Friday, February 10, 2012

Circumsicion: Why I can not remain impartial on this topic

I want to start this post on a light-hearted note before I get into the knitty gritty. This is a cartoon done today by one of my favorite cartoonists and bloggers, "The Kitchen Witch".
I love this cartoon. It really puts it all in perspective doesn't it people?? I mean why is circumcision ok but elective facial surgery is not?

What is circumcision in today's world? Well the dictionary defines circumcision as this: "Cutting away of all or part of the foreskin (prepuce) of the penis. The practice is known in many cultures. It is performed either shortly after birth (e.g., among Muslims and Jews), within a few years of birth, or at puberty. For Jews it represents the fulfillment of the covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 17:10 – 14). That Christians were not obliged to be circumcised was first recorded biblically in Acts 15. Evidence regarding the purported medical benefits of circumcision (e.g., reduced risk of cancer) is inconclusive, and the practice persists mainly for cultural reasons." (Encyclopedia Britannica). My first thought in reading that is "HAH! TAKE THAT" because I was once berated at a family gathering when Bug was 9 months old over the topic of my sons foreskin until I withdrew from the family to cry because it was that harsh. I was told that I was disobeying God because the bible says to circumcise. Right there in Acts it says Christians do not have to do it. So right there I feel a little better. That is to say if I still were to hold myself to the rules and regulations of any one religion or Church anyway. Now let us look at the rest of the definition. The medical benefits are inconclusive. That means that still to this day no one has found a real provable medical reason for slicing a mans foreskin off. Today though I will show you some real medical reason why NOT TO, but I will get to that in a minute.

First of all let us take a look at a map of the world with the areas where circumcision is still a common practice.

That is an awful lot of white around a very small strip of red. So how did circumcision get such a foot hold in the USA? It is not home to a large Jewish population. In an article I was reading recently a man talks about his own circumcision and why the United States has a love affair with a truly barbaric ritual. The article can be found here.
In it the author has this to say, "How did circumcision take hold here in the U.S.? Let me begin answering that question with a question: Who here has seen The Road to Welville? Sir Anthony Hopkins is almost unrecognizable as the health nut, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the same man who made the cereal. The actual Kellogg was a terrifying piece of work. This was a man who hated masturbation so much that he advocated the following: tying a child’s hands behind his or her back so that he or she could not masturbate at night, applying cage-like devices to the genitals, and rubbing acid on a girl’s clitoris, thus demonizing not just the act of masturbation, but its allure. He also believed circumcision should be performed without anesthetic so as to maximize the association of sexual arousal with physical pain. It was this man — a man who could give Freddy Krueger nightmares — who became a linchpin in making circumcision a widely-practiced tradition in the United States. But, let’s give Kellogg the benefit of the doubt. Even if he was 10 pounds of crazy in a 1-pound bag, I’m sure you’ve all heard that men with foreskin are prone to infections.There’s actually a very simple solution to that concern. It’s called hygiene. Look it up. If you never wash behind your ears or between your toes, your body is going to become a hotbed for all sorts of gnarly germs.The idea that circumcision significantly reduces STI transmission is still a hotly-debated issue in the medical community. There have some saying foreskin is practically an HIV net, while others state there’s no difference between men who have it and men who don’t, and further studies show intact men with decreased HIV rates. [The circumcised U.S., for example, has significantly higher numbers of HIV than any other intact developed nation.] Even the experts don't always agree if each other’s methods or conclusions are sound. Failing that, we have to fall back on good old common sense. Do you not want to get sick? Take a bath. Eat right. Wear a condom.These are not mind-blowing or revolutionary concepts. Most people don’t go out of their way to do what is bad for themselves.When you’re wounded, you don’t go jam the gaping wound into a septic tank, do you? Let’s not do that to our sons by slicing their penises and shoving that mess into a diaper. If I ever have a son — and let’s be honest, that would be a disaster — I would lose him in a heartbeat if I took him to a tattoo parlor or a piercing place. A baby covered in tats and gauges would be hilarious, sad and illegal. The law would keep its pimp hand strong by slapping me with at least half a dozen child abuse charges. So, I’m not going to go the extra mile by letting someone mutilate his penis."

