08/20/2013 08:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pigs Without Blankets

Senior Gay Correspondent Kenny Neal Shults sets out to find out why gay men always seem to be at the forefront of the fight over foreskin, and discovers his inner "intactivist" along the way.

Have you ever enjoyed a big bowl of Kellogg's corn flakes? Of course you have. Well, you're also eating the ghosts of millions of baby boys' foreskins, according to overly affected San Francisco-based anti-circumcision activist and apparent foreskin medium "Todd." I interview Todd and several other men with varying views on the issue of secular, routine infant male circumcision to uncover the many sides of an issue that cuts deep.


Kellogg, best known for the high-carb breakfast empire that bears his name, was actually the Michelle Bachman of his day. A Seventh Day Adventist, strict proponent of abstinence, and sanitarium-professional - what they called doctors around the turn of the century - Kellogg helped shape Americans' views on exercise, nutrition, and the ills of experiencing pleasure through masturbation. Kellogg's wonder cure? Circumcision.

Kellogg on circumcision:

"[Circumcision] should be performed without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice [of masturbation], and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed."

On female circumcision:

"In females, [I have] found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement."

"If anyone ever asks you 'who pissed in your corn flakes?' make sure to say that it was Mr. John Harvey Kellogg" himself, says Todd in one of many histrionic, lisp-laden exclamations.

Kellogg is also thought to be responsible for starting the rumors that masturbation will stunt your growth, cause blindness, and result in hairy palms.

Everyone knows Europeans aren't circumcised, as this is at least part of the reason Americans assert that they smell. As such, few realize that Europeans are not only familiar with soap and water, but have also devised a system that precludes the removal of foreskin at birth by applying the substance to the penis in addition to the other body parts while showering. While this bizarre regimen remains a freakish mystery to most Americans, "Charles," a man both gay and European, suggests removal of the foreskin for a cleaner penis "is like removing your anus for a cleaner arse." The Anus Removal Society of Europe (ARSE) was unavailable for comment.

Many American men defend secular infant male circumcision vehemently, citing concerns of their son's ridicule and a desire for them to "look like me." "Larry" of Louisiana says penises with intact foreskins look like "a anteater," and that he would never do that to his son. Larry looks forward to one day being granted visitation rights to determine whether or not his son's mother spared the boy from having a penis that looks like it sucks up ants for sustenance. "People are so ignorant" - says anteater specialist Savas Abadsidis - "these beautiful creatures also eat termites."

While the number of newborn males circumcised in the U.S. has declined steadily over the years, proponents of universal circumcision consistently cite recent research that claims circumcision protects against HIV, STDs, penile cancer (WTF? That exists?), and evil spirits. "The research doesn't say it protects against evil spirits you asshole," say all the completely unbiased researchers who claim to have proven that circumcision reduces risk of HIV infection by 60% (and that John Kellogg was a visionary).

Self-titled intactivist, Todd responds to the research:

"Then what? We start removing men's prostates and girls' breasts and cervixes??!! If our goal is to reduce risk at all cost, and the removal of the foreskin reduces risk by 60%, then why don't we do just what's most effective? Removal of the penis reduces risk of everything by a full 100%! It's not even technically necessary for procreation!!!! Surgery as prevention just doesn't make sense, but these researchers are on some kind of foreskin witch-hunt!!! Not to mention all those studies were done in Africa - yeah Africa, where AIDS was literally invented!! You can't conclude something for American men based on studies done in Africa! And if circumcision is such an awesome prophylactic, then shouldn't Africa be doing a lot better than they are with the whole AIDS thing? Africa literally has the highest percentage of circumcised men - and it ALSO has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS - you baby cutting monsters!!!! And how is it that among industrialized nations America has the highest prevalence of HIV - and the highest prevalence of circumcision - you pleasure hating fucktards!?!? And how come in places where they don't circumcise the men the prevalence of HIV is enormously lower!? Ummm... I'm not a research scientist, so this may not be the most scientific thing I've ever said, but Ray Charles could see there's something wrong with this fucking research!!!"

On a personal note, although this reporter's ears will eventually stop ringing from the piercing sounds of air pushing through Todd's teeth whenever he used words rife with the letter "S," Todd's always-dignified, incisive perspectives will resonate much longer. I discovered more than just the truth behind circumcision; I discovered why gay men have taken up the mantle of its abolition - an answer so obvious it was literally in my face the whole time: penises; as gay men we see the most. As such, gay men are more aware of the nuances of the male sex organ and therefore more sensitive to the issue.

While others may not be so easily swayed, one thing is certain; the issue of circumcision will continue to be a cutting issue no matter how you slice it.

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