Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Circumventing circumcision

Circumcision in EgyptThis really is a taboo topic in our society and, regardless of whatever health benefits are purported one way or the other regarding male circumcision, there really isn't a whole lot of consistent data to back it up.

Some scientists argue that being circumcised protects the female partner from HPV and cervical cancer. Some say that it doesn't affect rates of HIV infection in homosexual men, but it does in heterosexual men. Recent research also shows that being circumcised doesn't affect male satisfaction. All these studies were reported over the last year, yet the evidence one way or the other really hasn't conclusively changed over the last 40 years.

So, what's the scoop then? Is there a "medical necessity" for circumcision even though the benefits in even some of the high risk groups studied can be deemed somewhat negligible? What are parents choosing these days for their children?

I highly suspect that the choice is driven not only by personal experience but by geography. But does it really all come down merely to aesthetics? Do we convince ourselves that there is a medical benefit because it backs up the fact that we, as Americans, prefer a circumcised "style"?

Since we rarely talk about this even among other parents at school, church, etc. I wanted to ask you what you think about circumcision. What do you think of the practice and what is your opinion of likening it to female circumcision? Is it the same thing, but just a different cultural, religious or aesthetic belief?


Anonymous said...

I think it is unnecessary. It is no-where near as bad as female 'circumcision' - if you can call it that (don't even get me started) - but it is a mutilation of the body. If it's so great, then why do we not see adult men who are uncircumcised flocking to have it done?

An outdated, religious practice that should be dead and buried.

Bucky said...

It is barbaric. It is unnecessary. It is mutilation. I agree with Jess that it isn't nearly as bad as feamale 'circumcision,' but it is bad nonetheless. I don't believe that parents have the right to make the decision for their children to start cutting off body parts. If a man reaches adulthood and wants to start lopping things off, he can. We shouldn't be allowed to do this to our children.

As for the study that found no loss of "satisfaction" I'm skeptical at best. About a third of the nerve endings in a man's penis are located in the foreskin. It makes sense to assume that losing a third of your nerve endings would result in some loss of sensation and "satisfaction." Naturally, men who are circumscribed report that they enjoy their penises. What man doesn't -- regardless of circumscision. But I suspect it is one of those things that is hard to compare and contrast if you were circumcised at birth.

Wonder if any studies have been done on men who were circumcised as adults?

Anonymous said...

neither of my sons is circumcised. it seemed to me an unnecessary and outdated cosmetic procedure when not done as part of a tradition. at the time, i underestimated the tinderbox that refusing to remove a part of the body just so my son could "look like his dad" would become. my mother in law refused to speak to me for 6 months and then, when she did speak, tried to convince me he would contract some horrible disease. as i understand it, circumcision for non-religious reasons only gained popularity in this country around the time of WWI. it was a way to prevent infection during the troops time in the trenches. then, most of those being circumcised were grown, enlisted men. a far cry from a group of toddlers standing around the potty comparing notes. my sons are now 14 and 11. neither of them has suffered horribly, neither of them has felt out of place (though i doubt they discuss their penises with their friends)and neither of them has expressed a desire to have their foreskin removed. in the end, it's a personal choice that i believe ca be performed in a more human manner for those people who chose it as an option for their child.

Anonymous said...

having attended both a medicalized circumcision and a bris, more respect is shown for the child, more concern given for his comfort and health during the bris. it wasnt until very recently that physicians began to entertain the idea that infants feel the pain of circumcision. the procedure is often done hours to days after birth when the child's immune system has yet to begin fuctioning efficently and when his ability to clot is minimal. minimal care, if any, is given to his emotional or physical comfort. the bris (s,es?) i've attended were, by contrast, performed with the children held securely in the safety and comfort of their parent's arms. each child was given a wine dipped cloth to suck and he was soothed and reassured at each step. the medicalized circumcisions left me nauseated, tearful and ashamed.

knutty knitter said...

I would only approve on medical grounds - real medical grounds. Neither my hubby or my sons are circumcised although one of them may face some surgery later on. That will be his choice though - not mine!

It isn't a common procedure round here fortunately. I don't know anyone who has had their children done so it just isn't relevant.

viv in nz

Anonymous said...

Well, I have two daughters, so luckily haven't had to make that decision, but if I had a son, we'd have him circumcised. For us, it is a religious mandate, not one we feel there is wiggle room on, if you intend to follow the rules. I don't think it is necessary otherwise, though I do have to say that all the women I have known who had longterm relationships with intact men have suffered chronic yeast infections that they believed came from their partner being intact as they hadn't had them before. And frankly, it infuriates me when intactivists insist the FGM is the same thing. I don't think you will ever find the average circumcised male as traumatized and unhappy with their circumcision as women, particularly in the cases of infibulation.

Lisa Zahn said...

My DS11 is not circumcised, though his dad is. We have never, ever regretted that decision. I read lots about it when we were pregnant and decided the risks in circumcision were greater than any perceived benefit. I didn't want to subject my baby boy to such pain!

Malva said...

Fortunately, it's not common in Canada and hasn't been for at least a full generation.

It's totally uncommon here unless you're jewish.

Doctors don't even discuss it with parents. It's up to the parents to bring it up, make the necessary arrangements and pay (out of pocket, even in the land of free healthcare) for the procedure.

A friend was telling me that when she was a nurse for the only doctor in her area that did the procedure, he wouldn't do it without the parents present. Needless to say, most babies scheduled to be circumsized ended up not going under the knife in the end.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

I had my 1st son circumcised, because that was just the way it was. After watching him go through it I would never have it done again or recommend it be done. My youngest son does not have it done and neither does my grandson.

Jen said...

I think it's just silly that we even debate about it, because most of the men in the world aren't circumcised... it's sort of like if we were to debate about whether or not we should teach our kids foreign languages. OF COURSE there's an obvious answer, it's just a matter of changing the status quo. IMHO. But I don't see it as much different than female genital mutilation.

There definitely is a taboo, though. I had a bumpersticker (bring home the whole baby!) until my hubby decided it was just too weird and that I was advertising to the world the state of our son's private parts. So, I took it off. It's not easy to talk about, for sure.

Anonymous said...

I think the majority of kids around here are not circumcised anymore - the pediatrician we had for my son didn't even do circumcisions.

On the other hand, he *did* have the skin under his tongue snipped, and we may get the skin attaching his upper lip to his teeth snipped too, if it gives him speech problems (the tongue thing was making it hard for him to nurse). Also, at one point they had him on an IV and all his veins collapsed and the nurses spent a good hour trying to insert needles into different parts of him. The needle thing clearly stressed him out a great deal, but the frenulum(?) snipping was less of an issue than changing his diaper, at that point in his life. I don't think we can really know how babies process sensation, that early in their lives. (both of these things took place a good month before his due date).

Anonymous said...

My 24 yr old son is not circumcised and it has not seemed to affect him (or his girlfriends) in any negative way. After I decided not to have it done, the pedicatrician told me it was her opinion that it need not be done, there were no medical facts to back up the procedure, I know there are religious considerations however. I've never been sorry for our decision and neither has my son.

Anonymous said...

the only thing that i know of that is positive about circumcision is that little boys are less prone to UTI's when they are circumcised. my husband was pretty insistent on having our son circumcised, but we also made sure he had local anesthetic and painkillers. he's fine.

bucky - i would be wary of your very judgmental comments...this gets into a realm of parenting that i hate - that in which "my" way is the only reasonable, practical and humane way and anybody that makes other decisions is just stupid or wrong. that's just not the way things work.

