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“What Is Making These Guys So Angry”

We cannot deny that the increasing violence being perpetrated in America today is carried out by boys and men. “Mental illness” is invoked as an explanation, and “more mental health services” are proposed as a solution. Bigotry and hate – perhaps even more complex than mental illness – are also cited as “motives” for many mass shootings and individual crimes against particular racial or ethnic groups.

We shake our heads and ask, “What is making these guys so angry?”

We posit answers like “broken homes,” “bad parenting,” “lack of opportunity,” social and economic disadvantage when compared to other groups or races or cultures… or we throw our hands up in the air and label the killers as “cowards” or “just plain evil.”

Maybe it’s time for us to look at the deepest roots of this violence. Why are boys and men committing mindless mass murder against people they don’t even know, and taking their own lives at unprecedented rates? Where does this all come from? How far back does it go?

For nearly eight decades, American doctors have been engaged in the routine sexual maiming of American boys, carried out (to emphasize the obvious) without boys’ consent, and without regard for their future wellbeing.

Furthermore, until recently, circumcision has been practiced with no pain relief for the child, despite the fact that it is mostly occurs in a medical setting where pain management is given for other surgeries. Even now, though the use of local anesthetic has become more common, it’s not obligatory or particularly effective. And even after the physical wound has healed, the boy must live with scars on his penis and his psyche, and dismissal of his concerns by the same establishment that violated his rights and his body.

The roots of this astonishing lack of compassion for the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society include extreme ignorance and denial (e.g., the assertion that “babies don’t feel pain”), greed (“I can do more circumcisions, more quickly, if I don’t have to wait for anesthetic to take effect”), and mindless disregard, if not contempt, for future physical and psychological consequences (“it’s harmless,” and “anyway, he won’t remember”).

And now, even as more and more boys are being protected from circumcision shortly after birth, they have become targets for another type of violation and act of physical violence – forcible foreskin retraction. Parents are increasingly reporting taking an intact son for medical appointments that have nothing to do with his genitals and being blindsided by a doctor or nurse intent on forcing back the boy’s foreskin, causing great pain and trauma.

Explanations for mass violence, as for all social phenomena, are necessarily complex, and we must resist the impulse to toss out overly-simplistic observations and solutions.

But we need to listen to the growing number of men speaking out about having been violated as babies when an essential (i.e., of its essence) part of their penis was forcibly severed. And we must ask ourselves whether the nearly ubiquitous violation of baby boys as a class of people and the assembly-line acts of violence carried out upon individual newborns might be responsible for at least some of the rage, pain and feelings of impotence that underlie the epidemic of mass killings we are witnessing today.

I will conclude with a quote from my dear friend and fellow intactivist Shelton Walden, who called me as I was writing this introduction:

“We need to treat each other well. We need to stop doing things that make people crazy.”

– Georganne Chapin

This essay was originally published on June 13, 2022, in the Intact America May/June newsletter.

Voices – RHF

I was born in 1944 in a small town in central Ohio. I learned early on that my penis was different than most boys’. In elementary school, going to the bathroom for No. 1 was like “show all, tell all.” I was still too young to have retracted my foreskin naturally to get the “cut look.” My Dad was uncut so I thought I was normal, but I got teased by other boys standing in the next stall over for having a “ding dong” with a point on the end. The guy who did most of the teasing had a bigger one. I felt embarrassed about the size difference but also about being uncut.

I can still remember that guy’s name. I felt kind of sorry for him. He was tall, the playground bully, and he lived at the Children’s Home in my hometown. When we got to be 5th or 6th graders, he could hit that softball for miles on the playground. I lost track of him. Someone said later he might have gotten killed in Vietnam.

In Junior High School, still feeling self-conscious about looking different from other boys, I hid my penis when taking showers after gym class by keeping a towel around my waist. My parents told me I wasn’t circumcised when I was born in 1944, because I was premature and wouldn’t have survived the procedure.

My baby brother was born in 1948, and I was forced to watch his circumcision. Our family doctor came over one April morning, and they laid my brother out on the kitchen table and the doctor cut him. He screamed with pain, and that memory shakes me to this day. I can remember my Mother saying, “If you are not a good boy, this will happen to you.” To me, that meant that my penis would be cut off; at age 4, I had no idea what a foreskin was.

