Circumcision: The Truth I’ve Come to Know

I know that almost every guy I’ve ever known has been circumcised. I know this because if a guy isn’t circumcised, his friends usually take it upon themselves to tell others. Nearly every mom that I know has chosen to have her son(s) circumcised. When we found out that we were having a boy, my initial thinking was that he, too, was going to be circumcised. As my sweet little guy grew inside of my belly, I felt more and more conflicted. I loved him in a way that only a mom can understand. He had become part of me. There was a lot of pressure from family and friends to circumcise him. I heard it all- that it was “cleaner”, that it was traditional, that he would be embarrassed of himself someday, that he needed to “look like his dad”, that someone knew someone who knew someone who had to have it done later in life and it was soooo terrible.

So I decided that if I was going to potentially subject my baby to circumcision, I needed to see it. I needed to watch a circumcision performed. Youtube has plenty of videos. For anyone who gawks at the idea of watching a circumcision but condones the practice of circumcising infants, I have to point out how insensitive and cowardly that seems to me. A newborn baby is taken from his mother’s embrace and sent off to endure an extremely painful procedure- a procedure so horrific and graphic that you can’t even bear to WATCH it be done to him..but somehow you are still able to justify this trauma being inflicted on HIM, a newborn baby. I would suffer any pain if it meant I could shield my child from it. I know he is going to experience pain in this life, and I will ALWAYS share in it with him. I will hurt when he hurts. I will listen when he needs to tell me about it. I will feel his pain whether he wants me to or not. How could I subject him to pain that I chose for him and yet not even be willing to be there with him? So please, if you’re going to choose circumcision for your son, watch a video of the procedure before you have it done to him. And if you STILL choose it for him, go with him. Be there. Share in his pain. That is part of being a parent.

Anyways, I watched the video, and I cried like a baby. What kind of a society are we? How can multiple adults stand around and watch as the most innocent, precious being is strapped down to a plastic board and stripped of part of the most intimate and personal part of his body for absolutely no reason? What kind of a welcome is that to a sweet little baby boy who just entered the world? He has most likely known no pain. He has been sheltered from this cruel world inside his mama’s belly for all of his existence. He has been warm, full, and content inside of her. He naturally makes his way into the world and is then almost immediately subjected to this torture. And we all stand by as if this is normal and natural and GOOD for him.

This brings me to my next point. WHY ARE WE NOT UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS??????????? Are we just so obsessed with “fitting in” and being like everyone we know? Are we so obsessed with it that we are willing to sacrifice our sons’ well-being in order to not stick out? We will change his bloody diapers for days and not bat an eye. What the hell is wrong with us? Why are we doing this? Our perfect little boys should not be bleeding from their genitals. Why do all of our motherly instincts all of the sudden go by the wayside when circumcision rears its ugly head? I guess it still just comes back to our fear of being different. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I grew up in a very conservative, Christian area in West Virginia, the state with the highest rate of circumcision for newborn boys in the nation the last time I checked. I assume that a lot of the parents there have their boys circumcised because of the “covenant” referenced in the Bible. To my knowledge, in the New Testament, several references are made to circumcision that actually discourage the practice and/or speak of it as if it is completely unnecessary. Quoting from the Bible in front of me:

Galatians 5:2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

So drawing on that, unless you are Jewish or Muslim, religious reasons for circumcising are invalid.

Probably the most common justification I hear for circumcision is that it’s cleaner. Not true. Not at all true. What is clean about your baby urinating and defecating on an open wound in his diaper? Nature is so much more sophisticated than mankind. Do you really think that if it were “cleaner”, natural selection would not have already rendered the foreskin extinct?The foreskin is there for protection, for cleanliness, for GOOD REASON. It protects the most delicate part of the penis from debris and helps to keep the proper moisture balance- just like the eyelids. We are THE ONLY non-Jewish, non-Muslim developed nation in the world that still routinely circumcises our infants. We still have higher rates of STIs and STDs than almost all of the nations where circumcision is not the norm.

