[If you do not see a blue menu bar on the right, click here. You are at "History: The Army/Just Like Dad".]

Circumcision didn't become wide-spread in the United States until the 1940's. Before that, the great majority of babies, children and adults were not circumcised. The operation gained popularity after World War II, when the soldiers returned home and started the Baby Boom generation. This is when doctors started performing them on every baby, with, or without his parents' permission. [This had been suggested in 1928 by the American Medical Association, but hadn't yet gained popularity.] Their fathers, who had not been circumcised at birth, did not object because they had been conditioned to believe that it is "healthier" to be circumcised, by the Army during WWI and WWII. At first, only Black soldiers were singled out for circumcision, because they were believed to be unable to keep themselves clean. Eventually, this carried over to all soldiers, who were sometimes threatened with courtmarshal, if they refused to undergo the knife.

This generation was the first to give the reason "I want my son to look like me" for having their baby boy circumcised.

"The tragidy of circumcision is that circumcision produces circumcisers. So, a father who has been circumcised doesn't want to have a son looking different from him." --Dr. George Denniston, Head of Doctors Opposing Circumcision

Frederick Hodges, Historian, elaborates:

"The U.S. military had a tremendous effect on the circumcision rates in this country. During World War I and World War II, the army kept very detailed statistics on venereal disease. Venereal disease was considered a grave problem because it kept men in the hospitals rather than on the battlefront.

"So there were these influences. You get huge hoards of men going off to war, and they learn certain practices. And yet, the Germans didn't circumcise. The Japanese didn't circumcise their soldiers. They don't have reports of having to circumcise their soldiers. It smacks of myth to me." --Doctor Dean Edell

"Military doctors published reports proving that Blacks were responsible for the spread of venereal disease and so Blacks were targeted for circumcision. Many- frankly- very racist articles were written about Blacks in medical journals that were published by the Army showing why Blacks were so promiscuous; how they were unable to be taught how to wash themselves; how they couldn't be trusted to learn to protect themselves during sex; and that amputative surgery was the only way of controlling them.

"And when they returned home after the war, they became indoctrinated into the belief that circumcision was necessary. And when their children were born and the doctors began circumcising them automatically, parents didn't object! They didn't have a choice, but they didn't object because they had been told that it was absolutely necessary."

"When the troups came back, circumcision was at an all-time high and after World War II and in the 50's, almost every boy- almost without asking!- was circumcised." --Doctor Edgar Shoen, a "big name" in circumcision advocacy.

This true "routine infant circumcision" of nearly every boy born after World War II, continued through the 1960's and into the 1970's. However, informed consent was becoming a big issue in the medical field because of lawsuits. It was then that circumcision became a "choice" for parents- at least technically for those who opt not to do it. (See "What Do Doctors Know?" in the "Doctors" section in the blue menu bar for more on informed consent.)

In the 1990's and the early 21st century, the issue of circumcised fathers wanting their sons to "look like" them has taken on a new dimention of sorts. Circumcising his son makes a man feel more manly because it (in his mind) justifies his OWN circumcision. Men see their penis as an extension of themselves- as their "manhood". To admit that he does not have all the "manhood" that he could is a terrible blow to a man's self-esteem.

"Frankly, folks, this board has scared the be-jeezus out of me since I first started reading it back in 1998 when I was expecting my first child. However, it spurred much conversation between my husband and me, and he agreed to look into the possibility of not circumcising our son if I'd send him the necessary links. I was so confident that he'd feel the way I did about the total lack of necessity of it and the awful thought of causing a tiny baby pain that I told him, 'Since you have the parts, you get final call.'

"Well, I guess I screwed up in the sites I sent him to. I sent him to the AAP's site on circ as well as several other sites, some anti-circ, some general on circ/intact. He liked what the AAP said, or at least the cut-and-dried presentation of it. All the information he read on leaving a baby boy intact he felt was too emotional and the production of 'crackpots.' I think the disfigurement/mutilation aspect of it really offended him -- he's circumcised, and I guess most people don't like to be told they've been mutilated against their will as a tiny baby.

