Essays & Experiences
Hear the voices of the many people who speak up for genital autonomy.
The Wedge (YWB)
"You and your wife get along pretty well. I mean, you wouldn't have married her in the first place if that weren't the case, right? But there's one topic here in America that seems to drive a wedge between husband and wife that rocks at least one of you to the core. That wedge? Circumcision."
"I am a 32 year old woman from Finland, which has a neonatal circumcision rate of zero (1). I have been following Your Whole Baby for several months now and would like to tell you why. Last summer something happened for the first time in my life: I saw a circumcised penis."
Five issues you might have to overcome before choosing not to circumcise your son…
"You’ve got to be willing to be different and go a little bit against the grain, but also know that the numbers are in your favor. Someone else in your neighborhood has an intact son, and soon, a lot more of your neighbors will too. You’re not going to be Weird Wanda. You’re going to be Leader Louise!"
I Am Your Husband (Tracy Wicklund, Regret Father)
"I know it’s hard to take advice from people you don’t know, but I am different. Although we have never met, I am your husband. I am him in 18 months because 18 months ago, I was where he is now. Don’t believe me? I can prove it."
I Stopped Hiding
"I bullied and convinced my wife to cut our oldest child without any factual reasons. As soon as I witnessed my oldest get cut, I immediately knew I had made a bad decision."
From a Circumcised Son
"If you are reading this, odds are you had your son circumcised, and later found out how terrible and damaging the procedure truly is. Unfortunately, the harm does not end when the surgical procedure is over. Circumcision continues to harm people their entire lives. While there is no way to take back the damage done, there are ways to help decrease future damage, both physically and mentally."
Circumcision: The Untold American Story (YWB)
"People don’t really understand what it’s like to be circumcised and not want to be. It makes you feel completely helpless. I wake up every day and go to sleep every night knowing that I’m missing part of my body. I have to come to terms with the fact that part of me was cut off and that I had absolutely no way to speak out or defend myself. It makes me feel so powerless, so vulnerable."
They Gave Their Consent
"I’m sitting, unable to sleep, in a darkened room at three in the morning wondering how I am going to write about this subject. You know the one. It’s that subject nobody talks about, mentioned occasionally in hushed tones while parents’ faces glow with excitement for the new life that is about to see this world for the very first time."
Balance Bias (Katie Ward)
"People in the U.S. approaching the topic of infant circumcision for the first time are often looking for unbiased resources — materials that don't seem fanatical and do clearly lay out both the risks and benefits of the procedure. Armed with such resources, expectant parents believe they can make an informed choice and feel confident about it, regardless whether they decide to leave their child intact or have him circumcised."
A Fractured Soul (YWB)
"What is the first thought or feeling that crosses your mind when reading the word circumcision? Most people are quick to crack a joke or brush it off. But what if I told you that word means absolute hell for some people?"
8 Reasons Why You Should Reconsider Circumcision (Modern Alternative Mama)
"I will not judge you if you choose something I wouldn’t choose. I won’t call you a bad person or a bad parent — that’s not fair... All of that said, I am going to stand up and recommend against circumcision. If you’re pro-circumcision, hear me out. I’m not calling you a baby mutilator. I promise not to be rude to you. But I want to share some information with you today, on why parents choose to avoid circumcision."
Male Circumcision Rates in Utah Decline as Parents Reconsider the Procedure (Salt Lake City Weekly)
"My father was very adamant and very passionate about letting me keep my whole and unaltered body. From what I understand, he actually put out a court-ordered cease and desist for every pediatrician in the state."
Ending circumcision, Part One (Philly Voice)
"Placing a comforting hand on her daughter’s small chest, Rita peels back the sticky tabs and opens the diaper only to recoil in shock. Blood, rather than urine, soaks the absorbent pad. Bright, red blood... Sick to her stomach with hands shaking, Rita carefully opens up her daughter’s labia majora to look inside the girl’s genitals. Yes, the wound from yesterday’s circumcision is bleeding, a lot. No wonder she has been crying."
