I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
January 8, 2007
Until I learned I was having a boy, I never thought much about circumcision. I assumed everyone had their sons circumcised, that it was a gruesome rite of passage for most American males.
I found out the sex of my baby at the same time that a number of female bloggers wrote posts against circumcision. Debate ensued in the comments, mostly among women, as to whether circumcision was a matter of informed parental choice or cultural barbarism. I respect the opinions of those who are against circumcision, but, as is often the case, the Internet mommyblogger bandwagon doesn’t reflect what I encounter in my “real” life.
In my reality, every man I’ve spoken to about circumcising my son has said, without hesitation, “Do it.” In my reality, most men are circumcised and so are their sons. In my reality, none of the women I know have even seen an uncircumcised penis.
Do I think that circumcision seems ridiculous and unnecessary? Yes. Do I wish I lived in a perfect society where circumcision was unheard of? Yes. Unfortunately, though, that’s not what I’m experiencing in real life. Taking our cultural circumstances into consideration, I’m leaning toward the belief that any pain my son might experience in a properly anaesthetized surgical procedure at birth is far less than the pain he would experience as an uncircumcised young man, feeling the embarrassment of being different and sexually undesirable (whether that perception is real or imagined). Some of you have sworn that by the time my son is a teenager, 50% of his friends will be uncircumcised. Maybe that’s true where you live, but from what I’m seeing, it won’t be the case here. At the same time, I feel like I’m damned if we snip and damned if we don’t, because if we do, he may later wish he were still intact. If we don’t, on the other hand, we may be forcing him to take a stand that he never wanted to take- and one thing I do know is that the procedure is much more painful and nerve wracking as an adult than it would be for him as a newborn. I’m afraid he would harbor more resentment toward me for creating a situation in which he has to have an uncomfortable surgery in order to feel “normal.”
I find it interesting that so many women have come out swinging against circumcision, yet we’ve heard from few fathers in this discussion- and shouldn’t their opinions have a tremendous amount of weight here? I had already decided that my husband would have the final say as to whether our son would be circumcised, because it is, despite all our clucking and outrage, a guy thing. I can’t really understand the significance of being circumcised, but I think that as our son’s father, he can, and is the best person to decide whether the benefits for our son outweigh the risks. Still, although we’re leaning in the circumcision direction, we have 2 1/2 months to make a decision and with that in mind, I’m trying to gather as much information as possible.
I would love to hear what the dads out there have to say- and what my female readers’ husbands and boyfriends think about circumcision. I realize that I may be opening a can of worms with this, but I worry that women who are choosing to circumcise their sons (and I know there are a lot of you out there) are being frightened into online silence for fear of being verbally attacked. And I think that the best thing that can happen as far as the circumcision debate is concerned is to have an honest, civil discussion on both sides of the issue. I’ll say in advance that any name-calling, flame-throwing comments will be deleted, unless they’re funny, in which case I’ll leave them up so that we can all laugh at you.
So. What do you think?
*Thanks for all your opinions. Unfortunately, the comments got hijacked by mothering.com about 140 comments down (you’ll see my own comment down in there about this when it happened). The remaining comments are almost exclusively from mothering.com discussion board readers (known to have trainwrecked many a great discussion) and together, set an absolutely different tone (shrill and even rude) than the commenters prior to that time. If you’re looking for a great cross-section of opinions on the matter, start at the beginning of the comments and stop when you get to the mothering.com comments.