woensdag 9 oktober 2013

Circumcise Me?

To be circumcised or not to be circumcised? This is the question Mischief tries to answer. Most American men are circumcised, whereas Brits prefer to keep their foreskin intact. So is it better to be circumcised or not? Is it healthier? Sexier? Or are circumcised men and their lovers missing out?

There's a useful article on CNN from a day or so ago. It suggests that boy babies should not be circumcised but that the option be given to teenagers when the subject can give informed consent.

The comments I've read support the view that boy babies should not be circumcised; if parents/medics are not worried about hygiene than it is better to teach boys to wash their members properly.

As one might expect there is, of course, debate about how a teenage boy can make an informed decision until he has some significant sexual experience. And indeed I would agree with the view that you can't make a proper decision without that sexual experience.

I would actually go further. How about we make circumcision (male and female) illegal until such time as the person can legally give informed consent – and in my book there would be no exceptions regardless of religious (or any other) considerations barring genuinely and immediate life-threatening medical conditions.

Circumcision: A Game-Changing Neurological Event
If I had to bet, I would put a lot of money on the odds that Jack Bauer is circumcised. I think of circumcision as the first Great Betrayal. It’s a painful event that goes on the inhibition side of the human flourishing ledger. The brain records that unkind cut without benefit of language. It then becomes part of the “Unthought Known.” As the homunculi on the right illustrate, a great deal of neural real estate is sacrificed to the practice of circumcision. Along with it perhaps, some critical capacity to deeply feel? Listening to these 8 doctors, I have the distinct feeling that they themselves have been traumatized by performing the operation! When you lack great capacity for feeling, it becomes significantly easier to kill 266 people in eight days. Or to shoot and bomb civilians in foreign countries. Or to beat kids and batter wives.

Neural Proportions Pre-Circumcision


Neural Proportions Post Circumcision

Mom, Why Did You Circumcise Me?

This excellent personal documentary both in English and Dutch with English subtitles, follows Dutch journalist/filmmaker Michael Schaap as he learns from interviewing his own mother, circumcisers, politicians, Jews, Muslims, a restored British man, and some American activists.
From the author: “I’m a Dutch born male who came to Canada in 1981. In most European countries circumcisions are only performed for religious reasons.
In 1989 I married a fine Canadian girl and we had our first son in February of 1992. Even though my wife had not seen an uncircumcised penis until she married me, she realized that circumcision without a medical reasons was a form of abuse.
There had been some comments made by my inlaws, but after a talk with them they also realized that there was no reason for our son to be circumcised or for that matter any child without medical need there off.
December of 1992 we adopted a son and one of the first questions to us was; “do you want him to be circumcised?” Of course our answer was no.
The worlds view point regarding circumcision needs to change. Most people will admit that amputating the clitoral hood of females is abuse. There is no difference in amputating the glans hood of males.
Thank you and please continue to raise awareness about involuntary circumcision.”


Symbolic version of the sacrifice of virility to a deity, as practiced in
Egypt, Persia, and the Middle East. Originally an imitation of menstruation,
performed at puberty on boys who were dressed up as girls for
the occasion.1 Circumcision came to be regarded as a sacrifice pleasing
to a male deity, when it was viewed as a substitute for castration.


Ceremonial penis-slitting, practiced by some primitives in an effort to
make male genitals resemble female ones. Like circumcision, subincision
evolved from a former custom of castration, and became a rite
of passage wherein grown men could express their hostility to the
developing sexuality of pubescent youths while pretending to "make
men" of them.


