Circumcised men do not know what they are missing.
Why don’t we hear a lot more from circumcised men about how they truly feel about being circumcised? Here are the possible reasons.
- Circumcised men do not know what they are missing. They believe that the sexual sensitivity they have without a foreskin is “normal.” (Similarly, a woman born in Somalia who had been subjected to a severe form of female circumcision insisted that it had no impact. “It’s the same thing. There is nothing different about my sexuality.”) According to one man who was circumcised as an adult, sex without a foreskin is like sight without color. Those who have not seen in color cannot appreciate what is lost. See Men Circumcised as Adults.
- Young circumcised men may not notice the negative sexual effects of circumcision until they are older, because of the progressive desensitization of the exposed glans (head of the penis) from exposure and rubbing against clothes. See Functions of the Foreskin. It is possible that circumcision is an unrecognized factor in the high rates of impotence in older American men.
- Accepting circumcision beliefs and cultural assumptions prevents men from recognizing and feeling their dissatisfaction. A typical response is “When I was young I was told it was necessary for health reasons. I guess I just didn’t question that. I assumed that was so.”
- The emotions connected with circumcision that may surface are very painful. Repressing them protects men from this pain. A circumcised man recalled, “It was something I just didn’t examine. I put it away in the back of my mind like a lot of guys do.” If the feelings do become conscious, they can still be suppressed. After learning about circumcision, another man said, “I don’t want to be angry about this.”
- Those who have feelings about their circumcision are generally afraid to express them because their feelings may be dismissed or ridiculed. When asked why he had not revealed his circumcision feelings before, one man said, “I would be looked upon as strange or else people would toss it off lightly.” Another said, “It’s not something that anyone talks about. If it is talked about, it’s in a snickering, comical way which I find disturbing. People laugh about it as if there is something funny going on.”
- Verbal expression of feelings requires conscious awareness. Because early traumas are generally unconscious, associated feelings are expressed nonverbally through behavioral, emotional, and physiological forms. Attitudes about people, life, and the future may also be affected. An example of an attitude resulting from childhood trauma is “You can’t count on anything or anyone to protect you.”
Lack of awareness and understanding of circumcision, emotional repression, fear of disclosure, and nonverbal expression help keep circumcision feelings a secret.