Marilyn Milos on Circumcision

One of my personal heroes is Marilyn Milos, founder of NOCIRC, http://nocirc.org. Her story of personal activism is exemplar; a model for anyone seized by a passionate insight that something is wrong and must be corrected. As a nurse training to become a midwife she witnessed her first circumcision.

Themes: 
circumcision

On Circumcision 05

People don’t want to hear it and want to stay in denial.
Marilyn Milos

When I started the circumcision rate was somewhere between 85% and 95%.  Nobody knows for sure.  There are no accurate statistics.  But we get the trends and we’re watching trends.  So I’ve been doing this work for 26 years, it was 1979, May of 1979.  So now 20 years later the circumcision rate has, in 1993 the last that we have from the National Center for Health Statistics which was just released was 55% of boys are being circumcised in the United States.  So 30% to 40% drop in the circumcision in just 26 years.  In terms of social movements that’s quite incredible. 

M: What I hear you saying is that, again this Michael Odent speaks about disturbing the physiology and really there’s some serious consequences.  The joy and the bond, the implicit bond of sexuality, that’s a big part of what we were talking about

Mi: We do these manipulative things to our children, I mean a really amputative disturbing procedure to a crucial part of the male anatomy.  Again we’re talking about the organ of procreation.  In most cultures we honor the phallus symbol.  The Japanese fertility rights and these big beautiful flags with an intact penis retracted, you can see the frenulum and the ridge band and all it is.  And old men in their big tall caps and robes carrying these things.  So male sexuality is honored, which it should be.  Here we can’t talk about that, talk about the normal penis.  Instead you take the baby behind closed doors and do this horrible traumatic thing to that baby.  And then because we don’t talk about how we’ve disturbed sexuality, for the woman whose body is contacted by the male and then as he withdraws his body is away and then he’s back again.  She’s not riding the wave to orgasm. He has never ridden the wave to orgasm and there’s this deep tension, and then he says honey, did you have an orgasm?  And she says yes honey.  There’s a joke that goes, why do women fake orgasm?  With a punch line that says because men fake foreplay.  But that’s not the right answer.  The right answer is because men are circumcised and when he says honey did you have an orgasm, she doesn’t want to appear frigid.  She doesn’t want to hurt his feelings.  Oh yes honey.  But you know, I mean we all know, when you have an orgasm with somebody else at the same time you know you’ve both gotten off and the energy shifts.  Couples know this but nobody is talking about it.  So there is a deep tension in relationships that isn’t talked about.  And our generation needs to know what to do to compensate for the mechanics.  In other words, the clitoris needs to be stimulated.  Everybody makes it work.  And if we know that, to me in a way is sort of good news for the male because it’s not that you’re a bad lover.  It’s not that you didn’t practice right or haven’t read enough books about it or had enough women in your life to do it right or whatever.  Somebody did this to you.  Somebody altered your anatomy and that’s what’s created this problem.

M: Now I’m thinking of the whole Viagra deal, all that stuff.  When you talk about the desensitization and the erector dysfunction.  If this numbing is going on and this callusing is going on that you’re talking about, well sure it’s harder to get an erection.

Mi: And when I ask impacted men, 80 year olds, 90 year olds, how is sex for you?  “Well the urge ain’t what it used to be, but it feels just as good”.  I don’t hear that from 80 and 90 year old circumcised males.  From them I hear “I had to stop having sex when I was about 50, 55, 60, 70".  I mean you know the ages vary.  “I can’t get it up”, or “it takes too long, I’m hurting my wife.  I couldn’t do that anymore”. 

I’ve organized this International Suposia and a Sexologist, a French Sexotologist spoke at one of them, Dr. Gerards Fong who talked about the orgasmic pathways and he said they are potential pathways.  Like the field of brass.  And you have to walk across it and you have to walk back and forth.  And the more you do that, the more, the wider the path gets and the more entrenched it becomes.  So what are we doing then when we encode the brain with violence in the first few hours of life to a part of the body that’s meant to experience pleasure?  This is no small thing because the minute you’ve got that baby strapped, and that’s bad enough because they’regoing like this, but when you start cutting, again, the most sensitive part of the masculine body you are encoding the brain.  And the adrenails are going nuts so all those stress hormones are in fact doing something to the brain.  And I’m sure it’s not something good. 

M: I want to jump to our cultural bias, this inability for the cultures, information that’s countered to what it’s belief systems. Even if they hear it they don’t hear it.