Anna Banana said...

When we had to make this decision 18 years ago, I was on the fence until our dr told us the surgery is common only in the US and Israel and that most of the world's men are uncircumcised. Knowing this made the decision not to circumcise easy. Both of our sons are doing fine.

Jen ( said...

My son is circumcised, but if I have more male children, they will not be. It is not the same thing as FGM, because FGM does result in a loss of satisfaction - a major loss, but both are unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Neither my son nor my husband is circumcised. There was never a question. When my doctor asked, my husband turned a little pale and said "no, we would NEVER do that" and the doctor laughed and said he was glad he didn't have to talk us out of it. Many many of my friends have circumcised their sons and I have to say, whenever I have to change their diapers or help them to the potty (we're in the potty-training phase around here) I can't help but think that they have some WEIRD looking little penises. While I don't think that circumcision is nearly as bad as FGM, it *is* a surgical procedure, often performed without anesthetic, to remove part of the genitals. Um, no thanks.

My great-grandfather was the doctor for three rural counties, so he did all the births in the area. He would not ,for any reason, circumcise. My grandmother remembers having considered it and being told by her FIL that she would have to travel hours away to find someone who would do it. So no one in my family is circumcised. (now everyone imagine your FIL being your OB. yikes!)

My stepmother didn't circumcise either of her boys - the younger one ended up needing circumcision when he was 14 to correct a medical problem.He was upset at having to have the surgery at a memorable age (14 is bad enough by itself!) and also that his mom wouldn't quit talking about it to everyone around ("poor Mike, his pee-pee is sore - he was deformed and had to get snipped") The older son (now 27) is angry that he "looks different" than the other men in the locker room. So both are angry with her for not having made the decision for them at birth. Frankly, I think it speaks to bigger issues that an infant circumcision would not have solved.

jewishfarmer said...

It is a religious issue for us - a mandate and really not up for discussion. And we don't do it for any perceived "health benefits' which I don't believe in. We do it because it is part of the covenant of our faith.

That said, however, I've seen a medical circumcision, with a strapped down child, and I've seen a bris, which is a wholly different thing - if someone does feel strongly about circumcizing for non-religious reasons, I'd still recommend you ask a mohel to do so. The baby is held in loving arms, in most cases there is full pain relief, and of my four sons, one didn't cry at all, one cried 1 minute and stopped before I could lift my shirt to nurse him, and the other two cried for one moment until the breast was offered, and then were fine.

That said, however, I still would not do it for any reason other than the purely theological reason.

I will add, however, that I do know some adults who have "flocked" to have it done, either because they were converts to Judaism or Islam, became observant Jews or Moslems after being raised in an unobservant household, or because of chronic medical issues. I admit, given the level of discomfort required of a fully grown adult, I can't understand why any Jewish or Moslem parent would require their son to have the procedure done as an adult to participate in their faith.


Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Our son is uncircumcised, but we took a lot of flak from our family about it. We thought, well, he could always get it done when he is older if he wants to. I just thought it was unnecessary considering most of the world doesn't do it.

I read an article once with a family where the mother was Christian and the father was Jewish decided not to circumcise their son. The husband's family threatened to cut them off completely - no contact - if they didn't do it. So they eventually agreed.

Greenpa said...

by golly, this was on the TOP of my list of concerns too!

lol! I confess to being mostly curious- how the heck did male circumcision rise to the surface of your multiple awarenesses just now? Hm?

heck, I was awake half the night, worrying about it.


From the biologists point of view, the quantity of useful, unbiased information about the practice could easily fit onto the head of a pin. So arguing benefits and detriments are mostly a waste of breath.

Pretty clearly male function is not affected, so that's not a big deal.

I think the incineration of all those infantile foreskins though, is clearly an unnecessary contribution to global warming- so marching in the streets is obviously the next move!

Deoxy144 said...

Until our son was born, we were planning on having him circumcised, mostly because my husband wanted him to look like other boys. After seeing my son and how tiny and vulnerable he was and knowing that I was responsible for protecting him, I just couldn't stomach going through with it. I'm glad we changed our minds. We thought we would take a lot of flak from our very Catholic families, but it turns out none of our grandfathers were circumsised. They were all born in home births in rural Minnesota where the doctor came out only if there was a problem, so there was no one to do a circumcision.

However, in some cases, it is medically necessary. At the age of 14, my brother was circumcised as a last resort to clear up his chronic yeast infections. It worked, but I don't think his situation is very common.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even hear of circumcision until I was an adult and the first male I saw who had been circumcised was a friend's little boy when I was changing his diaper. At first I could not figure out what had happened to him! One time I happened to see my dad's birth certificate and it said on there that he is circumcised, which just happened to be a piece of information I'd rather not have known and it rather surprised me!

I'm all for leaving the body as it was made unless there is evidence that it would be a benefit to a specific individual. If people follow procedures for cultural/religious reasons I would let them be, provided I'm not having to fund their practices.

Get this one, one time when I had my son in for his annual physical the (older lady) doctor told me that his foreskin was tight and I should pull it back each time he had a bath or it would never retract properly. Ummmm... so, she was telling me that the only reason male foreskin retracts properly is because moms do this for their sons?! I could not believe that for a minute; I just ignored her. To do that for my son would be an invasion of his privacy as far as I'm concerned and it could even make me subject to suspicion by social workers if we ever were questioned by one!

I do think that boys need to learn hygiene, which involves cleaning under the foreskin as soon as they are able to retract it. At least that is my understanding, but I don't know a lot about that department!

Female genital changes - run a mile!

Laura said...

That's right, boys only need to be operated if their parents don't teach them to uncap & wash thoroughly every day. The first uncapping needs to be closely supervised - by doctors even. So yes, mothers should interfere with their sons' foreskin, for their children's good. I've no children myself, but as a European, it's just something I know.

Spot-On said...

I think the bigger issue here is why is circumcision so prevalent in america for non-religious reasons? I'm from England, the major majority is non-circumcised for males.

There are no medicals reasons for being circumcised so why do it?

I guess I just don't understand it not coming from a culture where it's the norm, which it does seem to be the norm here in the states.


Allie said...

I don't think it can be compared to female circumcision. They are done for different reasons and produce different results - the male is still capable of feeling sexual sensations after circumcision whereas the female is circumcised to eliminate sexual gratification.

All that being said, if I ever had a son, he most certainly would have a bris. I would not be willing to even consider another course of action.

Anonymous said...

Di Hickman said:
"I think the bigger issue here is why is circumcision so prevalent in america for non-religious reasons?"

I think it has something to do with the national *obsession* with cleanliness/hygiene. Anything (about one's body) even perceived to be as less than fanatically scrubbed is suspect. *rolls eyes*

I have curly hair. It honestly does not NEED to be washed every day because when I do, it gets dry on the ends and the scalp over-produces oil. So I haven't washed my hair every day in YEARS. And now that I've switched my shampoo to something a little more natural and a little less harsh overall, I generally don't have to wash it more than once every 3 days or so -- more in the summer, less in the winter. You all should SEE the looks I get when I admit to that! :D

Bucky said...

I'll wade back into the water with what I already know is going to be an unpopular opinion. (sorry Crunchy) I'm not intending to attack anyone here personally.

