Written by Christopher S.
Posted with Permission from Author
When I and my twin brother were about six years old in a small South African town named Kloof, Dad had to be taken to Johannesburg for an operation on one of his legs and Mum went with him, taking our younger brother with her. We had a nanny, our beloved Harriet, a black girl ('grown up' to us, of course) who loved us as if we were her own. But caring for us 24/7 single-handedly was not practicable. This left me and my brother needing care. We were put into a children's home for about a six weeks. On our first night in this place, one of the other children knelt on her bed and repeatedly chanted, "You'll be here forever, you won't ever see your Mummy and Daddy again - not ever, ever, ever!" My mind went into a spin, shocked and uncomprehending. I tried to settle down on the thin mattress, so unlike my real bed at home, with her words filling my head.
The next morning I woke up and was mortified to discover I had doubly fouled my bed. It was the same the following morning and the next and the next... and so on. I feared waking up each morning with a soaking wet bed and the sensation of dried faeces cracking apart between my buttocks. "No, nooo," I pleaded, burying my head in my pillow, "please, please no!" I was deeply ashamed. I was bad.
Initially I was cared for with a detached, matter of fact manner: bathed, dressed and left to live each day with all the other children. I felt imprisoned (I still recall the high walls that surrounded the tiny playground). Finally, one carer lost her patience. I was dragged to the showers, scrubbed with a floor brush and (this is not easy to retell)… genitally abused. My foreskin had not naturally retracted. In an act of unconscionable violence she took the opportunity to punish me further. I don’t remember screaming, just mind numbing, stabbing pain and the sight of blood washing away in the water at my feet. My memory of anything that ensued after that terrible morning is lost - except this:
We were eventually taken back home... and to this day I remember in vivid detail the moment I saw my mother standing, waiting at the front door. I ran down the long path, crying out in joy, "Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!" And fell into her open arms, sobbing uncontrollably, released from that little girl's lies and the terror I had lived through.
There were a few unnerving occasions when my foreskin stayed retracted and stuck, leaving the glans exposed and unbearably sensitive to touch.
Inevitably though, there came a point when even penetrative sex was no help - until one night when I withdrew with my foreskin totally trapped behind the coronal rim. Nothing I or my wife did to try to release it was successful. It began to swell with engorged blood, tightening its stranglehold. I was in great pain. My wife rang 999. I was rushed to hospital. I remember an incision to release the oedema. Two days later I was circumcised, accompanied in the hospital by my eldest daughter - a newly qualified nurse at the time - who was my rock through it all. This was in March 2002.
The circumcision itself was painless; so much so that when one of the attending nurses asked, "Did you feel that?" I replied, "No - not a thing. "Just as well," she retorted, "you'd have kicked him!" Does any baby boy ever receive a local anaesthetic as effective as that? I think not, because it's used at that strength for adults whose metabolism can accept it. Moreover, babies fortunate to receive even a milder injection of anaesthesia will feel the pain of the needle in the base of their penis. I received two on either side and it hurts. But I was an adult undergoing a necessary circumcision: big difference.
The recovery period was not painless, nor is it for an infant boy. Initially, the permanently exposed glans is excruciatingly sensitive to the slightest touch of a finger or light brush of clothing, not to mention the sutures at the site of the removed foreskin which ooze drops of blood and stick to clothing. The sensitivity I speak of is not erotic in any way; it's similar to the pain when we knock our humerus (funny bone), but made more intense because the glans is a sexual organ. A rather foolish piece of advice I read from a list of DOs and DON’Ts after the surgery was to avoid erections, as if we somehow have any control with this! And did the compiler of the list not consider the phenomenon of 'morning wood'? I also had to visit my local hospital outpatient department with an infection of the wound. It was cleared up with an antibiotic, but it still meant yet another examination. Not every man or boy goes through complications like mine. Some many do.
However, there is one absolutely inevitable consequence of circumcision: increasing loss of sensitivity as the years go by. Imagine this from boyhood, let alone from a mere nine years ago as in my case (almost to the day). Nature designs the penis perfectly: the glans as an internal organ within its protective sheath which is filled with nerve endings designed to interact in a shared partnership of exquisite sensual pleasure. Cut away a penis’s foreskin and nature goes into a desperate attempt to simulate its protective hood. It grows a covering of toughened tissue, incrementally as the months and years pass by. Nature doesn't 'think' of sexual compromise, it simply protects an injury - and the penis is finally left a shadow of its former self.
My glans is now unable to detect heat from cold: both are equally neutral under very hot or icy water. The only sense I experience is of pressure. It was a shocking discovery for me. Yet guiding a flow of very hot or icy water onto the shaft makes me recoil.
Sex? I can masturbate and ejaculate, of course. But it has been a learning curve in the absence of a foreskin. With a foreskin it is natural and so very easy. Sexual intercourse? Not good - for her or me. It takes me so much longer to achieve climax... and she is sometimes sore before I ejaculate and is left in a state of "Just lie back and think of England.” It distresses her AND me. We rarely try anymore.
I'm aware that most American adults, men and their partners, have lived with circumcision for many years and learned to enjoy sex, regardless. But I do wonder if they ever give a thought to the ultimate pleasure of natural sex. I knew that pleasure, briefly, once.
Nature gives every boy his birthright of an intact penis - together with the equal right of every girl who is now protected from genital mutilation, almost worldwide. Boys are no longer 'fair game', to put it brutally. Even American routine circumcision of its boys has dropped dramatically in the last few years.
The AAP’s 2012 revised statement on infant male circumcision is a total nonsense, basing its findings on flawed African trials of adult males. When is a prepubescent boy ever sexually active to the extent foolishly implied by the AAP? It’s arrant stupidity. This aside, there is no mention of basic ethical constraints or equal autonomy with females. British reaction is conspicuous by it’s deafening silence at the AAP’s pronouncement.
It was a different world when I was a small boy. Children were abused under a cloak of silence. There was no Internet to speedily publicise atrocities across the world. But we have that privilege now. We can fight wrong with right instantly and universally. It won’t rid us of mankind’s inhumanity to man, but our future together as ‘one world’ may give us hope for its eventual redemption.
Christopher S. shares his story in hopes that others will embrace genital integrity. Not only does his story show the harm in forceful retraction, but the undeniable fact that there is a big difference with and without a foreskin. Please, do not take this away from your son(s). His body, his choice.