The topic of non-consensual circumcision has routinely made the nightly news as the fate of a four-year-old boy and his intact penis have been the center of attention of news coverage in America and beyond.
As you know, I am a staunch body integrity activist, and in the situation of circumcision, we activists who fight to protect boys and girls from non-consensual circumcision are called intactivists. I have written about circumcision several times on this blog, and I’ve written about this case once before. I’ve even done a radio episode on the topic of male circumcision, and I’ve answered a reader’s question via my YouTube channel regarding the effects of male circumcision on women. But I was waiting to write more about this court case in the hopes that the final verdict would recognize the boy’s right to body autonomy and self-determination. Unfortunately, the result of this case is heartbreaking.
The case involves Chase, a boy caught in the middle of a battle between his two parents, Heather Hironimus and Dennis Nebus. The parents both originally agreed to the circumcision when Chase was an infant, but the mother, Hironimus, changed her mind. Fast forward past a long court battle and skipping town to avoid having the procedure done on Chase, Hironimus has finally given her consent to the unnecessary body mutilation of her son, which shocked and saddened intactivists around the world.
Heather Hironimus has been a heroine to intactivists who have been following the case, nicknamed in social media as #SavingChase. Her motherly instincts to protect her child in full alert, she fled with Chase, staying on the run to prevent her son from undergoing a cosmetic medical procedure to amputate a perfectly normal, healthy, and functionally important part of his penis. There is absolutely no reason for this (or any) circumcision to be performed. Hironimus turned herself in and was jailed May 14, 2015.
Today, she signed the “consent” form to have Chase circumcised, and by “consent”, I mean the court-coerced agreement to have her son’s sexual anatomy harmed in exchange for her freedom. If a woman had “sex” with a man because the alternative was bodily harm to her child, that is not actual “consent” — we would still call that rape. The justice system has ordered the sexual assault on a four-year-old boy, who has actually verbalized his terror at having the procedure done to his body. That means, the owner of the penis has said, “No.” Yet the court has ordered him raped anyway.
Even though Hironimus signed the “consent” to have her son mutilated, The Sun Sentinel reports Hironimus’ legal battles are not over:
Now, she’s facing a criminal charge that carries a maximum punishment of five years in state prison if convicted…. She is charged with interference of custody, a third-degree felony, from her months of hiding with the boy in a Broward County domestic violence shelter.
There is absolutely no reason to violate any baby boy’s (or girl’s) right to body autonomy and self-determination. Every child has a basic human right to decide what happens to his or her body. The lies about circumcision being better or safer are perpetuated here in the United States by medical companies and organizations that profit financially from the sale of foreskins to cosmetic companies and biotech labs.
Female circumcision is now illegal in the United States, and the same lies about removing a boy’s foreskin being safer, healthier, and looking better were all used in the propaganda to justify female genital mutilation in days gone by. In fact, the male foreskin has at least 16 known functions to protect the penis and urinary tract, and it contains cells that prevent bacterial infections and the spread of viruses. But actual science does not seem to matter when a societal and cultural “tradition” is determined to have its way.
And if you want to get into the religious argument, this boy is an American citizen, which means he has a First Amendment right to freedom from religion. Chase and his body have been used in a tug-of-war between two parents who couldn’t get their act together — I am not even sure why the father has gone to this length to have his son mutilated. At least the mother was trying to save the boy an unnecessary medical procedure that no one should be able to order except Chase himself. And Chase HAS verbalized that he does NOT want part of his penis amputated. What about the doctor who is to perform the abhorrent procedure? The Hippocratic Oath instructs to “first do no harm”. Will the doctor heed that oath when Chase is brought in kicking and screaming, “NO!”, to the procedure to which he has not consented?
As any feminist knows, body integrity and the right to choose what happens to your body is a basic human right. If you want your penile or clitoral foreskin removed, you should have the choice to do that when you are 18+. No one should have the authority to force you to have unnecessary, medically unfounded, cosmetic surgical changes to your body that will have lasting effects physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. Your body. Your choice.
In my opinion, the father, this judge, and the doctor will all be guilty of sexually assaulting a minor. And they should go to prison, not the mother.
