Category Archives: Circumcision


Here are a couple of “sex-in-the-news” quickies that I’ve been meaning to blog about and haven’t. I’m headed out tomorrow for a week and a half and since I’m not going to get around to detailed posts on these items any time soon, I figured I’d just toss them out for you to read on your own.

  • The New York Times blows an editorial about anti-trafficking legislation being considered in Albany by completely separating sex and work. They talk about how people are trafficked for “forced sex or labor,” as if forced sex isn’t labor. In fact, by using a term like “forced sex” instead of “forced sex work” they are conflating prostitution with rape in a way that is entirely unhelpful to prostitutes or to rape victims. They accurately report that the penalties for sex trafficking would be higher than the penalties for labor trafficking (this is without regard to the age of the trafficked victims), again seeming to say that it is more acceptable to be trafficked for purposes of forced labor in a factory or field or private home than it is to be trafficked for the purpose of strip club, massage parlor or brothel work. It seems to me that all forced labor is appallingly wrong and that to separate out some forced labor as sex, and thus not work, is to reinforce the stigma attached to sexual labor and thus injure again the people who have been forced into it.
  • On the other hand, the New York Times also ran a good article on homeless shelters for gay teens and a few weeks earlier they’d run an article on a shelter in Queens, New York, that takes in transgender teens. Estimates by shelter workers and surveys of homeless youths indicate that about 1 in 5 homeless teens and kids is gay. (For perspective, fewer than 1 in 10 adults identifies as gay.) The kids interviewed for the article reported appalling abuses by family, friends of family, and by shelter workers at other homeless shelters. Earlier in the month I blogged about the Safe Harbor legislation also being considered in New York State and argued it was especially important, but the Times editorial on trafficking, mentioned above, makes it sound as if that legislation has been left out of the larger trafficking bill. Perhaps we need a phone/letter campaign to make sure it is considered separately!

Isn’t it amazing that the issues we discuss here seem to be always in the news. Yet another reason to expand the space for sex in the public square!

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Filed under Circumcision, News and politics, public discourse, sex work, sexual orientation

The Foreskin Dialogues

(Or, for those who prefer technically-correct terms, we could call this The Prepuce Dialogues! Imagine the possibilities: P-Day, for one!)

SomeFred’s comment on my previous post got me thinking: One of the amazing things feminism has succeeded at is helping women think about and talk about their bodies. I’m thinking of 1970s consciousness-raising groups, of gurus like Betty Dodson (who, by the way, does an incredible job of drawing the internal anatomy of the clitoris and explaining how women get erections too), and of contemporary writers like Eve Ensler and her “Vagina Monologues.” and the women behind Vagina Verite. Such cultural, educational and personal efforts have helped women to shift their perspectives on women’s sex organs. It’s an ongoing battle, but we are, I’d wager, less likely to be grossed out by our genitals and more likely to be comfortable talking about them than we used to be. (Of course now that we’re comfortable acknowledging that they exist there are efforts to shape our feelings about how they should look and to cosmetically alter them with such procedures as labiaplasty and “laser vaginal rejuvenation” so that they fit some bizarre construct of “normal.”)

But what about men? How do men feel about their penises? I know we assume that all men worry about is size, but I think all this circumcision talk points out how little we know about how men (and women) feel about men’s penises. We reflexively think of the penis as a power symbol but they also seem to be the source of a fair amount of anxiety for those who possess them. And while we assume men are comfortable with their cocks, do we really know that? Would men tell us if they weren’t?

And why is the surgical cutting of the penises of baby boys still taken so largely for granted in the US when even doctors no longer recommend it for ordinary health reasons? How do you feel about foreskins?

I am opening this thread to encourage readers — regardless of gender — to write about how they feel about penises, whether whole or with foreskins removed.

SomeFred sparked this post with his reflections on his own uncircumcised experience. Please post your own thoughts in the comments section below. I’ll add my own thoughts on penises and foreskins here:

I remember the first time I saw an uncircumcised penis. It was in a porn magazine when I was in college! I remember thinking it looked, well, odd. Exotic. I didn’t think it looked “gross” but I wondered what the skin underneath it would look like, feel like, taste like. I did have a vague sense that it must be moist and maybe kind of icky under there.

Around that time I also started becoming sexually involved with women and learned to enjoy the different textures, scents and tastes of my girlfriends’ labia and all that was hidden behind them. Later, when I first encountered an uncircumcised penis “in the flesh” that early experience with women was the first thing to come to mind, actually. There was something about gently playing with this man’s foreskin that was remarkably similar to my early explorations with my first girlfriend’s cunt. And yes, he did taste and smell somewhat different from the uncircumcised men I had known, but not in a way that was “unclean.” Really it was just like the variety of scents and tastes I associate with women. (This isn’t surprising given the incredible parallel structures of male and female genital organs.)

I love uncircumcised cocks. I can’t think of a single bad thing about them. In fact, I recently had the occasion to encounter a circumcised cock for the first time in many years and it looked, well, scarred.

Please contribute your own thoughts and feelings about penises in their whole or altered states below.

  • If you possess a penis I’d love your stories about how you learned to think about it (good/bad/indifferent; clean/dirty/dangerous/wonderful/etc.), what your anxieties about it are, what you like about it, how you feel about the way that your society treats penises in general. You get the idea.
  • If you don’t possess a penis yourself, I’d love to know how you’ve learned to think about or feel about the penises of others. Do you like them in general? Do they make you uneasy? What do you think of uncircumcised penises? Circumcised ones? Do you ever think about the similarities between male and female genital organs? Do you have any stories about or memories of encountering penises that help illustrate how you feel about them?

(Also, please feel free to circulate this widely. I’d love as many stories as possible!)

Meanwhile, here are some other links you might check out:


Filed under Circumcision, culture, feminism, Gender, Health, public discourse, sex, sex and health