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A Case Against Circumcision

Lissa Rankin's picture

When I was an intern, just starting my OB/GYN residency, someone handed me a list with a dozen names on it and said, “Go. It’s your job to circumcise these babies.” My mouth flung open. Say what?

Do you know what you just made me do to your son?

Sure enough, as it turns out, it’s the intern’s responsibility to wake up sleeping newborns, strap them down to a board that looks not unlike the electric chair (called a “circumstraint”), clamp their unanesthetized foreskins with the sterilized Gomco or Mogen instrument, and cut away the foreskins from the tips of the poor baby penises while they scream bloody murder, turn beet red, and pee in your face. I hated it. It was just awful.

The nurses would line them up, one after the other -- then, after wrapping their little post-operative pee-pees in Vaseline gauze, I would deliver them back to their Mommies. The whole time, I wanted to say, “Do you know what you just made me do to your son?”

Before doing the procedure, I always had the Mommy sign a consent form that basically says that this procedure is completely unnecessary, that it’s purely cosmetic, and that the baby might bleed, get infected, or have its penis accidentally lopped off. And they would sign away on the dotted line without blinking. It baffled me.

All in the family

During my residency, I performed at least a thousand circumcisions, many of which left me blubbering like a child because it just broke my heart to have to hurt these poor babies. When I complained about having to do them to my physician father, he said, “I’m so glad nobody ever did that to me.”

Until he said it, I had never thought about whether my father was circumcised. My family grew up pretty open about bodies and sexuality, so yes, I had seen my father naked. But I guess I’d never really scrutinized his genitalia. Then it occurred to me. I had also seen my brother naked -- and he was circumcised. If Dad was happy to be uncut, why did he choose to circumcise his son?

When I asked him, Dad said that he didn’t want Chris to feel different, and at the time, everybody was circumcising their boys.

I thought back to the Somali women I had cared for, all of which had been victims of female genital mutilation. My job as their doctor was not only to care for them but to help educate them in order to prevent them from putting their daughters through the same disfiguring surgery. When I asked them why they would want to do something so traumatic to their daughter’s genitalia, they all said, “We don’t want her to look different than the other girls.”

So we don't feel... different?

Listen to us! Why are we cutting our children so that they don’t feel different? I just don’t understand. Why did my parents feel the need to cut my brother when his own father wasn’t even circumcised? What is wrong with our bodies the way they’re born? Why do we feel the need to mutilate our bodies in the name of religion, cosmetics, or societal acceptance?

Contrary to some reports, there’s no proven medical reason to circumcise a boy (or a girl, for that matter). Pediatricians agree that, as long as a child is taught to clean under the foreskin, penises are perfectly healthy and beautiful just the way they’re made, and there’s no health benefit to surgically altering the penis.

So why do we do it? I understand that there’s a long cultural history in Judaism around circumcision, so I can cut them some slack (although there’s also a long history around cutting a woman’s genitals in Africa -- does that make it right?).  As for the rest of us, why are we even doing this? Do we think God made a mistake by creating penises with foreskins? And if we’re doing it for purely cosmetic reasons, don’t you think we should allow the child to make his own decision when he’s old enough to choose? What message are we giving our newborns? Why are we whisking them off hours after birth to have surgery -- usually with no anesthesia? What kind of welcome to the world is that?

Loving yourself exactly the way you are

If you’re a parent who chose to circumcise her sons, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. What’s done is done. You made the best decision you could at the time, with the guidance of those who were helping you make this decision, and I fully support you for doing what you thought was right. But if you don’t have kids yet or are pregnant and have to make a choice soon, please consider allowing your boys to keep the bodies they were born with.

Owning Pink is all about encouraging you to be authentic, to love yourself exactly the way you are, to appreciate and honor your bodies -- imperfections included -- and to live life with loads of mojo. Why not raise our boys to Own Pink as well? So what if your son looks different in the locker room. Encourage him to embrace his difference, to celebrate his wholeness, to honor diversity. And if he decides later on that he wants to undergo an elective, cosmetic surgery, support him in his autonomous decision but remind him that he’s beautiful and perfect just the way he is.

7 Reasons Not to Circumcise Your Baby
  1. There’s absolutely no medical reason to do so. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision does not make the penis cleaner -- it just crosses off one more area that needs attention in the shower. It doesn’t reduce the risk of STDs, bladder infections, penile cancer, or penis infections.
  2. The surgery carries risks -- and yes, while I have never been personally responsible for pulling a Lorena Bobbitt on a poor, defenseless baby, I have seen little boys get the ends of their penises cut off as the result of circumcision. And remember, if you give birth at a hospital that has residents, it’s often the intern performing the circumcision!
  3. Many swear that having foreskin helps prevent premature ejaculation and can lead to longer lovemaking.
  4. God doesn’t make mistakes -- and the body was made with foreskin.
  5. Most countries do not circumcise their boys. Why should we?
  6. A person should have the right to choose whether they undergo a purely cosmetic surgery that cannot be undone.
  7. Circumcision HURTS! While some swear that babies cannot feel, I have watched them when I cut their little foreskins. And they definitely feel pain. Maybe they don’t remember it, but somewhere in their little budding psyches, they might. Do we really want a child’s first experience in life to be this pain?

My colleague, best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom Dr. Christiane Northrup (who also wrote the foreward to my book!), agrees with me. We need to stop circumcision. We just do. It has to start somewhere. Please spread the word.

What do you think? Did you circumcise your sons? Are you glad you did? Do you wish you hadn’t? As a lover, do you prefer circumcised penises? Uncircumcised ones? Do you think we should be promoting this procedure? Banning it? Speak up -- and feel free to disagree with me! This is worth talking about.