A Florida court won’t allow the state’s Supreme Court to hear Chase Ryan Nebus-Hironimus’ case in which the father wants the 4-year-old boy circumcised, while the mother has fought valiantly against the unnecessary mutilation of her son. The mother has been put on a gag order, which is a violation of her First Amendment rights as well as a violation of her right to speak up for her son’s right to choose what happens to his body when he is 18+. She cannot even tell her son that she opposes the heinous surgery.
The father wants the circumcision on his son because that’s the “normal thing to do”. Actually, it’s NOT normal. Having foreskin to protect the penis glans is what is normal — that’s why boys are BORN THAT WAY.
Circumcision is unnecessary, and it’s sick. Circumcision on a non-consenting person is a violation of his basic human rights to body autonomy and self-determination. This case is a prime example of no justice for a child who cannot speak for himself and whose wishes would be railroaded by his ignorant father. Circumcision is sexual abuse, and the Florida judge just condoned it.
The only person who should decide what happens to the anatomy of the male’s penis is the man himself. No parent, no social custom, no religion is more important than what the male wants for his own body.
Jamie McCartney is a British artist who created an art installation piece of plaster casts called “The Great Wall of Vagina”. On his website are images of the entire installation along with the motto, “Changing female body image through art”.
His website explains the art piece:
The 9 metre long polyptych consists of four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, all of them unique, arranged into ten large panels. McCartney set out to make this project as broad and inclusive as possible. The age range of the women is from 18 to 76. Included are mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women as well as a woman pre and post natal and another one pre and post labiaplasty.
One of the many reasons I love this piece is because when I directed/ produced a production of The Vagina Monologues in 2006, one of the comments repeatedly mentioned by women who auditioned was how much they hate what their vagina looks like. Of course, they were actually referring to the vulva — as does this art piece (hint: the vagina is the inside part). Only one female at the auditions, a 24 year old girl who had not yet had kids, said she loved how her vulva looked like a beautiful flower. One woman said her “vagina” was ugly because she’d had 4 kids. Frankly, I don’t think most women know what our genitals are supposed to look like because our perception is skewed by porn and skin mags.
The month that I turned 40, I took pictures of my vulva and saw my vulva for the very first time ever (not counting when I was in labor and saw my daughter’s head crowning in the mirror up on the wall of the delivery room — I’m nearsighted so I couldn’t really see it). Turning 40, I wanted to love my body visually the way I adore my body sensually. But seeing my vulva pics, I burst into tears because she looked so different than what I envisioned. My fair-skinned legs and rosy labia were not what I’m accustomed to seeing because most of the women I’ve seen in erotic photos are tan. Then there was my clitoral hood and the shape of my inner labia…. I thought, “WHY would a man like this?! I look so different….”
I deleted the pics immediately. But I took some more pictures the next day, and this time I didn’t cry. I guess I was getting accustomed to seeing what I look like. I sent the pics to 3 guy friends I could trust to tell me the truth, and each one said my vulva was beautiful. I was really annoyed with myself that I felt I needed that kind of validation, especially from men, but men know vulvas, and they know what men like in a juicy yoni. And frankly, if I’d sent my pics to other women, would the women have been grossed out because they likewise have little clue what “vaginas” are supposed to look like?
As I continued to look at my vulva pictures (and even took some more), it was amazingly empowering to know and love my genitals and not compare mine to women in porn or magazines. Aside from the genital grooming that is prolific in erotic photography, many people don’t realize that porn performers often have cosmetic surgery to alter their genitals, including labioplasty to make the labia smaller or conform to some ridiculous notion of what labia are “supposed” to look like.
This brings me to my point and yet another aspect of healing women’s body image. There is NO one way a vulva is supposed to look. Every vulva is different. Comparing vulvas is like comparing snowflakes — each one is unique and beautiful in her own way.
I think McCartney’s work is very important for a few reasons. One, he cast all sorts of women when making his plaster art, and you see all sorts of labia shapes and sizes (and piercings!) represented. Also, because the work is in plaster as opposed to photography or paint, race is not an issue, and all the vulvas can be appreciated without an ingrained idea that “white chick” vulvas are more pleasing to the eye.
Check out McCartney’s website to see the many other panels in this art installation.