Boys and Girls Alike (Aeon)
"I try not to talk about my research at dinner parties. I’ll say ‘medical ethics’ if pressed, which will sometimes trigger an unwelcome follow-up: ‘But what about medical ethics? That’s a pretty big field.’ ‘I study lots of things,’ I’ll say – and that’s true, I do. ‘But I focus on medically unnecessary surgeries performed on children.’"
Why I Didn't Choose Circumcision (Huffington Post)
"I'm a bit depressed. Our midwife gave me a book about circumcision. I've started the book and can't put it down. I'm not sure that I'll ever fully recover. The book tells me that the foreskin is like an eyelid protecting the sensitive mucous membrane underneath. Circumcision removes this protective skin, so the skin underneath keratinizes, meaning it hardens and desensitizes, like a callus."
My Episiotomy Made Me an Intactivist (Birth Boot Camp)
"In 2008, I gave birth to my first baby girl at my local hospital. Prior to delivery, I had little knowledge regarding episiotomy. (An episiotomy is an incision made on a woman’s perineum performed at the birth of a child, for those new to birth lingo.) In fact, I hadn’t discussed ANY birth procedures with my doctor besides my planned induction."
The Circumcision Decision (Holistic Parenting Magazine)
"I’ve been studying the issue of circumcision for over six years and speaking out about it for over three years. Time and time again, I hear phrases like, “it hurts more as an adult,” “babies can’t feel pain,” “he won’t remember it,” and “it’s just extra skin.” Today, I’m going to challenge these statements in the hope that you will consider the immediate trauma and long-term effects that men experience from genital cutting."
Male Genital Mutilation (UK)
"Our society condones chopping body parts off babies for no medical reason – as long as they are boy babies... Read that again. It is not an exaggeration. Nor is it rare."
Why I Would Never Circumcise My Son (The Glow)
"Bodily autonomy means that each person should have the ultimate say in what happens or is done to their body... Infants cannot consent to having a literal piece of their genitalia removed, nor can they properly make an informed decision about whether or not they want the procedure done."
I'm Cut, I'm OK, So Cutting is OK (Daily Kos)
"One might ask, what good can come from encouraging men to examine what really happened to them? The answer is simple and of critical importance. A man unwilling or incapable of admitting the truth about his own circumcision, of necessity, will affirm his own manhood my diminishing that of his very own sons."
Changing Opinions Over the Changing Table (Huffington Post)
"The problem is that most people don't think about circumcision at all, unless they are expecting a baby. That's just in the United States. In the rest of the world, doctors and people in general think circumcision is really crazy. You can tell your concerned relatives that In Europe, circumcision rates are well under 10 percent. Yet, there have been no epidemics in of all the bad things that Americans are told to fear from the foreskin - no higher rates of urinary track infections (UTIs), penile cancer, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases elsewhere in the world."
Circumcision. I Did Not Consent and I'm Speaking Out. (Peaceful Papa)
"I always here the argument: 'I never hear guys complain about being circumcised.' Well, I’m here to tell you that you can no longer use this argument. Men complain. And often. Besides, how often do you approach strangers and ask if they are happy with their circumcision (or lack thereof)? My guess is never."
Why Circumcision is Wrong (Moralogous)
"You may be fine, your son may be fine, but it is morally wrong to circumcise your son just because you want to... I have spent the past ten years thinking, reading, talking and writing about circumcision. When I began, I thought circumcision was normal and beneficial, but as I learned more about it, I became confused as to whether it was a good idea to circumcise infants, and then sure it was a terrible thing and angry at those who promoted it..."
The Circumcision Decision (Birth Without Fear)
"At the time, I did not think there was even a choice about circumcision. Every male I knew- my husband, dad, brothers, friends – were all circumcised. The thought of a penis with a foreskin wasn’t appealing to me (even though I never saw one in real life), and I had always heard of women saying it was “dirty” or “gross”. I also advocated the benefits of circumcision (even though I never truly looked at the research articles.)"