Still, genital mutilation is something that I feel very strongly about. Full disclosure: both my sister and I are adoptive parents and she has two daughters adopted from Kenya who were subjected to genital mutilation.

I was warned to be careful about judgmental comments. Oops. Too late for that. But I'm not sure why I was singled out? There are lots of judgmental comments here. Specifically, there are lots of judgmental comments regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). I haven't seen anyone standing up to defend FGM, and more than a few comemnts condemning the practice. Why aren't people who condemn FGM being warned to be careful about judgmental comments?

The answer is obvious, of course: because our culture doesn't practice FGM. We only approve of Male Genital Mutilation. We rightly are appalled by FGM yet we turn a blind eye to the MGM we practice ourselves.

I previously stated that I thought FGM was much worse than MGM. It is, but it is only a matter of degree. Both involve mutilating our children for some culturally perceived benefit. In cultures that practice FGM, the arguments for doing so are exactly the same as those we use to justify MGM here: tradition, conformity, religion.

None of those arguments persuades me that infant or child genital mutilation is an acceptable thing to do. There are very serious health risks associated with genital mutilation. Even something as common as circumcision. Many men suffer life-long sexual dysfunction because of a botched circumcision. And for what?

I know that all over the world there are religions that require that parents perform genital mutilation on their children. Actually, there are cultures and religions that require all sorts of mutilation of children (tattooing, scarification, body modifications). I am, admittedly, not a religious sort. But I've got to think that if the deity of my choice required me to make a ritual mutilation of my child I might want to reconsider my religious choices.

I am a firm believer in freedom of religion, and if your god wants a sacrifice of flesh, go ahead and carve yourself up all you want. However, I don't believe that you have a right to carve up your child to prove your religious bona fides. We don't own our children. They are a gift that we keep for a short time. We are charged with teaching them and guiding them, but they are still inviolable in their own personhood and in their own humanity.

I know that mine will be a rather unpopular opinion. But let me again point out that we all seem to agree that FGM is unacceptable in cultures where it is practiced. We are able to look critically at those cultures that mutilate girls and condemn them as barbaric. Why can't we turn the same critical eye on our own culture when we mutilate boys?

Anonymous said...

As the mama of two beautiful sons (and one equally beautiful daughter) I am fully, vehemently against circumcision.

When people ask me about it I ask them, 'how would you feel if people just assumed that you would mutilate your daughter's genitalia?'

Our sons need our protection from this barbarism just as much as our daughters.


Unknown said...

This is a difficult issue for me right now. I'm expecting a little boy in early Feb, so it's been on my mind a lot lately. I thoroughly believe that infant circumcision is inhumane and cruel in non medically necessary cases. I can't believe that we didn't evolve that way for a reason, even if we don't know all of the benefits. Problem is, I'm Jewish, and therefore there's this religious aspect. Which is where the conflict comes in. I would never ever circumcise my son for any other reason. And the more I read and learn about circumcision (and as a doula and childbirth educator, I've read and learned a lot over the years) I find myself more and more opposed to it. But at the same time, my religion is important to me. SO, I'm not sure what we're going to do. I'm going to be meeting with my Rabbi sometime in the next couple of weeks to talk about it and try to come to some sort of decision I and my son can live with. Don't know what that will be.

Anonymous said...

Now, I have to say that I'm not a practicing Jew but I come from an interfaith Jewish/Catholic background, so my thoughts may be a little biased.

I have never had sex with a man who wasn't circumcised. Ew. I just don't think I ever could, even if I wasn't married. That is up there for me with chewing tobacco, smoking, bad teeth as far as relationship breakers go.

I have three sons and they are all circumcised, there was no discussion, it simply was what we were going to do.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had sex with a man who wasn't circumcised either, and I'm not sure how I'd react if I actually got ready to greet one in an intimate setting. :)

I've seen one, being in the healthcare field, but I didn't have to care for it or serve it in any other way, and I think it's a shame that this practice is still 'assumed' when you have a baby boy.

jewishfarmer said...

The reality is that there are plenty of kinds of bodily mutilation that are not terribly destructive to the body. Pierced ears (and other piercings), for example. There are clearly those that are (Female genital mutilation). I think there are probably some people who believe passionately that no body integrity should ever be violated in a child, but who still could probably live with the idea of a four year old with pierced ears.

The reality is that male circumcision seems to come quite a bit closer to the ear piercing category than to clitoral removal and the sewing closed of one's whole vaginal opening. Having seen a child (not mine) get her ears pierced, the pain seems pretty much to have been about the same as my son's circumcisions. Having had sex with both circumcized and non-circumcized men, my observation is that the difference in level of sexual seems to be minimal and pretty much elided by the differences between men.

I don't love circumcision, and I would ideally not have had a bris. But I can't see getting all worked up about a procedure an infant can sleep through. I'm going to bet no little girl ever slept through having her genitals scraped away.

As for the religious bit, well, it is obvious to me that the people who have no trouble tossing away religion don't seem to be very religious. It is always easy to dismiss things you don't much care about, or not to see the cost, say of a child's inability to be a full member of their community.


Anonymous said...

Our son is uncircumcised. We had no religious imperative or medical reasons to circumcise him so we didn't.

scifichick said...

My son is not circumcised and it wasn't even a question when he was born in Belarus. That's just not something that's normally done there. When we came here and he was 7 months, I was shocked when his doctor asked if I want him circumcised. I couldn't understand why I would want to do that. In this day and age with easy access to clean water (at least in industrialized countries), I see no hygienic reasons to have the foreskin removed.
I am also skeptical of the 'satisfaction' surveys. If a man had the foreskin removed at birth, it's not like he had sex with it and without it to compare how it feels. And if you don't know any better, how can you compare?
I think this is an outdated practice.

Robj98168 said...

I would say it was barbaric. I was circumcised by the doctor who delivered me. A 70+ year old "country" doctor. You cannot tell that I was cricumcised.
Flash back to Junior High- the shower room- My penis looked so very different than everyone else. Almost everyone in Junior High and High school was circumcised. I know I was too, but damn that f*cking old man doctor in Park River ND- He could have taken a little more of the top - so to speak. Made for very interesting locker talk though. MY feeling about it is more hygenic than not.
A little to Judaic, I always find it interesting that people dont take into consideration how the boy is going to feel later in life. In the shower room. Funny attitudes have I. But the best attitude I have to circumcision is OWWWWIE!

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'm not a parent, so I haven't had to think much about this topic. However, my background in evolution makes me think there's a reason we have the adaptions we do. We now know that the appendix has a function when it used to be thought of as vestigial.

Anonymous said...

Bucky, I totally agree.

And, I wish I still had the link, but there was a great essay by a medical doctor describing the purpose of the foreskin, 5 pages long. It's much more than just a flap of skin and cutting it off is FAR from something like ear piercing. The foreskin is more akin to an eyelid with all of its specialized cells and protective functions. It would be great if people became educated on what exactly was being lost in circumcision.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Bucky's second comment. I think we are oftentimes constrained by our culture and can't see outside ourselves.

Abbie - Vestigial foreskin! I'm going to have to use that in conversation next chance I get.

It's inarguable that the foreskin provides a purpose. Saying otherwise is somewhat ridiculous.