"So our son was circumcised. We were fortunate in that we had no infection/adhesion issues and my OB did a very loose circumcision on him, so if he chooses to restore later in his life it will be a less difficult process. Does this make me want to circumcise the baby I'm currently expecting (EDD 12-06-02) if it's a boy? NOPE. I remember how sick I felt when they came to take away my baby boy for his surgery. I about died when they brought him back. He was teary-eyed and sucking on his pacifier like it was the last good thing left on earth. He hadn't used it prior to his circumcision, but he hasn't given it up since... and he's 3 years 3 months old. Oy.

"I didn't come back to this board after he'd made his decision until I discovered I was expecting #2. Still scared me, LOL. However, I'm trying to figure out how to knock DH's 'No way no how we're not circumcising -- end of discussion' mindset out of his head. LibraryGoddess, I hear you on the refusing to discuss it with you thing -- yeeouch! He's being rather bullheaded this time around. No discussion. I wasn't going to even broach it to him until we found out the baby's gender, but I went ahead and talked to him about it this morning on the phone. Bad decision. Still bullheaded. Cute guy, thick skull.

"Wish me luck, and pray for a girl this time around... or things could get rather hot in my house. ::fanning self::" ~Eley/Amanda

A Father's Story About his Son's Bris: My Son on the Cutting Edge

A Father's Story About his Son's Hospital Circumcision: "How I Discovered, Too Late, Circumcision is Not a Good Thing"

"We're expecting our second baby, a boy. I had naturally assumed that he would be circumcised before we brought him home from the hospital but, to my astonishment, my wife is strongly opposed to the idea. I thought it was something she had read about circumcision being painful that had put her off but although my offer to look into the question of anesthesia was well received, it hasn't really changed her mind. She says circumcision is a cruel and archaic practice; I say it didn't do me any harm and it's important for hygienic reasons." --A father on wanting his son circumcised.

"I did another presentation last night for a Bradley Childbirth class. Tough crowd. When I first walked in the room, I knew that it could be trouble. The women were smiling at me but all the body language of the dads was closed. One dad wouldn't look at me, another had his arms crossed, another kept laughing and cracking jokes. I showed a 15 minute video of a plastibell circ. during which the one fathers says, 'What are they choking that baby?' (laugh) I turned to him and softly said, 'The doctor is cutting his penis'. After I talked about present circ. rates, history, intact care, etc. and then asked for questions. The wife of the laughing dad said, 'Well, I'm Jewish, and my father is a doctor... (and I'm thinking 'Oh,no')...and I'm NOT going to have this baby circumcised.' Then the husband says, 'Oh, he's GOING to be circumcised, if I have to do it MYSELF!' I asked him why it was so important for him, he said that he wanted the baby to look like him. So I used one of my favorite lines. I said (in a very understanding tone) 'The need to conform is very strong for some people.' The dad got real quiet. I left after that, and when I got in my car the song playing on the radio was Rod Stewart singing 'The First Cut is The Deepest'. How ironic." --Susan

"But the weirdest one of all is my father. He's now deceased, but when he was in WWII, apparently the 'social rage' for males in the 30's and 40s and 50s was to go get circumcised (for all those dumb and untrue reasons Uncle Sam and the medical profession was propagating back then) and my dad wanted to get it done, too. (I found this out from my mother last year.) I had asked her point blank about the circumstances surrounding my circ...she told me my dad wanted to have a circ but changed his mind - chickened out, really - after a buddy of his got circ'd in the military hospital and was in severe pain for days afterward. When I asked my mom WHY did dad want to get circ'd, she replied, 'well, everybody thought it's cleaner, and he didn't like the smell...you you how your father was!' I told her I thought the 'smell' was natural and very sexy on men - especially if they just washed under the foreskin every day, like every other part of their bodies. She never said a word...." -- Mike

"I will tell my son when he has a son to get his son circumcised. Why would you want an ugly looking penis with skin hanging over the head. Plus when you pull it out to use it the girls will say it looks ugly. You want a girl to say it looks good! You don't want to scare her with it."-- "Smallputter", a circumcised male.