Animal Rights for Human Babies (Holistic Parenting Magazine)
"Within days of his birth, he is taken from the comfort and security of his mother, he is strapped down against his will and part of his tiny body is cut off with limited to no pain relief. He thrashes in a desperate attempt to free himself and he cries, a devastating cry of distress, a heartbreaking plea for help, but no one responds and the cutting continues. Is this a day at a factory farm or a day in an American hospital’s maternity ward?
If My Girls Had Been Boys (Birth Boot Camp)
"If my girls would have been boys, they would have been circumcised. Whoa!!!! DON’T LEAVE! Read to the end. This is my personal journey on learning about infant circumcision: When I had my first at 19, I didn’t think about circumcision much (read “at all”). I didn’t know it was something I should research. I thought everyone did it so that’s what I would do too."
22 of America’s Favorite Things To Say About Male Circumcision (Mama's Milk, No Chaser)
3). “FGM cannot be compared to male circumcision.” One only believes this if he or she does not know that circumcision is a euphemism for MGM (male genital mutilation/cutting).
Erections for Circumcision (YWB)
"There has been speculation from those fighting against circumcision that healthcare providers might be purposely giving newborns erections before circumcising them in order to see where the glans (head of the penis) is located and thus be able to know where exactly to cut the foreskin off. It would take a lot of the guess work out of the 'procedure'."
5 American Sex Norms Europeans Probably Think Are Insane (Alternet)
"In Europe, however, circumcision is rare and generally frowned upon. A 2013 resolution called male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children,” and was passed overwhelmingly by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe."
10 Reasons You’re a Pro-Circumcision Fart Bag (Intaction)
"I used to think circumcision was a good thing. I was also an ignorant fart bag. Coincidence? After doing a little research, I saw the light at the end of the butt hole. I knew I was wrong. Very fucking wrong. Like pineapple-on-pizza wrong. If you like that shit, you’re wrong and a cunt."
Circumcision Can Suck My D!ck (Savior Self)
"Of all the things that I’ve written about which I find unacceptable in the world this is one of the most distasteful and disgraceful. I can’t believe that I even have to take a stand against the involuntary genital mutilation of anyone at any age, let alone a newborn baby."
12 Reasons Why the AAP is Right and You Should Circumcise Your Infant Son (Jennifer Margulis, Author)
"1. You want his penis to lose length and width. 2. You are unconcerned by the risk that he’ll suffer from meatal stenosis, a condition caused by circumcision where scar tissue blocks the opening to the pee hole making urination painful or strained, that has caused my friend so much embarrassment over the years."
Ten Reasons Not to Circumcise Your Baby Boy (Intact America)
"Circumcision is a painful, risky, unethical surgery that deprives over a million boys each year of healthy, functional tissue, while wasting health care dollars that could be spent on medically necessary services."
Five Reasons Parents Give for Choosing Circumcision, and Why Those Reasons are Not Valid (Informed Parenting)
"Recently I have visited several sites where infant male circumcision has been debated between parents and I'd like to respond to the most common reasons that parents give (excluding religion) for circumcising their new born boys.... Reason #1... 'I want my son to look like his father'..."
Regarding Circumcision and Intactness - A Male Perspective (Vincent Bach)
"About 26 years ago as an 11 year old boy growing up in Indiana, I realized something truly odd about the world I lived in. Although I was born in the Midwest in the 1960s at a time when almost all males were circumcised just after birth, in a fluke of fate I was left intact. This fact was explained to me at such a young age that it seems I have always been aware of it."
Should I Get My Baby Boy Circumcised? (Baby Center - Moms' Responses)
"Let your son decide for himself. It's a painful procedure (whether they remember it later or not, it hurts a LOT and has been proven to cause permanent changes in the neurological function of the child), it risks infection and scar issues, and babies even die from having it done. We protect our babies from everything else, why put them through elective surgery for no reason? Intact boys won't suffer infections if they are cared for properly."
