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I’m Not Your Victim

I’m Not Your Victim

Politicizing the penis us a popular pastime for many gay men. We are a little dick-obsessed and no wonder, we’re gay men. Not only do we possess a pecker, we have a desire to see what our counterparts are packing. There are many reasons: comparison, admiration, judging one’s member against your own, aesthetics, and pure eros. That’s men for ya.

Recently, photographer Drasko Bogdanovic had a showing of his work called ‘Submission’ at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. If you’ve never seen Drasko’s work, he focuses his lens on the male form. Many of his images are of men in various states of dress—from fetish wear, jocks, any kind of attire, to nude.

Because I am circumcised, I am not a victim of violence.

His work has been very popular for years and often appears in the pages of many local queer Toronto publications on a regular basis. While his work is erotic, sensual, sexual and to some a little controversial it has become a little political. The artist recently posted a comment he received from an attendee at ‘Submission’. To wit:

“Beautiful pics I saw on the site, but wanted to put out there – would you have photos of women victimized by genital mutilations? I would assume not, then why any more acceptable for men? It just serves to normalize, consciously or not, genital mutilations as ok.”

And so the politicizing of the penis continues. Bogdanovic replied (publicly) that he has never photographed men or women who have been genitally mutilated—unless circumcision is considered mutilation. And the floodgates opened.

Yes, people get very excited when it comes to the state of the penis. The aesthetic becomes the politic. The penis goes from a representation of male beauty, power, sensuality and sexuality to being the victim of violence.

I am not a victim. I am not your victim. I have not been victimized.

I read the comment as it was posted and took offense to it. I bridled at the idea that, because I am circumcised, I am now a victim of violence. I have never considered myself a victim and I suddenly got rather perturbed that someone I have never met had projected their penis politics on me and deemed me a de facto victim of violence because 48 years ago my parents had me cut. I am not a victim. I am not your victim. I have not been victimized.

Many men have mixed feelings about their penis. Whether it’s size, shape, cut, uncut, performance, prowess, the penis is not just a tube of flesh that hangs there, it’s part of a man’s identity and even self-esteem. The last thing any man needs is for someone to project their politics on their penis and invoke feelings of victimhood or shame.

Circumcision is a controversial issue, yes. More and more parents are choosing not to have their sons circumcised. But while the tide is turning, kindly have a little consideration for those of us who were raised in times of different cultural norms and just accept us for who we are. Cut.

photo credit: Vectorportal


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11 Comments

  1. If you were a woman who had been cut, even just a little, you would be considered a victim, no question. If you had been an adult who had been held down against your will and had the 15 to 20 sq. inches of tissue that comprise your foreskin cut from you while you screamed and cried, you would be considered a victim. If you had been an infant boy who had his earlobes, nose, or any other piece of healthy, normal tissue cut off of you needlessly, you would be considered a victim. Somehow, in some cultures, a boy who has his foreskin cut off of him against his will and without his permission is not considered a victim.

    You have it backwards. It is not people who are insisting on the victimhood of circumcised males who are imposing some political view on things. It is those defending circumcision of unconsenting children who are imposing their politics, their wills, their religion, their aesthetics. People insisting on the victimhood of circumcised children are just stating a fact — a fact that is recognized for girls, for men, and even for boys where all other body parts other than the foreskin are concerned. It’s not “political” to point out that people who are circumcised against their will have been victimized; it’s just common sense.

    If a consenting individual, an adult or even a competent youth who has been fully informed decides of their own free will to have their genitalia altered for whatever reason, then they are not a victim. But when needless surgical procedures are perpetrated on unconsenting children, that is *only* abuse.

  2. There is no avoiding the penile politics, except by denial. When the “circumcised” penis is exposed next to a whole penis it becomes obvious that its missing something vital, erotic, aesthetically pleasing and sexually fulfilling.

    I too am a survivor of this unwarranted, unnecessary and harmful surgery. Because of this forced genital surgery I am a victim of a violent and barbaric act, Circumcision is rendered unquestionable because of a quasi-medical/religious and or sterile environment.

    It’s a shock to someone who, in the midst of erotic enjoyment, (and there is plenty to enjoy in Drasco Bogdanovic’s beautiful and accomplished erotic photos) is confronted with this loss.

    I feel for that loss, having gone through the range of emotions coming to grips with circumcision exposes.

    The only rational response to forced genital cutting of children is STOP IT NOW!

  3. This blog is classic denial. Oh, sure, one can come to terms with the situation of having been cut, conclude the deed has been done and live with it. But it is preposterous to suggest there is no victimization here. Circumcision is a cruel ripoff. It is repulsive, body-damaging, barbaric and medically unethical. No excuse can be warranted when it is imposed on a minor for whatever pretext, including religious. The double standard and hypocrisy that finds society appalled by female genital cutting but unfazed by excising foreskins from non-consenting male minors are nothing short of outrageous, unacceptable and perverse. The gay community should be leading the way in opposing circumcision what with it being penile reduction and the removal of a richly erogenous and moveable part of the toy. My dictionary defines “victim” as “a person who is hardmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency or condition.” The denial should stop.

  4. The LAST thing any man needs is his genitals reduced in size and performance, violently, via circumcision. Those of us who love cut our men and do not love the roughness of circumcised sex would also appreciate this barbaric procedure to end. Circumcision hurts EVERYONE.

  5. For the longest time, it was the UNCUT men that had to sit quietly, and listen to people call the penis ugly, nasty, disease-causing, and every other thing in the book. I do agree that it’s not cool to talk bad about a guy’s junk, but don’t make people that are anti-circ look like they are the only ones throwing stones, while in the past, many parents were basically told by their families and friends that they are stupid for not circ’ing, and that their sons would hate them. Then you have women, like Chelsea Handler running their mouth. But for some reason it’s only anti-circ people that get the title of ”bully” I just think that people need to look at both sides. Cultural norms may hide the aggression against uncut men, but when anti-circs bite back we are the demons.

