Why I Let My Son Get Snipped

Cole Gamble, who has both a foreskin and a happy sex life, never thought his wife would demand that their son get circumcised.

I am an uncircumcised man.

This has never bothered my wife, Nicole. Or so I thought. “It’s like your penis is wearing a turtleneck,” she’d sometimes say, benignly.

As such, there was never any doubt in my mind that, should my wife and I ever produce a miniature me, he would also go uncircumcised. We would leave his little thing alone. No snip-snip, just like Daddy.

Until, that is, the late-September day when we brought our newborn son home from the hospital. It was chilly, and the tightly wrapped baked potato of a boy felt warm in the crook of my arm.

“We’re getting Dalton circumcised,” my wife said as she fastened the potato into his car seat.

“What?” I said. “Since when does he need that?”

“Ever since uncircumcised penises are weird.”

She paused before adding, a little backpedally, “Except yours, of course. Yours is OK.”

This is how I learned my wife’s true feelings about the type of penis I have—by comparing it to our infant son’s. She thinks—has always thought—“OK.” I knew what “OK” meant, of course. “OK” meant weird, just like she’d said.

She’s not the first person to feel iffy about foreskin. Just look to the message boards, where uncut penises are routinely denounced as “gross.” “I honestly saw one and almost passed out,” reads one poster’s typical response. On Seinfeld, Elaine once bemoaned the uncircumcised penis’ lack of “personality.” I’m well aware of this uniquely American repulsion. But my wife? I’d just assumed she was a freak for the foreskin. Turns out I’m the freak, and she’d just learned to live with it.

♦◊♦

Confronted with this bombshell, I began to obsessively review the entire history of our relationship with half the self-esteem and twice the paranoia. Our wooing period, our first sexual encounter, our wedding day—behind those smiling, devoted eyes, she was picturing my uncircumcised penis and thinking, My God, that thing’s strange. Am I really going to spend the rest of my life with this bizarre dick? Suddenly my genitalia—to my mind, a cornerstone of our relationship—was not a resplendent totem to celebrate, but a deformity to grin and bear.

All my anti-circumcision arguments—the barbarity of the procedure, the theory that it lessens sexual sensitivity—withered in the face of one multiply confirmed assertion: foreskin is weird.

“There were plenty of girls before you who voiced no complaints,” I cried, a bit desperately.

“Not to your face,” my wife responded. Touché! “Besides, people are going to make fun of Dalton. Boys in the locker room will tease him.”

Nicole’s dad backed up this theory.

“Oh yeah, we’d give a guy like that hell,” Rick told us at dinner a few nights later. I always treasure opportunities to discuss my penis with my father-in-law. Rick’s assertion didn’t jibe with my own experience. I never had a guy in the locker room say to me, “Dude, I’ve been staring at you for a while and just wanted you to know: you disgust me.”

But were they thinking it, and thanking God that their own parents had the good sense to slice and dice theirs at birth? And do the guys at my current gym steer around me in wide arcs, fearing my elongated foreskin is contagious? And what about the girlfriends? Did all the girls who permitted me to get past second base titter together later, sharing horror stories about the first time they saw that thing in the moveable sheath?

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About Cole Gamble

Cole Gamble's writings on the crimes of Willy Wonka, man-eating beds, and tales from his cringe-worthy life appear at Cracked, Babble, The Daily Beast, The New Yorker, Funny Crave, Mental Floss, The Huffington Post and Salon. Find him at his site, Fun with Cole and on Facebook.

Comments

  1. This man’s wife is a terrible woman. He’s going to stay with someone who makes ultimatums about his kids and backs them up with insults to his penis. I wouldn’t stay with a woman who did either of these things, let alone both at the same time. My favorite part is when she says that all the other women who had seen her husband’s penis were concealing their complaints.

    Really now. What redeeming factors could there possibly be to this marriage? The sex can’t be any good now with him always knowing she’s not real keen on his penis. And he knows that any decisions they make together only appear so because he agreed with her.