Protecting foreskins worldwide,
Lissa

n/a

Comments

Lise's picture

"I'm sorry, but a 2 year

"I'm sorry, but a 2 year old's penis IS going to look different from a grown man's penis regardless of whether or not he was circumcised. I mean, did you have to explain to your son why your husband had pubic hair or did you husband shave it off so they wouldn't be different? My son has been potty trained since a week before his 2nd birthday and there was never an issue.He sees his father naked after showers or when they go to the bathroom together. He's NEVER asked why it looks different."

Exactly! My 5-year-old twins are intact, and I recall them remarking exactly one time on Daddy's penis looking different from theirs, and it was only that his is bigger. Thinking that a young boy will somehow be traumatized by noticing that his penis doesn't look exactly like Daddy's is ridiculous. Do you plan to have plastic surgery done on his face so he will look precisely like his father in every other feature, too? If asking why his penis has skin on the end of it is the most uncomfortable question your kid ever asks you, count yourself EXTREMELY lucky.

Jacquie 's picture

Fathers and Sons

Well stated Kara! When my intact son was about two we decided to put the "looking like daddy" myth to the test. We asked him if his penis and his dad's (cut) penis looked alike. He exclaimed, "Oh no!" My husband and I were shocked and I thought, in a moment's flash, "Oh, my God! They were right! Kids do know the difference." And then my sweet little boy finished his sentence exclaiming, "Dad's is WAY bigger!"

Stie87's picture

@Kara

I have grown up and I have put MY children first. Which is why I chose for MY son to be circed. Yes our biggest reason was superficial but the underlining reason is that on my husbands side of the family they get cancer on their penis it never shows up in circed men just in uncirced men. What I decide for my family is up to me. Congratulations that you can make the decistion for son to stay in tact. I am glad that their are some moms who can freely talk to their children about this sort of thing, It is harder for me, I was sexually abused as a child so forgive me if I can't talk about penises more freely than others. It is something I am trying to get over so that I can talk to my son later on about sex and other things. Thank you for your opinion of me but it was wrong and unjustifiable, you don't know me and if you did that last statement you would know not to be true.

Jacquie 's picture

Lost Credibility

Stie87, you loose credibility when you change your story because someone questions you. If penile cancer in your family is truly an issue, I suspect you would have given that as the primary reason for your decision. You seem like you are just trying to justify your actions with a "better" reason now that someone has pointed out that your original reason was selfish, immature, and unethical. And after being sexually abused, and knowing how violated that makes you feel, I think it is weird that you would go on to violate your baby's sexual organ.

Vicki's picture

Cancer? Antisemitism?

Circumcising doesn't prevent ANY disease under the sun! If breast cancer ran in your family would you cut off your daughters breast buds?
Anyway check your facts!:
.Penile Cancer Among intact (i.e., non-circumcised) males, 99.999% will not develop penile cancer [The rate of penile cancer is 1 in 100,000. It is one of the rarest cancers, rarer even than male breast cancer.] Testicular cancer strikes 1 in 300 males, prostate cancer 1 in 11. (Source: American Cancer Society) It has been suggested that performing 100,000 infant circumcisions – thus removing in 100% of those circumcisions 100% of the foreskin's irreplaceable health benefits – in order to possibly prevent an otherwise preventable cancer in one elderly man is absurd. Annually, there are more infant deaths from infant circumcisions than deaths from cancer of the penis. It has been erroneously claimed that penile cancer virtually never occurs in men who have been circumcised in infancy. In a recent study on penile cancer, a full 20% of the study-group had been circumcised at birth. Cervical cancer Scandinavian society (virtually non-circumcised) has a lower rate of cervical cancer than the U.S (a majoritarily circumcised society). Both cervical and penile cancer are now understood to be caused not by genital smegma (which both sexes produce), but by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), a sexually transmitted virus. <<<

Read more: http://www.myspace.com/v.wyzykowski/blog?page=4#ixzz0zWfQNLL8

@ antisemitism --
The circumcision that Abraham and his descendants practiced was something entirely different from modern circumcision. It merely involved cutting the tip of the foreskin, not removing it! This is both a historical and an archaeological fact that can be found in any reference book of ancient culture. The ancient peoples, whether Jew or Gentile, wouldn't have dreamed of doing away with such a useful and pleasure-enhancing part of the body. Nor would God want such a thing! The tip of the foreskin was more than sufficient for fulfilling the bottom line purpose, which was to shed a few drops of blood as a "sign" to all. This is one of the 3 reasons it was instituted during infancy. The tip of a newborn's foreskin hangs loosely past the end of the shaft. There was no "plastic bell" back then to try to pull all of the foreskin away from the shaft in order to cut it off. Ancient peoples couldn't have removed the tightly adhered foreskin even if they had wanted to, without doing considerable harm to the shaft as well. Had they tried, they would have cut off the entire genitalia more often than not (something that happens occasionally in modern times). This is why the two Hebrew words in the Old Testament that were used for Old Covenant circumcision were namal (this is the word God used with Abraham when He first instituted the ritual) and muwl. Namal simply means "clipped," just like the tips of the fingernails are clipped and the ends of the hair are clipped. The Hebrew language has words for "cut off", or "removed" which are entirely different than this word. Muwl is defined as meaning "to curtail, to blunt, to cut shorter." Again, the idea is to take a little off the end, not to cut off. To blunt something is to dull the edge.

