as we used to be.

Men are generally obsessed with their dick and this is one of those issues that people seem to fuss over most, probably since its such a irrevokable change to have been made. In terms of "good sex", does it matter?

Not really...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:46 PM on December 4, 2003

We can only speculate about the reasons for the Commandments, but it has been suggested that male circumcision reduces sexual desire, which is often hard to control

I am circumcised, and the thought of an even greater libido is absolutely frightening.

the constant exposure desensitizes the penis

I am circumcised, and the thought of an even more sensitive penis (especially the glans) is absolutely frightening.

I've always thought it was very presumptuous of people to assume that they had it better, sexually, than the other group.

Mine works fine, feels fine, and has recently performed a successful insemination. And that is after almost 20 years of almost continual usage. If there is something wrong with circumcision I have not discovered it.

I am of majick's ice-cream flavor opinion above.

Also, after recently having a baby boy, I am a little suspicious of the 45% uncut stated above. Maybe there are regional effects, because in this part of the country (TN) circumcision has to be over 90%. And that is with a Jewish population that is likely under 10 (probably under 5%)%.

100% of the people in our child birthing classes planned on having their boys circumcised, and our pediatricians stated they could count the number of times they have been asked not to circumcise on two hands.

I'm not making a value judgement either way, but I tend to think the anti-circumcision groups inflate these numbers to try to illustrate a trend. (Look we're making progress!)

The only uncircumcised men I have known in my entire life were much older than me. They were born almost exclusively at home, with no medical assistance to speak of.

Polls of friends and "locker room" observations have run at nearly 100% circumcised.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2003

I am of majick's ice-cream flavor opinion above.

The only problem with this opinion, in my own opinion, is that majick's not chosing his fave ice cream. Someone (his parents and/or doctor) chose it for him. In fact, he can't chose the other flavor if he wants to.

This, to me, is the reason so many men are upset about this. The friend I mentioned above likens the procedure to removing an arm or a thumb for "medical reasons". Of course it's preposterous to say that such a thing would happen but is it really that different? It's a part of someone else's body!

What I find strange is I can't think of a single person in favor of removing a part of the female genitalia (and there has been a huge outcry against cultures that do it), but no one bats an eye about removing the foreskin. Why? It's a very odd double standard.
posted by dobbs at 1:18 PM on December 4, 2003

29, circumsized. I can't imagine being any *more* sensitive than I am already...
posted by mrbill at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2003

all the men on my father's side have phimosis so i had to be circumcized at 6 years old...

(what Ynoxas said)
posted by titboy at 1:32 PM on December 4, 2003

Here in Canada you have to pay for it out of your own pocket, insurance companies for the most part do not cover it. It amazes me but this actually sways some people away from having the surjury done.
posted by Mitheral at 2:10 PM on December 4, 2003

Reminds me of the stand up comedian I saw once, he related an argument he had with his wife upon the birth of their first child:
Him: "My family has always practiced circumcision, and I'd like to continue that tradition."
Her: "It's barbaric and cruel, and I want nothing to do with it."
Him: "Circumcision."
Her: "No way."
Him: "Yes way!"
Her: "Never!"
Him: "Dammit, she's my daughter too!"
posted by spazzm at 2:13 PM on December 4, 2003 [2 favorites]

I went through the process of deciding whether or not to have my son circumcised just over 12 months ago, just when this thread was discussing the issue. In the end, my partner did not want it done (only because she was concerned about the pain) and I did. We discussed it quite a bit but, at the end of the day, I could not really come up with a compelling reason to do it, although I still wish that we had done so. The decision was not finally made until after he was born, when it was discovered that he was going to need several operations in his first couple of years, when my partner put her foot down and said "no way, no how" because she figured he was going to go through enough pain already. If the choice was completely up to me, I would have said yes in an instant, but it is a hard thing to convince someone else to agree to.
posted by dg at 2:58 PM on December 4, 2003

I think they basically do it as the norm in the US - you have to ask to not have your son circumcised

Well no, that's not true. When our son was born we were kind of worried about that and told the nurse we wanted him left intact. The nurse was a bit offended and told us, it wasn't the 50's and they don't do that.
posted by soren at 5:02 PM on December 4, 2003

I had mine clipped off as well. I liked my foreskin but it was just a weensy bit too tight so having erections wasn't quite as nice as it should be. Having no foreskin does make peeing slightly less messy, the foreskin does tend to cause some fine spraying on the trousers.
posted by lazy-ville at 5:23 PM on December 4, 2003

This, to me, is the reason so many men are upset about this.

I think the real reason is that they've got nothing else in their lives to complain about.

Circumcised, high libido, and multi-orgasmic here. Life don't get no better than that.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:02 PM on December 4, 2003

Circumcision is genital mutilation, simple as that. I can't believe that it's still being done as a matter of course. Lazy-ville, you just pull it back when you pee, and the stream is as straight as it would be if you were circumcised.
posted by cbrody at 8:07 PM on December 4, 2003

My son, now 6, is uncut. We read all the pros and cons of it, my feeling was that if it didn't serve a purpose, it wouldn't be there.