I couldn't agree more and in my life I have two men who are involved in this controversy.  Everyone thinks of the child's side of the argument... but what happens when that child grows up? What happens if your circumcised child who is now an adult, realizes that it was a choice you made for him, that it was not needed and that now he is different from how he was meant to be. You may be surprised to know there are many men who feel this way. They have spent their lives not feeling that great about the choice that was made at birth without their consent. My husband is circumcised and not a big fan of it. He has spoken to both his parents on their choices and is a pretty large advocate for not circumcising babies. Our son is the other one. He is uncut and has one of the most beautiful penises I have ever seen (though to be fair I haven't seen any other uncut ones). It is so natural and not dried out. It is for both of these men that I write this article pleading with American parents everywhere. This also brings me back to the medical reasons NOT to circumcise. I was reading another article, one which I read with my husband. You can find the original article here. In this article it shows the differences between a circumcised and not circumcised penis and why the foreskin is so important.
Here are the pictures from the article that I found very eye opening. I obviously have seen both cut and uncut in my husband and son but it never occurred to me to compare the two.
Here is what the article said, "The penis and clitoris are analogous and homologous organs: they perform similar functions, share a common design, and biologically develop from the same tissues inutero. The glans (head) of the penis or clitoris is an internal organ. It is meant to remain covered for the majority of its livelihood, in similar nature to the way that the eyeballs are covered for a good portion of our lives (when we blink or sleep), and the way the ends of our fingers and toes are protected by our nails. If we surgically amputate the eyelids or fingernails, we will face the repercussions of making an organ that was designed to be internal, external. In order to survive this damage, the organ must adapt. To do so, a variety of features will change (both immediately, and progressively over the years): pH will be altered, temperature will no longer remain stable in that organ, moisture and lubrication levels will not be maintained, leading to dryness and potential chapping, antibodies and healthy microflora that previously served to protect will cease to exist, and callusing (the build-up of multiple hardened layers of skin) will take place. Our body may attempt to heal itself by forming skin bridges or re-adhesions over the amputation site. Our eyeballs and fingertips would become thick, dry, discolored, and no longer function in the manner they were designed to. So it is the same with the glans of the penis or clitoris. If we remove the very organ, the prepuce, which serves to cover, protect and regulate the health, pH, temperature, lubrication, antibodies, movement and functioning of the genitals, we've altered form so dramatically that the purposes it was created to fulfill can no longer be realized. Not only is this evident in research: human development and sexuality especially, but the dramatic difference is also readily apparent to any lay onlooker observing the intact human genitals versus those that no longer remain in their original whole state. Female and male genital cutting, especially in the manner that prepuce amputation is carried out in U.S. style male circumcision surgery (most often via Gomco or Plastibell amputations), is not only immediately damaging to a newborn baby; it is also permanently altering and forever changing the adult male body, and impacts all future sexual partner(s) as well."
My husband's reaction to this article was to say "that is what my penis is like... dried out and calloused like that". That hurt to hear. He does not like being altered and I know it weighs on him. He is proud we gave our son the gift of staying natural.

A friend recently had this to say in a Mommy group we both belong to about her husband's view on his own circumcision. "My husband isn't happy with his circ because frequently during and after intercourse he will bleed and experience immense pain because the skin around the head of his penis is too tight. There is NO way for a doctor to know what size the penis will grow to, which can cause either a "half-circ'd" look or it can cause the skin to be pulled too tight. Not to mention the boys that die from it every year, and the ones who experience total amputation of the penis. Also, it's not "harder" to go through as an adult. As an adult, the man can have the necessary anesthesia to properly perform the surgery, and is able to take pain medication during the days following. Hoping your son won't remember the pain while experiencing the SAME level of pain without any anesthesia, while having to heal a wound while wearing a pee and poo filled diaper and not being able to receive tylenol or anything else during the days following? That sounds awful and I don't understand how anyone can say it doesn't. Why risk it? If even one risk could be "death" for something so unnecessary and purely cosmetic, why risk it? These statistics are just for the US, and due to lack of reporting, the number may be much higher. Ex. If the baby suffered from a heart attack from the procedure (which at least two babies have in the past 3 months in Texas alone), it is not required that the hospital say "heart attack due to infant circumcision." Simply "heart attack" would be recorded on the death certificate. If complications arise from being uncircumcised and circumcision is prescribed to fix these issues, it can be done at any time. If complications arise from being circumcised, you cannot UNcircumcise once it has been done. In the case of my ex whose urethra was snipped during his circumcision and the many infections that followed (which he still gets frequently even 31 years later), I'm sure some men do wish their parents had left them intact. Neither the AAP or WHO recommends routine infant circumcision because of the risks involved. Nevermind the fact that doctors get paid a lot of money for your son's foreskins so the cells can be used in cosmetics. Further, would you allow circumcision to be performed on a baby girl either for cosmetic or religious reasons? Would you consider that barbaric? How is it any different for a boy? Does he not deserve to remain intact and pain-free also?"

