A Question About Circumcision

The Real Michael Brown has a post-worth-discussing about circumcision. Surely, nothing controversial…

… I am weeks away from welcoming a newborn baby.

I found myself praying for a little girl, just so I wouldn’t have to make this decision.

A barrage of information, mixed with doubt and anxiety.

I had been hearing stories about how women are freaked out by uncircumcised men.

Would my son be sad, that his “didn’t look like Daddies.”

There were a dozen other issues, that I was considering.

But, were any of those reasons, valid enough for me to go against my gut feeling?

Everything I had read about circumcision, seemed to point to it being a useless procedure. While common and relatively safe, I could not help but feel that this procedure was archaic and dare I say, cruel.

If you had never heard of circumcision and it was not something that was done a majority of the time, like it is now. If a Doctor came into your room after delivery and described it to you, for you the first time, the procedure he wanted to [perform] on your infant. Is there a chance in hell you would sign off on that?

(via The Daily Dish)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5300663 Ashley Slye Stephens

    I opted out of circumcision for my son.  I was asked what I would tell him when kids made fun of him in the locker room for it. Honestly, I’d tell him to ask them why they’re staring at his junk. Anyway, to me it’s a non issue. Body modification is best left up to people when they’re 18 and can make their own life decisions. I wouldn’t pick out a tattoo or a piercing for him, why would I opt to cut perfectly healthy skin off either?

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. Body mods are for people who can actually give informed consent, as far as I’m concerned.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

      They seriously tried to guilt you into getting your son circumcised? Yeesh.

      • Caustic Agnostic

        I still get crap about not getting him circumcised.  I’ve been told it’s dirty, too much work, he’s going to get infections, he’s going to get std, he won’t be allowed in the military AND if he chooses to go into the military they’ll do it.   I choose a Pedi that agreed with and supported my decision (as opposed to the first one I interviewed that said, “obviously he will be circumsized”) but I got a lot of negative comments from other American medical professionals on the subject yet not one of them could tell me what the benefits were. Basically the topic of circumcision makes people crazy.

        • Mihangel apYrs

          I’m 57 and uncut.  I “admit” to a small infection when I was 6, but
          nothing since.  Teaching proper personal cleanliness should not be a problem.

          If he wants it off later, then that’s his decision, but I take the view that it’s part of the delivery spec

    • Gus Snarp

      No one ever made fun of me for not being circumcised in the locker room. And any feeling of weirdness I had might not have existed had anyone bothered to tell me what circumcision was and that I might be different because of it. If my sons are having trouble I’m going to have them just tell the other kids they don’t have a whole penis.

      • Anonymous

        Thereby making the other kids feel inadequate? Because of a procedure they had no decision in?

        • Gus Snarp

          If they’re picking on him? By all means. If a kid is making fun of my kid’s penis, he has certainly earned having the tables turned on him.

          • Anonymous

            They are kids. Kids don’t earn being picked on or bullied (even if they “started it”).  What are you? A twelve-year old?

            What they’ve earned is some education and, perhaps, if it continues, some discipline. Not ridicule–certainly not for something that isn’t their fault, and not in a way that screws with their body image.

            • Gus Snarp

              Have you ever been in a boys locker room?

      • Demonhype

        I don’t recall either my dad or my brother mentioning being mocked in a locker room over their lack of circumcision either.  And we’re a damn open family, very close-knit, so that’s exactly the kind of thing that would have come up, especially since we’ve all done our share of arguing against circumcision and have had this weak apologetic tried on us.

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for leaving your son whole! :)

  • Lance Finney

    The comment in bold was the biggest reason I passed on the procedure for my boys – if it weren’t a tradition, we would never consider it.

    That my eldest had already had four life-saving heart procedures in his first week of life clinched the decision for me – why add trauma for an unnecessary elective procedure after all he had gone through legitimately?

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for leaving your sons intact :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001257212123 Terri Rose

    When I had my son in 1991, I told the people at the hospital I did not want him circumcised. You would not believe the amount of paperwork they made me sign immediately after his birth because I opted OUT of the procedure. It’s 20 years later and my son is showing no signs of wanting to be cut.

    • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

      We only had to sign one form when our boy, Will, was born in order to keep him uncut. That was back in 2000.

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for keeping your son intact! :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/alexpryce Ash Pryce

        I swear to the magic man in the sky APvegmama that I will hunt you down and circumcise you myself if you keep posting this >:(

    • chaimsmom

      When I told the hospital I did not want my son circumsided they wrote “No Circ” in big bold letters on the name card on his bassinet.  To this day we joke about his going through life named “No Circ”.

    • Ken

      I’m uncut and my dad used to tell me a story that he had to chase down a nurse and stop them from circumcising me even though they had explicitly stated they didn’t want me to be cut. Apparently at the time it was so common that the doctors didn’t even look at the paperwork and began prepping for the procedure. Thanks for defending me when I couldn’t do it myself, dad!

  • guest

    I must have had my children in some sort of alternate universe.  No doctor ever came to my room suggesting circumcision.  In fact,  no doctor – ever – not during my pregnancies (I have 3 sons, btw) nor during the delivery process, nor in the few days after nor in the years since -  has ever even mentioned circumcision to me or my husband. None of our boys are circumcised, naturally, because I saw no reason to do anything to my perfect newborn children long before we had our first child (who turned out to be a girl) in 1987. My husband was on the fence before baby #1 arrived (we did not know her gender before) because he is circumcised,  but by the time our first son arrived in 1992,  it was a non-issue.
     Maybe I gave off a confident vibe which deflected possible doctor pressure to circumcise,  or maybe it is not as commonly a hard-sell as people often report.  I honestly do not recall a single instance where it was brought up to me by any medical professional.  Maybe I was just amazingly lucky, though.  Or not -  I don’t remember being offered any pain meds in labor, either!  LOL

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for keeping your sons intact! :)

      • guest

        You are entitled to feel gratitude for actions which affected people unknown to you,  but I find these postings rather creepy.  I neither need your approval nor particularly like your interest in the condition of the genitals of children other than your own.  Please refrain from doing that. 

        • Demonhype

          I think a lot of people are just grateful to those who seem to have considered the issue, rather than just going along with what they assume is the standard–and, by extension, keeping that assumption alive and well in society to affect many others.  Every person who just goes along with the flow so as not to stand out makes it harder for others, and since you mention having your first in the eighties, you could be seen as a bit of a trailblazer in a way who has helped make it easier for those who choose not to circumcise now.  Even if you didn’t get the hard sell, it sounds like you had made some seriously considered decisions about bodily autonomy that would have deflected such a hard sell.  It does come off as creepy to say “thank you” over something like that though!  Bad wording and all.

          My mom felt the same way as you do about piercings!  My great-grandma was really pushing her to get me and my sister pierced as babies because “all Hungarian baby girls have it done” and she was infuriated when my mom stood firm against that!  Same as you, she felt that if we got holes in our ears, it should be our own personal decision, and when we went in to get them done at about seven and nine, respectively, she emphasized that it was our own decision and we could  back out at any time and it would be okay.  :)

    • Greg

      Are you American? I believe it is far more common in America than in any other western nation, so if you aren’t then maybe you just had your children in an alternate country rather than universe! :)

      • guest

        Haha  I had my first son in Canada and had my last two sons in the (midwest) USA.   It’s my understanding that the rate of circumcision in Canada was similar to that in the USA until recent decades.  The only person who asked me about it regarding my sons was my own mother who was shocked that we had not circumcised our boys. That was the first time I ever really thought about it!  Like other parents of boys born in the 80s and 90s posted above, that this might be an “issue” never crossed my radar until the last couple of years.  As a mom, I was just always inclined to keep things as simple and natural and non-interventionist as possible.  Hence, no post- natal elective surgeries, no piercings until children old enough to choose for themselves, etc.  For me, it was never a moral question or a concern about psychic damage or anything else – and I do not believe there really is any particular damage to otherwise healthy, confident men – but simply a matter of common sense and a desire to do nothing that would hurt my baby unless it was absolutely necessary. My father had to have a circumcision at a late age because of health issues which was memorably horrible for him, and my mother thought I was crazy not to ensure that did not happen to my boys.  I, on the other hand, figured it was crazier to inflict known pain on them in order to prevent an unknown risk of future pain -  I just thought we would deal with that if it should ever come up.  It never did, happy to say – and we did not preach about special attention to the penis or anything like that.  All of our children (boys and girls) had supervised daily baths (a pleasant nightly bedtime ritual with the hidden benefit of regular thorough cleansing!) until they were old enough to handle hygiene themselves and they all continue to bathe daily by habit.
        My husband reports that not one of the boys ever asked him why they look “different” from him.  None of them have ever reported experiencing unpleasant teasing as a result – indeed, they all seem pretty happy and well-adjusted!  My husband, likewise, assures me that his sex drive and enjoyment of sex is high, in spite of the damage he is alleged to have suffered.
        I agree that it should not be a “personal choice” that is not really a personal choice-  parents should not choose an elective thing like this for their children any more than anyone should get to choose if I should bear a child or donate a kidney. Personal choice should be limited to choices which will affect one person only – the one making the choice.
        But I also think it is not the major deal that the anti-circ movement claims it is and I find I always think the men who troll the internet looking for topics on circumcision and post diatribes on the subject have much deeper issues.
        Sorry so long!

        • Mihangel apYrs

          your husband has nothing to compare with.

          As I have nothing to compare with.

          I still suggest keeping with the original spec until needing to change

          • guest

            Haha, you are correct – he does not have anything to compare with.  Lucky for him (and me!) he is not the type of man to obsess about imagined heights of pleasure lost nor does he fulminate about how he has been “mutilated”.  He is a happy, satisfied man who appreciates all that he does have and doesn’t spend his days angry about what he didn’t have.

            I agree with you that it seems best not to mess with normal healthy babies’ bodies.  I disagree with you and the other posters about the importance of having anything to compare with.  One doesn’t miss what one has never known,  and it is foolish and unhealthy to obsess over it.  

            • guest

              That should read, “I THINK it is foolish and unhealthy to obsess over it”.  Obviously, that is simply my opinion.
              The few men of my acquaintance IRL who have recently expressed outrage over this issue happen to also be the most misogynistic men I know.  I have noticed that men who post angrily on this topic also seem to hold views about women which I find very unpleasant -  at the very least, they all seem to dislike women.
              So, I think there is more to this “issue” for some men than simply the question of whether circumcision is a big deal or not.

  • Anonymous

    When I was born I was under weight so my parents held off circumcision which was a universal practice then (1965).  They then decided not to do it at all.  I’ve never had any health or cleanliness issues and when my son was born we decided not to have him circumcised and he hasn’t had any issues either.

    A friend who I have know since we were both three was thinking about not having his son circumcised and wanted to ask some one about it but in the thirty years we had known each other he never noticed I wasn’t.  Guys don’t look, if they look it is when they are young and nonjudgmental. 

    Lately I’ve heard a bit about men in sub Saharan Africa getting circumcised to prevent the spread of STDs but I think this is in a population resistant to safe sex practices.  

    • Anonymous

      “Guys don’t look”

      Everything I thought I knew is a lie!

      Well, everything I thought I knew about guys’ obsession with comparing. Pretty small everything. ;)

      I’m Norwegian, so the whole concept of circumcision is somewhat alien to me. I heard about some religious groups practicing it, and even got to see a video from a Jewish circumcision ceremony once. (Nothing graphic: rabbi (I suppose) with a scalpel/knife, the backs of excited relatives crowding around, and a short cry from the baby somewhere in the crowd.) I remember it freaked me out a little that someone would cut a baby in any way. And it blew my mind when I realised that it was so common in the US.

      As for women freaking out, this woman has no preference either way, for what it’s worth. I’m not going to have any children of mine cut, but then again, I have no cultural pressure on me nor any other reasons for doing so.

  • pxilated

    No one would circumcise a girl.  Why should we be circumcising boys?  It’s genital mutilation and it’s terrible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/potorch John Perkins

      in some parts of the world they do…

    • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

      I simply can’t take anyone seriously if they call circumcision “mutilation” – it isn’t plain and simple.  You can have disagreements over its necessary or not.

      • JSug

        It involves permanent and painful removal of a body part, without patient consent (in the case of an infant). If it’s not necessary, how is it not mutilation? Would your opinion change if you knew there were negative side-effects, like decreased sensitivity?

