Monday, June 27, 2011

Nothing is more fun than commenting on something I'll never have to deal with..

Conversation I had with my sister shortly after the birth of my eldest daughter.

N:  So, are you going to have her circumcised?
Me (with utter shock): Uhm.  No.  Pretty sure that's heavily frowned upon in this part of the world.  I think the UN may be trying to have it banned, even.
N: Ah, frig.  Girl.  Right.

In fairness, my sister had had her second son a scant year-or-so earlier and it was a question she was surprisingly used to hearing.  I say surprisingly, because I would think the decision whether to snip your little one's pecker would be a pretty private matter, but as I have learned over the years, when it comes to conceiving, carrying, birthing and raising babies, nothing is sacred.

As much as I bitch about the perils of raising little girls, this is one area that makes me glad I never had boys, although nowadays I'm sure I'm a lot more clear on my stance as far as to snip or not to snip.  Unnecessary surgery?  Oh hell no.  I didn't even want to pierce my girls ears until they were old enough to ASK me.

That being said though, there's some interesting debate happening around a proposed law to ban male circumcision in San Franciso.  Personally, I think treating such a topic as a matter of a municipal by-law is silly at best, since anyone could drive out of town to have the procedure done.  Plus the proposed sentence of a year in prison seems, oh, I don't know, a little over-the-top.

No, this is one of those cases where "Education, Not Legislation" would be the most viable approach.  As far as I can tell, the most common reasons for circumcision  are:
  • For religious reasons
  • For hygenic reasons
  • Because it's better to do it when they are younger so they don't feel it as much (lolwhut??)
  • Fear of the child looking different than other kids or their respective male role models
Religion:  This is one of the main reasons why an all-out ban is asking for a shit-storm of trouble, because jailing people for performing what is viewed as a sacred ritual is going to cause all manner of discrimination suits.  In all honesty, I'd be willing to guess that the people who circumcise for religious or spiritual reasons are probably a smaller number than those who do it 'Just because'.   Aim for reducing the numbers elsewhere then eventually the major religions will catch up, just like the Catholic Church did with birth control..  oh, wait.

Hygenic reasons:  Teach your kids to wash their junk properly.  Pretty simple, no? From what I understand, research on the health benefits of circumcision are pretty sketchy and the benefits don't seem to outweigh the risks of just leaving well enough alone.   Yes, a kid may have a problem down the line that requires foreskin removal, but the thing is.. if you have a problem because you're intact, you can fix it.  It's a lot harder and likely more costly to fix issues from a botched circumcision.  And it's super-cheap to teach your kid to wash their junk.

Better to do it when they are Younger:  I call bullshit here.  I will not be convinced that an un-anesthetized procedure hurts a baby less than a older child or an adult.  The difference is a baby can't verbalize their discomfort in the same way.

But I don't want little Billy to Look "Different":  Calling bullshit again here.  This is where North American tendencies to be over-the-top Puritanical when it comes to our bodies and how they work really does a number on us.  So little Billy's little billy doesn't look like Daddy's?  Try this:
“Well, Billy, once upon a time, when Daddy was a baby, people had no problem with slicing off the end of your penis for no apparent reason, and even encouraged it. But we think they were wrong, so we didn’t, because we like you and don’t think cutting babies is cool.”
That's not so hard is it?

*snicker*  Yes, I have then mentality of a 12 year old.  Don't you judge me.

This line of reasoning always reminds me of this joke:
One day a little girl was watching her mom make a roast beef. She cut off the ends, wrapped it in string, seasoned it and set it in the roasting pan.

The little girl asked her mom why she cut off the ends of the roast. Mom replied, after some thought, that it was the way that her mother had done it.

That night grandma came to dinner and the little girl and her mom went to her and asked why she had cut the end off of the roast before cooking. After some thought grandma replied, that was the way her mother had done it.

Now great grandmother was quite old and in a nursing home. But the little girl went with her mom and grandma to see her and again asked the question.

Great Grandma looked at them a bit annoyed and said, "So it would fit in my pan, of course."


  1. Love the joke, haha.

    I was, unfortunately, circumcised as a little ninja, probably because "that's what's done" rather than for any other reason. I remember asking my mother if I was cut or not some years ago (I have some foreskin, but not nearly what I've seen of truly uncut dudes - thanks, porn!), and remember being crestfallen with the affirmative answer, even though I knew what it was beforehand.

    I really don't see the need for it, and think it should DEFINITELY be the choice of an educated male, rather than his parents or local religious figure.

  2. I am, my boy's arent. Couldn't see the point of loping bits of then if i didn't have to. Besides i don't really care if they look like me in the shower...

  3. Yes, most people who I know who've circumcised their baby boys did it just because that's what's done. It was an already made decisions, just because so many other people in North America do it. Which is, in my opinion, ridiculous! How can you not stop and think about whether or not it's a good idea to CUT SKIN OFF YOUR BABY's PENIS?! I think it's absolutely cruel. And entirely unnecessary.

  4. So is that joke essentially saying circumcision is so that the penis will fit in a pan? Or did I miss the point entirely?

  5. I saw an interesting opinion piece regarding the SF ban discussion. It cited CDC or AAP statistics that there are more complications every year from piercing the ears of little girls than slicing off the foreskin of little boys. As such, if they ban circumcision, they have to bad ear piercing, too.

  6. I read this earlier, but could think of nothing to say for a while; then, while working away at one of my projects, some thoughts occurred to me.

    First, it's really hard to find unbiased data from professional sources. The medical community seems to be divided. I have heard the arguments in favor of circumcision dismissed as the bias of "Jewish doctors," but I'm not so sure. The practice is common throughout the Middle East and Africa.

    Second, no one asked me whether I wanted my foreskin nipped, and it's too late now.

    Third, I've known a couple men who had it done as adults. Both cited the same reasons: a, the glans area tend to be stinky no matter how they wash; b, circumcision gave them firmer erections.

    Fourth, one of my nephews was upset with his mom, my sister, because she HADN'T had him circumcised. I told him that she believed it was his body, and he had a right to choose.

    Fifth, per my friends' account, adult circumcision is very painful.

    Sixth, the babies I've seen seemed to only fuss about it for a few days, and after a week did not seem to be bothered.

    Seventh, I have no sons, but I certainly would not wish them to be cut. I agree with my sister. It should be their choice.

    Last, I highly doubt that SF law has a chance of passing, and even if it does, it'll get stomped in the courts.

    My 7 pence. :)

    Cheers, Rick

  7. I am, and I believe the health data. Just because I want to. When the day comes, I will probably do the same thing to my son.

  8. chicks in Canada love talking about cutting penises as much as American girls do, huh?


  9. Hey now, let's be fair.. I'm talking about NOT cutting penises.

    It's different.

  10. My husband is uncircumsized and I am totally happy with that. He's never had a problem, and I too, just can't think of cutting a baby's skin off for cosmetic reasons. That's ridiculous. Why don't we buy it an itty bitty tanning bed while we're at it and feed it low fat formula... ;)

  11. Yeah that law isn't anti-semitic at all....

  12. This isn't somethng I have given much thought over, it doesn't happen in my part of the world much. As far as I can see there is no valid reason for doing this, least of all for religious reasons.


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