The excuse that my obgyn gave me for circumcision is that, “It pretty much just keeps them looking the same.” So let me get this straight, all little boys are born with penises that look alike. We cut their penises to look differently and then justify cutting the next one’s penis because we cut the previous one? Huh?!?!?!!!! No thanks. I believe there are times when “fitting in” or going with the crowd are appropriate, but I am definitely not one to go against my own instinct just to fit in with others. I would never encourage my children to sacrifice their individuality in order to be part of the crowd. In fact, I pray that my children are strong individuals who will ask questions and defy norms and find their own ways regardless of anyone else. The most incredible people are those who stick out, who think for themselves, who aren’t afraid of being different. My heart would never heal if I had allowed my son to endure tremendous pain and agony just to fit into a culture that gets drunk on conformity and high on acceptance.

Sadly, I have heard SO MANY parents say, “Yeah they messed his circumcision up…” I usually just remain quiet. What is there to say? It is done. I pray that all little boys will know a healthy and functional penis, but I know that is not the case. No men should have to live with penile issues because of a botched circumcision which was an unnecessary surgery in the first place. Some will have penile issues that have nothing to do with their circumcision. Some will remain intact at birth and later have to be circumcised. I know there are cases where circumcision is medically necessary, though they are quite rare in actuality. Just as some of us will develop conditions that require a part of our body to be amputated eventually, there have been such cases with uncircumcised men. This doesn’t warrant routine infant circumcision just as breast cancer doesn’t warrant routine mastectomies of baby girls even though it is much more common than penile issues that require circumcision.

So if you’re still reading, you are probably thinking, “Damn, okay you didn’t circumcise your little boy. He didn’t feel the pain, and his penis is just fine. So why are you still talking about it?”

I’d answer you with this: If everyone just stopped talking about it, where would mothers like me who were wavering in their decision find the information and the courage to say, “Enough. No. I will protect my son.” I was so lucky to know a woman who was passionate and outspoken, and at times even aggressive, about educating parents and protecting baby boys. She was such an invaluable resource for my entire pregnancy and labor/delivery and continues to be a good friend. She truly gave me strength. There were times when I may have given in to my husband and others pressuring me, but this woman gave me strength. She made me realize that it IS a BIG DEAL. No baby deserves to suffer through a needless surgery like circumcision. Thank God for her. She sparked something in me, and now here I am trying to pass it on to you.

I know that so many of you have already made the decision and had your son circumcised. My intention is not to make you hate yourself. You did what you thought was best for your baby. In fact, you should forgive yourself because it is a tragedy in our society, and you are really just another victim.

I write this truly because who could be more innocent than a baby just born into the world? Who has more potential than a brand new, perfect, untouched sweet baby? Who deserves the utmost protection and gentle care? Your baby. And he is going to be seeking comfort, warmth, safety. You are his advocate, his navigator, his guardian. Don’t let him down.

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6 thoughts on “Circumcision: The Truth I’ve Come to Know

  1. I didn’t no research what so ever with my first and I will always regret that. I hope he has no issues later on in life but I will also help him get help, if he does. I did not circumcise my second son, even though my husband fought hard. He finally researched what he was about to do to our son and agreed the risks outweighed the (fake) benefits that he found. Props to you mama for putting this out there!

  2. Fantastic post. I couldn’t agree more, I hope with every part of me that many pregnant women (and their partners, their obstetric teams and everyone they ever pass in the damn street!) get the opportunity to read this.

    As someone who comes from a country where this thankfully isn’t the norm, I have watched baffled for years as people in the US try to defend this barbaric and unnecessary practice. Unless there is a medical reason, this boils down to little more than child abuse. And I don’t think religious reasons are valid either, given the many hundreds of religious practices that have already fallen by the wayside. It has to stop.

    • YES! Thank you for your support! It is so hard for me to understand how people here in the US are so numb to it. At any other time, they will fiercely defend their children, but for some reason at birth, they will allow them to be violated without question.

  3. 36 years ago i was a young single mother and when i asked the Dr why i should do this to my son, he said “it’s just what people do”. So i didn’t do it.

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