Circumcision and body image

Questions and discussions about your bodies and their parts.
TheNiteHawk
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Circumcision and body image

Unread postby TheNiteHawk » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:53 pm

Hello all! Well, this is two new topics in less than a week, but well... I need some support. I didn't figure it to be a "Supporting Each Other" topic, so I put it in "Bodies". I figured it would go best here. (Feel free to move it if it would fit better somewhere else) It might seem a little silly, but here goes...

If you can't tell by the title, this post is about circumcision and body image. When I was born, I was circumcised. Up until now, I had accepted it, because I knew little of it. I knew that there were people who were circumcised and people that weren't. But I never understood it, or really gave it much thought, until recently. Now I know, and I'm pissed off. Pissed off at my parents for having this done to me without my consent, before I could even weigh the pros and cons. Pissed off at society here in the U.S. for making this normal. Pissed off at myself, for something I have no control over, even though I know I shouldn't be for just that reason.

I'm just... frustrated. My foreskin was not a birth defect, so why was it treated like one? I feel I'm missing out on pleasure, on having a part of myself that was taken from me without my ability to say no to it.

I know there's nothing I can do, and I just have to accept it. But I could really use some support.
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Kittens
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby Kittens » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:12 pm

Hey there,

Even though I'm a girl and, since I live in the U.S., have never been at risk of becoming circumcised I can understand why this would upset you. It was a part of your body and you didn't have the option to consent to it. There are reasons why this happens though, and hearing them may help you accept it. It's done when you are a baby because the procedure would be extremely uncomfortable and painful if it's done at an older age. Not that it isn't painful to babies, but you don't remember the experience afterwards. In America, it's an option to get it done, and it's normally done for the following reasons: it makes the penis easier to clean, is decreases the risk of urinary tract infections and STI's, decreased risk of penile cancer, and it prevents penile problems such as not being able to pull back the foreskin. So, in many cases, the benefits of male circumcision can outweigh the risks.

However, in many aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia circumcision is used as a right of passage into manhood. It can be a religious or cultural ritual for Jewish and Islamic families or it can simply be family tradition. There are many reasons why men get circumcised, and knowing that it serves a purpose might help you accept it. Especially since it is medically useful.

With that being said, it's still not a neccesary procedure and it is the parents choice. I know that is frustrating, because it's still your body and as people we typically want control over our own bodies. I think it may help to look over your thoughts on this. For instance, you're mad because your foreskin was treated like a birth defect. In reality, it isn't a birth defect because every person with a penis is born with it. It wasn't taken off because foreskin was bad, just because it was potentially healthier for you. You're worried about missing out on pleasure. There have been many studies on whether circumcision reduces sensitivity in men, but the most prominent ones suggest that if there's any difference at all, it is minimal. Pleasure is centered in the brain, anyways. :)

This is just some food for thought. I find that thinking through my feelings helps me, it may not work for you but it's worth a try! You could also talk to your parents about this. After all, they are the ones that made the decision and they are the ones you're angry at. Talking through this with them could allow you to work through your feelings. Since you can't change the fact that the procedure was done, you can at least work through your thoughts and feeling about it so that you can eventually accept it and have it not bother you anymore.

I hope this helped! :)

TheNiteHawk
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby TheNiteHawk » Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:05 pm

Thank you for the reply, Kittens!

I appreciate the long reply. I thought about asking my parents why they had it done, but I figured that isn't the conversation I want to have with my conservative Christian parents. Sex in my household is a taboo subject, and isn't really something that anyone really brings up. Also, as an Atheist (I became one in my mid teen years), hearing that my parents had me circumcised for religious reasons probably won't help me much. Most likely the opposite, in fact.

I had some time today in between classes and decided to Google image search "body positivity". Although most of the related images were aimed at size and shape, there was one that had a drawing of a girl with tattoos with the caption "Your body is a temple, why not decorate it?" I have a tattoo (and I like that saying), but that wasn't what I got out of it. What I got out of it was that my body was a temple. Sure I might be missing a few bricks or something, but that doesn't make me any less of a temple.

