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Ask Marilyn – I was circumcised, and there’s nothing wrong with me. Why do cut men complain?

Dear Marilyn:

Some of my friends tell me they are bitter because they were circumcised as babies. They say they feel like they were robbed of ever experiencing full sexual pleasure. I don’t understand them. I am circumcised and enjoy sex very much. Honestly, I can’t imagine it being any better. Am I missing something?

—Samuel in Greenville, South Carolina

Dear Samuel:

You are not the only cut man who feels this way. If your foreskin is missing, it’s hard to imagine how it would feel to have sex with an intact penis. But the truth is that sex is better—yes, more complete—when your genitals are intact.

The foreskin is the most erogenous part of the male genitalia. It has tens of thousands of nerve endings that respond to the lightest touch. When the penis is erect, the foreskin slips back from the glans (the head of the penis) and folds into ridged band that is ultrasensitive. During intercourse, the ridged band of foreskin works to stimulate both partners as the glans glides smoothly in and out. Here’s how it works.

Although many cut men are willing to publicly talk about how circumcision has affected them emotionally, physically, and sexually, far more cut men find it hard to acknowledge that their genitals aren’t complete. They also are reluctant to admit that their parents—who were supposed to protect them—allowed a doctor to amputate healthy, normal tissue from their genitals.

I’m glad you are enjoying good sex. However, without a foreskin to protect it, your penis will likely lose sensitivity as you get older. Also, sadly, circumcised men are three to four times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than intact men.

I hope this helps you to understand what your friends are saying, and that you will join with us at Intact America to end the cycle of circumcision that has caused so much harm to American men.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn – Intact Man Wants No More Surprises with Women

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

I just finished my freshman year at college, and I dated two women who were turned off by my intact penis. One refused to have sex with me. I’m happy I’m intact, but I want to stop surprising and being rejected women. Do you have any advice for me?

—Bob in Boston

Dear Bob:

I am sorry that you have encountered women who do not know how wonderful it is to have sex with an intact man. Most American women are ignorant when it comes to the normal penis. Simple education is a good way to overcome their hesitancy.

Start talking about your normal penis when you think the relationship is likely to become sexual. Tell her: “I have a normal penis, the one I was born with, just like Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. And Elvis Presley was intact, too.”

Acknowledge that she might be hesitant to sleep with an intact man because so many lies have been told about foreskins. If she seems interested in knowing more, tell her that circumcision grew popular in this country as way to stop little boys from masturbating. Explain that the foreskin is highly innervated and makes sex more pleasurable for men, and that the gliding action of the foreskin makes sex more gentle for women. You can also add that foreskin gives you more control over your orgasm. 😊

One more thing. Women worry they don’t know how to handle an intact penis during foreplay and oral sex. So help them out. Tell them or show them what you like. In the end, good sex is rooted in good communication, whether you are intact or cut.

—Marilyn

“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 — Vance Rocco

I was circumcised twice—first when I was born and again as a revision when I was about 5 years old. This has haunted me ever since.

I clearly remember the second circumcision—surrounded by doctors all looking at me. I was scared and cold, and my mom had left the room. This was not a pleasant experience. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Looking back at my teenage years, I noticed that I had a few experiences that were not normal. I did not know that without the foreskin, the glans and shaft can become dry, which results in small painful tears and chafing.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to do some of what a missing part of my body ( the foreskin) is supposed to do: keep things moisturized. But the scar is a daily reminder that I was robbed. I have never had any complaints from partners in the past, but that is not the point. Even in a world where this is considered the norm, I have always been conscious that something wasn’t quite right.

I wanted to know why circumcision was considered necessary, so I started to do more research. I found out how common circumcision and mutilation are for children and young adults all over the world, and how hospitals sell foreskin to tissue banks, and somehow this ultimately becomes facial creams and cosmetics. I was shocked and felt sick when I read this. I got so angry, a friend told me to look for organizations that are fighting against it, so I could find people who share my anger and aren’t afraid to speak out about it.

That’s when I found Intact America online and saw what they are doing to change things. I want to make a difference any way I can. I want people to recognize that this is a business. Tell me why the hell a single foreskin can sell for upwards of $100,000? In fact, I think they owe me $200,000 since they did it twice. They did it twice and I still have part of my frenulum, a sensitive band of tissue that helps contract the foreskin over the glans. Medical professionals learn to perform circumcision by actually doing it. There is no infant penis model for them to practice on. Was I a test subject? The whole thing is absurd.

What hits me the hardest is knowing I will never have the full experience of being intact. My solution is tissue expansion. It’s a non-surgical method that, when done properly, can yield many benefits. Essentially it creates a neo-foreskin through gentle stretching exercises over a year or two. It won’t have the same nerve endings as the original foreskin, which is still sad, but it will provide every other function, including improved sensation, a more moist and supple glans surface, and protection. This is a permanent and long-term investment for me. I am even considering a tattoo to symbolize the journey my body and I have been through.

