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.

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      By Shadi Elien

      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 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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      Jul 29, 2010 at 8:02am

      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?


      Jul 29, 2010 at 10:30am

      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.


      Jul 29, 2010 at 11:40am

      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.


      Jul 29, 2010 at 12:49pm

      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.


      Jul 29, 2010 at 1:11pm

      Decreases HPV/HIV spread
      Not the same as clit as sexual function intact(as I know)
      Most chicks prefer circ'd as less smegma

      Frank OHara

      Jul 29, 2010 at 2:46pm

      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.



      Jul 29, 2010 at 2:55pm

      "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 and get your facts straight.

      Chase McCaw

      Jul 29, 2010 at 2:55pm

      @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.

      PS I'm intact and have NEVER (ever!) had smegma. Also, _girls_ get more smegma and NOTHING is cut off.


      Jul 29, 2010 at 3:28pm

      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.


      Jul 29, 2010 at 3:29pm

      @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.