All mythologies suggest that, before men understood their reproductive
role, they tried to "make women" of themselves in the hope of
achieving womanlike fertility. Methods included couvade or imitation
childbirth; mock death and rebirth through artificial male mothers;
ceremonial use of red substances to imitate menstrual blood; and
transvestism. Another method was ceremonial castration. Its primitive
object was to turn a male body into a female one, replacing dangling
genitals with a bleeding hole. (See Birth-giving, Male.)
Many gods became pseudo-mothers by this means. Egypt's solar
god Ra castrated himself to bring forth a race called the Ammiu out
of his blood.1 The phallus of the Hindu "Great God," Mahadeva, was
removed and chopped to pieces by priestesses of the Goddess. The
pieces entered the earth and gave birth to a new race of men, the
Lingajas (Men of the lingam, or phallus).2 In a Chukchi variant, the
Great God Raven acquired feminine secrets of magic for men by
pounding his own penis to a pudding and feeding it to the Goddess
Miti (Mother).3 In Mexico, the savior Quetzalcoatl made new humans
to repopulate the earth after the Flood by cutting his penis and giving
blood to the Lady of the Serpent Skirt-the Goddess with many shorn
phalli dangling about her waist, a figure also known in the Middle
East, e.g. as Anath.4
Several forms of the Heavenly Father became creators by a rite of
castration. The god Bel cut his "head" (of the penis) and mixed his
blood with clay to make men and animals, copying the magic of Mother
Ninhursag.5 Shamin, the Phoenicians' Father Heaven, was castrated
by his son El and made the world's rivers from his blood, imitating the
Goddess's menstrual magic. Arabs called this god Shams-on, the sun.
The Bible called him Samson, whose blindness and hair-cutting were
both mythic metaphors of castration.
Shearing the sun god's "hair" (rays) meant emasculating him. His
severed penis represented the son/supplanter; and a penis was often
called "the little blind one," or "the one-eyed god." Greeks' personification
of the phallus, Priapus, was the son of Aphrodite and her
castrated consort Adonis. Their Roman counterparts Vesta and Vulcan
produced a phallic god Caeculus, "the little blind one." 6
Uranus, "Father Heaven," was castrated by his son Cronus.
Uranus's severed genitals entered the sea-womb and fertilized it to
produce a new incarnation of the Virgin Aphrodite Urania, "Celestial
Aphrodite." It was she who ruled the earlier cults of castrated gods,
such as Anchises and Adonis. She was the same as the Canaanites' Lady
of the Serpent Skirt: her priests castrated gods in her honor.
So did the priests of Aphrodite's Nordic counterpart, Freya-Skadi.
The Nordic Father Heaven was Odin, whose twelfth holy name was
Jalkr, "Eunuch."7 As a castrated god, Odin was the son-phallus of an
older Eunuch personifying both father and son; for Odin was also the
One-Eyed God, or Volsi, a "stallion penis." 8 (See Horse.) Like the
stallion of the Vedic horse sacrifice, he was castrated. A late myth tried
to account for Odin's crude phallic title by saying he could not drink
of the cosmic feminine fountain of wisdom until he had given up one of
his eyes.9 Here one might recall the alternating seasonal castrations
of Set and Horus in Egypt, their severed phalli mythologically described
as "eyes."10
Biblical writers called the penis a "sinew that shrank," lying "upon
the hollow of the thigh." This was the sinew that Jacob lost in his
duel with "a man who was a god." Jacob, "the Supplanter," was
another name for Seth, or Set, who was likewise symbolized by the
Ladder of Souls and likewise engaged in a contest with his rival, ending
in his castration. 11 When Set was castrated, his blood was spread over
the fields in the annual ceremony of sowing so as to fertilize the crops.12
The Book of Genesis confuses the two aspects of the god-king,
who as Jacob won his battle with the incumbent king and supplanted
him, then as Israel lost his battle with the next supplanter, and was
castrated. Is-Ra-El may have been a corruption oflsis-Ra-El, the god
enthroned as the consort of his goddess, awaiting the next challenger. 13
The syllable El meant his deification.
The garbled story of Jacob and the god-man was inserted chiefly to
support the Jews' taboo on eating a penis (Genesis 32:32), formerly a
habit of sacred kings upon their accession to the throne. The genitals of
the defeated antagonist were eaten by the victor, to pass the phallic
spirit from one "god" to the next. A king's virtu, "manliness," or heill,
"holiness," dwelt in his genitals because that was his point of contact
with the Goddess-queen. Innumerable myths of father-castrating, mother-
marrying god-kings arose, not so much from inner Oedipal
jealousies as from actual customs of royal succession in antiquity. See
Kingship; Oedipus.
The Greek King Aegeus died at the very moment when his "son,"
Theseus, arrived from Crete to claim his throne. The key to this
myth is that Aegeus was "rendered sterile" by a curse, the same ritual
curse laid on all kings of outworn usefulness, followed very shortly
by castration and death.l4
In the sacred dramas of Canaan, the reed scepter of the dying god
Mot was broken, to signify his castration. 15 His name, meaning "sterility"
or "death," was a title of the fertility god Aleyin (Baal) as he
entered his declining phase, when his rival assumed the sacred throne,
and he became Lord of Death. 16 The custom of eating the defeated
king's genitals appears in a number of Middle-Eastern myths, e.g., that
of the Hittite god Kumarbi, o.ne of a line of father-castrating kings of