      • Greg

        This may sound a strange question, but what else do you call it other than mutilation?

        One of the definitions of mutilate is ‘to disfigure, damaging irreparably’.

        That sums up circumcision perfectly.

      • Greg

        This may sound a strange question, but what else do you call it other than mutilation?

        One of the definitions of mutilate is ‘to disfigure, damaging irreparably’.

        That sums up circumcision perfectly.

      • Atalayac

        What if it was common practice to cut off an infant’s pinky fingers? Would you consider that mutilation or not?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bed-Man-Okc/100000284524197 Bed Man Okc

        I don’t see any ANY other word.

        I wouldn’t take serious anyone that tried to call it anything else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

    Exactly.  This is where I always come down.  No one would circumcise their child, ever, if it weren’t already culturally accepted based on some old middle-eastern tribal custom inexplicably retained into many modern western religions.  If we put things into perspective, we can say that there are tiny benefits along with a tiny possibility of catastrophic consequences.  The medical downsides make circumcision hard to outlaw, but we should feel comfortable rejecting nonsensical and violent old tribal rituals.

  • Hobbes

    I think it IS archaic and useless. You cut off quite a few nerve endings. For no reason…

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Heck no! There’s no reason to get a little boy circumcised. Reading this reminds me of one of the reasons I’m glad I had a girl… I didn’t have to worry about being pressured into that!

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Heck no! There’s no reason to get a little boy circumcised. Reading this reminds me of one of the reasons I’m glad I had a girl… I didn’t have to worry about being pressured into that!

  • cabalavatar

    I’d probably still go along with it, if my doctor recommended it, indeed if a number of doctors recommended it. Here’s a counter-example to the literally bold grammatically annoying paragraph above: if you’d never been told that you were part of a large group of people, 99% of whom you’ve never met and never known, 99% of whom you’ve never seen or heard from, would you think that you have any tangible connection to them? Would you think that you were related to them and shared actual common goals and sentiments about the world? Now, let me ask you the following too: Are you patriotic? If you’re at all patriotic or identify as being a member of any so-called nation, then you’ve given in to a belief system that based solely on ideas and convention–nationalism. There’s no basis for it, and if someone hadn’t led you to believe that it were true, you wouldn’t believe in it. Yet, because the majority of people do it, it becomes an acceptable custom, one which we almost _must_ follow in order to be dutiful citizens. (Incidentally, I don’t believe in being patriotic; I’m only making a point.)

    Don’t choose to circumcise or not circumcise based on whether it’s just a custom or an unnecessary surgery. I’d do it only because I’d want my son to be “normal” in his society, especially with regard to attraction and sex. But I also feel similarly that circumcision is a violent and otherwise unnecessary procedure. Bottom line: I’d still have it done for his sake–though he could always have it done in later years of his own volition.

    • Anonymous

      You really don’t see a difference between verbally expressing an opinion and cutting off a body part?

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t being Christian “normal” in his society? Why not baptise him and send him to Sunday school too?

      This is a stupid reason to mutilate someone’s genitals.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bed-Man-Okc/100000284524197 Bed Man Okc

        I think that is always what I thought was ironic. Was that we get out panties all in a bunch when we hear about African culture and them Mutilating Female Genitals. And people say to me its not the same thing…..uh really?

        Like REALLY? its NOT the same—yes it is

        The only difference is the penis and vagina.

        • Karen L

          No, it’s really NOT the same.

          FGM can involve various degrees of cutting, but generally COMPLETELY REMOVES normal sexual function.  When the clitoris and labia are removed, a woman gets no pleasure from sex (and often has pain).  No orgasm. 

          Circumcision may or may not affect sexual function in some subtle way (I haven’t really studied it, I’ve read claims on both sides).  But it certainly doesn’t prevent men from enjoying sex and having orgasms (as I’ve observed as the partner of men who have been circumcised).

          A closer correlation would be if circumcision  removed the entire penis.  Or if you were perhaps comparing circumcision to surgery to reduce the size of the labia (some women think theirs are too long and have plastic surgery done).

          That said, I’m not a fan of circumcision, and I’m not defending it.  I just object to the statement that it is the SAME as FGM.

          • Mihangel apYrs

            circumcision = mgm

            Why remove healthy tissue for fashion, superstition, or peer pressure?

          • Demonhype

            No one is saying it is.  The argument here is that cabalavatar said that if everyone else is circumcising their boys, you should do it too so your kid will fit in.  So people have mentioned that that is the argument made for fgm.  Ever read Ayaan Hirsi Ali?  Her parents were against both circumcision and fgm, but her grandmother was hysterical that the kids would be pariahs in their culture, so one time when her father was gone for a while she had someone come in and forcibly cut all the kids.  In her mind, it was for their own good, so they would fit into their society.  Some people shrug it off here, saying “well, they have to do it to fit in” as if that clears their conscience from having to even think  about it.

            No one was saying circumcision=fgm.   They were saying that fitting into a culture is not a valid reason in favor of either one.   They’re saying that both are barbaric practices and “fitting in” is not an argument in favor of promoting and continuing such practices.

            • Demonhype

              Okay, my bad.  Bed Man OKC said that.  But for the purposes of the argument against cabalavatar the two could be seen as the same–in that the two are both barbaric practices that are often justified by saying “well, my kid won’t fit in if I don’t do it”.  If you had one person’s culture cutting off the tips of the left pinkies vs. people in another culture cutting off the kids whole left hands, all based on “well, my kid won’t fit in if I dont’ do it”, to say the first is relatively harmless but the second is very harmful is a moot point.  Regardless of severity, both cultures are cutting off healthy tissue, and in neither case does “fitting in” come close to a valid reason to continue such barbaric practices.  To get into an argument about which is worse ignores the fact that someone above him just stated that one of them is a-okay because fitting in is more important.

              BTW, cabalavatar, doctors don’t always know.  People circumcise because the doctor or doctors suggest it, but those doctors are often coming from a traditional assumption rather than valid medical reasons.  Doctors are human beings too, and just as prone to making decisions based on nothing more than “that’s what’s done, so it must be good”.  That’s why it’s good to do some reading yourself, ask informed questions, and be involved in your own health care rather than just passively sit there and be worked on like a car.  I mean, they wanted my dad to take Vioxx and my mom did some reading into it and found information on those rather nasty side-effects that have caused all those court-cases and settlements.  People at the time thought they were mad–the doctor prescribed it, after all, and who are you to question anything the doctor does?  Turns out she was right.  She was also right about some of the freaky steroids they wanted me to take as a child as well as the ear-tube operation they insisted I needed.  There are a lot of problems I’d don’t have today because she took an active role in my medical care.  BTW, she didn’t just say “I dont’ want that”, she informed herself and often suggested things that he hadn’t thought of, that actually worked beautifully.  Of course, we had a very humble and intelligent Taiwanese doctor who respected such a patient, whereas with American doctors she has to cut forcibly through the domineering arrogance, not to mention the infuriation when she dares to ask a question rather than just passively letting him create his own itinerary for hers and her family’s medical care.

        • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

          There are MAJOR differences between the two.  It is simply not the same.

        • Rich Wilson

          If they cut off your whole dick, it might be the same.  Hey, I’m anti-MGM as anyone, but it ain’t the same.

        • Rich Wilson

          If they cut off your whole dick, it might be the same.  Hey, I’m anti-MGM as anyone, but it ain’t the same.

        • Volunteer

          You win the prize for most ignorant comment and on a blog post about circumcision nonetheless.

          When male circumcision starts to cut off the near entirety of the penis, then you can come back and boohoo about how aweful it is for men.

          • Smee

            The number of men who have circumcisions greatly outnumbers the number of women who do. Given a fairly high 4/100 rate of moderate to serious complications with male circumcision (including death, penis amputation and lifelong pain), the number of men for which the term ‘mutilation’ is applicable may actually be far higher. A rough look at the statistics in the US, for example, would put at least 23 men with moderate to serious complications for every woman with all levels of FGM. Certainly the intent of male circumcision isn’t to limit sexual pleasure, but that doesn’t mean the toll isn’t higher among men.

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      I kept my son intact FOR HIS SAKE. 

      • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

        So, does that mean you’re going to thank yourself?

        • Rich Wilson

          LOL

        • Demonhype

          ;)

    • http://youratheistmuse.blogspot.com/ Lina Baker

      “I’d do it only because I’d want my son to be ‘normal’ in his society, especially with regard to attraction and sex.” EXACT same argument is used to justify the continuing practice of female genital mutilation. EXACT.

      Male circumcision *is* mutilation. A tattoo is mutilation. I have no problem with either when the person is 18 or over and says that’s what they want.

      But just because male child circumcision has been culturally-accepted for so long doesn’t somehow undo what it is – mutilation. While I understand why some parents years ago did it without thinking – there were no voices saying not to, and many, even the entire community, saying it must be done – for a parent to circumcise a child NOW is abhorrent. Let HIM make up his own mind when he’s 18 to do it or not do it. Let him cut off part of his penis and get a facial tattoo and pierce several body parts – I do NOT care. But a parent shouldn’t be making purely cosmetic body mutilation decisions for their child in ANY culture.

      And, yes, I also have a problem with parents who pierce their baby girls’ ears.

      • Volunteer

        Parents who mutilate their baby girls’ ears.

        I mean, if we’re throwing the word around, apply it to all.

        • http://twitter.com/ydgmdlu Fei Meng

          I don’t know what point you’re trying to make, because I clearly get the impression that Lina Baker does regard ear-piercing as mutilation. She even called tattooing “mutilation.”

          • Demonhype

            Mutilation usually suggests something permanent.  Tattooing doesn’t wash off and foreskins do not grow back.  I’m fuzzy on the whole tattoo removal, but my understanding is that it’s not fun and leaves a scar.  Even if it’s painless and doesn’t leave a scar, it’s not free and it’s still body modification without consent, but in that case it might be more on the level of ear piercing.  Maybe a little worse, since ears heal for free but tattoo removal costs money–maybe more money  than the kid will have to spare to remove it later.

            • Rich Wilson

              To be completely accurate, it is possible to get a foreskin back via plastic surgery.  I have no idea what it costs or how effective it is.

              • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

                And will the nerve endings be there that would have been there without circumcision? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    The doctor who delivered me circumcised me before he even handed me to my parents, and certainly without their consent. That was back in 1954, but it still strikes me as bizarre.
    In answer to your question, consider that in most of sub-Saharan Africa AIDS is an epidemic, and not one confined to certain unpopular minorities (gays and drug users). The only demonstrated advantage of circumcision is that it substantially reduces the odds of spreading HIV. So if I lived in the Congo, for example, I might well get my son circumcised.

    • ara

      confounding variables haven’t been well controlled for in studies that supposedly show what you are suggesting.

      (specifically, the confounding variable of religion which would potentially have an effect both on circumcision rates and on rates of risk taking behavior that could increase HIV infection)

      I’m not exactly holding my breath for better research, either…

      • http://twitter.com/ydgmdlu Fei Meng

        I totally agree. Frankly, I can’t imagine how foreskin (or lack of one) would affect HIV transmission in any significant way, all other things being equal.

        • http://www.facebook.com/aspearce Adam Pearce

          The HIV issue – has to to with the mucus membrane under the foreskin. But it is not a  particularly important vector in transmission it seems. You can probably find a study online quite easily for and against this. 

          Speaking as an uncut male – what the hell is this fuss about? I have a dick, it works, it has a nice matching turtleneck for cold weather. 

    • Anonymous

      The advantage is only very slight, and goes to nil if he’s using condoms like he should.

      • Michael

        If he’s using condoms then the health risks outweigh the minimal chance that it might help. Plus again, if he wants the minimal chance of a benefit there’s plenty of time to decide for himself.

    • Anonymous

      So you’d cut off a body part instead of handing him a condom? Yeah, that makes sense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

        To be precise, I said I would consider it. But thanks to the Vatican, condoms are not widely available in Africa. And “cut off a body part” is a bit shrill. Do you trim your hair or fingernails? I wish I hadn’t been circumcised, but I hardly consider my life ruined as a result. Also, I don’t know your gender, but any man, if he’s honest, will tell you that sex with a condom is decidedly inferior. Many men simply won’t use them. Even where widely available, condoms come in only three sizes. How many women would be comfortable if bras came in only three sizes?

        • Anonymous

          They do stretch.

