At birth, I was circumcised. Nobody told me, and I spent the next few years not thinking about it much, getting on with other more important aspects of childhood.
It would be wrong to say it never cost me a thought: there came a time when I discovered that not all boys looked like me. I was not unduly perturbed, though, and liked the way I and my circumcised friends looked better. I moved into adulthood feeling well-pleased with my state and, perhaps, ever so slightly sorry for those who had not benefited from modern medicine.
My interest grew during young adulthood, when I discovered that there are people who hate or despise the circumcised. A fellow student made fun of the Palestinians and Israelis, then - as ever - at war, referring to them sarcastically as "our circumcised friends". Another speculated about the state of a Jewish fellow student's penis, leaving me slightly perplexed, thinking: "I suppose it's just like mine". These attacks - never directed against me personally, but against men who were circumcised like me - made me conclude that I ought think more about the situation, and act out of respect as a friend to those to with whom I had this secret bond.
It was while I was at university that another revelation came to me through a chance conversation with a Jewish friend. "What is circumcision?" he asked, "is it a rite, a sacrament, an obligation?" "I don't know." I replied. "I'll tell you," he said, "it's a joy!" So saying, he unwittingly revealed my hitherto unformulated inner thoughts to me.
Increasingly, circumcision ceased to be just part of the neutral background to my life, and became, as I am sure it is for many men, a positive source of satisfaction.
Perhaps I should have said more about the medical benefits of circumcision. Cleanliness is an obvious advantage, together with reduced risks of various kinds of infection and penile cancer. The reason I have not said more about the medical dimension in this personal testimonial is that the circumcised man hardly notices these (well-documented) benefits, because they all involve things that do NOT happen, and of course, one is quite unaware of what problems one is not experiencing. I was really quite old before I realised just how much time uncircumcised men have to devote to personal hygiene, whereas I find it virtually impossible to be other than clean.
The main advantage one perceives as a circumcised man is a sense of well-being, of happiness at the way things are. I have met many circumcised men. Many pay no particular attention to it. I have never personally heard one say he regretted it, though - despite what one reads on the web. On the other hand, there are many men who bitterly regret not having been circumcised at birth and who seek circumcision in later life. Their evidence tends to suggest that their is no loss of sexual function or potency involved in circumcision. The fact that adults seek circumcision also rather suggests that - for reasons I do not fully comprehend - we do have a deep psychological need for circumcision, which may explain why, as my university friend suggested, we experience it as a joy.
Recently, though, there has been a great deal of anti-circumcision propaganda on the web. It is important not to loose sight of the fact that this is not just directed against the practice of circumcision, but against the circumcised: we are the enemy. And for good cause! The fact that there are many circumcised men who do not see themselves as victims, who have not the slightest regret at what was done to them, and who are very grateful to be the way they are, drives a coach and horses through the anti-circumcision argument.
There have been a number of highly publicised court cases in which doctors or parents have been sued by the men they circumcised. However, 80% of men in the US are circumcised, and if they ALL sued, there would be up to 100 000 000 cases rather than the handful we have witnessed. What we may deduce from this is that most circumcised men are content with their lot - either happy or at worst, indifferent.
However, it is this wave of propaganda that has made me want to avail of Mike's hospitality to provide this testimonial. It certainly made me think hard: but try as I might, I could not feel anything other than happy with my circumcised state. My fear, though, is that many circumcised teenagers will be psychologically damaged through the undermining of their sexual self-confidence at this important stage in their lives, and that many young fathers, themselves quite content with their circumcisions, will hesitate to pass on its benefits to their sons. I strongly feel that I owe it to these men to say, quite simply, that I am circumcised and glad of it. I do not feel I have lost foreskin, but rather that I have gained a circumcision.
David L. Parris