“PIGS WITHOUT BLANKETS”
The Penis Documentary
I just learned about “Pigs Without Blankets” from its Kickstarter campaign. What I am reporting on here is what I have learned from the site. We do not talk about penises in this country and we certainly do not talk about circumcision. The fact that we never discuss a surgical procedure done to millions of American baby boys moments after their birth is, quite strange to some people. When the subject comes up, the reaction is somewhat hostile even when speaking with a stranger. The filmmakers want viewers to meet the group of people who fight against circumcision, discover what motivates them, and understand why they feel the best penis is the one left intact. The film was meant to be public service announcement but it has evolved into a documentary about circumcision.
Featured are Alan Cuming (whose book on the subject I have been waiting to read, as well as Steven Svoboda, who is the head of the Attorney of the Rights of the Child and Eric Clopper, spokesman for Foregen a company that plans to use stem cell science to restore foreskins. The film is produced by
Kenny Neal Shults and stars Eric Clopper. Shults is a stand-up comic, writer, actor, filmmaker, and public health consultancy owner living in Brooklyn. A self-described “intactivist,” he’s now creating two comical digital shorts exploring the American practice of secular circumcision. When Shults lived in San Francisco from 1996 to 2002, he did quite a bit of anti-circumcision activism. He made a connection with a local gay guy who helped run one of the primary anti-circ efforts called NOHARMM, the National Organization to Halt the Routine Mutilation of Males, and met many of the major players in the anti-circumcision scene; an exclusive band of mostly older gay men whose lives essentially revolved around the discussion of, the fight against, and the recovery from circumcision. When they needed a break from circumcision, they discussed foreskin restoration. These guys called themselves intactivists. He gained insightful perspectives and ideas about how to combat the practice, and was inspired by the number of smart, thoughtful, measured people who were a part of this movement.
As an HIV prevention specialist for 20 years, Shults has been deeply troubled by the idea that mass circumcisions in Africa or anywhere will contribute to a decrease in incidents. Many men in Africa for example are getting circumcised so they do not have to use condoms. In America people have rationalized circumcision as a means for preventing HIV and STDs. He and his team would so love to dispel this dangerous myth, and with Alan Cummings star power we have a real chance to create some norm-altering discourse.
America is a circumcising country and being circumcised is considered normal. Many of us went through periods of making fun of uncircumcised kids. When you grow up in a non-circumcising country, having a foreskin is normal so naturally and it is the circumcised kids who are made fun off. A circumcised penis does not exist since it is purely a social construct. There is no such thing as a penis without a foreskin, the foreskin is the penis just as much as fingers are your hand. This is simple to understand because the penis invariably comes with a foreskin and no matter how many times it is cut off, it will always a part of the penis. This is hard to comprehend because of the social context of today. If a male is circumcised as a child, he you grows up identifying as a boy so naturally he identifies his penis as a penis from an early age. However, what he has is not a penis but simply part of his entire penis, the other part having been cut off when he was an infant. What makes this even harder to understand is that most if not all of one’s peers and fathers are circumcised as well, which further reinforces the false belief that what one has is a penis and not part of one. Because of the psychological importance of this body part, it is far easier to escape reality and console oneself in “mass delusion”.
The average foreskin is 12-15 square inches of the penis, contains most of the nerve endings, all the natural mobility, lubrication, and sensitivity preserving functions the penis has evolved to have and that effectively 0% of men willingly remove it because no one wants a smaller, less pleasurable penis.
Circumcision is a practice that causes harm, and the basic, common sense injustice of it is something to be opposed. Most men in the dark about this— they don’t even know it happened, don’t know they have a scar on their penis, don’t know their penis was supposed to look and feel differently, and don’t have access to feelings that their infant selves undoubtedly experienced and stored for later displacement.
The form and function of genitalia needs to be discussed on a national scale. That is the goal of this film—the average circumcised dude can identify with and understand what it says (and it does so, in part, with humor.
Anti-circumcision has been taken up by a group of intactivists. They are activists who believe in keeping babies intact by not circumcising them, and want to change the false perception that circumcision is harmless or even beneficial. To an outside observer not familiar with the topic some intactivists may appear crazy. The foreskin is just a normal body part like any other, this particular part conveys sexual pleasure to its owner, “just as eyes convey sight, noses convey small, tongues taste, etc”. The only unique aspect of the foreskin is that it is the only part that has been cut off from hundreds of millions of men, mostly for sexually repressive religious reasons. In the US it’s for profit.
“Pigs Without Blankets” is a different kind of film in that it champions the cause. Circumcision was essentially introduced by John Kellogg (of corn flakes fame) as a means of preventing masturbation.
To learn more go the Kickstarter page and learn how you can help make the picture a reality.