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An angry man confronted his mother. Did it help?


Andrew Gross

Published: June 1, 2023

Updated: July 16, 2023


"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" - William Shakespeare

How should a parent respond when her teenage or adult son confronts her, saying that he resents his infant circumcision?


In The Joy of Uncircumcising therapist Jim Bigelow advised, "apologies and explanations both to ourselves and our son go a long way toward restoring cognitive harmony ... Such honesty can be very healing for all parties concerned. Such an approach might well heal breaches in the family structure that parents do not even know exist." [1]


Psychologist Ronald Goldman, founder of the intactivist organization Circumcision Resource Center, explained that if sons and parents are open to a discussion, "making healing the goal will increase the chances of a mutually satisfying outcome. While talking about circumcision can be emotionally stressful, expressing these feelings can also result in a breakthrough that renews the relationship. For example, in some cases witnessing the pain and regret of their parents can help soften the anger and increase the trust of circumcised men, at the same time as it relieves parental guilt." [2]


In "Male Circumcision Grief", Watson and Golden wrote, "Discussing the matter with parents helps towards at least partial closure and sometimes it is all that is required for the man to be able to process the grief." [3]


Thus a consensus among anti-circumcision mental health professionals seems to be that the proper response is for a parent to listen to her son, validate his feelings - whatever they are - and offer sincere apologies for subjecting her son to the procedure.


This approach, however, may not be effective - at least not for some. For example, a California man lamented to advice columnist Dear Abby that he was "filled with hate and anger" toward his parents even though he knew it was "unfair to them because they believed they were making the right choice at the time" and even though they were sorry. [4]


Let's consider the case of Carter Steinhoff, a 29 year-old software applications developer. Steinhoff grew up with positive feelings about being circumcised. About six years ago he investigated the claims about circumcision and came to the conclusion that the foreskin is highly erogenous and functional tissue responsible for a significant amount of a man's sexual pleasure. Steinhoff has been angry ever since. He has suffered uncomfortable erections and other painful physical issues that he attributes to his circumcision. He considers circumcision "to be a crime of the highest possible magnitude and caliber" [5][6]



Mother-son discussion

In 2021 Carter and his mother Tiphani Steinhoff appeared on a one-hour episode of the Brendon Marotta Show. [7] Marotta explained in the introduction, "His mother recognizes the harm of circumcision and wants to find out how she can support her son and create a safe connection and relationship with him."


During the show Carter stated that intactivism was part of his identity. He considered himself a victim of an "atrocity" that will traumatize him for the rest of his life. He continues to have very strong negative emotions day-to-day.


At one point Carter became estranged from his parents, with feelings of anger and betrayal. After several confrontations, his parents became more receptive to his feelings. He said that he forgives his mom, his negative feelings toward her have diminished, and she is "onboard with the intactivist agenda." He expects her to understand the gravity of his trauma and pain, declaring, "This is a totally new relationship now."


He often sits in the shower in a ball crying for significant periods of time. During a sexual encounter shortly before the episode, he felt no sensation in his penis, a numbness he attributed to keratinization. During sex his thoughts often morph into: "I'm mutilated. My parents did this to me! This has devastated my sex life. This destroyed me sexually." [8] He compared his circumcision to a hypothetical situation in which he hired someone to restrain his mother and violently mutilate her genitals.


Tiphani said that she often cries when she sees her son unhappy. Their discussions ignite feelings of grief, guilt, and regret. "All through his life I made sure his toys were in place. I made sure he got to baseball practice. I took care of every aspect of his life... How did we miss that one?" She feels that it's fair for him to expect her to understand "the gravity of his trauma and pain." She believes that if she had received information about the benefits and risks of circumcision, she could have made an informed decision.


"I don't want to come across as hostile or demanding of her," Carter said - with no apparent reflection of the fact that he is precisely hostile and demanding of her.



I found the conversation decidedly one-sided. It was entirely focused on Carter's wants and needs, on blaming Tiphani for her son's feelings, on how she had failed her son, on what Carter wanted from his mother, and on what she needed to do for him.