And for those who haven't seen an adult uncircumcised penis, from what I can tell (from pictures at least - I haven't seen an adult uncirc'ed penis), when erect it pretty much looks like a circumcised one.

So, for those of you expecting to have to maneuver around an extra piece of flesh, I don't think that's the case. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

I think it's unnecessary and did NOT have my son circumcised when he was born 2 years ago. Before he was born, I wrote a rather lengthy post on my reasons for leaving him intact:
The Circumcision Post

ruchi said...

Sharon, thank you for your comment, and you're absolutely right. There are some forms of mutilation that are less destructive, and some that are more. To me, you cannot say that male circumcision and female circumcision are in the same league really. This isn't a question of cultural acceptance, as much as it is an understanding that certain forms of mutilation are much more painful and the effects much more long lasting than others.

Personally, I'm fairly ambivalent about male circumcision. But given the latest NIH studies concerning the drop in HIV as a result of circumcision, I would be more likely to circumcize my son.

Summer said...

I'm one who is absolutely against it. I had my first son done for no reason other than it was what was culturally expected (everyone else does it so it can't be bad). Luckily I took the time to look further before my second son was born and he was spared the barbaric practice. It's not something I can promote at all. If a man wants it done he can have it done himself, but forcing it on a helpless infant is beyond cruel.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Sharon - Your comment, "It is always easy to dismiss things you don't much care about, or not to see the cost, say of a child's inability to be a full member of their community", unfortunately is an argument that is used quite frequently in favor of FGM by those supporting the practice.

So, while many people don't understand the religious perspective, many also don't understand the practice itself and why it has to be done. Male or female.

Greenpa - I've been wanting to write about this for a while and was reminded by one of the studies I mentioned in the post that I saw recently.

Anyway, just because the function of the male member hasn't been prevented, doesn't mean that it's fully functional :)

I know you are being tongue in cheek (I will use no other euphemisms here although I certainly am tempted), but if you want to assess the environmental impact of circumcisions, it's pretty obvious that millions of unnecessary surgical procedures have a huge impact given the medical supplies used, not to mention the cost to healthcare companies to cover the procedure. So, no, it's not cardiac surgery huge, but it's also not insignificant.

Also, don't forget to take into consideration the petroleum necessary for heating those incinerators :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Ruchi - I'd have to say that condoms are going to be far more effective in preventing HIV than circumcision. In other words, I certainly wouldn't bank on it if I were a guy.

"Condoms? Don't need 'em. I'm circumcised."

Anonymous said...

I didn't circumcise my son 24 years ago and I'm happy with that desision. He's had no problems at all and says that he would never circumcise a son of his.
That being said, I think a boy should be circumcised if it is for religious or cultural reasons only. Removing an important part of your childs body because "everyone does it" or so "his penis can look like dad's penis". Now, has there ever been any documentation that having a penis that did't look like dads is a problem? Dad and son's penises never look alike - size difference you know. Cosmetic surgery on a baby has risks: 1 in 200 to 1 in 500 have infecions, excessive bleeding, or injury to the penis. Those are the facts as stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Anonymous said...

The Canadian health care system says that circumcision is cosmetic by the shear fact that they charge you to have it done. We did not circumsize our little boy (now 15 mos) and my husband isn't circumsized either (which is rare up here for his age group - 30). The funny thing, among my new Mom friends only one of about 6 of us circumsized and that little boy is the only one who has had a penile infection. And it was a rather severe one - poor boy! But overall, although I'm very glad my hubby didn't want it done to our son I think Dad should have a very big say in this decision in any family and on this issue I would defer to his wishes!

April said...

I don't mind talking about circumcision with people and I have had many conversations about it with other mothers.

We circumcised our first son and we regretted it so much, he was in pain, it didn't go well, blah, blah, blah.

We didn't cut the other two boys and they are just fine.

The reasons to circumcise aren't relevant today, I wish more doctors would inform new mothers of this.

Sharlene said...

My two year old son was circumcised. Most US born men I know are. I have never had sex with anyone who hasn't had a circumcision. No that I think its weird or gross, it just isn't common where I live. The older American men I know who weren't circumcised made sure their sons were because of the locker room ridicule they dealt with. Yes, one could say kids have plenty to be teased about so that isn't a good reason. That may be true. But lets be honest, its a very minor procedure (of course there are always those few that have complications with any procedure) and it heals quickly. It is a cultural practice. Just like piercing or tattoos or any other cosmetic mutilation. To put it along the same lines as female's who have their clitoris clipped and openings sewn shut is quite ignorant and disrespectful to the women who have endured such a procedure in my opinion. Being that this procedure almost never has any negative lasting effects I don't see it as something another person should judge. I don't judge those who choose not to circumcise but it seems like quite a few people are horribly judgmental about my decision to circumcise my son. And honestly, it wasn't my decision. It was my husband's. I felt he had a bit more to offer about the whole penis issue than I did. I will say this, I belong to a group of mothers of twins and the only children who have had bladder infections thus far are those who are uncircumcised. Do I think that is reason enough to circumcise? no. But I do think there is something to be said about that theory. Maybe in a few more generations non-Jews won't circumcise anymore. Maybe not. But I really don't see this as an issue worth getting militant over. Its a family choice with minimal consequence. Once again I will take my place hiding behind a chair as the tomatoes are hurled in my direction.

MrsSpock said...

My son isn't snipped. No son of mine will ever be, unless there is a sound medical reason. I watched circs in nursing school and was horrified to see 24 hour old baby boys strapped to a board screaming as their penises were cut.

It's not as bad as FGM, though. I don't think there are too many men you will find that will complain sex doesn't feel good and they can't bear to have it. Or who feel as traumatized.

As far as arguments that circumcision reduces STI transmission- who on earth is foolish enough to compare that to condom use? I would never accept the excuse, "Hey baby, I'm uncircumcised", as a reason to forego a condom.

As far as "style"- my son can decide for himself as a man what types of body modification, including piercings, tattoos, or a bone in his nose, that he wants to have done. It's his body, and his right to decide. As far as I'm concerned, he's perfect as is.

Composed said...

Anti-circ here. Reasons: WHY do I need to cut off parts of my son? Do I want to start his life off by telling the world and my son that I am not pleased with some aspect of his body? Second, he's less prone to getting feces in his urinary tract, less prone to infection, particularly post-circ. Third, from studying I've done on my own it makes sense that sensitivity would be decreased. On a woman when the skin surrounding the clitoris is shorter, thus allowing more continual stimulation, the woman is found to be desensitized. The same has been found in men.

Most importantly, what gives me the right to change his body? If he's unhappy with it he can make that decision later in life. Women are always crying foul for restrictive measures placed on their body and the decisions made for them, yet we cut up boys' penises shortly after birth.

Mutilation is a word that people don't like to be associated with yet that's precisely what it is to cut off part of the body. But really, what mother wants to be seen as mutilating her child?

"Mutilation or maiming is an act or physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of the (human) body, usually without causing death... Acts of mutilation may include amputation, burning, flagellation or wheeling."

Anonymous said...

Our son (2.5 yrs) is not, although dad is... I researched it, decided I wasn not in favor of removing a ntural, healthy part of the body, and gave my husband the info so he could decide. In all fairness, I felt that it was up to him to decide, since I don't have a penis and never will, and don't really know how I would feel about it if I did. He spent about a month really researching it, we didn't discuss it at all b/c I didn't want to influence him. Happily, he decided the same as me, that it would just be unnessary trauma for our baby.

