Those Who Advocate Circumcision"
"I have every confidence that were your
prepuce magically restored to you . . ."
December 1, 1994
Dear Dr. Schoen,
It was with the greatest interest that I listened to your debate with Marilyn Milos on KQED's talk show, Forum, this morning. I want you to know that I hold you in the highest regard as a distinguished physician, neighbor, and human being. I must tell you, however, that on the issue of routine infant circumcision, we disagree.
Routine circumcision is not a medical issue or a social issue. It is a sexual issue and a Human Rights issue. The American studies you cited prove nothing except that the authors of those studies have a pathological compulsion to cut off the foreskins of little boys. What you were taught in medical school about the foreskin and circumcision is incorrect. Had you attended medical school in Europe, you would have learned the value and functions of the foreskin. Had you attended medical school in the U.S. in the 19th century, you would have been taught that circumcision cures and prevents epilepsy, hip-joint disease, bed-wetting, hydrocephalus, tuberculosis, idiocy, malnutrition, and especially masturbation.
It is through no fault of your own that you have no experience with normal genitalia. An important part of your manhood has been denied you. To circumcise a male is to blind him sexually. An entire spectrum of erotic sensation and sexual function has been robbed from circumcised males, yet they have no idea what they are missing. Nature's design for the penis is an exquisite piece of engineering. The opening and closing of the prepucial lips are a miracle of rich and delicious erotic sensations. The foreskin truly is the most erotically sensitive part of the penis and is every male's birthright.
I have every confidence that were your prepuce magically restored to you, even for just ten minutes, you would be so astounded at the beauty and delight of having a normal, complete penis that you would realize that there is no reason good enough to sacrifice this gift of Nature or to take it from another person. You would shout it from the roof tops. You would stand before the American Medical Association, before the United States Congress, and before the United Nations and loudly defend every male's universal human right to the intact body he is born with. With your usual eloquence you would denounce circumcision and proclaim the universal human rights of body-ownership, autonomy, and self-determination.
History will not remember kindly those who advocate circumcision, and will include them with the 19th and early 20th century advocates and practitioners of leeching, trepanning, clitoridectomy, and castration. The rationalizations doctors in the U.S. continue to invent for forcing circumcision on innocent boys are little more than puritanical, Victorian, anti- sexualist prudery hiding behind the mask of science. Europeans see through this and scorn the United States as barbaric and cruel. You have the intelligence to free your mind of superstition and unscientific notions. You could become a model of enlightenment for your entire profession. Your noble example could bring greater health, happiness, and justice to the American people. Millions of American males would grow up thanking you for denouncing forced genital amputation and defending their natural right to the most exquisitely pleasurable part of their body.
You are a good, honorable, and compassionate man, Dr. Schoen. I appeal to your innate dignity and kindheartedness to re-evaluate what you were taught about the normal human penis, to rethink your position on circumcision with a renewed respect for Nature, Mankind, and Human Rights, and to align yourself with world medical opinion and responsible medical ethics.
[A man in California]
P.S. You might seriously consider getting a copy of Jim Bigelow's book, The Joy of Uncircumcising!, and embarking upon a course of gentle, non-surgical foreskin restoration. Restoration cannot give back the erotogenic nerves amputated at birth, but can create a more natural-looking penis. The restored foreskin would function very much as the original would have, and as a happy result, the glans would be protected and rejuvenated, returning to a much higher and more normal level of sensitivity.
[Edgar J. Schoen, MD, is director of Regional Perinatal Screening, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, 280 W. MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94611-5693. He was chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics 1989 Task Force on Circumcision and is the author of "Ode to the Circumcised Male" and several other published poems about foreskins and circumcision.]
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