Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Circumcision

I believe I’ve mention the website Momversation before.

If not, it’s pretty much a place where different blogger moms go to have video discussions with each other. (It probably sounds lame, but it’s actually really interesting from a mom point of view.)

I want to talk about this video in particular that regards circumcision:



I didn’t realize this until I had Holden, but there are a few issues (like breastfeeding vs. formula…wow) that turn parents into blubbering fucktards and this seems to be one of them.

I personally, don’t agree with male circumcision on children.

Some people compare it to female genital mutilation, but I don’t know if I would go that far. I do think it’s fair to compare our society’s approval of one and repulsion of the other though. We should also look at any social stigmas that might make parents think they have to circumcise their sons.

My problem with circumcising children is the lack of choice. If Holden wants to be circumcised when he’s older then more power to him, but I feel like I don't have the right to make that decision for him.

I don’t know if I think it’s a form of mutilation (maybe mildly and definitely barbaric) but it would be like giving him a tattoo.

A permanent alteration to his body without his consent.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t agree with me. He thinks it’s just something you do and that uncircumcised penises are weird (my guy friends are the same way) which I totally don’t get. There is nothing weird or ugly about uncircumcised penises and hopefully people will learn to see that (though it seems only Americans have an issue with this).

There is a lot of information on both sides about the pros and cons, but I think it’s best if parents should just hold off and allow the child to choose.

Maybe it’s my hippie nature or just plain laziness, but I’m making the decision by NOT making the decision and it feels right to me.

And honestly, that's really all you can hope for in parenting.

6 comments:

  1. I, too, disagree with male circumcision on infants. The lack of choice is one reason, and I have actually posted about this at length here: http://britnidanielle.blogspot.com/2008/10/uncut.html

    I do not think that uncircumcised penii are ugly or weird. They are actually what's normal and what men are meant to have. They're also the norm everywhere else in the world.

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  2. Now that I'm older, I lean toward agreeing with you that it's obviously not natural to circumcise an infant's penis - if it were, he'd have been born that way in the first place. When I was younger I didn't pay much attention and had both my boys circumcised, just because my husband is too (I guess it was just a matter of consistency?!). However, now that they're older neither of my boys cares one way or another, and they can't remember the trauma so it really doesn't affect them any. If I had it to do over, though I might not have them circumcised. Of course, that could lead to some humiliation in the locker room because we all know how fixated men are on that particular body part. It's probably less traumatic if they all look relatively similar. Can you imagine the trauma an uncircumcised 14 to 18 yo boy could have to endure in those situations? I think it's very interesting to hear what guys think about it - how they think uncircumcised penises are ugly or weird. Maybe over several millenia of routine circumcision, penises will finally evolve and they'll be born w/o foreskins!

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  3. There's no reason not to wait. Circumcising later in life is safer, less painful, and the results are cosmetically better. Most importantly, the owner of the penis gets to decide for himself. Doing it at birth is the absolute worst possible time. Some other countries with a far higher circumcision rate find it bizarre that anyone would want to do it to a newborn.

    If my son wants to get circumcised when he's 18 (16 if he knows what he's doing), I'll gladly pay for it, and help him find the best surgeon. Until then, no-one should be cutting part of his equipment off. His body - his choice.

    Are you aware that the USA also used to practise female circumcision? It was never anywhere near as popular as male circumcision, but there are middle-aged white US American women walking round today with no clitoris because it was removed. Some of them don't even realise what has been done to them. There are frequent references to the practice in medical literature up until the late 1950's. Most of them point out the similarity with male circumcision, and suggest that it should be performed for the same reasons. Blue Cross/Blue Shield covered clitoridectomy till 1977.

    One victim wrote a book about it:
    Robinett, Patricia (2006). "The rape of innocence: One woman's story of female genital mutilation in the USA."

    As far as the locker-room argument goes, it didn't seem to worry anyone when circumcision first became popular, and it still doesn't seem to worry the small minority of parents who still circumcise their sons in Canada and Australia. It's likely that the US circumcision rate will drop below 50% in the next 10-20 years anyway.

    Drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 14%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% ("routine" circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

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  4. great post abd very interesting.

    As you know im from the UK, and i am what we call a Cavaleir (uncut) and not a Roundhead (cut) that is and english civil war analagy.

    For me its all about choice, but i also think that i was born with it, it evolved there for a reason and its part of my body so why chop it off!! Where did this American fascination come from? I have met many Americans and it has come up in conversation that they are roundheads, everyone!!

    What i do know is as the above comment says that it is not very popular over here and it is most prolific in the Muslim community.

    It seems a very foreign idea to me, and very Un-British lol

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  5. I steer clear of the "natural/unnatural" argument because circumcisionists will point out that wisdom teeth are natural and anesthetics are unnatural and so forth.

    Still, if the foreskin caused more harm than good, it would have evolved away by now. (The fact that some boys are born without them proves that it could - whereas babies born without an appendix also have other, genetically linked, problems in their gut.)

    Not performing surgery, absent presssing medical need, is still the default option in the whole of the rest of medicine, and it's not ethical or legal to cut off any other healthy non-renewable part of a baby boy's body - or the exactly corresponding part of a girl's, no matter how painless and sterile (never mind what they do in Africa).

    With the US rate now averaging about 55%, the locker-room argument no longer holds water - he's sure to find plenty of peers. But if he asks "Why is mine different?", which would you rather have to tell him - "They all had part cut off but you didn't" or "You had part cut off but they didn't"?

    Embee apparently thinks the US disgust with the foreskin is universal, but in fact it's a local and peculiar phenomenon that most of the rest of the world can't understand at all.

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  6. Thanks everyone. :)

    I do think there is a difference between the way parents today look at it and the way our parents did, especially considering most guys my age are overwhelmingly circumcised (so I totally get you Embee).

    In regards to locker room embarrassment, it seems to be weird only to guys who are circumcised (why the hell do you guys get all the way naked? lol). Most women seem okay with it and the guys I know who are uncircumcised don’t have any issues about it.

    Haworth: I love the Cavaleir/Roundhead analogy. lol

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