          As for “many men” who won’t use them…well they can’t get laid as often as those who are willing to can they?

        • Mihangel apYrs

          you have nothing to compare with: cutting nerve-enriched bits off for NO reason isn’t good medicine

        • Anonymous

          “not widely available”

          That’s a cop out. We know how effective condoms are at preventing all kinds of STI (plus unwanted pregnancy–bonus!).  There are aid agencies out there, even in Africa, who will give them out.

          “Do you trim your hair or fingernails?”

          Hair and fingernails are dead tissue. Neither have nerve endings. Both grow back.

          The prepuce of a boy’s penis is full of nerve endings. It won’t grow back.

          How are these two things at all comparable?

          “I hardly consider my life ruined”

          How did this become about you and not your child?

          “sex with a condom is decidedly inferior”

          Studies show that sex without a foreskin is inferior to sex with one (even if it doesn’t “ruin a man’s life”).

          Sex with a condom protects both partners from a plethora of diseases (and significantly reduces the risk of pregnancy). Sex without a foreskin isn’t shown to do much (& the studies which do have been called into question).

          “Many men simply won’t use them”

          Then maybe there should be a law (at least where the incidence of STIs, including HIV, is high), and some widespread public health education campaigns. I mean, people used to use that excuse about all sorts of things: seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, bike helmets, designated drivers, smoking areas outdoors…

          Now we may not be able to enforce complete compliance, but such laws have changed the culture and the sense of what is normal and right and what’s considered foolish or even wrong.

          Meanwhile, none of your statements is any justification for removing someone else’s body part without an overriding  medical necessity.

        • Rich Wilson
  • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

    This is body mutilation pure and simple.. if my sons (3 of the) really wanted to go get circumcised.. they can do so when they are adult enough to decide for themselves

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for keeping your sons intact! :)

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for keeping your sons intact! :)

  • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

    This is body mutilation pure and simple.. if my sons (3 of the) really wanted to go get circumcised.. they can do so when they are adult enough to decide for themselves

  • Michael

    If he’s upset that his “doesn’t look like daddy’s” then he can make the choice later in life. If he’s upset at having been circumcised then the process closest to a reversion is slow and painful and still a lot of people who go through it say it’s worth it.

    • Ian

      Does anyone have any statistics on how many people do make that choice?  If ‘looking like everyone else’ was all that important, you’d think it would be common.  Somehow, I don’t think it is….

  • Darkpoet669

    something done the majority
    of the time?? now I’ve not done an extensive market research, and being
    straight I haven’t had cause to look into the matter in any depth, but I
    would have imagined it was something only even considered in religious
    circles nowadays, if I ever had a child it would not even come under
    consideration for a split second!!

    • Gus Snarp

      I would bet the majority of circumcisions are not really for religious reasons, but simply inertia. I don’t know what happens right now, but being born in the seventies, I never saw another uncircumcised penis in any locker room or porn movie until the last decade. Truth be told, I still have not seen another one in a locker room. It absolutely was the standard practice in the U.S. forty years ago, and while I can’t say if it is now for certain, I can say that it’s routine enough around here that our hospital billed us for circumcising our son automatically, even though he was not circumcised.  Which oddly enough happened to my parents too.

  • jamssx

    You should check out the Penn & Teller on circumcision. There is NO justification to circumcision. People drag out the health studies which when exposed to closer scrutiny fail to deliver. Without turning this into a somewhat explicit post, the foreskin improves things for when they flying solo and with a partner… It is not common in Europe any more so why here?

    • Anonymous

      As an opponent to circumcision, I would advise not citing Penn & Teller–sadly, Penn’s extreme libertarianism sometimes gets in the way of his show’s alleged opposition to bull.  He’s a great entertainer, but he’s just as prone to bad info as any other pundit.

      • Demonhype

        “They can be stupid about some kinds of things, therefore they are useless as a source in general”  I don’t agree.  I watch their shows and do some reading and usually the only things they’re morons about involve free-market capitalism.  In that vein, you’d think if they were letting their libertarianism get in the way of the circumcision, they would be promoting it so the corporations and businesses that are involved can profit, as they did with Walmart.

        I’d only cite Penn and Teller if it’s a show that doesn’t directly involve economics and if I’ve done some homework on the subject and know they’re right about what they’re saying (which they often are).  But I don’t see that the fact that they have areas of personal  belief where they are prone to  bad info makes them useless.  If you’ve done some fact-checking yourself, it can be good to show someone their show.  It can be easier to get someone to watch something entertaining rather than read boring and dry studies and arguments online.

    • Anonymous

      There are occasionally medical justifications for circumcision.  There are occasionally cosmetic reasons why adults would choose circumcision.  While I certainly agree that cosmetic circumcisions shortly after birth are unjustified that isn’t to say that NO justification exists.

      • Demonhype

        I think he means no justification for forcing it on an infant who can’t consent without medical necessity.  There are certainly individual circumstances that justify it even for a kid, medical conditions and such, and adults can do whatever the hell they want with their own cranks, but there is no justification for across-the-board, everyone-gets-it, especially when they’re too young to choose, circumcision.

    • stump

      eh – I just gave a valid medical reason for Circumcision!   To say there is no justification for it is well….unjustified :)     But I’d totally agree with you that there is no reason for widespread or routine circumcision of any man.   I’m not a doctor but from my own experience I’d say there are specific cases where it is the best possible solution to Phimosis.  True there are other options (steroid creams for example) but when a case is not treated in time then its at least a viable solution.   

      Anyone who undertakes a circumcision for cosmetic reasons needs counselling, not surgery

  • MnToes

    I am having a son in two months. I don’t want to get him circumcised, however I was informed by my ob that the hospital where he will be born (University of Washington Medical Center) doesn’t even perform circumcision anymore and that I would have to find a doctor independently who is willing to perform the procedure if I so chose. I wonder if this is a growing trend.

    • APvegmama

      Thank-you for planning to take your WHOLE son home from the hospital.

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        Can I just ask why you’re going around thanking people for not circumcising their children? It’s their personal decision. What does it matter to you whether somebody’s child is circumcised or not?

        Sorry, but it really bothers me when people who are vehemently against male circumcision, go around patting people on the back who just happen to agree with them.

        I think of it not as mutilation, but as a personal choice. I listed some piss-poor reasons on Blag Hag for getting my son circumcised, and I admit that they were weak reasons for doing so, but in the end I considered it a personal preference, one that I shrugged off and agreed to when the doctor asked, seeing as how I didn’t have any good reason not to.

        From personal experience, I have never had a problem having a circumcised penis, and don’t see how it’s anybody else’s business whether my own son has one or not. I never experienced any ill effects (either personally or with peers in the locker room, girlfriends, etc.), so I was always OK with it. I never once considered it mutilation, never once thought ill of my parents for having it done to me as a baby. I certainly don’t remember the pain, and there has (thus far) never been demonstrated any correlation with circumcision and any permanent effects or damage (except in a small minority of cases).

        Any reasons that I have seen or have been told for not having one’s son circumcised all amount to personal reasons.

        • Siamang

          ” don’t see how it’s anybody else’s business whether my own son has one or not.”… the implication being that you ‘own’ your son.

          Listen, I was circumcised as an infant, so I had no choice in the matter.  I wish my parents *hadn’t*.  Let that be a personal preference.  Who’s penis is it, anyway?

          • Siamang

             Sorry, Rich, I know this is an emotional subject for parents, and I didn’t mean to come off flippant.  It’s just that, for ME, I can’t make the choice myself.  Body Mod is an issue for me.  I’ve got no tatoos, no piercings.  But IMO, one of the strangest, most bizarre, most religiously-affiliated body-mods is done to me… and I’m not religious.

            Some people pierce the ears of girl infants, to give them earrings.  I blanch at *that*.  If my daughter wants to get her ears pierced, she can when she’s a teenager.  And that’s for a body-mod that self-reverses!

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bed-Man-Okc/100000284524197 Bed Man Okc

          As the author of the blog post about circumcision. IT would be great if people didn’t have to be thanked for NOT doing that to their child.
          For people that say, hey its none of my business what someone does when it comes to circumcising their kid. Well, if your like me. Bullshit. I wouldn’t let someone chop off their kids little finger, because it not my kid or it is their religious practice.

          I am not gonna say “none of my business” if some guy is putting lit cigarettes out on the kids arm, to discipline him.

          For people like me–who think circumcision, is a disgrace and barbaric and it takes the decision away from the child, before he is even 3 days old.

          I find it disturbing and sick and i think as society we need to change it.

          It is not ok in my opinion. IT is a SCAR and it has horrid side effects all throughout life.

          My wife took the position, that now after i showed her what i knew, that she would never circumcise any child. Even though before she insisted we do it. But, she draws the line at worrying if someone else does.

          That. To me is a cop out and i don’t agree.

          Its an archaic, ritual thought up to keep little boys from enjoying the sin of masturbation…well that and I guess the Catholic priests just preferred little boys peckers to peek out a little more, when the priest is going down on them.

          Religion has fouled up so many lies, I am starting to believe what Chairman Mao said about it back in the 40s and 50s.

          But, what do I know. I ma a bed salesman with a 10th grade public school education.

          • Doug Graham

            I can’t help but think that all of the men that are upset with the circumcision they received “without their consent” are just insecure with themselves.  I have made it 30 successful years with a circumcised penis and it has never created any emotional or otherwise stress in my life.  

            That being said I do not think I would circumcise any sons that I have, only because I see it as a useless procedure.  

            • http://a-million-gods.blogspot.com/ Avicenna

              Doug, the simple issue is this. Circumcision is a ritual born out of Abrahamic faith. It became popular again in the USA courtesy of the anti-masturbation movement who used the bible to justify it. 

              It’s not a personal choice, it’s a choice to submit your child to a piece of unnecessary surgery with the only benefit of avoiding phimosis and repeated UTI. Soap would help as would encouraging your child to wash down there properly. 

              It’s not just a useless procedure it also carries its own risks. Children have died from it and it is unnecessary. 

              It does hurt and hurts a lot. And there are actual reasons for giving out a circumcision. It’s handy for patients who have issues with cleanliness who are prone to UTI such as boys with down’s syndrome because it’s easier for the child to be taught cleanliness. In some cases of adhesive phimosis the entire foreskin needs removal rather than the simple current treatment of a steroid cream to encourage growth of skin and stretching. 

              It’s basically a pointless exercise done because people have “always done it” and originally done to reduce male sexual drive. There is no real reason to do it, it’s a pointless exercise in choice and it’s a stupid choice often made by people because it’s the done thing to do and people have been doing it for a long time. Just like sharpening your teeth into points…

              We should not encourage it and we should actively discourage it since there is no sane benefit to it.

              • Rich Wilson

                 Children have died from it

                To put it into perspective, your baby is more likely to die from a botched circumcision than to be abducted by a stranger.

                (ok, ok, the death by circumcision estimates vary widely, but babies don’t have much blood to start with.  They don’t have to lose much to run into problems.)

            • Siamang

               So you don’t defend the practice… but you’re happy to question the ‘security’ of men who had the snip and don’t like it, is that it?

              “Well, I was given a forcible tattoo when I was a kid, and I never complained about it, so those complaining about it must be a bit, ahem, insecure with their manhood!”

          • Doug Graham

            I can’t help but think that all of the men that are upset with the circumcision they received “without their consent” are just insecure with themselves.  I have made it 30 successful years with a circumcised penis and it has never created any emotional or otherwise stress in my life.  

            That being said I do not think I would circumcise any sons that I have, only because I see it as a useless procedure.  

        • Atalayac

          You keep mention things about circumcision being a personal choice. Should parents really have the right to do whatever they want to their child?

          “I think of it not as mutilation, but as a
          personal choice.”

          If my parents cut off my pinky fingers and burned a mark onto my arm because that’s what they preferred me to look like, that’s not mutilation, but rather a personal choice?

        • Mihangel apYrs

          “I think of it not as mutilation, but as a personal choice. I listed some
          piss-poor reasons on Blag Hag for getting my son circumcised,!

          so not his personal choice then……

      • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

        So being circumcised myself – I’m not intact?  I’m somewhat flawed?  That is what you are suggesting.  Parents make all sorts of decisions that have much greater impact on a childs life (for better or for worse) than circumcision.  Perhaps you need some perspective.

