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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Celebrities

Q. How do you know that [celebrity] is intact?

A. Chuck Thompson of Los Angeles kept a dossier for many years, relying on information from actors' dressers, sportsmen's teammates and towel boys, and people who "chanced on" the celebrities at urinals. Wives, ex-wives, lovers, ex-lovers and groupies have reported on others. Some have appeared nude in films or magazines and some have commented in passing on their own status (especially in Britain and Europe where nobody thinks it is anything to be ashamed of). In the case of Elvis and Maurice Gibb, it was in their death certificates. Other sources are parents, brothers, schoolmates, accidental exposure, medical records and police records. Some have been captured by paparazzi (JPGs of celebrities nude with no context are often faked, but those can usually be detected).

Please do not write to these pages asking "How do you know [celebrity] is intact?" unless you have real evidence he is not. And especially not about Prince William. Such letters will be answered (if at all) with a link (http://www.circumstitions.com/FAQ.html#dumb) to this box. The answers are above.

 

Q. How did you find out that Prince William is intact?

A. The Jewish Chronicle (which carried the news of Prince Charles's circumcision by mohel Dr Snowman in 1948), deplored the fact that a hundred years of tradition had been abandoned. Biographers have said Diana defied royal tradition in this regard. She and Charles gave a photo opportunity on a picnic blanket in New Zealand when he was a baby, and he urinated off the side of the blanket in sight of photographers. Reports that Charles ordered him and Harry circumcised after Diana died are wishful thinking by circumfetishists. A website claiming the mohel who circumcised them was a guest at Charles' and Camilla's wedding is satire - it says so on the same page, which is dated April 1. Paparazzi pictures released in November 2008 are ambiguous.

 

Q. Why have you have removed Daniel Radcliffe from the celebrity pages?

A. For several years since the notorious nude photo was exposed as a fake, we have resisted removing young 'Arry Potter, because several authentic-sounding reports from members of the audiences at his performances of Peter Schaffer's Equus (in which there is an extended nude scene) said he is intact, and though his parentage is Jewish, they are not religious or practising.

The question is now settled. In the March 2012 Attitude:

Plastic surgery is 'weird', he says. Would he have it? 'No. God no.' Botox? 'Injections? I'm not being judgemental on anybody, you do you what you like with your body, but I'm terrified of unnecessary surgery, it doesn't sound like fun.'

...

His family is buried in Highgate's Jewish cemetery. Does Radcliffe feel Jewish? 'Oh yes, absolutely. My dad's a Northern Irish Protestant, my mother's a Essex-Russign-South African Jew. I'm very proud to be Irish and Jewish - you're not going to find two harder working groups of people.'

But he's an atheist? 'Judaism isn't about God. Some of the best Jews have been atheists. Karl Marx was. Some things make me incredibly proud of being Jewish: vilified wherever they have been, they are a surviving people.'

He laughs when asked if he was brought up in the Jewish faith. 'No, we were Christmas tree Jews.' Was Radcliffe circumcised? Yes, as a baby, and it ended there - they said, "He's not going to be any more Jewish than that." I'm giving away too much, but my dad is also circumcised, and even if my kids aren't Jewish I think it's important to look the same, father to son. I don't know why I think that - maybe I'm wrong.'

He is wrong, but for him admit that is a good step towards ensuring that "it ended there."

Q. Is Arnold Schwartznegger intact?

A. Opinions vary. Just from the time and place of his birth, he was almost certainly intact when he arrived in the US. Nude photographs of him as a young bodybuilder are ambiguous. Some have attempted to explain this by saying he had himself circumcised to look more American, but he may have a naturally short foreskin or the photos are misinterpreted.

 

Q. You say Leonardo DiCaprio is intact, but in Total Eclipse he looks circumcised.

A. Any man can look circumcised. (Only an intact man can look intact.) We have it on very good authority that Leonardo is intact. (Total Eclipse was produced by Agnieska Holland, who produced Europa, Europa, a film with circumcision status as a major theme, and would have been critical about such a detail, fitting diCaprio with a prosthesis if necessary, as was done in Y tu mamá también)

 

Q. You say River Phoenix is intact, but his autopsy says he was circumcised.

A. There are pictures of him as an intact young man. He would have been catheterised before he died, and his foreskin retracted to install the catheter, which could lead to a misdiagnosis.