I feel that at the deepest emotional and spiritual levels, in most cases circumcision implants the child with a real sense of fear and abandonment: Not how I believe any young baby should ever feel. And I do believe that such an experience would create in a child, and adult, less security and more distrust, beginning with parents and seeping over to teachers, authority figures, and the world at large...

Anonymous said...

Ginger - It's been a while since I've seen any erect peni other than my husband's, but from what I recall, circumcised and uncircumcised look pretty well the same when they're ready for business. There's certainly not any extraneous fumbling with foreskins.

Sharon - yes, it may be more like piercing a young child's ears than FGM, but I would also not pierce any of my children's ears. It's painful, unnecessary, and results in infections. If my children want their ears pierced when they are old enough to make the decision for themselves (with the knowledge that everyone in my family has serious reactions to metals)then they are free to do so, but I'm not going to do that to them. It always freaks me out to see little girls with their ears pierced.

FWIW, I take less issue with circumcision for religious purposes than for the general population. Which is to say - if you're doing it so that junior can look like dad, or because that's "just what you do" then I'm vehemently opposed. If there's a significant religious/cultural tradition involved, then I'm neutral/mildly opposed. It makes sense in my head.

Unknown said...

I have 2 teenage boys; the older one had a medical condition at birth called hypospadias, which is where the urethra doesn't come out the end of the penis, it ends on the underside. He had surgery with general anesthetic at 18 months where the urologist used the foreskin to repair the defect. Was in severe pain post-surgically, even with morphine.

I know he has scar tissue and I am sure he doesn't look like the other guys in the locker room. No matter, he is a high functioning autistic kid and could care less what others think.

Second son was not circumcised. Best decision problems with bladder infections, yeast infections. Dad was circumcised, and came from Jewish background, but saw no need to have his sons go thru this. We saw a good friend of ours have her oldest boy cut, and he had problem after problem.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Well, I was not circumcised for whatever reason and it has not made a bit of difference. That's almost a pun, ennit? I did not have my son circumcised and unless there is a commandment from de lawd!!! I see no reason for the procedure.

ruchi said...

@ Crunch, sure, a condom is more effective, but as the hypothetical parent of a child, I can control his circumcision as an infant ... I can't control my child's later condom usage. :)

But I am pretty ambivalent, like I said. I don't have any cultural attachment to circumcision, and for Ginger, not to give TMI, but circumcized or no, it's pretty much all the same.

So for me, it's purely scientific, and the evidence I've seen makes me lean towards circumcision. If I were to see evidence pointing the other way, I'd be open to that too.

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha Ha! Foreskins affecting global warming. Now, that is a good one. How far will we stretch things to fit into our "bad for the environment" window? Maybe we should all lose 5 - 10 - 15 - 50 pounds, so we don't put such a strain on the environment.

Carla said...

My two oldest boys are circ'ed. I was young and very naive when they were born. I assumed all little boys were circ'ed as I had never known anyone to not be.
Years later, after much research and professional experience witnessing circ's firsthand as an RN, I am against routine newborn circ without a medical or religious indication.

Working in an OB unit, I have seen way too many bad circ's to ever consider it again. My youngest son is not circ'ed. IME, many parents who choose circ have little understanding of the procedure or the risk involved. They choose it because it is all they know.

You can always circ later if medical issues arise. You can't put it back once it is gone.

And I agree with Bucky. If one can be aghast over the idea of mutilating little girls, why not feel the same about little boys?

Anonymous said...

I have three sons and they are all circumcised and so is their father, it was taken for granted that this would be done when they were born.
They have not been traumatized by it at all.
And yes, I would have it done again.
It was not done for religious reasons, mainly for hygiene and apperance.
I am also from Canada and did not have to pay extra at the time I had it done....everyone was having it done.
I don't think it can be compared to female mutilation which is absolutely shocking and can cause many health problems.
I also don't think you will see grown men ever getting a circumcision unless it became a medical necessity , for one thing they would fear damage to their prized organ and probably would be embarrased, they would also have a lot more pain as an adult because the area to be snipped is much larger.

hollydlr said...

ruchi: as I understand it, there are actually some serious methodological flaws with the studies that "show" that circ "prevents" HIV, so I hope you investigate that further... also I have heard that even the UTI studies were very flawed, something about premature, catheterized, intact babies vs full-term healthy circ'd babies...not exactly a fair comparison...

We did not circ our son - DH wanted to because he is, but I was fortunately able to talk him out of it. I find it unneccsary and it is telling that no medical organization in the world recommends it. As to the comparison to FGM, there are many levels of FGM, some of which are quite minor and basically equivalent to male circ, and yet, all forms are illegal in the US and are generally looked on with disgust by Americans. It seems very hard for Americans to have proper perspective on the issue, I suspect because we were force-fed rationalizations for so long. No one wants to admit that their accepted social practice might actually be horrible.

Laura said...

Ginger, you have to tie the excess around his waist to be able to do the deed. No joke. There is a special knot to learn and e'rything. ;)
I joke! :D Erect circ/uncirc look very very simular. I corroborate.

Count me in the no circ camp. I am a huge proponent of a womans right to make decisions about her own body (biggest example, abortion). How can we champion the rights of women but brush aside the rights of young men? I call bullsh*t. Thanks for adding this one to the roundtable, Crunchy.

Erika said...

I have many thoughts on male circumcision. First, being circumcised or not being circumcised generally does not have a significant impact on a man's life. It's not like FGM, but more like having one's tonsils or appendix out. Yes, it's apparent that something's missing, but it's not a major hindrance. That said, I don't think I should have much say in what other people choose to do, nor should they have much say in what I choose to do with regard to something that "generally" doesn't have a "significant" impact on life. I'm more concerned with what thinking has gone into the decision making process. Case in point: Woman delivers baby boy. Baby boy is not breathing, gets two rounds of Narcan. I take baby to mom. Baby is swaddled, but connected to a monitor by several wires and oxygen. Mom doesn’t ask about all the wires and tubes. Mom asks if he is circumcised yet. I tell her that he isn’t. Before I can even begin to tell her why her little boy is all hooked up, she says to me, “Well, when are you going to cut the icky stuff off, I don’t want to see a nasty little wee-wee.” I was so shocked, so bothered, so... amazed, that I told her she could discuss it with his doctor, and I walked out of the room. What thinking could possibly go into that – not only was her main reason seemingly selfish and superficial, but she was completely clueless about the fact that it was a surgery and as such, she would have to sign a consent form, a doctor would have to do the procedure, and HELLO, why is my newly birthed baby connected to oxygen and monitors?!?! It just amazed me that she was so concerned with her baby’s foreskin, she didn’t notice that he was resuscitated, given medication, and artificial respiration!

Now, let me restate that I am seriously not going to object to your family’s choice of foreskin location (where it grew vs. incinerator... vs. baby book [anyone see Meet the Fockers?]), but if you ask my opinion, I’m more than happy to give it to you. It may already be obvious, but, unless there is a medical issue (such as hypospadias), I see no reason to have surgery preformed on a child whose age is measured in hours rather than years. Having assisted on countless medical circumcisions (all except one of which used local anesthesia), I would never subject my child to a “routine” circumcision. I was so distraught by the one anesthesia-less circumcision, I walked away. I could have gotten in a lot of trouble, but, thankfully, the doctor decided that he would rather try the “worthless anesthesia” and have an assistant, than not perform the surgery at all.

