Like Mugabo, 27-year-old Troy also went under the knife as a teenager. The practice wasn’t common in his native Belize, and it didn’t become an issue until he moved to the States and started having sex. One partner made a big deal of his uncircumcised penis. As the two undressed, her eyes were fi xed on his junk. She had never seen an uncircumcised penis before. The teenage tryst turned into a full-on interrogation.
“She looked at me like I was an alien,” says Troy, who is now a soldier based in Afghanistan. The baffled young woman shot off rapid-fire questions: How does it work? Why does it look like that? Does it hurt? “That certainly ruined the moment and was embarrassing, so I decided I’m not going to continue life like this.”
At 14 years old, Troy got the surgery done during summer vacation. “Doing it at an older age is very painful,” he says. “It’s all stitched up, and you’re not supposed to get erections. As a teenage boy do you know how hard it is to not get erections?”
Pain and all, Troy says he is glad he made the call. “I noticed a difference in performance,” says
Troy. “Before, that extra skin would sometimes get peeled back kind of like a banana and was uncomfortable. It’s bad enough that condoms take away half the feeling.” After the surgery, and many weeks after healing, Troy says his first sexual experience felt a lot better.
Happily circumcised, Mugabo and Troy agree that their sons will follow in their footsteps, which upsets intactivists like Russell and Tally. Outrage over male circumcision may never compare to that surrounding female mutilation. “[Male circumcision] is completely different,” says Dr. Lisa Jackson, an OB/GYN who performs circumcisions. “If circumcision prevented men from having good sex or caused medical damage like female mutilation does, it would have been stopped.
It’s like getting a [baby] girl’s ears pierced… They will feel some pain, but won’t remember.” Meanwhile, some men won’t ever forget.