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Circumcised men try stretching, not lawsuits

Reclaiming Their Birthright

Michael Jabri-Pickett
Reuters/, November 12, 1998

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abcnews.gif (1819 bytes)

“The medical
community is
not interested in
the problem,
because they're
part of the

— Ronald Goldman,
Resource Center

T O R O N T O, Nov. 13 — For 11 months now, Don Kettle has been reclaiming his birthright, and the way he figures it, he is probably looking at another four to six months.  Kettle, 44, is in the midst of restoring his foreskin. “I have been denied my rights as a person to make decisions in matters of my body,” he said.  Kettle says the medical community has brainwashed North Americans into believing that circumcising infant boys is the best thing to do for the children. “We’re damaging someone’s body without their permission and while they’re in a state to do nothing about it,” he said at his home in Toronto.

Ultimately, Kettle believes, it should not be parents who decide whether to circumcise their infant sons. “They should say, ‘You don’t touch this boy’s penis. He makes the decision when he’s old enough.’”

Anger and Trauma

R. Wayne Griffiths, founder of the Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)National Organization of Restoring Men based in Concord, Calif., was 56 when he started stretching his foreskin. Today he is 65 and his organization boasts about 20 support groups and coordinators around the world for men who want to follow his example.

Griffiths says these men are usually motivated by a desire to recover what was taken from them. In fact, he says, most men who were circumcised feel that they have been robbed. “Some of them are very, very angry, wanting to sue parents, doctors and everybody else. And when they realise they can regain some of the (sexual) sensitivity, many of them want to do it,” he said.

The problem is awareness, says psychologist Ronald Goldman, executive director of the nonprofit Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)Circumcision Resource Center in Boston and author of two books on the subject, one titled Circumcision, The Hidden Trauma: How An American Cultural Practice Affects Infants And Ultimately Us All.

“The medical community is not aware of the problem, isn’t interested in acknowledging the problem because they’re part of the problem,” Goldman said.

The reasons men want to restore their foreskins vary greatly, he said, but basically it is a desire to be whole, to be natural and to improve sexual sensitivity—a significant aspect when considering whether to restore. “The glans is an internal organ,” Griffiths said, referring to the head of the penis. “It is not an external organ. Try keeping your tongue stuck out for several years. See whether it likes it or not. It [the penis] gets calloused over and this is the desensitization that happens.”

Supporters Cite Medical Benefits

Other doctors, as well as Jews and other religious groups, still support circumcision because the foreskin is a reservoir for viruses and bacteria, says one Canadian family physician who has been performing circumcisions for more than 40 years. The doctor, who refuses to have his name used for fear of retribution, says he performs circumcisions for both religious and nonreligious reasons.

Dr. Neil Pollock, a Vancouver family physician who has been performing circumcisions for about five years, says he receives referrals from more than 400 physicians who want him to circumcise their patients for various reasons. Pollock said he agrees with the Canadian Pediatrics Society Consensus Statement on Circumcision, which outlines the medical benefits of circumcision. The society  does not recommend universal male circumcision, but it also does not recommend telling people, “Don’t circumcise your baby.”

Pollock cites medical research that shows circumcision virtually eliminates the risk of penile cancer, reduces the risk of urinary tract infection 12-fold and reduces sexual dysfunction later in life in older men. It also reduces the transmission of diseases to female partners.

‘They Resent Their Parents’

Perhaps the most significant research is that of Dr. Stephen Moses in Winnipeg, Manitoba, who says a male who is circumcised is up to 9.6 times less likely to contract AIDS.

But Sue Johanson, a registered nurse, sex educator and counsellor in Toronto, says men who were circumcised as infants sometimes grieve for their foreskins and feel they have been mutilated. These men believe they never got over the trauma of surgery that they think was totally unnecessary, and they really want their foreskins back, Johanson said.

There are also men who feel their partners want a guy  with a foreskin, she added. Johanson says she meets young men who have been circumcised who are indignant at their parents. “They really, really resent it and they resent their parents.”

The restoration process takes one to three years, said Griffiths, who says he did all of his stretching in about 18 months because he was envious of other men who still had foreskins. His advice to other men is, if it hurts you’re doing it wrong.

After a few weeks of pulling the skin over the head of the penis and keeping it in place with medical tape, the emerging new foreskin will have stretched enough so that a weighted ring—anywhere from 7 to 14 ounces—can be placed around it to help the stretching process along.

As for Kettle, after eleven months he says he is now at a stage where significant changes are starting to take place and he is able to say, “You did this injustice to me but look, I’ve got the last word here.”

Copyright 1998 Reuters, ABC News and Starwave Corporation. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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