The Unkindest Cut

Extracts from “Unkindest Cut” by Stephen Rodrick, The New Republic, May 29, 1995.

Anyone who wants to see how far the culture of victomology has gone in America ought to attend the monthly meeting of the New York chapter of the National Organization of Restoring Men. NORM is one of a number of groups devoted to fighting for the abolition of circumcision and restoring foreskins, by natural means, to circumcised men in the United States.

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Jim Bigelow, a NORM member, is the author of The Joy of Uncircumcising! With 7,000 copies sold, it’s a good mirror of the movement’s base. In the book, Bigelow, a former evangelical Christian minister, suggests that circumcised males are victims of physical assault on a par with other forms of child abuse… Bigelow argues that men will feel whole again after restoration. He lays out a horrific process by which the foreskin is stretched to cover the entire penis. After enough new skin has been created, small weights, ten to twenty-two ounces, are attached to the skin, stretching it even further. The final step is the use of an expansion device. This contraption tugs the penis downward by force—usually an elastic band attached to its tip and then connected to a knee brace: a kind of orthodontics of the groin.

Custom-made devices are now available, the most popular being “the Tugger,” formally the Penis Uncircumcising Device (PUD). It retails at $115 plus shipping and handling. Of course, no such transformation is without its inconveniences. DeSeabra [head of the New York Chapter of NORM] was running for the subway once, when the device came undone and a small weighted ball flew out of his pants. “Sometimes, I’ll be at work and one of the weights will clank up again the desk and everybody will say, ‘What the hell was that?’ “ The entire process can take three to five years.