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.
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.
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?