Other Writing by John A. Erickson

Miscellaneous Letters by John A. Erickson

To Playgirl (11/23/81):
     Is Playgirl plotting to circumcise the world?
     I refer to the letter in your November issue from the reader who asks you to use only circumcised models because she's tired of seeing foreskins.
     Does she also prefer men who have been castrated or who have other parts of their bodies missing?
     How does she feel about men who prefer circumcised women or who prefer women with their nipples or clitorises removed?
     Circumcision is an atrocity and a fraud. The only attitude about it appropriate to a civilized consciousness is horror and revulsion.

To Albert Goldman (9/10/82):
     I read the section in your book, Elvis, about Elvis Presley's foreskin.
     Thank you for telling the world Elvis Presley had a foreskin -- and insisted on keeping it.
     There's no telling how many babies, thanks to your disclosure of that fact, will get to keep all of the penis they were born with.
     That, surely, is Elvis Presley's most precious gift to the world.
     Thanks also for helping to make "uncircumcised" the most electrifying word in the English language -- and for helping to put this country's two-hundred-million-dollar-a-year circumcision racket where it belongs: out of business.
     (By the way, "hillbilly pecker" is a Southern locker room expression used to refer to the intact penis in jest. It is used seriously, as a put-down, only by men whose foreskins have been amputated. You might find that information useful if you ever write a book about foreskin envy.)

To Warren T. Reich (1/22/82):
     I am perplexed to find that the Encyclopedia of Bioethics, the 4-volume, 1900-page work published by Macmillan in 1978, which lists you as Editor in Chief, not only contains no article on the subject of circumcision, but apparently does not even contain the word.
     Circumcision is not mentioned in the articles on Informed Consent, Judaism, Sex Therapy, Surgery, Truth-Telling, or even the 33-page article on Infants.
     The word "circumcision" does not even appear in the index.
     How can this be?
[No answer received]

To Forum (11/18/82):
     December's Forum "Adviser" states that "physical injury as a result [of circumcision] is extremely rare."
     Circumcision is a physical injury.

To Henry Ritter, Jr., MD (1/28/83):
     I have just read the chapter about circumcision in your book, From Man to Man.
     You say that a man circumcised as an adult told you that "having intercourse with a foreskin down there is like making love with your boots on."
     As an authority on sex, an advocate of universal circumcision, and a practicing circumciser, you might find interesting a statement reflecting another point of view I saw written on a men's room wall in New Orleans last summer: "Fucking without a foreskin is like kissing without lips."
     You are very lucky to be glad someone cut part of your penis off when you were a baby. Millions of circumcised American men aren't.
     (I notice that the only book about circumcision listed in your bibliography was published in 1891. I'm enclosing flyers for three recent, twentieth-century works.)

To Forum (3/9/83):
     In his letter asking about surgery to reduce a bad circumcision scar, Mr. G.H. says, "I hope that when I have a son of my own, I can make sure his circumcision is nice and clean."
     The greatest consideration he could show his son -- and the noblest gift a circumcised man can give -- would be to let his son decide for himself how much of his penis he wants to keep.

To The Book of Lists (4/27/83):
     Page 240 of The Book of Lists #2 lists "9 Travesties of Modern Medical Science."
     You missed one: infant circumcision.

To L.A. Weekly ("Circumcise for the Right Reason," Dec. 24-30, 1982) (7/26/83):
     There is no "right reason" to cut off part of a baby's penis that he would never let anyone cut off if he could protect himself -- and there never has been.

To Pediatrics in Review (10/3/83):
     In his article, "Care of the Foreskin," in your July 1 issue, Dr. Boyce states: "Although long-term psychological damage has been invoked as a rationale for avoiding circumcision, no sound evidence exists demonstrating persistent psychological or psychosexual sequelae."
     What sounder evidence could exist demonstrating the long-term psychological damage circumcising babies causes than men circumcised as babies -- who circumcise babies?

To Forum (11/29/83):
     Since Mr. P.G. likes his "total" circumcision so much, he might enjoy an "es-selkh," popular with the El-Eseers of Saudi Arabia, in which all the skin of the penis, testicles, and groin from the navel to the anus is cut and torn away.
     Men who have had that done to them like it so much they make sure it's done to their own sons.

To Pediatrics (12/7/83):
     Is there a name for the state of mind in which a person feels so self-conscious about something that was done to him that he can not make himself say the words necessary to talk about it or even to refer to it?
     There should be. It's the psychological state of millions of circumcised American men.

To Forum (12/6/83):
     In your August article, "To Circumcise or Not," Dr. Lauerson mentions "the child who is forced into a small number of uncircumcised children."
     The word "forced" more aptly applies to the child who is strapped down and has part of his penis cut off. No force is involved in sparing a child the experience of going through life severed from part of his own existence.
     The self-consciousness some uncircumcised males feel in a predominantly circumcised society because their foreskins are intact is mild and brief compared to the torment some circumcised males feel all their lives because their foreskins are missing.
     The "problems" of having a foreskin, like the "benefits" of having it cut off, are largely a fantasy-myth made up and kept alive by circumcised circumcisers to make their own lack of a foreskin seem normal, to give the circumcision racket an aura of medical respectability, to forestall their exposure as quacks, and to lure victims through fear.
     Ask several men whose foreskins are intact how they feel about that fact -- and why -- and the only policy possible for a person of good will to have about the foreskin of a baby becomes very clear.
     But that is the one question circumcisers of babies dare not ask.