        • Atalayac

          You remind me of this one story about this person who had been blind their entire life. When he was presented with the option to restore his vision with a surgical procedure, he declined stating that he was perfectly content being blind.

          I can respect that you are happy with your circumcision, but I simply cannot respect people who force others to have unnecessary circumcisions. Parents have a lot of dictation over their child’s life, but cutting pieces of their body off or piercing them is barbaric and should not be allowed.

          • Falconer33

            You remind me of the preachy, asshole vegans who HAVE to change your life to fit their mold. Not your kid, shut the fuck up. See, easy.

            • Rich Wilson

              That’s why we should all shut the fuck up when parents feel prayer is a better solution for their child’s ailments than a doctor.

              • Falconer33

                And thats why you need to stay out of other peoples business if you think those two are the same. Reality, try it.

                • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

                  Then please explain how his analogy fails.

                • Rich Wilson

                  The problem isn’t who’s business, the problem is that we disagree on where to draw the line.  You don’t have carte blanche to do whatever the fuck you want with your kids.  You just don’t.  We can disagree on what you CAN do (and in the US you can have your male baby circumcised) but people will still make noise about it.

                • Demonhype

                  Is this guy seriously suggesting that children should be allowed to die in screaming pain from easily treatable illnesses if their owners *ahem* parents choose their faith over their own child’s life?

                  I guess the neighbor who alerts CPS when she sees the kids next door being abused is also out of line and forcing her views on other people’s lives.  After all, those kids aren’t hers and their parents have chosen brutal physical punishment.

                  And those people whose kids die from being whipped too much?  There shouldn’t be any charges placed on them.  Their kids, their property, and if their personally chosen methods result in grisly death that’s their decision and you have no power to either save those kids or even suggest they hold off on the belt a bit.   It’s totally out of line to even discuss the subject, in fact.  Their kids, their rules, shut up that’s why, and appeals to a very personalized definition of “reality”.

        • Mihangel apYrs

          circumcision wasn’t necessary (probably).  Unnecessary intervention is perverse.

    • Rich Wilson

      I wonder if this is a growing trend.

      Yes.  Quickly.  

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129362160

      Circumcised babies born now in most states will be the minority in the locker room.

    • Dougzgirl

      20 years ago when my son was born I had to find a doctor and my insurance didn’t pay for it. That should have been my red flag but I was young and stupid. Wish I knew then what I know now.

    • Kelli Smith

      Wow, that’s really great.  I had my son 8 years ago and circumcision was common at my hospital.  We declined the unnecessary plastic surgery though.  :)

  • http://garicgymro.wordpress.com garic gymro

    I’m pleased to say this isn’t really an issue in the UK. As far as I know, it’s mainly religious people who circumcise their sons there. A few people (like me) have to be circumcised a little later for medical reasons. People who do it at birth for non-religious reasons are very much in a minority.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nic.picard Nicolas Picard

    This topic is a fine example of herd mentality.  With no valid medical reason to substantiate it, parents are nevertheless scared into inflicting an irreversible (and painful) procedure on a newborn only because they fear that he will be (egads!) “different.”

    The worldwide prevalence of circumcision is somewhere around 30% (WHO estimate), while in the US, partly (I would argue) because Americans are so susceptible to conformity pressures, the number hovers around 75%.

    I have a brand-new 3-month-old baby boy at home, who is and will remain unmutilated.  And if/when the topic comes up, I will discuss it openly and honestly.  What I will NOT do is make an irreversible decision simply to avoid an uncomfortable discussion in the future.  That is the very definition of irresponsible parenting.

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you for leaving your son whole! The statistics of circumcision in the US are actually 32.5% (in 2009) and steadily dropping.

    • Mihangel apYrs

      I believe Galen’s first principle was “first do no harm”.  Cutting healthy tissue off is “harm”

    • Mihangel apYrs

      I believe Galen’s first principle was “first do no harm”.  Cutting healthy tissue off is “harm”

  • Gus Snarp

    I really don’t get this notion of women being freaked out by uncircumcised penises. How’s that work exactly? Admittedly, I’m no Wilt Chamberlain, but the women I have been with have never been freaked out.  If the penis is erect and the foreskin retracted (the usual state during sexual encounters) you’ve got to be inspecting awfully closely to even notice. I have been with women who didn’t even realize I wasn’t circumcised until well into the relationship. If a woman is really interested in a man is she actually going to turn tail and run when she sees his foreskin? Or would she be more likely to just get used to it? That kind of obsession with whether or not a man has a foreskin borders on fetishism, and if that’s your kink so be it, but only wanting sex with men who have been surgically altered IS a kink, not a common reaction.

    • Anonymous

      And if he somehow finds that he has trouble with women later in his life, he can still chose to get cirumcised

      • Siamang

         I want to “like” this comment 100 times.  Why isn’t this the main point of the post? 

        I’m all for people getting the snip if they want one.   I was never given the choice.

    • Anonymous

      And if he somehow finds that he has trouble with women later in his life, he can still chose to get cirumcised

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bed-Man-Okc/100000284524197 Bed Man Okc

      As the author of the article.

      http://therealmichaelbrown.com/

      It really says it all, in a quick post. I went from believing it would open a child up to harassment. And maybe it still will. Hopefully, I will be able to make sure my son is well informed and comfortable with himself, so that if it does become an issuer, he will respond appropriately and with either humor or non chalant.

      Maybe something like “well, ask your mom if she prefers mine to uncircumcised penises”

      Just kidding. But since I only went to school with one guy who was uncircumcised. It was kind of a big deal. Now I don’t remember him being harassed, but maybe he did feel different.

      I know this. It is less and less often done. Which is great so i think he will be in gym class with other kids who haven’t had it done. More than i did anyway.

      And I really think i will explain everything well enough for him to understand, that later in life he will LOVE that he has all that extra protection and lubrication.

      And so will his partner.

      Thanks for all of the comments. I am very surprised by the outcome of something i wrote a month ago. It was written for family and friends and until yesterday had only 5 views…now it has 1000. The power of the internet.

      hope you will read some of my other posts as i go along.

      The blog is all about “thinking for yourself” which i think people think they do, even when they don’t. I know i have had to challenge myself to think about something and come back with what I myself truly think about a subject and not just because it was taught to me or because it was a popular view.

      Cheers

    • Demonhype

      My sister argued for it for a while, on the grounds that “giving head to men who are circumcised is more pleasurable than giving it to men who aren’t”, with all the arrogance the experienced sometimes get when speaking to a virgin.  I couldn’t believe her.  I said “Are you saying we should take a scalpel to a child’s genitals so they’ll taste better to any women who might want to put it in their mouths one day?  This is a baby, for pity’s sake!”  I didn’t have to be sexually experienced to know that’s a piss-poor reason to cut a kid’s crank.

      Eventually she got involved with a guy who could show her first-hand what it looks like when circumcision gets screwed up and it changed her mind big time.  I’m not supposed to know that, so I won’t get into details.  Plus, she hates my brother’s abominable wife, who thinks circumcision is “just what’s done” and being a slave to tradition is a major cheerleader for it.  Hearing her own weak arguments coming out of that snide, arrogant, narcissistic, ugly little mouth was just the mirror she needed to look in to change her view.  :)

  • Kevin Bates

    When the doctors asked my mom about it, she declined, saying it was the most barbaric thing she could think of.  I was raised Catholic and just never had it done.  Its not necessary, and literally chops of an area with lots of nerve endings without anesthesia.

    As edge pointed out, circumcision has been shown to slightly decrease the infection rate of STDs, but only in areas with no safe sex practices.  It has not been shown to make an statistically significant difference when safe sex methods are used.  There is no health benefits to getting the procedure done.  Additionally it is a common procedure is the states, but the minority who does not have the procedure done is growing, and most people in the rest of the world never have it done either.To be honest, I never really understood how people could think that genital mutilation makes it “look better.” 

  • Rob Grikmeer

    I wasn’t circumcised and sure as hell don’t want to be. I never had an issue looking different from my dad and brother…

  • Jennifer

    My husband and I were in agreement that we would not circumcise our son. It was a less than one minute conversation that went something like this:  Me- “We’re not circumcising, right?” Him- “Hell no”  End of conversation. My son (now almost 10) couldn’t care less that he doesn’t look like his dad. When we went in to Labor & Delivery, I made sure to tell them that we did not want to circumcise. A note was made and no further mention of it was made. 

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you!

    • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

      Thank-you!

  • Anonymous

    “Why are you different, son? Because your parents love you enough not to cut pieces off you for cosmetic purposes.”

  • Ben

    Apparently in China, it is very common for men to be circumcised by a laser-based procedure later in life, before and after puberty. I face the same dilemma as the writer, but I have decided not to circumcise my son due to his lack of choice. If he chooses, he can easily have it done later. Reversing the procedure, and more importantly, reversing the trauma from the initial procedure, is much more difficult.

  • Gus Snarp

    I’ve always wondered about the mentality behind circumcision in the U.S. It was greatly popularized by Kellogg and the Seventh Day Adventists to prevent the immoral practice of masturbation. Now I can see how an uncircumcised man might think circumcision would prevent masturbation – having a foreskin makes masturbation incredibly convenient and fun. But surely they figured out pretty quickly that circumcision did not in fact reduce the convenience or fun enough to put even a dent in masturbation. Religious people have never been fond of evidence though, so I can see why they missed that. But if they were such prudes, why did it never occur to them that the exposed glans is a cue of sexual readiness? Biologically it has evolved to be hidden away and protected until it is needed, so having no foreskin makes the penis look like it is in a constant state of arousal (to some extent). To me a circumcised man is more naked and exposed than an uncircumcised one. I realize some of that is my own bias and being used to my own uncircumcised penis, but it seems like it stems at least somewhat from biology. I don’t much care about it one way or another, but it seems like a bunch of sexual prudes wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the circumcision band wagon. Or maybe Kellogg was in the closet and just liked penises that looked ready for action?

  • Saltyestelle

    No pressure from doctors, but several friends raised eyebrows when we declared we would not circumcise our boy.  I got into a nasty FB comment war with some idiot who got very defensive when I said it was pointless genital mutilation….. his argument was that since HE was circumcised by his wonderful, loving parents, then circumcision must be healthy and normal and good, because good people would never do anything that was bad or wrong.   Conform conform conform!   sigh.  

    • Demonhype

      That’s my father’s justification for corporal punishment–since his dad used to whale on him for hours (and he turned out all right–in his own opinion) it is therefore good to hit your kids and there can never be any negative effects.  Was he ever horrified when I told him what long-term effect it had on me, which has affected my ability to form relationships because I’m afraid it might lead to abuse.  He must have forcibly forgotten it though, because he is once again regaling me with joyous tales of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, as if those were just fun times.  I have to keep telling him that if he wants me to continue to respect my grandfather’s memory (and he does), he’d do well to stop telling me about his abusive behavior.  Maybe he thinks it was harmless and funsy good times auld lang syne, but to those around him the experience is much less pleasurable–in fact, downright creepy and nauseating.

  • Nico

    Born from a Jewish mum
    and Catholic father I was neither baptized nor circumcised. Of course I now
    applaud them as they left it up to me to make a choice (which of course I never
    did).

    However due to medical
    problems (nothing serious) I think it would have been easier if I had been
    circumcised as a baby.

    And as for girls, if
    not circumcised, shouldn’t be a problem at all.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    My nine year old son is uncut. I seriously doubt that it will adversely effect his life.

  • http://sucktackular.com sucktackular

    He prayed for a girl. Need I say more?

  • Anonymous

    I guess I’m the only parent here who circumcised.  We discussed it briefly.  Hubby is cut and so we had the Kid cut as well.  No other reason other than asthetics and all of the men in both families are cut.  The procedure they used appeared to be safe and relatively painless.

    I have been verbally crucified a hundred times for choosing to have the procedure done and I’m debating not even posting this for fear of more here.  I didn’t even know this was a huge deal until my son was 5 years old or so, and it was brought up on a parenting forum I frequented at the time.  Wow, the language these people used toward me was shocking and scared me away permanently.

    I don’t know if I would circumcise again, knowing what I know now.  It’s hard to know the answer to that considering I’ll never be in that position again.  But I do not regret it for my son.  He prefers his circumcised penis (having seen the alternative in medical type books) asthetically, so that’s all that matters to me.  If he had a problem with it now, I might feel differently.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I’m the only parent here who circumcised.  We discussed it briefly.  Hubby is cut and so we had the Kid cut as well.  No other reason other than asthetics and all of the men in both families are cut.  The procedure they used appeared to be safe and relatively painless.

