There are circumcised men out there who are willing to go to some seriously extreme lengths (pun acknowledged but unintended) to get their foreskins back.
These men feel they were “robbed” of something before they were old enough to have a say. They want the right to decide how their bodies look and function.
Last night, 60 Minutes brought us the story of one of these men, Elwyn Moir.
28-year-old Elwyn was circumcised when he was born and says he has lived with a “sense of loss” since he was old enough to understand what happened.
Elwyn doesn’t blame his parents – he says they did the best they could for their son at the time – but he told reporter Tara Brown that he has always felt an overwhelming sense that he had been “interfered with”.
“(I was) robbed in some way. Just that realisation that there were parts I didn’t have… And I wanted to have the whole set,” Elwyn said. “I experienced it quite a lot as anger; this sort of brewing anger, resentment and even rage.”
To overcome this sense of loss, Elwyn has taken the dramatic and painful step of manually stretching the remaining skin on his penis to try and get a foreskin back.
In this piece for The Punch called “I was circumcised and I want my foreskin back!” Elwyn wrote about that significant decision. The choice, he said, should belong with the owner of the penis.
In my mid-twenties, my GP supported my decision to restore my foreskin. He referred me to a specialist urologist who supervised and advised on my plan to manually stretch my remaining foreskin tissue back into the form of a full foreskin, just as many adults choose to stretch their ear lobes…
…Restoration is an elaborate and demanding process, requiring a man to attach a device which gently grips the remaining foreskin on the shaft of the penis and apply tension by hanging weights or stretching an elastic strap from it to their thighs or shoulders.”
That weighted stretching takes places over several hours each day for three to five years.
In Elywn’s own words: “It’s not great. It’s a bit of a burden… but it’s worth it.”
Male circumcision remains a contentious issue in Australia. It can be done for reasons of cultural norms, religious traditions or it is something that some parents choose for health or aesthetic reasons.
At the moment, the rate of male circumcision for baby boys is about 14 per cent in their first 12 months. In the 1950s that number was around 70 per cent. Circumcision hasn’t been offered in hospitals since the 1990s. In Tasmania, it’s banned altogether.
Last year, Mamamia wrote about the circumcision debate after the influential American Academy of Pediatrics publicly declared that the benefits of circumcision out-weigh the risks – which include being infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
This was from AAP at the time:
Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.
Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.
The academy said it was the right of the parents to make the decision.
Supporters of circumcision agree. Indeed, Australia’s most vocal advocate of circumcision Professor Brian Morris, from the University of Sydney says circumcision is as safe as childhood vaccination and has the same “minor risks but enormous benefits”.
He said male circumcision was a “no brainer” for parents.
“The benefits exceed the risks by well over 100 to one,” he told 60 Minutes.
“And then, considering that the risks of circumcision are very rare and minor, easily treatable with no adverse long term consequences, verses the risks of not circumcising – that is all of the conditions that can occur over the lifetime including genital cancers and cervical cancers in the female partners and HIV which is rare at present… then it’s really massively more than 100 to 0ne in favour.”
But opponents disagree.
Barrister Paul Mason says: “There is zero evidence and not one single study in history that demonstrates that circumcising a baby has any effect of his future propensity for contracting on not contracting a disease.”
“Unnecessary genital surgery on all children… should be regarded as a criminal assault and a civil assault”.
Mr Mason says there are hundreds of thousands of men around the world who believe their rights were abused and they “were deprived of the opportunity to retain their bodies in their natural form”.
But he said no one has sued a doctor or their parents … yet.
Do you have a circumcised versus uncircumcised preference?