So, I really don’t think it’s any of my business what you do with your boy’s foreskin, but if you really want to know what I think, I think you should leave it alone. Now, what are my husband and I going to do? We’ve discussed it; I’m vehemently against it for any son I birth because my mother is an obligate carrier of hemophilia (meaning I have a 50:50 chance of carrying it, and if I do, my sons have a 50:50 chance of lacking a factor that is critical in blood clotting), and since my husband shares a similar experience with Rob, he was easy to convince.


ecomama said...

Interestingly, no one has mentioned this story by John Colapinto - As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. It's a case study of a gender reassignment after a botched circumcision. It's enough to convince the most fervent believer otherwise. Also, you can Google David Reimer.

Anonymous said...

IMHO there is a huge difference between circumcision and other forms of 'body mutiliation' if we are including things like piercings in the list.

A person decides to get their ears (or nose or navel or whatever) pierced.

A newborn child has this mutilation done to him. He wasn't given a choice.

My husband and I always said that if either of our sons decided they wanted to be circumcized, they could do that as adults...when the choice would be fully theirs and they could be appropriately numbed.

I have known parents who had their sons 'ritually circumcized' because of their jewish faith, who stipulated that no foreskin actually be removed...only a sliver to fulfill the idea of the ritual. Finding a practitioner who would handle the bris in this way seemed to take care of both the religious aspect and their belief, as parents, that this was wrong, painful and unnecessary.

Carmen said...

I'm kind of ambivalent on this discussion. All the medical evidence supporting it is pretty shaky. However, and maybe this is an emotional anecdotal argument, I know several people who had to have circumcision at a later stage in their life. It HURTS! I think they would have rather had it done as newborns.

I think it is way off base to say that parents are "cutting off body parts". And I don't know a whole lot of adult circumcised men who have regret that their parents circumcised them.

jewishfarmer said...

Crunch - I think there's a difference - FGM is not, despite the perceptions, a religious ritual, although it is occasionally justified that way, that analysis has been repudiated many times. That is, it is not required by any version of any faith - it is a purely cultural ritual, much more analagous to "I want my kid to look like Daddy" than to "I want my child to be a participant in his faith.

That said, I don't understate the difficulties of overcoming purely cultural habits, or the fear, for example, that your daughter will be unmarriageable in your community, but there is a real difference between "I believe this is commanded by G-d" and "this is how we have been doing it"

As I said, I'd never do a circ for any reason other than religious ones, certainly not to prevent HIV, and having seen a medical circ and a bris, if my kid needed a medical circ, I'd be finding a mohel - the difference is huge. I'd never pierce my kid's ears, either, but plenty of parents do. If it was an option, I'd sure have thrown any body part you can name in front of anyone who wanted to touch my newborn baby. Of course, I felt that way when they put the silver nitrate in his eyes, and he cried, and when my son had suspected meningitis, and they did three spinal taps.

My concern about this subject is that it is hard to sort out the protection of minority religion from what I think are legitimate issues with cultural practices.

We're in the process in the US of a cultural shift away from circumcision, which is, IMHO, probably a good thing. But I do worry that the level of horror and outrage people express, often based on a lack of knowledge about the difference between medical and religious circumcision could end up with a society in which Jews are forced (again) to practice circumcision in secret - something that has happened in my lifetime in several nations. And generally speaking, that's around when we have to start leaving. Yes, that's an extreme analysis, but I've watched the evolution of the anti-circ discussions, and I think it is a real possible consequence.

Again, it is very easy to say "let's dispense with this mystical religious bullshit that says that you have the right to make a covenant for all time that includes your posterity" and come to call that child abuse, and to say that it does no harm to say "oh, well you can do it when you are an adult." That is, it is very easy to throw out other people's faiths, label them as barbaric and say the conversation is over. It is true that this is a species of the issue with FGM - but that doesn't erase the need to make fine distinctios.


Anonymous said...

attachlings et al:


–verb (used with object), -lat⋅ed, -lat⋅ing. 1. to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts: Vandals mutilated the painting.
2. to deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.

Whether you agree with the practice or not, one thing is clear. Circumcision is NOT mutilation.

Anonymous said...

"Is there a "medical necessity" for circumcision."

The AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) says NO.

All these studies that have been coming out in the last few years about how circ'ing is healthier than leaving a boy intact have been conclusively shown to be seriously flawed. They are bad science.

Genital Mutilation is Genital Mutilation, no matter if there's the word Female or Male in front of it.

I considered it while pregnant with my first son. I talked to my husband about it and he had an absolute fit (if you knew how laid back my husband is, you'd understand how momentous this is). I was a bit surprised at his reaction, especially considering he is circ'd. So, being a trained medical librarian, I did my research...needless to say, my oldest son is intact and the boy in my belly will remain intact as well.

Now, if its a religious thing...I just think its silly. But I also think many (read most) religions require their followers to do many silly things to prove their "Faithfullness" as well. If your religion requires it, and you can stomach it, more power to you.

Greenpa said...

Crunch - "Anyway, just because the function of the male member hasn't been prevented, doesn't mean that it's fully functional :)"

Now you KNOW my primary focus is formal experimentation.

I'm DESPERATELY restraining myself from saying "your place, or mine?"

See? I didn't say it. :-)

Composed said...

The studies done on HIV and circ were done comparing American males to African males... see a problem here? In some countries in Africa HIV is over 26% whereas in the U.S. HIV is .33%. There's not an accurate comparison there.

For those who haven't seen it I highly suggestion Penn & Teller's Circumcision episode. The show is all over the internet.

Dean said...

As a retired family doc who has done hundreds of circumcisions and read all the medical literature, both pro and con, I can tell you it comes down to personal preference! I think there is an old Masters & Johnson survey where they asked the wife if the husband was circumcised and then checked the husband in the next room. There was no correlation between what the wife thought and what the husband actually had. Amazing, what?

mothersong said...

My older son is not circumcised. I am a crunchy, granola kkind of mom, LLL Leader, home birth, homschool, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, the whole nine yards.

My second son is circed. I converted to Judaism before even conceiving him. There was never a quesiton than any other sons I had would have a bris.

I don't think there's a medical reason for it, and I'm not sorry my older son isn't. However, it ws not nearly as terrible an experience as I was afraid it would be.

The Rabbi came to our home, and all the siblings were present. The Rabbi had a few of his own children at home, so he was very in tune with the whole home based aspect of our family. I nursed my son immediately afterward, and he barely cried.

I do know a few adult men who chosed to be circed as adults, at least two of them specifically because they felt it would provide more enjoyment than their intact state. All those men were happy with their decision. I can't imagine wanting to have it done as an adult. Then again I can't imagine having most cosmetic surgery done, and those operations seem to be very popular, as well.

Anonymous said...


–verb (used with object), -lat⋅ed, -lat⋅ing. 1. to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts: Vandals mutilated the painting.
2. to deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.

Um, yeah, circumcision DOES fit the description of mutilate. I mean really, it is INJURING or DISFIGURING or MAKING IMPERFECT of the penis by removal of a part.
Babies are born take something off in that manner is to mess with perfection and yeah, it is an injury.

Circumcision may be a personal decision -- and maybe it should be that way -- but it is mutilation, whether justified or not.