To American Baby's Childbirth Educator (12/31/83) [in response to the article in their Fall '83 issue about injecting anesthesia into babies' penises before circumcision]:
     1984 came early.

To Time ("Private Violence," 9/5/83) (1/4/84):
     "[A] nightmarish realm only beginning to be forthrightly explored ... violations of the trust upon which all intimate human relations depend ... cruelty exercised on those nearest, most vulnerable, least able or inclined to defend themselves from their attackers"
     Two words scream out from those lines: infant circumcision.

To Playboy (printed in April 1984 issue):
     If by "soul" he means the principle or force that animates life and living things, then the answer to John Lattimer's question, Does the foreskin have a soul?, is yes.
     What I want to know is: does the soul have a foreskin?

To Leonard H. Goldenson, Chairman, ABC (4/16/84):
     Four out of five American male babies begin life by having a healthy, sensitive, normally functioning part of their penis cut off.
     ABC's series exposing medical and health frauds that victimize children continues to ignore that fact.
     The answer to the question raised by 20/20's recent report, "Children in America: How Safe Are They?," is therefore obvious.

To Jeffrey Brown, MD (5/18/84):
     I read your statement in December's Baby Talk "Questions & Answers" column that "Most boys and their fathers prefer that their penises look alike."
     It's easy to understand why most fathers who don't have a foreskin would prefer to match their sons who do, but what makes you think that most boys who do have a foreskin prefer to match their fathers who don't?

To Birth (5/18/84):
     In his review of the two infant circumcision videos in your Fall 1983 issue, Dr. Klein states that "Jewish parents have no real choice about having a male baby circumcised."
     It's the baby who has no choice.
     Jewish parents have the same choice any other parents have. They can choose -- and a growing number of Jewish parents are choosing -- to honor and protect their baby's birthright to keep all of the penis he is born with -- in near certainty that he will always be glad they did.

To Newsweek (5/31/84):
     If an adult who merely "touches" a child with the child's consent is "the lowest scum on earth" (as the convicted molester in your May 14 cover article describes himself), what is someone who cuts a healthy, normal, functional part of a child's body off -- by force?
     What, in other words, is someone who circumcises a baby?

To Playboy Forum (8/30/84):
     In his letter in the July Playboy Forum, Polat Gulkan refers to the circumcision of children and babies as a "religious requirement."
     I know a man who was circumcised when he was a baby as a "religious requirement." For sex he goes to the baths, because that's where he's most likely to find the partners he needs for the one thing that gratifies him most: masturbating inside the foreskins of uncircumcised men.

To Playboy Forum (9/26/84):
     Let's hope that the letters about circumcision in the Playboy Forum inspire Jews and Muslims to reconsider their attitude about this ritual amputation in a spirit of true Christian charity.

To Birth (9/27/84):
     I read Dr. Klein's review of the two infant circumcision films in your Fall 1983 issue.
     What could more clearly indicate the perversion of the circumcision mentality than a medical doctor from a civilized country who seriously refers to the deliberate destruction of a healthy, normal part of a baby's penis as "lovely"?

To Medical Month (9/30/84):
     In his letter in your March issue, John Ramsey, MD, recommends circumcising males when they are babies to save them the greater expense of being circumcised as adults.
     Why not just cut off all of a male baby's genitals and save him the even greater expense of sexual reassignment surgery later on, in case he decides he'd rather be a girl?

To Peter Mayle (10/29/84):
     I saw the drawing in your book, What's Happening to Me?, of the two boys in the shower glancing at each other's penises, with the caption: "The gentleman on the left is circumcised. The gentleman on the right isn't."
     That wording, by making a positive statement about the boy whose foreskin is missing and a negative statement about the boy whose foreskin is intact, suggests that the boy whose foreskin is missing has something that has been denied the boy whose foreskin is intact -- exactly the opposite of the actual situation.
     Perhaps in your book's next edition the caption could be reworded to make a positive statement about both boys -- such as:
     "The gentleman on the left is circumcised. The gentleman on the right is intact."
     I tried to think of a way to gently convey the same information using the word "foreskin" instead of "circumcised":
     "The foreskin of the gentleman on the right is intact. The foreskin of the gentleman on the left..."
-- but I couldn't.

To Abigail Van Buren (4/13/85):
     If vivisection, the cutting of living animals, is a social evil, as the quotation by George Bernard Shaw in your April 9 column states, what is the cutting of living human beings?
     What, in other words, is infant circumcision?
     [Miss Van Buren replied that she could not make a statement in her column about anything with a long religious tradition and history.]