Read more: http://www.myspace.com/v.wyzykowski/blog?page=3#ixzz0zWeUjlan

sam's picture

PS - Circ'ing doesn't mean

PS - Circ'ing doesn't mean you never have to speak to your son(s) about sex. Even if you cut the entire penis off, you will probably still need to have The Talk at some point. Speaking as an abuse survivor, I recommend counselling, therapy, meditation as some of the valid ways of coping with past abuse. Lopping off body parts so that you don't have to talk about them is not one of them. It's thought as many as 1 in 4 women suffered abuse as a child; if we validate this as a reason for circ'ing, circ rates will remain high.

sam's picture

I don't understand...

//Yes our biggest reason was superficial but the underlining reason is that on my husbands side of the family they get cancer on their penis//

The biggest reason was superficial, greater than preventing cancer? You're brave admitting that :-/

Why could your son not choose, when he is older, whether he wants to lose his foreskin (and everything that goes with it) or keep it, and risk cancer later?

In response to the blog... Not disagreeing with anything, just noticed something that struck me as odd: why say "honor diversity" and then say, "no other country circ's"?

Also, it's not quite true that it can't be undone. Apparently circ'ed men can have reconstructive surgery...?

Lastly: if you choose to have your son circ'd:
1. Insist on a skilled surgeon (not an intern).
2. Insist on adequate pain relief.
3. Insist on being present so that you can know 100% that your wishes were adhered to. Perhaps if not enough pain relief is used, his horrid screams, his rigid little body, his anguish... might save any future sons from undergoing the procedure.

J Sholtz's picture

Reconstruction

"Also, it's not quite true that it can't be undone. Apparently circ'ed men can have reconstructive surgery...?"

This is completely false.

Reconstructive surgery could restore some of the appearance, but none of the special nerve endings that are only found in the foreskin. This type of nerve only appears in the foreskin and nowhere else in the body. No matter how good of a patch job the surgeon does, those nerves are never coming back. Also, where is the surgeon going to pull 15 square inches of skin from, roughly the size of a 3x5 index card?

Doulalee and Nature&#039;s Way Birthing Services.'s picture

NOt a Fix!

Reconstructive surgery shouldn't have to happen in the first place if this unnecessary mutilation hadn't even happened. The surgery does not restore the nerve endings or corpuscles that are found in the foreskin. Even with self restoration devices, you might achieve the look of the foreskin, but those sensations and nerve endings are gone forever.

J Sholtz's picture

Thank You

We said the same thing using different words.

In my case, the sensations really are gone forever. I'm one of the even more unlucky cases where more damage is done than intended. My dorsal nerve is severed right at the circumcision scar. Not looking for sympathy, just wanting to say "Hey! Complications really do happen!"

Whenever a parent decides to allow this horrible surgery to be done is risking complications just like mine, or worse.

Sarah's picture

Kara, my husband and son are

Kara, my husband and son are intact. Even so, a baby or toddler's penis looks incredibly different from an adult penis. The foreskin in a baby doesn't even retract until somewhere between the age of 4 and puberty. Your sons penis won't look like his father's - cut or uncut - until he's a teenager. And by then he'll be old enough to understand the gift you gave him by leaving him whole. My husband confirms this - his child's genitalia looked so different from his father's he didn't realize until he was a teenager that it was because his father was cut and he wasn't. And trust me, my husband is glad he wasn't cut!

Also, for anyone interested, I'm a Jew. We had no problem finding a Rabbit who would do a Bris Shalom for our intact son. He had a Hebrew name and will be raised Jewish. My family are conservative Jews and they all attended his Bris Shalom and were very supportive. He's only 8 months old and he already has an intact Jewish friend. More and more Jews are leaving their sons whole. Don't let religion of family pressure make you cut your child if it's something you don't want to do!

RD's picture

It takes great courage for

It takes great courage for Conservative parents to leave a son intact.

Remember that your decision is not final and irreversible. Your son can consent to surgery any time after his 18th birthday. And if he falls in love with a frum woman, he can always have a private bris between his engagement and wedding.

If you send your child to Sunday school and to Jewish summer camp, I am curious how that will play out. Know, however, that over the past 150 years, many Jewish families in Europe and Latin American quietly gave up bris. I bet there used to be kibbutzes where many boys were left intact. The English language press in Israel says that since 1990, a growing number of secular Israeli parents have left their sons intact. Israeli moms say that day care workers tell them that nowadays, there are 1-3 intact boys in every classroom.

You are a Jewish woman raised in a Conservative family. Yet you married an intact man. This would have been unthinkable in previous generations. But the ground is moving under our feet. 25 years ago, a young Jewish woman from the Middle east told me that while she wanted to marry a Jew, she felt free to explore sex with any American until she met the man she wanted to marry. And that some of these men might be uncircumcised was the last thing on her mind. "The idea that I might reject a man as a sex partner only because he is uncircumcised has NEVER crossed my mind." I have read on the internet a hymn of praise for sexual virtues of the intact penis, concluded by the author's revelation that she is an observant Jew.

There is a stark possibility that non-orthodox Jewish young women could be more foreskin friendly than their provincial gentile sisters from the midwest!

Sarah's picture

RD, Although I was raised a

RD, Although I was raised a conservative Jew, I am now a reconstructionist Jew and my husband is not Jewish. The Rabbi who performed Devin's Bris Shalom is at the reconstructionist synagogue my friends go to (and I used to go to before I moved) in Miami, FL. My friend's son, who also had a Bris Shalom, had his performed at the reformed synagogue in Gainesville, FL. I don't know whether Devin will choose to marry a Jewish woman, but if he does, or if he wants to be circumcised for any reason he can make that choice for himself as an adult. He can have the surgery performed with general anesthetic and have good pain killers for the post operative pain. After attending a Bris for a baby cousin as a teenager (I had attended others when I was younger, but this was the first where I was in the room for the cutting) I was horrified and vowed I would never do that to my son. I am so glad that I was able to give him a Hebrew name without mutilating him.

