Circumcision: I don’t get it.
I’ve read through all the arguments for circumcising, and the more I read the less impressed I am.
The very thought of cutting off a part of my newborn baby is physically repulsive to me. Even this post is difficult for me to write, because I am so upset that any mother would agree to circumcise her newborn son. How can our society condone this ritualized violence?
I can’t write this post without letting emotion leak through. I just can’t.
Babies need to be welcomed into this world with love and gentleness. Imagine what it must be like for a newborn: he’s been welcomed into his family with excitement and joy. He’s nursed at his mother’s breast. He’s gone to sleep on the warmth of her chest, hearing the familiar heartbeat. Then violence, and pain, and terror. And more pain.
I can find no good reasons to cut off a beautiful, sensitive, and physiologically important part of a baby.
I find the following justifications particularly repugnant:
- I don’t want my son to be teased. Simply put, this is utterly and completely lame. Do we give our daughters nose jobs or breast implants, because we think they might get teased? Do we supply our children with recreational drugs, because their peers would tease them if they said no?
- I think an intact penis looks “gross.” No matter what we think is aesthetically pleasing, routine infant circumcision is medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery, with its own set of risks, on an unconsenting baby. Parents would be arrested for cutting off any other part of their baby—nose, fingers, ears—simply for aesthetics.
- I want him to look like his father. My husband grew up in a mixed family. His father was intact, the 2 oldest boys were circumcised, and the 2 youngest were intact. It was never an issue. In addition, boys will look different from their fathers in many ways: body shape, vocal tone, body & pubic hair, eye color, and so on. Why is it so urgent to alter an infant’s penis? We don’t perform cosmetic surgery on baby girls to make them look like their mothers—why is okay for infant boys?
- Intact penises are dirty and smelly. That statement is incorrect. An intact penis is no harder to keep clean than any other part of the body.
- Infants are too young to remember it anyway. I am not even going to respond to this one because it is so callous.
I know women who feel that circumcision is wrong and barbaric, and who STILL do it to their sons.
What lessons are we teaching our infants about the meaning of life and human nature when we tie them down and cut off parts of their bodies? This kind of trauma and violation has to leave some kind of imprint. We know that babies exposed to obstetric drugs and operative procedures have higher rates of drug addiction and suicide when they grow up.
I started to read through this article about circumcision from Men’s Health Magazine (July/August 1998, so the US circumcision rate is lower today). I couldn’t finish it. The mother bear in me wanted to snatch that screaming, terrified baby away. I had to avert my eyes.
I just don’t get it.