The “C” Word Revisited

The month before Caleb was born I posted about how we were wavering between circumcising him or not. I wish I was joking when I say that it was one of the toughest decisions I had ever made. Then. Well, it’s been 15 months since Caleb’s penis has been left alone (he’s not circumcised) and I was nervous that there would be challenges and there has been…one. I am here to tell you this: the biggest challenge has been me adjusting to his baby erections. Seriously, whoa. (Baby erections are totally normal.)

Yup, that’s it. There is absolutely nothing strange about his intact penis. Nothing at all. In fact, it only looked weird to me for the first night (and that’s clearly because I have never seen a circumcised penis before little CMac). Since Caleb’s birth I have done a lot more research on circumcision and I have to say that now I am vehemently AGAINST circumcision. Before I could go either way.

Now that I have done more research and read and read and read about the useless procedure I am definitely one of those people who will tell you why you shouldn’t circumcise and that you should leave your child’s genitalia alone.

As a sexuality educator one thing I have always known is that the head of the penis and the clitoris are made of the exact same tissue (much like the scrotal sac and the labia). The clitoris is protected by a hood. The glans (head) of the penis is also protected by a hood- the foreskin. The foreskin is NOT just skin. In an infant it is fused to the head of the penis. FUSED. They don’t just cut off loose skin, they have to scrape the skin back and then chop it off. This is why they say you never need to “push the foreskin back on a child under 3″…the SKIN IS ATTACHED! I envision this would be similar to electing to cut off your newborn daughter’s clitoral hood because it “looks better that way”. SICK.

So if you read the second paragraph of this you should remember that before my son I have never seen an intact penis. This means Manfriend is also circumcised. My brother is, one of my best friends is, my old boyfriends are. I would never say to them “how could you?” They didn’t make the decision and to be frank- times were different when we were born. I’ve spoken to lots of folks who have said “doctors just did it; I didn’t even know it was an option”. That’s something we have different today. Knowledge. We do know there are options and we know that there are no benefits to circumcision.

There are so many myths about circumcision but that’s the thing, they are myths. Trust me, when we were wavering on circumcision we heard from everyone how “difficult it would be to clean”, “that it looks weird”, that “he’ll be different from his dad”. First off, it isn’t tough to clean foreskin. We teach girls to wipe front to back and to clean themselves…I assume we do the same to boys? Second, if natural is weird then nature really screwed up. And lastly, I don’t know many fathers and sons who compare penises. Sure Caleb will see his penis is different from his dad’s but that’s just because his penis will always look smaller. That’s pretty much it.

If it were so necessary insurance would cover it but most do not. In fact, the AAP doesn’t even say the benefits are worth the risk. I feel good saying that I have changed a few parents’ minds about circumcision. (Nope, I didn’t berate them or tell them they were horrible people). I simply said “inform yourself”. Watch videos (this one from Stanford is one technique), read, ask other parents, talk about it with your partner. I remember being 9 months pregnant and watching circumcision videos and wailing. Part of me wondering how I would tell Manfriend “hell no” if he demanded we do it (thankfully, once he saw the photos, he was on board) but more than that, I couldn’t imagine strapping a newborn baby down, (they are so new to this loud, bright, cold environment), and then cutting them. I couldn’t imagine opting for a procedure that could end in death (more than car accidents!). No thank you.

I also remember that post were I was wavering and I mentioned that I asked my sister and mom to be in the room with Caleb when/if he was circumcised. They were kind enough to do it for me but I’ll never forget the man who said to me “if you can’t be in the room to watch that then why should your son have to go through it?”. He had a good point.

Check out Saving Our Sons for more info.

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