Mi: When you tell somebody this information, yes, a lot of people just don’t want to hear it and want to stay in denial.  No, no.  That can’t possibly be true.  But there is a lot more information coming out and a whole lot more men willing to speak up for themselves.  Initially the man who spoke up and said you know, that was mine.  Or, something’s wrong with my penis.  I’ve got big scars.  Or my penis curves to the right or to the left.  I have tight erections.  Painful erections.  Tearing at the scar site.  With the gay community, these men who were looking at each other’s penis’s and not afraid to talk about them.  Much of my early education on this came from gay men would could tell me this stuff. 

When I started the circumcism rate was somewhere between 85% and 95%.  Nobody knows for sure.  There are no accurate statistics.  But we get the trends and we’re watching trends.  So I’ve been doing this work for 26 years, it was 1979, May of 1979.  So now 20 years later the circumcism rate has, in 1993 the last that we have from the National Center for Health Statistics which was just released was 55% of boys are being circumcised in the United States.  So 30% to 40% drop in the circumcism in just 26 years.  In terms of social movements that’s quite incredible.  See I’ve been talking this fast for that long and it grows.  One person hears you, then another hears you, then another.  And for those people who are in denial and say no I don’t want to hear this, they may not want it hear it the first time or the second time.  In fact I talked about the book, “The Joy of Uncircumcising” that was published.  The man who published that said he listened to Dr. Dean Nadel for six years talk about not circumcising day after day after day on his radio show and finally, and he kept thinking well he’s just crazy about that.  One day he heard.

Mi: For those people who are in denial, they might be in denial this time we talk about it or the next time, or it may be six years.  Some have taken that long.  Or it may take longer but you keep knocking on the door because one by one people begin to get it.  One of the things that helps a lot in the early days was while I was still working at the hospital before I was fired there, telling parents what I wished I’d been told.  When they shut me up I made a video tape of a circumcism to show that to parents because now it’s out from behind closed doors and when parents see that and see what happens to the baby.  In fact at the hospital I played that for a number, actually the patients of one doctor, the doctor who did the circumcism for us and he’s the only one that would let his patients it. None of them circumcised.  Basically they didn’t want to them anyway.  Because I was already in trouble he used to write me orders, parents are deceived, circumcism video.  That was cute.

On Circumcision 04

You don’t chop the whole penis
Marilyn Milos

You just chop off the best part. In the developmental period the foreskin and the glands develop as one structure, there’s two parts but one structure. And they’re connected to each other.  And somewhere between birth and puberty, at the end of puberty, these two structures separate and the foreskin becomes retractable in 98-99% of males. For the other 1% it’s a variation on the theme. But what is that foreskin and exactly what’s lost when it’s amputated?  In a ring that encircles the opening or the foreskin, which has only been identified since 1991 by a Canadian researcher, Dr. John Taylor, a Pathologist so what he was studying was dead, he didn’t do this on anybody alive, but he recognized this little ridge band that encircles the opening of the foreskin and in that ridge band they estimate somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erognized nerve endings. 

M: I don’t feel like I’ve been traumatized, that my sexual life was destroyed, that I’ve got this big problem.  I have a great sexual life.  But I don’t know what I’m missing.  I don’t miss what I never had.  

Mi: Well fortunately pleasure is pleasure.  You just diminish that.  You don’t chop the whole penis off.  You just chop off the best part.  Now let’s talk about it so you understand what the best part is.  In the developmental period the foreskin and the glands develop as one structure, there’s two parts but one structure.  And they’re connected to each other.  And somewhere between birth and puberty, at the end of puberty, these two structures separate and the foreskin becomes retractable in 98-99% of males.  For the other 1% it’s a variation on the theme.  But what is that foreskin and exactly what’s lost when it’s amputated?  In a ring that encircles the opening or the foreskin, which has only been identified since 1991 by a Canadian researcher, Dr. John Taylor, a Pathologist so what he was studying was dead, he didn’t do this on anybody alive, but he recognized this little ridge band that encircles the opening of the foreskin and in that ridge band they estimate somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erognized nerve endings.  And the nerve endings in that particular area are like the nerve endings that encircle the mouth, the anus, and the kinds of nerve endings that are in the fingertips, it’s how you know where the sliver is even if you can’t see it because there’s fine tuning. If you want to know what it feels like and you just rub the back of your hand, those are the percining corpuscles so they feel deep pressure and pain so you know what you’re feeling.  But if you run lightly along the palm of your hand you get a much different sensation. 