"My dad nearly choked on his lunch today when he learned we did not circumcise our son and that *he* was the only cut man at the table (among 5 men, not including my baby). How's that for a change?" --Kris

"The other day I heard [my friend's circumcised] husband changing their [non-circumcised] baby's diaper and telling him in this little singsong voice that the baby had 'an ugly pee-pee'! Ooh, this made me so mad! What is this obsession some men have with having their son's penis cut to look more like theirs?

"Well I talked to her further about this and I think I know where *his* problem stems from. He was telling her that uncirced men were dirty and ugly and she told him, 'No, they're not, I've "had" both and I never noticed any difference.' Well, this statement apparently got him all upset. She has gathered from his rantings that he thinks that by NOT circumcising their son, she is showing a 'preference' for one type of penis over the other. He seems to think that by leaving their son uncut, she may be fantasizing over one of these faceless uncut lovers from her past. Isn't that ridiculous?? That's not it at all - she just didn't think it was necessary and that it would be painful for the baby." --mstigerlily

"That single moment of decision where I had to say, 'cut my son' I couldn't do it. I am circumcised and have had some hard moments in my life, so there is nothing faint about me. My wife had left the decision to me, because it seemed like a 'male' issue...you know, the old deal, 'I want my son to look like me'...When you think about it, seems pretty ludicrous for me to think it important that my sons penis look like mine. Anyway, the decison came, she looked at me, I looked at my son, so perfect and soft and pink with light fine hair and tiny nails, nursing at his Mom's breast, and I was supposed to send him away to be cut! No way. Each parent has their decison, but I decided it wasn't important." --Natsuko's dad

"I have a friend who circumcised her son (even though she told me that she knew it was not medically necessary and that her sister a nurse really pleaded with her not to do it. Her sister has one circumcised son and one intact son. She said her husband wanted him to *look* like him.) Anyway, this precious little boy was born with six digits on one of his feet. She said to me the other day, 'Oh, I could never put him through pain for a cosmetic reason....," when she was talking about his sixth toe. I did say, 'well....more people are going to see daddy and son barefooted at the pool, than they will ever see daddy and son naked to expose their matching genitals'. She laughed, but I think she knew I was being extremely sarcastic." --Tara Marie

"With my first son, my husband wanted to have him circumcised. I could hear my baby crying down the hall. They strap their little arms down and they did my sons without any anesthesia. It looked like a bloody pulp and I was so upset. If I had to do it again with the first I wouldn't. With my second son I did it because his brother was already done and it was awful again. This is number 3 and if it's a boy then I will do it again but reluctantly. Please think it over and if you do talk to your pediatrician ahead of time about using a local or deadening agent." --Monya

"Our son narrowly escaped circumcision. My husband was emphatically FOR the procedure, I was utterly against it. I finally told my husband, 'OK, FINE, but YOU have to be there with him through the procedure. I really do know my husband, he has the kindest heart. After our son was born and DH had held him and gazed into his eyes he (DH) happened to catch a glimpse of the metal *table* where they strap down the infants. He came to me then and said, 'no way, I can't go through with it.' I was overjoyed. Perhaps it helped that his brother was never circumcised. They are from Scotland, although my husband was born here (probably the hospital didn't give a choice in 1961)[Webmaster's Note: They didn't!], and his brother was born in Scotland." --Linda (12/99)

"The only reason I think I could do it was because my son was having major surgery for other things, so we had them do it then, when he'd be under! I can't imagine how painful it must be! The reason I had it done was purely selfish. I've seen what an uncircumcised penis looks like, and I personally think it's horrible looking! I guess it's just what you are used to, but I want my son's peepee to look like my husband's peepee! Isn't that just plain silly of me??!!" --KC (11/99)

