Something Like a Man

By Greg Markman

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In my senior year of high school, I sat with my friend in engineering class. We talked about our dicks. He said his parents didn’t circumcise him. He immediately disgusted me a bit. I didn’t know what foreskin was, but I knew it was dirty and gross. I asked him why they didn’t circumcise him. He said, "They just didn’t.”

Now I know the truth, and I wish I had never thought like such an American. But how else could I have thought? The pediatrician always told me I was healthy. The endocrinologist said, “Nothing’s wrong,” even after she checked my genitals. When I got the sex talk, it sounded like I had the proper equipment. All the dicks in porn look like mine.

If only my parents “just didn’t” believe the nurse who told them that I would get infections, that my penis would be impossible to clean, that I would want to look like Daddy.

For most of my life I had no idea why my penis bored me. Why doesn’t it feel like much? I find my fingers, lips, and anus substantially more sensitive than my dull, dry shaft and glans. No one told me about my unnecessary cosmetic genital surgery. I learned about it myself from a YouTube video when I turned nineteen, and I have never been the same.

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I witnessed a traumatized baby screaming and crying. This little guy was just like I was: desperate and helpless, robbed of a normal body, a normal sexuality, a normal life. The doctor separated the foreskin from the glans, clamped the penis, and then cut off the foreskin. I pulled my hair and cried. I experienced an identity crisis. Here is an excerpt from some earlier writing:

...I can’t stop thinking about my circumcision. I can’t stop wondering how different I would be, had I not been mutilated. Would I have a different personality? Would I have different hobbies and different friends? Would I be heavier, taller, stronger, or more athletic? Who would I be today had I not been mutilated?

I contemplated suicide because I lack a wonderful part of my body. I thought that I didn’t deserve to be loved. I figured no woman ought to be stuck with a mutilated man who could not perform like a normal man — who could not even feel everything he’s supposed to feel. I believed I was something like a man, but not one. I was some grotesque version — a disfigured, pathetic excuse for a man.

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So for three years I researched everything I could about circumcision. I bought and read at least twenty books on the subject and downloaded and read over a hundred documents from medical journals. I wrote a 50-page research paper on the history of circumcision in the United States. I have 193 footnotes and a 14-page bibliography (Times New Roman, 12, 1” margins, double-spaced). However, my knowledge doesn’t compensate for what I lost. Who cares what I know? Few Americans would believe me, and I’m still mutilated.

I also tried to restore my foreskin — stretch existing tissue to once more cover and protect my glans. When I learned that I could grow one by applying tension to the penile shaft skin, I grabbed an eight-inch chef knife, a pill bottle, tape, and a barbecue lighter. I sawed off the rim of the bottle and then melted the rough plastic to make the edge smooth. I put my dick in the bottle and pulled on my penile shaft skin, which I taped to the exterior of the bottle. A few hours passed, and nothing happened. I later realized that this process would take years.

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A few months later I went online and ordered a foreskin restoration device. I wore the invention for more than a cumulative two thousand hours over two years, but I detected no progress. I took monthly photographs, which all look the same.

I switched to a different means of restoration called Manual Method 2. Still nothing happened for me, so I quit.

I have decided to cope without my foreskin rather than set an unreasonable requirement for my satisfaction: all the foreskin I want, or I’ll never be a man! I am learning how to be a man without my foreskin. I see myself as a warrior with a battle scar. I do my best without my whole body, but still I wonder…


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there is a cool quiet chamber
with warm bodies and our pleas
set with strong clamps
confused and damned desperately
trying to kick
restrained by tight straps
equally futile punches
our energy saps.

there is a cool quiet chamber
with bluish bodies and our screams
set with whetted blades —
heaven in a sadist’s dreams.
a dark black monstrous thing
crawls from the vents
pounces on its prey and
carves us infants.

there is a cool quiet chamber
with raped bodies and our blood
rid of necrotic flesh
from a procedure misunderstood.
that devil in the white coat
slides off its gloves
swaddles and kisses us boys
it loves.

there is a drab american home
with sore bodies that don’t sleep
set with mamas’ breasts
we don’t latch, only weep.
no swooning, no humming,
no rocking will do
we’ll mourn with our mamas
through night until noon.

and these glints of pain
that stain our eyes
pain remains here forever
ingrained in our lives.


Greg Markman is a bookkeeper for a supermarket. He likes to listen to music, play the drums, read, and write essays. He lives in New York with his kitty, Wilbur.