RD's picture

It is my understanding that

It is my understanding that reconstructionist temples are the most liberal of all, and that reconstructionist rabbis are also the most open to dispensing with bris.

Sarah, you witnessed a bris as an impressionable teenager, and were revolted. Hugs to you for your basic humanity and decency. I vowed as a young man that I would decline any invitation to a bris.

The head of NOCIRC in Westchester Co. is Laurie Evans, who is Reformed. Her road to intactivism began with a bris she witnessed as a teen. Miriam Pollack's began with having to endure the brises of her 2 sons 30 years ago.

This long YouTube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx89xECfHG4

shows a Reform bris done at home by a woman doctor who is also a certified mohelet. It's quick, all right, but what you will see will also banish all possibility that comes with little or no pain. Seeing the poor boy sob his heart out afterwards, while being left to lie naked on the dining room table, tore something deep in my soul.

Kara's picture

@Stie87

Stie87: "When I talked to my husband he told me that the biggest reason for wanting to get this done maybe superficial but my husband didn't want my son to think he was different from his dad when it came to potty training him, How do you explain to a 2 yr old why daddy's little guy is different from his?"

I'm sorry, but a 2 year old's penis IS going to look different from a grown man's penis regardless of whether or not he was circumcised. I mean, did you have to explain to your son why your husband had pubic hair or did you husband shave it off so they wouldn't be different? My son has been potty trained since a week before his 2nd birthday and there was never an issue.He sees his father naked after showers or when they go to the bathroom together. He's NEVER asked why it looks different. If/when he does there is a VERY simple answer: "When Daddy was a baby they thought it was healthier to cut off that part of the penis. When you were born we knew that it wasn't, so we left it the way nature intended." Not a difficult concept to convey, even to a young child. I have a very hard time with parents who put their children through this because THEY don't want to have (what they see as) an uncomfortable conversation. Grow up and put your child first.

Kara's picture

Intact

Thanks for the great article. I found out I was pregnant with my first child, a boy in 2007, when I was 20 years old. At the time, I was learning all about birth as I wanted a completely natural delivery. The intricate process the body went through seemed amazing to me. I always thought I'd circumcise any future boys I had, but then, I had devoloped a trust in the wisdom of nature and evolution. I couldn't just accept that a foreskin wasn't there for a reason and needed to be "snipped" off. I started to research like crazy. It was totally unnecessary comsmetic surgery?! I got some flack from my husband about it, but kept researching and kept sending him articles. Finally, I thought, if this was something we were going to put our son through, I had a responsibility to KNOW what the procedure involved. I watched a video of a routine circumcision. It was NOT "just a snip" as people who try to marginalize the surgery say. It was god awful! At that point, I decided that, if I had to, I'd tell my husband he didn't have a say. I'd protect our baby from circumcision whether or not he agreed with me. Luckily, that very night he came home and said "I've been thinking...why have him circumcised if it isn't necessary?" Thank goodness. :) We now have a happy, healthy, INTACT 2 1/2 year old. I will never regret leaving my son whole.

Michelle's picture

Judaism

I know this is a little late but I would like to point something out. The term "brit milah" does not describe modern day western circumcision. Brit milah is the removal of just the tip of the foreskin leaving most of it intact, but making all men look similar in nature. Not that I support any genital cutting, but it is simply misunderstood. The type of circumcision we perform today (removal of the whole foreskin) is referred to as "brit peri'ah." Obviously there is a huge difference, and the biblical version was not believed to prevent anything. It was always ritualistic. Perhaps if you are of the Jewish faith you should ask yourself, if the ritual is so important then why has it been altered so much without "God's" permission? I married into a Jewish family and had major fights over this issue while I was pregnant. I have, and always will be against harming children for no reason. I searched for as much information on the topic as possible and this is what I learned. Google it if you doubt me. I don't mean any offense but the Jewish community needs to do some soul searching on this subject. It is torture and that's a black and white issue to me. There is no gray area.

anon's picture

Source?

Source?

Samantha's picture

I'm mother to four boys, ages

I'm mother to four boys, ages 17, 15, 8, and 5, all circumcised.

We read, debated, talked to our Dr's, read some more, before making our choice. With our last son, our OB (who didn't perform the operation, it was done by a pediatrician) asked me "Why did you do that to your son?" and her judgment ( especially on a subject we never broached) felt like a betrayal, especially after sharing such an intimate thing as the birth of our son with her.

I'm sure many here feel I deserved to feel hurt, and I've experienced that judgment from some attachment/natural parenting forums to such a degree I didn't stay long. However, when we as people feel we have such a knowledge that allows us to judge whoever doesn't share it as inferior, we need to stop for a moment and realize this is the type of thinking that is the cause of discrimination and prejudice.

I can say with all my heart that one can certainly love and respect their child, and one can be intelligent and do research, and come to the conclusion to circumcise their sweet son.

We all are going to make different choices, for ourselves and our kids. Respecting each other truly enables us to embrace diversity and therefore come together as parents/family members/friends to create the widest possible net of support for our children.

Anonymous's picture

and your reasons for circing

and your reasons for circing were????

Anonymous's picture

and your reasons for circing

and your reasons for circing were????

