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Facing Circumcision  Eight Physicians Tell Their Stories
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One Man's Struggle Against Circumcision
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Circumcision Exposed
Rethinking a Medical and
Cultural Tradition

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Circumcision is Sexual Abuse

Mary LeLoo
Seattle M.E.N., p 22., October 1994

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I watched a movie today on circumcision. At first, I focused on the women who were speaking - the way they looked, their essence, their mannerisms. Then upon their words - the way the words were being said, the implication of what they were saying. The last minutes (or was it seconds?) of the film showed an infant actually being circumcised. I needed to talk about what had happened. There wasn’t time enough. I emotionally went away.

An hour later I came back. Lying on top of my multicolored Indian quilt, I found myself rocking and feeling horrible "grief" that settles with heaviness and pain upon my chest. Watching the mutilation of that infant’s genitals took me back to my own place of terror. As a sexual abuse survivor, I know now, KNOW, that circumcision is also sexual abuse. It takes that which is most basic, intrinsic, and private to one’s being and one’s sexuality, and violates the helpless baby on whom it is done. Circumcision is about sending many messages, on a cellular level to that baby. Messages such as "This is not your body, it is ours." "You are not okay as you are." "Parts of you must be thrown away to make you acceptable. "You are ours to manipulate." "Sex and pain and touch are all mixed together and you will spend much of your life trying to sort them out again."

Messages such as these will echo throughout that infant’s being in many forms and contexts for the rest of his life. If he is lucky, he will someday know where his pain began, and thusly, where the lies began. Only then will he be free to reclaim that which was always his, his body. Only then will he be capable of connecting on deep levels with himself and with others. Only then will he truly understand that "they" were the ones who were wrong, not him. That he was acceptable as he was. That he is good. That it was wrong for them to throw part of him away. He will grieve his losses. And he will become whole again. But never in quite the way he would have before they violated him.

There is a word for this. The word is abuse. To call circumcision anything else is a lie.

Mary LeLoo is publisher-editor of Journey, a monthly journal published in Seattle for those interested in understanding abuse, addiction, dysfunction, and the healing process. LeLoo says, "It is only when we truly know, understand, and own our own individual pain that we can be open to understanding the pain of others, individually and collectively."

See also:  The Universality of Incest  Lloyd DeMause  Journal of Psychohistory, 1991. Article concludes with discussion of female and male circumcision customs.

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