  2. I hate the word “snipped” as if it were just a little clip. It’s cosmetic surgery with a baby strapped to a board and screaming his head off until he passes out. Even if anesthetic is used for the procedure, it pinches and burns when that needle is stuck in over and over to numb it and it burns like any other incision point for weeks after.
    It’s too bad your wife didn’t do her research. Only 1/3 of boy born in the last 5 years was cut. That means that your son is in the minority and has the “weird” penis :( What exactly does she plan to tell him when he asks why she took something from him that she can’t give back?!

  3. This makes me so sad.
    I can’t believe your wife would make you feel that way, what a foolish woman.
    And I can’t imagine bringing home my beautiful baby boy and think, ‘Ew, parts of him are gross and we need those things surgically removed”.

    I feel sad for you and your son, but I mostly feel sad for your wife.
    I can’t imagine how depressing it would be to be her.

  4. I am circumsised but my sons are not. My wife had absolutely no problems with this. I told her flat out that we wre not circumsising our sons, and that was that. Her mother also seems to be ok with this. And since my mother is German, she definetly has no issues.
    I refuse to let religious paranoia influence the quality of sex that God intended for us as men to enjoy. And just so everyone in here doesn’t get the wrong impression, I do believe in God. I have no problem with believing in God. It’s 98% of his fan club that is fucked up in the head. DON’T LET A CHURCH INFLUENCE YOU!!!! ORGANIZED RELIGION IS WHY THIS PLANET CAN’T STAY OUT OF A CONSTANT STATE OF WAR!!!

  5. Irritated wench says:

    Your wife’s a bitch. I say this as a mother. Apparently, there was a part of your child’s body which she deemed “unacceptable.” It’s not like it’s a sixth toe, or a cleft palate! Every perfectly healthy baby boy HAS one.

  6. Wow really upsetting! Also married to a intact man and we are leaving our son intact too cause foreskin isn’t weird but circ’ing is.

  7. Gotta say, the comments here are pretty harsh! Ouch people. o-O

    I left my son intact and really had an uphill battle it seemed everyone felt that I was entitled to their opinion talk about bizarre! It seems your wife took some real cheap shots, parenting is hard enough without one half hitting below the belt like that…

  8. I realize I’m coming awfully late to this party, but I found this post when looking for information about the pros and cons of circumcision, as I’m pregnant and my husband and I are trying to come to a decision about what to do if we have a boy.

    First of all, thank you, Cole, for sharing your experience. It’s very helpful to find men willing to be open about their situations, and I’m sorry that so many people feel the need to denigrate you and your wife for your choice.

    My husband is circumcised, and we are currently leaning toward not circumcising our son. Not because either of us has a problem with the aesthetics or functionality of his penis, but because it seems sensible to avoid unnecessary surgery. If our son wants to be circumcised when he is older, we’ll certainly support that.

    While I don’t agree with the comments vilifying your wife, I do find it disturbing that she is so hung up on this issue. Frankly, I think my husband’s penis is beautiful, not because it is circumcised, but because it gives me pleasure and is part of the man I love. If it were green with purple polka-dots, I suspect I would learn to appreciate that, too.

  9. Many women in Europe convert to Islam. So maybe many women do prefer circumcised men.

  10. I’m a woman and I couldn’t give a crap whether a man has his foreskin or not. But that’s having a non-opinion on a past action. As for contemporary or yet-to-happen actions – it’s barbaric. Also your wife is a mean, judgmental woman and you’ve already let your son down.

  11. Jennifer Laur says:

    this is so sad to me on so many levels…foreskin is NOT gross, or weird. it is a biologically normal body part that through generations of conditioning has become stigmatized. break free from it, break free from the garbage our society feeds us! embrace the way our bodies are formed…nature does not make mistakes. My husband opened my eyes to the awesomeness of foreskin…but i was open minded enough to receive it (no pun intended :-P )…i wish this man’s partner hadn’t been so narrow.

