My husband did not offer informed consent to being circumcised. No one can inform an infant. No one can ask him if he’d like his body cut into pieces or left intact. But I’m betting that 10 out of 10 newborn boys would vote for keeping their bodies intact and would vote against having anything cut off. But guessing at a baby’s reaction to circumcision is not my goal. I’m trying to let you know the very real first person experience of my husband and I.
I love him. I really like his penis. I enjoy having sex with him and consider him to be the best lover I’ve ever had. And yet….last year we ran into a period of time when he was anorgasmic (not reaching orgasm during sexual intercourse). Orgasm during intercourse is one of his favorite things. Losing it caused a lot of questioning in our relationship and a lot of beliefs on my part that there were underlying issues he wasn’t talking to me about. Why didn’t he feel safe enough with me to let go into orgasm? Did he think I was ugly or mean? It turns out, it didn't have much to do with me. We’ve recently come into a time when he’s talking about circumcision and telling me how his penis is less sensitive than it used to be. He judges it as less attractive and powerful than it used to be. These beliefs are directly connected to his challenges in reaching orgasm.
We recently moved to a place where people swim and sun in the nude. There he sees many other men. Some are cut. Some are intact. He feels deep envy towards the men who are intact. He imagines they are better lovers than he is. He imagines they can feel more and therefore pleasure their partners better. He is angry that this barrier of envy and insecurity comes between him and other men he would like to call brother and with whom he wants to feel deep connection.
I just tried to watch a circumcision video on YouTube. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. Just watching the needle getting inserted into the base of the boy’s penis and hearing the very casual talk around ‘the procedure’ was awful and disturbing. No one was screaming and saying “Don’t do this!” No one was advocating for that baby boy. It sounded like it was a matter-of-fact day-on-the-job sort of experience. That is truly disturbing.
We can’t break out of prison until we know we are in prison. The jail is in our own minds, in our own awareness. How can we stop genital mutilation if people still think it’s a matter-of-fact day-on-the-job procedure? How can circumcised men heal from the pain of their mutilation if they can find no one willing to listen to their pain? How can we truly know what men are like if we define normal based on a standard that inextricably interweaves pain, violation, sex, and love right after birth? Let’s ask the hard questions. With honesty, we can create a safer world for everyone.
This issue is not completely healed for my husband. He will never have a foreskin again. But through some radical honesty, he has been able to come home to his body again. He talked. He yelled. He cried. He told me thoughts, beliefs, fantasies, and ideas he had - many of which he thought were totally unacceptable. Finding acceptance, love, and reflection even in his moments of shame and pain has allowed us to grow closer to one another. Lovely orgasms are happening again. The emotional pain can be healed and can even be used as fuel for transformation.
Kassandra Brown is a parent coach and advocate for the healing power of honesty. She welcomes your stories, questions, and comments at [Admin note: Link removed as promotional posting of commercial sites is not permitted].