The following is a guest post for the series, “Speak-Up Mama!” The purpose of this series is to help Mamas have more compassion for one another regarding controversial decisions. In light of that, feel free to comment but please play nicely or your comment will be removed. Thank you to Leeanne for her willingness to share her story!
To tell you the truth, I never really thought circumcision was a controversial topic. How is it any of my business what a man has down there? After all, it’s not mine nor do I have one. I never really thought about it much. My husband on the other hand had his views and didn’t want our son to be circumcised and so I went with that. However, I was curious as to why he didn’t want to. His reply was, “I want him to be like his daddy.” Ok fine, I guess that can be a reason, but what I wanted to know was why people are so strongly opinionated about the topic…
–Being me, I did A LOT of research. I found everything from… it’s more clean if you circumcise… to it’s more pleasurable “later” if you don’t because of the nerves that the skin has down there. Then, there are the religious traditional reasons. I’m not Jewish but from what I understand from a Christian perspective, circumcision was in the old Testament as part of the old covenant. Then I researched the reasons for circumcising. My favorite reason of all time is that kids will tease him if you don’t circumcise. Really? Everything possible a person will tease about we should alter? Well that’s just playing into our warped societal values.
Anyway, the issues of circumcision became really interesting to me when a friend of mine told me that she didn’t circumcise her son, and this was always her intention, but later the baby got an infection on his penis. So, their doctor recommended that he get it circumcised. They agreed. Then, the doctor pulled-out a picture book of their choices of how he can make it look. I was stunned. Ok, I get that if you have to get a procedure like cosmetic surgery, you want to know what the outcome will be but it just seemed interesting that you can choose a aesthetically pleasing penis. On top of that, if every time women get a lady infection, is it appropriate to suggest surgery? Or for any infection for that matter. Now of course I’m not a medical doctor but I do have big personal issues with the medical system and how they just seem to love surgery and pharmaceutical drugs but that’s another topic.
Then, I was amazed how my insurance company and the hospital never really asked me if I wanted to circumcise my son, among other assumptions that irritated me. On the hospital wall there was a list of things that I needed to accomplish before we left from signing records to circumcision. I was well prepared for all the ”average” baby duties that “most” parents follow. Lets just say I know that there were a few nurses that were happy to see me go because I not only refused multiple things like circumcision but I challenged their ridiculous comments, arguments and fear-based tactics. I wasn’t rude but I did let them know they just can’t assume that they can do just anything to my son.
With all of that I have my own personal reasons and I know many mammas who feel the same… But I just think that there are definitely some gender double standards here. Why do most feel that it’s barbaric to circumcise a girl but not a boy? I don’t care how precise a surgeon is, you are cutting a piece of a persons body which can always result in nerve damage or worse. I mean don’t you think that it’s just unnecessary and intrusive? And if circumcision inhibits women from sexual pleasure, could it possibly be doing that to men as well? I’m not saying my reason was to prevent my son from having sexual pleasure but I guess my reasoning is there really doesn’t seem to be a medically valid reason to do it. I feel it’s now become a unquestioned tradition/procedure. But, in my opinion, if this is what I was born with, leave it alone. If it becomes a medical issue or later the person wants cosmetic surgery then so be it. I kind of feel a little self-centered and silly if I care how my son’s penis looks.
If a person is doing it for what I call, the convenience of cleaning their baby son, I also think that is a little silly. Yes, I’m sure it is easier to clean and keep clean but I learned very quickly how to easily clean my son’s uncircumcised penis. Another one of my theories is that maybe it’s not the uncircumcised penis that makes germs or infections more possible, maybe it’s the chemicals in diapers, wipes and our soaps. I mean these are chemicals and they are generally used daily. Also could it be their child’s diet? It has been medically proven that the ph balance of your body heavily effects the growth of bacteria. I mean, there are many cultures around the world who don’t circumcise and/or don’t have access to hospitals for the procedure yet I don’t see their male population having an infected-penis epidemic. So my point is there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to finding the source of infection.
Also, I don’t want people to feel that I am attacking their choices and views. If you had it done to your son or feel strongly that you want your son circumcised for personal or religious reasons, then I’m sorry if what I’m saying offends you. It’s not my intention. I just challenge a lot of status quo things because like you, I only want the best for my child. My values will sometimes conflict with the values of other and that’s ok. But if I made Pros and Con’s list of why I should or shouldn’t circumcise, I had more reasons to not do it. I don’t feel comfortable doing things to my son’s body that physically alter him in any way, without solid medical necessity. The hardest part is, I hope my son will understand why I made this choice, among others. I hope he understands that it’s always been my goal to do the best I can for him.
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