  12. So sad for so many reasons. First off, your wife is selfish. I have been with both a cut and an intact man, and after being with an intact man, I could never be with a cut man again. The difference is indescribable. You don’t amputate body parts from someone you love because you don’t like how they look, and to carve your son’s penis to be sexually appealing to you is perverted. Amputating a healthy body part is a personal decision for the person the part belongs to. NOT a parental decision. Secondly, I am sad for you. I have never seen your penis, but I can tell you it is more attractive and feels far more luxurious than a mutilated penis ever could. Perhaps your other girlfriends were smart enough to realize that and that’s why they never said otherwise. However, you as an adult are free to make the decision to remove it. If your son was not allowed the choice to keep his, it is selfish of you to keep yours. What was good for your son is good for you. Why do you choose to keep yours? Don’t you think your son would have chosen to keep his for the same reasons you do? You did not choose better for your son. You deprived him of something beautiful you yourself choose to keep.

    • Please read this and see how the foreskin is NOT freakish … http://theobsessedgardener.blogspot.com/2012/03/dont-mess-with-mother-nature.html

    • Gabrielle, what did you enjoy about the uncircumcised man more than the circumcised one? Does it provide extra stimulation and sensation to the vagina? Does it help achieve a better orgasm? Details please!

    • Is your penis making you an expert. I am intact and dislike it. Others I grew up with had theirs done as they were leaving school. Not such a simple procedure when you are 19. I was with my son and he did not fuss at all. I was also the only guy on my sports team not done. Their parents must all be selfish

      • Chromesthesia says:

        Why should you dislike being intact? That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’d hate if someone cut off my clitoral hood as a kid. Foreskins have a function. You have a WHOLE penis that hasn’t been callused.
        I think when I have kids I’m raising them in Europe or something. Just because the kid isn’t fussing, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt and it’s not taking something away from him that he’s entitled to.

  13. Circumcision of children is never acceptable. It is genital mutilation. It has no benefits and children die from it everyday. Leave your child’s penis alone. The wife’s actions are nothing short of disgusting. She should value her child more!

    • just the tip says:

      I agree! Sounds like your wife is the one to cut off, not your son. Sorry you’re stuck with her.

  14. Chromesthesia says:

    What the hell?
    Dude. Foreskin is NORMAL AND NATURAL! It’s how the penis is SUPPOSED to look.
    Now imagine if a man said, “We got to get that girl cut, having a labia is weird. Having a prepuce is disgusting. Men HATE clitorises.” People would freak out, yet it’s OK to let someone cut off a natural part of a boy using sugar water? Really?

    People, realize that us Americans have been brain washed. Do you realize that 85% of men in the world have foreskins? You go to Europe, most parts of Asia and men have foreskins there. They don’t cut their children at birth because it’s a natural body part! And yet, due to brainwashing and that nut Kellogg who couldn’t just stick to cornflakes, we do this to baby boys, mutilate them.
    Get over foreskin. It’s not dirty, it’s not disgusting. It’s not making men’s penises fall off in the countries where they don’t even bother with this crap. It’s a good part. If I was a man and some woman I was with told me my genitals were disgusting and suggested I let some doctor apply the Plastibell, which is NOT a snip, but peeling the foreskin off (sugar water doesn’t do a dang thing to protect against that pain) I would LEAVE HER! Same thing if I married a man who didn’t like my natural genitals and wanted my daughter cut! I would say, HELL NO. This will never happen!

  15. Heather says:

    I am just… so sorry. I am sorry that your wife made you feel that way, that she was so disrespectful to you AND your son and that she overruled you in a way that can’t be taken back. It makes me sick that she would lie to you that way.

    I love my husband’s penis, as much as I’ll love any penis. It’s cut and scarred. I would love it with foreskin, too, though it might not be as interesting to explore the modification. I like tattoos and piercings, too. But that has NOTHING to do with our child’s genitals. The year my second daughter was born, 33% of her male peers were circumcised. Almost all of her male friends are intact. So the circumcised men will be the minority when she is grown. My first, 51% were circumcised. I don’t know about my third.

