Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marty Klein, Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred As Public Policy

Marty Klein, from Sexual Intellingence (?), in an article called Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred As Public Policy, (an article published last year during the debate of San Francisco proposed bill), states that "Equating the removal of an infant’s foreskin with the “mutilation” of the testicles or penis is ignorance, willful distortion, or delusion. No one in the city has been accused of touching anyone’s testicles or penis"

Big imprecision there. The foreskin is the penis. There is no dotted line saying: penis to the left, foreskin to the right. Circumcision, as currently practiced, eliminates 30 to 50% of the skin of the penis. So YES, circumcision touches and hurts the penis.

He later states that circumcision "has no impact on later physical function". Of course, he admits to being circumcised. Well, I'm circumcised and now at 41 I know that it does affect physical function. I just never knew before because I was not comparing my sexual experience with that of my intact friends. The fact that I was most sensible in the underneath area of my penis, that I had to really concentrate and pump really fast when I wanted to achieve orgasm, that sex felt more like a stamina test than an intimate pleasure... it's all because of circumcision. Just because Mr. Klein is ignorant to those facts (even if he is a sex therapist) doesn't make them any less truth. In fact:

Sorrels et al, in 2007, found that "the glans of the circumcised penis is less sensitive to fine touch than the glans of the uncircumcised penis. The transitional region from the external to the internal prepuce is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis and more sensitive than the most sensitive region of the circumcised penis. Circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis." (Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis)

J.R. Taylor, 2003, found that "Skin and mucosa sufficient to cover the penile shaft was frequently missing from the circumcised penis. Missing tissue included a band of ridged mucosa located at the junction of true penile skin with smooth preputial mucosa. This ridged band contains more Meissner's corpuscles than does the smooth mucosa and exhibits features of specialized sensory mucosa" and concluded that "Circumcision also ablates junctional mucosa that appears to be an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the human penis." (The prepuce: specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision)

The document "Neonatal Male circumcision global review" of UNAIDS (an institution that promotes circumcision in Africa) states that "some of the serious complications that can occur during the procedure include death from excess bleeding and amputation of the glans penis. Postoperative complications include the formation of skin bridges between the shaft and the glans, infection, urinary retention (this has caused deaths), meatal ulcer, impetigo, fistulas, loss of penile sensitivity, sexual dysfunction and oedema of the glans." - Sexual dysfunction IS one of the risks of circumcision.

Mr. Klein states that "In 31 years of talking with men about circumcision, I have never met a man who felt damaged, mutilated, or emasculated by his circumcision who did not have other emotional problems." This is sad. He's stating that if we are worried because we were FORCIBLY SUBJECTED TO AN AMPUTATION ON OUR MOST PRIVATE PART and we are upset with that, we must have some underlying emotional problem. Way to victimize the victims. How would you feel if your penis looked like some of this: or this

"The pain they claim to remember from the brief procedure is impossible". Again Mr. Klein you fail. Many men have been left with so little skin in their shaft, that EVERY ERECTION is painful, sometimes resulting in skin rupturing and bleeding. This is a daily reminder of the damage of circumcision, not just the memory of the procedure itself.

"The sense of being incomplete a neurotic problem". Mr. Klein, when a woman loses a breast to mastectomy, usually one of the next steps is to offer reconstructive surgery. Because an amputation makes a person feel incomplete. Most men do not think of their circumcision as an amputation. But some have learned that they were subjected to it in quite traumatic forms. If you are a teenager or an adult and suddenly learn at school or in a locker room that you are missing a part of your body, you will feel incomplete. I've seen it happen. I've seen the confusion turn to anger and turn to sadness.

"But this is dramatically different than men who feel mutilated or disgusted with their penis, blaming all their life’s problems on an event they can’t possibly remember." Nobody said that ALL of our problems are blamed on circumcision. You are creating an unwarranted hyperbole there. We lost a part of our body. We are upset. Some of us experience sexual problems from that amputation. We don't want future generations to suffer the same fate. How is that blaming ALL of our problems on circumcision?

And when you say it's an event "they can't possibly remember", please tell me. Would raping a drugged person be okay because the person can't possibly remember it? Circumcision is not only a physical amputation, but also a violation of trust. Growing up to learn that your parents chose to trim part of your body, like clipping a dog's tail, hurts emotionally. Parents are not entitled to do anything that they want to their children (in fact in this country, pricking the clitoris of a daughter with a pin even without any removal of tissue, is a federal crime, yet the more invasive male circumcision is tolerated). Parents are trusted with the care of the child. They have a duty to protect the child, not the right to shape the child anyway they want. Whether the fact is remembered or not, is immoral.