Anonymous's picture

Research

If you have done research and came to the conclusion to still do this to your son, I am here to say. You were lied to. There is research out today that claims that circumcision prevents HIV/AIDS. If you already made the decision in your mind out of societal pressure and cosmetic reasons and then read research like that, I can see why you would claim to have researched and made the best decision. But you need to *think* about what it is that you are reading. An HIV/AIDS epidemic hit California in the 1970's and all of those men were circumcised. Most of men of sexually active age in the U.S. are circumcised and the U.S. has an astronomical HIV/AIDS rate. Also, HIV/AIDS in Africa in places where they are circumcising is increasing because the men feel as if they are now immunized from HIV/AIDS. That is just not good logic.
The research doesn't mention that. Remember, if there is reason to earn money... lies will abound.
No one is trying to demean you in anyway. And if you feel that you have made the right decision without doubt, it seems funny that you would have found your way here. Everyone makes decisions in their lives that they aren't always proud of. That is just human, and especially being a mother. But hopefully by continuing to learn which it seems as if you are doing by being here, you will be able to help another new mom *think clearly* about this topic.

Jen's picture

Loving Parents Can be Misguided to Circumcise

Loving parents can still be misguided parents if they choose to circumcise. Take for instance the following example. My Jewish birth doula client are very firm in their beliefs that circumcision is the best thing for their son despite knowing the peaceful alternative to a circumcision Bris, called a Bris Shalom. The amount of love they feel for their son and wanting what is best for him is tangible. No one would ever want to harm their beautiful new baby or cause him pain or take away a good part of him. They want what is best for him. The only problem is that these wonderful Jewish parents are basing their decision on an archaic religious doctrine calling for the sacrifice of the human body and ritualistic mutilation that is a circumcision. They are the most loving wonderful parents and they are brainwashed through religion to think cutting up their baby's penis is a good idea and that sugar water on a pacifier and a cloth soaked in alcohol will take away the pain and trauma of having your penis cut up fresh out of the womb. It is sick and sad and soon it will be illegal. Where is child protective services when people are giving their baby's alcohol and cutting up their bodies, where are the police, where is the outrage? The mothers with whom I have spoken about the bris' of their babies have told me it was awful but they just had to do it. So sad when a mother cannot protect her own baby from harm because her religion calls her to allow him to be mutilated. God bless all the mothers and fathers and babies who have to go through this because they think they have to. BRIT SHALOM everybody, which is a peaceful bris/baby naming/blessing ceremony. Love your baby, don't let anyone near him who has a knife and is going to cut him with it. Circumcision rates in the United States have dropped to 33%, down from 56% in 2006, the end is near! Soon even well meaning, loving parents who only want the best for their child (despite the American Pediatric Association saying there is NO MEDICAL REASON for routine infant circumcision) will not be able to make a life altering, human rights violating, bodily integrity destroying, traumatizing decision for their newborn baby boy to cut off part of his penis. God bless every parent who made the choice to circumcise and may they help their sons to end circumcision in their family for the next generation.

Vicki's picture

Enough with the Jewish "Law"

It's an excuse! Jewish law also says you should stone an adulteress to death! I know of PLENTY of Jewish couples that just got a divorce rather than stoning someone to death. It also says that someone else gets to deflower the bride to be but that doesn't happen now does it? Women are no longer property as Jewish law indicates. Jewish people no longer slaughter lambs or other animal now do they?

Step out of the box and realize that not only has the true meaning of Namal which simply means "clipped" been taken out of context and Christianized from Victorian times but it's as old as all of the other barbaric commands and covenants that have outwardly been ousted as people evolved and realized what humanitarianism and human right are !

Christian Momma's picture

Jewish "law" Comment

I am offended that someone would call a person's faith an excuse. The Jewish faith does this as part of a covenant with God. Telling people that keeping a covenant they believe in is an excuse is beyond disrespectful. It is a far different thing than a passage that discusses "stoning" etc. Debating is one thing. That comment was just disrespectful and frankly, a bit ignorant. I am not even Jewish and I know the difference.

Vicki's picture

No way!

Sorry but no way! You did research? I don't think so! If you had then you were only looking for justifications! An AP parent would never ever make the decision to purposefully hurt and maim their child it is one of their core values and beliefs! No wonder you didn't stay long! This idea that people can do whatever they want to their children is what fuels child abuse and child molestation!

Bottom line if you won't do it to yourself and dont want anyone else doing it to you don't do it to your kid! Why do you think this continues? because they do it at an age where they CANT remember it! try putting yourself in that babys place....you can't walk or defend yourself and these people that are suppose to be taking care of you....strip you naked, tie you to a board, and start hurting you by digging a piece of metal between your skin that is firmly attached to your private area, clamp it with this cold metal object and cut it off! All the while you are screaming and crying and no one is helping you! Sounds a lot like a rape doesn't it? The feeling welling up inside you right now should not be oh well!

You are now throbbing in pain and they are telling u "it's ok SHHH!"! "It's ok" "Shut UP!" That's what rapists tell their victims after and during their assaults too!

It's ok? I just permanently disfigured you but it's ok.? WTF? Why do u think most men treat women like shit? Because maybe they have tissue memory that it was their mom that hurt them and their first sexual experience was that violent? Maybe that's why the USA has the HIGHEST RATE of Sexual Assault and the HIGHEST rate of Circumcision IN THE WORLD! Non-Circumcising countries have virtually no Sexual Assault cases in comparison to ours!

edouard's picture

It is perhaps the case that

It is perhaps the case that circumcised men are more prone to committing sexual assault. But if that is indeed the case, the reason does not have to be suppressed rage at the mothers that allowed them to be cut. The reason could be a simple mechanical one. To insert an uncut penis into a dry vagina is painful, because the foreskin snags on the dry vaginal wall, putting painful tension on the frenulum. The upshot is that it is harder for intact men to commit rape. Lube would facilitate things, possibly a lot, but who ever heard of a rapist who carried a tube of K-Y?? A circumcised penis has neither foreskin nor frenulum, hence it has much less resistance to being inserted into a dry place. Scandinavian police forces have recently revealed that a large majority of the sexual assaults in their countries are perpetrated by circumcised Moslem immigrants.