    But because of their friends, my girls will probably think that your son’s penis is ‘weird.’ So will many of his peers. Your wife may have done the biggest disservice to him that ever could have been done and I am sorry.

  16. Dude
    If a woman tells you that she dislikes your penis type she is telling you just about everything you need to know. See, women never care much about the dick; only the owner and bearer of the dick.
    Run, do not walk, to the DNA testing facility nearest you. Bring a box of tissues.

  17. Yeoman Roman says:

    Wow. It ain’t over of course. And your marriage will likely suffer because of your wife’s ignorant attitude. The fact that she talked you into it, eventually you won’t respect yourself for having gone along. I feel for both of you and for your son. Why the hell can’t she go see a therapist? She has to cut a little boy for her sexual preferences? It is wrong for dads to do it, it is wrong for mom’s to do it.

    • Michelle says:

      I Hate the argument that your son will be made fun of because his penis will look different. To mutilate your baby because you are afraid he will be teased is horrible.

  18. Peter Houlihan says:

    I’d just like to say I really appreciate all the women who’ve come in to voice their concern. It’s something we don’t hear nealy enough of.

    This article seriously disturbed me. The fact that your wife unilaterally decided to have elective surgery performed on her son, way before he could consent, to satisfy her own aesthetic bias is just wrong. I’d just like to assure you that your uncut penis is a beautiful thing and I know for a fact many women appreciate it just the way it is. Stay strong dude.

  19. This story made me sick to my stomach. How can a genitally intact (not “uncircumcised”) man authorize the genital alteration of his child? Your description of his prepuce (foreskin) as a “half inch of skin” is out of context – the double-sided area of an adult male’s prepuce is typically 15 square inches. It is by far the most innervated portion of male genitalia – no small matter. Your due dilligence on this important topic was lacking. The decision to excise healthy, functional and normal erogenous tissue was not yours to make – you failed to protect your son. If, and only if, he felt teased or concerned about future sexual partners, he could have consented to circumcision as a teenager. It may have cost you a bit more, but he would have made the choice about his body (not yours). As a circumcised man who understands what was lost, I know that my bodily integrity rights were certainly violated. I urge you to research this issue further and help protect other children from genital alteration – some of our most outspoken advocates have circumcised children and are now trying to fix this cultural problem. Btw, your son’s genital alteration was based on inaccurate data – the US circumcision rate is just over 50%. Locker room parity has arrived…

  20. Crookmeister says:

    Cole, it’s not your penis that your wife has issues with, but your distinct lack of balls. Grow a pair and start standing up for yourself or she will lose respect for you and will continue to make important decisions like this unilaterally. More importantly, stand up for your son at least.

    • Why do you have to put the blame on him? How about his wife not suggest something like this, huh?

  21. Israel has nukes, so circumcision is here to stay.

  22. I’m so glad so many people here are supportive of non circumcision… my situation was the opposite… I threatened divorce if my son’s penis was touched with any cold scissor like objects. My best experiences have been with men whose confidence and acceptance of who they are really was a turn on. It’s a myth that circumcised men are clean. Thousands of years ago, people circumcised because cleanliness was a major issue. Its a simple fix… something everyone can benefit from… cleanliness :))

  23. John Anderson says:

    I’ll admit that I didn’t read the article or any of the comments. I’m fairly certain that the moderators would delete what I would have to say to you at least based on the title. That would simply be an exercise in frustration for me and I have too much stress now as it is.

    Chalk it up to the same effect that I get when I see trigger warning, but since I’m certain that this site would never run a piece advocating rape, I doubt that I would get routinely moderated out when commenting on those articles when I work up enough courage to read them .