Those are the kinds of corpuscles that encircle the opening of the foreskin. And there’s nowhere else in the body that they are more concentrated than they are in that foreskin that comes around and connects with the frenulum underneath the foreskin.  Here’s a short anatomy lesson.  The head of the penis is called the gland because in Latin glands mean acorn and that’s the shape.  We have glands penis and then glands clitoris.  And then you have the foreskin.  As I said the ridge band encircles the opening and then meets and then joins in a frenulum.  And we have a frenulum under our tongue which allows us if we lie on our back and not swallow our tongue.  We have them between our gum and our lip.  Again you can lie on your back an your lips don’t flop over your nostrils.  So the purpose of the frenulum is also to connect the moveable structure with the non-moveable structure.  On the underside of the penis its purpose then is to pull the foreskin and return it to its, to cover and protect the glands.  Why is the foreskin there?  It’s there to cover and protect.  It has actually three known functions.  One is protective.  So it covers and protects the meadle opening. 

The urinary tract is meant to be sterile.  And it protects it just as a labia protects the vaginal vault.  So it’s there for protection.  It’s also sensory.  These nerve endings feel something when the foreskin is retracted and pulled forward.  And it also is there for sexual reasons.  These nerve encircling the opening of the foreskin allow a man to know what his penis is feeling and where he is in relationship to the ejaculatory trigger.  So one of the major complaints of men, now not every male complains because he’s been circumcises.  Many, many men, probably the majority say I don’t know what I’m missing.  It’s no big deal.  But they do know when I say, when I talk about premature ejaculation.  Because without the nerve endings, now at 18 everybody has premature ejaculation, you think about it, there you are, but we learn how to control that.  And for the male with these nerve endings, he’s knows where he’s riding, he knows the ride and knows when to stop.  Instead of, so many men say to me, I have premature ejaculation.  I go oh, oh, oh, honey I’m so sorry.  I think it’s because I’m so sensitive.  I say no, it’s because you lack the nerve endings that tell you where you are.  Also those nerve endings, as they become stretched, play a part in the, trigger the bulbocavernosus muscle which is responsible for ejaculation.  This is a perfectly designed mechanism that is supposed to work just like that.  Now when you uncover the glands and take away those nerve endings, for the circumcised man the most sensitive part is what’s ever left of the tissue on the undersigned.  That’s the frenulum.  This will important in a minute when I explain something else about that.  When you denude the glands, when you untake the covering, the protective covering off the glands, instead of maintaining its normal texture of mucus membrane like the inside of your mouth, foreskin is like this, the opening of the mouth, you know in a sexy movie you see people licking their lips.  Why?  Because they’re stimulating the mucocutaneous junction where the outside and the inside meet.  That’s where those little corpuscles are.  That’s why the baby likes to suck his thumb or his please buy that.  Or we heard yesterday with Michelle O’Dawn, the baby sucks his thumb and gets an erection inutero.  So he’s stimulating those same nerve endings.  But when you uncover and denude the glands, exposing that mucus membrane, what happens is a cornification process, callusing.  And instead of being one cell layer thick, and by the way the glands doesn’t have those ... corposucles, a few maybe but basically not.  It has the frenulum does.  Whatever’s left of the frenulum but the rest of it isn’t like that.  It has free nerve endings.  Now they’re getting buried as one cell after another becomes, covers to protect that exposed tissue, that mucus membrane.  And that’s why the head of the penis of a circumcised male becomes dried and hardened and callused. 

Now at 18 that might sound like a good thing.  At 28 it might sound like a good thing, although I begin hearing from men at age 28.  Remember I’ve been doing this for 26 years so I’ve talked to thousands of men from country to country to country about how this has affected them.  Often in mid 40's men begin to start talking about it and it then progresses from there.  Losing sensitivity.  Why does the head of my penis feel numb?  What is going on?  And so at young end of it we have premature ejaculation and at the other end there’s an impotence that occurs.  Or at least working harder and harder. Something else that happens, with intercourse what the foreskin does is retracts upon entry, retracts little by little and because that opening is so sensitive, as the foreskin goes over the crown, the widest part of the glands, it’s stimulated.  And then it’s everted and so the foreskin comes in contact with the vaginal walls.  So there’s mucus membrane against mucus membrane, as was intended, as well as the impact male’s penis is stimulated as the foreskin retracts.  The foreskin is stimulated by the vaginal walls and if he withdraws it’s stimulated once again by crossing the glands.  So the movement that an intact man needs are very short, small strokes, which is what keeps his body next to a woman’s body during intercourse.  Keeping him connected to her monspubis, which allows her clitoris to become stimulated.  So for the circumcised male it takes longer strokes.  What he’s doing is he’s scraping, trying to stimulate whatever is left of that frenulum tissue on the underside of the penis.  So it’s much different kinds of strokes.  And the other thing that the foreskin does is as the man withdraws, the foreskin and the labia connect, keeping the juices inside the vaginal vault.  With a circumcised male he, with each withdrawal, he’s scraping her vaginal walls and pushing because you’ve got the corona and you’ve got the groove behind that, scraping her juices out.  So the older she gets the harder it is for her and the longer it’s taking him.  So we are disturbing sexual mechanics by circumcising our males.  Now again, pleasure is pleasure and thank heaven most men aren’t complaining about these things, but I’ve heard so many men complain about it already.  We can’t ignore the consequences of what we’re doing to males.