Circumcision should be a Human Rights Issue...and not just for girls in Africa.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Easy there, Greenpa. It's a good thing you haven't quite figured out how to post video online.

nemo said...

It is mutilation, period. There is no justification for it but people who practice it won't stop trying to find one and ignoring all the bad side-effects too.

It is quite possible that there are some advantages, but these are surely offset by plenty of disadvantages. Nearly every superfluous tissue or organ (appendix, tonsil, gallbladder, etc.) turns out to be useful after all.

I don't care if people want to cut their foreskin or put a ring in their nose, but don't let them get away with some bogus justification for what it is they are really doing.

steffington said...

I will confess, I did not read all the comments.

However, as I learned just last Sunday (surprisingly), it is basically the Jewish form of baptism. It is just a way to show that you believe in the Jewish traditions.

If people are calling it unnecessary, then I feel they are calling a religious belief unnecessary...And that is not right. True, parents shouldn't have the right to decide whether their baby is circumsized, it should be his decision when he's old enough. But under this belief, parents shouldn't be allowed to baptize babies, either.

ChefSara said...

We did lots or research before our son was born and ultimately decided against the circ. But I certainly wouldn't judge someone who chose differently. Pretty much every doctor we discussed it with agreed that it was by no means necessary, and that it would be difficult to make an argument that it was beneficial. So, given that, we decided that we'd rather not perform surgery on our newborn that doctors felt was neither necessary or beneficial.

As for the locker room issue, choosing not to circumcise is becoming more and more common. So chances are that he won't be the only "different" one.

a/k/a Nadine said...

This is a very interesting topic. I don't have any kids yet, but it is something I've considered. I have never known anyone or even heard of anyone who was not circumcised. Apparently I need to get out (of America) more. :-)

Anonymous said...

attachlings: Oh, so close.

Be very careful of blanket statements, as they are rarely 100% correct. "Babies are born perfect" - Not always the case.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that we somehow consider genital reduction surgery to be different between boys and girls. A basic misandrous cultural point of view since the US circumcised girls until the 1950's. If culture is all that is required to cut part of the penis off of a newborn boy than I am afraid culture is justification of female circumcision too, since it does not affect female function, namely having children.

Today we think quality of life issue are important too. If you accept that then you should read the Sorrels study published in the British Journal of Urology where the forskin was found to be 12X more sensitive than the glans and 4 to 5 times more than anything left after a typical US circumcision. O'hara also studies the effects of male circumcision on women and found that 85% of women surveyed that had experience with cut and intact men preferred intact siting less irritation, less pain and greater ease of achieving orgasm. Come on ladies, what do you want culturally mandated good looks or good sex as nature intended.

In general we do not allow parents or doctors to amputate healthy tissue unless there is disease or injury. This is the only exception, and what an exception it is guys. As for satisfaction few men have experience with both so they have no idea. Listen to the ladies and leave your perfect boy intact, just as God or Nature made him. Just think about this: Natural Male Enhancement is leaving your son the way God made him.


Marnie said...

wow. there are a couple of so so privileged points of view floating around here.

reduced HIV rates may not matter if you HAVE access to condoms.

reduced rats of urinary and bladder infections may not matter if you HAVE antibiotics.

being able to wash properly may not matter if you HAVE access to clean water.


Cassie said...

I don't have sons or even children yet, but DH and I have made it perfectly clear that any boys we have WILL BE CUT. Mainly to "look like daddy" and also because I personally have never been with any guy with an uncut penis and I refuse to. If any of my boyfriends were uncut I probably would have dumped them as soon as I found out (& I know that sounds shallow).
I prefer a cut penis and I think it looks better. Eh, just my two cents.
Although, DH's mom took an interesting approach because Andy is cut, the next oldest is not, and the 3rd child isn't cut but the youngest child is. Kind of half & half.

Oldnovice said...

I sent this post with comments to my kids with a title something like, "A new generation of moms continue the debate."

I didn't allow my son to be cut in 1982 and I still wouldn't have allowed my son to be cut if it were these times. Never did make any sense, IMO.

As usual (smile), I disagree with Sharon. There were as many of us back then as there are now who question(ed) why we should be treated as though childbirth is a disease and doctors know more about how we want to do it than we do.

We had natural childbirth back then, as well, with the breastfeeding until the baby decided not (although I did some pretty heavy lobbying for the older one to try a cup after tandem nursing for almost a year).

Most young boys in our blue-collar community were circumcised, but I was of the opinion that my son (only 1 boy in the 3 kids) would be a citizen of a broader world where circumcision was the exception). That probably turned out to be correct, as the last time he felt weird about it was when I asked him at age 7 and he burst into tears. Of course his sisters have since probably let him know of any/every uncut boyfriend they've ever had if they share half of what they've told me.

Playing catch-up here after a PC crash. Did Greenpa let that be done to HIS boys in those days? [comments sounded like he did]

Anonymous said...

As one who has had it done, it is NOT the trauma many paint it out to be. I don't remember any of it. Mutilation is WAY too strong a word, as everything works just find and feels as it should... I think (of course, please tell me if I'm wrong here).

I find all the tittering interesting. If you were to ask 1000 adult males (or 1 million - or 10 million) what they thought about their manhood, uncircumcised or not, they would tell you it is what it is, and I'm not too worried about it.

In the end, do what you think is best for your son and damn those judgemental types who think you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

If you decide not to get your son snipped, make sure you talk to him about his penis. My friend was uncircumcised, but his foreskin was too tight and he had terrible pain for years when he had an erection. He thought it was the norm and was too embarrassed to talk about it, so he suffered for years. He finally saw a doctor and got circumcised as a teenager (he said it wasn't that bad), but he wishes he had known that something wasn't right earlier. Be open with your children so they can talk to you about anything.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked when I first found out a few years ago now that circumcision was still the norm in the US. It is very rare now in Australia, and would mainly be done here on religious grounds. I'm sure there are a few people who still choose to voluntarily mutilate their male children unnecessarily, but not very many.

Robbyn said...

I'm jewish...if we have sons, they will be circumsized for no other reason than it's commanded by God that we do. I understand others' concerns. We do it as a matter of keeping an eternal covenant, politically incorrect or not.

Anonymous said...

We had our son circumcised even though I was initially really against it. The final decision came down to the fact that our daughter had level 2 urinary reflux (the real name is much longer and I can't remember it right now) and they told us that if we had other children it was possible that they could have the same problem. Though the circumcision was really to prevent something that might only be slightly possible in the first few years of his life, we decided that the inexpensive procedure was favorable to the really expensive repetitive rounds of testing that leaving him intact might cause.

But my initial feelings of saying that it shouldn't be done haven't really changed. I was hounded by both of my brothers and one was actually very angry at me for even considering NOT having our son circumcised.

My husband is circumcised and he's Egyptian (and yes, it is common practice there--he's a Christian), and he did end up putting the pressure on a little at the end, but let me make the final decision. We actually left the circumcision to the very last possible moment because of my indecision, but if it weren't for the hereditary urinary issues I would probably have said no to the circumcision.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's something that parents ought to be able to choose on, and religious rites are certainly something that should continue to be allowed.
In all honesty, though, circumcision outside the Jewish faith really is "unnecessary" just as baptism outside of the Christian faith is unnecessary.
Besides that, Circumcision in the biblical sense was almost always done on baby boys, generally not adults or young men, and baptism in the Bible was only done to confessing adults and young people, not babies.

