Circumcision a big deal to foreskin advocate Glen Callender

Glen Callender hopes to raise awareness about the issue by using his own body as an example.

Glen Callender wants Canadians to embrace the foreskin, and he’s got a few surprises up his pants to show people why the foreskin isn’t “just the wrapper; it’s the candy”.

“I want to communicate to people how big of a deal circumcision really is,” Callender told the Georgia Straight by phone from Courtenay, B.C.

The founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project—an advocacy group that wants circumcision performed on male minors to be made illegal in Canada under the Criminal Code—Callender will showcase his foreskin and all the parts that come with it in a tent at the Davie Street Pride Party on Friday (July 30) and the Sunset Beach Pride Festival on Sunday (August 1).

The boisterous 36-year-old will explain the anatomy and function of the foreskin and demonstrate how to clean an uncircumcised penis. Cleanliness is often cited as a reason parents opt to circumcise their sons, but Callender says that parents should have more faith in their kid’s ability to self-groom.

“It is insane that people cut off a part of their son’s anatomy because they don’t think that their kid will be intelligent enough to pull back his foreskin and clean under it,” he explained.

Callender recalls the first time he noticed something different about other guys’ penises. “I remember I was in the pool, and I would see the men and boys who were circumcised, and it didn’t occur to me that they were cut,” he said. “I just looked at them and thought, ”˜How the hell are they keeping their foreskins pulled back like that without using their fingers?’ ”

He soon learned about the practice of circumcision—the removal of a fold of skin that covers the head of the penis—and is horrified that the procedure is still legal in Canada.

“It’s simply a human-rights issue,” he said. “You are imposing an amputation of sex organs by force on a child who has no idea what is being done to them.”

Dr. Arif Bhimji, a spokesperson for the Association for Genital Integrity—a Canadian group that’s raising public awareness of the issue of infant-male circumcision—told the Straight in a phone interview that children’s rights are being violated by this “unnecessary procedure”, since it is carried out on a nonconsenting individual.

Circumcision is required by the Jewish and Islamic faiths, but Bhimji questions the pious veil under which many circumcisions are performed, arguing that we shouldn’t be making an exception for religion.

“It’s irrelevant the reason that you’re doing it,” he said. “There are long-term consequences”¦it’s irreversible, and if we’re not doing it to females, then why are we doing it to males?”

On the other hand, some members of the gay community think it’s all about personal preference when it comes to circumcision.

Mark Robins of Gayvancouver.net told the Straight by phone that his preference is for men who are circumcised, but he thinks it might be a generational thing.

“I understand that there are people who prefer [their sexual partners] to be uncut, but it’s like saying, ”˜Do you like cherries or blueberries?’ ” Robins said.

He also understands why Callender chose Pride weekend to promote his message, noting that when it comes to topics that are taboo in some circles, the LGBTQ community tends to be much more welcoming.

“I think the gay community tries to be accepting, and we do try and be supportive of people dealing with sexual matters, because we’re not afraid of that,” he said. “That’s the underlying joyfulness about the gay community, as far as I’m concerned.”

But a word to the wise: it won’t be your junior-high sex-ed curriculum on display this weekend.

“People are in for a fantastic dick trick,” Callender said with a chuckle. “I do something with a handful of red seedless grapes that is physically impossible to do with a circumcised penis.”

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Comments (72) Add New Comment
Bill
Mutilating a baby's body is wrong. Why not give the penis' owner the choice of whether or not to alter the penis god saw fit to give them when they are old enough to make an informed decision.

Would we allow people to be cutting the clitoris off of little baby girls? No, we wouldn't. That would make us savages, right?
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Drone
I agree.

circumcision make sense if you live in a desert where there is little access to water and you can't bathe for weeks at a time.

But in a time and place like ours, where hygiene is easy, cheap and convenient, it is a rather silly thing to do.

It's crazy enough for Jews to cut an 8 month old boy, but Muslims are even more hardcore, doing it to their13 year olds. It's a rite of passage to toughen the little guy up.
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Amr
Umm .. wrong information about the muslim piece *no pun intended*. Muslim parents are advised to circumcise their boys during the first 7 days of life.
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WiseWoman
I hope politician, Hedy Fry, who is always dancing around at the Gay Pride parade will take note of this demo. We need some strong political backbone to strike down this human rights violation. The day is coming soon when we will abolish this monstrous genital cutting ritual and it would be nice to see Ms Fry show some leadership.
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rightallthetime
Decreases HPV/HIV spread
Not the same as clit as sexual function intact(as I know)
Most chicks prefer circ'd as less smegma
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Frank OHara
Well, Amr, you're both wrong. Muslim boys are traditionally circumcised between 6 and 7 years old and with no anesthesia at all!

I fully support circumcision for consenting adults and if you want to circumcise your son, I believe you should go under the knife as well regardless of whether you are Mom or Dad and regardless of whether you are already circumcised or not.

I also believe if a parent is allowed to circumcise a child, the child should have the right of repricosity at any time he chooses. That means that the child you circumcise today can come back in 20 or 40 years and force a circumcision on Mom or Dad. I suspect if a law were passsed establishing that, there would be no need for a law banning infant circumcisions.




Frank
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PQB
"Would we allow people to be cutting the clitoris off of little baby girls? No, we wouldn't. That would make us savages, right?"

Read a book or two, there are cultures that castrate women. Some just remove a tiny piece of flesh from the clitoris.

"Decreases HPV/HIV spread "
You need to read more than a few books...
Again, another scare tactic to make parents cut their children. Do you even know what the long term complications are?

And of you who are for circ, I suggest that you go into the doctor, and have them remove part of your genitals with no anesthetic. Do you even know how much blood loss from a circumcision it takes to kill an infant? 2.5 ounces.

