Why cut skin off a baby boy's penis, the
most sensitive part of his vulnerable body, when such an act is not necessary
for his future penile health and may even deprive the adult man and his partner
of sexual pleasure?
Outside the Western world, the removal of
the foreskin is almost always seen as an initiation ritual. A boy who is
circumcised is a member of the tribe, an adult, and he knows that he is expected
to fulfill adult roles and responsibilities. In East Africa, for example, the Nadit tribe traditionally circumcise boys around the age of fourteen. The night
before the ceremony, the whole village dances wildly. (A testimony to the
importance of the ritual, for once it is over the village has a new groups of
male warriors.) Next morning, the young men are taken to the forest, where only
the males may see what happens: the boys are circumcised rapidly, painfully, one
by one, using a red-hot steel tool. Any sign of flinching or weakness is a shameful
disgrace. After this the newly fledged young men live together for six months.
They have abandoned their mothers, the world of the feminine, and become
polemic from an Australian doctor
Something like this has been repeated all over the world for generations: it's
been suggested that the
pain of the circumcision ritual is preparation for the pain of wounds received
in battle: or, more likely, that the procedure is designed to harden the boy, to
make him less susceptible to fear - after he has survived this, nothing can frighten
him, least of all being a warrior. He knows what has been granted to him -
manhood - and what is expected of him - a male's contribution to the
In our more modern world, is there anything
different about circumcision? Religious groups perform the act as a ritual of initiation:
even when it is done at birth the circumcised penis is a symbol of membership of
the group in question, be it Muslim, Jewish or Christian.
Some societies, including white men in the
have routinely circumcised boys at birth or soon afterwards for no obvious
reason other than that "it's always been done that way" - often for
many decades, though the custom is slowly dying out now. Along with female genital
mutilation, also conducted for "traditional" reasons, circumcision has
been the focus of a vociferous debate about its merits in recent times. The debate about whether it is justified is rarely
conducted with grace and decorum, but the opponents of circumcision would
argue that circumcision is a violent act of abuse, so perhaps a violent debate
about its merits is understandable.
For more information on the pros and cons
of what you may think of as penile mutilation or penile enhancement, according
to your point of view:
It might also be interesting to consider the
impact of circumcision on male sexual dysfunction - including
ejaculatory problems, which I don't think I have ever seen
addressed in terms of glans sensitivity due to the covering of the foreskin.
That can certainly be an issue in premature ejaculation.
When you read some of the stuff that
some native peoples do to their penises, including flaying (i.e. removing all
the skin from tip to root), these rituals suddenly look a lot less like
male rites of passage and much
more like barbarism passed on from one generation to the next. Rather than
admire the traditions of such cultural norms, it seems much more appropriate to
question the way the mind of man works and try to learn something about the ease
with which we are programmed to regard something as acceptable just because it's
always been done that way. (I think this may be one of mankind's greatest
There are many examples of the
process at work: from the men who suffered extreme abuse at their English
boarding schools yet insist their own sons go there, to the men who routinely
circumcise boys because it's "traditional": i.e., they themselves were
circumcised as little boys, probably without anesthetic, obviously without their
consent, and probably with no thought as to
their future well-being and sexual pleasure. More
on rites of passage.
on the theme of how native peoples treat their bodies (regardless of why
they do this), the practice of subincision is an interesting phenomenon. The
main race which practices this form of penile abuse is the Australian Aborigine.
In this ritual, the man's penis is cut open along the bottom, slicing into the urethra
and splaying out the tissue so the penis so it looks like a butterflied hot dog
roll. A man who has been subincised has to squat to pee, and his experience of
sex is very different to that of a man with a normal penis: those who have done
this to themselves as part of the modern BME culture (BME means "extreme body
claim that the sensations of sex on the opened-out urethra are intense. Sure.
They don't say if that means intensely pleasurable.
find the whole thing very dark. Whatever the justification for this mutilation,
it seems to me to hide a whole mass of negative self-hatred. This is extreme
self-abuse, whatever justification is dreamed up for it.
with pierced penises also have many justifications for it: it looks good, sex
feels better, you have a unique penis. But since much penis piercing is done without
anesthetic (apparently), I conclude that this is more about a masochistic
desire to feel pain, to be punished, perhaps even to be punished for being a
man. It would be interesting to analyze the psyche of men who do this to
themselves (or have it professionally done) and find out whether their
masculinity was respected and approved of as a child. It isn't hard to see how
men whose masculinity was not treated with respect would come to see their penis as a symbol of all the self-hatred
they have incorporated into their psyche. Piercing might be one way they can
express that self-hatred. On the other hand, it might, as supporters of the
procedure claim, just feel good to have a
It's also been said that some piercings increase sexual pleasure for a man's
female partner by rubbing on her G-spot.
The Prince Albert piercing is attributed
to the royal consort of Queen Victoria. The piercing was reputedly called a
“dressing ring” and used to secure the penis to the side of the trousers,
thereby eliminating an unsightly bulge in the gentleman’s pants. The Prince Albert
piercing goes through the opening of the urethra and exits through a hole in the
bottom of the urethra. One person described urinating with a Prince Albert
piercing as more like using a watering can than a penis. Urethral scarring is a
real possibility with this jewelry.
An ampallang piercing places a barbell
through the glans penis. The injuries associated with these piercings may
be aggravated by sexual activity but are said by some users to heighten the
partner’s responses. (There is no reported evidence from a woman that this is
true, by the way.) Since these piercings go through the glans, multiple
complications such as severe infection and tissue injury are possible. Should
you want to, you can click on the picture to enlarge it.
Piercing of the foreskin is also quite
common. Single or multiple rings may be inserted. These may cause difficulty
retracting the foreskin to expose the head of the penis. If the rings are pulled
back forcefully, they may cut the foreskin. Rings and such-like devices may
rupture condoms. And piercings can serve as a site for introduction of sexually transmitted
And there's more...
Tattooing, penis splitting, bifurcation of
the glans, ball stretching, insertion of objects under the penile skin,
scarification, and even castration. Information on all of them can be found on