    I have been verbally crucified a hundred times for choosing to have the procedure done and I’m debating not even posting this for fear of more here.  I didn’t even know this was a huge deal until my son was 5 years old or so, and it was brought up on a parenting forum I frequented at the time.  Wow, the language these people used toward me was shocking and scared me away permanently.

    I don’t know if I would circumcise again, knowing what I know now.  It’s hard to know the answer to that considering I’ll never be in that position again.  But I do not regret it for my son.  He prefers his circumcised penis (having seen the alternative in medical type books) asthetically, so that’s all that matters to me.  If he had a problem with it now, I might feel differently.

    • Sane Mom

      Plenty of my friends have had their boys circumsized, though I chose not to for my son (and I don’t need your approval, APvegmama, so keep your judgement to yourself). People get nuts over this issue, and I applaud your courage for admitting that you made this decision, thus opening yourself up to attack.

      I wrote a blog post earlier this year that sums up my non-absolutist position  on the issue. http://lucidparenting.blogspot.com/2011/02/circumcision-lets-talk-about-dicks.html

    • Karen L

      I agree, the judgemental behavior of  those opposed to circumcision is pretty over-the-top.  My kids are young adults, and circumcised.  If I were making the decision now, I would probably not choose circumcision.  But in the 80s, there was less information about circumcision, less push against it, and everyone we knew did it. 

      For our first, we discussed it a little, read what we could.  There was some suggestion of protection from AIDS and cancer with circumcision.  I ultimately left the decision up to my husband, him being male and all.  He was very torn, but decided that looking like Daddy (and everyone else we knew) mattered enough to sway the decision.  (And the poster who thought such sentiments were incestuous was bizarrely off base).

      Obviously societal norms can be a powerful force, and much of human behavior is affected by it.  If no one else we knew was circumcised, we would not have chosen that for our boys. 

      But the bottom line is that we are caring parents, trying to do what’s best for our kids, as well as we can figure out what that is.  Being demonized for that is not reasonable.

    • Karen L

      I agree, the judgemental behavior of  those opposed to circumcision is pretty over-the-top.  My kids are young adults, and circumcised.  If I were making the decision now, I would probably not choose circumcision.  But in the 80s, there was less information about circumcision, less push against it, and everyone we knew did it. 

      For our first, we discussed it a little, read what we could.  There was some suggestion of protection from AIDS and cancer with circumcision.  I ultimately left the decision up to my husband, him being male and all.  He was very torn, but decided that looking like Daddy (and everyone else we knew) mattered enough to sway the decision.  (And the poster who thought such sentiments were incestuous was bizarrely off base).

      Obviously societal norms can be a powerful force, and much of human behavior is affected by it.  If no one else we knew was circumcised, we would not have chosen that for our boys. 

      But the bottom line is that we are caring parents, trying to do what’s best for our kids, as well as we can figure out what that is.  Being demonized for that is not reasonable.

      • Anonymous

        Completely agree with your final paragraph (the entire post, but that one especially).  No parent sits down and says, “I think I’ll mutilate my son when he’s born.”  My son was born after the 80s but I wasn’t immersed in the Internet and had yet to come out as a liberal atheist, thus was not plugged into any thinking counter to that with which I was raised.  Like you, we discussed it a little and I left it up to my husband because it really didn’t matter to me one way or the other.

        When I say that around anti-circ people, they get wide-eyed and exclaim, “YOU NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT HOW YOU’RE MUTILATING YOUR SON!?!?!?!”  No… just like, as a child, I never realized that religion was psychologically damaging to a child.  Social mores change and I was on the cusp of that whirlwind.

        But the demonization of those who have circumcised, or WILL circumcise, has to stop.  As parents, we do the best we can with the information we have available at the time.  Sometimes, we can fix a bad choice (giving up religion), other times, we can’t (circumcision).  But to belittle those decisions is just meanspirited.  And we get enough of that from the religious folks.

        • Demonhype

          If it’s done, it’s done, and I don’t see any reason to give someone grief over it.  It’s a waste of time.  It’s more productive to promote the idea for people still making the decision, so they don’t make a decision based on “well, it’s just what’s done and I assume it’s good.”  As you said, it was also assumed that religion was good for a kid.  My parents sent me to Catholic school because of such an assumption–Mom went and Dad went, and it’s assumed to be good, so we went too.  Turns out it was not good and in my case I almost committed suicide on several occasions and still struggle with suicidal tendencies to this day.  In retrospect, my parents wish they had chosen differently, but they had little to go on.  They’ve told me “if I’d known then what I know now, if it hadn’t been ‘what’s done’, if it hadn’t been assumed to be ‘better’ for a kid to have religion rammed down their throats every day, I wouldn’t have done it.”

          The main thing is to challenge the “circumcision is just what’s done” assumption so that in the future people will not make a decision to circumcise entirely based on “I assume it’s good/it’s just what’s done” but will actually think it through, do some reading, enter some discussion on the subject, and make a real decision.  It often seems that in most cases, there is more thought put into not circumcising than there is in circumcising.  As with warrantless drug testing in all situations, the question is not “is there a reason not to do it?” but “is there a reason to do it?”

          Even my brother’s wife is the “it’s just what’s done” variety, and the fact that my brother is extremely against it coupled with the fact that every single argument she tries to make for it implies my brother is unhygenic and dirty doesn’t matter.  Seriously, every argument she made to him he flung back at her “so you’re saying I’m [insert adjective here]?” and she’d glare and pout.  It’s not even that she’s all that passionate about circumcision, she just has always assumed it to be the thing to do.

          I don’t see the purpose of screaming at someone who has already done it since it’s not like the decision can be reversed, and for someone who is planning to do it, screaming doesn’t sound very productive.  Seriously, what kind of asshole screams at someone over an irrevocable decision?  You may as well scream at a transgender person post-op–not much they can do about it now even if they wanted, is there?

          But I don’t see any reason not to make arguments about the situation or discuss it, and especially to make an effort to include people who “will” and people who “don’t know” (those who “won’t” usually have done a lot more reading and are usually instigating the conversation, just like atheists have done more reading on religion and are usually instigating challenging discussions on faith, because it’s not the default position and they’re used to being challenged all the time–see above, where someone was guilt-tripped by the doc for not circumcising, and my mother was given all sorts of insulting grief over not circumcising my brother when he was born–he just went ahead and scheduled it without even asking and got bent out of shape when she told him, in no uncertain terms, to cancel it immediately).  Most of the people I know who are “shut up, that’s why” while denying people the right to even discuss the issue are pro-circ, and the pro-circ side was the default for so long.  It can feel like arguing against religion–no matter how nice you try to be, it will feel like an attack to those who have had the unquestioned upper-hand for so long.  Perhaps you are not like that, but I’ve had quite a few get absolutely hysterical at any challenge to the very institution of circumcision and the fact that there is any discussion going on about it, as if the very existence of such discussion is a personal affront to their choice to circumcise.

          If it somehow comes up in a conversation where someone mentions their kids were circumcised (outside of a discussion about circumcision in particular), I just go “meh”.  Not going to derail the conversation for that.  But if we’re specifically talking about circumcision, I will challenge them.

          • Siamang

            I agree, Demonhype.  No use crying over spilt milk.  But it’s good for future parents to read this stuff and think about what’s the default, and why.  I don’t wish any hurt on parents who did this over this(Which include mine).  I know it’s out of love and wanting the best thing for the kid.

            It’s the posturing that I find fascinating. I love the people posting “It’s no big deal, get over it.”dude, there’s like 188 comments about people cutting the penises of babies… CLEARLY there is the energy of a taboo discussion here.  CLEARLY this strikes a nerve.

            Some people are like all “HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY CHOICE!!?!?!” and they’ve got Donald Sutherland’s face from the end of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.  

            WOW, the strong reaction to a questioning of a social norm! It’s almost like someone questioned a RELIGION around here!

        • Demonhype

          If it’s done, it’s done, and I don’t see any reason to give someone grief over it.  It’s a waste of time.  It’s more productive to promote the idea for people still making the decision, so they don’t make a decision based on “well, it’s just what’s done and I assume it’s good.”  As you said, it was also assumed that religion was good for a kid.  My parents sent me to Catholic school because of such an assumption–Mom went and Dad went, and it’s assumed to be good, so we went too.  Turns out it was not good and in my case I almost committed suicide on several occasions and still struggle with suicidal tendencies to this day.  In retrospect, my parents wish they had chosen differently, but they had little to go on.  They’ve told me “if I’d known then what I know now, if it hadn’t been ‘what’s done’, if it hadn’t been assumed to be ‘better’ for a kid to have religion rammed down their throats every day, I wouldn’t have done it.”

          The main thing is to challenge the “circumcision is just what’s done” assumption so that in the future people will not make a decision to circumcise entirely based on “I assume it’s good/it’s just what’s done” but will actually think it through, do some reading, enter some discussion on the subject, and make a real decision.  It often seems that in most cases, there is more thought put into not circumcising than there is in circumcising.  As with warrantless drug testing in all situations, the question is not “is there a reason not to do it?” but “is there a reason to do it?”

          Even my brother’s wife is the “it’s just what’s done” variety, and the fact that my brother is extremely against it coupled with the fact that every single argument she tries to make for it implies my brother is unhygenic and dirty doesn’t matter.  Seriously, every argument she made to him he flung back at her “so you’re saying I’m [insert adjective here]?” and she’d glare and pout.  It’s not even that she’s all that passionate about circumcision, she just has always assumed it to be the thing to do.

          I don’t see the purpose of screaming at someone who has already done it since it’s not like the decision can be reversed, and for someone who is planning to do it, screaming doesn’t sound very productive.  Seriously, what kind of asshole screams at someone over an irrevocable decision?  You may as well scream at a transgender person post-op–not much they can do about it now even if they wanted, is there?

          But I don’t see any reason not to make arguments about the situation or discuss it, and especially to make an effort to include people who “will” and people who “don’t know” (those who “won’t” usually have done a lot more reading and are usually instigating the conversation, just like atheists have done more reading on religion and are usually instigating challenging discussions on faith, because it’s not the default position and they’re used to being challenged all the time–see above, where someone was guilt-tripped by the doc for not circumcising, and my mother was given all sorts of insulting grief over not circumcising my brother when he was born–he just went ahead and scheduled it without even asking and got bent out of shape when she told him, in no uncertain terms, to cancel it immediately).  Most of the people I know who are “shut up, that’s why” while denying people the right to even discuss the issue are pro-circ, and the pro-circ side was the default for so long.  It can feel like arguing against religion–no matter how nice you try to be, it will feel like an attack to those who have had the unquestioned upper-hand for so long.  Perhaps you are not like that, but I’ve had quite a few get absolutely hysterical at any challenge to the very institution of circumcision and the fact that there is any discussion going on about it, as if the very existence of such discussion is a personal affront to their choice to circumcise.

          If it somehow comes up in a conversation where someone mentions their kids were circumcised (outside of a discussion about circumcision in particular), I just go “meh”.  Not going to derail the conversation for that.  But if we’re specifically talking about circumcision, I will challenge them.

    • Volunteer

      Def agree with you that there are several who picked up a banner for this ’cause’ and ran a little too far with it.

    • Kimmerz

      Your honesty is refreshing.  Some of the rhetoric I’m reading here is simply appalling.

    • Mihangel apYrs

      I assume what you did for love.  That does forgive a lot

  • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

    Thank-you for keeping your son whole! :)

  • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

    Thank-you!

  • stump

    At 34 I recently underwent a circumcision for purely medical reasons (balanitis).    Before the procedure I spent some time reading up on it and found masses of amounts…..of uninformed opinion….and very little solid information.   This is a perfect example of an area where people make their minds up and then find (or make up) the evidence that supports their position.

    After undergoing the procedure I can say for certain that if I had sons (I dont…just daughters) I would never put them through such a procedure for a non medical reason.   Personally I think its insane to do so.  Id think its insane even if I hadnt undergone the procedure.     None of the usual pro-circumcision arguments make any sense – aesthetics, hygiene, etc.   And as for the argument that it helps preventing risk of infection with HIV …..well you know what they say about extraordinary claims requiring extrordinary evidence.    Personally I think getting people to use condoms would be an easier argument to make than getting people to put themselves through this procedure.    