"The sexual effects of circumcision are clear: there are none. Say what you want about foreskins protecting penile sensitivity—virtually no one complains that their penis isn’t sensitive enough." I commend you to visit the foreskin restoration forum ( and read with open mind and heart. If you don't find people suffering negative sexual effects from circumcision then you are simply ignoring the facts.

"The United Nations recognizes the health benefits of circumcision; the World Health Organization is now promoting a huge circumcision campaign in southern Africa." Yet, 2 African studies that show protective effects from FEMALE CIRCUMCISION are dismissed. Why? Because circumcision is being promoted because it's valued in the U.S. Not because it's the cure. Female circumcision is frowned upon in the West, so any found benefits are irrelevant, just like the damage from male circumcision is considered irrelevant. Let me remind you of the quote in a document from UNAIDS, the same organization promoting male circumcision: "some of the serious complications that can occur during the procedure include death from excess bleeding and amputation of the glans penis. Postoperative complications include the formation of skin bridges between the shaft and the glans, infection, urinary retention (this has caused deaths), meatal ulcer, impetigo, fistulas, loss of penile sensitivity, sexual dysfunction and oedema of the glans." The document also acknowledges that the frequency of complications is "underestimated because events occuring after the discharge are not captured [in the discharge sheet]" and sometimes are treated at a different hospital."

"Halfway around the world, the Phillipines recently offered free circumcisions for poor people, who lined up enthusiastically." Phillipines is a cutting culture, just like the U.S., the Jews, the Muslims and good part of Africa. People didn't line to get themselves circumcised. People lined to HAVE THEIR KIDS circumcised. The kids didn't go on their own. The article "Some boys cried in their mothers' arms while others bit their shirts to stifle sobs as doctors carried out the surgery on dozens of makeshift operating tables inside a sports stadium in Marikina city east of Manila". I've seen photos of those event. Newspapers were used as drapes. Yes, very sterile enviroment, very safe. Click here to see for yourself: what a wonderful party that was.

"Is rarely dangerous when done using simple public health guidelines". Yes. Any person using a Mogen clamp can amputate a glans or part of it. Any person using a mismatched Gomco clamp can injure the glans. Any Plastibell can cause urine retention (which can cause death) or denude the whole shaft of the penis or cause necrosis. That's even in medical settings. Look how safe the plastibell is:

"There is absolutely no evidence that the sexual experiences of circumcised and uncircumcised men are different for them or their partners (outside of partners’ simple personal taste, of course)." For an answer to this, check

"As a therapist, I am sworn to empathize with the pain of every man" -- You are failing.

"As a citizen, my sworn concern is to keep emotion out of public policy" -- Human rights is not emotion. Protecting women from rape is not emotion. Protecting girls from FGM is not emotion. Protecting children from Genital Alteration is not emotion.

"So I urge anyone feeling damaged by their circumcision to get as much therapy as necessary, as much good sex as possible—and to keep their self-admittedly damaged psyches away from public policy." You have chosen to maintain your cognitive dissonance. Whether you have suffered the effects or not of circumcision, is not for me to judge. But the fact that we can spare kids from a damaging and traumatic procedure, it's a worthy task. Are we less citizens because we have suffered psychological damage? Aren't always the victims of any unfair treatment the first ones to denounce it, the first ones to line up to bring change? Well, that's what we are doing and you are patronizing us.

"The ballot box is not the place to work out your self-loathing." Thinking that cutting a part of your most private part and others' most private parts is okay is self-loathing. "Medical" circumcision in the United States started out of self-loathing, out of a doctor (so he must have known what he was talking about right?) that thought that masturbation caused diseases like tuberculosis, blindness and others. He was the one who came with circumcision as a way to prevent masturbation, J.H. Kellogg. That is a self-loathing attitude. Maintaining this cultural custom is self-loathing, and doing it under the guise of medical benefits is cognitive dissonance, selective blindness and bad use of science. There are benefits to keeping your whole body, but nobody is talking about those. There is damage to getting the foreskin amputated, but nobody wants to hear about that either. You sheep keep repeating "it's okay, it's fine, I came out alright". Truth is, you don't know that.

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