 

Q. Is Elijah Woods intact? Is Hayden Christensen intact?

A. We have no information on Woods. (The circumcision rate in Iowa, where he was born, is very high, but this only creates a probability, not a certainty.) One report says Christensen is not intact.

 

 

These pages

Q. Where did the pictures of (botched) circumcisions come from?

A. Most were published in gay pinup magazines. Some were posted on circumfetishist sites. A few were sent by their owners, who are now Intactivists.

 

 

The intact penis

Q. Is it normal for pubic hair on the shaft of the penis to extend more than half the way towards the glans? It tends to become uncomfortable during intercourse, creating friction and chafing.

A. While some intact men have hair that extends up the shaft, this is also a common complication of a tight circumcision. A circumcisor has no idea what the final size or shape of a baby's penis is going to be, and hence no idea what is the "right" amount of skin to take. To reduce the chafing you can either remove the hair (temporarily or permanently) or increase the lubrication.

 

Q. My foreskin will not retract (go behind my glans). Should I do something about it?

A. If it is not a problem for you, why? See Care of the Intact Penis and Something They Haven't.

A French doctor found (from 300 adolescent cases) that a very common cause was the way they masturbated - if they did at all - that did not involve retraction. He found that by telling them to retract when they masturbated, they were all able to retract fully within three weeks. As with all such advice, if it hurts, ease off.

 

Q. My foreskin overhangs my penis / just covers my glans / doesn't cover my glans at all. Is this normal?

A. A wide variation is normal. The commonest length just covers the glans plus a little more (the acroposthion). Much more or less is correspondingly rare (there is a "bell-shaped curve" of commonness centred on that length) but "uncommon" does not mean "wrong". Men with very short foreskins still have the ridged band, with its full complement of nerves, unlike circumcised men whose penises may look similar. A glans that is permanently uncovered may experience the same loss of sensation as a circumcised glans, but the contribution of the glans to the sensation of an intact man is small compared to that of the ridged band.

 

 

Circumcising a baby

Q. A new study has just come out showing that circumcision prevents/cures HIV / cervical cancer / penile cancer / athlete's foot / whatever. Doesn't that mean babies should be circumcised?

A. No.

Maybe if a disease was very common, very dangerous, had an early onset and circumcision always prevented it completely, there might be a case. (These things can be calculated using two important measures: "number needed to treat" (in this case, how many babies have to be circumcised to prevent one case of the disease) and "number needed to harm" (how many babies are circumcised for every one who is injured [more than the usual circumcision injuries]) before a risk/benefit ratio can properly be worked out.)

In general, the claims you see are made for rare maladies, of late onset (so a man has time to decide for himself whether circumcision would be of value to him), and the effect of circumcision is only claimed to be statistically significant (probably not due to chance), not major ("significant" as you and I understand the term). Further, these studies generally only show correlation - populations of men who are circumcised have less of the malady than populations that are intact. Correlation is not causation. And neither circumcision nor any of these sicknesses exists in a social vacuum. For example, Muslims are circumcised and are forbidden to drink alcohol. When it is found that the circumcised men in a population have less HIV, it may be because they are Muslims who don't drink and so have less unsafe sex, not because they are circumcised. It is very difficult to correct for errors like that.

Be particularly wary of claims that "All/many/few/no X are circumcised and they never/seldom/often/always suffer from Y." This does not even establish correlation. Almost all Samoan men are circumcised and they hardly ever suffer from frostbite.

Some medical studies are remarkably sloppy. Statistical software now makes it very easy to trawl through data finding correlations. Remember, some people are looking for an excuse to circumcise. Cutting parts of babies' penises off is a human rights issue, and to get deeply involved in medical pros and cons distracts attention from that.