I suggest you fools visit www.savingpenises.org and get your facts straight.
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Chase McCaw
@rightallthetime Are you _actually_ that gulible?

The US has the 2nd highest circ rate (after Israel), yet has the 2nd highest HIV/AIDS rate (after Africa). Meanwhile, Scandinavian countries -- like Finland, where MGM (male genital mutilation) is ILLEGAL!!! -- have a near-ZERO (0)% circ rate yet, yet have some of THE lowest HIV/AIDS rates globally. Other European countries follow.

www.circumcisionandhiv.com

PS I'm intact and have NEVER (ever!) had smegma. Also, _girls_ get more smegma and NOTHING is cut off.
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Krystle
Drone... should my labia be removed if I am living in a desert with no access to water and I cant bathe for weeks? Women produce smegma, too!
Rightallthetime - how can you make a blanket statement like "most chicks"? I'd say since 75%+ of the world is intact, "most chicks" prefer foreskin.
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Kitty
@rightallthetime- if you think "most chicks prefer circ'd", you're hanging around with some ignorant girls. If they'd tried uncirced, they might realize that a) hygeine isn't an issue if the guy showers, and b) a foreskin can do wonderful things for the guy AND for her.

PS- love your name.
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Mom
The data is irrefutable that it reduces the spread of HIV. Female circumcision is about social control. Male circumcision reduces infection. There is no debate here.
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youknowmeright
Very recently an article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine which discusses the potential impact of male circumcision in the control worldwide of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HPV, HIV and herpes. Another, earlier report in the International Journal of Cancer corroborated this information. In the most recent study, more than 5,000 uncircumcised men in Uganda were enrolled in the study to determine how effective circumcision is in the reduction of both genital herpes and HPV.

The report in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that circumcision reduced herpes risk by 25 percent and HPV by 35 percent. Previously, three independent studies showed that HIV risk was reduced 50 to 60 percent by male circumcision.

In other multi-national studies, which were done in countries around the world including Brazil, Mexico, Spain, the Philippines, Thailand, Denmark and the United States, the findings mirror each other. A study of 988 men in three countries, Brazil, Mexico and the US, the authors reported, "In this multi-national study where approximately 60 percent of study participants were un-circumcised, we found circumcision to be associated with a significantly reduced risk of...human papillomavirus."

Although circumcision may have a greater impact on the health of people in countries where the incidence of HIV is highest, there are benefits to be considered for men in any country of the world.

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spacediver
The inner foreskin, in particular the ventral portion (which includes the highly erogenous frenulum) contains the most sensitive region on the male human body, period. This tissue is not simply sensitive, but erogenously so, meaning that sexual pleasure and orgasm is derived from this tissue. Many circumcised males can verify this for themselves if they have remnants of the tissue at the scarline.

An orgasm is produced when erogenous tissue is stimulated and builds up energy until threshold is reached, at which point the nerve energy is released.

What do you think happens when you drastically reduce the number of neural modulators involved in this process?

The removal of sexual tissue from a nonconsenting human, female OR male, unless absolutely medically necessary, is a hideous crime.
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Michael Cassilan
It's not just Jews and Muslims (and you sound just a bit racist suggesting that it is), it's most peoples, most tribes, most civilizations, most societies, and arrived at independently by most peoples through history. Male mammals have foreskins to protect the sensitive glans as they walk around in the bush. Once you start wearing clothes, it's not necessary. Removing it is proven to not just reduce HIV infection but a host of other unpleasant infections too. Those that deny this have the right to their opinion, but it doesn't change the truth. Just do the research and try and avoid the inane propaganda (some of them linked above) that comes up when you google it. While the idea that it might be made illegal is pathetically naive, the ignorance of those who support such a position is shocking and sad. I don't know why this bizarre movement exists, anymore than I can know why some people believe that contrails from jets are actually chemicals being sprayed, or that vaccines cause autism. I suspect though, it's from a few troubled males who have decided to blame their defective personalities on some 'trauma' that their parents inflicted on them. I've attended two circumcisions, and they were about as bloody and traumatic as a scraped knee. My advice, change your therapy.
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Mick
@Drone: Jews normally circumcise after 8 days (not 8 months) assuming the child is healthy. When properly performed it is a 15-second procedure with recovery within days.

Anyway, unlike FGM, I know of no real impediment or negative effect to leading a normal life of being circumcised. I have never met anyone who regretted it for whatever reason or held negative views about it or the decision of their parents/elders.

I think the movement to ban it is marginal like the anti-vaccination movement.
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scissorpaws
I don't care what it might - and that's a big might, especially in countries where we can't even administer cheap antibiotics or clean water, let along fly in a surgery team - prevent, mutilating children is child abuse. Do it on yourself, and remove your breasts (no more breast cancer!!) and prostate (no more prostate cancer!!) while you're at it, if you're so gung-ho. I feel debased even having to have this arguement.
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Concerned reader
Please consider the plight of children (female) who are taken on 'holiday' every year from developed countries for this horrific practice which compares with full male castration. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jul/25/female-circumcision-childr...

Surely our time and resources would be better spent defending the rights of these children than whinging about a procedure with no comparison on boys.
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Amanda
I couldn't care less if a grown man were to look at the information regarding HIV, STDs and Cancer in regards to circumcision and decide that he would prefer to be circumcised. What I do care about it the fact that infants are not given a choice. That is plan and simply wrong and should be illegal.
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Comegetme
I had my son circumsized. If he hs issues with it we'll discuss it and I'll tell him why.
Thats right. I TALK to my kids. Unlike this clowns absentee father. Just give him attention and he'll be happy
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