I was circumcised at ~8 years old. This was not a religious decision as neither my Mum nor me were theistic. I had previously had fumbling semi-sexual* encounters thanks to a girl the same age from my 1st primary school who knew a lot more than I did :s (*read “oral”). But I learned ~8 that I was supposed to retract my foreskin. Okay, gave it a quick tug to see what happened and got a sharp hot pain as you’d expect. Ran crying to my mum and she booked us in with the GP. The trip was a nervous blur, I just got on the table with my trousers etc down as instructed, terrified that I’d get a “semi” if the doc touched me, and terrified of that pain from my foreskin again if that happened (not that I ever had a proper erection before but I was frightened anyway). I didn’t understand the conversation, I can’t remember the alternative, but I “chose” circumcision. My mum signed off on it, and we got booked in for the op. My dad showed up for the op and comforted me beforehand with his sarcastic humour I miss so much.. They put the local anaesthetic on my hand for a bit which felt funny. But when they put the needle in for the general anaesthetic I changed my mind. This pain was worse, and I didn’t know what was going to happen, how much would they take? I screamed and begged them to stop, then I fell asleep.
I woke up in a hospital bed with a heavy, wet, sore, swollen sensation where my little dick was. Terrified I had a look. Bandaged up a hell of a lot, a little blood, no idea what was down there. I lovely nurse I instantly crushed on came to check on me. I don’t think she had to remove the bandage to check but I felt glad when her bedside manner didn’t match the shame I felt that my penis was probably a mess. I didn’t know how to piss but it stung when I figured out. I stood up too long and the bleeding increased. I couldn’t sleep properly so I tried to play on the MasterSystem they had, but was told off and went back to bed.
After a while I was discharged, I went to my Dad’s by prior arrangement and the jokes didn’t seem as funny. I was told I had stitches under the last layer of bandage. I started getting an erection when the feeling came back but the tearing pain caused me more distress than I could take. After a while I had a hot bath (not sure that was a good idea in hindsight) and with extreme pain slowly pulled off the last of the bandaging, leaving the dissolvable stitches in place. I was relieved at how it looked, weird seeing the head of my penis but nothing “gruesome”.
When I went back to school I was greeted by intrigued kids asking me if it was true I’d been circumcised. Turns out Mrs Pringle had told everyone I was off for a “religious operation”, so that was suitably embarrassing.
As I developed and got used to erections I noticed a few things. It was tight along the underside, and is now permanently bowed downwards (proved tricky in my early missionary sexual exploits), I have a collar of scar tissue around the base of the head which means the once sensitive underside where the frenulum used to be is quite numb, a long scar running the length of the underside from head to base which also lacks the sensation it used to, I need lubricant to masturbate (quite a painful and bloody lesson learned from my excruciatingly horny teen years), and I have a complex about arousal.
I don’t know whether I had actual Phimosis, I haven’t had the guts to ask my doctor the details, but I don’t remember any adversity beyond having a sharp pain at the opening that one time. As far as I know the skin was healthy and not attached along the glans.
I don’t consider it to look any better than it would have been as I don’t know how straight, big, or else it would have been. I have not had my son circumcised, just as I wouldn’t consider asking a doctor to cut my daughters’ genitals.
I hear many arguments for circumcision, so I’ll comment on a few here.
Aesthetic: I have a scarred penis, the glans is always exposed without self lubrication, and it bends along the tightest part of skin (underside), so I can’t say this argument works for me. Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Religious: I’m an atheist, always have been. You’d have to prove your God to convice me, but more importantly; you have no right to inflict your religion on your children. Beliefs should not (and must not in a civilised society) trump an individual’s human rights. Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Parental Freedom: Children are not property. We are their wards. As such the removal of healthy tissue does not constitute “care”. Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Hygiene: I clean my penis regularly. I wash it before and after using the toilet or engaging in intercourse, and twice a day during my routine. If you think getting circumcised means you don’t have to keep your penis clean then that’s an issue you (and maybe your partner) should resolve. Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Various reasons are cited as medical considerations, although non of them strike me as necessities..
Reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases (despite removal of langerhans cells?) would require a greater study than pointing at Africa to persuade me, and if the use of condoms is still advised then the procedure is pointless. Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Reduced risk of penile cancer is minimal at best, and is only true because the skin at risk is removed (not something we prescribe for any other body part, especially such a low risk part). Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Reduced risk of urinary tract infections within the first year of a baby’s life is something no-one has shown me a study for, which is odd, I’d expect an open wound in that area to increase risk of infection, and doesn’t warrent removal of skin for potentially preventative treatment. Opinion: Not worth the risk. Choice of the owner of the penis.
Conclusion: We are born with a foreskin. Yes that carries the same risks as the rest of our skin, but if you justify cutting it off then please explain why you don’t use that justification for the rest of your body, and why only males should be exempt from legal protections against this happening.