Re: Male Virginity and Circumcision

Michael Nakis (
29 Oct 1995 09:58:58 GMT

These are some random excerpts from correspondence between me and which I am posting here by her permission.

Text marked with greater-than signs ('>') is hers, otherwise it is mine.
Text marked with double greater-than signs ('>>') is mine, quoted by her,
and so on. Text in brackets is an explanation, sometimes a substitution.


>Did you ever hear from a pediatrician or a rabbi who has conducted
>multiple brises as to whether or not the male "hymen" is actually
>present in all males?

No, and this is why I started the thread in sci.anthropology. So far
nobody with sufficient authority has said that the male hymen does not
exist. Some people, on the contrary, have said that they have
experienced the rupture that I experienced. In any case, even if a
pediatrician shows up and says that I am wrong, I will not take him
seriously unless he re-examines the whole issue from a new perspective,
instead of reiterating to me what his books have told him to believe.

And I am not sure that I would care to hear what a rabbi has to say,
since my whole point is that those [people] do not actually know
*why* they are performing this mutilation today.

>You mean if a pediatrician shows up and says, "I have circumcised 500
>baby boys during my career. I have noticed no "hymen" that appears on
>the penis although there are occasionally individual differences in the
>way the foreskin is attached which could cause a tear of some sort
>during intercourse later in life," you are not going to believe him?

I am NOT going to believe him unless he assures me that he looked real
hard at each one of those 500 penises and asked himself: "is there
anything here that resembles a hymen? no --<SNIP> next please!" And
this is of course impossible, because:

1) You cannot tell that something does not exist unless you specifically
look for it first. If you had never heard of Unicorns in your life, you
could not possibly come up with statements like "Unicorns do not exist."

2) In newborn babies the foreskin is much tighter than in, say, fifteen
year old boys, meaning that the pediatrician would not necessarily be
able to even get to the little piece of skin that I am talking about in
order to notice it and wonder what its purpose may be.

3) The hymen I speak of is actually hard to see even on a grown man, and
of course when you do see it, it does not actually look like a hymen.

>If there WERE a hymen, wouldn't the procedure of circumcision have to
>make reference to cutting it? And if it DIDN'T wouldn't SOME doctor
>have written up the "mistake" in the medical book?


If the procedure of circumcision made a reference to cutting the hymen,
then it would have to be much too specific about it, and it would in
essence be giving out the big secret. And in any case, it is kind of
funny to even think of whatever that holly book is which plays the role
of a circumcision manual for Rabbis saying that "thou shall look
carefully for a small piece of membranous tissue right below the urethra
and make sure it gets [obliterated]..." It just could not happen. The
book says to cut the entire foreskin, and preferably with a stone
instrument, so that there is absolutely no chance that the hymen will

I did not get the part about the doctor writing up the mistake in the
medical book.


>"As the baby grows, the foreskin normally begins to separate from the
>glans, and starts to become retractable. It usually takes about 3
>years for this separation and retractability to become complete. It
>may take longer for some boys, even until adolescence, to have
>a completely retractable foreskin, but this is no cause for concern."

Thank you very much for passing this information to me. I appreciate
your interest in the subject, even though you do not share my views. My
foreskin was indeed very tight, and I remember that I could not retract
it, but that was before I went to school, that is, before age 6. By the
time I went to school, however, my foreskin could already be retracted
enough to expose the entire glans, and it remained in exactly that state
until age 15, when the situation changed rather abruptly. In any case,
it may still be that what I and the other guys (and there exist more than
the two who responded to my inquiries, since ex-girlfriends of mine have
told me of the same thing happening to ex-boyfriends of theirs [in a foreign
country]) experienced is some kind of unusual formation, but I seriously
doubt it, because I had studied that hymen of mine when it still was in
place and it looked like an extremely well thought, well shaped, and well
placed little "feature."


>Well, even if this feature exists (and I have no reason to doubt it, since
>I have conceded my vast lack of experience in observing uncircumcised
>penises!) you are still a long way from proving that its presence or
>absence has any bearing on the reason for circumcision.

That is correct. I would add that I am still a long way from proving both
the existence of this feature AND that it has any bearing on the reason for
circumcision. That is why I started this thread, in order to debate these

[on the issue of sexual pleasure benefits from circumcision]

An uncircumcised male is perfectly capable of retracting his
foreskin if he wants to expose the head of his penis. (Best yet, his
girlfriend can keep it retracted; it is twice the fun.)

