To Cut or Not to Cut
Our fetus’s sex was determined upon conception, but its genitals are not yet detectable to the human eye – although they have begun to form, tiny promises budding on a creature the size of a small strawberry (always in fruit, they measure its size, as if to make innocuous the bizarreness of this alien creature growing within).
And yet already, we, the ten-week-pregnant-nauseous-hormone-ridden-mama-to-be, and the nervous-excited-angelically-patient papa- to-be, are already pre-occupied with the slicing off of our baby’s genitals.
We won’t know for weeks whether I carry a boy or a girl, but I would put my money on a boy. It’s a feeling I have, backed up by the inevitably of Murphy’s Law. Our lives are free and secular, but my husband is close to his religious family, and his religious colleagues, both who would be outraged, dismayed and distraught if we didn’t circumcise our son.
It is the mark of the Jewish people, it is a covenant with God, they will cry.
But we don’t believe in God.
There are health benefits, studies show lower risks of STDs and UTIs!
And yet still, circumcision is not recommended by national pediatric organizations in the US (and decried by those in Europe).
Most people, regular Americans who don’t believe in God do it!
Funny, how arguments for action that conform to the majority (say: college, pre-marital sex, McDonalds) never featured in your arguments before.
But it will upset the people you love so much!
As much as we love you, we love our unborn child more.
There are more arguments, in both directions, pages and pages, and acronymistic organizations set up, on one side, to defend the intact penis and on the other, to support cutting it up.
We won’t do it (I bravely assert, 7 months before I have to actually take a stand)!
What right do I have to slice off any part of my newborn child, before they can defend themselves or assert their will? And that’s a fair argument even if the procedure caused no pain, and the disposed of tissue served no purpose – both which have been proven false assertions.
The foreskin is itself a highly sensitive piece of genital tissue, and it serves to cover and protect the head of the penis, much like an eyelid covers the surface of the eye, so the head can retain its sensitivity. Without it, the head becomes desensitized and pleasure is reduced. To paraphrase the words of one man who was circumcised as an adult, it’s like going from color vision to black and white.
I am not squeamish. I believe in firm parenting and discipline and setting appropriate boundaries. But I don’t believe I have the right to maim my child for no obvious benefit. And if, in the bathrooms of east coast public schools, and the urinals of Renewal Temples during Shabbos services, my son feels different, odd, for the appearance of his intact penis, I can live with that.
I have no interest in raising a sheep. While I am thrilled that I will have the opportunity to raise an American child in a secular home, with access to the joys and freedoms of secular life, that doesn’t come along with any simultaneous desire to raise children who are afraid of being different. I will teach my child to be proud of all of their qualities that make them unique. I will teach them to respect decisions that result from thoughtfulness and questioning. And if my boy still mourns the “oddity” of his intact self, I will fully support him in slicing off that piece of skin. That is a choice for him to make.
Where do you, my unpious friends, stand on the issue of circumcision?
For more information:
Penn & Teller on Circumcision: http://www.reeltvlinks.com/Penn-Teller-Bullshit/season/3/episode/1#watch