So, I was a very good boy, but scared my whole life until I got big enough to fend for myself. My Mom also had told me I was ugly down there so I never thought I would be able to attract any woman and one day have children. It wasn’t until I went to college that I heard that the Europeans didn’t do routine circumcision. I found a French girl, and she took a chance on me.

Even though I am not circumcised, I’ve been haunted by circumcision trauma my entire life. First, being different; then being forced to witness my brother being cut and threatened with the same fate; then my mother telling me how ugly my penis was; and much later, when I was beginning my professional career in a hospital, having to pass by the newborn nursery where there was a circumcision room, and hear the screams.

I truly do not know how anyone can think this is something that is alright to do to a baby.

RHF, Youngstown, Ohio

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Do You Know: Why Lawsuits Won’t End MGC?

It seems so clear, right? Cutting a boy’s genitals violates the U.S. Constitution, state and federal laws against sex-based discrimination, and statutes and regulations regarding the use of government funding for medically unnecessary services. It also meets definitions of assault and battery — because the child cannot consent — and the surgery serves no therapeutic purpose. And, as we know, both short- and long-term consequences are not uncommon, and some are severe.

So… Sue the bastards!! Right? Over recent months, I have reached out to personal injury attorneys from nearly a dozen states, including those with laws that most liberally favor malpractice cases. I told them that Intact America (as well as other intactivist organizations) are receiving more and more complaints from parents of boys with significant injuries that occurred either during circumcision, as a result of forcible foreskin retraction, or that appeared later. It was our hope, given the limited bandwidth (and resources) of our fellow intactivist who are lawyers, that we could identify a larger group of practitioners who would be willing to review and take on lawsuits from individuals wanting to sue.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple My conversations were uniformly sobering. Here are some of the comments from the lawyers I spoke with:

    • The standard for evaluating a case is whether any other doctor would have done the same thing. Circumcision is so common, it’s almost impossible to find a situation that’s so unusual as to make one stand out.
    • If we think the dollar value of the recovery is under $250,000, we can’t even consider taking it on. The expenses of preparing a case include research, hiring experts, taking depositions… It can take up to two years. And even though most cases settle, it’s the night before trial, so you’ve already invested all this money.
    • Circumcision is considered normal in this country. It’s unremarkable. And a certain number of complications is normal. So…, you rarely have the facts needed for a lawsuit. [This same attorney let me know he is personally opposed to circumcision.]

But what about bodily autonomy and the child’s consent? When I asked about cases involving aggressive “selling” of the procedure to parents, misleading claims as to its benefits, and lack of informed consent, the lawyers brushed these facts aside with the same explanation. Ultimately, if nearly every hospital is circumcising, and if the parent signs a consent form, then there is no cause of action egregious enough to mount a lawsuit.

So, what now? At this point, as painful as it is to hear this message, counting on the courts to punish the participants in the circumcision machine is wishful thinking.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we need to sit still as American boys are systematically violated. No, in fact, we need to document every case that comes to us and help the parties who were harmed by filing complaints with the physicians themselves, the hospital or other facility where the event took place (I call this “the scene of the crime”) and the professional (mis)conduct board of the state where it occurred. This is a massive task, but if we are able to amass and track enough cases, physicians will find it increasingly uncomfortable to continue to violate children by cutting off their foreskins and the promiscuous promotion of circumcision will decline.

If you would like to volunteer to help Intact America with this project, please write to us at [email protected]. Tell us what state you live in, and what (if any) experience you have with legal issues, customer service, or other activities that would help you to help us do this work.

In advance, thank you.

Georganne Chapin
Executive Director
Intact America

Do You Know: Why Some Men Have “Bent” Penises?

By James Snyder, MD

As a preface, I should mention that Routine Infant Circumcision (RIC) is the reason/cause of some penile curvature in adult men (which is distinct from Peyronie’s Disease or Chordee — see below). The operators in this procedure may be medical students, nurses/midwives, obstetricians, pediatricians, or anyone who is being taught to do a “simple” infant circumcision. The fact is this procedure is often underestimated in terms of risk, and it is delegated to the least experienced operator. Removal of skin from the penis to reveal the Glans Penis is the primary goal, but the results/complications/mistakes of the operator may become evident only after years have passed and the subject is unable to obtain redress of grievances. The most careful RIC removes up to 1/3 to 2/3 of the skin of the normal penis. This skin does not regenerate as the child becomes an adult; the results can be tragic when the removal of skin leaves behind shortening, unequal and asymmetric coverage, curvature, and sexual crippling. Now I will proceed to a discussion of two well-known natural causes of penile deformities – Peyronie’s Disease and Chordee.

