I have been thinking about this post since 2008 when a thread of comments on a book review I did sparked the desire for me to learn more. More practically, I really started thinking about this when we we found out that our second kid was going to be a boy.
I think it was time to write it and share it with you. BUT be warned, what you know cannot be unknown.
Once you know the truth, the facts that are listed in this article and those linked, you can’t claim ignorance. We live in the age of information and technological enlightenment.
If you are able to read this post online, you have no excuse that justifies being uneducated or uninformed.
ALSO. If you are doing this research on circumcision at the last minute i.e. your baby was just born and the nurses or doctors are asking you, or your baby will be born in the next few days or weeks, then hold off on circumcision until you finish reading more.
If circumcision is as necessary as many people will have you believe, you have some time. Take a few hours to read through the sources listed at the end of this article. Maybe it’ll take you a day or two to finish reading this post.
But believe me, a few hours or a couple days is nothing compared to a lifetime.
I’ll get right to the point and hopefully keep you around until the end. We recently had a new baby, born July 6. He is awesome, happy, bouncy, alert and besides a mild cold a couple weeks ago, he is in pretty much perfect health.
We couldn’t be happier about Oliver. Like Claire, he has brought so much happiness and joy that I can’t even describe it.
About a month or two before his birth we started fielding the question:
Are you going to circumcise him?
Both, my wife and I were asked this many times. Together, and individually, by family, friends, acquaintances and medical professionals.
The overwhelming majority was surprised about our answer, astounded might be a better word. Very few people said “good for him” or “good for you.”
I kept asking myself the same question over and over again:
Is it really that hard to understand that I don’t want to mutilate my son?
If you abstract your faith, tradition and peer pressure, the procedure of circumcising a baby boy is just that. Mutilation. A piece of his body is being cut off.
The word mutilation comes from the latin word and derivatives: mutilatus, mutilare and mutilus which means truncated or maimed.
Synonyms of the word are: maim, cripple, mangle, incapacitate. It implies the cutting off or removal of a part of a person’s body.
When my wife and I first talked about it, she was leaning strongly towards having him circumcised. She always thought that would just be the way it is. She never questioned it until I said: “No, we’re not doing that to him.”
We had a short talk and I knew where it was going. Tempers were escalating because we’re both stubborn as mules. She was visibly upset about my seemingly simple but firm decision so at the time, we had to stop talking about it.
She looked at me like I was batshit crazy
As we wrapped the conversation I told her. Honey, please just spend a few days over the next week or two doing some research. I didn’t even tell her what keywords to search for, or what sources to look at.
I wanted her to do her own research. To come to her own conclusions.
Like many people she was raised in the Christian church, catholic to be specific, for sometime, and throughout her life was made to believe that circumcision was something that God had commanded.
By the way, that premise is false and especially so if you are Christian. Really, look it up.
Many people follow the tradition of their parents, for faith reasons, or “just because.” When questioned about the validity of circumcising a child the usual responses come forward:
Well, I’m circumcised so he should be too. It’s a tradition. It’s more clean. It helps prevent STDs. If I don’t do it, he’s going to be teased or bullied when he grows up.
But oh! how every one of these “reasons” is completely flawed. But don’t take my word for it, allow me expand.
Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
— Michel de Montaigne
The key to making such a decision is to inform yourself.
I don’t often indulge emotions or feelings when talking about a topic as polarizing as this. I’m firm in the belief that facts and truth must trump our emotions.
But when you see a baby screaming in agony, in pain, full of despair, you can’t help but have your heart torn. Now imagine when this is YOUR baby.
I can only imagine that if they could speak, they would be saying “Why is this happening?” “What have I done to deserve this?” “Where is mom?” “Where is my protector?”
Watch this video, then imagine it’s your baby, if you can.
If you really research the topic, you’ll find the truth to be self-evident and there will only be one answer.
So let’s continue.
I’m circumcised so he should be too!
Why? Are you going to make him be all that you are too? If you have committed a crime in the past, do you want him to do it as well?
If you have been broke all your life, working at a crappy job, do you want him to follow those foot steps?
Should you really cut off part of his penis because someone did it to you? What kind of logic is that?
I have almost no response to that except that it’s ludicrous to think this way because you don’t think this way for the majority of the other decisions you’ll make for him without his consent.
I think you want the best for your kid. You want to be good to him. Right? If you say yes to this, then how is cutting a perfectly good, fine and functional piece of his body good?
Well… It’s a tradition!
Do you know where this tradition comes from?
The short answer is that it comes from the Bible. From the old testament. It’s part of the old law. It’s talked about in Genesis, Leviticus and Exodus. But it was very specific, it wasn’t something that everybody needed to do.
