NEWSWEEK WEB, February 26, 2001.

Sex Life Not Good? Sue!
Lawyer David Llewellyn Is the Johnnie Cochran of the Circumcised

By Gersh Kuntzman

Feb. 26 - William Stowell enjoys sex. But he doesn't enjoy it as much as he thinks he should. So he's doing what any red-blooded American male would do when dissatisfied with his sex life: He's suing the hospital where he was born.

A COUPLE OF months ago, Stowell filed a civil suit claiming that Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, N.Y., permanently deprived him and his future bedmates of "the pleasure of natural, normal sexual intercourse" thanks to an "excruciating" 10-minute procedure it conducted on him moments after birth. You may have heard of this procedure. It's called circumcision. Now, a lot of lawsuits come across my desk, but this one caught my eye (among other organs). I mean, here was a circumcised guy complaining that he was unable to satisfy his female partners because he lacked his foreskin. Well, I lack foreskin, too. And, come to think of it, I've always secretly suspected that my sexual partners were just being nice when they told me I was the "greatest" "lover" they ever "had." Could this circumcision thing be the excuse I've sought for years? In a word, yes!

"I'm being deprived of my birthright. Studies show that I would be enjoying it more and my partners would be enjoying it more. Every time I have sex, that's in the back of my head."

"I'm being deprived of my birthright," Stowell told me. "Studies show that I would be enjoying it more and my partners would be enjoying it more. Every time I have sex, that's in the back of my head." (Thanks a lot, William; now it's in the backs of the heads of all my circumcised readers.) Stowell is just a test case for a new niche of personal-injury caselaw being carved out by Atlanta lawyer David Llewel[l]yn, who has become to the anti-circumcision camp what Johnnie Cochran is for celebrities accused of horrendous, made-for-TV crimes. More than a decade since the first "wrongful circumcision" case, Llewel[l]yn has been increasingly successful at winning settlements ($65,000 in a 1995 case, for example) and blocking unwanted circumcisions.

In the current case, Llewel[l]yn will argue that Stowell's mother, Linda, was handed a consent form while she was still under the influence of post- caesarean painkillers. Linda Stowell told me that, as an Italian Catholic, she never would've agreed to having her son circumcised. It must have been the Demerol speaking.

But Llewel[l]yn wants his pound of flesh. He's hoping that the Stowell case goes to trial so he can use it as a pulpit to spread the anti-circumcision gospel. For a circumcised guy like me, talking to Llewel[l]yn for even a few minutes was a remorseful trip through a sex life that might have been.

For one thing, Llewel[l]yn cites evidence that circumcision-which he claims causes such pain in the infant that "heartbeat and cortisol levels [rise] to levels consistent with torture"-makes kids more susceptible to pain later in life. And, naturally, he has studies that indicate that uncircumcised men enjoy sex more than circumcised men do-and, more importantly, more than I do.

But his most compelling evidence ("evidence" because it appeared in the very fancy British Journal of Urology, "compelling" because it directly relates to me) is the argument that women enjoy sex less when they're having it with a circumcised male.

Foreskinologist Kristen O'Hara's study of 139 women-all of whom had partaken of penises of both varieties-revealed that women were twice as likely to have an orgasm, half as likely to experience pain during sex and nearly twice as likely to enjoy the experience with an uncircumcised man.

Oh, and by the way, the study also showed that circumcised men were more likely to prematurely ejaculate. (If you're circumcised, O'Hara's study is like getting a "Dear John" letter from a girlfriend doing a semester abroad in Spain. Ouch.)

I could get very graphic here-O'Hara certainly does, which I like in a scientific paper-but the upshot is that there's a lot of physics, hydraulics, plate tectonics and basic animal biology that results in women's greater enjoyment of sex with unaltered men.

She even cites the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, who wrote in the 12th century that "circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and.diminishes the pleasure"-a worthy goal, Maimonides wrote, lest everyone would be having sex all the time.

"Clearly," O'Hara concluded, "the anatomically complete penis offers a more rewarding experience for the female partner." She even has a just-released book called "Sex As Nature Intended It" that is sure to do two things: 1) bring a great deal of attention to circumcision and, 2) make me feel worse than I already do.

Meanwhile, Stowell said he's had trouble explaining his lawsuit to his circumcised Air Force buddies. "They think that as long as they can have an orgasm, they're fine," he said. "But there's more to sex than that." There is? Now he tells me.

Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post and the author of "HAIR! Mankind's Historic Quest to End Baldness" (Random House, March 2001).
His e-mail address is

(File created 27 December 2004)

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