Peyronie’s Disease or the “Bent Spike Syndrome” begins as a thickening of the fibrous sheaths which surround the two erectile bodies of the penis. These erectile bodies are attached to the bony pelvis and continue through the length of the penis to attach to the Glans Penis. During sexual arousal, these bodies fill with blood to the limits of the fibrous sheaths which define the size and shape of the penis. At the same time, the urethra, a tube which conducts urine and semen from the bladder and prostate, also engorges with blood. These structures and their various functions are most easily understood by consulting books of Anatomy, such as Grey’s Anatomy or Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, found in most libraries.

Peyronie’s affects the erectile bodies of middle-aged men, causing painful erections with curvature and distortions of the shape of the penis, which may prevent normal sexual intercourse. The condition is sometimes associated with Dupuytren’s contracture of the tendons on the palm of the hand. The cause of these conditions is poorly understood, and various treatments have resulted in incomplete cure of the disease which usually worsens over time.

Urologic specialists at the Mayo Clinic see about 700 patients yearly with this condition and have developed appropriate medical and surgical treatments which may include injections, traction, and surgery.

Chordee (pronounced Cor-DEE) is a curvature of the penis toward the feet (ventral or ventrally). This is a normal condition after conception when the embryo develops all the essential organs to support life and becomes a fetus. Early in this process, the sexual organs begin to develop and differentiate between males and females. At first, the phallus is curved ventrally in both sexes. The secretion of the male sex hormone, testosterone, by the fetal gonads causes the male phallus to enlarge, unwind, and take a more nearly straight form. Later, the skin which will become the scrotum folds to the midline and encloses the testicles, continuing this process and forming the tube which conducts urine, the urethra, similar to the action of a zipper until the distal end of the penis is reached.

The condition known as Hypospadias is a failure of this process to complete any or all of these described formations. In the most severe forms, the Chordee fails to resolve, and the distal penis remains close to its original form. More commonly, the penis is completely formed except for the ventral curvature, which may be more or less severe. In the milder forms, the curvature can be surgically corrected when the Urologic Surgeon makes a skin incision along the length of the penis on the dorsal or upper surface and removes or cuts out a series of wedges from the fibrous sheath of the erectile bodies. This may improve the shape or curvature of the penis to allow normal sexual function.

This is an abbreviated discussion of these conditions, which, fortunately for humanity, are not common. In my experience as a Urologic Surgeon, I have encountered these conditions only a few times. The best treatment options are available from experienced surgeons working at university medical centers.

James L Snyder, MD
Fellow, American College of Surgeons
Diplomate, American Board of Urology

Persons interested in learning more about Peyronie’s Disease and its treatment, including surgery and the use of injectable medication, may consult the Mayo Clinic website.

Voices — M.J.

Editorial note: This insightful letter from a self-identified “prostitute” (sex worker) was sent to the Editor of Penthouse magazine in June 1985, apparently in response to discussion in a prior issue about circumcision. It is still relevant today. Note that frenum is an alternate word for the more commonly used word frenulum. Also, the author repeatedly uses the terms uncut and uncircumcised; the term “intact” had not yet become part of the vernacular. The letter, reproduced in its entirety below, had been preserved by Marilyn Milos, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Centers (NOCIRC, later renamed Genital Autonomy – America, which merged with Intact America in 2021).

Dear Penthouse,

I’m a prostitute. It paid for my education, provides a good lifestyle, and I enjoy the work. I’m surprised and dismayed by the many misconceptions printed regarding circumcision, in letters by both men and women. My wide experience gives me a perspective to contribute to the discussion.

I didn’t grow up, as many women do, regarding the circumcised penis as “normal”. Helping my mother bathe my two uncircumcised younger brothers showed me that washing the penis is no more of a chore than washing the female genitals, and even simpler, because of fewer folds of skin.

Few uncircumcised penises are dirty. It’s far more common to encounter a man with bad breath, from lack of brushing or a mouthful of cavities, than one with a dirty penis. Yet, nobody suggests that the teeth be routinely extracted for “hygiene”.