I’m not going to argue the merits or demerits of the Bible. But if you want to use it as an excuse for circumcision then you should read up on it.
In Exodus, you learn that Moses; purportedly one of God’s most exemplary men hadn’t even circumcised his own son. This leads you to uncover the real reason for circumcision in those times. Scribal traditions.
And if you are of the Christian faith or alignment, then you find out that in the New Testament the “Old Law” is basically thrown out the window. Thus you are no longer obliged by law to perform such a ritual.
Not that it was ever a requirement, but the New Testament clearly says to forget that law. In fact, even the 10 commandments are irrelevant if you truly believe in Jesus.
For the Bible says that you will be saved through Jesus and Jesus alone, not by deeds, not by offerings, not by law, but by your faith in Jesus.
So unless you are Orthodox Jewish, and will ask a Mohel to perform the procedure don’t be silly about calling this atrocity a tradition or hide behind religious belief. Also, the following question comes into play if you’re going to call the religious tradition into play.
If we are created in the image of God, and we are his creation and he’s perfect, and as awesome as some people claim him to be, why or how could he create us with this tremendous flaw that needs to be “corrected“? … By mere mortals, nonetheless.
But what in the world is a Mohel?
I don’t want to get off topic, but a Mohel is the person that –according to law and tradition– should perform the circumcision and let me quote another site as to how it needs to be done:
“Orthodox Judaism prescribes circumcision as a religious ritual, to be performed according to strict Talmudic laws. According to those laws, the man who circumcises the infant, the mohel, must suck the infant’s bleeding penis with his mouth.”
So… how’s that for tradition?
Ok, but we’re just about half way through the other reasons. One of the most common cited reasons for circumcision is next.
But it’s cleaner and more hygienic.
This is 100% misleading and only feeds to propaganda. There is no reason why having a foreskin should make cleaning the penis more difficult than not having it. Your baby can get a urinary tract infection whether circumcised or not.
A baby that develops a urinary tract infection (boy or girl, circumcised or not) speaks more about the overall cleanliness habits of the parents or caregivers and the strength of the baby’s immune system than anything else.
Feed them well to keep a strong immune system, bathe them daily and clean thoroughly with each diaper change. Really it’s not that hard.
As they get older, you have to teach them good hygiene habits and that includes cleaning their genitals. You have to do this with girls and boys just the same. Step up to the plate and to your job as a parent.
Oh but STDs!
It’s also your job to teach them about sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections. No procedure in this planet can prevent an STD like self-esteem, confidence, education and information can.
In the U.S. we live in a society that is so afraid of talking about sex with our own kids, it’s amazing that we’re considered a forward thinking first world country.
There are kids in middle school today that don’t know how babies come about, they have no idea of what sex is or why they should know. We are a bunch of prudes afraid of talking about the real important issues like what happens when your body changes and hormones kick in.
Some parents begin health and sex education at home when the kid is 5 – 7 years old. What a revolutionary concept! This is how it should be though, and it shouldn’t be revolutionary to think this way.
Our bodies sometimes are physically “ready” for sex as early as 9 years old. Why would you wait until they are 13 or 14 to bring up the topic!?
Let’s be clear. There is no disease in this planet that cannot be contracted by someone that is circumcised. AIDS, HIV, genital herpes, syphilis affect circumcised and uncircumcised men the same.
If you stick your pole in the mud, it’s gonna get dirty.
So, educate your kids.
I’ll tell you what prevents STDs and STIs, education. Obviously, you need to be educated in the matter so you can educate your kids too. That’s another one of your jobs and you should not and cannot expect the school system or anyone else to do this.
They won’t and the few instances where they try to do it, they butcher the experience and opportunity to enlighten the kids.
Educate your kid, it will prevent diseases as much as possible. This will also keep communication lines open and establish bonds of trust and increase self-esteem. When we have knowledge, we are empowered, we are better, we make better decisions.
Help your kids be better through education. I get it, this is a long term play and you may not see a payoff for 20+ years but you will always have the notion that you didn’t cut up your baby.
That you truly did what was best for him with all the information available.
Imagine the boys that will turn into teenagers and read or hear about this misinformation. The misinformation that says that being cut helps prevent HIV. If they haven’t been taught the reality of STDs or how flawed that idea is, they might think “Hey, I am circumcised I probably won’t get AIDS if I don’t use a condom.”
A sure way to get AIDS or HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease is not by having a foreskin, but by engaging in risky sexual behavior.
But if The Federal Government Says so…
About a year and a half ago there was a federal proposal to encourage more male circumcision in the U.S. This was due to the CDC’s report that a few studies in Africa suggested that AIDS, HIV and a few other diseases could be reduced by being circumcised.
This proposal didn’t go well. The studies are bogus, small samples, with huge cultural differences AND at the end of it, it goes back to education. The only way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from risky behavior.
