Circumcision not always making the cut

Brit Milah

Image via Wikipedia

As I sit here with my circumcised baby boy I cringe reading the New York Magazine section (a whole section!) about circumcision. Whether or not to circumcise our son was a six month battle/discussion between my husband and I, and I lost. Although I think if he’d seen the Anatomy of a Circumcision piece he might have had a change of heart.

I’m not someone who believes circumcision on baby boys is akin to female genital mutilation. It’s not even close in intent or destruction – uh-uh, no way. But my position was simply: why do it when it’s unnecessary and could cause even a moment of pain in my infant son? My husband is Jewish, but we’ve never had even one Seder in our home so I didn’t see how he had that leg to stand on. But his stance was not religious in nature, but a common one as  expressed in the article:

That belief held sway for decades. Men had it done to their sons because it was done to them.

via Why a Growing Number of Parents Are Saying No to Circumcision — New York Magazine.

Even after reading Hanna Rosin’s piece justifying her family’s pro-circ position I’m still not convinced we did the right thing and precisely for the reasons she rejects:

The foreskin is the new fetus—the object that has been imbued with magical powers to halt a merciless, violent world—a world that is particularly callous to children. The notion resonates in a moment when parents are especially overprotective, and fantasy death panels loom. It’s all very visual and compelling—like the sight of your own newborn son with the scalpel looming over him. But it isn’t the whole truth.

via Why One Mother Heard the Opposing Arguments, Then Circumcised Her Sons Anyway — New York Magazine.

Feeling guilty for having not done something is a useless exercise and a self-indulgent one at that but it’s still difficult to shake when faced with the facts. Although clearly, each side takes the facts and uses them to bolster their respective positions. What it really came down to is that even though we both had our strong positions, my husband’s was stronger. And maybe I was a little concerned that my son’s penis would be mocked (although it’s a 50/50 chance the guy standing next to him in the locker room or the person he’s being intimate with has or has seen an uncircumcised penis). But who wants to add something extra to the mix? The kid is already destined to have crazy curly hair and a lack of grace if his parents genes carry on as they should. But mostly it was the simple fact that my husband has a penis and I don’t. He assured me that he isn’t missing out on any sensation by missing that flap of skin and he has no recollection or hatred towards his parents for allowing it to happen when he was a helpless babe. Maybe it’s not the best reason to lop of a piece of your newborn’s skin, but we’d still be sitting in NYU medical center debating if we hadn’t.

Parents to boys – what did you do? Do you regret it?

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9 Responses to Circumcision not always making the cut

  1. ml66uk says:

    “He assured me that he isn’t missing out on any sensation by missing that flap of skin.”

    How would he know? There are women who’ve had most of their external clitoris removed who insist that it has actually improved their sex lives. Doesn’t mean it’s true, but you can see why they might want to think like that.

    Maybe he just doesn’t want to confront the possibility that the configuration of his tackle is anything less than ideal.

    That “flap of skin” contains the most sensitive parts of the penis btw. It’s not just there to protect the glans. Even on a circumcised man, the glans isn’t the most sensitive part (it’s usually the scar line or the frenulum if that wasn’t removed).

    Here’s a little test for you. Next time you’re intimate with your husband, trying stimulating only the glans, and not the space between the ridge and the scar line. See how long it takes him to ask you what the heck you’re doing.

    The circumcision rate in the USA is currently 57% (about 64% on the east coast), so it’s not like your son would have been the odd one out.

    In places where they cut girls, the first ones to stay intact might look strange too, but that’s no reason to keep doing it.

    Strange how the “locker-room argument” goes away when people that want their sons cut are in a country where it’s in the minority btw.

    Drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 48% to 32%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (about 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

  2. tlctugger says:

    Thanks for posting. Sorry you couldn’t prevail to protect your son.

    By the way, the next time a friend says “I’m letting my cut husband decide because he’s the one with a penis” you can tell them that an intact women has something her cut husband does not: a prepuce. Prepuce is the word for a male’s or female’s foreskin. Yours is over your clitoris. You know how good it feels to to be rubbed through the hood and so do intact men. These body parts are indistinguishable in the womb until 3 months gestation. They are literally different flavors of the same thing. Google “Prader Scale” to learn more.

    The foreskin has about 20,000 specialized pleasure-receptive nerve endings while the glans has about 8,000.

  3. hechicera says:

    My son was not circumcised. He’s almost an adult now, so this is a decision made before it was as accepted as it is now. He doesn’t seem to care. If/when he becomes sexually active with a partner, we’ll see if that changes. Or, if he even informs me by that time!

    There were times when I did second guess my decision. There is an age when the foreskin can get tighter. Boys that are are not circumcised need to be more careful with their personal hygiene. They need to be told how to care for the part differently than boys that are circumcised. My son is on the autism spectrum. Hygiene had to be TAUGHT for everything. After the first childhood infection under the foreskin, I did wonder if I had done the right thing. But, the pain of that infection was enough. He has not had another. And now he is through puberty he should be set.

    “Looking different” never was an issue at any time. This is a child who was often picked on for being different, but I can’t ever remember a time when anyone picked on him for that difference, if the even knew.

    Hygiene was an issue. Uncircumcised boys need to be taught how to keep that area clean. There are studies on AIDs main that show it can matter.

    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm

    I don’t even think that should be the deciding factor. But, I think if you do decide to not circumcise, make sure someone teaches your son how to care for his properly.

  4. lilbirdblue says:

    I do regret and wish I would have been more educated on the subject.
    I lost the battle too and think there are probably a lot of us that do.
    I had my baby boy at a birth center so I had to take him to the dr’s office to have it done…I still remember every moment of that visit and will probably never forget it or the several days after having to care for the damage.
    My son is now 2 and a half and the last time we went for a visit the dr said it looks like it’s grown back!!! If so, all that pain for nothing 😦

  5. williamthedefender says:

    I was circumcised when I was a day old. When I turned 18 I sued the Doctor and the Hospital who circumcised me-and won! I felt that someone had sexually mutilated me without MY consent, and they had. Perhaps your son will feel this way too? Being made fun of in the locker room is a flimsy and, quite honestly, a shallow argument. The foreskin has a sexual purpose and although your husband has a penis his foreskin was lost long before puberty, I imagine. This means he is perhaps the LAST person capable of making an informed decision. If your son had been kept NATURALLY INTACT,your husband would have to face his own MAN-MADE penile disfigurement-not an easy task. No Medical organization in the world recommends circumcision and with American rates hovering around 50% your son is now an ultra minority- A vestige of 19th century fears. It’s easy to be like everyone else, I know, but there is no need for this practice to continue. Each year I demonstrate, and march in the streets to remind people that they are violating the bodies of children. They mock nature and destroy a natural joy that is not theirs to take.

  6. April Peveteaux says:

    Williamthedefender – really? What hospital? What were the grounds? Did you also sue your parents?

    • williamthedefender says:

      I sued Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, NY. My Parents did not consent to the procedure, so there was no reason to sue them, however I get many inquiries from men who are interested in suing their parents, mohels, doctors, and who ever else they can. “Attorneys for the Rights of the Child” is a legal organization that helps file wrongful circumcision suits.

  7. tlctugger says:

    ^^ what hospital ^^

    Irrelevant. Read about the case: http://www.cirp.org/news/mndnewswire04-29-03/

    ^^ Did you also sue your parents? ^^

    The case was about the medical staff failing to get informed consent from the parents.

  8. macuser says:

    Many parents who choose circumcision later regret the decision after they realize how badly circumcision injures the child.

    April, now that you have better information, you will be better armed to protect your child, if you should have another son.

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