Our Sons’ Willies

As expected, we’ve gotten a lot of mail about Gordon Haber’s circumcision essay, “Uncovered.” People get worked up about penises.

Let’s start positive. Jessie Bennett, from Boston, writes:

I’m just writing to say how grateful I was to read Gordon Haber’s completely sane, thoughtful piece on circumcision. It so closely mirrored my own thoughts on the matter (except for the part about being a Jew—I’m married to one although not one myself—and the whole thing where I don’t have my own penis) that I will forthwith just send people to this article instead of having an uncomfortable argument over what I did about my sons’ willies. Thanks so much.

You’re welcome.

Doesn’t take long before things get much more interesting. First, consider this part of Haber’s piece:

What, though, are we to make of the ones attempting, through various forms of quackery, to “restore” their foreskins? Some may snigger, but I find something pitiable in the “tugging devices” and “taping methods,” which can’t be comfortable and can take years. Instead of accepting themselves as they are, these men are obsessed with how they feel they should be—to they point where some undergo “foreskin restoration surgery,” once again putting the most sensitive part of their anatomy under the knife.

But this is the fringe of the fringe.

Really? you might think. Who are these guys? Well, here’s one:

[letter removed]

Lastly, a nice surprise: the guy whose picture illustrates “Uncovered” (we got the picture on Flickr) wrote in. His name is Daniel Strandjord, and he’s from Chicago.

I’m delighted that you used a picture of me in your June 19 article by Gordon Haber.  Since you have used my picture, I hope that Gordon and the KTB editors will watch a documentary that I am in: “CUT: Slicing thru the Myths of Circumcision” by Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon.  You can watch the film online at www.cutthefilm.com.

“CUT” was made by an Orthodox Jewish man who had 3 years of medical school in Britain (Cambridge) when he decided he would rather be a filmmaker and work on Human Rights issues.  Eliyahu came to Chicago and got a couple of degrees from the Film School of the Art Institute.  “CUT” is his first feature length film.  “CUT” had its premiere at the U of Chicago Hillel Center which then hired Eliyahu to work part-time while he began work on other film projects.  The SPERTUS Institute of Jewish Learning (spertus.edu) selected “CUT” for one of their annual events on contemporary issues in Judaism.  “CUT” also received a standing ovation at the International Symposium on Circumcision and Human Rights at Keele U. in England in 2008.

The name of the film reminds us of the process of selecting a title for Haber’s piece. Naturally, like the producers of Cut, the first thing we thought of was a string of cutting/snipping references that make one cringe. Haber wisely retorted: “no snipping or cutting jokes for the headline, please, please, please.”