  • stump

    At 34 I recently underwent a circumcision for purely medical reasons (balanitis).    Before the procedure I spent some time reading up on it and found masses of amounts…..of uninformed opinion….and very little solid information.   This is a perfect example of an area where people make their minds up and then find (or make up) the evidence that supports their position.

    After undergoing the procedure I can say for certain that if I had sons (I dont…just daughters) I would never put them through such a procedure for a non medical reason.   Personally I think its insane to do so.  Id think its insane even if I hadnt undergone the procedure.     None of the usual pro-circumcision arguments make any sense – aesthetics, hygiene, etc.   And as for the argument that it helps preventing risk of infection with HIV …..well you know what they say about extraordinary claims requiring extrordinary evidence.    Personally I think getting people to use condoms would be an easier argument to make than getting people to put themselves through this procedure.    

    • Demonhype

      Exactly!  The best argument they’ve got and it’s trumped by condom use.  Besides which, a couple percentage points less risk of something is not really an argument in favor of circumcision, especially since the use of condoms and responsible personal hygiene solves most of the problems they claim circumcision helps with.  Can it replace condom use?  I doubt they’d have the temerity to suggest that.  If there’s a better solution that doesn’t involve cutting off healthy tissue off of children too young to consent, then that should be the default.

  • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

    Thank-you for saving your son from this barbaric procedure!

  • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

    Thanks for keepin’ him whole! :)

  • http://decaturdoula.weebly.com APvegmama

    Thanks for keepin’ him whole! :)

  • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

    From someone who is uncut I can tell you why they do that to you at birth. Because if they wait until you are conscious and aware of your body, you will FIGHT TO THE DEATH before you let someone cut off part of your penis!!!!!
    Imagine if somebody said they just wanted to just cut the head off of it. You still get to keep the shaft. It’s not necessary, it just REDUCES RISK of certain diseases and certain women have stated a preference for it, cool? Yeah right!  F*CK THAT!!!!
    Disease risk? SHOWER. USE CONDOMS! Cleaning an uncut penis probably takes a whole SECOND AND A HALF longer than an cut one. Washing between your toes is harder. If your foreskin is seriously increasing your genital health risks, you are probably at risk from any number of other diseases from just being a generally filthy, unsanitary person.
    And as for women’s preference… if you get to the part where she wants your cock to come out, weather or not you have a foreskin is not likely to be a dealbreaker. In over twenty years and as many women, not a single one flinched or hesitated when they saw it, including a few who had voiced a preference for cut penises out loud previously. (If you roll the skin back, it looks exactly the same except it doesn’t have that half-inch ring of scar tissue where it used to be. If they don’t see it flaccid, many don’t even realize it is uncut until they start handling it. And a number of the women who stated they (thought) like circumcised penises more *changed their positions on the subject* after actually encountering one.)

    Seriously, reasons to cut off a foreskin are about as tenuous as pretty much every thing else that comes out of the Bible. The degree of suffering is different, but the offense is qualitatively the same as banning bacon or stoning adulterers, and should be thought of as equally barbaric and outdated. If it really is psychologically traumatic to a boy to be uncut, he can have the procedure done at any time in his life, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. (Statistically, very VERY few boys choose to be circumcised once they have grown out of infancy intact.) He may get teased before adolescence (but not as much as this procedure is becoming less popular worldwide), but trust me, once he’s grown and having adult relations, he will be grateful.

    • Icewings27

      Great post! And I agree that banning bacon is barbaric!

      As for circumcision, I must be one of the few women who prefers intact males. I think circumcised penises look injured or damaged. Intact penises look and feel better imho.

      Anyone who circumcises their son so he looks “like his daddy” has some kind of weird incestuous thing going on. Why on earth would a kid want to compare his sexual organs to his father? Unless he secretly wanted to BE his father and have sex with his mom? Hmmmm? Ewww!

    • annonymous

      I completely agree. And I hear that the process is incredibly painful. The babies fight; they have to be strapped to a table and they SCREAM for an hour. What kind crap is that? From personal experience, circumcision makes it harder for a woman to climax. The forskin seems to play a big role in the pleasure women receive.

      • Anonymous

        We were with my son when the circumcising appliance was applied.  He was not “strapped to a table.”  He wimpered once and then went back to sleep.  He cried and howled much more vociferously when he was ahungry or needed to be changed or later when he hit his toe on a chair. 

        Further, my husband is circ’d and pleasure and climax have NEVER been an issue.  It all depends on the man and the woman, and I seriously doubt circumcision plays a role.

        There is a lot of misinformation out there about the circumcised male and most of it is made up by the anti-circ movement.  I make no judgement call either way, just want the misinformation to stop. 

        • MariaO – lysdexic? me?

          I have what may be distressing news for you. When a very you child is subjected to severe pain it does not scream or kick, is goes very still and quiet. That is why many different procedures have traditionally been done without anasthesising babies – it was thought they do not feel pain. But now we know better - newborns are even more sensitive to pain than adults! As for example witnessed by levels of stress hormones in their blood.

          In my country (where only deeply religious jews and muslims have this done to their young sons) it is illegal to do it without proper anasthesia administered by a doctor.

        • Mihangel apYrs

          when you have bits cut off, you can comment, as can  I!

        • dougzgirl

          misinformation? I was not allowed in the room with my son when he was circumcised – gee I wonder why. Maybe your son was given an oral sedative that my son didn’t get. I have seen videos of male babies strapped to a table and screaming during the procedure. My son actually screamed for days – with every single urination, every diaper change. And I highly doubt boys were born with forskin just so it can be removed. It might not have a purpose but there is no need to remove it. We don’t remove any other body parts.

  • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

    From someone who is uncut I can tell you why they do that to you at birth. Because if they wait until you are conscious and aware of your body, you will FIGHT TO THE DEATH before you let someone cut off part of your penis!!!!!
    Imagine if somebody said they just wanted to just cut the head off of it. You still get to keep the shaft. It’s not necessary, it just REDUCES RISK of certain diseases and certain women have stated a preference for it, cool? Yeah right!  F*CK THAT!!!!
    Disease risk? SHOWER. USE CONDOMS! Cleaning an uncut penis probably takes a whole SECOND AND A HALF longer than an cut one. Washing between your toes is harder. If your foreskin is seriously increasing your genital health risks, you are probably at risk from any number of other diseases from just being a generally filthy, unsanitary person.
    And as for women’s preference… if you get to the part where she wants your cock to come out, weather or not you have a foreskin is not likely to be a dealbreaker. In over twenty years and as many women, not a single one flinched or hesitated when they saw it, including a few who had voiced a preference for cut penises out loud previously. (If you roll the skin back, it looks exactly the same except it doesn’t have that half-inch ring of scar tissue where it used to be. If they don’t see it flaccid, many don’t even realize it is uncut until they start handling it. And a number of the women who stated they (thought) like circumcised penises more *changed their positions on the subject* after actually encountering one.)

    Seriously, reasons to cut off a foreskin are about as tenuous as pretty much every thing else that comes out of the Bible. The degree of suffering is different, but the offense is qualitatively the same as banning bacon or stoning adulterers, and should be thought of as equally barbaric and outdated. If it really is psychologically traumatic to a boy to be uncut, he can have the procedure done at any time in his life, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. (Statistically, very VERY few boys choose to be circumcised once they have grown out of infancy intact.) He may get teased before adolescence (but not as much as this procedure is becoming less popular worldwide), but trust me, once he’s grown and having adult relations, he will be grateful.

  • stump

    In fairness while I disagree with circumcising newborn boys without medical need I think the whole issue needs to be kept in perspective – there’s far more important things out there to get riled up about.  

    • Rich Wilson

      That’s what someone said to someone else about something that happened in an elevator.  That there are more important issues doesn’t make it unworthy of discussion, or unimportant to my son.

    • Ben

      Why are people talking about circumcision? There are more important things to worry about.

      Why are is everybody talking about marriage equality (a.k.a. gay marriage)? There are more important things to worry about.

      Why are people talking about carbon emissions? There are more important things to worry about.

      Why are women talking about pay equality in the workforce? There are more important things to worry about.

      Why are black people talking about voting rights? There are more important things to worry about.

      —–

      You know, people are allowed to be concerned with more than one thing at a time. Just because there are worse things out there doesn’t mean we should ignore everything else.

      Let the anti-circumcision crowd have their say for one day and then you can forget about it if you want.

  • Margaret

    Most women don’t get “freaked out”.  Those that do have serious problems.

  • Pickle

    As a woman, I would be very offended if a lot of men were out there saying that I must mutilate my genitalia to “look good”. Hell, I divorced my first husband because he said my boobs weren’t big enough and that I should have implants. (Well, that was one of the reasons) My point is that I think it’s incredibly sexist to expect genital mutilation for our men when they seem perfectly happy ( and healthy!) with an uncut penis. The same as I consider it sexist to expect a woman to get fake boobs because YOU liked them without considering how she felt about it.  And guys, there are lots of ladies out there who love uncircumcised men.

  • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

    Parents make all sorts of decisions
    that have much greater impact on a childs life (for better or for worse)
    than circumcision.  If you are comparing circumcision to “mutilation” – you simply have a very screwed up perspective.  You can reasonably argue the advantages and disadvantages for it (and there are both).

    • Volunteer

      There are crusaders for various causes. In this case, they throw around the word mutilation to try and invoke a response similar to how people feel about female genital mutilation. It’s the same reason people shout ‘baby killers’ outside the planned parenthood where I escort, to invoke a response from another situation and apply it to their cause.

    • Emerge555

      Cutting off a piece of a child’s penis is mutilation. Would you like to suggest another, more fitting word?

      And yes, obviously there are more important decisions. But that doesn’t mean that making a life-long irreversible choice for your son, one that he likely would never have decided to have done at the age of 18 (go ask uncircumcised 18 year olds how many of them would willingly go through the procedure now), isn’t something worth discussing.

  • http://twitter.com/rgaltizer R G Altizer

    As one of the uncut, and having both a father and brother that were intact, I remember being horrified when I found out that it happened. It just seems so horrible.  A friend of mine recently had a son and was trying to decide what to do and I put it to him this way “If someone told you now, as a grown adult, that they would be removing a piece of your penis with a scalpel and you don’t have a choice in the matter, how hard would you fight to make sure that didn’t happen? Well that’s the way your son would feel if he could understand it, but he’s too small to fight so you’ll have to do it for him.” He ended up deciding against the circumcision.

    As for the women who get freaked out, all women are not the same. For each one that is bothered by it, there’s another one who likes it. The way I see it, women have been arguing for a long time that they shouldn’t have to alter their natural body to fulfill someone else’s aesthetics. I agree; I shouldn’t have to do it, either.

  • Thorny264

    Its genital mutilation plain and simple, luckily in my country almost no man has it done and  almost no parents force it upon their kids

  • Alexis

    The African AIDS studies started at the time of circumcision and lasted for short duration. How much activity do you suppose occurred during the healing period compared to the controls with intact, non-pain-producing genitals? I suggest that this might skew the numbers a little bit.

  • Anonymous

    We chose to not have our son circumcised, but he later developed Phimosis and had to go through the procedure anyway. Just be aware that there are valid medical reasons to have it done; though I would encourage you to wait to see if those medical conditions emerge before doing it. 

    BTW, if it does become necessary, keep your son seriously hydrated after the surgery. It reduces the acidic content of the urine and makes it far less painful “to go.”

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      There are valid medical reasons, but chances are they weren’t. This seems to give a reasonable overview http://www.thecaseagainstcircumcision.com/index.php?topic=1004.0;wap2

      Or do you really think American men are so much more apt to develop problems due to their foreskins than us Europeans? It’s all part of the same misinformation. Foreskins should be left alone. If they don’t retract on small children, that’s normal.

      • Anonymous

        I did not say that it was common. Simply that it was a possibility. In my son’s case, we identified the problem and brought it to the doctor because he was getting infections and experiencing pain. It was not normal in my son’s case.

  • Skeletal

    Another mom of an uncirc’d boy here. He is now 13, totally healthy and has not once ben teased in the locker room. But I also wanna say, when are you ever totally naked in the locker room? Is this something boys do?
    even with swimming, we showered in our suits (to rinse the chlorine out of them) and then changed in stalls. Are boys required to get nekkid in front of each other?

