Wednesday, January 13, 2010
4:04 AM | Edit Post
And by weiners, I'm not referring to penises. I'm referring to parents who are so afraid of doing their job that they resort to circumcision in hopes it will make their job easier.
"I heard that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV and some other STI's, so I know it was the best choice for my child"
Super. Wow, where do I start? -bangs head against desk- If only I had a dollar for every time I've seen/heard this "reason" for male genital mutilation.
Let's see if I can put this into perspective for you. Tell me how intelligent I sound when I say this:
"I heard that pulling all my child's teeth would reduce the risk of oral health problems, so I'm just doing him/her a favor so they don't have to suffer later"
Yeah, heaven forbid you just teach them proper oral hygiene and treat any problems in a reasonable way IF they ever arise!
Hmmm... sounds kinda crazy when applied to any other body part, eh?
"Oh but the foreskin is just a useless piece of skin, don't get so worked up"
I'm going to get brain damage from banging my head on this desk. I blame it on you :-P
First off, the HIV/circumcision studies in Africa have been repeatedly called out as majorly flawed. The foreskin (aka prepuce organ) is far more than a little piece of skin, and it certainly has very important purposes. Although it just looks like a little bit on an infant, the amount of tissue removed by circumcision would equal about 15 square inches on the adult penis (the size of a 3x5" index card, see example here). Have you ever even seen a foreskin? Do you even know what circumcision really is? You can learn about the many functions of the foreskin here. Read up, you may be very surprised!!!
Anyway, here is my big problem with circumcising to prevent sexually transmitted infections: It is a MAJOR cop-out on the part of the parent. "Oh goody, I can just cut off part of my son and skip all those awkward conversations about sexual responsibility. He's free to be a man-whore, hooray!"
Okay, anyone who really gives this more than 2 seconds of thought is going to see that there is no way in hell that a lack of foreskin can insure adequate "protection" against HIV or anything else. It will never come close to the protection that a condom can provide. If your son operates on the assumption that he doesn't have to be careful just because he is circumcised, he's going to be at MORE risk. Circumcised or intact, I certainly hope your son wears a condom with any sexual partner unless they are in a long-term, trusting, monogamous relationship. In essence, when you circumcise your son for the purpose of "preventing" STI's, you are undermining his common sense and morals. You're telling him he's too stupid to be a responsible adult, and that you were too lazy or afraid to teach him how.
As Adam so eloquently put it in a previous blog (here) "The reason of "one has a lower STD acquiescence rate if circumcised" takes away a piece of my trustworthiness, in assuming I will not take precautionary measures to have safe-sex, as it is clear a condom is cheaper, more effective, and more reasonable than making a permanent cut to my penis."
How would YOU feel if someone decided that you might be sexually irresponsible someday, so they removed vital parts of your genitals "for your own good"??? When these reasons are used in other cultures to justify female genital mutilation, we are outraged, and we say that NOTHING can justify doing that to girls/women. Yet we buy into the most ridiculous reasons to have the same thing done to baby boys.
Are we really so pressed for time these days that we're willing to amputate healthy tissue from our children so we can delude ourselves into worrying less about their future sexual lives? As I have brought up in a previous post, if we removed every part of our child that *might* become diseased or infected, we'd have no child left (except maybe hair?).
That brings me to the related reasoning that "circumcision might help prevent UTI's and such".
Does anyone have an Advil? I've got this pain in my forehead... and why is there a big dent in my desk?
Females are far more prone to urinary tract infections than males. If you got a UTI and your doc said "Hey, lemme just take my scalpel to your genitals, and then you won't have to worry about that anymore!" wouldn't you want to kill the friggin idiot? How on earth is that a good enough reason to cut a baby? Welcome to this century... we have these amazing things called antibiotics IF your child ever does need them. If you really want to protect your child from infection, having an open wound in his diaper getting covered in urine and feces isn't the most logical way to do so. He'll be at risk for MRSA, that "super bug" that can make your skin look like it's rotting away.