Use a condom, get tested, don’t jump into bed with anyone, etc. I’m no prude, but that just makes sense.
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy that said the “health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision.”
Circumcising a newborn, whose ability to deny the action is nil is cruel and unnecessary. This doesn’t make the boy feel or be better, it makes the parents feel better. And I rather err on my boy’s side than on the side of my pride and cultural norms.
It is a “human rights” violation for a male to permanently lose a piece of his body without his consent.
So what about their morale, self esteem and stuff like that?
A big reason I hear often is that if he is uncircumcised, he will be bullied, teased or made fun of. Well, first of all, that falls on you as a parent. It is your job to raise a confident child. You do that through love, education, confidence and trust.
Kids are always going to find bullies and your kid might be a bully himself. If they aren’t teased about “having a hood” they’ll be teased about having a long middle toe. Or about wearing glasses, or about running “funny.” Or about their lisp. Or about the car mom drives. Or about their choice of elective classes.
So how do you prevent that? Self-confidence and education. Give ’em some!
But all the males in our family are circumcised. Why are they? Tradition? cleanliness? I covered those already. Let’s progress and move forward shall we?
But girls are not going to like it.
Are you serious now? When the time comes for your kid to become sexually active he will know how to find a partner that will not be so closed minded as to think that having an uncircumcised penis is “dirty” or “uugh.”
And if you’ve done a good job at building their confidence and self-esteem, when they encounter such a partner they’ll also know that she is probably not right for him.
You should also watch this (non graphic).
But before you can educate your kid, educate yourself!
Speaking of the federal government, you might want to read through this report by the Navy. Where it clearly states that there is virtually no difference between the circumcised and uncircumcised groups of men studied when it comes to STDs.
You should also take a look at this report by PubMed.gov where it shows that circumcised males accumulated a larger number of STIs in their lifetime. It ends with:
Findings suggest the need to apply caution in the use of circumcision as an HIV prevention strategy, particularly in settings where more effective combinations of interventions have yet to be fully implemented.
There is also this report explicity calling out the falsehood that circumcision reduces HIV/AIDS infections. It is aptly titled “Neonatal circumcision does not reduce HIV/AIDS infection rates” If you don’t feel like reading it in its entirety, take this, put it in your pipe and smoke it.
A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO report confirms previous reports that circumcision does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Teens 15 years and older in the USA have the highest rate of STDs in any industrialised country and half will contract a sexually transmitted disease by age 25, despite two-thirds of young males having been circumcised. Such reports suggest that the social experiment of circumcision to prevent STDs, including HIV, has already failed in the USA, which has the highest rate of non-therapeutic infant circumcision in industrialised countries and the highest rate of HIV in the developed world. [sic]
Here’s another video that you should watch. Not graphic.
So what did my wife say after her research?
After a few weeks my wife brought it up again. Again, like the first time, we didn’t talk much about it. We didn’t have to.
This is what she said: “Yeah… we’re not doing that to our boy.” It was definite.
She found both sides of the discussion, on her own. She found the literature that supports pro-circumcision arguments and the points against it.
She found videos, stories and first hand accounts from people that had issues with it, and people that decided to get circumcised later on in life.
After this research there was not a shred of doubt on her mind that the right choice was to leave our baby intact, uncut, whole. And in case I haven’t been clear, you should do the same.
If you already circumcised your child, here’s one more thing
I thought about disclosing this and went back and forth. I didn’t think I needed to, but I think it will give you more context and I also need to make a strong disclosure. I am circumcised.
When I spoke to my mother about it, she said she would not do it again. If she had the choice, she wouldn’t have, but she too was misinformed.
She also had me at a very young age, in a country dominated by catholic dogmatic principles and in a hospital where they pretty much just did it, “without question” she said.
I don’t blame her at all. She did her best in raising me and my sister, and I love her for teaching me about sex, STDs and good behavior early on. She did a damn fine job.
While in school, all the through Highschool I found myself correcting the teachers in many things they tried to tell us about AIDS and sex. It’s cool to know more than the teacher but it also sheds light on the quality of education system (in both countries).
At least one time I was sent to the Principal’s office because I “contradicted” the teacher. She was teaching that AIDS was a “gay disease.” And she was embarrassed when I pointed out it wasn’t and at least a few other students sided with me.
I remember reading books about these topics when I was 7 – 11. She’d bring them home from the library. She wasn’t much of a talker about the birds and the bees but she always gave me ways to learn. A good family environment helped too.
So here’s the strong disclosure and from the bottom of my heart. I want to tell you that I’m not judging you if you have already had your boy circumcised. I believe 100% that you just didn’t know any better. You had not been presented with the true choice and the real facts.
