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MISHA TYUNTUNIK

Making The Cut: An Investigative Report On Reverse Circumcision

INCH BY INCH, MEN IN THE U.S. HAVE STEADILY BEEN ROLLING BACK MALE CIRCUMCISION. AND WHILE SOME ADULT MEN ARE STRETCHING THEIR OWN BOUNDARIES IN AN ATTEMPT TO REVERSE THE PROCEDURE, THERE ARE OTHERS WHO VOLUNTARILY HIT THE CHOP SHOP. HERE, VIBE GIVES YOU A SLICE OF LIFE FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE FORESKIN REVOLUTION

Words: CHLOÉ HILLIARD | Illustration: MISHA TYUNTUNIK

A MAN STANDS BEFORE A CAMERA alone and completely naked holding his junk. He’s shot conveniently from mid-chest down, and he’s clearly on a mission. No, this isn’t a porno clip, and there will be no “money shot” at the end. This video is intended for educational purposes. The lesson: How to restore your foreskin.

There is no talking, but he slowly gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to apply the Dual Tension Restorer device (DTR), one of several popular utilities credited with helping to stretch the skin of the penis shaft, giving the appearance of a foreskin on an uncircumcised penis. He places a firm white rubber cap, called a “bell” on the tip of the penis. Next he rolls the shaft’s skin over the bell and rolls the “gripper,” a clear flexible rubber sleeve on top to keep the skin in place. The rod attached to the end of both pushes down the bell and lifts the gripper, stretching the skin with the use of suspension bands. It’s a gruesome looking procedure, but it shows the lengths some men will go in an attempt to restore their foreskin lost in circumcision.

Society puts great importance on the male genitalia. But at birth, the penis faces its first true test: to circumcise or not to circumcise. For generations, the question was a no-brainer because most fathers want their sons to “look like them.” At the peak of its practice in the 1970s, an estimated 80 percent of American parents circumcised their newborn sons, removing what would be nearly four inches in adult foreskin and 20,000 nerve endings.

Like the man in the video, Eddy, 38, is also restoring. He said he suffered from a “growing lack of sensitivity” after being “modified” as a child. His online research into the matter led him to this skin stretching method. “I wear the Dual Tension Restorer under my clothing for roughly nine hours a day and more if I can,” he says. “I usually give it a rest on the weekends.” Eddy’s decision to restore his foreskin won’t bring back what was removed when he was a newborn, but is enough to give him a better sense of confidence and comfort. Since he began restoring 19 months ago, he’s grown roughly 3/8” of new skin. The men who opt to restore do so because, like women who were circumcised, they didn’t have a choice and feel their bodies have been altered for the worse.

OVER THE YEARS, the procedure has declined in popularity in the U.S. In 2011, an estimated 54 percent of American boys were circumcised at birth (down from 80 percent in 1970). Parents are deciding to break from tradition. Medical research has proven that the foreskin is more than just an extra flap of skin. It’s a natural shield, lubricant and erogenous zone. “Since 1979 there has been a lot of research done that has established the actual value of the male foreskin,” explains Richard Russell director of communications for Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC). “And the costs of its loss, in terms of sexual sensing and performance.”

Other reasons for the dropping rates, according to Russell, is the extreme amount of pain the child undergoes, deaths due to complications and doctors admitting it’s nothing more than cosmetic surgery.

DOC estimates that there are 117 deaths due to complications caused by circumcisions. Last year, there were two publicized cases of child deaths in New York. Jamaal Coleson, was 2 when he was admitted for a routine circumcision, but died 10 hours later due to—according to his family—grave issues from the wrong analgesic. Another case involved a newborn that died after contracting herpes during his orthodox bris. The Jewish ceremony called for the rabbi to use his mouth to suck the blood from the penis after the foreskin was removed.

Fatalities like these add to an anti-circumcision sentiment. In the Philippines, a mass circumcision was held in May 2011, at which an estimated 1,500 boys were operated on in a single day with the hopes of making it into the Guinness World Records. Guinness officials rejected the entry stating that they “do not recognize the number of medical procedures within a set period of time or in a mass group due to hygiene considerations and risks.” Circumcised men are vocal opponents, some comparing the procedure to genital mutilation and using the Internet to spread their message. Anthony Losquadro, executive director of Intaction.org is what the anti-circumcision community calls an “intactivist,” people who advocate for education and giving boys the right to decide for themselves. “The medical community is concerned about the money,” Losquadro says. He tallies the average cost of a baby’s circumcision between $800 and $1,200, while, he says, the detached foreskins are often kept by the hospital and sold for medical research. “Hospitals retain ownership of the tissue and sell it to companies to use in artificial skin grafts and antiwrinkle cosmetics.”

