What’s foreskin got to do with it?

In Features /

Last week, Eyeopener contributors sat down to discuss one of the greatcultural divides in our society: Yep, dicks. Here are some *ahem* snippetsfrom our round-table discussion on circumcision

Kai Benson, Features Editor: So what do you think? What’s normal to you?

Mohamed Omar, Photo Editor: I think there is no normal anymore. Depending on where you’re born and what kind of family you’re raised in. For some people, being circumcised is the only thing, it’s not even a question of being normal or not. To some people, being uncircumcised is the only thing you can do, and for others, there are no rules about it.

K: Which is why I ask, what’s normal to you?

M: Well your parents get to name you, and apparently they get to decide to snip you off as well. I always thought that being uncircumcised meant that it had some kind of risk later, but I guess that’s not true.

Sarah Del Giallo, Biz and Tech Editor: I think circumcision is not really abnormal, but if you’re going to get technical about it, it’s more normal to be uncircumcised than it is to be circumcised. But it’s not like if you’re going down on a guy you’d be like, “Oh my god, what is that?” It’s fine either way.

Nicole Siena, Communities Editor: Well if you’re talking biologically, then yeah, you’re right.

K: Well what about culturally?

N: Well I’m going to say that I have never seen a dick that hasn’t been circumcised. So for me that’s the only thing that I’m familiar with.

K: Would it be a shock to you to see one that hasn’t been circumcised?

N: Well I think I’m old enough to be able to realize that they’re normal. It’s just that I’ve never seen one.

Ian “Van” Vandaelle: I think the “normalness” is dependent on whether you’re a man or a woman. Women may see a variety, men just have one and it’s always been that way.

S: When you’re getting sexually active, you have that moment where you see the opposite sex’s genitalia for the first time, and it’s weird. It’s unfamiliar. When you see a circumcised or an uncircumcised dick for the first time, it’s something new.

V: Well the first time we see them it’s often in sex-ed class, so those diagrams are really our first impression.

S: But really, you always see the dick from a side view, when do you even see it from that angle?

M: Well, there are a couple of positions.

K: Like Mo touched on earlier— V: Haha, touched on— K: Shut up. Your parents ultimately have the decision, for most people. Especially if you’re circumcised, because it’s hard to go back from that. Should your parents actually have the right to essentially mutilate you at birth?

M: I wouldn’t call it mutilation, because I don’t think it has any harmful effects … But in terms of if they have the right, I don’t think it’s that they have the right. It’s more like “holy crap, we just made this baby. What do we do with it? Quick, snip something off!” I’m circumcised, and I don’t think I lost a lot. I suck at basketball, but I don’t think that’s because of circumcision.

N: I guess from our (the women’s) point of view the question would be if we have children, if we would do it or why we would do it. I guess I would put that on my husband and see what he thinks.

M: So do you think if a couple has a kid and decides not to circumcise it so that he can decide for himself later, is that a better option?

K: I think so, but I also think that would also mean that almost nobody would be circumcised. I lean towards thinking that’s how it should be anyways — not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because there’s really no point to it unless you’re really religious. The cleanliness thing probably used to have weight to it, but we have soap and daily showers now. Nobody’s rotting up and falling off down there.

V: Dick gangrene!

M: But anyways, back home (in Dubai) we had this prevailing idea both culturally and religiously that you had to be circumcised, because that’s how Moses and Abraham and everyone were. When I moved here, I realized it had nothing to do with religion, at least according to Canadian standards. It’s now a matter of choice, which brings up another question, what do I choose if I’m a one-day-old infant?

S: Well have either of you (Van and Kai) ever considered getting circumcised later in life?

K: Good lord, no.

V: I cannot see that as something I would want to do to myself.

S: I don’t know, some people do.

K: If you (Mohamed) weren’t circumcised, would you choose to now?

M: I don’t think I would. After seeing lots of pop culture that tells me it hurts a lot, and realizing what circumcision actually is, I would say no. But if someone told me that it would hurt like hell for two months, but you won’t get dick gangrene — then yeah, snip me off!

V: There’s a mostly American movement of “uncircumcision” where males are mad at their parents for circumcising them. And they’re using a series of weights to try to stretch the skin back out.

K: I don’t know what to say about that.

S: My vagina hurts.


  1. Using the word “uncircumcised” to describe a normal, healthy penis with a foreskin shows a certain bias. You don’t call health breasts “unmastectomized.” The medically- and politically-correct term is “intact penis.”

    I like how you give the child his rights. The owner of the penis is the one to decide its fate.

    Mutilation is a medical term and is used to describe any unnecessary surgery whether it has benefits or not. We use the term to describe female circumcision, the removal of the clitoral hood (aka, prepuce) so why shouldn’t it apply to removal of the foreskin (aka, prepuce), too?

  2. ??I don’t think it has any harmful effects …??

    It is harmful, a lot is lost. The parts cut off have stretch and touch sensors. One touches or is touched at these parts, one stretches or one is stretched at these parts and the result is pleasure. Remove the parts, the result is removal of pleasure from ones life for good.

  3. People can’t look at it with beginner’s mind. They can’t shed their cultural myopia. Its sad. Even in Canada’s multicultural society its still all too easy to condemn strange practices such as FGM with no regard whatsoever for the abuse that is tolerated in our own democracy of which we ourselves are supposed to be allowed to have a say in.

  4. Unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation here. Please replace “penis” with “vagina” and “man” with “woman” and see if your opinions still hold. Many thousands of girls are circumcised each year in societies that consider it “normal.”
    Circumcision certainly does have harmful effects – those who were circumcised as infants have no basis for comparison, so how can they say their sex life wasn’t altered? Not to mention the complications, the erectile disfunction that is prevalent in countries with high circumcision rates, etc.
    The cleanliness argument is totally wrong – how do you think men survived before modern hygiene standards, and with intact penises? Do you think that it’s only modern soap usage that allows intact men to survive having their natural penises? What about the millions of men in countries like India and China, who may not have access to soap and water every day, but whose penises don’t “rot off”?
    The truth is that intact penises require much less care than women’s vaginas. Certainly, an intact infant requires less care than a circumcised infant – clean like a finger, never retract, that’s it!
    Thank you for talking about this important topic!

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