Wednesday, February 24, 2010
1:48 AM | Edit Post
When I was 8 years old, my baby brother was born. At some point soon after his birth, someone either told me, or I overheard, that he was going to be circumcised. I also remember hearing something along the lines of "It's just a little piece of extra skin over the very tip". In my young mind, I concocted this mental image of a minuscule piece of skin, just big enough to cover the pee hole, somehow just dangling there for no reason. I pictured it being only partially attached, like a little trap door that would open to let pee out. What an odd mental image, but "little piece of skin over the very tip" doesn't describe foreskin nearly well enough for me to have understood without seeing.
I remember the day of his circumcision. My mother had to take me with them to the doctor's office, because my grandmother couldn't babysit me that day. We heard my brother's screams, like nothing I've heard in my life, from across the building, and my mother bawled.
As I grew older, and had "sex ed" classes in school, foreskin was never even brought up. Their diagrams listed every little part of the inner and outer male sexual anatomy and their functions, but foreskin was nowhere to be seen. I didn't even remember that foreskin existed at that point in my life. The world had washed it from my memory.
It wasn't until I was pregnant with our second child that I began to have any clue as to what foreskin is. We didn't know the gender of the baby, and someone mentioned that their insurance didn't cover circumcision so we'd better save up to get it done. It was then that I finally thought "Oh, do we have to? Why?"
"Why?" is my favorite question.
It really is true what they say: The more you know about circumcision, the worse it is. Within 5 minutes of reading about it, I was horrified, and everything I learned after that just solidified it. I tried picturing my beloved daughter strapped down with a scalpel coming at her genitals, and I nearly vomited. How would having a boy make such a thing any less horrific and wrong?
My husband was circumcised at around age 12, and to this day won't really talk about it. He told me that it was excruciatingly painful, and would hate for our child to "have to go through that at an age where they can remember it". Yes, yes, I know and have a million things I could say about that... he just doesn't get it. No matter what I tried to say to him about it, he was utterly unable to comprehend or listen. His pain still rages too loudly, and drowns out any reason. At any attempt to discuss, my big strong husband would become like a wounded little boy with his hands over his ears going "I can't hear you!!!". Not literally, but his tone and body language said it all. It was difficult for me, wanting desperately to protect our possible son, but not wanting my husband to think that I looked at HIM as mutilated or incomplete. I told him that I was ready to talk about it whenever he was, but I wouldn't take his pro-circ stance seriously until he knew everything about the issue that I do. I'd be ready with resources if he didn't want to have to dig. He never took me up on it.
I decided to wait and see IF our baby would be a boy before fighting any more. I couldn't picture our child as anything but a girl, so I thought maybe I was right and we could just skip further arguments. I hoped that if we did indeed have a son, my husband would find himself unable to let any harm come to him once he was here. If not, I'd simply refuse consent for circumcision, and tell my husband to bite me if he still didn't catch on.
When our baby was born and put in my arms, my husband said "It's a girl!" and I felt like I had always known that. One fight was avoided, but someday, I hope my husband can come to terms with his circumcision enough to really let down his guard and talk about it. I love him the way he is, but his obvious pain saddens me.
It also sickens me that, at least where I'm from, the foreskin is regarded with such disgust that it is abolished from so-called health and sex ed classes. It sickens me that I had to learn what foreskin and circumcision are once I was already a grown-ass woman. If I had not taken the initiative to figure it out for myself, I still would not know. Even once I began to learn, it was hard to truly grasp what foreskin really is and what happens to it as the penis becomes erect. What a unique part of the body it is! The only thing that can really explain it is a good educational video, or seeing it in real life if you are lucky enough! It certainly proved to be FAR different than I ever expected it to be. The foreskin amounts to about 15 (Yes, FIFTEEN!) square inches of skin on the adult penis, and it does not just "hang there". You can see a brief and educational description of that (here). It is truly amazing and tragic what males are being robbed of.
I wonder how many people out there have had their sons cut without even knowing what they were paying for.
For being "just a tiny flap of skin", people sure are scared of it.
In fact, people seem to have issues with penises in general. They claim that "bigger is better", but then reduce the size via circumcision and talk about how great that is!
Intact: Bigger, longer, and uncut.
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