Aubrey Taylor is an intactivist based in Atlanta, Georgia. She runs the YouTube channel whatUneverknew.
In the following video, Aubrey expresses the fact that circumcision can diminish the quality of sexual intimacy for both partners, and that plenty of women love foreskin—even in cultures where circumcision is currently prevalent (like in Aubrey's country, the United States).
She continues this conversation with Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon.
I wrote something really personal, and usually I kind of stay away from that [sort of thing]. As far as my [YouTube] channel goes, I don't really bring my opinion or my personal life into what I'm trying to do here, because it doesn't matter; when it comes to respecting equal rights, nobody's opinion matters—rights are decided by equality, [while] opinions are [inherently] different for everyone.
[However], I know that there is sort of this idea out there that if a man has foreskin, he won't be able to get laid or [get] a blow job or whatever. So, the reason that I'm going to read this personal thing that I wrote is not to make anybody feel good or make anybody feel bad (though, if you feel good, that's great! and if you feel bad, I'm very sorry). The purpose is to dispel [some myths]:
- The myth that foreskins are nasty and all women hate them.
- The myth that [circumcision doesn't change] the penis or sex.
[This personal account of mine] was published on [Restoring Tally's blog].
This is how it goes:
I LOVE foreskin. I wish that were all I [have] to say. Unfortunately, there's a comparison to be made; it isn't [the case that the foreskin is part of just] one of two different naturally occurring [types of penis]; if it were, I wouldn't bother to tell people why I [like] one and not the other. But, because there is force involved [in circumcising people]—I'm campaigning against the forced circumcision of infants—I must also say that I can't fully enjoy circumcised sex, and why.
This is my personal opinion—not something that anyone has to agree with in order to understand that forced circumcision is wrong; it is just another example of how forcing amputation on one body affects more people than just the one who [is] cut.
When I first became sexually active, I wasn't comfortable touching my boyfriend's [circumcised] penis; something was just wrong about it. Even though he said he enjoyed it, I felt that what I was doing must be painful; I didn't know how hard my touch should be, and the friction creeped me out in a way I didn't even understand.
All it took was ONE stroke of an intact penis—[a penis with foreskin]—and I understood everything! There was no hesitation or worry that I was doing something wrong; it was sexy and fluid. I realized that there [is] a big difference and I started paying attention. I've been lucky that a good percentage of my lovers have been intact, and this is what I've learned about myself and both types of [penis].
Feeling connected is what I enjoy the most about sex. In fact, it's probably 80% of my arousal. Intimacy is the point; the physical acts are just how I get there. So, if I don't feel connected, the physical act is literally less pleasurable.
I am really oral [with my sexuality], meaning [that] using my mouth is a huge sexual turn on for me. There is something incredibly intimate about it (this is why I cannot date a smoker; kissing should be deep and sexy, and the taste of unhealthy lungs really gets in the way of that).
When I am giving head, I am not performing a service for the sole purpose of stimulating the penis. I am connecting, and making love with my mouth. I am right there, enjoying everything in the moment: I love to look at it, and smell it, and feel it, and taste it—I'm engaging in a dance with lots of different moves. If the foreskin is gone, my dance has fewer moves; that's less enjoyable, but not actually the problem.
I'm a very compassionate person. That's why I speak out against violating human rights. I see a crime against someone's rights almost as a crime against myself. I'm sensitive, and the idea of pain causes me distress. The idea of a baby being forced to endure pain... well, you get the point.
When I discovered how a circumcision [is] achieved, I was VERY disturbed ([I] cried all night). After that, when I gave head to a man who had been circumcised, the physical proof of the torture he [had] endured as an infant (a scar instead of a foreskin, and possibly other damage) was an immediate mood kill. How could I connect with that?
[In order to enjoy circumcised sex], I quite literally had to regress myself to an immature place—I had to [become the person I had been] before I understood how circumcision [is] done.
- I had to forget what I had learned for a little while.
- I had to forget what I was seeing when I wanted to connect [visually].
- I had to forget what I felt when I wanted to feel.
This was like a numbing of my senses—a wall against reality. [Nevertheless], it worked, and I was able to feel connected and enjoy myself, but I was pretending to be a different person. It wasn't [I who was] connecting; it was the [I] of a few months or years before.
