Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon: Using “foreskin restoration” to contemplate the effects of circumcision

Jewish American independent filmmaker Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon explains why he included discussions and explicit images of foreskin restoration in his landmark documentary film:

Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision

(slightly modified)

People often wonder why I [feature] foreskin “restoration” in my film—why is that something that I deal with in the way that I do? I have some explicit video of “restored” foreskin, and I interview Ron Low and his wife about their experience; I think that there are 2 things about foreskin restoration that speak to circumcision in a really important way that many people sort of miss:

  • Any sort of neurological function is going to have a natural decline over time as a person ages; this is true of vision, of hearing, of smell, of taste, [and so on]. It's just sort of the nature of nerves: Their function declines over time.

    Some people in a given population (in a biological distribution) are going to [experience] a sharper fall off of that function than other people. One of the things I found when I spoke to the folks who are restoring [their foreskins is that] they all gave me the same story, which is that they got to a certain age—whether it was their early 40s or their late 30s—and they stopped feeling sensation from their [penises], [such that] it was inter­fering with their sex lives; they weren't enjoying sex anymore, because their penises were denuded; they weren't feeling the sensation that at one time they had felt.

    This is a really important testimony, because these are people who did not have botched circumcisions (there were no further complications beyond the [expected damage of the circumcisions themselves]), and [yet] they're describing that they got to a certain age, and they no longer felt sensation from their [penises] anymore; what that tells me is that it comes back to this natural fall off—that some people are going to have a sharper fall off—and that when you damage and take away the most sensitive part of the penis, [then for] some people, that's going to have such a profound impact on them, because they have that sharper fall off; they literally will not be able to feel anything through their [penises] anymore.

    So, that's the first reason why it's important and relevant to the topic of circumcision, and an important data point, if you will.

  • It's very difficult to compare intact sexual experience to circumcised sexual experience; our tools (both philosophical and empirical) are not currently up to snuff when it comes to talking in any kind of degree of precision about the content of those two states.

    So, I find it very compelling to think about the fact that a circumcised man can do something to his body, where he can mimic what an intact man has and then report back that it's significantly better than [it] had been in the circumcised state.

So, for those 2 reasons, I think foreskin restoration is actually a really valuable subject when contemplating the effects of circumcision.

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