Aside from an initial brief pretense, there was no discussion of Tiphani's wants or needs. Carter made no attempt to understand and incorporate the reality that his mother had consented to the procedure based on good intentions - because the information she had at the time indicated that the procedure would benefit her son. There was no discussion of the emotional harm that his unrelenting anger inflicts on her. There was no call for sincere forgiveness - of how both of them would benefit if he would release his anger and resentment.


Watching the episode, I felt a great deal of sorrow for Tiphani. She looked so sad and pitiful. She only wanted what was best for Carter. She deserves better than to be manipulated by an ungrateful son. Apparently Carter has decided that his parents must share in his misery so that he can feel better understood. The idea that Tiphani should continue to feel sad and guilty so that her son can share his misery is vengeful, repulsive, and purposeless.



Social media activity

And yet his mother's contrition hasn't diminished Carter's destructive activities. He continues to feel angry and carries a sense of eternal victimhood. He spends significant time expressing his rage about circumcision on various social media platforms. When Carter started speaking out against circumcision, people often responded by belittling him. [9] Given those experiences and his feelings of sexual inadequacy, it's not surprising that he's chosen to retaliate by attacking and insulting happily circumcised men.


His favorite invective is cuck - a sexist slur intended to humiliate a man by insulting his masculinity. [10] Carter told one man, "You're an absolute cuck of a man for condoning this." [11] A month later he told another, "You're a grade A cuck, Bob. You were genitally mutilated as a fragile infant by your shitty brain dead parents, and you're now pathetically trying to justify it." [12][13] He's even expressed anger at programs that promote the voluntary circumcision of adult men. [14][15]


Carter has shown particular bitterness toward doctors, and especially the pediatrician who performed his circumcision. In January 2022 he located the physician's medical office and created a meme with the man's name and photo. Carter vowed to "start publicly calling out this sick fucking man for his crimes against me and so many others." [16] He threatened, "I feel driven to execute the physician who inflicted this mutilation on me..." [17] Later he wrote that he supports the "execution of physicians who engage in routine/ritual infant circumcision." [18]


He reserves his strongest venom for parents. He posted on Facebook, "I strongly believe that nearly all parents who facilitate the routine circumcision of their sons have severe behavioral issues and flaws in their character." [19] He demands "criminal penalties for parents/physicians and reparations from the state" for circumcised men. [20]


He called a father, "fuckin child mutilating scum. you're a trash ass father. zero IQ, zero emotional intelligence, and zero parental instinct" and "a grade A fuckin cuck of a man." [21] The next day he told a man who defended his own circumcision, "I think ur a stain on this earth and a failure as a father and a man." [22] He has criticized and ridiculed other intactivists who decline to blame parents. [23][24] He even blames parents who have come to regret their decision.


So it isn't surprising to see that - despite his claim in the video - Carter has not actually forgiven his own parents. Rather, he still holds it against them, having boldly and publicly expressed a desire to punish them. In the same sentence in which he fantasized about murdering the pediatrician, Carter added, "and I want to imprison my parents for facilitating it." [17] When asked whether he would imprison his parents, he replied, "If I could, I would." [25]


Bear in mind that Carter made almost all of these inflammatory statements after the program in which he claimed to have forgiven his mother. It seems clear that the discussions and apologies have not resulted in any significant healing.



The Power Dynamic

When words don't align with actions, one should believe actions. Carter's apparent reconciliation with his parents is but an illusion. To repeat, Carter has never forgiven his parents. [26] He continues to resent them, and he continues to express his anger in emotionally destructive ways in person and online. "It's likely that these feelings that I have towards my parents - they're never going to fully go away." [7]


His resentment against his mother is displayed in his actions - by demanding that she understand his level of trauma and pain and that she participate in his anti-circumcision campaign. And his resentment is displayed in his mind - by maintaining a desire to punish her and by thinking about her during sex. (Thinking about one's parents, when most people would be focused on a real or fantasy partner, is abnormal behavior.)


