INTACTIVIST OF THE MONTH: Rinke Feenstra

One of Intact America's greatest strengths is the diverse and supportive intactivist community. Our "Intactivist of the Month" series highlights some of the most ardent opponents of infant and childhood circumcision, whose tireless efforts will ensure a future where all babies are kept intact. October/November's Intactivist of the Month ventured into the fashion industry to design underwear that's comfortable for circumcised men. 

By Sally Parker

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017: The pain of circumcision is felt in many ways, from the doctor’s initial cut to the emotional scars carried into adulthood.

Rinke Feenstra

Dutch architectural engineer Rinke Feenstra is working to ease the physical discomfort that many circumcised men experience. His 3-year-old company, Ynside Underwear, makes men’s underwear using organic material that softens and restores the skin of the exposed glans.

Feenstra stays out of the debate over circumcision, preferring instead to offer a luxury product that gives relief to those who have ongoing discomfort from the procedure.

Though born in the Netherlands, where circumcisions are rare, Feenstra was circumcised for medical reasons. Growing up, he noticed he was different from other kids on the soccer team but didn’t think much of it. As he grew older, however, he wrestled with anger and frustration, questioning his parents’ decision. He tried various solutions that focused on his condition as a problem to be fixed—but in doing so, he grew more frustrated. The experience brought him to a turning point.

“It was basically through doing that that I thought it’s better to focus on the positive and make the best out of it,” he says.

Before long, Feenstra’s anger turned into the seed of something new. He went online and realized for the first time he was part of a much larger community of circumcised men. It was during an architecture course in college, where he was developing a critical view of things he saw in his surroundings, that the idea for Ynside Underwear began to take shape. He sensed an opportunity—and a solution.

Like many in Holland, Feenstra hops on a bike any chance he gets. But the wrong materials cause chafing and friction. Feenstra looked around and saw few fashionable options offering relief. He started searching for ways to make underwear more comfortable. And as a designer with an artist’s eye, he wanted it to be elegantly designed.

“I thought, 'Hey, why not protect my circumcision naturally?' Nature gave me something I don’t have anymore, so now let’s make the best out of it,” he says. “There’s nothing like a seriously beautiful product that is both a benefit for us guys for protecting our skin and at the same time beautifully made.”

His first step was to pick up a pair of men’s underwear and look inside. Problem No. 1: Briefs have seams that can chafe in all the wrong places. Problem No. 2: Underwear fabrics are all rough.

Our skin is a sensory organ, which means it constantly monitors what materials come into contact with it and conveys feedback to our brains. Especially, the head of a circumcised penis is exposed mucous membrane, like the lips and the mouth. These delicate tissues callous and lose sensitivity when exposed to rough, prickly fabrics that overly excite the nerve endings beneath our skin, much like the skin of hands that work at hard labor. Calloused hands become smoother without exposure to the elements, chemicals and rough surfaces. In the same way, the membranes of the glans soften and become more sensitive when protected by a soft covering.

Feenstra’s personal desire for comfort led him to examine several materials in search of one that best mimics the design of the body. He tested polyester and other synthetic fibers and liked their soft feel and affordability. But they soon landed in the reject pile when he learned how full of chemicals they were.

“The mucous membrane is even more open to absorbing stuff you don’t want than the intact penis,” Feenstra says. “Mucous membrane is a transformation skin from the inner world to the outer world. Those parts of our body are so sensitive and important to protect naturally. That’s how I found out about silk and its unique abilities. I like the natural stuff.”

Ynside sells two lines of boxer shorts and boxer briefs, as well as silk sleeves to be worn with regular underwear. Silk linings are used in all Ynside products. After 30 days of continuous use, the silk fiber — as a protein — has a renewing, softening effect on the skin of the glans, leading to more sensitivity in the nerves. Silk is the most hypoallergenic of all fabrics and contains many amino acids in common with the human body, which help moisture penetrate the skin (aid in absorption) and aid in skin healing.

While Feenstra wants to craft the healthiest product possible, using only organic certified materials such as animal-friendly silk makes his product more expensive— and thus a tougher sell. He knows many consumers are not yet aware of the potential negative long-term health effects of chemicals in textiles.

“They don’t know because the big corporations don’t want you to know. That’s really a thing,” he says.

Even so, Ynside sold out of a first round of orders on five continents earlier this year and is taking preorders for a second round before a crowdfunding campaign launches on Nov. 15. While his products have a high-end, luxury feel, Feenstra wants their benefits to be available to mainstream consumers.

“It’s a treat. It’s treating yourself to skin wellness. People spend quite a bit of money on medical procedures or going to restaurants to treat themselves,” he says.

With that in mind, Feenstra is casting a wider net, believing there’s a larger market for skin-friendly, aesthetically designed boxers and briefs—something all guys can appreciate.

“Why focus just on circumcision? Being a circumcised guy, I don’t want to be put in a little box. Why aren’t there products that serve both? So that becomes my mission.”

[Feenstra invites you to send him a personal message if you have any questions. He is looking for feedback to know if you would interested in his crowdfunding campaign. You can subscribe for his pre-crowdfunding mailing list on the homepage of his website. This way, you will learn more and have access to limited early-bird perks.]

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://ynsideunderwear.com

Facebook: Ynside Underwear

Visit our Intactivist of the Month Archive page to read about previous intactivists we've highlighted.