It is true that routine infant circumcision without anesthesia, the American norm before this century, and the Jewish norm for millenia, means that a male's very first sexual experience is an intensely painful one. We do not know yet just how damaging that is.

Vicki, please understand that while a fair number of USA doctors, especially those trained more recently and practicing west of the Rockies, are friendly to intact, many USA doctors still don't get it, so that the people who take their advice from them are victims, not culprits.

Since 1880, over 100 million baby boys born into English speaking families have been circumcised. I call this the Foreskin Holocaust. I do not blame this on parents, but on maternity ward staff. This Holocaust feeds on itself, because it produces generations that grow up seeing nothing but circumcised, and who consequently see the natural penis as unsanitary and sexually disturbing. Members of such generations are victims. What is amazing and beautiful is that so many American parents who grew up seeing nothing but circumcised, are turning away from circ for their own boys. I did not expect to see this change in my lifetime.

edouard's picture

I am 61 years old, an

I am 61 years old, an American baby boomer from the midwest, and intact. Growing up I felt very self conscious. So much so that I did not loose my virginity until I was 37, when I met the woman I have no been married to for 21 years.

I was the only intact male in my family of origin. My father went to his grave never broaching this tender subject with me. My mother said nothing until I was 19, because before Mothering magazine, there was ZERO support in print for leaving an American boy intact.

Was it worth it? I submit that it was. Being intact allowed me to walk alongside the open sewer that was American university sexual behaviour in the 1970s, without falling in. Being a member of a despised and misunderstood sexual minority has made me a richer and wiser human being. Once one leaves high school, being intact is of no consequence at all in the rest room or locker room.

Most of all, my being intact has added much to my marriage. Almost everything I feel when I pay my marital respects to my wife, I feel in anatomical bits I would lack had my mother surrendered to American fashion and had me cut at birth. Most of all, I make it possible for my wife to have a more enjoyable sex life, especially since she went through menopause and condoms have vanished from our bedroom. Being intact means I can go slow and gentle, and thus give her a lot of pleasure, and still get a lot pleasure myself. Being intact means that her fingers can supply me with very satisfying foreplay. My foreskin interacts nicely with our natural lubrication. Sometimes she says that the feeling of my foreskin moving back and forth in her vagina thrills her.

Jane's picture

"No Big Deal"...

I am a healthcare practitioner and my 32 and 28 year old sons were born at home...and left el naturale...as God made them. Never a problem for them, and even today, they are proud of their Mom's decision, during a time when there was much pressure to follow the norm...
There should be no judgement either way for an individuals decision...all I'm saying... is make an INFORMED decision and then go with it...without guilt.
Thanks for the great article Lissa and having the courage to step out there... I've emailed this article to both of my sons today...

Son #2's picture

Thanks mom! Since you're

Thanks mom! Since you're putting this out there, I guess I'll make it worse: she thanks you too!

Amy Barton's picture

'She' thanks her partner's mother?

I want to thank mine too!

RD's picture

I was born in Europe, so

I was born in Europe, so routine circ at birth was not an option. Two month later I emigrated to the USA with my mother. My father's mother, American, threatened to have me circumcised without my mother's consent. My mother threatened to divorce my father if he and his mother did not drop the subject. This in 1949. A year ago, my 88 year old mother told me that a man should have the final say about whether that tender part of his anatomy should be altered.

My wife has had ample experience with both cut and intact partners. She is very exacting in requirements for her sexual pleasure. It can take her 45 minutes to get ready for a sex session. She uses artificial lube even with intact yours truly. She has told me on occasion that she can feel my foreskin moving back and forth in her vagina. Foreplay with my foreskin and frenulum is an important part of our erotic adventures together. Several of the cut men she has been with had catastrophic PE. She cannot tolerate any form of contraception other than condoms, and foreskin motion makes condoms more pleasant for her.

Sadly, the above has not led my wife to express or feel one iota of gratitude towards her mother-in-law, because they clash for unrelated reasons. While my wife is foreskin friendly, she declines to be an intactivist. Her attitude is simply that foreskin is normal. My wife grew up without brothers, under a prim mother who did not talk about sex. I do not think she appreciates the full force of the American Foreskin Holocaust, the attempt to eradicate all awareness of foreskin from the American white middle class mind. Hence she does not appreciate how fortunate she is.

Vicki's picture

Thank You

I find this issue very troubling and am so glad you spoke out! I am grateful that you refuse to preform circumcisions now however I pray that you also speak to the new Moms/Dads and inform them of what is actually going on and the risks involved. I find it absurd that this operation goes on without a consultation before each and every one! It is the ONLY surgery done where there is no consultation! It's absurd!

Stie87's picture

Parents

I think that yes Doctors need to talk to the parents before each and every circumcistion however I think the parents also need to seek out information regarding it. Luckly I had a great Pediatrician who talked to us about circums and all aspects of it, I also consulted my Dr and a nurse too. What my Dr said made sense to me. He said that foreskin can be thought of like this. They are like toenails, it has no real purpose, we cut our toenails because out parents tell us to. Sometimes we cut to close to the nail and it bleeds and there is even a chance we get a ingrown toenail or if we chose no to cut it then there is a possibility of an infection. I have never forgotten that and I was glad that he told us exactly how it was to be done and the risks involved. When I talked to my husband he told me that the biggest reason for wanting to get this done maybe superficial but my husband didn't want my son to think he was different from his dad when it came to potty training him, How do you explain to a 2 yr old why daddy's little guy is different from his?
However like I said I think that yes Doctors do need to speak with the parents or at least have some one come in and talk to the parents before anything is done.