Tiphani seemed frustrated. "I guess I'm still unclear of what exactly he needs from me." The sad reality is that she may never get an answer. Carter savors Tiphani's remorse and he relishes the power over her that her contrition gives him. [27] He's unwilling to offer her true forgiveness - for an important reason. If he forgave her completely, no longer would he be able to hold his circumcision against her. Carter isn't willing to relinquish his power over his parents. This may be an example of narcissistic abuse.



Conclusion

Six years ago Circumcision Choice published our Smile for the Irate Man Behind the Camera series. We reported on James Loewen, the photographer whom Intact America once lauded as the intactivist movement's unofficial documentarian. [28] We described him as "a deeply disturbed old man who has spent his entire adult life nursing a rage against circumcision." [29]


Carter Steinhoff has become a deeply disturbed young man who has spent the past six years of his adult life nursing his own rage. By his own admission he is "filled with hate." [22] Although separated in age by 40 years, Loewen and Steinhoff share traits of a vindictive narcissist.


Some circumcision opponents may dismiss the Carter Steinhoff case as an exception. They'll say that most unhappy circumcised men benefit when their parents are supportive and regretful. Yet many have praised the Steinhoffs' conversation as a textbook example of how to facilitate a healing process. [30][31]


Tiphani Steinhoff wanted to support her son and create a safe connection and relationship with him. However her abject contrition and submissiveness to his narcissistic demands have not helped Carter heal from his anger and move on. Her acquiescence has only fueled her son's arrogance.


Dear Abby advised her reader to consult a urologist and "talk to a licensed mental health professional to help you work through your anger because it may be misdirected." [4] Tiphani should offer her son similar advice to deal with his physical and psychological issues. If he were willing, professional counseling could help him control his negative emotions and destructive narcissism. [32] Counseling could also benefit Tiphani - to ease her understandable yet inappropriate sense of guilt.



FULL DISCLOSURE: In December 2022 Carter Steinhoff asked me to appear on his YouTube channel for an interview/debate. After some discussion we were unable to agree on terms for the event.



UPDATES

On June 3, 2023 the owner of this website forwarded to me a profanity-laced message. The timing - just two days after this article was published, and the inclusion of his standard cuck insult, makes it appear that Carter Steinhoff wrote it. However Carter has denied being the author.


In June 2023 Tiphani Steinhoff commented on the Circumcision Choice Facebook page invited me to contact her, which I did on June 28. I told her I would be happy to discuss the topic. She responded that she wanted to consult with her son first. Tiphani has not contacted me since.


As of July 16, 2023 Carter Steinhoff's Twitter account was suspended.



RELATED



[1] Jim Bigelow PhD; "The Joy of Uncircumcising"; Hourglass Book Publishing; 1998

[2] Ronald Goldman PhD; "Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma"; Vanguard Publications; 1997

[3] Lindsay Watson and Tom Golden; "Male Circumcision Grief: Effective and Ineffective Therapeutic Approaches"; New Male Studies; 2017

[5] Nick Freeman; "Intact Radio 00003 FB Live W/ Carter Steinhoff"; Intact Community YouTube channel; December 26, 2020

[6] Carter Steinhoff; Untitled blog post; July 15, 2021

[7] Brendon Marotta; "Carter Steinhoff and His Mother Discuss Circumcision - Emotional Conversation"; Brendon Marotta Show; March 2, 2021

[8] Marotta never asked Carter whether he had consulted his physician or a urologist about his physical and sexual problems or a psychologist about the negative emotions that dominate his life.

[9] "Johan Nyman and Carter Steinhoff Discuss Circumcision"; John Bridge YouTube channel; September 19, 2020 (3:18-3:22)

[10] Leah McLaren; "'Cuck': a modern swear word that's as dirty as the old ones"; Globe & Mail; February 2, 2017. "The term is short for 'cuckold,' meaning a man whose wife has sex with another man. But in recent years 'cuck' has also become synonymous with a genre of porn in which a man (usually white) looks on as a man or men (usually black) have sex with his wife. Its use in a political context has become a racist/sexist slur against white male liberals who are seen, in far-right circles, as traitors to their race and gender."