TALLY, 56, HAS been restoring for nearly four years. He employs a method similar to the DTR, but without the use of a device. “Every time I go to the bathroom, I’ll tug for a minute or two,” he explains. “Tugging” is the process of holding the penis at its base and using an upward sliding grip to elongate the skin over the head. “It’s a habit,” he says. While the process he describes sounds like another “habit” lonely men might enjoy, Tally says that it produces results. “Most men that go all the way through with it, their doctor will say they look the same as an uncircumcised man.”

Since launching his site RestoringForeskin.org, Tally has become a vocal intactivist. He can often be found commenting on many mommy blogs about the hazards of infant circumcision. “What we try to do is educate people,” says Tally. “They think if you are circumcised you are cleaner.”

With nearly 6,000 members, RestoringForeskin.org is a space for men to share their stories and tips on regaining what they see as part of their manhood. “As I started restoring my foreskin, I started changing,” says Tally, who believes that he’s now more in touch with his feelings as a result. “I noticed about eight to nine months after I started restoring, I felt emotions I never felt before.”

IN AFRICA, CIRCUMCISION is all the rage. It’s being touted as a way to help prevent the spread of STDs, especially HIV. Over the last few years, African men by the thousands have been rushing to get altered, oftentimes at the hands of amateur operators, leaving some with infections and botch jobs. However, like in the States, there are rising voices challenging the need for surgery. “Many African men are saying they believe they have a vaccine against HIV with circumcision and do not need condoms,” explains Russell. “It is doubtful that circumcision will make a man safe from disease or infections.”

While organizations like DOC are against childhood circumcision everywhere, many African countries are encouraging men to undergo the procedure. According to the World Health Organization, Kenya has circumcised nearly 290,000 men in the past three years. The government of Tanzania has announced plans to circumcise at least 2.8 million men over the next five years. Swaziland, which has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, plans to circumcise 152,800 men. A statement released by the U.S. embassy in Swaziland estimated that the circumcision plan there could prevent nearly 90,000 new infections and save more than
$600 million over the next decade.

Mugabo, 34, grew up in Kenya and took it upon himself to get circumcised as a teenager. “I woke up one day, went to a doctor in the ’hood and paid him to do it.” While his mother was out of town,
Mugabo, then 17, paid a friend’s father who was a doctor the equivalent of 50 cents to do the surgery. Mugabo’s family didn’t practice circumcision, but some of his friends did and he took notice. “Where I’m from we don’t even care about that,” explains Mugabo, a native of Rwanda. “But I grew up in Kenya, and in Kenya certain communities you got to [be circumcised]. There is no way around it.”

Pleased with his results, Mugabo, who now lives in New York, says he will also have his sons circumcised. He also supports the push for circumcision in Africa. “I would advocate it on a national policy level for local community reasons. You are a cleaner human being. I know, I’m a man, [for me] it’s not hearsay.”

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.

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A general view of the video screens before the 69th NBA All-Star Game at the United Center on February 16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement
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Posterized Celebrates Chicago’s All-Time Starting Five For NBA All-Star Weekend

Chicago has not experienced the excitement of NBA All-Star weekend since Michael Jordan dominated the weekend in 1988 by winning the dunk contest and taking home the MVP trophy. The hardworking, blue-collar city has produced some of the greatest basketball players over the years. To celebrate those players, fans were invited to vote on their All-Time Starting Five through the Posterized Experience app leading up to All-Star weekend.

Verizon Wireless funded the mobile event app with content support from Project SYNCERE students, a Chicago-based non-profit that aids in preparing underrepresented and disadvantaged students for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The pool of 55 nominees was stacked with amazing talent and included men and women who attended high school in the Chicagoland area for four years and dominated on the court, including the late Ben “Benji” Wilson, Isiah Thomas, Candace Parker, Tim Hardaway, Quentin Richardson, and many more.

On Friday (Feb. 14), the top 5 were revealed during "Posterized: The Chicago Experience" powered by Jim Beam. Derrick Rose, the NBA’s youngest MVP to date, racked up the most votes, and joining him on the list were Los Angeles Lakers power forward Anthony Davis, Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, 3-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade, and Antoine Walker.

 

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SPECIAL GROUP ......

