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Cutting remarks

Edited version published in Men's Style #28 (Spring 2008)

Never one to mince words, I recently asked some baby making friends if they would be putting their wee man under the knife. Slicing his salami, chopping his sausage, paring his package. They looked at me with incredulity, as though I had the very same part of the male appendage growing out of my forehead, before patiently explaining that circumcision is a cruel and barbaric practice akin to grating your eyeball then dressing it with a squeeze of lemon. Except worse. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ official stance backs them up, stating that "there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision."

I take their point. It is a tad barbaric. But I worry for him. Or, more precisely, for his future self, the one that wants to use his penis for more than pre sexual self gratification and whizzing all over the place as soon as his nappies come off. I prefer my men cut. Surely his future women will feel the same? I asked twenty female friends what, if any, preference they have for penises of the cut or uncut variety.

The topic created quite a stir. There were uncertainties and strong opinions, mixed feelings and heated debate. Also shrieking, and laughter. The upshot of it all is, while we try to judge all penises equally, most of us prefer cut. Some aren’t sure they knew the difference. Several are just plain indifferent, and a precious few (mothers of sons, in most cases) are strongly against.

In my case, most of my lovers have been circumcised, it’s what I’m used to. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Both of my brothers were circumcised so that they would look like my father - ironically finding completeness in a complete lack of…completeness. Religious practices like Judaic brit mila aside, circumcision became the Western norm as a means of discouraging masturbation. Clearly this didn’t work. It was also believed to be more hygienic, but has been virtually abandoned by non-denominational circles in the West in favour of an amazing new technology called soap. Elsewhere, its considered cutting edge by global health policy dons like the WHO, with evidence that circumcision reduces transmission of the AIDS virus by up to 60%. They’d like to see it become standard practice in AIDS-rife Africa, where several governments encourage voluntary adult circumcision. Studies have also shown that circumcised men are less likely to contract STIs like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, chancroid, warts, and other sources of general discomfort like thrush.

But back to the shrieking women, amongst whom the arguments for and against were drawn along the lines of form and function. As in we like the look of it cut, but we realise it may work better for you uncut. We care, we really do. My girlfriends made several penetrative, insightful comments. Two think uncircumcised penises look like alien life forms. One thinks she’d find an uncircumcised penis quite shocking, “like a woolly mammoth or something from the Stone Age.” One argues that the foreskin just gets in the way, especially during fellatio, whilst another is adamant that an uncut penis gives both him and her more pleasure.

We all agree on two things. Firstly, whether it’s cut or uncut is no match point. Your willingness and ability to take your time in pleasuring us is far more important. Secondly, all penises smell. Some more than others. And unfortunately for those with their tackles intact, they’re likely to smell more.

I’m sure you understand. There’s nothing worse than booking in for a cruise, only to discover that the luxury liner you’d had in mind is in fact an old fishing boat with a year’s worth of stale bait encrusted under the rim. It’s hard to imagine anything more disgusting than belly button cheese and toe jams. But foreskin cheese? That takes the cake. I don’t really want to bring my grandmother into this, but she used to have a saying - cleanliness is next to godliness. The same goes for sex-godliness.