The unkindest cut of all

According to the internet this is a DIY Circumcision kit...

According to the internet this is a DIY Circumcision kit...

I have a Jewish friend who’s so assimilated he’s joined a church and even had himself  baptized. This might be to do with getting his daughters into the local church school (I’m sure St Paul only converted because there was an excellent C of E primary just off the road to Damascus), but you have to admire his commitment. Nevertheless, when his first son came along, even this hardcore convert to school-league-table Christianity had him circumcised.

Circumcision is the last thing a Jew abandons, probably because it’s the most primitive and tribal of our rituals, a physical mark of belonging. But it’s not just a religious/ethnic issue. For me, it’s like there are three genders: male, female, and with a foreskin. The last is a complete mystery to me, even more than the female and that’s saying something. It’s inevitable I’d want my son to be like me in that crucial area (plus possibly a little bit bigger). But why would a right-on parent like myself who’d never dream of smacking his child think nothing of cutting off a piece of his penis?

There are plenty of reasons not to circumcise. The internet tells me that circumcised men enjoy considerably less sexual pleasure than uncircumcised men. One article says 35%, though you wonder how they reached such an exact figure. Surely they’d need two identical twins – one circumcised, one not – having identical sex with identical female twins (trust me, I’ve thought about this a lot). And anyway, any shortfall in their Jewish subjects is much more likely to be due to their relationship with their mother than their lack of  foreskin. Then there was the actor I worked with who was “restoring” his foreskin through an eye-wateringly painful process of tape, “manual tugging” and – God help us – a system of O-Rings and weighted “foreballs”, whatever they are (I didn’t ask). For him, circumcision was abuse, the mutilation of an innocent child without its consent. I think you could say the guy had issues.

Still, generations of circumcised Jews have turned out alright, give or take the odd thousands of pounds in therapy. It’s meant to be cleaner and healthier, as stated in the recent announcement by the World Health Organisation’s Kevin de Cock (yes, that’s his real name). I’m told the Royal family are circumcised, though whether that’s an argument for or against I’m not sure.

Lord Winston: "circumcised"

I’m also told that Jews are circumcised when they’re 8 days old because the nerve endings aren’t yet fully developed so the baby doesn’t feel pain like we would. It may actually be crying for other reasons – discomfort or hunger. Well, I’m no Lord Winston (who’s Jewish and therefore, I presume, circumcised) but I don’t think the sound the baby made at the circumcision I attended recently was because it felt a little bit peckish.

Luckily my extremely thoughtful girlfriend has so far provided me with two girls. I’m not sure what I’d do if I had a boy. It’s a big statement for a Jew not to circumcise but whether I could condemn him to a future of O-Rings and foreballs, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll compromise and half-circumcise him, leaving him with a two-skin and the ability to wee around corners.

This article first appeared in The Independent.

  1. Gerhard Greyling says:

    Using the Taraclamp makes it painless and bloodless to perform the cicumcision as I had it done and feel good about it . I will have the procedure performed on both my sons .

  2. Ben Jordan. says:

    I was circumcised two years ago at the age of 16. I find being circumcised much better than being un-circumcised! If I have any Sons they will be circumcised as a matter of routine.

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