I've since had a few misgivings about it. One of the cons was that urinary tract infections are believed to be more common without circumcision. My son has had two, and when a kid has a UTI at 2-1/2, it's no small thing. There's a condition called vesico-uretal reflux - basically, the urine can get back-flushed and caused damage "upstream". So, he had to go into the hospital for a ultrasound procedure that involved catheters, him being strapped down so that he wouldn't yank the tubes out or move around... ugh - it was fucking traumatic for everyone. Fortunately, there was no problem found.

Another issue has been he has kind of a tight foreskin, and I'd really like to be able to... teach by example? How to pull the skin back, etc. It'd be kind of nice if we had matching equipment.

I think we still made the right choice, but like most other choices. there are unforeseen consequences. As well as a few unforeskinned ones.
posted by groundhog at 8:14 PM on December 4, 2003

The AAP stopped recommending it in 99, so that may have swayed some recent parents. I think there's a lot of wanting the kid to look like the dad, if it's not for religious reasons. (and being at a bris--3 so far for me--made all of us men anxious and we all winced, even tho we were all circumcised too)
posted by amberglow at 8:31 PM on December 4, 2003

"the foreskin does tend to cause some fine spraying on the trousers." (lazy-ville) - Very true. And - despite cbrody's very sensible solution to this, some of us are occasionally lazy.

But I wonder - the male and female sex organs coevolved (unless you're gonna bring in aliens, of course) so it would seem logical that they would be best suited to each other in their original states. But - of course - that would depend on what one's criteria were. Evolution has it's own, but those might differ from ours.

Despite wanting to think I'm some sexual superman for the lack of a foreskin, I'd bet - on the basis that humans are both varied and also very adaptable - that they can have great sex whether cut or uncut. That applies to males, by the way. Female 'circumcision ' is a very different thing, and always vicious ( in my opinion ).
posted by troutfishing at 8:59 PM on December 4, 2003 [1 favorite]

Don't you think the term "uncircumcised" is a bit strange? Kinda like having "unamputated" limbs. "Natural" is a much better word, and "normal" should be the word, but decades of routine genital mutilation in the USA has unfortunately distorted what nature would dictate be called "normal."
posted by AstroGuy at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2003 [1 favorite]

I think the real reason is that they've got nothing else in their lives to complain about.

Sorry, FFF, but that's just plain and simple a rather ignorant and insensitive statement. Though great for you that you're cut and happy, I can't imagine why it would concern you that other people have a different opinion.

And yeah, lazyville, you've got a very approrpriate name. :) Just slide that sucker back a few centimetres.
posted by dobbs at 10:00 PM on December 4, 2003

The establishment of the Lord's covenant with Abraham is described in Genesis chapter 17. Circumcision is only the physical representation of it. It's not given exactly why this is the sign but I feel comfortable with the following interpretation:

Circumcision strongly symbolizes a casting aside of that which is sensual and material. This makes it a good sign of one's commitment to that which is spiritual and eternal. It is sort like baptism, in that each generation of males must commit themselves and their sons to it. First as to the physical representation of the covenant, and later, as the son grows up, to what it means, and how to live the covenant and pass it on to one's own sons (as well as servants).

And unless the covenant itself—put the spiritual above the material in all things—is raised up to this level, the sign of it will rightfully seem cruel and pointless.
posted by wobh at 10:27 PM on December 4, 2003

One of my more sexually adventurous female friends has told me that the 3 best lovers she ever had were all uncut.

I can think of about 1001 better reasons why someone may be a better lover than another (even if I were to believe that one person study), but as some others have said, its sensitive enough thank you very much.
posted by justgary at 12:13 AM on December 5, 2003

When my sister was pregnant with her son, we had long debates about circumcision. I went and did research on the subject, trying to convince her not to opt for it. To me, if you're not a Jew, there's just not much point. If there's a medical problem, fine, but without it, why cut off a bit of his penis? He might want it some day! There's so much evidence to say that it's a good thing to leave it where it is, and so little to say that the foreskin is a problem, why get rid of it? My sister wasn't sure what to do; she didn't want her son to get teased about anything ever, and this seemed like asking for trouble.

So we talked and talked and talked and I really thought in the end she was going to end up circumcising her son so that he'd still be in the majority, even though they're now saying that half of baby boys born aren't being circumcised.

But when my nephew was born he was left intact, and it was because his father decided against circumcision. His cut father. For this one decision alone I will always adore my brother-in-law.

I'm really glad to read the comments here. I think my sister and brother-in-law made the right decision. After my nephew was born my sister and I were looking down at him, naked on the rug, and said, "well, it's not that big a deal, is it." My sister was like, "but it looks fine, what are they going on about? Why cut stuff off?"

If he needs the thing removed later on, then fine. If he's concerned about it, he'll have tons of people around him to discuss it with him. (I'm very close to my sister, her husband, and their child, as you can see.)