On Circumcision 03

Pathologized birth women were now going to the hospital
Marilyn Milos

Now that mothers and babies are in a hospital, you’ve got that component of being there with attending physicians able to access the foreskin.  At the same time you’ve got insurance company’s who are the third party payers who are paying for these procedures.  That was a first and that hadn’t happened before and that just enhanced this business.  Which by the way, from the forties till today has become a billion dollar a year industry.  Quite an amazing feat in fifty or so years, sixty years for a procedure that’s not necessary.  And not only is it not necessary, it’s harmful.  Not only does it cause trauma, it traumatizes the baby in the moment but it sends a shock wave to that being let’s hope that they can recover from.

And then following WWII we had pathologized birth instead of birthing at home women were now going to the hospital thinking they’re going to be spared and receive all this wonderful care and so forth.  And the foreskins were available.  There was an article written in 1953 by a couple of Obstetricians who said mothers given analgesia at birth and a lot of times are anesthetic at birth and a lot of times you end up with a floppy baby.  So once you’re done sewing up the mother from the episiotomy, then you walk across the hall and you circumcise the baby and if he’s been floppy, this is with wonderful results because he comes alive right away.  He’s awake and alert, yes traumatized, but he’s there and you’re done with the whole thing.  You’re finished with it all.  This insensitivity to both mother and baby on either side of the hall and the obstetrician’s talking to one another about how we can just go in and take care of this.  So the circumcism rate went up dramatically during the forties.  By the fifties there was a scare about cervical cancer.

Now that mothers and babies are in a hospital, you’ve got that component of being there with attending physicians able to access the foreskin.  At the same time you’ve got insurance company’s who are the third party payers who are paying for these procedures.  That was a first and that hadn’t happened before and that just enhanced this business.  Which by the way, from the forties till today has become a billion dollar a year industry.  Quite an amazing feat in fifty or so years, sixty years.

M: For a procedure that’s not necessary.

Mi: For a procedure that’s not necessary.  And not only is it not necessary, it’s harmful.  Not only does it cause trauma, it traumatizes the baby in the moment but it sends a shock wave to that being that I don’t think, well let’s hope that you can recover from it.

So during the fifties then the next scare was cervical cancer and women were being diagnosed with cervical cancer and we knew something was wrong.  And it was suggested that Jewish women had a low incidence of cervical cancer and perhaps it was because their husbands were circumcised.  Oh now let’s chop off a part of the male to protect the female.  Imagine if we would turn that around and said, I mean everybody would be up in arms.  But we’ve able to do this in terms in cutting a part off of a male to protect the female.  And of course now we understand that cervical cancer is caused by the HPP virus and safe sex and condom use are the answer, not amputating an important part off of the opposite sex. 

It’s just a little bit more than cervical cancer.  It was interesting because that excuse for circumcism, the cervical cancer excuse, was put forth in mid 1950's and within a year it was refuted because they went back to repeat, it should be repeatable, they went back to repeat the studies and they found that in looking, in examining the husbands of the women who were reporting found out that 54%, I think, of the women, in the 50 percentile, had no idea what was wrong about their husband’s intactness or not whether he was circumcised or not.  And when they asked the men, 17% of the men also didn’t know their own status.  So now we have methodological flaws and again, as I said, that study was refuted within months after it was put forth, but today, that was the fifties so 15 years later cervical cancer is still being used as an excuse.  It’s going to be good because we have an HPV vaccine coming out pretty quick and perhaps that will be on, depending on how people feel about vaccines.  At least they can’t use that as an excuse anymore. 

During the sixties, in the sexual revolution, the sexually transmitted diseases became the excuse.  Everybody was out there having a good time and passing whatever they had on to their friend and their friend’s friends.  And consequently the excuse again, let’s circumcise him so he wont’ get venereal disease.  I don’t know where you were during the sixties but that didn’t protect me from sexually transmitted diseases, transmitted to me by my circumcised boyfriends.  So then during the seventies as people began to get smart here and question specific medical practices, for example, radical mastectomy’s, routine tonsillectomy’s, episiotomy’s, and circumcism.  A new excuse merged.  You don’t want them to look different in the locker room do you?  You don’t want him to look different than his dad do you?  That excuse was never introduced when they started circumcising boys whose father’s were intact.  This was an excuse to continue this practice. 

