The Unkindest Cut: Why Many Adult Men Resent Their Circumcision

Why don't we think it's wrong that we mutilate babies?

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Editor's Note: This is a part of YourTango's Opinion section where individual authors can provide varying perspectives for wide-ranging political, social, and personal commentary on issues.

There's an operation we perform on newborns every day. Most see it as a minor cosmetic procedure with some health benefits and give it little thought.

It's usually performed on the first or second day of life. The baby boy is taken from his mother and strapped down into immobility. Only 45% of babies are given anesthesia of any kind, either a dorsal nerve block or pain cream.


Then doctors use a clamp or a bell to separate the baby's foreskin from the glans of the penis. This is somewhat analogous to pulling off your fingernail.

Finally, the foreskin is cut off, leaving a red, raw, bleeding, and exposed glans. The hospital may sell the leftover foreskin, which is often used to make cosmetics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends it as an elective procedure. Several studies have shown that circumcision, contrary to the original findings, does not prevent HIV.

RELATED: What The Ideal Male Body Looks Like Around The World

It does show a lower risk of penile cancer, just as mastectomy lowers the risk of breast cancer. It's not recommended to prevent UTIs, and the intact penis is in fact easier to clean than the cut one.


As we decry female genital mutilation, we allow baby boys to have their genitals cut, often in the name of "looking like daddy."

Many say it won't matter because the boys don't remember it, won't care, or will want to look like everyone else. Most circumcised men don't think twice about their unkindest of cuts.

As one man says, "Here's how I feel about my penis: Great. Just awesome ... Do I feel bad about being circumcised? Nope. Do I feel good about it? Also, nope ... Again, my [circumcised] penis is rad."

Many men beg to differ, and they're venting their anger on the Circumcision Regret page.

Dave from Wisconsin says, "My penis was butchered at birth and I resent it. Wait until men are 18 and let them make their own decision. Otherwise, this constitutes forced genital mutilation."


Other men, some circumcised later, complain about the loss of sensation.

One says, "Most people don't know or even care to look but 4 out of the 5 most sensitive parts of the penis are amputated by 'circumcision.'

And if that wasn't terrible enough the last remaining sensitive part 'the glans' becomes "keritanized,' which means that due to abrasion a substance called keratin — the same substance that forms your nails — builds up in the glans to help protect itself, further reducing pleasure."

RELATED: 6 Reasons I Believe Circumcising Your Son Is Genital Mutilation

Phillip, circumcised as a teenager, says, "There is almost no feeling in it anymore."


Other men echo that they lost "so much sensation" after cutting.

These men are angry. Some say they want to kill the doctor who circumcised them or send him to prison. They claim the doctor is guilty of "child rape".

Others reserve their rage for their parents. As Shawn says, "I can't believe my parents had to audacity to cut off part of my d*ck."

These men are fighting back. Intact America has held protests against the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Many men had joined Chase's Guardians, a former grassroots organization dedicated to preventing the circumcision of Chase Hironimus. One was even arrested.

Others have decided to take back what was theirs and restore their foreskins.


Entire internet subcultures exist dedicated to non-surgical foreskin restoration, which basically boils down to this: re-covering the glans of the penis by stretching the skin over it.

Everyone has their favorite devices for it, but some use tape and weights, elastic strips, and traction devices.

Some promote manual tugging as the best introduction to it, and can also buy mechanical means that will accomplish this "tugging" more effectively. Restoring For Men even has a detailed tutorial on how to regrow your foreskin via taping.

RELATED: My Husband Wants To Circumcise Our Son, But I Sure As Heck Don't

Men aren't seeking full foreskin restoration; that's impossible, due to the specialized cells found on the human foreskin. They know they aren't going to get the full monty back, though some claim the restored foreskin will take on the characteristics of a mucus membrane.


But they do hope to cover their glans, thus undoing some of a lifetime of desensitization.

The restored foreskin won't offer the same kind of lubrication, but it can approximate the feelings of sex for an intact man. It also protects the glans from sweaty workouts, rough briefs, and other things that caused the desensitization in the first place.

Finally, for many men, a restored foreskin offers a feeling of being whole.


It involves reclaiming what was taken from them, usually as powerless children.

It's not surprising that with all the drawbacks of neonatal circumcision, some men seek to restore what was taken from them. While the process is long and arduous, it's worth it for some who feel violated by their circumcisions.

One wonders how many of those babies going under the knife will end up trying to regrow what we so callously snip off.

RELATED: What It's Like To Get Circumcised As A Grown Man

Elizabeth Broadbent is a writer and regular contributor to Scary Mommy. Her work has appeared on Today Show Parents, Babble, xoJane, Mamapedia, and Time Magazine Ideas.