"Hypocrit coming out of the closet!... I had both of my sons circumsised. I don't even have a good reason or can even say i did ANY research on the matter. For me, at the time...it was a given that they would be. 'The norm' and I never gave it a moment's thought to be honest with you. I think I would have to literally witness a proceedure to be convinced not to do it because I really dislike the idea of a man/boy not being circumsised. Yes, cosmetic reasons mainly, but also I thought hygiene-wise that it was better....but like I said, just never looked into it!! Isn't that aweful! And here I was saying it was wrong to pierce girls' ears before they are able to make the decision...eek!!" --"Alex_jims_mom" (1/1/2000)

"You know, I got off the hook because I had girls but (confession enclosed) circumcised just looks more attractive. Could I possibly be more shallow?!?! I always said that I would *never* have my son circumcised because "I don't go lopping of other people's forskin without permission".... BUT I honestly don't know what I would have done if I had given birth to a son. The health issue isn't even a consideration to me. I am loaded with friends that have regular urinary tract infections and I don't see them running off to get their 'foreskin' removed. Nope, I admit it. I am shallow when it comes to this issue. Shallow, shallow shallow.... Milli--hanging her head in shame." --Milli (1/2/2000)

"I have a lot of excuses for why Mitch was done. The biggest one was that I just didn't think about it all that much. Scott is and he wanted Mitch done so we did it. I didn't think about looking into it or the social aspect or any of those burning issues, we just had it done. Some time later after doing a lot of reading at the debate board I decided that if we had another son and we had the opportunity we would *not* circ. Well, sure enough, Dylan came along and I figured, 'Well, it's a non issue, he's 8 months old; who in their right mind would circ. an 8-month-old? Well, turns out my husband would! I just said 'no'. When he said but', I said, 'no'. I refused to get into it with him. I stated my point of view once, and his point was that they would all be 'different'. I said, 'fine, are you changing your eye colour to blue or are they switching to brown?'.I guess he knew that I wasn't going anywhere with this, so he just gave up and told me to find out if there was anything 'different' we had to do with an uncirc. penis." --Lisa (1/2/2000)

"I had my son circumcised because it is what has always been done in my family and the majority of people that I know have had circumcised [their sons].....my husband and I wanted our son circumcised after we talked to our doctors and [to] parents-" --Anon. Mother.

"I'm 19 and both my dad *and* my older brother are circd (he's from my moms first marriage). I never had any 'issue' not 'matching' them. When I was about 3 or so my dad told me that I had 'something extra' that they didnt but that it was supposed to be there. That ended any curiosity I had. I live in NJ and in my school 90% of the guys were circd. We had swim gym, nudity etc and I never got made fun of. In fact, I never heard or gave any thought to the lockeroom thing until I saw someone use it as an excuse for circ and I thought 'what're they talking about?' While it is true that the other guys noticed, they didnt really stare and they never said anything. One time I was talking to these other intact guys (they approached me) and asked my feelings on it. We all agreed that it was good having foreskin. One guy was on the swim team, football and wrestling teams. He said that no one ever made fun of him (If I ever run into him, I'll ask him to post here. I think he would.) He didnt get circd because he had lots of heart troubles at birth etc. My older brother said that there was only 1 uncut guy in his school but that no one ever said anything because they were afraid they'd get called a 'f*g'.

"Its important though to be honest with your sons. Both of them. Tell the older one that you thought it was a good idea and it was safer but you found out later that it wasnt necessary, but that it isnt that bad either. He'll understand. And tell your intact son that all baby boys are born that way but that some get it cut off. He'll understand that too, believe me ;) Will p.s. it was my circd dad who didnt want me circd. My circd cousin had a son this summer and he didnt circ him either. They'll both be fine." --Will (12/1999)