The Intact-ivists

A diverse group of men who are opposed to circumcision share a common, if unorthodox, mission—to restore their foreskins.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from an article published on Narratively.

Daniel O’Neill, coordinator of NYC-NORM, at home in Manhattan (Photo by Emon Hassan)

Records of circumcised and uncircumcised men in ancient Greece are of particular interest to the restoration community. A clothing accessory from that era, the kynodesme, has been taken up by the NORM folks as historical evidence of the ills associated with the exposure of the glans, or as it is better known, the penis head. Non-Jewish Greeks weren’t circumcised, but it was considered, um, un-Kosher for the glans to be exposed during athletic competitions. Thus, the kynodesme, a leather strap of sorts, was worn by male athletes who lacked sufficient foreskin to cover the entirety of their glans.

The contemporary restoration activists, who call themselves intactivists, stand by this ancient belief that the glans should not be exposed, and therefore circumcision is nothing less than mutilation.


Read more about the foreskin restoration movement at Narratively.

Read more: The Circumcised Poet and Other Tales

Image credits: Emon Hassan; Feature image courtesy of egisto.sani/Flickr

About Stephen Robert Morse

Stephen Robert Morse is a journalist, producer, digital strategist, consultant, and entrepreneur based in New York. You can find more of his work at and follow him on Twitter @Morsels.


  1. This article needs much more attention. First of all, not all intactivists are men. A good deal of them are women and I’ve been one for years..of course mostly that just gets me called an fat, ugly prostitute, ironically ALWAYS by men.

    Secondly, the article could use a much more thorough examination of evidence intactivism brings to the table in its defense, not just, “they don’t want their dick heads out.”

    Last, for now, not all intactivist men are working on restoring their foreskin. Many of them are accepting what happened to them and vowing not to do it to their sons and to spread information about it.

  2. Extremely poor and shallow.

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