"MRSA bacteremia is associated with a higher mortality rate, longer hospital stays and is a significant independent risk factor for death."
So much for doing the kid a favor! The additional circumcision risks could fill pages. Although rare, isn't ANY risk too much, just for a cosmetic procedure? Babies do sometimes DIE from complications of circumcision. Babies do sometimes suffer major scarring, or even a loss of part or all of the penis. Some have been given gender-reassignment and raised as girls because of it. And WHY? Most men around the world have their foreskins for life and function happily and healthily. IF a need ever arises for your son to truly need circumcision (which is extremely rare), he can have it done then. Removing healthy foreskin doesn't make any more sense than removing any other body part just because something *might* happen to it. There are far more serious things that can happen in other parts of our bodies, but we don't remove them "just in case". We deal with it IF it happens, and when it comes to the foreskin, it is usually very simple, and doesn't require circumcision.
Please don't put your child at risk just because of some medical myths and traditions. Please don't alter a valuable part of his body just because you think it will be "easier".
Your child is perfect. Bring your whole baby home. His foreskin is no more of a risk to him than anything else, and it requires NO special cleaning or care. A circumcised penis, however, requires a lot of special care to prevent infection, adhesions, etc. When you decide to leave your child intact, please remember this: Only clean what is seen! The foreskin is adhered to the head of the penis just like your fingernail is stuck to your finger. Forceful retraction of it can do damage and THAT can cause infection. This is why some people think circumcision can prevent infections, but if they just leave it alone like it is meant to be, all will be hunky dory. You wouldn't break your daughter's hymen and clean up inside her vagina, and you don't need to clean under your boy's foreskin. It will retract on its own in late childhood or puberty, and I certainly hope he is cleaning his own penis by then, so you don't have to worry about "extra work". Just clean his penis during diaper changes and baths just like you would a finger. (See Intact Penis Care)
That brings me to a final question. WHY do some people complain about how "dirty" an intact penis is? Have you ever seen a vagina? Women have a lot more going on down there, but we manage just fine thank-you-very-much!!! To assume your son is too stupid to wash himself is ridiculous and insulting. To cut off an entire body part of your child for your own "convenience" (which I hope you now know isn't even true) would make you SO lazy that you shouldn't have had a child in the first place. And if you would circumcise just because "it looks better" then you are so confused and beyond help that the only thing I can suggest is therapy. Really now, what if someone said your vagina was so gross they had to cut it apart? What kind of perv do you have to be to think like that about your kid? "Yes son, I just couldn't stand the look of your junk, eww it grosses me out".
I encourage you to open your mind, put yourself in your son's shoes, and really think logically about this. No medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcision, and in fact there is a movement working to make it illegal so that boys can be equally protected alongside girls (see here). It is a cosmetic procedure, so unless you would justify a nose job on your baby, then you should also see there is no justification of circumcision.
I realize there are plenty more excuses that parents give for circumcision, but I've covered some of them before, and I will focus in on other specifics later. I am purposely focusing in on just a couple of the reasons given. You can find more of my thoughts on this issue in previous blog posts, along with statements from moms who regret circ'ing, and even the perspective of an adult man that was cut as a baby.
- Sugar, boobies, penises, and insanity.
- Ecstatic Birth
- Breastfeeding, Dr Seuss style!
- Living dead girl- Surviving HG
- Fruit of the boob
- The birth of change
- Why choose a midwife?
- Confessions of a sex goddess turned co-sleeper
- Sweet Milk, Sweet Memories
- Baby Wearing is Da Bomb
- AIDS Circumcision Fallacy
- Circumcision is for weiners!
- STFU about NIP
- There's no such thing as extended breastfeeding
- Pieces of Adam: How your circumcised son may feel...
- Rationalizing harm doesn't make it less harmful: ...
- Why just birthing in America puts your baby at hig...
- Falling victim to well-meaning advice, and how to ...
- What have I done? - Voices of circumcision remorse...
- ▼ January (19)