This Is How Circumcision Feels

how circumcision feelsIn the to-cut or not-to-cut debate, one of the most prominent stances is the very straightforward, "I don't want to hurt my child" argument against circumcision. In fact, it's probably a thought every mother has no matter what she winds up ultimately deciding for her son. Of course, the extent of the pain is also debated. (Really, is there any aspect of circumcision that isn't debated?) Some people believe the procedure is a blip on the radar, while others believe it can bring a lifetime of trauma. 

So it's fascinating when someone who has gone through the experience can actually tell us exactly how it feels. Fascinating, like, "Oh my god, I don't want to know but it's like a train wreck and I just can't look away." Which is why I must share with you a recent article on Kveller, where a 33-year-old man describes his own (completely voluntary) circumcision.


A former Roman Catholic, Claude Brodesser-Akner fell in love and converted to Orthodox Judaism. Along with that conversion came a bris, which Brodesser-Akner fully embraced. Yes, he's a stronger man than most. As someone in a mixed religious household that includes Judaism, I feel I must share his reasoning for not only his own circumcision, but that of his two sons, before getting to the gory details we're all waiting to hear:

In undertaking this ritual, we’re all saying, as Jews, “In a world that’s often callous and amoral, we’re different; we think different, and act different. And to show it, we’ve chosen to make our connection to godliness visible and indelible.” As painful as it might be in those few moments of and hours after, even more painful would be to reject a relationship with God.

I don't think I've heard it explained in a better fashion. It's highly doubtful this changes an anti-circ position, but I do feel it must be said. Now, onto the bris! When asked to describe the pain on a scale of a paper cut to a bullet wound, this is what Brodesser-Akner had to say:

Well, I’ve never been shot, thank God, but I have had a bottle of Miller High Life smashed over my head in a bar fight while a redneck held me in a headlock and ground it into my right ear, back when I was a bouncer in college (again: SO goyische!) and I’ve also gotten a compound wrist fracture from skateboarding (It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s..Supergoy!). The bris was certainly up there with both of those. As any boxing cornerman can tell you, head wounds tend to bleed a lot, but don’t hurt nearly as much. This didn’t bleed a lot, but it hurt like hellfire. Looking back, I would have made sure I had better drugs, definitely opiates. All I had was Tylenol.

On the second day, I was in so much pain, I went to see my doctor. When I told him what happened, he turned ashen faced and gave me about 30 tablets of Vicoprofen (hydrocodone and ibuprofen) and some Cipro on the spot. I was worried that it was infected, and that the pain-killer wasn’t strong enough. He said, “Trust me: I could sew up a dead possum in your chest, and it wouldn’t bother you all that much. Go home. Sleep.”

So now you know. Go forth and make your decision wisely.

Does this make you more, or less, likely to circumcise your baby boy?


Image via istolethetv/Flickr

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