I hate the circumcision debate because both sides of the circumcision debate have been taken over by women. The last time I wrote an article about circumcision, I took a look at some comments from women involved in the anti-circumcision movement, and they all had bizarre ideas like circumcised men are permenantly damaged and incapable of actual sex. One woman couldn’t stop thinking about how her son’s penis was irrevocably damaged. These women were making circumcision all about themselves despite not actually being the recipients of a circumcision.
Even though the age for circumcision ranges widely across all circumcising societies, what is most universally constant is the requirement that circumcision occur before marriage. This rule not only establishes the father’s status in the male-dominant community, but it also works to achieve another salient objective: marriageable girls are entrained to view any uncircumcised man as undesirable, thereby ensuring the ethnic stability of the tribe. Girls know from an early age that they would risk social ostracism by mating with an uncircumcised male.
On a meta-historical and biological level, circumcision acts to rename, remap, and invert our fundamental and primal relationship to the feminine. It is not coincidental that this ritual of tribal belonging necessitates the cutting, blood-letting, and altering — in a public ceremony — of the male child’s sexual organ. As Glick points out, “Female blood contaminates, male blood sanctifies.” Thus, he explains, “the shedding of male blood is an act of consecration.” By creating historical and social linkage through this sacrificial ritual, circumcision functions to supersede and transcend our most primary maternal and biological system of relationship making patrilineal and patriarchal hierarchy appear “natural and inevitable,” as Nancy Jay notes in her brilliant book, Throughout Your Generations Forever.
Similarly, in both the Hebrew Scriptures (Samuel 1:1) and the New Testament (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38) , by citing and repeating the lineage of male progenitors, legitimacy is established. The names of the mothers are usually unmentioned, irrelevant in a male-dominant culture.
Circumcision subverts the community’s relationship to the life-giving principle of the feminine, not only by obliterating the woman’s rightful identity in structuring the historical social network of her tribe, but also by trivializing and implicitly forbidding her to acknowledge, much less act upon, her deepest mammalian instincts to protect her newly birthed child. She knows, long before she has even conceived, that in order for her male child to be bonded to the male community — past, present and future — and to a male-imaged god, she must surrender him to the men with a knife to cut, wound and cause great pain to the very vulnerable sexual organ of this newly birthed child. Typically, a mother’s feelings are dismissed or ridiculed. Her voice is silenced, even to herself.
Can it be a coincidence that we have language for the primary disempowerment for men, but not for women? When men are wounded in their primal potency of manhood, we say they have been “emasculated.” When women are wounded in their primary potency of womanhood, we rarely notice. We have no language, no conceptual structure, no word to claim, much less attempt to heal the experience of core female disempowerment.
The wounding of circumcision irreversibly alters both mother and child: the mother is fractured at the base of her deepest womb-wisdom, which knows that she must protect her child no matter what; and the baby, shocked and traumatized, is fractured in his ability to absolutely trust the protective arms of the mother he has biologically and innately turned to as his primordial source of safety. From the beginning, masculinity is now defined as that which must be cut off from the mother and all that is female, nurturing, and essential for human survival. In this way women are made complicit in this masculine-defined model of motherhood. Nancy Jay states, “Gender is therefore unequaled as a cornerstone of domination.” Circumcision is the weapon that not only destroys a boy’s foreskin but also deftly excises maternal authority over the ultimate well-being of her child. For if a woman is forbidden to feel entitled to her instinctive need to protect her newborn child, what feelings of her own can she ever trust?
Additionally, the removal of the foreskin creates a secondary loss of sensitivity: not only has the most erogenous tissue of the male sexual organ been removed, but, as the man ages, the glans loses its mucosal covering, becomes dried out, and keratinizes over time. Typically by middle age the glans of the circumcised penis has lost much of its receptive potential and the man requires more abrasive stimulation to achieve orgasm. Often this is just as a woman is becoming peri-menopausal and experiencing decreasing vaginal lubrication. Typically, the problem is identified as the woman’s entry into menopause; the contribution of the circumcised partner is rarely acknowledged. In subtle but profound ways, circumcision functions to diminish a man’s pleasure potential, allowing his bond to his partner to be subordinated to his bond to his tribal male peers.
Circumcision achieves this by violently breaching the maternal-infant bond shortly after birth; by amputating and marking the baby’s sexual organ before he knows what he has lost; by disempowering, “taming,” the mother at the height of her instinctual need to protect her infant; by bonding the baby to the community of men past, present, and future and to a male-imaged G-d; by restructuring the family and the society in terms of male dominance; and by psycho-sexually wounding the manhood still asleep in the unsuspecting baby boy. In all of these ways — socially, politically, religiously, ethnically, sexually, tribally, and interpersonally — the cutting of our baby boys’ sexual organs is the fulcrum around which patriarchy exerts its power. Circumcision is a rite of male domination — domination and the entitlement of domination over other men, women, and children, both institutionally and personally. It is the essence of patriarchy.
These are just a few quotes from the article. In an anti-circumcision article, terms like “womb wisdom” and sentences like, “Circumcision is a rite of male domination — domination and the entitlement of domination over other men, women, and children, both institutionally and personally. It is the essence of patriarchy” have no place. The point of being against circumcision is what happens to baby BOYS (and older boys and men if circumcision happens later).
What has happened is that women have managed to take over the anti-circumcision movement and make it all about them. The boys who actually get circumcised are only an afterthought at best. The “logic” that we see here is incredibly twisted, but that is what it takes to say women are the real victims of male circumcision.
What has happened to the anti-circumcision movement is a sober warning about what could happen to the MRM if we are not careful. The anti-circumcision movement has been taken over by women and made to be anti-male. We can’t let that happen to the MRM.