I'm uncircumcised -- or as some of you may call it: "rolling up the sleeves of a sweater," "getting the turtle out of the shell," or, "breakin' a sweat to get to the head." Okay, I made that last one up and I know, it's terrible, but I'm owning up to it! Just like I'm owning up to being uncut. I grew up in a Polish household; we sang "Sto Lat" when it was someone's birthday, celebrated Wigilia by consuming an endless chasm of pierogis, and had a communal industrial-size bottle of peroxide underneath the bathroom sink to facilitate a visible increase in our natural blonde highlights because we were too cheap to go to the salon. In a way, I was quite underexposed to American culture despite growing up in suburban New Jersey, which is why until I became sexually active, thought every male penis looked like mine.
Since I was a teen, I've dealt with a slew of body image issues over the years; I've always been overwhelmingly cognizant of every pound gained or lost, my lanky legs, or That One Mole That Looks Alarming, But It's Really Just Another Reminder of Your Heritage -- but I never thought twice about the skin on my penis.
I didn't realize that having foreskin would make me a pariah. I've met guys, and dated some, who were completely turned off at the thought of an uncircumcised penis. I've heard countless friends over the years say they're grossed out at the thought of discovering their man's penis wears a hoodie with the drawstring pulled out all the way. I wondered: What is so unfathomably vile about uncircumcised peen? I'm a firm proponent of penile hygiene. Mine works just as well as the next dude's. It doesn't scream when you push the skin back. What is it? All these people expressing their disdain for uncut cock are acting like they're going down on someone and finding a Venus fly trap. It made me feel ashamed and embarrassed, and just added to the insurmountable anxiety I get whenever I get intimate with a man. What if the guy I'm about to have sex with takes my pants off and then stop, drop and rolls out of the room?
It's no secret being uncircumcised in other countries around the world is more or less as prevalent as being circumcised in the United States. And yes, I'm aware the rate of male circumcision in the U.S. has been steadily dropping since the 70s, but that doesn't mean the stigma in this country still doesn't exist. I would stay silent every time I heard someone say something derogatory about foreskin and would bite my tongue if they said something that I knew wasn't true. Well, that ends today.
There's an important exchange of dialogue happening now on body image and what it means to be in your own skin that's building momentum at a rate not unlike The X-Men's Unstoppable Juggernaut -- and I'm using my voice to add to the chorus. I still struggle with certain body image issues, but at least I can take a small step everyday to help alleviate the burden of insecurity. Just because I'm uncut doesn't mean I'm dirty or perform worse or better in bed than a circumcised man. There have also been numerous studies conducted in the past decade dispelling the notion uncircumcised men are more prone to medical afflictions. Quite a few medical myths regarding circumcision surfaced in the 50's and 60's by virtue of a predominance in misinformation like uncircumcised males being at a greater risk of contracting HIV, getting more UTI's, and increasing the chance of yeast infection in a female through vaginal sex, however the steady decrease in circumcision in addition to recent studies have proven these counterfactual.
I'm making the decision to not be ashamed of how my penis looks and stop caring if some schmuck I go out with is turned off by it. Taking a step a day, no matter how small, is still a step in the right direction to being comfortable in your own skin and ultimately leading a happier and healthier life. Be good to yourself, and take no shit. I'm embracing my goddamn foreskin because it's here, it's queer -- get used to it.