A post shared by Antoine Walker (@toinewalker8) on Jan 31, 2020 at 10:06am PST

Walker, an NBA champion and 3-time All-Star when he played for the Boston Celtics, joined NBC Sports Chicago analyst Jason Goff in announcing the most voted players during the invitation-only event overlooking the picturesque city at the Chicago Sports Museum & Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch Restaurant.

In addition to Walker being on hand, several other retired NBA players stopped by to enjoy the afternoon soiree, including Kenyon Martin and Chicagoland natives Tim Hardaway, Shawn Marion, and Mark Aguirre. Former NFL player and Illinois Senate representative Napoleon Harris, 1985 Chicago Bears champion Otis Wilson, rapper Jadakiss, iconic radio personality Ed Lover, God Shammgod and more joined in the festivities as well.

Throughout the afternoon, guests were treated to all things Chicago including fun stepping dance lessons, the famous Garrett’s Popcorn, and a special “312” screening lounge featuring movies and television shows set in the city. When asked what it meant to be voted a part of the All-Time Starting Five by fans via the Posterized Experience app, Walker answered, “It is an honor to represent my hometown…Chicago and be recognized as a Top 5 player by the fans. Chicago is a town built on hard work. Many basketball stars are born here, and legends are made. I’m glad that I am a product of this amazing city.”

 

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It’s a wrap folks! Thank you Chicagoland for selecting your #AllTimeStartingFive and major thanks to @recothegreat for capturing the perfect portrait of the #Top5! @antdavis23, @drose, @dwyanewade, @isiahthomas and @toinewalker8 is a tough 🏀 squad to beat! #Posterized #PosterizedExperience #AnthonyDavis #DerrickRose #DwyaneWade #IsiahThomas #AntoineWalker

A post shared by Posterized: Chicago Experience (@posterizedexperience) on Feb 15, 2020 at 7:13am PST

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Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts during the Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Boston, Massachusetts, June 17, 2008.
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

Kobe Bryant Went From Peerless To Peer, And That's Why It Hurts To Lose Him

If you were to list the major events of Kobe Bryant’s life, it would read like one of those cheesy, unbelievable movies on Netflix that you scroll right past every night. Born to an NBA player, grew up in Italy, made it to the NBA at 17 years old, won five championships, won an Oscar, won an Emmy, died in a helicopter crash.

The abruptness of the ending of the list is matched only by the totality of the list itself. As fellow NBA superstar Kevin Durant put it, “You’ve seen Kobe in every situation… he lived life to the fullest.”

Ultimately it was that all-encompassing nature of Kobe Bryant’s life that made his death so tragic and so painful. Kobe was the rare entity that made the entire world feel something about him. Whether it was love, hate, admiration, fear, respect or whatever other emotion he could elicit out of you as a spectator, you felt it. As such, everybody felt something when the news broke that he’d perished in a helicopter crash, even his most feverish haters.

Perhaps you were attached to Kobe the basketball deity, with his insatiable competitiveness that became its own mantra for life: Mamba Mentality. Or maybe you loved Kobe the artist and storyteller, who found new ways to express himself and succeed after leaving the sport most thought he would be miserable without. But the most wide-ranging side of Kobe is surely the father and the family man. That was the most “normal” of his superpowers.

There was a side of Kobe for everybody, and as such he may have lived as the most revered and celebrated athlete in the world. There are others more popular by standard metrics, but the adulation Kobe received in every pocket of the world is the type of devotion that only existed in eras past, before the internet opened up niches for every single interest and gave platforms for every single counterargument.

In the sports world, Kobe may be Patient 0 for that sort of internet native life, as we’ve been privy to almost his entire life since the moment he arrived, arm and arm with Brandy at his high school prom. His entire career exists on camera somewhere, and most of his adult life is Google-able and available at the click of a button, in HD.

As such, we get the feeling we know Kobe, a sentiment that became amplified when he allowed us to get even closer to him with the intimacy of his social media profiles. His random thoughts were strewn across his Twitter account. His adorable family life is plastered on both his and his wife’s Instagram accounts. Plus, there were documentaries, stories, books, Oscar-winning shorts and every other sort of content for all the rest of his life and the arbitrary contemplations that exist between those two worlds.

Kobe was as transparent as any superstar on Earth, and that made him as endearing as any superhero can possibly be. We felt we came to know Kobe, a jarring turn of events after he existed for two decades as the most sinister, malicious and villainous athlete since Michael Jordan, a man so feverishly and obsessively devoted to winning it left him with strained relationships, but five championship rings to warm his bed at night.

