Like Father, Like Son
by Mary G. Ray ©1997, All Rights ReservedFather & Son Image
"I am very happy for my son that he is natural. Which is more important? Having a penis that looks like mine? Or enjoying the benefits a foreskin provides?
It doesn’t make sense that his foreskin should arbitrarily be cut off just because they did it back when I was born. Routine circumcision is a colossal mistake. The same mistake should not be done to him simply because it was unfortunately done to me. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s got to stop  somewhere.
All this concern about looking the same -- I think its rare for fathers, sons and brothers to pay much attention to each other’s penises. But if a difference is noticed, the absent foreskin can be so easily explained. They used to think removing the foreskin was necessary. Now they know, it’s not."

  "I believe no man would allow his beloved son to be circumcised if he were in touch with the terror he experienced during his own." John Breeding

     During the late 1800s, when circumcision was introduced to our culture, people believed that masturbation caused a host of different illnesses. [Bullough] [Remondino] It was concluded that by removing the only moveable part of the penis (the foreskin), sensitivity would be reduced and the desire to masturbate would be minimized. Ironically, as it turns out, circumcised men masturbate more than males intact. [Perlman]

       Obviously, most fathers were intact at the time. We were assured the difference between father and son was not a concern. And yet today, one of the most common reasons for circumcision in America is to avoid any difference between them. Routine circumcision has become a purely cosmetic procedure that is totally unnecessary. Many parents think that if they already circumcised their first son, then they have no choice but to circumcise subsequent sons.  Read personal stories of parents who didn't have subsequent sons circumcised.  If you're a parent who has sons with mixed circumcision status, you can enter your own account there too.

       At age 3, my son saw the head of his penis for the very first time. The foreskin had retracted by itself and he discovered it in this condition as he went to the potty. “It’s just like Daddy’s,” he commented immediately, and yet Daddy is circumcised. He is now nearly 5. He has yet to notice that he is different from Daddy. As he gets older, like most kids, he’ll become modest and prefer privacy. I've known of circumcised men who didn't even know until adulthood that their fathers were intact. Some men are unsure as to what their father’s circumcision status is.

       Our offspring receive no physical characteristics that are identical to ours. They are a blend of two different people. A child may have eyes similar to his mother's and a nose like his father's. Why, of all things, are we so obsessed with the notion that the rarely exposed genitals of a father and son must be exactly the same? Until a little boy reaches puberty, this is impossible to achieve anyway. The absence of pubic hair will be just as noticeable, if not more so, than the presence of a foreskin.

       If a boy notices pubic hair or skin missing from his father's penis, each peculiarity can be explained in a way he’ll understand. Do we manage to simplify why our son's and daughter's genital features are not alike? Certainly. Likewise, we can easily clarify any distinctions between father and son.

       If the need arises, parents who chose to keep their son intact can easily explain why he has something his circumcised father does not. "Daddy [and/or your brother] had the foreskin removed in an operation because doctors used to think it was unhealthy. It is actually healthy and necessary, so we chose to leave your natural body alone." To go into more detail, take a look at this information sheet for intact boys.

       As for the 'Locker Room Argument,' either sex is more prone to deliberately avert their eyes from another person's genital area. Staring at someone's private parts is not a comfortable thing to do (outside of a sexual encounter). Today, many males are homophobic. Adolescent males in the locker room certainly don't want to risk being caught looking.

       There should be concern for the strong possibility that a circumcised child who experienced complications could look unlike anyone. They can end up with a noticeable difference whether they are among natural or circumcised males. These complications can include scarring, discoloration, an adhesion, a skin bridge, a skin tag, or in the case of a bungled circumcision, an obvious disfigurement. Any of these visible differences would be more difficult to explain and could be damaging emotionally, physically and sexually.

       Small children being naturally innocent and curious do sometimes look at each other's bodies, noticing little differences, and comparing. If a boy does question why he's uncircumcised, a parent can remove any doubt he has about being intact by talking openly and providing him with information. He can instead be confident that he’s joined the global majority. 82% of the world's living men are intact. In most countries, it is the circumcised boy who is considered different.

       In the 1970s, about 85% of America's newborn males were circumcised. Since that time, the rate has dropped significantly. The U.S. is alone in automatically circumcising 63% of its newborn males nationwide. Non-religious routine circumcision is expected to continue its decline.

       Meanwhile, circumcised boys notice differences too. Some boys who've noticed foreskins have become frightened upon learning that a natural part of their penis was forcibly removed during their infancy. Each have yearned to be like the other. Many circumcised men have reported that they have been teased because they didn't have a foreskin. In a letter to the Intact Network, Oct. 1996, one man wrote, “My lack of a foreskin instilled a deep self-consciousness. I felt I was inferior; I didn’t know why I didn’t have a foreskin, and was absolutely afraid to ask my parents; but well before I entered the first grade, I knew I was missing something.”

       Routine Infant Circumcision is not medically necessary. Information verifying this is readily available. "Study provides further evidence that circumcision for non-medical reasons may be a mistake." [Chronicle]

       Obviously, boys who are already cut cannot change their circumcision status. Many men who are either unhappy with the results of their circumcisions, or who have learned about the advantages of being intact are investigating or undergoing foreskin reconstruction.

       “A recent nationwide survey of adult men which was done by "Men's Confidential" magazine clearly indicates that a significantly higher percentage of adult men who are intact are satisfied with their intact status than circumcised men are with their circumcised status.” [Morgan] More and more men are reporting that they were harmed by circumcision . [Hammond]  Some are pursuing foreskin restoration.

       "The best reason to let a baby keep his foreskin intact is that it's almost a certainty that he will be glad you did." John A. Erickson

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Bullough, Vern & Bonnie, edited by, Human Sexuality, an Encyclopedia, Circumcision: Male-Effects Upon Human Sexuality.

Chronicle of Urology & Sexual Medicine, Routine Circumcision Questioned as Prepuce May Have Special Function.

Intact Network Newsletter, Oct. 1996, Derifield, Ken, Editor

Hammond, Tim, Awakenings: A Preliminary Poll of Circumcised Men

Morgan, Donald - Circumcision: The Pros, The Cons, and The Bottom Line,

Perlman, David, Study Finds Circumcised Men More Sexually Adventurous but procedure has no health benefits, San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor, based on a study conducted by the University of Chicago and reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association (1997;277:1052-1057)

Remondino, PC, History of Circumcision from the Earliest Times to the Present. Philadelphia: Davis, 1891. [Republished New York: AMS Press, 1974: 161-82]

Last Modification:  7/22/99