Scarred For Life



Since my recent posts on infant circumcision (here and here), I've learned a lot more about the subject. If you can bear a glimpse at the reality of this gruesome procedure, check out this YouTube. Some things I have learned: the majority of circumcisions do not use anaesthetic. Babies are strapped into a restraint, keeping their legs apart, and their arms and abdomen down, because when they have their penises sliced open, they scream and struggle. And this:

Because a baby's prepuce is usually naturally adherent to the glans (this is true of both males and females), it must first be torn away in order to perform the circumcision. The doctor applies clamps and inserts the nose of a pliers-like instrument to tear away the foreskin from the glans.

If parents tore the skin off their infants in any other part of the body, they'd be arrested for abuse. The great unmentionable, of course, is that religion, not medicine, is behind this practice - Judaism and Islam, to be precise. Many secular men, in other words, bear the scars of someone else's religion on their own bodies for life. (I should add, as I have written before, that female genital mutilation is exponentially worse. It removes a girl's sexual pleasure, rather than simply scarring and numbing it.) One commenter on Jeff Goldstein's blog put one rationale for it this way:

Further proof that God exists: he mandates a ritual that tones down the male sex drive, if only by a little, to help men become more godly instead of more carnal.

A survivor of a botched circumcision writes:

I am forty years old and never realized that my penis was terribly mutilated during my circumcision until 10 years ago. I hadn't seen too many other men's penises up close so I just assumed that the scars and layers of missing skin on my glands was a normal variation. A doctor informed me that the jagged edge of my crown, the gouges in my glands and the missing layers of skin on my glands was the result of a doctor butchering me during my circumcision. He said that my parents should have sued.  I thought “my parents” were the ones that had it done to me. What about my rights?  What about my right to sue? I was the one who was butchered. How many men are out there like me?  How many don’t even know that their penises aren’t normal?  And even if they cut me by the book, I would still consider it mutilation because part of me was cut off, altering me for life, without my consent. What about my body my choice?

That's only for women, apparently.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgement, and what it means to love their bodies

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air