Monday, December 28, 2009
11:25 PM | Edit Post
I was talking with a guy friend of mine who'd recently had his first child: a perfect baby girl. He chatted happily about the joys of being a new parent, and then mentioned an upcoming appointment. "Oh, just a usual checkup?" I asked casually. "No, its time for her snip-snip" he replied, equally casually. I was confused. "You know, her circumcision of course", my friend clarified. Oh, right... that. I asked how he and his wife had come to the decision to have the procedure done on their daughter. Now it was my friend's turn to look confused. "Well, everyone does it, don't they?". "Far from it, actually." I replied. "But I'm interested in your reasons, so go on". And he did.
He talked about how he wanted his daughter's genitals to look like his wife's, so she wouldn't be confused later in life. At this point, I wondered if he also intended to get his daughter a nose job, boob job, etc. He mentioned not wanting her to be teased in the locker room someday. I stopped him. "Wait, was she born with a deformity?". He said of course not, but that an un-cut vagina was just funny looking. Then he went on about how dirty they are, and being cut makes them cleaner. He said little girls don't know how to wash themselves anyway, and it would be gross. He said her husband would be glad for it someday as well. I stopped him there too. Would her husband also be glad that his wife felt less pleasure? My friend was confused about that. In his mind, removing parts of his daughter's genitals didn't mean she'd experience less pleasure. Right, how silly of me to think that. I had a million more things to say and ask, but I tried to stay civil.
This conversation was clearly becoming strained and painful for both of us, but he felt the need to defend his decision further. My friend then told me about how so many women get yeast infections, UTI's, and such, and that the circumcision might prevent that, and maybe even lessen her risks of some STD's too. I'd seen these supposed studies, and also the ones that debunked them. I guess he'd missed those, and also missed the fact that not a single medical association in the world promotes this "procedure". It was obvious he was doing something he thought was good for his child. I just looked at him, baffled. He then stammered on about how he was the parent and he had every right to make this decision for his child. Everyone else in his family had done it, and they were "fine" and "happy" with it.
My mind was reeling with questions and anger. Did he really believe that all baby girls were born defective? Should they have to undergo cosmetic surgery to have "prettier" and "cleaner" genitals? Was it really that hard for a child or any person to spend a few seconds washing down there? Certainly washing one's hair takes more time, but we all seem to manage that. How could he look at his perfect little girl and think that something on her was so disgusting and ugly that it had to be cut off? How could he think that it was "normal" and that "everyone does it"? How could he put her through the risks of a surgery for such stupid reasons? He even thinks that removing her parts would prevent infections and diseases. Following that logic, we should remove ALL teeth because they *might* get cavities, breasts because they *might* get cancer, and well... EVERY other part of the body because they may become infected or diseased some day. What odd reasoning. Certainly there are better ways to prevent and deal with such things. We do it for every other part of the body, why not the genitals? And why would he assume he has the right to make such a decision for his child? Her genitals were posing no immediate risk to her, so didn't she have a right to her own healthy body parts? Isn't it HER body? Aren't we supposedly all about "rights" and "choices" in America? Where were his daughter's rights and choices? He was going to walk right into that doctors office and pay to have his child's most sensitive parts mutilated. I felt sick to my stomach and just left him with a half-hearted excuse about needing to get home.
You may be sitting there, SHOCKED at how something like this could happen in America. You may think this isn't even true. The truth is, the healthy genitals of non-consenting minors are cut apart every single day, and many people don't even think twice about it. Many people defend the decision to do so with every fiber of their being. Many people even have it done to their child without really even knowing WHY. They don't even think twice about it. I've encountered numerous people who feel just like "my friend" in this story, and use the very same reasons that he did. The one thing I lied about is the child's gender. When this story is told about a baby girl, most people would be HORRIFIED and would want to see the parents imprisoned for mutilating their child. However, when we talk about a baby boy, suddenly it is a parent's "choice", and supposedly a valid and legal one at that. WHY?
Why do we protect our baby girls like mother bears, but throw our sons under the knife every day? Because his penis is ugly? Because it is dirty? Because it is different from his father's? Because it *might* become infected someday? Because his wife will be glad? Because its what everyone else does? Because its "no big deal and it doesnt hurt anyway"? Because its "just a useless piece of skin anyway"? Wrong. Just like every part of the female genitalia has purpose, function, and sensation, so does the male foreskin. And hello... there are these lovely things called soap and water readily available to us. We are WASHABLE people! You wouldn't dare let a doctor or any other person suggest that your daughter's genitals were ugly, gross, and unneccesary. Why do we allow such nonsense with our sons? Many of us don't. Most of the world, in fact, and now about half of Americans. Those who DO have circumcisions performed on their sons, operate under the assumption that it is just the normal thing to do. It is not. It was, for a very short time, considered "normal" in a few parts of the world. It was promoted heavily during the times that masturbation was seen as dirty and even dangerous to the body and mind. It was believed that circumcision would stop boys from masturbating. Some doctors even recommended it for American girls for a time. Then later, as people realized that circumcision did not stop masturbation, they tried coming up with other "reasons" to mutilate our boys. Myths sprung up like weeds. Its time for the insanity to stop. Its time for the sexism to end. In a time where we've fought for the rights of minorities, children, and women, we've left one portion of our population out. We've trampled on the human rights of our baby boys, and we've done it holding our heads high and justifying ourselves.
Wake up people. It is nearly 2010. We should be smarter than this. If you read my story above and were horrified for the little girl, but sit there and justify the same thing being done to boys, congratulations, you are a raging sexist.
If this story has made you think, even just a little, thank you. Thank you from me, from the men who resent being circumcised as babies, from the parents who regret having it done to their child, and from the babies of this world who won't have to endure such a travesty because of increasing awareness. Please check out the links below regarding this issue. There are countless more, but I trust that if you're interested enough, you'll find them.