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Penile Rites of Passages

Around the world, there are many different rites of passages associated with a variety of cultures. When boys enter the stages where they become a man, sometimes specific body parts play an important role in this transition. In this article, you will learn about some traditions that involve the penis.

The Subincision of the Aboriginal

In order to become considered a ‘real man’, the Mardudjara Aboriginal youth in Australia must undergo a rather long process. When boys turn between the ages of six and eight, they are considered dead and are not allowed to speak. The young boy travels with the tribesmen to neighboring communities where a special ceremony is held around a bonfire. Elders dance and chant for the boy as a way to make sure the initiation goes well. The boy lies down on the backs of his “brothers” who create a human table so that a surgeon may sit on his chest.

The boy is offered an object to bite down on to take away some of the pain of having the foreskin of their penis sliced away. The rite of passage is not complete until the boy swallows the piece of foreskin without chewing. This ritual is believed to strengthen the boy from within.

Several weeks pass and the final part of the rite of passage takes place. While the boy lies down, he is given an object to bite into while his penis is held in the erect position. A surgeon then cuts along the underside of the penis. To make sure that the incision is performed correctly, a thin wooden stick is inserted into the urethra as a way to guide the blade. Not all boys experience the same length of cuts , some are only one inch while others reach the scrotum. After the operation is finished, the boy is led to the fire so that the flames can help heal his wound. This is the last phase of the Aboriginal boy becoming a man.

Ancient Roman Initiation

The ancient Romans also focused on the penis when it came time to initiate their young boys. They followed the practice of infibulation, which involved a process that sutured the foreskin. String or a metal clasp was used to close the foreskin. This made the penis draw up to the side. To add to the rite of passage, the majority of infibulations were inflicted by the boy himself.

The ritual was performed for many different reasons. Infibulations actually helped singers keep their desired voice for years to come. Gladiators would follow the ritual because it was thought to sustain a man’s vitality and power. Some people felt that an exposed penis was a vulgar sight to see. The head of the penis was especially frowned upon in this manner. An infibulation meant that a man was modest and showed restraint. Youths were introduced to the process to prevent masturbation from taking place. It was also thought to keep their minds off of intercourse. A boy who sutured his own foreskin was a sign of maturity.