  6. I was sexually mutilated as a defenseless baby, it broke the bond between my mother and me, in her words I became a screaming monster. I felt unloved as I grew up and did not know why until an adult when the peices of the puzzle slowly came together. I was suicidal as a young boy but dare not tell anyone how I felt because I hated who/what I was and that was and is stupid and to mention that I felt ashamed that something was missing from my body and sex in those days was taboo. My young brother was spared the trauma of male genital mutilation and all through my school years I did not know of any other boy that had a penis like mine, denuded and bare.

    I restored at in my early 40’s and started to learn and feel how comfortable it was to have a foreskin and how protected the glans became, I gained sensitivity and lost the continual unwanted stimulation from clothes and pubic hair, I did not feel sexual except when I wanted it. Even with an inferior foreskin I started to realize what had been stolen from me was more than skin, it was part of my sex organ that was unique and its theft was the catalyst of many problems through life, I suffer the loss to this day in my old age and curse the ground my mother walked upon.

    Circumcision is only circumcision if it is done through informed consent of the adult the child will become, I refuse to give retrospective consent to my circumcision therefore it is mutilation.

  7. Kevin Elks, you nailed it. So well expressed, so thoughtful. Unintended consequences, parents to be. And in these times, when circumcisions are declining, you run even a greater risk of cutting a kid in the last generation of this heinous practice. Like the last soldiers who die in a needless war, our boys who are getting circumcised today in the U.S. will be a minority in victimhood.
    Those apologists for circumcision and those who don’t object because that’s the card dealt them aren’t part of the solution. Women could accept their mal-treatment and marginalization economically. American slaves could have put aside their dreams of freedom and just decided that was how things were, etc. The only way that justice comes is to smack down injustice, speak out, shame the circumcisers, the domestic violence offenders, the drunk drivers, the anti-gay bigots, ad infinitum.
    Three words: Circumcision is wrong.

  8. “I’m not naked,” said the emperor.

    Resilience is one of the most amazing characteristics if the human spirit. Victims of violence, sexual abuse, even victims of female genital mutilation must pick themselves up, dust themselves off and live life. They’ve got to or forever live their lives in misery.

    But the fact that we are able to overcome and thrive over wrong things that happen in our lives does not negate the fact that they happened.

    It would be nice to one day look at circumcised men as a product of times past; as survivors of what will have been recognized as child abuse.

    But that time has not come yet; baby boys continue to be taken advantage of because of their small size and pathetic defenselessness.

    Yes, unless it was something you specifically requested upon your body, circumcision is abuse. And yes, you are a victim.

    How you choose to deal with reality is up to you, although it seems you have taken the path of denial.

    The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genetic anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. Neither is it a medical condition like a ruptured appendix or diseased gall bladder. Neither is it a dead part of the body, like the umbilical cord, hair, or fingernails.

    The foreskin is not “extra skin.” The foreskin is normal, natural, healthy, functioning tissue, with which all boys are born; it is as intrinsic to male genitalia as labia are to female genitalia.

    Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of a healthy, non-consenting individual is a deliberate wound; it is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue, the permanent disfigurement of normal, healthy organs, and by very definition, infant genital mutilation, and a violation of the most basic of human rights.

  9. I have to agree with the majority of people here. I consider it mutilation, I feel I was a victim and I am deeply angry that my body was forcibly robbed of it’s full sexual potential and I will always be bitter about it. It should NEVER have been allowed to happen with medical necessity. It’s not the parents right to decide on, it’s the owner of the penis.

    I get where you’re coming from Andrew but I can’t agree with it. You certainly go people’s attention with this one though. lol. AS you can see it is a VERY sensitive subject to many men and more then a few consider it an abominable act and worse a personal tragedy because it’s absolutely irreversible. We will never know what it’s like to have the frenulum, the gliding sensation the prepuce gives, the tingly sensation the Meisner’s corpuscles add to the mix..(Try this to understand what I mean. Run a fingernail lightly over the back of your hand. Now do it to the palm to the middle. See the sensitivity difference? Those are Meisner’s corpuscles. Completely removed along with the foreskin.)

    It’s very accurate to say we were mutilated and were a victim. In fact we were likely far WORSE then current cicumcisions because they didn’t give any pain medication back in the day. There was some stupid argument that babies don’t feel pain as strongly as adults. FALSE. They discovered not too long ago that they feel it even worse! Way to go doc!

    The other issues of importance are the actual mortality rates from the barbaric procedure. As one source states:

    THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90

    LOST BOYS: AN ESTIMATE OF U.S. CIRCUMCISION-RELATED INFANT DEATHS

    – Dan Bollinger

    Abstract: Baby boys can and do succumb as a result of having their foreskin removed. Circumcision-related mortality rates are not known with certainty; this study estimates the scale of this problem. This study finds that approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths (9.01/100,000) occur annually in the United States, about 1.3% of male neonatal deaths from all causes. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable. This study also identifies reasons why accurate data on these deaths are not available, some of the obstacles to preventing these deaths, and some solutions to overcome them.

  10. Non-concensual genital cutting is a violation of human rights, plain and simple, whether we are talking about girls or boys. For example: some women CHOOSE, as adults, to have labiaplasty. If this was performed on a non-consenting girl it would be called Type 2 female genital mutilation and would be illegal. The bottom line is it’s HIS CHOICE, not his parents to make – I wish I had that choice. Boys deserve equal protection of the law, it’s that simple.

  11. The fact that so many men rationalize it and are in denial of the loss they have suffered provides the cutters the tacit approval they need to continue plying their sordid trade.

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