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I was wondering, what is it supposed to feel like when somebody touches your clit? I have heard it’s supposed to bring a good feeling but not in my case. When my boyfriend touches my clit, I get a really intense kinda uncomfortable feeling. It doesn’t feel bad or hurt but it definitely doesn’t feel good either. And it’s not something I look forward to. My bf always wants to touch it but even if I let him, I stop him after a couple secs cuz it feels intense and uncomfortable. Is this normal?
So much to address here!
Let me assure you that pain or discomfort is never “normal” for any kind of sex ever. No kind of sex (vaginal or anal) or touch or penetration should EVER be painful. EVER. (Okay, that wasn’t exactly your question, but I just want to reiterate that for the readers.) What is “normal” touch sensation for you will be different for someone else, so my “normal” will be different from yours. My “normal” now that I’m extremely in touch with my body will be very different from the “normal” that is “normal” for a female just starting to explore her body. So without knowing your age (18+), your sexual experience, any previous trauma, how you touch yourself, and how he specifically touches you, there’s no way I can guess what would be “normal” for you. But I can say that not-quite-pain, not-quite-pleasure feeling is common at first. So let’s look at this bit by bit.
The external clitoris is literally the tip of the iceberg! Most of the clitoris is inside the body, with several inches of innervated erectile tissue that expands and zings with sensation during arousal. Those inches of erectile tissue that men have hanging outside their body, a.k.a. the penis, is synonymous with the inches of erectile tissue women have; ours is just inside us.
The tip of the clit, that little nub we can see, is technically called the glans, just like the tip of the penis is called the glans. The tip of the clit is usually protected by the clitoral hood, which is synonymous with the penile foreskin. With around 8,000 nerve endings, the clitoral glans is VERY sensitive to touch. In fact, if you can see the tip, the clit is actually in the non-erect state; but that doesn’t mean she’s not enjoying herself — she probably is! Nearing climax, the clit will seem to “disappear” into the fleshy folds of the vulva; but she’s not retreating from touch, she’s actually getting a full erection on! This is usually when “vigorous” touch can be exquisite.
The clitoral body can be stimulated externally by (gently) pressing on the mons pubis area or internally via various fingering and stroking techniques inside the vagina. (Reminder: the female prostate is on the anterior wall of the vagina and is a different anatomical structure.) When a woman is nearing climax, there is often a “vice grip” clench at the opening of the vagina; these are the clitoris’ vestibular bulbs near the entrance. The clit is actually quite extensive and complex, comprised of 18 distinct parts. Your clit is MUCH MORE than just the nub on the outside!
But let’s remember, those are 8,000 plugged-in nerve endings. Touching them before they are ready to receive pleasure input can feel awkward or even painful. Since you sound like a young adult, I’m going to assume your boyfriend is the overly eager type who just wants to start pawing at your body (perhaps because that’s what he’s seen in porn, or he may be new to all this as well). This is NEVER okay. The man NEVER touches you anywhere unless YOU are ready to be touched. You’ll know when your clit is begging to be touched, and if he doesn’t touch you properly or is clumsy, you have the right to tell him how to touch you. It sounds like you are willing to stand up for yourself, and that is great! You have complete autonomy over your body.
Here’s were I have to interject yet another consequence of circumcision. If your man is circumcised, he may be accustomed to needing “rough” stimulation due to keratinization (callousing of skin) on his penis glans. If your man is not circumcised, explain to him that touching your clit with little or no prior arousal is like someone yanking his foreskin back and going straight for the underside of his penis glans. This can be very uncomfortable for the intact man! No one likes too much sensation too soon, which is what it sounds like you’re experiencing from your boyfriend.
Keep in mind, there is a reason the female needs to be fully aroused before going for the clit or the vagina. From a Tantra perspective, the woman and the man have positive and negative poles, like on a magnet. For the woman, the positive pole is the heart chakra, home to her heart and her breasts, with the negative pole being the genitals. For the man, the positive pole is his root/sex chakra, home to his penis and testicles, with the negative pole being his heart chakra. Biologically, the woman needs 15 to 30 minutes of dedicated arousal, or as I like to call it — puja (worship :-) ) to prepare the vagina for sex. The same way a singer has to warm up before performing, think of this time as necessary preparation — fun, delicious preparation for continued, evolving, expanding, rapturous ecstasy. Therefore, this time allows the woman’s body, especially the genitals, to become ready to receive touch and penetration and pleasure. It’s no coincidence that focus on the woman’s heart chakra would be key. Not only does it stimulate the woman emotionally, but a woman’s nipples are wired directly to her clit. Breast puja = a turned on, horny clit. Any man who doesn’t want to commit 15 minutes of breast/sensual touch puja isn’t worth your time.