During the eighties more studies were put forth to validate circumcism and they were a urinary tract infections to these.  Acknowledge is being methodologically, in fact we had one researcher doing one study after another, at point some doctor said look, Wizwell’s world studies have been validated.  His research is correct.  Boys who are circumcised are at less risk for urinary tract infections.  I said well let me see the documents.  So I’m looking at it and it was Wizwell had just done his own studies again.  And Wizwell happily names, heh!  So that’s pretty much been pushed aside and there was one more and it’s pretty prevailing at this point that says circumcism will prevent HIV and AIDS.  Now that first came out in the late eighties and then the early nineties.  It was suggested by Dr. Aaron Fink who’s no longer with us.  Just as an idea of his, if we circumcise boys then we’ll have a chance to get HIV.  However we live in a country that has one of the highest AIDS rates and one of the highest circumcism rates around the world.  So common sense tells you it’s crazy but today we have North American researchers from the United States and from Canada who have gone to Africa to peddle circumcism there.  And they’re doing studies to determine whether or not the, prospective studies, whether or not circumcism is effective in stopping the spread of AIDS there.  So what are they doing?  They’re doing sex education.  They’re promoting the use of condoms and they’re circumcising.  At the end of the study what do you think they’re going to say was the most effective?  They’re going to say, look, circumcism has helped stop the spread of AIDS. 

Interestingly and fortunately enough we have Uganda where the President several years ago was aware of this pandemic in Africa and went around from village to village speaking to all of the people in that country.  First of all he demystified sex, brought it out of the closet, it had been a taboo.  Brought it out of the closet, they go to a public place where the rest of the people don’t understand that and so then they’re always fraught with anxiety because they’ve got to explain these kinds of things to other people.  What keeps parents from just inviting people over to their house and just letting it go?  I don’t know whether it’s the kind of houses we’re building today.  Whether its there aren’t any yards or we don’t understand.  When I was a child we had neighbors who all had four or five kids.  We all met around the kitchen table.  We had coffee and the kids dug holes in the back yard and played. There’s a piece missing now.  We have to meet at the park.  We have park dates.  And then we complain about the park because there really isn’t all that much to do.  Up and down the slide, maybe swing for a while, but for it to be real for children and authentic it has to be able to be changed and to be moved and we’ve just gotten so far away from that.

It’s always fear based.  So again what are we afraid of?  Is it not that urge that’s uncontrollable?  Can parents keep their kids from having that urge?  Can they keep that little child on the floor from playing with himself?  It’s scary until we begin to educate about how to conduct ourselves, containing this urge and not being afraid of it.  So again, as far as I can tell, circumcism is always fear based from the very first being afraid that we’re dual gendered.  For the Jews not being cut off from their people.  For the Muslims it’s in accordance with God’s plan.  Whether it’s fear of masturbation or penial cancer or cervical cancer, it’s always fear based, always.  And it’s always for control, controlling somebody’s something.  By the way, as late as 1955, I realized that I hadn’t finished up on the fact that this has been done to girls as well as boys.

On Circumcision 02

The origin of circumcision
Marilyn Milos

the idea of spilling and speed in masturbation was considered self-abuse.  So these ideas dovetailed and the practice began to try to restrain children from masturbating.  It seemed like a good idea.  If they could not masturbate they wouldn’t get polio, they wouldn’t get syphilis, they wouldn’t get tuberculosis.  It’s like hair growing on the palms of the hands and masbatory insanity while ego blind.  We’re not all blind but there’s a whole lot of us wearing glasses.  At any rate.  So circumcism began then in England and then traveled to the other English speaking countries.  We didn’t initially pick it up.  What we did was strap kids down.  We used a cauterizing instrument called a Buzee to cauterize the urethra of little girls.  This was done to both boys and girls because anybody could get sick.  Both genders would get sick.  So they would cauterize the urethra with this Buzee so don’t let the boogey man get you.  The Buzee man.  And then ultimately we too adopted circumcism as did New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

M: Why do we do this to our children? What is the origin?