CircMom's picture

I understand

In some twisted way I understand what stie87 is saying. She is probably a young mother who is scared about being pregnant, and has just learned that males on her husbands side of the family get cancer. I had to put myself in her shoes, but I guess I would do it too. She comes on here and tells her story and gets attacked for what she thinks, and by what she has been told. I would change my story too. Personally I don't care why she did it or for what ever reasons those are her own, but what I do care about is those of you who jump down others throats because they chose to circumsize their children. I will agree that it is a unneeded surgery BUT how can you fault the parents? Some are misinformed about circumsizions, while others understand what is going on and still choose to do it because like father like son. They are the parents and they will make the decistion for their children. I have a son who is 7 months old and I asked for him to be circumsized, his father and I talked it over and well like father like son snip snip... If that makes me a horrible mother because I allowed it then so be it, however I don't think circumsizing my son will ever get me thrown in jail, if it does then I should be there with all the other mom's who circumsize their sons, who tell the doctor to rebreak a bone because it healed alittle off, and who feel the need to spank their children. Lock me away!

James Loewen's picture

foreskin = toenail !?

A doctor who compares a foreskin with a toenail is one with a serious misunderstanding of basic anatomy. The only way one can compare amputation of the foreskin with a toenail is if you are ripping a toenail out by its roots. It's understandable that your husband lacked knowledge of the foreskin, his was taken without consent. So most likely was the anatomically challenged "doctor" who thinks that certain select body parts have "no real purpose."

To state that a child's foreskin needs to be amputated to match his father's (surgically imposed genital deficit) to facilitate potty training is ludicrous. At least your husband admitted that the real reason he insisted upon foreskin amputation of his son was superficial. When this issue is looked at in depth we see that all of these superficial excuses to cut the healthy genitals of children are based on much deeper psychological needs. Those to whom abuse has been done generally grow up to enforce it upon their own children. The real reason your husband insisted on circumcision was psychological. He needed to normalize his condition by passing on the abuse.

You mention in another post here that you were sexually abused as a child. I am very sorry for you. Sadly sexual abuse of children is common. When not fully understood it gets passed on. Unfortunately until parents who were once abused become more fully aware of how damaging the abuses they suffered are, its their children who have to pay.

I would most highly recommend the published works of the late child psychologist Alice Miller, particularly "Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries." Miller discusses how sexual shame is taught. It is sad to consider how common child abuse is, however when we understand the dynamics behind it we can begin to eradicate it and heal from our own wounds.

James Loewen's picture

foreskin = toenail !?

A doctor who compares a foreskin with a toenail is one with a serious misunderstanding of basic anatomy. The only way one can compare amputation of the foreskin with a toenail is if you are ripping a toenail out by its roots. It's understandable that your husband lacked knowledge of the foreskin, his was taken without consent. So most likely was the anatomically challenged "doctor" who thinks that certain select body parts have "no real purpose."

To state that a child's foreskin needs to be amputated to match his father's (surgically imposed genital deficit) to facilitate potty training is ludicrous. At least your husband admitted that the real reason he insisted upon foreskin amputation of his son was superficial. When this issue is looked at in depth we see that all of these superficial excuses to cut the healthy genitals of children are based on much deeper psychological needs. Those to whom abuse has been done generally grow up to enforce it upon their own children. The real reason your husband insisted on circumcision was psychological. He needed to normalize his condition by passing on the abuse.

You mention in another post here that you were sexually abused as a child. I am very sorry for you. Sadly sexual abuse of children is common. When not fully understood it gets passed on. Unfortunately until parents who were once abused become more fully aware of how damaging the abuses they suffered are, its their children who have to pay.

I would most highly recommend the published works of the late child psychologist Alice Miller, particularly "Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries." Miller discusses how sexual shame is taught. It is sad to consider how common child abuse is, however when we understand the dynamics behind it we can begin to eradicate it and heal from our own wounds.

Vicki's picture

your doctor was a quack!

how long ago did u have your baby? because in 2005 when I refused to the sign the consent form and told the nurse to quit shoving it in my face and that I wanted to talk to the doctor about why this paper kept getting shoved in my face...I told the doctor that nurse kept bugging me and telling me it prevents STDs and I HAVE to sign this consent form so he can be circumcised. The doctor told me flat out "You don't have to do it, It is not necessary! It doesn't prevent any disease." Doesn't it hurt them? I asked "It hurts them very badly." then why do you do it I asked "Really the only reason is religious reasons." no I mean why do YOU do it? I asked "I really don't like doing it." and when I asked about sex life she even told me that "it is a possible side effect that their feeling is diminished and research is being done to support that. It is after all part of the penis and the genitals have a lot of nerve endings so yeah it probably loses feeling and it will hurt." Then I'm not gonna do it I said. She said "ok, I'll just take this form with me then." I added and please tell that nurse to stop bugging me! while I am getting to know my baby. she said she would and that nurse never came back to my room!

Anonymous's picture

Your doctor was regrettably

Your doctor was regrettably mistaken. The foreskin has a purpose: it facilitates the mechanics of intercourse, adds to his pleasure for sure, and often adds to hers as well. The bits circumcision carves off lie at the very centre of the sexual experience for both sexes. American obgyns seem almost totally ignorant of the sexual virtues of the foreskin.

I should grant that in Europe, only Scandinavians seem to have a ready understanding of this point. The bald truth is that the foreskin and frenulum are understood about as well as the clitoris was understood in 1960 or 70. I am confident that American sexual sophistication is coming to encompass the foreskin, and when that bridge is crossed, Americans will become the world's most eloquent defenders of the sexual virtues of the natural penis.

Stie87's picture

In my personal experiance I

In my personal experiance I enjoyed a circumcised man better than a uncircumsised man. I know that it maybe different for others but i have experianced.