To Sydney S. Gellis, MD (11/22/85):
     I read your comment in the May 30 issue of Pediatric Notes that you are depressed by the Wiswell/Smith/Base report in the May 5 issue of Pediatrics that babies whose foreskins are intact are more likely to develop urinary tract infections than babies who have been circumcised.
     There is a way your depression can be alleviated -- quickly, easily, permanently.
     Ask a random assortment of men who have all of the penis they were born with this question:
     "Which would you rather have: a greater chance of developing a urinary tract infection and your foreskin -- or a lesser chance of developing a urinary tract infection and no foreskin?"
     Even if all the health myths about circumcision were true, they still would not justify circumcising a baby, because the vast majority of men who are not circumcised but who believe those myths, would rather keep their foreskins intact anyway.
     (How many of the urinary tract infections among the intact babies were caused by having their foreskins forcibly retracted? How many of the urinary tract infections among the circumcised babies were caused by circumcision?)

To The Advocate (quoted by editor in Issue #464 [1/20/87]):
     To reach adulthood with all of the penis you were born with in a society in which most males don't, is truly to have been kissed by the gods.

To the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (6/17/87):
     Can anyone tell me the moral or ethical difference between circumcising an adult by force and circumcising a baby?
[No answer received]

To Phil Donahue (6/17/87):
     I've cancelled my trip to Auschwitz.
     After seeing the baby being circumcised on your show this afternoon, I feel I've been there.

To Hustler (10/8/88):
     If a doctor -- or witch doctor -- restrained you by force tomorrow, ignored your protests, and cut off your foreskin -- or any other part of your body that hurts and bleeds when it's cut off and doesn't grow back -- what would you do about it?
     What would you do about it if someone did that to you today?
     What would you do about it if someone did that to you yesterday?
     If someone did that to you a week ago?
     A month ago?
     A year ago?
     When you were 20?
     When you were ten?
     When you were five?
     When you were a year old?
     A month old?
     A week old?
     A day old?

To The Sun Herald, Biloxi, MS (printed March 27, 1989):
     The American Academy of Pediatrics' recent statement (Sun Herald, March 6) about infant circumcision misses the point with a precision that can only be deliberate.
     The foreskin is a highly specialized, uniquely sensitive, multi-functional organ of touch.
     When you cut off a baby's foreskin, you are cutting off one of his means of perceiving, experiencing, sharing, and enjoying his existence -- you are literally censoring his life.
     The vast majority of males who are not circumcised value their wholeness and keep their foreskins intact, for the same reason they keep the rest of their body intact.
     When you circumcise a baby, in other words, you are, in effect, cutting his foreskin off by force.
     Many males circumcised as babies see themselves as harmed by that amputation -- regardless of the reason they were circumcised.
     The endlessly debated "health benefits" of circumcision are therefore a false issue and would not justify depriving a baby of his foreskin even if they were real.
     If the American Academy of Pediatrics isn't aware of those considerations, why isn't it? If it is aware of them, why does it remain silent?

To Abigail Van Buren (7/4/89):
     I was recently sent an undated copy of your column, "Circumcision -- How Do I Ask?," in which a woman asks how to discreetly find out if a dating partner has been circumcised because she has "recently learned from the various medical literature that there is a much higher risk of cervical cancer and vaginal infections in some women whose husbands have not been circumcised."
     That letter and your answer -- which implies that the woman's fear is warranted -- remind me of a statement I read somewhere attributed to Adolph Hitler:
     "By means of shrewd and unremitting propaganda it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell and that hell is heaven."
     The preposterous notion, repeated so relentlessly, that the penis in its natural state, with its luxuriant fold of sensitive, self-lubricating, pheromone-rich foreskin intact, causes "female problems" -- like the more recent horror fiction implicating the foreskin with urinary tract infections and AIDS -- is nothing more than a face-saving macho fantasy-myth, made up and kept alive by circumcised males in an attempt to make their own partial penises seem normal by maligning the sexually complete, whole penises of the uncircumcised, untraumatized foreskin-possessors they secretly envy.
     Why do you help spread their ugly, destructive, pathetic lies?
     (Haven't you heard of NOCIRC?)

To Denver Westward (Printed in the March 31 - April 6, 1993 issue):
     Those eyes -- those chilling eyes of the mohel holding the screaming, contorted baby baby on the cover your February 24 issue.
     How about a photograph of Charles Manson hugging Sharon Tate? Or Adoph Hitler kissing Anne Frank?

To Teach-A-Bodies (12/6/96):
    I see in your brochure that all of your male dolls except the baby male doll are circumcised but that uncircumcised older male dolls are available by special order.
    Just as it could be confusing -- even frightening -- for a boy whose foreskin is intact to see only male dolls whose foreskins are missing, it could be confusing and frightening for a girl whose clitoris and/or vulva are missing to see only female dolls whose clitorises and vulvas are intact.
    Are sexually mutilated female dolls available by special order also?
    P.S. Could the uncircumcised male dolls available by special order pass for circumcised male dolls who are restoring their foreskins?

To the British Journal of Urology (Printed in the August 1997 issue):
     One can never be too rich or too thin or have too much foreskin.

To U.S. News & World Report (6/11/98):
     If you can make enough skin to cover a football field from a baby's foreskin, what can you make from the hand of the foreskin thief who cut the baby's foreskin off?