Mi: Well the origins of circumcism have been lost in antiquity.  We don’t know exactly how they began.  The oral tradition was the Dogone Tribe in Africa who believed that each gender came in dual gendered.  In other words there was a female part of the male body and the male part of the female body and if they cut those parts off, the clitoris of a female and the foreskin, the woman part of the male, that then couples could get together and procreate.  So that’s the oral tradition that we know.  There’s a Bau Relief from Egypt, although there’s a little controversy about that.  Some people say that the Egyptians did circumcise, others say they didn’t, some say they circumcised the slaves.  Others said it was done by the Priestly Caft.  Nobody knows for sure but we do have a Bau Relief from the Tomb of Agmahorwhich predates Abraham’s Covenant with God from Genesis 17 in the Bible which is why the Jews and the Muslims circumcise.  So those, that history is not specific but we know exactly why and when circumcism infiltrated Western medicine and it was during the mid 1800's because the theory of disease was that everybody came in with only so much energy and if you expended your energy frivolously, you would get sick.  That’s what caused disease. 

So one of them had that idea, actually it was put forth by two French physicians, and the books that they had written, actually a couple of books, became popular in the mid 1800's and made their way to England where the idea of spilling and speed in masturbation was considered self-abuse.  So these ideas dovetailed and the practice began to try to restrain children from masturbating.  It seemed like a good idea.  If they could not masturbate they wouldn’t get polio, they wouldn’t get syphilis, they wouldn’t get tuberculosis.  It’s like hair growing on the palms of the hands and masbatory insanity while ego blind.  We’re not all blind but there’s a whole lot of us wearing glasses.  At any rate.  So circumcism began then in England and then traveled to the other English speaking countries.  We didn’t initially pick it up.  What we did was strap kids down.  We used a cauterizing instrument called a Buzee to cauterize the urethra of little girls.  This was done to both boys and girls because anybody could get sick.  Both genders would get sick.  So they would cauterize the urethra with this Buzee so don’t let the boogey man get you.  The Buzee man.  And then ultimately we too adopted circumcism as did New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

M: Jim Prescott really hammers away at this anti-pleasure history

Mi: Circumcism I think has always been done to control and certainly to control sexuality.  And that’s what we were doing with the children.  If you touch yourself down there you’re going to get sick.  We’re going to control that.  But I think there are also more deep urgings about the fear of sexuality.  What are we afraid of?  It’s the strongest urge we have.  Why?  Because mother nature ensured that we were going to procreate and it’s survival of the species.  But that urge is so overpowering, I think that that had something to do with it.  And in fact Moses Mimonity has talked about this. That circumcism is to reduce the sensation and remember he was a Rabbi, a Jewish Rabbi and a teacher.  And so if he recognized and he talked about if a woman is ever with a man with a foreskin she’ll never rid herself of him because it’s so pleasurable.  But again, and this is what the Victorians believed as well, this is self-abuse, omenism. So yes the anti-sexuality and anti-pleasure aspects had a lot, I’m sure, to do with this throughout the years.  And interestingly, I’ll go back now to the excuses that we’ve used down through the ages in terms of circumcism and again circumcism originated in the mid 1800's.  By the turn of the century the microscope had been developed so you’d think okay, well now they know what causes diseases, it germs, so they’ll stop circumcising. No, that didn’t happen.  In fact more and more children were continuing to be circumcised, girls as well as boys.  With the germ theory of disease, and of course we know we’re bathed and enveloped by bacteria and if the host is normal and healthy then everything lives compatibly.  But the excuse for circumcism became well the boy‘s going to have germs under his foreskin.  Yeah like under the fingernails and under the eyelids and everywhere else.  But that was an excuse.  And it wasn’t a big jump. That followed or came with the germ theory of disease.  So we’ll get rid of the foreskin and there won’t be any germs and they won’t get diseases.  And it’s not a very far jump from the germ theory and germs to being dirty.  So the next excuse was is for hygiene and probably that was enhanced by the World War I where men lived in trenches for four years and maybe they’ve lost their foot, they’ve lost an arm, they’ve lost an eye, but the one thing that they would talk about was the infection in their foreskin.  So they came home and circumcised their kids.  Again circumcism is ending in favor more and more.  By the thirties the fear of the day was penial cancer.  Well we know today and of course the American Cancer Society says that penial cancer is a rare disease of elderly men.  The circumcism rate in America, circumcised Americans and the penial cancer rate in circumcised Americans and the penial rate in intact things are the same.  One in one hundred thousand old men will get penial cancer but yet that became the excuse because penial cancer was the fear of the day. 

By the forties now you’ve got, Birth has been pathologized and all these women are giving birth in the hospital.  So circumcism took a huge jump then and it did because with, not only with mothers in the hospital, the babies were also, the foreskins were available to the attending physicians and one more to component to this now, is you had third party payers insurance companies paying for it.