    • Skeletal

      oh, and to my knowledge, he and his dad have never whipped out  their peni for comparisons…Not to mention we talked about it when he was really little, so he would know how to take care of his penis properly.

    • Donalbain

      Yes

      • Demonhype

        ????

        • Donalbain

          Men get naked in showers and changing rooms. That is just the way it is.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      Yes. Sometimes it’s avoidable, but yes. In some schools, you’re required to take a shower after sweaty activities in gym class or sports practice. There are no stalls. And later in life, when adults, men get naked in the locker rooms at gyms.

    • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

      This isn’t an accusation – just an observation.

      Pointing out your son has not been teased sort of buys in a little bit to the notion that if he had been teased then this would somehow be a black mark against non-circumcision.

      But turn it around: Even if your son had been teased… Would it really matter?

      Don’t get me wrong: I certainly understand that being teased sucks. I was teased quite a lot in school myself (for other reasons – I was circ’d as a baby), and I understand how cruel children can be and the hurt this cruelty causes. 

      Particularly when it’s a body issue. One of the many, many reasons for which I was teased in school was that I hit puberty several years too early; I was shaving and had hairy armpits several years before anyone else. In hindsight that probably should have been a good thing, but no – I was different from the other boys, and so was teased quite a lot because of it.

      Disclaimer aside:

      1) Is the bigotry of other people really a good reason to adjust our behavior to fit expectations?

      I don’t think there’s a quick and easy answer to that question. The answer will be different depending on the person and the perceived penalties of adapting and not adapting respectively.

      The answer to this question shouldn’t be assumed either way.

      Additionally:

      2) Kids are probably going to get teased anyway. Bullying is going to happen one way or another – a fact that I’m all to familiar with from my own background as described above.

    • Ken

      Growing up in a suburb of Chicago in the 90′s, yes boys get completely naked in the locker room in high school gym class and after sports practices. We were required to shower completely naked and were harassed by our teachers if we tried to sneak out without doing it. We didn’t like it at first and were totally pissed that the girls did  not have a similar requirement. Looking back on that experience now, I think it was a good one. I have no issues with being naked around other people (locker room at the gym). It also developed good hygiene habits at an age when odors became more prevalent.  

  • Anonymous

    My sister opted to have my nephew circumcised because her boyfriend pressured her. He said that all the other boys in the locker room would make fun of him otherwise. My Dad, who is uncircumcised and was born in 1945 was stunned. He wondered why anyone would acknowledge paying that close of attention. He was never hassled about it- and they had swimming class naked back then!

    I have an exboyfriend that was uncircumcised. It was not a turnoff. I always found the idea of a non-circumcised penis freaking a woman out to be odd. It wasn’t any kind of a big deal to me- in fact it had a lot going for it- I just can no longer stand the man it’s attached to :P

  • Anonymous

    To this excuse that boys will look at their fathers and be somehow traumatized that they don’t look like daddy I’d like to ask a question to any guy kind enough to answer: Do you remember being concerned about the shape of your dads dick as a child?

    For fathers: Did your sons ever seem interested in comparing dicks with you?

    I ask this because as a woman I never EVER considered comparing my vagina with my mothers. The entire idea strikes me as strange and makes me frankly uncomfortable. I see this excuse all the time, but I simply find it hard to imagine this scenario ever playing out in real life.

    As for being worried about their son not looking like other boys, besides being a piss-poor justification for cutting pieces off your infant, it’s not even applicable anymore, since rates of circumcision have fallen off a cliff (yay!) and by the time your kid is in school (do boys in lockerooms compare dicks? Is that a thing?) circumsised boys will be less frequent than intact boys. So if you are so weak-willed that you will literally mutilate your child for him to fit in, it still doesn’t make sense.

    • Rich Wilson

      For fathers: Did your sons ever seem interested in comparing dicks with you?

      Not so far.  Nor has he asked why his eyes are blue and mine are brown, or even why I have a beard and he doesn’t.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. That seems like a bizarre argument to me too.

      It’s more likely that boys at one point wonder if their dick will be the same size as their father’s, but that too isn’t something that one thinks about all the time

    • Anonymous

      Little boys actually do compare themselves to Dad, Mom, and anyone else they happen to see naked.  There’s nothing creepy about it.  Just normal child curiosity.  My three-year-old likes to discuss relative sizes in an utterly innocent and objective way.  I think he may have remarked on the differences between his uncircumcised penis and my circumcised one.  I explained that he has some skin there that Daddy had removed when I was a baby.  Then we got distracted by a new sheet of stickers.  Conversation over, and definitely not a source of trauma sufficient to justify unnecessary surgery. 

    • Greg

      I know it’s rather a rhetorical question, but no – I certainly wasn’t concerned with his penis. But then, it took me years to even hear of the bizarre rite of circumcision. I never really had a compulsion to look at the head of any kid’s penis, either. Actually, in the school I was a part of, the kids seemed to have a compulsion to not see any other boy’s penis.

      Just as unhealthy, imo, just… in the other direction.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bed-Man-Okc/100000284524197 Bed Man Okc

      It was not a valid concern of mine, but it was put to me as a reason as a reason to circumcise. I didn’t agree and I don’t think any kid would actually notice the differences, any more than the fact there is hair or size difference.

      But you’re right I don’t think guys compare peckers with their boys.

      Mine didn’t.

      Thank God

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bed-Man-Okc/100000284524197 Bed Man Okc

      It was not a valid concern of mine, but it was put to me as a reason as a reason to circumcise. I didn’t agree and I don’t think any kid would actually notice the differences, any more than the fact there is hair or size difference.

      But you’re right I don’t think guys compare peckers with their boys.

      Mine didn’t.

      Thank God

    • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

      “Do you remember being concerned about the shape of your dads dick as a child?

      For fathers: Did your sons ever seem interested in comparing dicks with you?”

      For me and my brother, it was all about size. I remember once asking our Dad why his was bigger. He told us to shut up and finish peeing. Anyway, puberty took care of that issue.

      At least in my case.

    • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

      Ha!

      Not for me personally, know.

      But this kind of dick-measuring against the father figure isn’t an entirely unreasonable thing to suggest might in fact happen (freudfreudfreud).

      Bit it doesn’t really matter whether it happens or not.

      In either case, it’s just not a good reason to cut the child. The alleged benefit, even if true, does not outweigh the harm.

      I personally suspect that there might be more of the ‘make my son in my own image’ about the notion than there is genuine concern for the confusion of the child.

      Besides. If the question is Why doesn’t mine look like Daddy’s? then an answer I think most young boys could get behind is We figured that cutting yours off would hurt lots so we decided not to do it to you.

      Then just blame the kid’s grandparents. I can’t speak for everyone else… But my mother? She’s got it coming. Kiss me on the cheek in front of my entire class when she drops me off late to school will she?! Grrr. #DARKCHILDHOOD

    • Nude0007

      women compare breast sizes  and characteristics all the time, not to mention other attributes.  Sex parts are just another body feature to compare.  I would bet that some, less prudish women (that’s not a judgment) do compare when the opportunity presents itself.  The first time I saw a man who was NOT circumcised, it kinda freaked me out.  Not knowing why he was different than me was the problem.  I think since men have only one feature that “sticks out”, we kinda automatically look there when it is visible.

  • lkmccormick

    Both of my boys are intact. I didn’t do much research before deciding against circumcision. I didn’t need to. There was nothing about the procedure that seemed normal, natural, or necessary to me. Religious reasons were not a factor, and the medical information seemed neutral at best. Caution and common sense seemed to vote for not permanently altering my newborns’ bodies and subjecting them to surgery right after birth. Now with access to all the information available about circumcision, it’s difficult for me to understand why any parent would choose it for his or her son. And I’m a little surprised to see anyone on an atheist board defend an outdated procedure with religious origins.

    The way I see it, I’ve left the choice in the hands (no pun intended) of my sons.

    • Siamang

      The ones defending it seem to be people who have already done it to their sons and are here to defend their actions as well within their rights.  As if “I have a right to do this to my son” is the same argument as “it is RIGHT to do this to my son.”

  • westley

    Here’s the real-life analogy I use now:

    Suppose a couple brought their young son to a doctor to have their son’s left pinky finger amputated at the joint nearest the fingernail. The parents point out that the boy is right-handed and removing a small part of the smallest finger of his off-hand would not be a significant handicap.  
     
    The doctor sees nothing wrong with the boy’s finger and asks why they want it amputated.  
     
    The parents recognize the symptoms of sickle-cell anemia in their son, and, since survivors of this condition have noticeably foreshortened fingers, the parents want to do what their ancestors have done for centuries – deliberately shorten one of their son’s fingers as a kind of sympathetic magic to increase his chances to survive sickle-cell anemia.  
     
    Of course, there’s no genuine medical reason to think that doing this will help; it’s essentially a religious/superstitious reason.  
     
    Anyone in favor of non-therapeutic circumcision (of minors incapable of consent) should be in favor of amputating the boy’s finger, as far as I can see.  
     
    See:  
    http://biology.kenyon.edu/slonc/gene-web/sickle_cell_project/SocialAspects.html  
     
    “[Sickle cell] trait does not seem pleasant today, but for some tribes in Africa the trait is socially selected for and part of their society. In the Igbo tribes (having a 25% of the tribe as sickle cell carriers) it is thought that the malformations, such as the bossed skull, that sometimes come with the sickle cell anemia trait and disease are beautiful or that they confer some association with the spirits of the dead (such as shortened fingers or toes). Even those not afflicted with the trait tend to cut off fingers or mutilate their children in some way to be more “protected” from the early death that a previous child has suffered. Some of the same mutilations are characteristic of the sickle cell disease and children already born with them are called “obanje” by the Igbo tribe (translated as “children who come and go”). The “obanje” are considered special and may be mutilated further with the notching of the ears or the cutting of one of their fingers to protect them from being taken away early or from returning to become another “obanje”. This characteristic of the “obanje” is not localized to one tribe, but is seen in many tribes with a similarly high population percentage of sickle cell carriers. Evidence even suggests that perhaps this trait of missing or amputated fingers has been going on from the prehistoric ages.”  
     
    So it’s quite possibly older than religious circumcision, too.

  • Adam

    Botched circumcisions are more common than most people realize, because it is a shameful topic it is not openly discussed.  Improper healing bends the penis in unnatural directions,  and can cause painful erections.  The parents of the boy may never discover what they have done. Would you tell your parents?  Some mens lives are ruined by this unnecessary procedure. Even “successful” circumcisions remove sensitive nerves that decrease pleasure.  Why would any any sane person ever do this to a baby? Please, stop circumcision.

  • Higgy

    I had my child circumcised and I will never appologize for it. You people are no different than the people shouting “baby killer” outside of an abortion clinic, as stated above. If you dont want your child to have a circumcision then don’t do it, keep your nose out of what other people chose to do with their children.

    • Anonymous

      So do you support the right of parents to mutilate their baby in any way they see fit?

      - Do you support the right of parents to clip the ears of their babies?
      - Do you support the right of parents to cut off the outer-labia of baby girls?
      - Do you support the right of parents to draw artistic scars across their infants backside?

      All of these things would cause no medical issue, as long as they were done right and have no therapeutic purpose, just like circumcision. So, do you think they should be legal? Would you defend the right of any parent to “choose it for their baby”?

      I don’t think parents who circumcise should be demonized because I don’t think they are really aware that what they are doing is wrong. Many trust doctors who assure them this is completely normal and good for the baby. Social norms make it so for many people circumcision simply isn’t seen as mutilation. I have no doubt that the vast majority of parents who circumcise love their sons dearly and would never knowingly do anything to harm them. Thus, I don’t think they are bad people and they should not be demonized. However, the practice of circumcision itself is deeply immoral and saying so is perfectly OK.

      • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

        It’s also worth pointing out that the form of the argument for circumcision is logically valid reasoning.

        If the benefits of circumcision outweighed the harms and risks of the procedure then informed consent would be justifiable in my eyes.

        To me, the point of disagreement is about whether or not the benefits are as significant as is often claimed… And whether the harms of the procedure are more significant than often realized. 

        I don’t think that the benefits against STD’s are significant enough to warrant the procedure. And I think that ‘fitting in to avoid teasing’ is a bad reason to start with. ‘Women prefer circumcised penises’ is a little bit more persuasive than the avoidance of teasing thing… But that still falls under the banner of social conformity.

