Monday, January 14, 2013

Cut or uncut?

Oh yes I am talking about THAT.
In the past, circumcision was done routinely to male infants. When my son was born, the prevailing thought was, why? Why would you do that to a boy? Positions by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society have gone back and forth on this, with the AAP acknowledging recent research indicating there are some health benefits to circumcision but stopping short of recommending it as a routine procedure. In Canada, the current position is still that it should not be routinely performed.

Why on earth did we even start doing this to male babies? Female circumcision is regarded as genital mutilation. Many men claim that the foreskin is rich in nerve endings and keeping it increases their sexual pleasure.

10,000 BC: Aboriginal tribes in Australia introduce circumcision as a puberty rite.
6,000 BC: Circumcision (male and female) is a common puberty rite in northeastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
600 BC: Circumcision becomes common among Jewish people, based on God’s command to Abraham to circumcise himself and his sons (book of Genesis).
550 AD: Christian Church begins celebrating Jan. 1 as the Feast of the Circumcision (of Christ).
570 AD: The prophet Mohammed is born “already circumcised,” giving rise to practice of circumcision among Muslims.
1740s: Because syphilitic sores are often found on the foreskin, physicians begin practising circumcision as a preventive measure.
1830s: Circumcision is introduced in France as a treatment for masturbation; the idea spreads to Britain and the U.S.
1870: Dr. Lewis Sayre claims circumcision cures polio, spurring a trend that leads to almost universal circumcision.
1880s: American Academy of Pediatrics calls for routine neonatal circumcision.
1947: British National Health Service removes circumcision from fee schedule; rates fall by 35 per cent.
1971: American Academy of Pediatrics finds “no valid medical indication for routine infant circumcision.”
1975: Canadian Paediatric Society says circumcision is an “obsolete” and “mutilative” operation that should not be routinely performed.
1996: Canadian Paediatric Society reaffirms that circumcision “should not be routinely performed.”
1999: American Academy of Pediatrics says circumcision should not be done routinely but it is acceptable for “cultural, religious and ethnic” reasons.
2012: American Academy of Pediatrics says benefits of circumcision outweigh risks but decision should rest with parents.

Rates of circumcision have dropped all over North America, although there are still some states in the US where the rate is high. European countries have not routinely circumcised boys for many years.
When it comes to why we still circumcise male infants, looks has a lot to do with it. I can remember a conversation I had on a girls night out many years ago (yes, there was wine) and the general feeling was that an uncircumcised penis was unattractive. Apparently when parents make decisions on this for their sons, one of the main deciding factors is that they want their son to look like dad – so fathers who are circumcised want their sons to also be, and vice versa.

The male penis is a beautiful thing, but is there only one standard for male penile beauty?

I started thinking about this the other day as I read a romance novel where the hero’s penis was described as uncircumcised. Many erotic romances give fairly detailed descriptions of the hero’s penis and although it’s not often specified, I’m usually envisioning a circumcised one. Although the truth is, when erect and the foreskin retracted, they don’t look much different. I can recall one other romance where it specifically states he was “uncut” (Rough, Raw and Ready by Lorelei James). That hero was from Brazil. The heroine is a little taken aback and needs some...instruction, lol., but she doesn't find it unattractive. I have a book coming up where one of the heroes (yes it’s a ménage story) is uncircumcised. It’s not a big issue, it’s just the way he is, as in the book I’m just reading now. The heroine doesn’t react with revulsion in the book I’m reading, nor in the one I wrote.

But as rates of circumcision decline, shouldn’t we be seeing more and more romance heroes who are uncircumcised? Is this something worth mentioning or something that should be left to the reader’s imagination? Will female readers be turned off envisioning an uncircumcised penis?


Sydney Somers said...

And just when I thought I knew all there was to know about circumcision... lol Really interesting post Kelly! It's rare to hear about a boy having one done on the east coast (of Canada) these days. And I don't actually think I've come across much mention of it in romance books either. "Uncut" definitely makes it less clinical sounding. :)

Viv Arend said...

1990s: Sales of lube drastically decrease...

Truth--additional lubricant not as needed with an uncut male. Just FYI for writers. Because I'm helpful that way. :D

(What a discussion for 9:30 on a Monday morning... Oh the life of a romance writer is never monotonous.)

Sydney Somers said...

LOL Now I really feel like I'm in the know. Who needs to do research when I can just hang out here and absorb everything from you two ;)

Erin Nicholas said...

You really do learn something everyday...

PG Forte said...

This may be my favorite blog post of all time. <3

Kelly Jamieson said...

And now I'm laughing at my own comment about the male penis - as opposed to the female penis, Kelly??

Thank you for that helpful info, Viv!!

PG Forte said...

well, it IS very male. lol!

June M. said...

Speaking as just a reader, it really doesn't matter to me if the man is circumcised or not in books. I know that in my family, the boys (all 3 of my nephews) have been circumcised because it was thought to be more hygienic, easier to keep clean, not for a religious reason or anything.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Glad to hear that June!

MamaMasseyWVU said...

My friends mom had just had her little brother and they were still in the hospital. She shared a room with another new mom. The doctor came in and asked if they wanted to circumcise their son.

The women sharing a room with her pulls back the curtain and says, I hope you do, cause I wouldn't put one that wasn't in my mouth.. think about his future.

I still to this day get tears in my eyes laughing at that story. My son was circumcised because of that.