A Letter to My Friend (Barrel of Oranges)
"Congratulations on your baby BOY!!! How exciting to be welcoming a son into your lives. I am writing you today not only to congratulate you, but to also implore you to consider something that may be compulsive, or perhaps you haven’t considered or researched all the way through. I hope you will forgive me for even broaching such a sensitive and private issue, but I decided a long time ago it was more important I spoke the truth of my heart and my conviction..."
“'Meatal Stenosis.' What’s that? Does your son have it? Do you know what it is? I didn't know what it was, six years ago. I'd never heard of it until I started learning about the harms of infant circumcision — far too late, I might add, to protect my son."
The Case For and Against Circumcision (The Onion-Satire)
"Every day, new parents across the country are confronted with the question of whether to circumcise their infant sons. Here are the strongest arguments for and against circumcision..."
The Fear Behind Circumcision (Y Net News)
"I find the thought that circumcision can be justified through rational, legal or health-related means ridiculous. It doesn't matter how much we philosophize about the restrictions imposed on the child's rights, on his parents being his natural guardians, on the claim that there is no such thing as "natural" rights and that they are mainly fictitious, or on some kind of balance between the child's personal right and the nation's collective right."
We Don't Like Our Genitals (Wiener Zeitung)
"Foreskins. Hockey. God. Anne Frank. It has been a long time since Shalom Auslander considered anything too sacred to take on. Even in the world of contemporary American literature, a scene that has always had its share of unique characters, Auslander stands out. Hailed by the "New York Times Book Review" as a "virtuoso humorist"..."
The CDC Says, Circumcise Your Sons (Living Whole)
"It is sad I have to state this disclaimer but for the sake of those who will launch charges against the words in my post, I feel this is necessary: I’m not here to tell you what to do with your son, nor will I shame you for the decision you did or did not make. If you think I’m going to lead some sort of war against the foreskin or the scalpel, I’m not. Foreskin, no foreskin, we can still be friends. I think it wise, for the sake of dialogue, to put our weapons away and let down our defenses."
What Will We Tell These Circumcised Boys (Barrel of Oranges)
"The more I think about this, the more my heart hurts. What are we going to tell these boys who are being circumcised, as the cutting rates in the U.S. drop, as there is a move away from child genital mutilation? Are we prepared for the potential anger, grief, and crisis these boys may experience?"
New Study Estimates Neonatal Circumcision Death Rate Higher Than Suffocation and Auto Accidents (The Examiner)
"More than half of parents in DC, Maryland, and Virginia choose to circumcise their boys. But are these parents ever really informed of the possible complications? Generally, no, and this failure in the informed consent process has significant consequences for many boys, for example the penile injuries discussed by a local pediatric urologist in this article."
Why Circumcise Perfectly Healthy Penises? (Pacific Standard)
"A randomized control trial shows that circumcision in adult males can dramatically reduce HIV infection rates, and all my friends who opted for circumcising their baby boys are holding up the dozens of national news accounts of this saying to me, "See?! See?!" Like I just condemned my son to die of AIDS because I let him keep his foreskin."
50 Reasons to Leave It Alone (Nine Davids)
"I do want to note that I'm not anti-circumcision. If an adult man wants to modify his body, that is his choice and I support it - just as I would support a woman who wanted labiaplasty, or anyone who wanted to stretch their earlobes or tattoo their body. I am opposed to the routine circumcision of infants for non-medical reasons... So, here are 50 reasons to leave your son's penis alone and not let a doctor cut it up... 1.) It's his. 2.) I've never met a man who wanted "less" penis..."
Rethinking Circumcision: Why I'm Over This "Boy's Club" (Babble)
"I agreed to have my first son circumcised. My husband preferred it, and my (male) OB assured me it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. In fact, he promoted it, saying circumcision reduces HIV contraction risk. The subject matter — and the discussions surrounding it — felt very much like male territory, and in a way, I wanted to allow my husband some role in the otherwise mother-centric sphere that is all things pregnancy and birth."