This 15 minute warm-up doesn’t have to be solely focused on the breasts. Any sensual touch and massage will awaken the subtle body. This includes kissing, nibbling, caressing, talking, laughing. Once the woman is ready for more direct touch, the woman can allow the man to begin with touch and kisses on the insides of her thighs, the outer labia, the mons pubis — basically, loving all the way around the clit until you are ready for more. As you become more experienced and more familiar with your body’s responses, you may not need this much time. In fact, when you are able to stay in an aroused state — recognize that orgasm is an energy field you can slip into any time you want, you may not need much prep touching at all. Just thinking of your man will send your spine arching back into orgasm and your clit throbbing for touch! (In time, you’ll learn how to control this response when you’re in public, like shopping at the grocery story or the library. :-D )
Keep in mind, physical climax is different from energy orgasms. Men often confuse ejaculation (climax) with orgasm. These are two separate functions: ejaculation is a physical reflex of the sympathetic nervous system, while orgasm is a response via the parasympathetic nervous system. Since men need less time to get aroused and ready for penetration, they tend to focus on the end, rather than enjoying the journey. (Another horrible legacy of standard porn, too.) Just like for the woman, this arousal time is also a time of breathing and relaxing for the man. When your mind and/or body is stressed, pleasure can be elusive. Take your time to get warmed up and totally invested in your body’s journey to pleasure. There is plenty of time to get hot and heavy — once you’re BOTH aroused to the point of a crazed fuck-for-all.
Note: This initial phase of arousal is usually called “foreplay”, a term I despise since it places the importance of the sexual experience on “sex” which is usually defined by the penetration, i.e., when the penis enters the vagina. This devalues the woman and the woman’s biological needs of arousal in order to accept a penis (or toy) without pain. So I do not use the term foreplay. Puja is my personal preference. Puja, the idea of honoring the person and their body, also puts respect back into the sensual, sexual experience, in my opinion.
You should know, Anon, that it takes time to get to know your clit and the rest of your sexual anatomy. And you should spend a lot of time with her — just you and her. This way you get to know how she likes to be touched, without the pressure of a panting, horny Lothario rushing you and making you feel uncomfortable or not “normal”. Masturbation is a beautiful way to honor yourself (self-puja) and learn about yourself and your body. Through masturbation, she won’t feel so foreign to you, and you will begin to integrate her into your body and your overall sexual being-ness.
After you are more familiar with your body, show your boyfriend how you like to be touched. Masturbate in front of him, but he can’t help you — he needs to watch and learn. (He can help later on.) More often than not, a lighter, gentler touch is needed at first. In fact, once your body is awakened, you might even have labia-gasms and sheet-gasms. Hard touch is usually ONLY desired at the absolute height of passion and usually NEVER at the beginning of a love-making session. When your clit is really ready, you’ll know because you’ll start looking for things to hump. If you start eyeing the arm of the sofa with lust, that’s usually a good sign your clit needs some determined lovin’.
Recap of what we covered:
1 – Learn your clit’s likes and dislikes via masturbation; then when you’re ready, it’s show-and-tell time to teach your man.
2 – Female and male sexual anatomy are synonymous, for the most part. Some things are similar to both the woman and the man, so teaching the man about the woman’s anatomy will help him understand how your body responds.
3 – Prior arousal is required for pleasure. As you become more experienced, you may not need as much prep-time, but for now, insist on at least 15 minutes of sensual touch on other parts of your body to get your clit primed for touch.
4 – To learn various touch techniques for the clit, look through some of the videos and info here where the clit rules and men are glad to offer puja to a woman’s body (or willingly lie back and let the woman drive the orgasm train).
Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you want to offer more info so we can be more specific.
Thanks so much for trusting me with your clit. :-)