I'm shocked at how many men don't think it's a problem that male babies in North America are so regularly mutilated at birth. It was okay for you, so it's okay for them? Penis surgery after birth? For no apparent reason? It baffles me, it really does.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:38 AM on December 5, 2003

My friend says that the reason it came about is that when the Jews were in the desert or somewhere like that, they had very little water and could not wash as much as they would like and so they cut of the foreskin to avoid being 'unclean' (ie sporting a generious ring of knob cheese)
posted by kenaman at 12:52 AM on December 5, 2003

Wow. This thread has been an eye opener. I can't believe so many American men have had it done. Not that it's any skin off my nose, of course..
posted by salmacis at 12:59 AM on December 5, 2003

The line that always worked to stop any and all teasing in elementary school (it was never an issue later than that): "Yeah, but they cut part of your off."
posted by Nothing at 2:11 AM on December 5, 2003

"Great is circumcision since but for that, the Holy One would not have created his world."

I have no idea what to say about this.

"Great is circumcision since but for that, the Holy One would not have created his world."

Our species is freakin' doomed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:36 AM on December 5, 2003

"Circumcision strongly symbolizes a casting aside of that which is sensual and material....." (wobh) - well, why not cut off a little bit of the left buttock instead?

"when the Jews were in the desert or somewhere like that, they had very little water and could not wash as much as they would like and so they cut of the foreskin to avoid being 'unclean' (ie sporting a generous ring of knob cheese)" - kenaman, I've heard this too, and I believe it. But that's the profane story, see? A Talmudic scholar might tell you "Yes, yes, but this does not contradict the theological account at all, for the work of G_d transcends our understanding. And besides, the Jews were first doing this for practical reasons and it was only later that the practice was enshrined as the centerpiece of the covenant between G_d and the Jews......" (wah wah wah, wah.......wah wah wah !)
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 AM on December 5, 2003

Here in Canada you have to pay for it out of your own pocket, insurance companies for the most part do not cover it. It amazes me but this actually sways some people away from having the surjury done.

Since it truly is elective surgery, I have wondered when it will be phased out of most American health plans. Maybe there are other elective procedures covered, but I can't think of any.

BTW, two boys, aged 6 and 1.5, both uncut, no infections, no trouble, no nothin'. Except their father and I are regularly surprised at how far they can stretch that extra little bit of skin. Anybody else remember those Plasticman cartoons? Yeah, kinda like that.
posted by whatnot at 8:15 AM on December 5, 2003

whatnot, be careful. they'll soon be making pee bombs. boys will be boys, afterall.

fwiw, i'm 35 and have never had any infection or health probs due to being uncut.
posted by dobbs at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2003

troutfishing, I would have thought that part was, I don't know, obvious? You can look at it as a sacrifice; one is sacrificing one's ability to appreciate (or even feel) a physical pleasure so that one can better learn to appreciate spiritual things. It's a sign of one's commitment to something that's bigger than life. To try to answer the reductio ad absurdum argument that will no doubt be levied soon; it's not meant to crippling (not seriously anyway). It still allows one to live life normally and do what one needs to do. It is simply a sign of an intergenerational commitment to living a spiritual life and passing it on to one's children. (I suppose some guys were also expecting a parcel of real estate in the Middle East in return for this deal. I can only imagine their disappointment.)

Is it possible uphold the spirit of the covenant without being circumcised? It must be, it's only a sign of it, not the covenant itself. It's certainly possible to be circumcised and not uphold it. But people seem to be looking for some practical, material reason for it. They won't find any. At best it simplifies male hygiene (this shouldn't be undervalued, but it shouldn't be overvalued either).

To clarify further, the primary reason for it is religious, not practical. If people don't feel "in touch" with this tradition, they shouldn't do it. Here in the U.S. It's been done more-or-less thoughtlessly, out of habit, bogusly rationalized as a medical procedure for at least a couple of generations. Let there be no doubt about it, I'm 110% in favor of infant circumcision falling out of fashion. But if one does feel in touch with this tradition, and one does want to live the covenant of Abraham, in flesh as well as spirit, then it should be done.

Would I hypothetically have it done for my postulated sons? I don't know, I'll have to check with the theoretical wife. Almost certainly I would try to teach my children to not think with their genitals, to try to aquire wisdom and compassion from their experiences in the world, to work usefully in the service of others, to worship in reverence of the Almighty, and to pass these on to their children.
posted by wobh at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2003

wobh - You know I'm not always completely serious, right?

I wasn't serious about the left buttock, but I was about the coexistence of the "practical" (empirical) and religious narratives. Because one definition of the divine is really "that which transcends our comprehension", I take this as an out which allows for resolution of this obvious logical contradiction - between empirical and religious narratives (derived from scripture) - at a higher level which my puny brain is too feeble to comprehend.
posted by troutfishing at 2:13 PM on December 5, 2003

My son happened to be born on a holiday, and the ob/gyn delivered him right before heading out of town. She had arranged for a "substitute" ob/gyn for the couple of days that my wife was in the hospital. The substitute was a Muslim man, and Muslims circumcise boys, just as Jews do. He was visibly offended -- seriously -- and shocked when we told him that we didn't plan to have our son circumcised. "Why not?" he asked. "Why put him through the pain?" I replied. "We're not Jewish or Muslim." That shut him up, but I could tell it bothered him.
posted by Holden at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2003

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