 

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My Gigi

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on Sep 3, 2019 at 1:59pm PDT

Suddenly he was approachable, an aloof basketball dad, now fully devoted to family life in a way that somehow seemed even more dedicated than he ever was to his previous profession. It made for a few comical pictures and stories, but it resonated, and the supernatural had become normal. After two decades of Kobe doing things no other human could hope to do, he was doing the things every other human does on a daily basis and it made him even more lovable.

But that turn is what made his sudden death even that much more painful. Kobe was doing something every parent of an athlete has done hundreds of times, taking their child to a game and sharing that intimate ride and alone time that may not exist if the sport had not brought them together for that moment. That’s the innocuous moment that led to the death of Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his own 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

For many, that made the tragedy hit unbearably close to home. Whether as a parent, a coach, someone who was once that kid riding to the game with their parents or any other cog in the village that raises a child. Everybody has been within that equation somewhere, and now the reality of how fleeting those moments can be is staring the entire world in the face, forcing them to come to grips with the fragility of life. Not only your own life, but those closest to you who could be doing something as ordinary as driving to a game on a Sunday morning.

 

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Had a great trip to @uconnwbb for senior night and the retirement of basketball legend @promise50 with my baby Gigi. Thank you Gampel, Thank you Coach Geno and Cd for the warm welcome. Good luck the rest of the way 💪🏾 #mambamentality #wizenard

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on Mar 2, 2019 at 9:22pm PST

Once again, Kobe is making everybody feel something. Once again, he’s bringing people together, united by a common cause, and feeling ever so strongly about the topic at hand. Gone is the hate or even the fear for the man they call The Black Mamba. Now that’s been replaced by somber regret, sadness, reflection and perhaps most importantly, appreciation.

Rarely does the death of a complete stranger create ripples in someone’s life, but it seems Kobe’s has caused tidal waves for many. In stripping away the layers of mythology that once shrouded him from normalcy, Kobe was no longer a stranger. He’d become a big brother, an uncle, a friend to so many, even from afar. Kobe spent his entire basketball life as a peerless prodigy, a wonder of the world who was simply unmatched. From the moment he retired he became the exact opposite, he was a peer.

So, on January 26, the world didn’t lose a stranger who played basketball for a living, they lost a peer, a friend who they’d known for over 20 years. Even if you never met Kobe, you met him. You watched him grow, from an innocent, smiling child who dreamed of the impossible, to a hyper-focused brooding adult at work. And what did he become after achieving the impossible over and over? He went right back to smiling, as a gleeful father entering an entirely new and exciting stage of life.

There was a little bit of Kobe in all of us, and that’s why it hurts so bad to lose all of him.

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Michael Jordan Delivers Emotional Speech At Kobe & Gianna Bryant Memorial Service

After Alica Keys delivered a classical performance of "Moonlight Sonata," his basketball idol, Michael Jordan, stepped to the podium to deliver an emotional speech about the late, great Kobe Bryant. As tears fell from his eyes and down his face, Jordan shared his fondest memories of the legend, how close they were as friends, and talked about the late nights where Bryant would ask him questions about life while being that pestering "nuisance" of a little brother.

"At first, it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a passion," he admitted. "This kid had a passion like you would ever know. It's an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try to understand and to try and get it.

"As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be. To do that, you have to put up with the aggravation, the late-night calls or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant," he said tearfully. "That he was just trying to be a better person, a better basketball player. We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything. And he was just trying to be a better person."

"Now he's got me [crying]. I have to look at another crying meme for the next...I told my wife I wasn't going to do this, 'cause I didn't want to see this for the next 3 or 4 years," he said as the crowd broke out in laughter and applause. "That is what Kobe Bryant does to me."

Jordan went on to share another story about how Bryant sent him a late-night/early morning text sharing how he's trying to teach Gianna some moves and asked Jordan if he could remember what he was thinking about at Gianna's age as he was trying to work on his moves.

"I say, 'What age?' He says 12. I said, 'At 12, I was trying to play baseball," continued Jordan before a laughing audience."He sends me a text saying 'laughing-my-a**-off.' And this is at 2 o'clock in the morning."

Jordan went on to address Bryant's wife, Vaness, and their daughters, saying how he and his wife will be there for them, before sending condolences to the families of the other people who perished in the tragic accident. He went on to stress the importance of living in the moment when with "When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. And as I look in this arena, and across the globe, a piece of you died or else you wouldn't be here. Those are the memories that we have to live with and learn from.

"I promise you from this day forward, I will live with memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please, rest in peace, little brother."

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