heaven.17 Kumarbi's assumption of the fertility-spirit was expressed
by the story that he "became pregnant."
Mythic fathers and sons demonstrated remarkable hostility toward
each other's genitals. Scholars tend to regard this as an expression of
Oedipal aggressions, originating in the jealousy of elder males toward
younger, more virile ones. Though men eventually gave up the
hopeless idea of making one of their number pregnant by redesigning
his body in a feminine style, customs of castration and cryptocastration
persisted because they offered an outlet for this male jealousy.
Among savages, men's puberty ceremonies generally provided an
excuse for elder men's attacks on the bodies of youths. Modified
castrations may be inflicted in the form of circumcision, subincision, and
other genital wounds; also a variety of torments such as scarifying
flesh, knocking out teeth, beatings, torture, and homosexual rape. 18
"The dramatized anger of both the father and the circumciser and the
myths of the original initiation in which all the boys were killed,
certainly show the Oedipal aggression of the elder generation as the
basic drive behind initiation." 19
The more patriarchal the society, the more brutal its attacks on
male youth, as a general rule. Notable for brutality was the Moslems' Esselkh
or scarification ceremony, a complete flaying of skin from a
boy's scrotum, penis, and groin. After enduring this, the victim was
further tormented by application of salt and hot sand, and buried up
to the waist in a dunghill, making subsequent infection almost inevitable.
Burton commented, "This ordeal was sometimes fatal." 20
Legman pointed out that both Islam and Judaism "share in the surgical
intimidation of the son by the father, just at the threshold of puberty,
either in the psychological castration of circumcision at puberty (Mohammedanism),
or this same operation effected at the earlier age of
eight days (Judaism), or in a reminiscence of this operation." 21
Subincision provides an example of transition from a femaleimitative
rationale to a male sado-masochistic ritual. As practiced by
the Arunta, it began with a long sliver of bone inserted into the urethra.
The youth's penis was then sawed open with a sharp flint, down to
the level of the bone. Blood flowing from the wound was directed onto
a sacred fire, like the menstrual blood of girls at menarche. The
operation was termed "man's menstruation." 22 The wound was called a
"vagina." 23
The obvious purpose of this unpleasantness was to transform a
male into a pseudo-female. The mutilated youth was even obliged to
urinate by squatting, like a woman. Sometimes, men renewed the
damage several times over, repeating the litany: "We are not separated
from the mother; for 'we two are one.'" 24 Natives said the custom
was begun by an ancestral spirit, Mulkari or Mu-Kari, perhaps a
corrupt form of Mother Kali (Ma-Kali), who was known as Kari in
Malaysia. 25
Far from supporting the Freudian doctrine of penis envy, primitive
customs seem to suggest vulva envy as the original motive behind
ritual castrations. It might be found even in civilized society. Bettelheim
remarked on the desire of some young men to be circumcised, or
otherwise subjected to bloodletting, when their girl friends were starting
to menstruate.26 Circumcision was surely a modified form of earlier,
female-imitative castrations.
The institution of circumcision was attributed to the same gods,
such as El, who castrated their fathers. Its object was to feminize. In
India, boys were dressed as girls, nose ring and all, on the eve of the circumcision
ceremony. In ancient Egypt also, boys on their way to
circumcision wore girls' clothing, and were followed by a woman
sprinkling salt, a common Egyptian symbol of life-giving menstrual
Circumcision took place at the age of thirteen, the number of
months in a year according to ancient menstrual calendars, and the
traditional age of menarche. After copying circumcision from the
Egyptians, Jews transferred it to the period of infancy, leaving the
pubertal ceremony, now called bar mitzvah, awkwardly placed at a point
in a boy's life when nothing really happens, in contrast to the sudden
onset of menarche in a girl.
Infant circumcision was attributed to Moses, who insisted on it
against the will of his Midianite wife Zipporah, who apparently
objected to mutilation of her infant. After performing the operation, she
flung the foreskin at Moses's feet, calling him a bloody husband
(Exodus 4:25).
Other biblical passages show that foreskins were considered appropriate
offerings to Yahweh. David bought his wife Michal from
Yahweh's representative the king, with 200 Philistine foreskins (1
Samuell8:27). Other Heavenly Fathers made similar demands for
genital gifts. Male animals sacrificed to Rome's Heavenly Father Jupiter
were gelded.28 The bull representing the castrated savior Attis was
also castrated.29 His blood conferred spiritual rebirth on those who
bathed in it, like the blood of the Christian "Lamb," as if it were the
secret blood of the womb, the real source of life according to the oldest
Castration as a means of acquiring feminine powers was still evident
among priesthoods of the Great Mother, along with other
female-imitative devices such as transvestism. Self-emasculated priests in
female clothing served the Indian Goddess under her name of
Hudigamma.31 Similar eunuch priests tended Middle-Eastern temples
like those of the Dea Syria at Hierapolis, Artemis-Diana in Anatolia,
and the Magna Mater in Phrygia and Rome. 32 The famous seer of