As I [have been] further removed from that person by time and change, that task has become harder and harder. The intimacy in that moment is about being fully immersed in the other person's body. Trying to connect with a constant reminder of parts being forcibly removed from a screaming infant is impossible. Finding [that naive self] inside me who can [ignore these facts] is now so difficult [that] I'm tired of trying.
The changes [that] circumcision brings to sex are drastic and vast. I won't state them all here, but I'll go over the mechanical ones that affect me the most.
The foreskin has tens of thousands of nerve endings. When it is pulled back, the man has sensation down his shaft, so his strokes [during coitus] are deep and short, which keeps the partners close and intimate. [In contrast], a circumcised man usually wants to stimulate [the pressure sensitive head of his penis] by pulling it out to the tighter vaginal opening, because [the head] is the most sensitive part of the penis after the foreskin is removed; these longer strokes create a feeling of being further away, and can cause air to be pulled into the vagina (something I hate). [NOTE: This observation is corroborated by this study:
Respondents overwhelmingly concurred that the mechanics of coitus was different for the two groups of men. Of the women, 73% reported that circumcised men tend to thrust harder and deeper, using elongated strokes, while unaltered men by comparison tended to thrust more gently, to have shorter thrusts, and tended to be in contact with the mons pubis and clitoris more, according to 71% of the respondents.]
One little difference that I've noticed between circumcised men and intact men is that the intact man tends to have way way way more pre-cum; I can't imagine why that would be. I've only met one circumcised guy who had copious amounts of pre-cum, and very rarily have I engaged with an intact man who didn't have a lot of pre-cum. I've never found anything out as to why that would be, so I don't really have a guess, but it is something that I've noted: [A good amount of pre-cum] is something that really aids in sex—for a man to bring his own lubrication is a big deal.
Once the man has [fully] penetrated [the vagina], the [foreskin] is pulled back to the base of the penis; when there's outward motion, [it is] the foreskin (NOT the vaginal [tissue]) that slides [with respect to] the penis. This [buffer between the sliding penis and the vaginal walls] keeps the [wetness] inside [the vagina]; without the foreskin, [the wetness] is dragged out with every movement and exposed to the air where it dries.
Not only is there a risk of drying [during circumcised sex], but there's [irritating] friction, too; the sexually responsive nerves in the vagina are pressure sensitive, not friction sensitive. So, while some women may find friction to be a psychologically arousing sensation [because it] draws their attention to what's going on down there, I find it distracting and often painful.
When I am distracted by all of these uncomfortable sensations and worries, then I am not really connected; I'm not really there. I'm dealing with the stress of the situation in my head instead of being intimate. So, since intimacy is a big part of what makes my sensations pleasurable, then I'm just not feeling as good (sometimes to the point of [sex] not feeling good at all)—and don't forget: All of these differences remind me of WHY—and I'm back again to screaming babies.
It breaks my heart to think that what I have to say would make a man feel bad—discovering the truth was a pretty dark and painful moment for me, but luckily I found out about foreskin restoration that same night (see TLCTugger.com and NORM.org). It gave me the tiniest bit of solace to know that a man who feels this loss can do something about it—I know it's not a perfect fix, but when I have to be the bearer of bad news to a man who doesn't know what he's lost, I'm so grateful that I can give [that news] to him wrapped in the bright side: It can get better!
Naturally, there's [variation] in all men (circumcised or not) and there are lots of other things that make sex good or bad. I am not saying that all intact men are fantastic lovers or that all circumcised men are terrible lovers. What I'm saying is that all other things being equal, this is what I find to be the difference.
For a lot of women, the issues here may not affect them as much—or at all. [However], I have to honestly say that as the genital integrity movement grows, more and more women are realizing why they have at times found sex to be uncomfortable or painful. I'm sharing this because it's the truth, and because it obviously needs to be said; there [are these myths] out there [that need] to be dispelled. It needs to be shown that the pain of circumcision isn't momentary or [even] exclusive to the circumcised.
So, PLEASE do not amputate part of your son's penis because you believe that foreskin will have a negative impact on his sex life. [In fact, amputating his foreskin might well be the thing that actually has a negative impact on his sex life].