On Circumcision 01

There is no medical reason for doing this
Marilyn Milos

I’d go in and talk to the parents about circumcism I would say I see that your baby is scheduled for a circumcism in the morning.  Are there specific reasons that you’ve chosen to have him circumcised?  Well it’s cleaner.  And I said well do you understand that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that soap and water offer all the advantages of circumcism, all the benefits, without the risks of surgery?  Circumcism is a surgery?  Does it hurt?  Yes it hurts the baby.  Do they scream?  Yes they scream.  They scream loudly.  I didn’t know that.  Well you can see why people would be upset with this information and it’s new information.  What I was told at the hospital then was parents, new mothers are very fragile and this is not the place for them to hear this information or to be upset.  My response to that was, if they haven’t heard this information, oh they said it’s the doctors responsibility to teach the parent these things.  And I said well if the doctor hasn’t done that, somebody better.  And if they haven’t heard it before now this is the last chance.  Somebody had better say something to them.  Again, this is not an easy message.  For example what mother wants to hear her baby is going to suffer needlessly?  What man, what dad wants to hear that he was strapped down and tortured and mutilated and the best part of his penis was thrown into the trash can? 

M:You’ve been doing this for so many years, for 25 or whatever it is, what brought you to the point where you focused your life on this issue called service ...?  What was the experience that caused you to take up this challenge?

Mi: I have three circumcised sons and at the time when they were 20, 17 and 10 I was a nursing student.  I’d gone back to school to become a midwife, to be certified as a midwife.  I was studying at home, home birth, and I wanted to be licensed or at least have some kind of protection for myself.  While I was a nursing student I was in my last rotation in May of 1979 I saw a circumcism for the first time.  We students filed in to the room, which was actually the nursery, and the baby was put on a circumstraint, the board, plastic molded board that holds the baby down.  Strapped spread eagle and struggling against the restraints.  Nobody was there with the baby.  He was just on the counter by himself and making the same kind of sounds you or I would if we were being restrained.  Uh, uh, oh, and getting louder and louder and more and more frightened.  I said to my instructor, can I go comfort the baby?  And she said no, wait until the doctor gets here.  So I looked out to see where the doctor was and he was scrubbing his hands and at the same time telling a dirty joke to the nurses that were standing by.  I thought isn’t that interesting. 

When he came in I said may I comfort the baby and he said sure, go stick your finger in the baby’s mouth, which I did and I started to rub the baby’s head.  And I said the same things that I had heard when my sons had been circumcised, 20, 17 and 10 years ago.  It doesn’t hurt.  It only takes a moment and it’s crucial for good health.  So I’m stroking him and saying these, lying to him really because when the doctor then started to do the cutting the baby opened his mouth and let a scream I’d never heard come out of the mouth of a baby and I had had four children.  Initially there I am standing in front of my instructor and all of the other nursing students and realizing that I was not going to hold it together.  My bottom lip started to quiver and my chin started to shake and then tears just came welled up and streaming down my face.  And the doctor looked at me and said, “You know, there’s no medical reason for doing this”. 

Perhaps if I had not heard those words, I would have, like I did so many other things in nursing school, you just sort of watch it and think oh this is awful but it’s for something good.  The outcome is good.  But to hear those words sent me, number one, into a tailspin and then also to the realization I have got to find out what this is about.  I began to do my research.  In the next year, well actually within months, of course I had written to everybody that I could think of to try to get some information on the subject and Edward Wallerstein had written his book called “Circumcism and American Health Fallacies” and I read it within three days.  It was filled with, his gift to us in the movement or in recognizing that circumcism is not a medical issue was to go back through all the research and chew with a fine tooth comb and point out methodological flaws and researcher biases for all the research that validated circumcism.  At this point the American Academy of Pediatrics said there’s no medical reason for doing it.  So I began then, once I started to work in the hospital, particularly in the labor and delivery area and postpartum, I began to tell parents what I wish someone had said to me.  Oh it wasn’t six months go by or so when they said Marilyn, there’s somebody on your, I was the Charge Nurse at night, there’s somebody on that shift who’s upsetting patients with circumcism information.  And I said well nobody would do that, no one did anything to upset patients.  Come to find out they’re talking about me.  So they told me to keep my mouth shut.  Well some time went by but then they really just told me, I said I’m educating and I’m doing it nicely.  I’m not pounding anybody but I think every parent has a right and an obligation to know what’s going to be done to their son behind closed doors. Not only to protect the son from a traumatic experience, it was obviously traumatic, I recognized it as traumatic, but also to prevent mothers from feeling the same way that I had felt about oh my God, I didn’t know enough to protect my own babies. 

M:I would like to go back to that part where you were talking about being on the, what kinds of things were you saying to the parents? 

