King Crimson

I do remember one thing

It took hours and hours but

By the time I was done with it

I was so involved, I didn't know what to think

I carried it around with me for days and days

Playing little games

Like not looking at it for a whole day

And then, looking at it to see if I still liked it

I did!

I repeat myself when under stress

I repeat myself when under stress

I repeat myself when under stress

I repeat myself when under stress

I repeat

The more I look at it, the more I like it

I do think it's good

The fact is...

No matter how closely I study it

No matter how I take it apart

No matter how I break it down

It remains consistent

I wish you were here to see it!

I like it!

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I admire what you do Brendan and I sympathise with every human man in the world who has lost his foreskin/ been circumcised unwillingly, and as you point out that's the VAST majority of circumcised men in the world since it is VERY rarely done to adult men over the age of consent. I was rather fortunate NOT to have been circumcised soon after my birth in England in 1955. I was born in a hospital and after coming home my parents asked the local GP village doctor to circumcise me, possibly on the advice of my paternal grandmother who had had my father circumcised at the age of about 3 in the 1920's. He had a difficult recovery from the operation and so my grandmother suggested that I should be done to me early on in my life "to save having to have it done later on". There was some discussion between my parents and the local doctor. I suppose that he must have read or at least been influenced by Douglas Gairdner's article "The fate of the foreskin" published a few years earlier in the Lancet in 1948. This publication influenced UK paediatric policy regarding circumcision rather more than the coincidental formation of the NHS in that year I believe. 67 years ago was a time very different to the present in terms of the dissemination of information. By present standards it seems to me to have been an age of ignorance. The doctor asked my father if he wanted me to be "completely stripped!". He asked my mother if it was considered to be a religious requirement. I think she was shocked with the idea that he was asking if we were jewish. (We did go to the local Anglican church). I am not sure what answers he got but he came round to our house and did something to me on the kitchen table. My mother, who was there but possibly being distracted by my elder sister, said that what he did was a partial circumcision, and so for many years I believed that he had cut off the tip of my foreskin. I asked my mother how he had done it and she said with a pair of scissors. (Well you use scissors to cut things don't you?). Much later on in my schooldays I got to compare my genitals with those of my contempories. In the prep school and public school which I attended (both in England) around 30 - 40% of boys were clearly circumcised (or at least had an exposed glans) and the remainder (like me) had a foreskin mostly giving full coverage. At least one boy like this said that he had been partially circumcised too. I think it was quite rare to see a foreskin so short that you could see part of the glans, but many intact boys did partially retract to urinate more accurately at the urinal. During that time I did get rather interested in observing the differences between us and wondered why some boys were circumcised and others were not. I also participated in some youthful experimentation which in the absence of sex education in those days did eventually provide some answers.

Much later on I concluded that the village doctor of my infancy had NOT cut off the tip of my foreskin, since I have good coverage of my glans when flaccid and sometimes quite good overhang (or acro-postion) extending to over an inch when shrunken, and no sign of scarring or evidence of a dorsal cut. But if I want to I can retract my foreskin to expose my glans and it can remain retracted over long periods, perhaps because the muscle at the tip of the foreskin contracts enough to keep all the skin behind the glans. I did this in my mid-twenties (in the 1970's) for an extended period of almost a year. It started when I was showering in public with my workmates and didn't want to be seen retracting my foreskin to clean the glans, and I continued with a retracted foreskin for many months afterwards "to see what it was like to be circumcised". Perhaps the best part of this experiment with my genital anatomy was when I decided to end it and roll my foreskin back to cover my glans and restore the sensitivity which I think nature intended. At around about this time my father (circumcised at 3 years old and open about many things) did ask what I thought about my status. I replied that at least I had a choice - by which I meant that I had the choice of being covered or uncovered - but which could have been interpreted as I had the choice to get circumcised or not.

So at least you can see some of my personal background when I say "I sympathise with every human man in the world who has lost his foreskin/ been circumcised unwillingly", but in a similar way I also sympathise with every human woman in the world who has suffered female circumcision/FGM unwillingly, but I am glad that this latter practice has NO medical justification at all and affects far fewer women in the world than male circumcision affects men.

Sam Coles (samcoles@ymail.com)

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