Jennie said...

I'm a big fan of uncircumcised penises. In my experience I had fewer physical problems with partners who were whole. I ended up marrying an uncircumcised guy. It was by no means top of my list for deciding factors, but it was a noticeable difference.
I'm pregnant with our son right now and we both agree he won't be circ'd.
As far as religious reasons for it.. I understand the pressure, and I would never hate the person, but I do hate that there's that pressure. *shrug* It's not my religion, I don't think I should have a say in it. :-) I think Sharon has a point about care and handling of the child during, that does make a difference.

Unknown said...

For Bess,

Many Jewish parents are choosing to have a "Bris Shalom" instead of a circumcision. To read more, (click "bris shalom" on left) (click "alternative rituals" on the left)

Anonymous said...

I'm from Canada and when my son was born two years ago the fee for circumcision was over $300 and the only doctor in town still doing the procedure was in his 80s and old school-no pain killers or anaesthetic. My ex and I had worries at the time that he might be a little miffed that he looked different from daddy and as a single mom gotta say not sure what to even do about the whole penis/potty training thing-LOL. It wasn't a religious conflict, it wasn't an aesthetic conflict, it really just came down to us thinking that it was what you did and we couldn't afford it. Now I'm glad we didn't cause he doesn't care. It's his penis and he likes it just the way it is.

Anonymous said...

to the poster(s) who wondered about mom "uncapping" the penis to wash it for a young boy....


It's not detached from the penile head (sometimes not until "late" in childhood!)and pulling it back before it naturally separates can create adhesions and infections.

NO ONE should try to pull back a foreskin that isn't their own and isn't mobile.

Doctors frequently tell parents this, and that it will cause all sorts of problems if it isn't done, but it is "sealed" to the head of the penis, and is safer that way.

Sometimes small "pearls" can appear under the foreskin as it slowly begins to loosen from the glans, but they aren't infections, and don't need to be removed, nor does the child need circumsizing.

Cortisone cream can help if the foreskin is still not mobile by school age (yes really...some stay "stuck" well past infancy and it's normal.)

Good hygeine is important, but so is not creating a problem by trying to clean what doesn't need cleaning. Do you turn your eyelids back to wipe your eyeballs and the inside of the lids?

Unknown said...

This is a really great video by Dr. Dean Edell that explains what circumcision is, why it's done, and the ethical implications.

Part 1

Part 2

jayedee said...

my first three son's were circumcised......after watching the third baby being cut (the first time i witnessed it) i said never again.
i will feel guilt and regret for the rest of my days for allowing it. i agree with bucky, it IS unnecessary and barbaric.
thank goodness i came to my senses and my other 4 boys are happily intact.....just the way God intended them to be

Krista said...

We did not circumcise our son, even though my hubby is.

As far as yeast infections, my mom had horrendous yeast infections he first bit or her marriage. It wasn't until she went to a more natural doctor that it cleared up. See, none of her earlier doctors even asked about my dad and whether he was intact or not. When the new doctor treated both my parents the infections went away.

Not all female circumcision is as extensive as we think it to be. A lot of them are just the removal of the clitoral hood, which I would say is exactly the same as removing a boy's foreskin. I see both as unacceptable.

As far as the fact that intact penises are "dirty", they aren't any dirtier than vaginas. In America we don't circumcise women to clear up infections, we treat them.

Well, that's as coherent as I'm going to get. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

We left our sons uncircumcised at birth, mostly b/c their father was uncirc, but also b/c the current medical "trend" in Australia at the time was that it was best to do so.

But my husband and I divorced and he moved away to leave me to parent alone. So when my oldest boy's foreskin opening remained very small (although it was no longer adhered), and we had used steroid creams for over a year to try to fix it (no luck) - I decided to go with the paediatric urologist's advice to circumcise him. This was done under a general anaesthetic when he was 5.

I chose to circumcise his younger brother at the same time, although he had no medical reasons.

From a personal perspective, at the time of our divorce (he wasn't always so), my ex-husband was a very unclean man (by this I mean he often didn't wash his hands after pooing on the toilet, he ate food whilst sitting on the toilet, he didn't bathe regularly). This lack of attention to hygene meant that his foreskin was often full of congealed smegma and smelt very strongly. He also reinfected me with thrush repeatedly. Without going too much further, these memories have stayed with me, and I wouldn't want my son's partners to ever have to deal with such a thing. (I'd hope to teach my boys to be clean and considerate regardless of their foreskin.)

I'm not sure why other people choose to circumcise their boys, or not, but I don't think it is comparable to female circumcision at all.

Friends who work in aged care homes tell me that sometimes geriatric men are circumcised to prevent repeated foreskin infections when they are bedridden in diapers. Retired doctors tell of men in WWII jungles, with foreskin infections b/c they can't wash. I don't know what lies ahead for my children (energy descent, war, poverty, famine), but I know they won't have to face the pain of an infected foreskin.

Anonymous said...

I decided not to circumcise my son who is now 10. I did a lot of reserach and came to the conclusion that it is not necessary and most people do it just because everyone else has always done it. I was surprised by how outraged some of my friends seemed to be about my decision for my child. They couldn't believe I wasn't going to circumcise him, but it was really none of their business. Then a nurse came in and asked if I was going to send him to get circumcised. I told her I had chosen not to, and she seemed shocked as well. But then later 2 different doctors who were making rounds commented that they thought I made the right choice as they didn't have their sons circumcised either. They said that the trend on the west and east coasts was not to circumcise. (I am in Minnesota.) Then I felt very good about my decision. After all of the negative comments, I had started to second guess my decision. My son has not had any problems with not being circumcised.

Rebecca said...

To Anonymous above - I'm originally from MN as well. Although I don't have kids, all of my nephews (that I'm aware of) are circumcised. I asked my sisters why and I believe it was because "they wanted their sons to look like their dads".

At college, I researched male circumcision for one of my courses - however I researched it as an aspect of Dress (dress as defined in the literature also includes body modifications). The findings were really fascinating. I hadn't realized that it was really an "American" thing. I think in the earlier part of the century, it was often part of 'preventing males from masturbating' etc etc. I believe people still continue to do it primarily for aesthetic reasons (I want my child to look like his dad or all the other boys, etc etc). However, my research also suggested that it makes A LOT of money for the health industry - being one of the most common (if not the most common) surgeries performed.

I personally would not have my children circumcised. My research has led me to believe there's no medical reason to do it (religious reasons are different, of course), it's part of the US health industry scam, and more importantly, it's genital mutilation - which I find horrific.

So thanks, Crunchy, for posting about this topic so I could put my 2 cents in!!! : )

Anonymous said...

I am very against circumcision for either gender, and in our society there is a huge double standard. We feel that female circumcision is more painful and mare hazardous than male circumcision, and that is just not the case. It comes down to an issue of human rights. Do you have the right to make a decision to cut off the body part of a person who cannot make the decision for themselves? Do we allow parents to slice off perfectly functioning ears of infants? No. Then why do we allow a healthy and NORMAL part to be severed? It is pure abhorrent tradition. The history of circumcision is the country dates to the early 1900's and was done to prevent masturbation. My personal opinion? It is child abuse. It is LESS painful when performed on an adult, so let each man make the decision for himself.