There are things I have experienced that I just do not want to share. This, however, is something I am brave enough to fight for. All of these negative experiences imbued my aura with an eternal flame of darkness. A dark flame sounds very contradicting, like an oxymoron, and that’s because it is. It’s still fire. It’s still fuel. Is it light? Nope. But I will use it to propel me throughout the rest of my life. If I can fight for myself, I can fight for others. If I can love myself, I can love others.

I am only 20 years old. I feel like I have been through too much already. But I am still breathing. I am still standing. I am still here. I grieved the person I was as a child full of innocence. I have shed my skin many times. Nothing really fazes me anymore; I am often disappointed by things most people think are scary. I have no fear because I know I can face anyone or anything. This little journey I’ve been on with my body has been horrible yet liberating. I am conquering one thing at a time. Deconstruction and reconstruction. Death and rebirth. This is my story.

Vance Rocco

Interested in lending your voice? Send us an email, giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.

Ask Marilyn – Bruised Cervix?

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

My wife says I bruise her cervix when we have sex. She says it is not because my penis is long, but that I thrust too hard. She blames it on me being circumcised. I’m her second husband and her first was not circumcised. What’s that all about?

—Dumbfounded in Fort Wayne

Dear Dumbfounded,

She may be correct. When the nerve-laden foreskin is removed from the penis the result is a desensitized penis expecting and clamoring for more sensory input. To accomplish some sort of sexual satisfaction, a cut man will tend to thrust faster, harder, deeper in order to achieve climax.

Painful sex is the number one complaint of American women and I think this is because four out of five men are cut. Frictional pain is the most common reason for painful sex, and generous lubrication often alleviates this. But the second most common reason I’ve heard is from bruised cervixes. It really does hurt. A lot.

You see, an intact man tends to move slower and doesn’t have to go as deep into the vagina. The result is pleasurable sex for him and her.

You have a number of solutions available to you. 1. Just go slower and enjoy the ride. The goal isn’t always to orgasm, but to connect with your lover. 2. Try positions that tend to limit your penetration. The so-called ‘doggy style’ for one. The ‘cowgirl’ is also effective since she is in control of the depth. 3. Finally, there is a product call the Ohnut which was designed by women to cure this problem. It fits over the penis and limits the depth. It is flexible, cushy, and comfortable. And kinda kinky in a fun sort of way. Think of it as a bumper or shock absorber.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn – Do Babies Feel Pain?

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

I am expecting a boy in August. My husband is circumcised and all the men in my family are circumcised, and they have never complained about it. But I have seen some moms on pregnancy forums say that when their babies returned from being circumcised, they cried and cried and wouldn’t breastfeed. My obstetrician assured me that circumcision is not painful for the baby. Is she right?

—Meredith in Providence, RI

Dear Meredith:

I am so glad you are questioning your obstetrician’s statement,  because she is wrong.

Many believe that babies are too young to feel pain, but that has been disproven. Any mom who, before disposable diapers were invented, accidentally stuck her newborn with a diaper pin knows that babies feel pain. And I know from my own experience that they do. I was a nursing student when I witnessed a circumcision for the first time. The baby was lying on a molded plastic board, struggling against the restraints that held his arms and legs down. Nothing was given to the baby to manage the pain. The doctor told me to let the baby suck on my finger. When the doctor began the procedure, the baby let out a scream I’d never heard come out of a human before. It wasn’t like a baby’s cry when he’s hungry or needs his diaper changed. It was primal. He screamed for the next 15 minutes.

There is no medical reason to circumcise your son. Keep him intact, just as nature intended.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn – I’m Cut and Angry. What Can I Do?

Dear Marilyn:The penis advice column

I did not know that I was circumcised until I was 11 years old. My aunt and cousin, who live in France, came to visit us. My cousin stayed in my room, and one day as we were dressing I noticed that his penis looked different from mine. He showed me his foreskin, which he was able to retract.

I was devastated. I kept thinking that someone had sliced off a part of my penis and I could physically imagine the pain I must have felt as a baby. I confronted my parents and asked why they would do such a thing. They insisted it was no big deal and it was for the best.

Now I’m in my twenties and I feel more angry than ever. What can I do to move past this?

—Calvin, Denver, Colorado

Dear Calvin:

I am so sorry for your loss. Your parents made a mistake by allowing you to be circumcised and seem afraid to to take responsibility for that decision. A simple apology from them would be the first step to coming to terms with what happened to you. Consider approaching your parents today to talk about how you feel.

