“Me Too” Movement Meaningless Without Talking About Circumcision

I’m really glad Alyssa Milano started this #MeToo movement. The endemic sexual harassment of and violence against women in our culture has been minimized and kept under wraps for millennia and needs as much exposure as it can get.

I’m also thrilled to see the campaign is blowing the cover on another deep, dark secret, one that I suspect is at the heart of much of the sexual violence toward women — circumcision.

The movement has prompted dozens of my Facebook friends (male and female) to add the hashtag #MeToo on behalf of circumcised males:

Among the most moving of these posts I’ve seen was written by a circumcised man who used both the hagtags #itwasme and #metoo, acknowledging that he was both the perpetrator and victim of sexual violence.

“#itwasme #metoo, it’s not a one-way street,” he writes. “It’s a co-creation. Let’s hear [#itwasme] from mothers and fathers who gave their newborns out of their warm breasts to the mechanical steel. Let’s hear it from the doctors who are bought off and and encourage this behavior. Let’s hear it from technicians who follow orders.”

“#itwasme who was trying to find some sort of unreachable feeling that unbeknownst to me may remain unreachable for my entire life,” he continues. “I am sorry for taking it out on my partners when I was young. #ihadnoidea I was traumatized thus.”

He suggests that men with intact penises might not need to “take from another to feel whole” — “Who needed to take from me to feel whole?”

His assertion this act of sexual violence against male infants is the root cause of much of the sexual violence against women is not a new idea.

Psychologists Ronald Goldman and John Rhinehart have provided extensive evidence for this theory. Rhinehart has compiled a list of the symptoms of circumcision trauma as observed in his patients:

  • a sense of personal powerlessness
  • fears of being overpowered and victimized by others
  • lack of trust in others and life
  • a sense of vulnerability to violent attack by others
  • guardedness in relationships
  • reluctance to be in relationships with women
  • defensiveness
  • diminished sense of maleness
  • feeling damaged, especially in the presence of surgical complications such as skin tags, penile curvature due to uneven foreskin removal, partial ablation of edges of the glans and so on
  • sense of reduced penile size, a part cut off or amputated
  • low self-esteem
  • shame about not “measuring up”
  • anger and violence toward women
  • irrational rage reactions
  • addictions and dependencies
  • difficulties in establishing intimate relationships
  • emotional numbing
  • need for more intensity in sexual experience
  • sexual callousness
  • decreased tenderness in intimacy
  • decreased ability to communicate
  • feelings of not being understood

Note that the first five symptoms he lists sound eerily similar to the symptoms of female victims of sexual violence. Ronald Goldman emphasizes the unconscious compulsion of many circumcision victims to reenact their trauma on others.

“When a baby’s sexuality is not safe, no one’s sexuality is safe,” Goldman concludes in his book Circumcision, The Hidden Trauma : How an American Cultural Practice Affects Infants and Ultimately Us All.

Unfortunately, instead of seeing that men courageous enough to speak out about the link between circumcision and sexual violence against women are their allies, many women are reacting in blind anger.

To all those who think #MeToo threads are “not the place” to speak out against male circumcision — that it’s distracting from or invalidating to the pain suffered by women — nothing could be further from the truth.

By making the connection between sexual violence against women and circumcision, these brave souls are trying to help SOLVE the problem by getting to the ROOT of it, rather than just hacking away at the branches.

Additionally, consider the hypocrisy of telling anyone (male or female) to “shut up” about the sexual violence committed against them in a thread promoting people to speak up about it:

“I was told not to talk about it. I was told it wasn’t that bad. I was told to get over it.” Sound familiar?

For more about the link between sexual violence against women and circumcision, listen to this paradigm-shifting podcast:

The #MeTooCircumcision campaign is not co-opting the #MeToo campaign, it’s getting to the root of the problem rather than fruitlessly hacking away at the branches.





4 responses to ““Me Too” Movement Meaningless Without Talking About Circumcision”

  1. Dr M Hakim Avatar
    Dr M Hakim

    Great to write about this. And courageous

  2. W Avatar

    Thank you for covering. Please check out the new documentary film American Circumcision at circumcisionmovie.com which as it is released (2017/2018) will help bring this conversation forth. #metoocircumcision

  3. Q Avatar

    I’ve never read anything more daft in my life!

    Male rape of females has been going on for millennia.

    Circumcision as a non-religious practice is relatively recent: “Circumcision did not become a common medical procedure in the Anglophone world until the late 19th century.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision#Modern_times)

    So what, do you suppose, were all those Angles, and Saxons, and Goths, and Greeks, and any number of men unaffected by circumcision raping “about”? It wasn’t infant rage!

    Good Lord, learn to think! If you’re against circumcision, then say so and provide REAL reasons: it reduces pleasure, it hurts, there’s danger associated with it, etc. But for eff’s sake, don’t INVENT dramatic reasons based on anecdotal evidence in a desperate bid to attach yourself to someone else’s popular social movement.

  4. April Johnson Avatar
    April Johnson

    Alyssa Milano did not start the #metoo movement. The name of the woman who did start the movement is Tarana Burke. Alyssa Milano is heavily cited in a Google search for helping push the movement forward with her Tweet, but to say she started the movement is incorrect.
    Tarana Burke did start the movement and deserves the credit.