I sit here tonight, with my mind swimming with what to write. There is so much misinformation about circumcision, so much myth, and so many “I circumcised my son because…” floating around. To be honest, I’m tired of all of this, and I’m tired of people feeling the need to defend their decision to have their son circumcised. There is no need to justify, what’s done is done. I say what I say, I write what I write for information, not to judge the decisions of others.
So what is circumcision anyway? Well, in plain and simple terms, it is the removal of the foreskin from the penis. In other terms, it is genital mutilation (from Miriam-Webster Dictionary online – Mutilate -1. : “to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect & 2. :to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of”), a (most of the time, non-consensual) removal of perfectly useful, normal, healthy skin that is SUPPOSED to exist. Penises are formed with foreskin as an essential functioning part of them, and for some reason, many societies have created a stigma around it, so much so that I was told the other night that a childbirth educator here in town is stating that a good and valid reason for having a newborn boy circumcised is for the sake of his bonding with his father later in life. I shared this with my husband last night, and he looked at me bug-eyed, deer in the headlights, and said, “Yeah, because men bond with their sons naked?!” And to add to that thought… Are men and their sons really bonding over their penises?!
One of my favorite sites on the internet, Peaceful Parenting, recently posted an excellent post, by Audrey Bryk, about keeping boys intact. This article is stated in terms that are easy to understand, and that lit a fire under me. Just as was stated above, one of the reasons in some cultures for circumcising boys is so that they can be “like their dads”. Bryk argues that is it not easier to just state that someone made the decision based on information that those parents knew to circumcise the father, but that the parents of the son chose to keep him intact (a more complete and well-informed decision). That seems to me to be a much simpler conversation than why an essential portion of his penis was cut from him shortly after birth.
I remember so vividly praying that Sydney was a girl, literally praying. I sensed a lot of pressure from my husband and his mother to circumcise if we had a son. Though I knew very little about circumcision, and had never seen an intact penis; something inside of me thought it was wrong, unethical, immoral, against everything that I believed. I had no basis for this thought, but I felt extremely strongly about it. It seems strange to me that I stood up very strongly for everything that I wanted for the birth of our beautiful baby, but something in me had a hard time standing up for keeping a son intact. I no longer have that issue.
There is so much to be said for genital integrity. So much to be said for having a say in what happens to your own genitals. So much to be said for informed consent. And this is what I will say:
- Boys/Men deserve to remain intact until they are able to make a fully informed decision.
- The reasons for circumcision are not based in medicine, but rather in preference of parents (for many reasons, appearance, misinformed hygiene myth, religion, etc). This is not their decision to make, it is NOT their penis.
- Doctors should not perform a procedure on a patient who is non-consenting (the baby boy is the patient, after all).
- Mutilation of the genitals at birth is not something that any baby boy chooses for himself. In fact, this is what baby boys have to say about it:
- Grown men have a right to feel certain feelings about not having been allowed to make that decision for themselves.
- The correct, valid, researched, and true information about intact vs. circumcised needs to be made public and talked about. We cannot be ashamed to discuss this! Here is an excellent site: Circumcision Decision Maker
I would like to say, that though this post is short, it holds every bit as much passion as any other that I’ve written. My lack of words is an indication that so much is wanting to come out, and the words are not finding their way onto the screen (Come on, fingers and brain, WORK!). But nevertheless, see my words for how I intend them. I am not someone you need to justify your reasons for circumcising your son(s) to, I am not here to judge. I just ask that all of you research the decisions that you make on behalf of the children you bring into this world. Who knows what long lasting effects this may have on his psyche, sexuality, emotional well-being, self-esteem, physical appearance, etc.
As always, thank you so much for reading this post, and COMMENTS WELCOME.
Since posting this post last night, I have gotten some backlash on Facebook from people who read it. People have become offended. So I encourage you that if you’re offended, bring it to my attention so I know why and what created the offense.