Just a Boy Issue (Little Images)
"It would be incredibly rare for an intact toddler to experience a cracked, irritated, or scarred and narrowed meatus because the foreskin would be doing its job as God designed: to cover and protect. Germs, dirt, and diapers wouldn't be irritating the glans and meatus. Meatal stenosis – rare in intact boys but quite common in circumcised boys – is when the meatus gets too narrowed or scarred and usually has to be cut open in a procedure called a meatotomy. In some cases when the meatus begins to tear or crack, skin grafting surgery is needed to fix it."
Circumcision Part 1: Uninformed Consent– The REAL Dangers That Doctors Don’t Tell You About (Mother Wise)
"Hello, I’m Amanda Tyson and I had my son circumcised. I did it because it was “healthier.” I did it because my husband and brothers are all circumcised. I did it because it is what I knew and was comfortable with. I did it because my doctor did not tell me about the risks and complications. What I did is better called uninformed consent."
Circumcision Part II: Men DO Complain (Mother Wise)
"Circumcision is a hot topic these days among many parents. Often times, people only hear what their doctor tells them, and neglect to do any actual research. I was one of these parents. It is a hard road traveled to know that you did not hear both sides. I am a big believer in informed consent, thus I want to give you as many details on this topic as possible to help you make an informed decision. You see, I’ve noticed that nobody who fully researches circumcision..."
Safer As An Adult (Ripe Tomato)
"Even the most enthusiastic proponents of circumcision admit that doing it on newborn babies is ethically problematic. Here’s the WHO infant circumcision manual; An infant cannot consent to the procedure. […] there is a risk that when the child is older he will be unhappy he was circumcised as an infant."
The Foreskin: Why is it Such a Secret in North America? (Mad Science Writer)
"I was nineteen or twenty years old when a male friend of mine, we'll call him Bill, let me in on a most shocking fact: He was missing part of his penis, and so were almost all boys and men that I had ever seen in my entire life, as well as all the anatomical diagrams that I had ever seen. Ever."
Spoiler Alert: A Lot of the World is Uncircumcised, and it's Not Terrible (Thrillist)
"It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s an uncircumcised penis? At one time in the United States, spotting a foreskin was about as rare as spotting Superman."
Why Are We Still Circumcising Our Boys? (Good Men Project)
"Whether it was God, Mother Nature, or Darwin, the skin that we brutally cut or cauterize away is there for a purpose, a purpose that has been forgotten."
We Spoke to an Intactivist Fighting for His Foreskin (Paper Magazine)
"We first stumbled upon the concept of intactivism via a meme-loving Facebook group called Intact America, a movement which sparked our curiosity as something we'd personally never heard of. As such, we went out in search of a foreskin activist to find out more, and found ourself Alexander Partridge, a 23-year-old writer and anti-circumcision advocate who is fighting for a man's right to choose what happens to his own body -- to fascinating ends."
Is Male Circumcision a Violation of Human Rights? (Viral Alternative News)
"Interestingly, however, the subject they were debating that day happened to be male circumcision, a surprising topic for daytime TV. Two of the female hosts in particular were taking the stage with polarizing views on the matter. One host saw the medical procedure as a hygienic practice that lowered the risk of disease while the other saw it as an archaic and highly irrelevant surgery. In the end, the audience was left undecided. I, however, was left with an ignited curiosity about a medical procedure that I had never really taken time to question."
Why We Chose to Keep Our Son Intact (April Moments)
"I knew I didn’t want our new baby to be circumcised, but I avoided the topic with my husband for a long time. My reasons were mostly emotional; I could not subject another child to the pain. Also, there were logistical questions that I didn’t want to deal with; we were having a home birth, so how would circumcision work? Would we have to schedule it at a hospital like a surgery? Could the pediatrician do it?"
Having a Limb-Different Child Changed My Stance on Routine Infant Circumcision (Admirably Diverse)
"If I want people to treat my son equally and for him to have the same rights as all other humans, I need to give EVERYONE the same respect I want for him. I wanted there to be a change. I then promised Camden that I would be that change and plant seeds wherever I go and in whatever I do, because he deserves to have all of his rights."