    • You just basically said you didn’t read the article and that speaking your mind might get you banned? I’m confused. Why bother commenting if you’re not going to read? *eyeroll*

  24. Natalie says:

    Mother of an uncircumsized baby here. Woman who’s been around the block enough to experience all the beautiful (well, nubs being the exception) diversity in Dicklandia. I feel sorry for every party involved in this article. The sadly ignorant mother who needs a international vacation to open her eyes. The beaten down father who knows this issue is literally and metaphorically the tip of the iceberg because he believes that he will also not make impactful big decisions in the future, as well. The child who is deprived of the opportunity to be like daddy and who also may find the explanation of why he isn’t an excuse to think like his mother or act like grandfather (I mean, seriously, when did it become ok to ask older generations how we can perpetuate their ignorance???). I haven’t read every post here, but has anyone mentioned that the rates of circumcision in the U.S. had dropped significantly so much so that it’s almost an even 50/50 split???

  25. Joanna Schroeder says:

    This piece just broke my heart.

    I can’t say anything that other people haven’t already said…

    But your penis isn’t weird. And neither is a circumcised penis. They’re both penises. It breaks my heart that she would say that to you.

    Men: Not all women are like this.

    My sons are intact. I’m proud that they are. No one should shame your son for his being circumcised, it wasn’t his fault.

    But this whole thing just let me heartsick.

  26. I never saw any refutation of the poster who mentioned that a different article of Cole’s talks about his infant son pulling his foreskin out 6″.

    I’m sorry but something is rotten in denmark.

    Cole didn’t respond to the posters question except to call him a stalker. Controlling the argument 101: instead of addressing the commenter’s question Cole played “smear the messenger” to avoid talking about the issue that he’s posting totally contradictory blog posts about his son.

    This doesn’t make sense and seemingly appears to be a total fabrication.

    • Transhuman says:

      I am circumcised, through no desire of my own. it was done while I was an infant. Oddly enough neither of my parents belong to a religion that mandates the mutilation of infant boys. My father was circumcised by his parents and they both just thought it was normal. If anything as a boy, I was one of the strange ones; at an all-boys school it is easy to see the variety penises come in during changing to and from sports clothes. At a rough guess less than a quarter of us were mutilated. We were the strange ones, we the circumcised were the odd ones out.

      I did notice something; you could be ridiculed for many things at school, especially in an all-boys school. I never heard anyone picked on for being ‘cut’. Perhaps it is one of those scars that even boys know you have no choice about. A relic of an ancient barbarity that should have gone the way of the dodo a long time ago.

    • Transhuman says:

      This was meant as a general reply to the article.

  27. There are 9,324,986 things that people will think you are “weird” for. You can teach your child to be proud of his individuality, or you can teach him to hack off offending parts of himself, emotionally and otherwise to meet the expectations of others.

    • Gabrielle says:

      Exactly! A bully may make fun of your son’s foreskin, so you cut it off? Will you send extra lunch money to give the bullies up front in case they want to steal it? It may “protect” your son from being beat up. Why give bullies that much power? We try to teach girls to be proud of their bodies as they are; boys deserve no less.

  28. Transhuman says:

    Cole, I have an experiment in mind – should you have a daughter, insist to your wife that the infant must have a clitoral unhooding (aka hoodectomy). Two things…keep a close eye on your wife in case she takes you seriously and watch her reaction. I expect she’ll respond with a vehement “no”. That should tell you all you need to know about her.

  29. TimBeau says:

    The circumcision rate in the USA at last report was about 30% and falling. The argument that he will look different in the lockerroom does not hold water. Also, most USA schools do not even shower after PE anymore anyways. As an uncircumcised man, I was not made fun of nor did anyone ever say anything about my foreskin. I was born in the 1960s during the height of circumcision and I was far from being the only uncut boy in the lockerroom. No one cared.

    • TimBeau says:

      I have had several girlfriends and sex partners. Not one ever refused oral or vaginal sex because of my foreskin. My wife loves my cock and its foreskin. When our first son was born she was the first to say “We are NOT circumcising him”. My brother is not circumcised nor are his 3 or my 2 sons and not one of us have had any foreskin problems. My brother-in-law is also uncircumcised but only daughters.

      I would never let a woman force me to circumcise my son nor myself. I would not force plastic surgery on her either.

  30. TimBeau says:

    The father-in-law’s experience sounds bogus to me. At his age foreskin would not have been uncommon.

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