> I only suggested increased sexual pleasure as a POSSIBLE reason
>for circumcision.
> I still think the health and hygiene angle makes the most
>sense. The potential for infection in a MOST uncomfortable place was
>probably even higher back in the days when people did not bathe or
>shower daily with Dial soap.

You are not trying to suggest that several thousand years ago, some
primitive peoples who were so concerned with cleaniness that they bathed
whenever it rained, actually invented genital mutilation, with all its
immediate dangers of infection, as a cleaniness measure, are you?



>You discounted the
>idea that they might have started circumcising to improve their sex life
>because YOU wouldn't do so. You've already said that these people had
>different ideas about masculinity than we do. If you can believe that they
>would go to something as extreme as cutting off their foreskin so their
>first sex partner won't know--and remember that these conservative groups
>usually HIGHLY valued...even DEMANDED... virginity in their women, which
>means the women wouldn't have a clue whether a man was supposed to bleed or
>not, nor would they notice it among their own virginal blood--why wouldn't
>it be more likely they might have done so for the other reason? Not that
>*I* think that is the reason. I still believe in the health and hygiene
[note: "other reason" is, I suppose, increased sexual pleasure.]

OK, I think that the circumcision-for-increased-sexual-pleasure theory has
already received far more discussion than it deserves, (which is none to
begin with,) so I will skip that part and not answer it. (You have to start
slicing the points of discussion somewhere, or else it becomes unmanageable.)

Regarding the blood, it is not just the bleeding that gives away virginity.
If I want to know whether a girl is virgin before I have sex with her, I can
examine her and find out. If a girl knew that virginity is applicable to
men, and wanted to know about me, and knew what to look for and where, she
could also examine me and find out.

Now, as far as the value of virginity is concerned... if the before mentioned
cultures demanded that BOTH partners be virgin on the first night, it would
all be nice and dandy, and there would be little need for my theory to
explain circumcision. However, men are NOT required by those cultures to be
virgin on the first night; as a matter of fact, men are actually supposed to
know all about sex already, somehow. THE INSTITUTION OF THIS DIFFERENTIAL
NOT APPLICABLE TO MEN!!!!! If man cannot possibly be virgin, then woman
cannot possibly demand that he be virgin on the wedding night. Furthermore,
if man has no virginity to loose, he has the moral green light to engage in
sex prior to marriage.

>I can accept the fact that claiming "God says to do this" may well fall
>into the same category as parents telling kids they should behave the week
>before Christmas because Santa won't come. People often give "reasons" for
>doing or not doing things that have nothing to do with fact. However, you
>have to deal with the fact too that you are not just dealing with the Jews,
>but also the Moslems, Egyptians, various African tribes, some mid eastern
>peoples, and maybe others that no one has mentioned yet.

I am very well aware of this. As a matter of fact, the diversity of the
cultures that practice circumcision is actually one of the reasons that
support my hypothesis, because it means that circumcision does not originate
strictly from religion, since almost all of those cultures had different
religions a few thousand years ago.

>Is there anything that you have read in any studies of any of the ancient
>or modern peoples who circumcised that has lead you to this theory? Or is
>this something you hypothesized on your own because the given reasons
>don't make sense to you?

I have never come across anything written along the lines of male virginity,
nor, of course, of circumcision-as-a-means-of-concealing-male-virginity. I
just gather what seems to me to be the facts, and make my hypothesis
accordingly. Among other books by D. Morris I have read "Babywatching",
which refutes all "reasons" for circumcision known today one after the other,
but in the end fails to give the slightest explanation for the invention of
the ritual, leaving the reader with the impression that "it just happened."
Well, I think that there is a reason behind everything, and things do not
just "happen", so I have come up with a potential explanation for the ritual
and I am trying to let people know about it.

>>Would you mind if I post parts of this and future letters to the
>>sci.anthropology forum?

>No, you can post my letters unless I specifically mention otherwise. I
>have been fighting with a couple of different newsreaders, and haven't come
>to any good solutions as to what is best for both reading and responding to
>newsgroups so I haven't written much in any newsgroups for a while.


Michael Nakis.