Uncut men enjoy sex more because the penis is more sensitive. Uncircumcised males secrete more pre-coital mucus, and it starts flowing sooner, than with circumcised ones. The uncircumcised penis offers more opportunities for foreplay. Stroking the foreskin back and forth, retracting it to touch the corona or pluck the frenum lightly, is very stimulating. Inserting the tongue under the foreskin, or retracting it for easy access to the glans, frenum, and inverted inner lining, are stimulating variants to pumping the foreskin. Many men enjoy a good “hand job”, and the uncut ones can enjoy the full stroke, retracting the foreskin fully, then running it up over the end of the glans. The flow of clear mucus gives lubrication, enhancing the sensations and preventing irritation from dry friction.

The denuded organ requires special manipulation. There’s no foreskin to serve as a natural stimulator, and sometimes the frenum has been removed too, limiting the possibilities. If there’s enough slack, pulling the rest of the skin up over the corona works, although many don’t enjoy dry friction. More often, I have to use lubrication. The cut ones are handicapped from the start.

Some circumcised men are so insensitive that they can’t come to orgasm even after fifteen minutes of a “blow job,” and need to be finished off by hand. This has never, in my experience, happened with an uncircumcised man.

I’ve never noticed a difference in the time required for coital climax between cut and uncut men. Although it seems that circumcision, by removing sensitive tissue, would delay the climax, this isn’t so. Premature ejaculation is common, in our mostly circumcised males. I feel that there are two reasons for this:

The first is that sexual stimulation is not only physical, but mental. Circumcision does not affect this.

The second is that the skin of the uncircumcised penis, more slack during thrusting and withdrawal, tends to give with the friction, gliding up and over the corona. This partly shields the glans from excessive stimulation It also avoids putting tension on the frenum. This happens with a tight circumcision, speeding the man’s climax.

I hope that this is helpful.

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Voices — Eugene Ocasio

The first time I realized there was something wrong with me was in October 1970, I had turned 5 years old and was in kindergarten. I asked the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom.

After I finished urinating, alone in this large and lit bathroom, I looked at my penis and felt it looked odd. Something was telling me I was not right.

My parents did not raise me. I am the result of a mixed marriage; my father is white and my mother is black.

The same year for Christmas day my parents sent for me to spend Christmas with them.  At some point in the afternoon I was ordered to bathe. I recall going into the bathroom and seeing my father stepping out of the shower. I was amazed at his athletic body and the fact that his penis was so big, and very different looking from mine. He was not circumcised. At that moment I thought, being just 5, well that’s how my penis will be when I’m grown up!

I heard my father was quite disappointed he didn’t have a girl. He wanted to have black daughters who looked just like his wife, my mother. But I was born a boy and just as white as him, and as I grew up, I looked like a mini-him.

Eugene Ocasio

Apparently, after my birth, he was approached by some quack doctor in the hospital who convinced him to have me circumcised. My grand-aunt, who was present at the time the mutilation took place was against it, but my father did not listen to her or anyone else.

As a result, I was scared and deformed for life.

Years later I learned no older male member of the family was cut.

Because I wasn’t the baby my parents expected, my paternal grandparents and my grand-aunt took me in and raised me. My father had hardly any involvement in my life after that, except for playing taxi driver and taking me from point A to point B. Essentially, I grew up fatherless.
 
A year after my birth, my parents had another child, I another boy. And eight later, hoping for a daughter, they tried again — and yet another baby boy was born.

Father had them both cut as well.

I did not grow up with my siblings, but my middle brother spent most summer vacations with my grandparents. As children, we sometimes took showers together, and because my brother’s penis was “like” mine I thought that was how all males were supposed to look and be. But he did not have the same scars and deformity I had below the glans.
 
It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I came to terms and realized what has been done to me.

I never got to confront my father about it, as he died suddenly from a heart condition.

I got all the love and care a child could ask for from my grand-aunt and my grandparents. But I will NEVER forgive my father for having my body mutilated the day after I was born. As a result, I feel and look sexually inferior to other males.

I read somewhere that all male mammals have foreskin from the tiniest mouse to the largest whale. If cutting off the foreskin is so important, then why it isn’t being done on all male house pets and farm animals? Because it is NOT a birth defect. It is a natural part of being male, and I wish it had never been taken from me. I find the whole circumcision act disgusting, almost like a perverted form of cannibalism.

I curse the hands of all surgeons who do this to all baby boys everywhere, especially the one who mutilated me.

Eugene Ocasio, resident of Puerto Rico

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