Thebes, Teiresias, got his powers of second sight and prophecy by
becoming a woman, possibly by castration, and living as a temple harlot
for seven years.
Perhaps the best-known self-emasculators in the ancient world
were priests of Attis and Cybele, the Great Mother. As Attis was
castrated and poured out his lifeblood to fructify her, so his priests in
imitation of his sacrifice cut off their genitals and gave them to the
Goddess's image. 33 Sometim~s, the men's severed members were
thrown into houses, as a special blessing. In return, householders gave
the new eunuchs feminine garments to wear. Sometimes, the severed
genitalia were carried in baskets or cistae to the Mother's innermost
shrine, where they were anointed, even gilded, and solemnly buried in
the Bridal Chamber. 34 The phallus of the god himself was carried
into the sacred cavern in the form of a large pine log, which was also,
like the phallic cross of Middle-Eastern saviors, the instrument on
which he died. 35 His priests, having copied his self-sacrifice, were
distinguished by the androgynous title bestowed on the earliest forms
of Shiva; they were "lords who were half woman." 36
Tertullian admitted that the "divine mysteries" of Christianity
were virtually the same as the "devilish mysteries" of pagan saviors
like Attis.37 Popularity of Attis's cult in Rome led to Christian adoption
of some of the older god's ways. One of the best-kept secrets of early
Christianity was its preaching of castration for the special inner circle of
initiates, who won extra grace with this demonstration of chastity.
They taught, following the Wisdom of Solomon, "Blessed is the
eunuch, which with his hands hath wrought no iniquity." 38 Jesus
himself advocated castration: "There be eunuchs, which have made
themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able
to receive it, let him receive it" (Matthew 19: 12).
Several early fathers of the church did receive it. Origen was highly
praised for having castrated himsel£.39 Justin's Apologia said proudly
that Roman surgeons were besieged by faithful Christian men requesting
the operation. Tertullian declared, "The kingdom of heaven is
thrown open to eunuchs." 40 Justin advised that Christian boys be
emasculated before puberty, so their virtue was permanently protected.
41 Three Christians who tried to burn Diocletian's palace were
described as eunuchs.42
Throughout the middle ages, cathedral choirs included castrati,
emasculated before puberty to preserve their virtue and their soprano
voices, which were considered more pleasing to God than the "impure"
female soprano. Women were not allowed to sing in church choirs,
Castration was advocated also for monks who could not fend off
the demons of sexual desire. It was forcibly imposed on the monk
Abelard, whose love affair with his pupil Heloise caused a scandal in the
church. But there were others who seem to have accepted surgical
chastity on a voluntary basis. Such men assumed the title of Hesychasti,
"permanently chaste ones," or "those who are at peace." The title
was associated particularly with the monks of Mount Athos, so carefully
ascetic that even to the present day no female creature is allowed on
the holy mountain-hens, cows, sows, nanny goats, and women all
equally forbidden. 43
It is likely that Mount Athos was named after Attis, and may have
been a shrine served by his eunuch priests in pre-Christian times,
situated close to his Phrygian home. There was a Magna Mater figure
connected with Mount Athos up to the early 14th century. The
monks were labeled heretics for being too deeply involved with the
teachings of a certain so-called nun named lrene- "Peace," the
third persona of Triple Aphrodite embodied in her priestess-Horae.
Irene, as Crone, would have been the priestess of castrations hinted
in the myths of such lovers of the Goddess as Anchises and Adonis.44
When the church purged Mount Athos of the influence of Irene, the
abbot Lazarus was expelled. With a companion named Barefooted
Cyril, Lazarus wandered through Bulgaria preaching the redeeming
virtues of nakedness and self-emasculation. 45
It seems the cult of Attis and Cybele continued to influence
Christianity in the Balkans for many centuries. Balkan monastic
communities were organized in groups of fifty, like older "colleges" of
the Great Mother's castrated priests. In Thrace, the Great Mother
had the name of Cottyto, mother of the hundred-handed giant Cottus,
an allegorical figure representing her fifty spiritual sons with two
hands each.46 Her worship persisted underground, long enough for the
church to define it as witchcraft, and to label Cottyto a demon. In
1619 a booklet published in Paris suggested the same Balkan tradition of
the priest who dedicated himself to God in a manner that was then
considered heretical: "the devil cut off his privy parts." 47
Ritual castration was again revived by 18th-century Russian sectaries
calling themselves Skoptsi, "castrated ones." 48 They also called
themselves People of God, insisting that removal of their genitals
brought them profound spiritual powers. Russia's "mad monk"
Rasputin was a member of this sect.49 Since Rasputin was famed for his
affairs with women, few of his contemporaries would have believed
him a eunuch; but they had forgotten what eastern harem-keepers knew
well enough: that eunuchs are quite capable of providing women
with sexual pleasure. Rasputin' s hold over his female devotees was in
any case a curious combination of spiritual and sensual obsession.
From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

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