Outside of the personification, I realized that I was and still am a whole person. Regardless of what has been done, I still... I can still pleasure others and bring pleasure to myself. I'm no less of man just because I'm circumcised. And if you are circumcised, then you're no more of a man than I. In a sense, it's circumstantial. I still have the rest of myself, and I am my own person. Noone has any right to change anything without my say-so. I'm old enough to make decisions for myself.


I think that I've certainly helped myself. I feel better about both my circumcision and myself now. I just need to give it some time and hope that it sinks in. Of course, if anyone else has anything to say, feel free to!
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Heather
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby Heather » Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:39 am

Because having facts around anything is important, I want to include this link, which addresses some assumptions about what circumcision does that Kittens stated, which are commonly believed, but which, on the whole, are not actually backed up by solid data or study (like the notion it is difficult to keep an intact penis clean, for instance -- it's so not, no more than keeping a clitoral hood clean -- or that it makes a bigger difference with STI transmission than a lack of condom use). What is more scientifically sound and supported is that the possible "benefits" are primarily only so if and when those with foreskins are not themselves -- or when too young, parents aren't -- taking care of that part of the body in needed, healthy ways.

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/bodie ... ifications

It should probably also be mentioned that many professional associations for pediatrics over the last few decades make clear that infant circumcision is NOT, in fact, medically advised as an elective procedure, and cannot soundly be supported as something to do for preventative health. Some aren't quite there yet, and many also step very lightly around this because of cultural and religious beliefs.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Heather
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby Heather » Fri Mar 13, 2015 10:09 am

By the by, NiteHawk, if you poke around search engines some, you'll find some online support groups around all of this others have organized for those feeling like you have been. You might want to explore that to see if it's something you think might benefit you, as you certainly are not the only circumcised person -- of any gender -- to feel as you have been. It's understandable to be upset about someone having changed your body parts without your consent.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

TheNiteHawk
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby TheNiteHawk » Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:08 pm

Thanks for the replies, Heather! I might go and look around for one of those support groups sometime. Thank you for the idea.
Enemy to those who make him an enemy; friend to those who have no friends.

Heather
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby Heather » Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:57 pm

Sure thing.

It's really a very different thing in many ways -- particularly since my situation was an accident -- but if you ever feel like it'd be helpful to talk to someone else who lost a body part early in life (in my case, two of my fingers) before they could really even explore that part, and who has also lived for a few decades now with a pretty major alteration to my body as-it-was, I'd be happy to talk about it with you. There is some emotional stuff around anything like this I certainly have experienced as challenging, and suspect is a common thread for a lot of people with any kind of mutilation (for lack of a better word) injuries.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

dday76
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby dday76 » Fri May 15, 2015 1:14 pm

I think your approach now is right: you can't do anything about it. Acceptance is a good direction. Your feelings of anger at society or your parents for forcing this on you are to be expected as well. Acceptance doesn't mean ignoring your feelings, just trying to add perspective.

I'm circumcised. It wasn't a catastrophe as some suffer, but it wasn't exactly right either. The point is that it's fine for basically everyone. So in the context of your anger at circumcision, it may help to see that lots of people are fine.

I have to correct Heather on the scientific consensus. Professional medical associations prefer circumcision though they aren't recommending it as a universal standard. They recommend very reluctantly and have been changing their positions over the past decades (references below). The point is that while female circumcision is an unconscionable mutilation with very strong medical consequences, male circumcision has no clear opposition.

I recommend College Humor for insightful history on this. As they say 'all dicks look weird' so just be happy with what you've got. She probably will be too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCSWbTv3hng


American Association of Pediatrics (2012) -- the CDC, AMA, NIH, Mayo, and other agencies all references and concur with the AAP policy statement.
"health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision" - See more at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap ... eGvQz.dpuf
CDC followed suit last year
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... -cdc-says/
sexuality, including the emotional, interpersonal, and biological functions, implications, risks, and opportunities, are almost entirely mysterious to humans in the absence of clear, candid, science-based, and compassionate education;

Mellonhead
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Re: Circumcision and body image

Unread postby Mellonhead » Fri May 15, 2015 3:00 pm

Don't feel too bad about yourself. Most penises in Internet pornography I've seen all appear to be circumcised.

A lot of American men and boys have circumcised penises. This is not necessarily the case elsewhere, provided that the male (or person with the penis) is not Jewish or Muslim.


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