[40] The Cut Podcast: Cutting Culture: Circumcision, An Overview

Travis Wisdom, a student of Women's Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, organized a daylong conference on male circumcision and the issues surrounding identity and body ownership.

The first speaker of the day was Marilyn Milos of NOCIRC, who gave an overview of the history of circumcision and its effects on the sexual experiences and psychology of men, women, and society at large. Here is the recording, and a transcript follows.

(slightly modified)

Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon

From the White Letter Productions studios in Los Angeles, California, I'm [Eliyahu] Ungar-Sargon, and this is The Cut Podcast.

Travis Wisdom

Well, good morning everyone! [It would be great] if [you] could come on back down a little [farther]; we are having this recorded, so we're going to play a little trick and make sure [the auditorium] looks fuller than it really is! So, if you could fill in the empty seats, that would be good. Thank you!

All right. First, let me say that I apologize for all of the delays that happened in the morning. We're all here; thank you very much for attending.

My name is Travis Wisdom, and I am a UNLV alumna, and I will be your conference chair for this morning.

A brief note on how this project started: While I was completing my final internship program for my bachelors degree in Women's Studies here at UNLV, after several conferences abroad, I was asked to provide a film screening as a requirement for the project. I wanted to do something on [a] larger scale; [I wanted to] offer an academic conference [where] we would have people who could speak to the students as well as have a lecture [along] with a film screening. So, over [a] period of several months (with the help of NOCIRC, which is the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers), I have been able to put together this [conference today] with a variety of speakers.

Now, today, each of you will have the opportunity to listen to a variety of people present their work surrounding male circumcision. Our scholars (who have traveled abroad for this event) [and] UNLV students will discuss historical underpinnings to explain how male circumcision began and how it became medicalized and later normalized.

  • You'll have the opportunity to hear about its role in public health, and the role of the foreskin in male health.

  • Our speakers will analyze how circumcision has become an intricate part of Western culture, and we will discuss how we have become a cutting culture.

  • You will learn about the concept of genital integrity (or genital autonomy, which [is] synonymous), and we will examine the implications of law and society in relation to body ownership.

  • The final session of the day includes a film screening, which will offer an insight into circumcision and an inquiry about Jewish identity and [its] intersections with circumcision.

Whatever you know—or think you may know—about circumcision, I assure you, you will learn something today; you will leave this conference with new knowledge and awareness, and [you will] be better informed and more equipped to address the issue of circumcision within your own communities. You will be challenged, and you will be asked to think critically.

At this time, before I welcome Karoline Khamis to offer a few words, let me first [direct] you to the programs inside your packets; inside [each] packet is [a] program, and this offers detailed information about the itinerary as well as [about the] people who are here today in addition to our sponsors.

I want to first apologize for the variety of embarassing typos that you are more than likely going to see. So, just go ahead and overlook them as you are navigating the [content] of the pages. So, at this point, thank you for attending, and I'll turn it over to Karoline Khamis to speak.

Karoline Khamis

Well, I'm very honored that Travis asked me to help in the planning and the content of this conference.

I currently run the Campus Advocacy Resource Empowerment 24-hour, 7-days [per] week hotline. We respond to information, needs, [and] reporting of crimes of sexual violence. My position before that was Violence Prevention Coordinator and working with our peer-education team to provide presentations about anti-violence on our campus.

So, when I saw Travis's research praxis[?] last semester, [I] thought: Hey, we've been fighting violence against women as a certain kind of context and trying to draw men into our peer-education group and to our mission. This [topic of male circumcision] is kind of a missing part of what we've been talking about [with regard to] bodily property. So, I began to let that sink in, and then luckily [Travis] contacted me later in the summer with a very real opportunity to bring this [subject] to our campus and our students.

Students like Travis and this kind of research are really going to change the face of our practices—not only medically, but personally, religiously, and in our education structure that we pass on to our other students as we become educators ourselves. So, thank you, again, for coming to this very important conference, and for seeing the necessity of that link of bodily property between all genders.

So, I'm going to introduce our first speaker: Marilyn Fayre Milos is the co-founder and executive director of NOCIRC, which is the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, one of our sponsors and one of our amazing participants as well. She's going to give us kind of an overview of circumcision and some information that we need to know.

[NOTE: Marilyn Milos threatened legal action. The transcript based on her speech has been removed according to her wishes.]

Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon

That's our show; if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please email them to us at:

cutdocumentary AT gmail (.) com

If you like what you heard today, please support us by buying our film at:


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