When I was in San Francisco, in September, Carole and I girded our loins (unlike a great many other attendees) and spent a boozily voyeuristic afternoon at the Folsom Street Fair, a celebration of all that is naughty, kinky, or merely unconventional in (mostly) gay life and attitudes.
I took lots of pictures of pot-bellied men wearing leather underwear ingeniously designed to expose everything that underwear normally hides. I watched a naked, Brazilian-waxed woman in 6-inch heels being led about on a rhinestone dog leash and given occasional nipple-shaped treats as a reward for licking her handler's breast. And I gaped, from afar, at a line-up of Bay Area Intactivists, many of whom were flaunting penises with foreskins stretched about two extra inches by some sort of artfully inserted bolt.
I had never heard of "intactivists" before, but there they were, in their dangling splendor, smiling broadly for the cameras and handing out colorful brochures denouncing the evil of "male genital mutilation"--i.e., circumcision. (I was, of course, all the more fascinated to discover such vehement defenders of the 'natural' state at this fair celebrating all that is artful, artificial, contrived, and defiantly anti-missionary-posture nature!)
Apparently, the intactivists are a mostly political organization, concerned more about foreskin ethics than esthetics (though, clearly, they DO enjoy the beauty of a nice uncut dick--as did Michelangelo, who couldn't bring himself to circumcise his David, future king of Israel). Accordingly, in 2011, they were instrumental in introducing a ballot initiative to ban male circumcision in San Francisco. Alas, a spoil-sport judge ruled that, for the time being at least, male genital integrity was less important than the religious beliefs of parents who might seek salvation by sacrificing their sons' foreskins to Yahweh or Allah or Quetzalcoatl. The intactivists, aroused, vowed to take their fight to Congress. Grand bien que cela leur fasse!
So, are uncut penises superior (as the Emperor Hadrian asserted, contemplating perhaps his boyfriend Antinous)? Is "natural" better (as Tristram Shandy must have felt after being penilely savaged by an unhinged window sash)? Should we let the individual male decide when he has attained adulthood and has had the opportunity to "test drive" his hot rod? Or is it all Much Ado About Not Very Much (unless "it" has been stretched an additional two inches)?
Probably the latter. Still, as I read one of those colorful brochures with illustrated testimonials, I did begin to think about how basically silly, arbitrary--and yes, unwittingly cruel-- infant circumcision is. Parents mess up our minds quite enough as it is, couldn't they at least leave our dicks alone for us to do what we want with? Like, you know, inserting a bolt in the preputial opening and posing thus accoutered for photo-taking voyeurs at street fairs?