Counseling benefits almost all survivors of abuse and is likely to help you process your feelings. A therapist can help prepare you to go back to your parents and ask them to acknowledge your feelings of loss and pain.

I’ve spoken to thousands of survivors of male genital cutting, and I’ve seen many who find solace when they get involved with the genital autonomy movement and find they are not alone, and that there are many people who share their grief and anger. I urge you to join us in fighting to save baby boys from experiencing what you have experienced.

Some men also turn to foreskin restoration. I suggest you read my answer to a reader’s question about whether foreskin restoration is worth it. This might be something for you to consider.

I hope you can find peace in your future.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn – When You and Your Husband Can’t Agree on Keeping Your Son Intact

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

My husband and I are the parents of two girls and are now expecting a baby boy. I started thinking about this a long time ago, and I am quite sure I do not want our son to be circumcised. The problem is that my husband, who was circumcised as a baby, is very angry that I am taking this stance. He says that it will be impossible to keep our son clean, and that I will be ruining my son’s chances with future girlfriends. How can I convince him that it’s better to keep our son whole?

—Samantha, New Mexico

Dear Samantha:

Sadly, I have heard some variation on this question many times. First, I want to congratulate you for following your instinct to protect your son from a painful and unnecessary surgery with a lifetime of consequences. Second, I want to suggest that you consider why your husband is reacting this way. It is likely that your husband, a circumcised man, thinks you’re saying “something is wrong with YOUR CUT PENIS” when you say you don’t want to cut your son’s penis.

Reassure him that you love him just the way he is, and that you know he has his son’s interest at heart. Ask him to hear you out so you can explain why you want to stop the cycle of unnecessary cutting by keeping your son intact.

Tell him that a lot has changed since he was a baby. More men are speaking out against circumcision, saying they wish they hadn’t been cut. Researchers have found that babies really feel pain when their genitals are cut, and many babies are traumatized by it. Explain that the foreskin has thousands of sensitive nerve endings that give men and their partners pleasure during sex. Tell him that more than 100 babies die each year because of circumcision complications, and that hundreds more live their lives with disfigured penises. Ask him if he thinks it’s worth the risk to perform basically a cosmetic procedure on your son. And ask him to check out this informative website covering the historical practice of newborn circumcision .

You can also point out that, because the U.S. is the only western country that routinely circumcises its boys, men in the rest of the world are intact. They know how to clean their genitals and have no problem finding women to love them .

Tell your husband that you hope he trusts your feelings about this issue, and that you both want the same thing: to peacefully welcome a beautiful and healthy baby boy into the world and raise him to be a wonderful man like his father is.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn – Is Foreskin Restoration Worth the Effort?

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

I was circumcised without my consent as a baby and I wish I could experience sex as an intact man would. I’ve heard about foreskin restoration, but I know it can’t restore the sensitivity of the natural foreskin on a normal penis. Is there any benefit to be gained by trying to restore my foreskin?

—Confused in Seattle

Dear Confused:

I am sorry that your foreskin was taken from you. You can regain some sensitivity with foreskin restoration (gentle stretching techniques) to cover the glans, making it more sensitive and providing the gliding mechanism that will improve sex for you and your partner. Although foreskin restoration is a tedious, time-consuming endeavor that takes several years to complete, every man who has succeeded has been pleased with the results.

Do an internet search for ‘foreskin restoration’ to learn more about it, find support groups, and see the current devices that have been developed. Good luck!

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn – Why Is Sex with My Husband Painful?

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

This is an embarrassing question. My husband and I are both 27 years old. Everything about our relationship is good, except that intercourse is very uncomfortable for me. Using lube helps at first, but he takes a long time to reach orgasm and by the time he finishes, I am in a lot of pain.

I am from Denmark, and this is my first relationship with a circumcised man. I’m wondering if this has something to do with our problems and, if so, what we can do to make things better?

—Liv C., Cincinnati

Dear Liv:

Your problem is a common complaint of American women. Most American women have never been with an intact male and don’t know what normal sex feels like, and most European women haven’t been with a cut male.

Circumcision amputates healthy genital tissue with tens of thousands of specialized erogenous nerve endings. All that sensitivity is lost. And sadly for you, as a result many men take longer to reach orgasm, which increases the pain. Cut men also lose the gliding mechanism of the foreskin that provides for gentle intromission (penetration) and sexual intercourse without abrasion.

So what can you do?

Start by trying a different lubricant, then try other positions. Many women say that being on top helps relieve some of the chafing they feel. This position often allows a woman to position herself so that she’s stimulated with less pain.

No man should be robbed of his natural penis and a healthy sexual future. And no woman should have to suffer the consequences. Understanding the underlying issue may help you and your husband work on a solution together.

Thank you again for writing. My best wishes to you.

—Marilyn