I really could not have said it any better than she did, but I wanted to include her statements because in addition to her husband being one of the many like mine who dislikes his circumcision as an adult but also because she addressed the high numbers of infant fatalities due to circumcision. In an article found here shows that over a hundred boys in the US alone die every year due to circumcision and that that number is probably actually much higher. "A new study published yesterday in Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies estimates that more than 100 baby boys die from circumcision complications each year, including from anesthesia reaction, stroke, hemorrhage, and infection. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable." The number is actually higher than the number of boys who die each year due to SIDS. How sick is that. Parents are literally killing their sons to perpetuate a horrible cycle. The main argument I have always heard is that "We did it to our son because my husband is and he should look like Daddy". Really??? So because your in-laws made that awful decision that your husband had no choice in the matter, you should inflict that same terror on your son for his whole life?

So I leave you all with this. If you have read all of this.. and you still think that harming your son for the sake of tradition is a good idea.. then I really don't know what else would help sway you because you obviously can not be reasoned with. I can not and will not be objective on this topic. I don't often talk about it for a reason. It is the one thing that I feel is a big part of the Green Mommy I am but is so much deeper and more important than composting or biking to the grocery store, or even cloth diapering. This is one topic I can not and will not be passive about.


  1. Really good. Happy my large debate post and article could inspire you to express your strong beliefs. Sadly as I learn, most people don't research the things they don't want to change. I had to force myself. Circumcision was my reality, my norm and thankfully, I also am an AP parent and follow a dozen gentle parenting style pages that are also anti-circ. It was in my face everyday, no matter how much I tried to avoid it. Today, I stand strong on this very delicate issue of myths being repeated so often, they have become solid reality for many people.

    what saddens me more than a child getting it done, is the mothers who knows better but let their husband decide even when they have not research because they own the penis in the house. It breaks my heart that smart mothers let someone make very important decisions base on who has the penis instead of who has the brain!

  2. Thank you. :) I agree. I think sometimes women though don't want to rock the boat in their marriage. To be fair I most likely would have despite my own views let my husband have the last say but he was more against it that I was. The final deciding factor though was we were in the hospital, the nurses were pushing for us to do it and we had to watch the circ video. We both sobbed and sobbed and my husband just got so upset and we both decided to hand the papers back blank and unsigned. I honestly hope that either women will start to stnad up to the men in their lives or that the men will start to realize the facts for themselves. B more than A I think. After all this is all about the men.. it is an injustice done unto them and the sooner they realize that the better.

  3. I so wish I had been better informed about circumcision before Ethan was born. I would never have done that to him had I been. I remember seeing his penis for the first time and thinking how wonderful and natural it looked and better than a circumcised one. I had a flash of doubt, but the decision had been pre-made and I dunno, I just went with it. Maybe just so sick of being the "kooky" one in the family. Such a dumb way to base any decision, but it is what it is. Or was. The photos are such a good way to illustrate the difference and all of your points are completely sound.

    1. Yeah I had someone comment on here that said my saying Bug's uncut penis was beautiful was verging on child abuse. I deleted the comment because it was a ludicrous comment. What I meant was just what you said. How natural and unspoiled and perfect it is. Just the way it was supposed to look. I don't think you did the wrong thing.. because I know a lot of women (and men) think at the time it is the right choice or aren't informed enough to choose to not circumcise. Once they are informed though many choose to not circumcise the next one. I think if you were ever to have another son you would choose to not.


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