But I have now shown you what you need to know. There are opinions, there are facts, there is emotion involved in all this. But as the beginning of my post says… That which is now known, cannot be unknown.
I believe I have presented you with more than enough substantial evidence, scientific and anecdotal information to make the right decision for your child.
Or to put it in lighter terms
But I read it here…
If you honestly do your research, you’re going to find places like this: healthychildren.org and this article -https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/Pages/Circumcision.aspx
Where they don’t explore the long term psychological repercussions of the procedure. Where they encourage that there are effective pain medicines to alleviate the pain.
Seriously? So basically, they’re telling you: here’s some medicine that is potentially harmful to liver & kidney function (because of their age) that will relieve the pain that was deliberately caused.
The article points out the “benefits” of circumcision, but doesn’t offer a single supporting fact or source to back that up. It’s all conjecture and lazy content filling for the website.
Some of the points made are outright lies or propaganda, like “easier genital hygiene.” By matter of fact, if there is “less” skin to clean then it would be easier. But this makes it sound like it’s soooo difficult to clean if there is foreskin. It’s absolutely not the case.
If making it easier to clean the body was the goal, then why stop at the penis? Let’s cut the ear off as well, all those nooks and cranies and crevices really make it hard to clean!
What about the girl’s vagina, you know, the extra skin like the labia and prepuce, let’s slice those off too! I mean they do it in other places in he world so they might be onto something!
If you know how to wash your hands, and you know that you should wash and clean your baby regularly then the benefit of this “easier genital hygiene” is nil. This is just insulting to your intelligence and your natural abilities as a parent.
In this article Rachel Nuwer, who mostly writes about animals and the forests decided to bring to light the bogus studies I mentioned earlier. But I’d like you to read the article AND the comments. There is more truth in the comments than in the article itself.
What about the AAP?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s good. Right? — Yes, they do, but they flip flop back and forth and let’s not forget what the AAP really is. It’s not an independent scientific peer-reviewed board or group. In much more eloquent terms, I’ll let the Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.) explain what the AAP is. You might want to read the entire public notice they released when the AAP switched stances, yet again..
The AAP, despite its high-sounding academic name, actually is a trade association of pediatric doctors. Its primary duty is to advance the business and professional interests of its 60,000 members who are called “fellows”. The interests of its child-patients are a distant second to their primary interest.
What might their primary interest be you wonder? Profit, of course.
Doctors who perform circumcisions have had their income stream curtailed by the decision of eighteen state Medicaid agencies to terminate payments for medically unnecessary non-therapeutic circumcision of children. The AAP is expected to call for restoration of those taxpayer-funded Government payments to doctors, so as to restore the income of their fellows.
You can’t let how people “think” about your decision be a guiding compass to what’s right. That’s peer pressure and if you fall for that, then I think we have bigger issues. You need to do what is best for your kid. There is no standard medical reason to have a circumcision by default.
Stand up for him today because nobody else will and he can’t do it himself.
Links, resources and references:
http://www.circumcision.org/informed-consent-bill.htm this is what the bill comes down to:
1. Circumcision is unnecessary. It is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis. The foreskin comprises 25-50% of the skin on the penis. Circumcision is extremely painful and traumatic, causes some infants to go into shock, results in behavioral and neurological changes, and no anesthetic effectively prevents circumcision pain.
2. Circumcision is associated with over 20 different potential complications, including heavy bleeding, infection, surgical injury and in rare cases, death.
3. The foreskin on the average adult male is about 12 square inches of very sexually sensitive tissue which protects the head of the penis, enhances sexual pleasure and facilitates intercourse.
4. No national medical organization in the world recommends circumcision. Some national medical organizations warn of long-term harmful sexual and psychological consequences of circumcision.
5. Circumcision is associated with erectile dysfunction in the medical literature. A preliminary study found that circumcised men were 4 and 1/2 times more likely to use an erectile dysfunction drug than men with a foreskin.
6. The natural, non-circumcised, penis is easy to keep clean and requires no special care.
7. There are no proven medical benefits following circumcision, only speculated potential benefits. Any such potential benefits would be realized by very few boys, varying from 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000 circumcised boys.
8. The medical need for circumcision in adults is as low as 6 in 100,000.
9. A signature on this form acknowledges that the signer has received and watched a circumcision video that shows the entire procedure of approximately 15 minutes, including preparations and post-circumcision care and includes images of the baby’s face, genital area and circumcision surgical instruments.
http://www.circumstitions.com/ — Excellent and comprehensive resource about history, diseases, religion and pretty much everything you can think of as it relates to this barbaric procedure.
https://www.pinterest.com/intactamerica/intactivist-memes/ — if the topic is too hard for you, here’s some humor to make it more digestible.