If you're an American, circumcision almost certainly affects or has affected you or someone close to you. Yet despite its pervasive impact, discussing it can seem uncomfortable in polite conversation. Maybe that's because it invokes the male sex organ, or thoughts of painful events. But one thing is for certain: The silence is breaking, and the floodgates are open. Aided by unprecedented freedom to publish, those hurt by circumcision, those denied their own choice by it, and others who know its harm are increasingly sharing their thoughts with the public.
An unanswerable argument against infant circumcision is made each time a male eventually comes forward to say "I wish I still had mine" or "I don't really regret that I was circumcised, but the decision should have been mine to make when I could." As a male, I think the choice should have been mine. That's why I vigorously support every person's right to keep the entire body they were born with.
Diarist's view already accounted for, the rest of the diary will be what other people have chosen to say publicly about it.
First up is blogger Andrea Harner:
Andrea Harner blogs her thoughts and shares a persuasive video on 3/30/2007:
The other weekend we started talking about circumcision at the end of a dinner party and with the help of Wikipedia we studied just the very superficial differences in the photos provided. We also talked about whether we would have our sons (assuming we give birth at some point to a son or two) circumcised.
A blogger who describes herself as "a stay at home mother of 4, navy wife, and midwifery student" on 3/30/2007 wants to give Baby Talk magazine a piece of her mind on her blog Belly, Breast and Baby about poor guidance on circumcision in their latest edition:
Now this isn't exactly a very informative piece, and it is not exactly giving balanced information, which I am sure you can agree.
Kamie on 3/28/2007 blogs about seeing Penn & Teller's TV episode about circumcision:
Within the first 5 minutes of the show you see a newborn circumcision take place.
HOLY FREAKING SHIT!!!!!!
It was the most barbaric thing I have ever seen done to a newborn. EVER!
First, the baby boy is placed in a molded plastic tray where his legs and arms are strapped down. Then a local anesthetic is applied which obviously does NOTHING because when they showed the foreskin being cut off the baby was SCREAMING...and not the "I'm a little hungry" scream the "STOP CUTTING OFF ONE OF THE MOST SENSITIVE PARTS OF MY PENIS" scream. It was horrible. I'm not even a mother and my heart physically hurt for the little baby.
Intactivist blogger Tony writes about Virginia's "Abraham's Law" on 2/26/2007 at his blog Rolling Doughnut:
A 14-year-old is legally allowed to reject conventional medical treatment for a life-threatening illness. This is wholly appropriate, in my opinion, when viewed with the reality that minors are not automatically incompetent and the perspective of Mr. Cherrix's battle last year. I'm glad to see the General Assembly acknowledging such rights.
Looking forward, if a 14-year-old can reject treatment in a life-threatening situation, how can we continue to assume that infants not facing a life threatening illness, or any illness at all to be more specific, should not be protected by default from circumcision? Essentially, the General Assembly seems to be saying that neither parents nor the state own the body of a minor. So what gives? Clearly parental "rights" have limits. Why is there a limit when there is a life-threatening illness but not when there is no illness?
Blogger Joseph Froncioni posted a thorough dissertation on circumcision on 2/9/2007 (emphasis mine):
My father refused to have me circumcised and for this I remain eternally grateful.
My interest in circumcision has been rekindled primarily by the recent media coverage female genital mutilation has attracted. This latter practice, based as it is in ignorance and superstition, no doubt deserves all the attention it has garnered and no clear-thinking or fair-minded person can but vociferously support its complete abolition. What puzzles me though is that among these clear-thinking and fair-mined individuals are those who would, as they decry female genital mutilation, show not one bit of hesitation at having their male children so mutilated. Granted, the female version of this assault, and assault it is, I assure you, is much more harmful and disfiguring for the victim. However, I intend to make the case that male infant circumcision, unless performed for true therapeutic indications, is nothing short of medical assault, constitutes a serious abuse of the infant’s human rights, has no place in an enlightened society and should rightly be referred to as male genital mutilation.
Male circumcision is the only medically unnecessary surgery in the USA that is performed without obtaining consent from the patient. In law, parental rights are derived from parental duty and exist only so long as they are needed for the protection of the person and property of the child. Giving consent to medical treatment of a child is a clear incident of parental responsibility arising from the duty to protect the child. This duty is clearly breached when the procedure in question is non-therapeutic, ablative and irreversible.
Joe. My. God., an activist who blogs about gay culture, took a keen interest on 4/5/2007 in the possibility that New York City might encourage members (so to speak) of his community to separate themselves from their foreskins:
I'll be very surprised if NYC's black and Hispanic gay men don't raise hell about this campaign, at least until there is some (ahem) hard data proving its worthiness for gay men.
and again, giving his interpretation of the retraction of the absurd and scientifically unfounded scheme days later:
Hoodies And Dockers Safe Again:
"Oopsie. Here's your foreskin back. Keep it in a warm dry place. We'll be happy to take it out of your hands later, if you are among the millions suffering from ESPS (Excessive Sexual Pleasure Syndrome.)"
Here's what Junichi Semitsu had to say, less contemporaneously, in 2004 when he was considering the issues surrounding circumcision:
With a handful of my friends having children, I find myself revisiting the debate about whether to circumcise.
After years of waffling, I think I've finally settled my position on this issue.