Mi:When I’d go in and talk to the parents about circumcism I would say I see that your baby is scheduled for a circumcism in the morning.  Are there specific reasons that you’ve chosen to have him circumcised?  Well it’s cleaner.  And I said well do you understand that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that soap and water offer all the advantages of circumcism, all the benefits, without the risks of surgery?  Circumcism is a surgery?  Does it hurt?  Yes it hurts the baby.  Do they scream?  Yes they scream.  They scream loudly.  I didn’t know that.  Well you can see why people would be upset with this information and it’s new information.  What I was told at the hospital then was parents, new mothers are very fragile and this is not the place for them to hear this information or to be upset.  My response to that was, if they haven’t heard this information, oh they said it’s the doctors responsibility to teach the parent these things.  And I said well if the doctor hasn’t done that, somebody better.  And if they haven’t heard it before now this is the last chance.  Somebody had better say something to them.  Again, this is not an easy message.  For example what mother wants to hear her baby is going to suffer needlessly?  What man, what dad wants to hear that he was strapped down and tortured and mutilated and the best part of his penis was thrown into the trash can?  Nobody wants to hear that.  And what doctor wants to admit he’s got blood on his hands?  So I was pretty much in the desert those early days, giving out information that most, that not many people wanted to hear.  Most people did not want to hear this information.  It’s gotten a lot easier today by the way.  The actress said, “If you talk like I did, nobody would believe you”.

M: Why don’t people want to hear this information?

Mi: Well as I said it’s difficult information.  No one wants the truth of what we’re doing to babies behind closed doors is alarming.  The act itself is unconsciousable.  We’re torturing and mutilating babies behind closed doors and nobody knows about it.  Nobody’s talking about it.  One of the things for me that was so interesting and when I wonder or when I ponder this a lot, why me?  Why?  How many thousands of years has circumcism been going on?  Why am I the person who stood up and said wait a minute, this is not a nice thing to do to babies?  Why haven’t more people over the years stood up and shouted and screamed from the rooftops?  At one point when I was fired from my job for not keeping my mouth shut, my mother said to me, well don’t you want to get another job?  Don’t you want to go back and be a nurse?  Don’t you want to be able to buy your children Christmas presents and so forth?  You’re now an impoverished crusader.  And I said if I could give my children one thing, it would be for them to know that if they find something in society that is so horrific, that they can’t stand it, that they can do something about that.  Of course now 26 years later and they’ve watched me struggled with this for all of these years, you wonder would they ever pick up a banner themselves?  I’m no so sure that they would.  But it is easier and you just keep talking. 

I was ridiculed.  I was abscornbed.  I’ve been called all kinds of names.  The “Penis Lady” is one.  My brother fondly calls me “Florence Foreskin”.  The jibes and doctors used to ridicule me in the hospital.  “Hey Marilyn, I’m going to circ a baby this morning and it’s going to be a little girl.  You want to help?”  So I really was challenging the dominant paradigm.  I was challenging the status quo.  And I was challenging the current medical model.  I was challenging the money that the doctors were making.  I was challenging the fees that the hospital was charging.  So this was not a popular cause.

Marilyn Milos On Circumcism

Author: 
Marilyn Milos

Every parent has a right and an obligation to know what’s going to be done to their son behind closed doors. Not only to protect the son from a traumatic experience, because it is obviously traumatic, but also to prevent mothers from feeling the same way that I had felt about oh my God, I didn’t know enough to protect my own babies. 

Marilyn Milos

milos mast

 

M: You’ve been challenging the prevailing assumption that circumcision is normal and necessary for many years. What brought you to the point where you focused your life on this issue? Was there an experience that caused you to take up this challenge?

Things To Consider

The Environment – Food – Vaccinations – Economics – Media – Health – Globalization – Terror – Nutrition & Behavior – The State Of The Union – Genetically Engineered Food – Empathy – The Federal Reserve - What Are They Spraying? – Dolphin Rings…
So many things to consider.

From time to time when an extraordinary topic surfaces, one that impacts all of us I post them to Touch the Future’s home page.


Architects and Engineers for Truth about 911.

Bill Moyer on ALEC, the way corporations manipulate state legislation.

Themes: 
circumcision
communication

First Do No Harm

James W. Prescott, Ph.D.

There are no religious rights or freedoms to inflict harm or injury upon another person contrary to the history of religious traditions. From the time of Abraham (Genesis17: 9-14; 22: 1-18; Numbers 31:17-18; Proverbs 23:13-14); to Jesus Christ (John 1: 1-14; 3:16-17); to the Islamic Taliban violence against the human body is a common denominator of the monotheistic religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Themes: 
circumcision

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