[11],Carter Steinhoff tweet; August 10, 2022

[12] Carter Steinhoff tweet; September 4, 2022

[13] Rape crisis experts advise that one should support survivors by validating their experiences. Validation involves "assuring a person that they have the right to feel whatever emotions they are having." Carter has expressed his opinion that circumcision is "far worse" than rape. By that logic, Carter must accept and validate the feelings of happily circumcised men. He cannot insult and belittle men he claims are victims of something "far worse" than rape and then expect to have any credibility. [14] Carter Steinhoff tweet; September 20, 2021. "Fucking disgusting how you advocate for men to amputate genital structures for 'health reasons'. PEPFAR needs to be shut down and the leadership publicly shamed." - in response to a tweet by a U.S. funded program that offers voluntary circumcisions to adult men in Africa.

[15] Carter Steinhoff tweet; May 10, 2023. "Men who lack wisdom and maturity amputate their foreskins."

[16] Carter Steinhoff; Reddit CircumcisionGrief post; January 12, 2022.

[17] Carter Steinhoff tweet; May 23, 2022 [18] Carter Steinhoff tweet; June 2, 2023

[19] Carter Steinhoff; Facebook post; December 22, 2021

[20] Carter Steinhoff tweet; September 20, 2021 [21] Carter Steinhoff tweet; December 19, 2022

[22] Carter Steinhoff tweets; December 20, 2022 [23] Carter Steinhoff tweet; November 22, 2022. "Looks like even when the admission of culpability is this blatant, most intactivists still won’t hold parents responsible. Most trashy, spineless component of this movement is the absurd infantilization of parents who flagrantly violate their sons. Shameful behavior."

[24] Carter Steinhoff; Facebook post; December 1, 2022. "Intactivists: 'yOu cAnT bLaMe tHE pAREnTs'" [sic] [25] Carter Steinhoff tweet; August 26, 2021

[26] As recently as April 2023 Carter admitted that he still hasn't forgiven his parents. Carter Steinhoff; comment on Megan Ramey Facebook post; April 24, 2023. "I'm struggling forgiving my own parents still." [27] By way of comparison and on a personal note: I was bullied at school through much of my childhood. Some of the emotional wounds carried well into adulthood. Some years ago I received an unexpected Facebook message from a classmate who apologized for having participated in the bullying. It was clear that she had felt guilt and remorse for years, possibly decades. I immediately forgave her, and I expressed my hope that she release her feelings of guilt so that they no longer plague her.

[28] Smile for the irate man behind the camera"; Circumcision Choice; April 2, 2017

[29] "Smile for the irate man behind the camera - Part 7"; Circumcision Choice; April 2, 2017

[30] For example: "Carter Steinhoff Addressing Circumcision Harm"; 15 Square; March 11, 2021. "It is reassuring to see that his mother is willing to walk this path with him, and she is understanding of the damage rather than being judgemental, dismissive, or belittling... No doubt this is a very difficult conversation, but an important one for Carter’s path to healing his trauma and his relationship with his mother."

[31] Marotta; Emotional Conversation ; (Daniel Rold; Next Level Intactivism comment). "Carter you are an articulate brave and powerful man. Your honesty must be so hard. Your mother is a wonderful woman. I feel for both of you. Thank you for being so brave."

[32] Carter has reacted to previous suggestions that he get mental health therapy by accusing others of "gaslighting." A form of psychological manipulation, gaslighting involves the use of tricks to cause a target to question his own sanity. Gaslighting is insidious because the manipulator knows that his victim is perfectly sane and yet seeks to trick the victim in order to control him. Advising someone who (of his own accord) exhibits behaviors consistent with a mental disorder to seek therapy is not gaslighting. By his own admission Carter has a circumcision obsession that has caused stress, anxiety, anger and rage; and which interferes with his family relationships, romantic encounters, and career path.



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