The hilarious history of circumcision in America speaks for itself. Non-religious infant circumcision didn't become routine in the United States until the late 19th century. The procedure became popular only because it was thought to control masturbation, which everyone considered to be a sinful act that engendered illnesses ranging from blindness to epilepsy to death. By restricting movement of the penile shaft, circumcision was thought to reduce the propensity for males to shake hands with their governor.
the United States is the only country that routinely continues the practice of performing medically-unnecessary male genital mutilation, which was only popularized as a way of controlling the epidemic problem of masturbation.
As much as I consider myself an American patriot, I'm going to have side with the rest of the world on this one.
So I've reached my answer: it doesn't make sense to circumcise.
My decision is final.
Tomorrow, I'm going to go to my doctor and ask to get uncircumcised.
Jenna, "a mother of three (10 years, 3 years, 1 year)" writes at her blog A Mom for All Seasons about circumcision on 3/5/2007:
Routine newborn circumcision is wrong...yes, ethically wrong. I feel extremely strongly about this.
I am very concerned that doctors perform this procedure and that health insurance companies pay for it since it is NOT recommended by any medical association (and it costs money). I can't get a mole removed...even though it has higher chances of getting cancer than my son's penis. You won't bring in your daughter and ask to have her pinky toe removed....they would call social services and psych. But bring your son in and ask to have his penis cut and they say sure. It is an ethics question.
Anna Olsen posts a long article she's written about circumcision on her blog on 3/29/2007:
On the subject of circumcision, I admit to a bias: I am opposed to the routine circumcision of baby boys.
I didn't always feel this way. Twenty-seven years ago, I gave permission for my son to be circumcised because his father had been and my obstetrician said it was best done for hygiene reasons.
Then, a few years ago, when I was editor of The New Age Connection, an ad crossed my desk from ETHIC (End the Horror of Circumcision). Horror? What horror? My son didn't suffer -- did he? As I looked into the matter, I grew increasingly appalled that I had unthinkingly sacrificed my son to tradition and medical dogma. As a result of my research, I wrote "Circumcision: Why fool with Mother Nature?" which appeared in NAC in the spring of 1990. Now, as editor of The Aquarian I again hope to present convincing arguments to persuade parents to leave their baby boys intact.
Men who feel violated by circumcision are banding together in increasing numbers to try to halt what they see as child sexual abuse. ...
For most Jews, circumcision is a religious rights issue for adults, not a human rights issue for babies. ...
But even this fortress of Jewish tradition is being attacked by Jews who value the rights of the baby over the religious rights of the parents. Edward Wallerstein was initially pleased that so many gentiles were adopting the Jewish practice of circumcision. But when he looked into the subject, he changed his mind. The book that resulted -- Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy -- is now a classic in the anti-circumcision literature.
Moshe Rothenberg is another Jew who is speaking out against circumcision. A social worker for the New York City Board of Education, Rothenberg presented his arguments at an International Symposia on Circumcision in favour of revising the Jewish ritual of circumcision. "Circumcision is child abuse. It is medically unnecessary," he wrote in the conference program. ...
"Often the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it."
And when you consider the physical and mental suffering imposed on the baby though circumcision, I agree with Dr. Spock when he says, "I would leave the little penis alone."
Shauna McCluskey from Mississippi blogs her delight on 2/27/2007:
I am sooooooo happy. I am a moderator on a birth board and a couple that recently had a son were having trouble deciding whether or not to circumcise him, they have decided to leave him intact. Josh and I are vehemently against circumcision. We feel it is a violation of a child's right to bodily integrity and can be very sexually damaging. Also I don't say "uncircumcised" as I feel that this makes it sound like circumcised is the normal way and parents of intact children just have not got around to it yet. Anyway, if anyone who happens across this blog would like the info on circ, here it is.
First and foremost I feel that all children have the right to bodily integrity. Therefor I believe that it is not within my rights as a parent to permanently remove a portion of my childs body.
Finally, I bring your attention to Jason Paige, a musician who communicates his feeling about his own (ritual) circumcision not by blog, but by song, to the tune of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition":
(Want to hear more from Jason? Just Some Numbers)
botched my circumcision
blood was on the wall
well they botched my circumcision, yeah
and they left me with a hole
13 day old baby
peeing through his scab, yeah
and my uncle fainted, oooh
cause the mohel was so bad
when you believe in things
that you don't understand
oh you suffer, yeah
circumcision ain't the way
ow ow ow owow
well they botched my circumcision
they must have put the clamp on wrong
[you know when they stretch out the foreskin]
they made the wrong incision
and it wasn't my decision
I had to go along
well my grandma and grandpa paid for it
invited everyone, yeah
fully dressed and catered, cru d'ete
for the newborn son, yes
when you bleed and scream
and cry from the stab of a scalpel
circumcision ain't the way
ow ow owow
wha wha whawaw
mmm mm mmmm mmmm mmm mmm mmm
Whether by name, pseudonym, or anonymously, the silence about circumcision is giving way to publicly available expressions of opposition to any male having his options cut off before he can choose for himself. Many men who've experienced it consider themselves genitally mutilated. How many of them can be wrong?
Support the right of every human to be physically whole. No person deserves less. NOCIRC.
Belly, Breast and Baby blogger posts a link to a really cool interactive history of circumcision in America on 4/15/2007.
The Oregonian published a story on 4/27/2007 about the case of an Oregon boy whose father plans to force an unwanted circumcision on him (diary). DOC is providing legal help in his appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court.