The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Penile reform

The recent discussion about circumcision clearly stirred some passions. I would never advocate for children being circumcised: I merely chose this for my son, and am perfectly satisfied that I myself am. One gentleman had had an horrific experience being circumcised as a medical procedure at the age of six--real trauma that had nothing directly to do with the procedure. I empathize.
But the equating of the removal of the foreskin with female clitoral excision seems rather extreme, imprecise, and a seriously invalid comparison. Perhaps I’m wrong. The term “mutilation” was used repeatedly, which also seems to be invalid, and I think I can explain exactly why. Now, explaining my position is very different from saying I can “prove my point.” I merely want to explain why I see it the way I do, and say that my attitudes feel quite consistent to me.
The word “mutilation” is defined roughly as “an act or physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of any living body, usually without causing death.” of these things (aesthetic function) is quite subjective, and vulnerable to social programming. However, if we assume equal levels of awareness and consciousness on the part of circumcised and uncircumcised men, and women in cultures where circumcision is popular and those in which it is not, I feel (I’m not saying this is “truth” or that anyone should agree) then it should be possible to evaluate it “close enough for government work.”
And that would be the response to two questions
1) on a scale of 1-10 how satisfied is the average circumcised/uncircumcised man with the appearance of his schlong? In circumcision-dominant cultures? Other cultures?
1) On a scale of 1-10 how attractive do women consider circumcised/uncircumcised men’s willies? In circumcision-dominant cultures? Other cultures?
Now, it would seem to me that aesthetics do relate to the average human response to the thing. In my case, I’d give a LOT of credence to how attractive women consider my doohickey, since that will influence the amount of nookie I get over the course of my life, let alone shall I say this? How lovingly said John Thomas is treated in bed. Something that matters to me quite a bit, actually.
However, this arena is so subjective that I can easily imagine someone saying it simply doesn’t matter what others think. Fine. The other matter is a bit more objective: the question of diminished function. THAT should be pretty easy to determine.
What are the functions of a wiener?
1) Urination. Any stats on difficulties here would be useful.
2) Propagation. Any stats on different rates of fertility or production of children would be useful.
3) Pleasure for partner. Any stats on relative feminine pleasure and satisfaction would be useful.
4) Raw sexual function. And here is where the rubber meets the road. So to speak. If, as opponents claim, there is a reduction of sexual sensation, then it should be easy to measure. How?
a) uncircumcised men should become aroused more easily by physical contact. And climax more quickly (I have no reason to assume that they automatically have greater control. I’m holding everything else constant)
b) circumcised men should become aroused LESS easily by physical contact (fluffing, anyone?). And should last longer. If the difference is extreme, then they should far more typically exhibit ejaculatory dysfunction and difficulty maintaining erection. I mean, if I get it up as quickly, and come about as quickly, where is this huge difference in boners I’m supposed to believe in?
If there is no real difference in performance or pleasure, or in subjective judgment of aesthetics, and the “health” benefits are highly debatable either way...then it seems that what we’re left with is pure social stuff. Parents who decide either way are about equally right.
At any rate, that’s my contribution to the science of Dickology today.


Reluctant Lawyer said...

My wife and I decided against circumcising our two boys. Given the fact that as new parents, we were pretty worried about just taking care of a newborn, adding in a risk of potential infection just did not seem worth it.

That said, it really just doesn't seem to be comparable to female circumcision. But, I'm not sure what the argument would be regarding the two. One is worse than the other???

Nigel said...

Like you, I get really annoyed when I read the articles suggesting male circumcision is "mutilation" of the penis and that it has any similarity to the far more invasive forms of so called female circumcision such as removal of the clitoris.

I'm one of that small percentage of men who is in a position to comment because I choose to have myself circumcised as a birthday present to myself just before my 50th.

My decision was purely on sexual / cosmetic, I didn't need to be circumcised, I had a perfectly normal, fully functional, easily retractable foreskin that had never given me a day of trouble, the only issue being I didn't want it!

The older I got, the more sex I had and the more I thought about it the more I became convinced that the foreskin is a throw back to some prehistoric time and that modern man does not need a foreskin.

So, I have now been circumcised for 8 years and having some of the best sex of my life, I love how my circumcised penis looks and feels and so do the women who have experienced it.

If I had a son, I would have no qualms about having him circumcised at birth so that he could enjoy the benefits a circumcised penis offers from day one.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

How does this fit with your general deference to approximating paleolithic conditions as far as they don't interfere with quality of life?

It seems unlikely that penises need to be improved.

Steven Barnes said...

Reluctant Lawyer: male circumcision removes far less tissue. The two are not really comparable. Female "circumcision" is closer to castration. The term is, I think, deliberately misleading. Yes, in my opinion one is far worse than the other.

Anonymous said...

"Female circumcision is the equivalent of leaving just enough of a stump to piss with."