Stie87's picture

Parents

I think that yes Doctors need to talk to the parents before each and every circumcistion however I think the parents also need to seek out information regarding it. Luckly I had a great Pediatrician who talked to us about circums and all aspects of it, I also consulted my Dr and a nurse too. What my Dr said made sense to me. He said that foreskin can be thought of like this. They are like toenails, it has no real purpose, we cut our toenails because out parents tell us to. Sometimes we cut to close to the nail and it bleeds and there is even a chance we get a ingrown toenail or if we chose no to cut it then there is a possibility of an infection. I have never forgotten that and I was glad that he told us exactly how it was to be done and the risks involved. When I talked to my husband he told me that the biggest reason for wanting to get this done maybe superficial but my husband didn't want my son to think he was different from his dad when it came to potty training him, How do you explain to a 2 yr old why daddy's little guy is different from his?
However like I said I think that yes Doctors do need to speak with the parents or at least have some one come in and talk to the parents before anything is done.

Dan Bollinger's picture

Avoid an Infant Circumcision Mistake - new website

Reading this thread I see two themes. First, it requires a lot of reading to "get up to speed" on this complicated issue. Second, the path is fraught with perils; it is an emotional issue. This results in making the decision all that much harder.

That's why we created Circumcision Decision-Maker, to help parents learn what their real reason is for wanting circumcision, and then giving them some expert advice on that topic. Click on my name to visit the website.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Caren, bless you

I just took this huge deep breath when I read your comment and realized that the feeling of these comments in this post have been making me hold my breath. (BIG SIGH...)

Yes. Just yes.
Thank you love.
With gratitude,
Lissa

n/a
Caren's picture

My Own Concern.....

I have read all of the comments here and will start by saying, I don't have children and will not have to make that decision. What my concern is, and I apologize if this is not the forum, the lack of compassion during such a heated discussion.

I have always known Owning Pink to be a place where we can share and be supported by all of our differences. We don't all believe the same way and we don't share the same views on many subjects. But we all should come from a place of love.

I for one would not want to be criticized for expressing an opinion of something I feel strongly about.

I was raised by Jewish parents and though I don't practice Judaism, I still wince when I feel there could be anti-semitism going on here.

Please everyone, keep this place a place of love. We live in a world difficult enough without having to treat each other with hostility. Let us accept each other because of our differences.

Love, Light, and Blessings,
Caren

Vicki's picture

...

I understand that you feel that way and many people can come across acerbic on this topic at time. however I think you should try to step outside the box this isn't an issue of antisemitism here we are talking about non Jewish babies too. This is a civil rights issue let's not turn it into a discrimination issue. If you want to do that then lets stop and think ....Girls are protected by law from genital cutting why aren't boys?

The anger that people opposed to genital cutting exhibit is a natural and chemical response from Oxytocin! oxytocin, the love hormone, also makes you aggressive and protective. You are chemically rewarded for bonding with your baby, attaching, and responding to their needs, while also feeling viciously protective against those who would threaten your young or your mate. Some people just have enough compassion to expand their hearts to all children and those in need. That is "Owning Pink"! Nature chose the ebb and flow of peace and violence

Jacquie 's picture

Bravo Vicki

Well stated Vicki. I had the same reaction while reading Caren's comment. Defending babies genital integrity has NOTHING to do with antisemitism. And then you went on to give very articulate analogies and reasoning. Well done on ALL counts! Thanks for being an amazing voice of reason!

Brian's picture

Circumcision

Hi Lisa -

Thanks for the post. I think cutting off parts of childrens sexual organs ( boys and girls) should be banned period- unless absolutely medically indicated. As a PA, I also was required to
ask new mothers after delivery if they wanted to have heir sons foreskin removed. I never learned anything about the foreskin at Duke University School Medicine except that circumcision was good. When practicing in the real world and with the help of the Internet I learned a lot and have helped to educate many of my colleagues. Unfortunately I have seen many badly scarred penises and it is tragic for an adolescent who has no clue. I refrain from talking about it but then just perpetuate ignorance. It's a difficult situation.

I'd like to just mention- you say parents made you do it but ou chose to particpate and did the cutting. Clinicans need to accept their responsibility is convincing parents that he foreskin was bad in the first place. As for the comments about MGM vs FGM - their are forms of female circumcisonT hat are less harmful than male circumcison and forms that are worse. The misconception that males are all cut as infants is wrong. the vast majority of circumcised men are Muslims who were cut between 4 and 12- so they do remember ( infants likely do as well
as the trauma releases cortisol which affects imprinting on pain and sexual centers in the brain). In addition, the comments about antisemitism are also out of line. Not supporting the cutting of boys makes me no more an antisemite than not supporting the cutting of girls makes me an antisemite.(arab Muslims). And Jews in medicine indeed have played a significant role in perpetuating circumcision amount non Jews . I was circumcised by the Mogen clamp by a Jewish OB who sliced a portion of my glans as well. So in this case the Jews involved need to accept responsibility for their part.

Bottom line: leave kids sexual organs alone! Their human rights trump anyone elses personal religious or cultural rights.
)

Anonymous's picture

no circumcision

Great post. Thank you very much.

J

Dee's picture

Amen - and thank you, Brian!

Amen - and thank you, Brian!

Brian's picture

Let's end cutting childrens sexual

Your welcome! And thank you!

When you comment on an Owning Pink blog post, we invite you to be authentic and loving, to say what you feel, to hold sacred space so others feel heard, and to refrain from using hurtful or offensive language. Differing opinions are welcomed, but if you cannot express yourself in a respectful, caring manner, your comments will be deleted by the Owning Pink staff.