Click here for more detailed answers: HIV/AIDS, Cervical cancer, penile cancer, Urinary Tract Infections, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, "cleanliness".

 

Q. My husband / mother / mother-in-law is determined that my baby should be circumcised "to look like his father". What should I say?

A.
1. If a father wants to look like his son, he can restore his own foreskin.
2. When the boy looks at his father's penis what he will notice is how big and hairy it is. What does his father propose doing about that?
3. Your son is going to spend perhaps five minutes of his life looking at his father's penis, but about four-fifths of his life away from his father (and 20 or 30 years of his life after his father is dead).

This is about the adults' insecurity, not your son's. Mothers and mothers-in-law want to justify having had their sons circumcised, and husbands want to justify their own condition. (But it won't help to tell them that.)

Seriously, say, "That's not a very good reason." Click here to see other short answers.

 

Intactivism and Intactivists

Q. What is Intactivism? Who are Intactivists?

A. Intactivism is the movement to end unnecessary, non-consensual genital cutting, whether of boys, girls or intersexed babies and children. Intactivists are people who promote intactivism. They include circumcised men who resent what was done to them, intact men who enjoy what they have and don't want future generations to miss out on it, mothers who have circumcised sons and regret it, mothers of intact sons who have had none of the much-touted "problems" of intactness, nurses who have had to comfort babies being circumcised, doctors who have had to treat the consequences of botched circumcisions, lawyers who handle the actions arising from them, and many others.

Q. What do Intactivists do?

A. Many things, both individually and collectively.

Q. Are Intactivists antisemitic?

A.No. Intactivists' only issue with Judaism is circumcision. A significant proportion of Intactivists are Jews. Several of its founders and leading lights are Jewish - Edward Wallerstein, Ronald Goldman, Leonard Glick, Mark Reiss. (If you claim that to be against circumcision is in itself antisemitic, then of course that makes it an accusation from which a Chief Rabbi could not escape.)

Q. Are Intactivists Islamophobic?

A. No. The movement to end circumcision in Islam is tiny, but it will grow. Circumcision is not mentioned in the Qu'ran, and only listed as Fitra in a single hadith, when others that might be expected to mention it, do not.

Q. Are Intactivists against medical circumcision?

A. No, not circumcision that really is medically necessary, as a last resort after non-surgical or other surgical methods have been tried and failed. That is very rare. The trouble in circumcising cultures is that doctors are unfamiliar with the care of the intact penis, and circumcision is the only treatment they know. Medical texts may even be silent about the existence of the foreskin! Misguided attempts to clean under a foreskin that is not ready to retract may even cause the infections they then claim makes circumcision necessary.

Q. Are Intactivists against adult circumcision?

A. No. If a man chooses to have himself circumcised for any reason or none, that is his right. We only warn such men that it is irrevocable, there are alternatives for most medical conditions, claimed sexual benefits are subjective and his mileage may differ.

Q. Are Intactivists denialists?

A. No. Intactivists do not as such deny that HIV is the cause of AIDS (though some may, as individuals).

An Intactivist answered this question:

We do not deny in principle the possibility that circumcision may help to prevent some disease, although the fact that it is discussed and researched in those terms elevates it to a privileged position in comparison with the removal of any other body part.

We definitely do not deny that male circumcision may reduce the probability of a man catching HIV from a female partner. But that does not make the case for doing it to children.

The question is not whether or not circumcision prevents disease, but rather what would be the moral, legal and ethical boundaries of performing circumcision for that purpose.

For consenting adults, circumcision to prevent disease is fine, providing that the man has been given a realistic estimate of the probability that treatment will achieve the stated goal, and that information has been given about the harmful aspects and of the risks. Risks, particularly in an African context, include the risk of nosocomial [medically-caused] HIV.

Circumcision for the prevention of disease in children cannot be justified, because the procedure inevitably introduces disfigurement and disfunction. Even if "[intact-health-]denialists" claim that this is not the case, the risks would in any case outweigh the speculative benefits.

 


Questions are welcome. You can email me. I am not a doctor and can not offer medical advice.

 

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