Circumcision has been a very hot topic lately. Nowadays, more people are questioning whether or not they should do it. Compared to a few decades ago where circumcision was performed routinely, this is definitely an improvement. Nevertheless, we have a long way to go. Personally, I am against circumcision. But what I really have a problem with is people circumcising their baby sons. Now if that same child decided to get it done later in life (when he becomes an adult), I really don’t care what he decides to do that way. After all, it’s his body. And that’s exactly why you shouldn’t do it to your baby. Because it’s HIS body.
What Else Would You Change about Your Child?
There are plenty of adults who undergo cosmetic surgery. Maybe their nose is too big or their breasts are too small. Whatever their perceived flaws are, nowadays you can pretty much change your body to look however you want it to look. You can even change your gender if you so desire. But would you ever consider cosmetic surgery for your child?
Because basically that’s what circumcision is. To some people, uncircumcised penises just don’t look right or are ugly. Part of the reason why we don’t like the look of an uncircumcised penis is might be that a) a lot of adult males have been circumcised and that’s what you’re used to and b) even your biology textbook depicts a circumcised penis. An intact penis is therefore different. And nobody likes change….
Nevertheless, circumcising your child is like making your teenage daughter get a nose job. It doesn’t have a point, and it’s harmful.
What about Religious Beliefs?
When it comes to circumcision, the most problematic reasoning for it is religion. While I have my own opinions about a religion that requires genital stimulation (it just doesn’t seem like that’s really what the religion is all about), there’s no reason for you to make this decision for your son. In America and in many other countries, we have this thing called religious freedom. This means that when your child becomes an adult he can decide what type of religion he wants to practice.
First off, I don’t know much about the Jewish religion. But from what I understand it’s more than a religion. It’s a people. Therefore, you’re born Jewish instead of merely converting to become a Jew. Nevertheless, your child may decide not to practice his religion later on and deny his culture. While that might be difficult and even heartbreaking for you, you can’t force him to do anything once he becomes old enough to make his own decisions. If he really wants to be true to his beliefs, and they include circumcision, then he should get that done when he is an adult.
There are conflicting points of view on this problem. Of the two celebrity Jews I know, Mayim Bialik and Alicia Silverstone, one had her boys circumcised and the other one didn’t. How did that happen? It seems that both Moms even share some other parenting beliefs (gentle mothering, cosleeping, natural birth etc.), but for some reason, they didn’t make the same decision when it came to circumcision. I am sure some people would say Mayim must be more faithful to her religion, but I would argue that Alicia Silverstone has been more humane with her choices.
You Can’t Turn Back Time
The problem with circumcision is that it’s quite irreversible (although you can find lots of “interesting” information online about people who have actually tried to reverse it). And when parents have it done with their first son, they tend to repeat the procedure with each additional male child. I have to say there are lots of things I would have liked to have done differently with my first child (not choosing a hospital birth would be the first one). But I can’t turn back time.
The only thing we can do in the future is to learn from our mistakes. For example, you can choose a homebirth instead of a hospital birth. And you can choose to leave your next son intact. It’s up to you. There’s no law or rule that requires you to treat them equally, especially when the decision was the wrong one to begin with.
The Big Discussion on Circumcision
If you are expecting a boy, chances are this subject will come up. Circumcising little baby boys was once routine in the United States. Nowadays, the numbers of uncircumcised males are growing. First time parents are overwhelmed with well-meant advice on this topic.
Why People Choose to Circumcise
People will tell you to circumcise your son, because otherwise he would look different from his peers and they would make fun of him. Or his penis could become infected and he could have serious problems. For some reason people also think it’s too much trouble to take care of the foreskin, or they mistakenly believe it’s cleaner to circumcise. Another sad reason is that circumcision is aesthetically pleasing.
Circumcision Has No Advantages
Here is the truth: There is no valid reason at all to circumcise your son. None whatsoever. There are no medical benefits to circumcising. The penis is not cleaner, the risk of infection is not lower, and your son’s chances of getting STDs or a bladder infection do not increase when you say no to circumcision.
Your son is going to look different from all of his peers. The only way he would look like one of them is if he had an identical twin brother. Other than that, all boys will be different. If he goes to school, chances are he will get teased or he will tease others. Circumcising him will not prevent that from happening. Plus, most teasing starts way before boys see each other naked and can involve a bad haircut, glasses, or ugly shoes. Kids will find something to tease each other about, depend on it.
Taking care of a baby with an intact penis is actually easier than taking care of a boy that has been circumcised. He will not be sore and you just clean it like you would any other part of his body (water and mild soap for a bath). Don’t try to retract the foreskin, just leave it alone. It will not retract for a while until long after your little one is out of diapers. And the only one who should play with his foreskin is the owner of it, your son.
One of my family members thinks an uncircumcised penis is ugly. As much as I love her I think, that she is sadly misguided in that idea. Would you change any other part of your son’s or daughter’s body, because you think it’s ugly? And why is a body part ugly? We have all been brought up to believe that a penis is naturally uncircumcised. Just look in any biology book that covers human anatomy. The penis is always depicted as uncircumcised, even though that’s not what it looks like at birth at all.
Why It’s Cruel
So what reasons are there not to circumcise? Besides the fact that it is obviously painful to your baby, because you are CUTTING OFF a part of his body, there are certain things he will have to live with down the road. Sensation and sexual pleasure are both significantly decreased without the foreskin. Obviously, the foreskin has a purpose; otherwise boys would be born without.
After cutting off millions of nerve endings, your son’s penis will be less sensitive to temperature and other sensations. Without the foreskin, the head of the penis is exposed to urine, feces, and sensations on clothing and everything. It was meant to be an internal organ, but it has now become external. The constant irritation from clothing causes the head of the penis to become desensitized over the years. Cutting of the foreskin can be compared to cutting of an eyelid. You would never leave your eye unprotected like that, would you?
The biggest consideration when making a decision like that is an ethical one. Should anyone have the right to make such a decision for another human being? Why are parents able to mutilate their children’s genitalia (for whatever reason)? It’s like forcing your daughters to have breast surgery, because you want to alter the size of them.
Religion and Circumcision
You may be religious, and it may be normal in your religion to have boys circumcised. While I do not propose that you should leave your religion, I do suggest you can be just as religious as the rest of them with an intact foreskin. The God you believe in created humans the way they are. Why would God add a part that wasn’t necessary? You are perfect the way you are, and so is your son.
Changing Your Mind
If you have already had a son and had him circumcised, I urge you to make this decision anew for any other male child you have in the future. We can make a mistake without having to repeat it. It is irrelevant for your older child if the next son is circumcised or not since it doesn’t change his situation. In the same sense, you cannot undo your action, and all you have to do now is forgive yourself and do it differently next time.
For circumcised fathers, the situation is sometimes even more complicated. Often the father gets to make the decision on circumcision, because he has the penis. The wife simply shrugs her shoulders and says she doesn’t know what it’s like. A circumcised man doesn’t know what it’s like to be intact. He might have other issues on the subject, and he might even want his son to look like him without realizing what it really means to be circumcised.
It is not just a matter of cosmetics. Circumcision alters a body part irrevocably. I suggest we all leave our babies alone. There is no reason to subject them to this painful procedure. And if your son ever wanted to be circumcised he can make that decision by himself when he becomes of age and not a minute sooner.
For more information on circumcision, please read this article by Paul M. Fleiss, M.D.