        I just don’t think the reasons are good enough to justify the procedure.

        But the logic is sound – so we conclude that the main reason people go ahead with the procedure is because they perceive the benefits to be better than they are (as far as I believe).

        Which is perhaps tragic, but certainly not worth demonizing.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      As someone who was circumcised without a choice in the matter, I hope you never have to apologize. I *do* regret that it was done, as I would like to know what it’s like to have a foreskin, with all those extra nerves and other benefits. I don’t blame my mother, and have never said anything to her about it, but still, there are those who feel a lot worse about it than I do. I hope your son doesn’t become one of those.

    • Emerge555

      “what other people chose to do with their children”?
      Seriously? Children aren’t toys you own, you can’t cut off parts of their body for cosmetic reasons and then play the ownership card. This is a permanent decision, one your son will have to live with forever without any say of his own. Comparing it to abortion, where we’re talking about a woman and HER OWN body, is a completely different situation in every single way.

      If you want to justify what you did, fine, I understand that it’s a common procedure and many people don’t think twice about it. But don’t make false comparisons to try and justify it.

    • Demonhype

      See what I mean about investment psychology and being accustomed to never being challenged?  Somehow having a conversation about this on the internet has become tantamount to people intimidating and threatening other people in person outside an abortion clinic.

      Show me the scads of anti-circs doing what the anti-choicers do.  No, not just having an open internet discussion that criticizes the decision to circumcise, but actively swarming and attacking people outside a pediatric center where circumcisions are done, screaming “baby mutilator” to people coming in the door.  Then maybe you’ll have a point.  Right now, it’s a public discussion and it’s a subject that needs to be discussed rather than just allow everyone to assume circumcision is great and should always be done and never questioned, which was the default position for a while.

      I’m sure you have plenty of opinions about what other people do with their kids when you think it’s wrong or harmful to the kids, and I doubt you’d refrain from expressing it, particularly on a website discussion of the general issue.  Most people do, because children are not property and sometimes parents do harmful things to their kids, either because they are good parents who assume what they are doing is good, or because they are bad parents who don’t care.  In this case, people are challenging your decision–in a non-threatening, verbal, cyber-envorinment–and you don’t like it.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that the people who have chosen it (for the variety of reasons presented) should not be demonized.  Many were persuaded by doctors, and there’s a trust issue there, and many of those doctors, in turn, had been trained in an incorrect fashion.

    This is very much a case where the practice is wrong, more than the people.  Ire should only be directed at people who are in a position to know better, and still peddle the procedure.

    • Demonhype

      Problem is so many pro-circs who have had it done to their kids are invested emotionally now.  No one wants to think they might have endangered their kid for no reason whatsoever, especially when they did that because they trusted someone else’s judgement.  You’re right they shouldn’t be demonized, but even having this discussion will feel to them like being demonized, partially because of that and partially because the pro-circ side has gone unchallenged for so long that it can feel like an attack no matter how nice you try to be.  Kind of like believers and those “You can be good without God” signs.

      I tend to use “cut/uncut” instead of “mutilated”, “intact”, or any such charged words, to avoid knee-jerk hysteria, but sometimes it’s inevitable.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    My kid isn’t cut because I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other.  And I figured, if it doesn’t matter to me, why should I alter the default? 

    My husband’s mother would have declined, but the doctor didn’t bother to ask her opinion, just walked over and ‘snip snip’. 

    • Demonhype

      Gah, they did this to my mom in 1985!  That is, he’s going over the schedule and paperwork and right in the middle of it there was “and then there’s the circumcision, we’ll do that tomorrow”.  She told him not to, he started giving her crap over it and seemed like he was going to do it anyway, and she very deliberately told him that if her child is circumcised she will be suing the living shit out of the hospital.  That made him back off real fast, and to this day my brother is uncut.  And has never had a problem either with hygiene or with girls or with the other boys.

  • Sue Blue

    As an RN who has witnessed and assisted at circumcisions, let me describe the procedure for those of you who think it is just a “personal choice”.  The newborn’s arms and legs are strapped down to a plastic board in a spread-eagle position.  He is given some sugar water on a pacifier, sterile drapes are placed, his penis is prepped (cleansed with chlorhexidine) and the physician injects lidocaine around the dorsal nerve of the penis (yes  - with a needle).  Then the foreskin is elevated (cut free from the membranous fibers that attach it to the glans – this is why an infant’s foreskin cannot be retracted) with a metal spatula.  Depending on the specific method used, a bell-shaped shield is placed over the glans, the foreskin is pulled up over it, held in placed by a plastic ring or a metal device, and the physician then uses a scalpel to cut away the loosened foreskin.  The ring is left in place (Plasti-bell method) and falls off as the tissue heals.  Bleeding is controlled and the glans is wrapped in medicated gauze.  The procedure takes about fifteen to twenty minutes if the physician is skilled and there are no complications, such as excessive bleeding.  

    The procedure is no longer performed at many hospitals and parents have to request it to be done at a pediatric clinic at eight days of age or older.  It is obviously painful.  The infant usually screams and cries even with the sugar water and lidocaine.  There is bleeding.  I can’t imagine that urination is very easy or comfortable until healing occurs – and urinary obstruction due to swelling and trauma is one of the complications that can occur.  I have never seen a parent accompany their infant to watch the procedure – I’m sure that if they did, there would be far fewer circumcisions.   Most of the young parents I’ve seen who requested it did so for the same vague, lame reasons listed above – so the baby could look like daddy and wouldn’t get teased in the locker room later on.  If there are stupider reasons to subject a newborn to a surgical procedure, I’ve never heard them.

    Because it is a medically unnecessary procedure, and the infant cannot give consent, I refuse to work in pediatric clinics or hospitals that perform circumcisions.   I agree with others here who have compared it to parents branding, tatooing or piercing babies.   It is a body modification done solely for cultural reasons and should be the choice of the male (adult) whether to have it done.  It should never be forced on infants or young children.

    • Mihangel apYrs

      if there were a god, I’d ask it to bless you,

      In its absence, I will send my felicitations

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      It is not “medically unnecessary” at all — it makes for good hygiene!

      • Rich Wilson

        So does soap.  Hey, if cleaning body parts is an issue, let’s talk about removing vulvas.

        • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

          Ha!

          That’s a turn around on an old position.

          Imagine:

          Listen kiddo, it is very important that you rub your penis in the shower with this sanitizing and moisturized lubricant…

          No, stop laughing, I’m serious.

          If you don’t it might fall off someday.

          Save it for the shower though. Your mother and I get really weirded out when we do the laundry and get stiff sheets. Stop doing it and I’ll stop having these awkward conversations with you about it, deal?

    • Demonhype

      Thank you!  I remember hearing a recording of a baby being circumcised when I was a little girl.  I had a little baby brother at the time, so I was well acquainted with the various howls of an infant including getting a shot, but this was something different.  It sounded like a horror movie, as if the baby was literally being killed.  I didn’t know what they were doing to the baby on the news, but I started crying and turned to my mother to ask “what are they doing to that baby, mommy?”  I’ve never forgotten it either.  No one who hears that ever will.

  • Heidi

    This is really interesting to me. When my son was born (1992), my conversation with the doctor went like this:

    Him: Do you want him circumcised?
    Me: Nope.
    Him: Oh, thank goodness. I hate doing that.

    About a year ago, I was reading something about circumcision, which led to this conversation with my son:

    Son: What is circumcision?
    Me: It’s when they cut off a baby’s foreskin.
    Son: They WHAT??!! Why?
    Me: Some people just have it done. I don’t think it’s a good idea, which is why we didn’t have it done to you.
    Son: THANK YOU! Oh, gaaawd.

    My sister, OTOH, was present at her grandson’s circumcision (2001). She and my niece were very much pro-make-him-look-the-same-as-everyone-else. She told me afterward that it was awful, and that she would never have that done to a little boy again.

    • Heidi

      Wow.  I accidentally typed in some totally messed up html. Sorry. It won’t let me edit or delete it.

    • Heidi

      Wow.  I accidentally typed in some totally messed up html. Sorry. It won’t let me edit or delete it.

  • Oldfogey

    Living in Britain this all seems a very weird discussion. Currently non-therapeutic circumcision rate for babies is about 3.1%.  This means that it is becoming rarer even among Jews. Doctors are required to get formal written consent from both parents, and if there is no medical reason it has to be paid for as a private op.

    Curiously, I have not been circumcised, but neither do I have a foreskin; I gather that this happens in about 1 in 10,000 births.

  • Steve

    Think about hygiene… I used to run STD and HIV clinics. Most of the ulcerative STD’s I saw were in uncut men. It was my perception that early on, more of the positive HIV tests(in straight men) showed up in the uncut. I have NEVER seen a case of cancer of the penis that was not in an uncut man. The STD transmission data lead to a broad recommendation that men in Africa undergo adult circumcision! That would be traumatic.

    When we evolved, we were running around the plains of Africa naked. Would you rather run into tall grass with or without a foreskin? Now we live longer and wear clothes. In years of training and practice, I never saw a cut man in the hospital for penis problems (I am an internist), but I had to do 1 or 2 consults a month on someone on the urology service with an uncut penis with some bad problem.

    I have walked the Earth for 57 years circumcised. I don’t remember having it done to me. If I had a son, I’d have him whacked at birth and sleep all the better at night.

    • Anonymous

      Excellent input.  I thank you.  Prepare to be flamed within an inch of your life, though… :-)

      • Demonhype

        Nah, I’d only point out that his anecdote is as valuable as evidence as the anti-circ RN’s anecdote upthread likely is to you guys.  His input is about as good as anyone else’s has been on this thread–a personal story arguing a point.

    • Rich Wilson

      I think if there was widespread (or any) evidence to back up your anecdotal inverse correlation between penis problems and circumcision, the CDC and APA recommendations would be different.

    • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

      I’ve come across this line of argument before – and I find it only mildly persuasive.

      The gold standard in preventing STD transmission is condom use.

      Some really good evidence of strong protection when compared against condom use and controlled against neither condom use nor circumcision would make your argument much stronger in my eyes. Of course such a study would have to be observational for ethical reasons – I am prepared to accept the limits that such methods impose.

      In the absence of such a study, my perception is that the protection offered by circumcision is non-zero but minor when compared against consistent condom use. 

      The persuasiveness of the argument is therefore proportional to my perceptions of the protection offered by the method; non-zero but minor.

      I don’t find this persuasive enough to overcome my prior resistance to circumcision based on the short-term harm to the child.

      But that isn’t to say that the argument does not have merit. I could easily be persuaded to agree with you by a body of very strong evidence that the protective effects of circumcision in terms of STD’s are verifiably significant.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Considering the hygienic advantages of circumcision, yes, I would have my (hypothetical) son circumcised.

    • Demonhype

      Or you could teach him hygiene.  My brother’s wife said “it’s for hygiene, it’s jut cleaner” and he asked her straight away “so you’re saying I’m dirty?  Why are you even with me if I’m ‘not clean’?”  My mom made sure to teach my brother to clean it and since us girls were much older she had us help her give him a bath, so we also learned how to clean it in case we ever have kids.  You teach your child to brush his teeth and wash his face and tie his shoes, why can’t you teach him how to clean himself properly?  Why slice off healthy flesh from your baby when you can achieve the same effect by being a good parent and encouraging a conscientious hygiene regimen?  As someone stated above, it literally takes only a few more seconds to clean an uncut penis.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Because the foreskin has no real purpose — like the appendix, it’s a relic.

        • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

          Or maybe not: 

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreskin#Functions

          I have seen anecdotes from men who were cut as adults, and they’ve reported decreased sensitivity of the glans and a loss of sensation. I’ve also seen anecdotes from those who’ve undergone restoration, and they’ve reported sexual benefits.  Admittedly, those were on sites where I would expect such anecdotes.

        • Rich Wilson

          I’m sure your partner will be part of the decision (or better yet your hypothetical son) and you’ll do some research first http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html 

    • Demonhype

      Or you could teach him hygiene.  My brother’s wife said “it’s for hygiene, it’s jut cleaner” and he asked her straight away “so you’re saying I’m dirty?  Why are you even with me if I’m ‘not clean’?”  My mom made sure to teach my brother to clean it and since us girls were much older she had us help her give him a bath, so we also learned how to clean it in case we ever have kids.  You teach your child to brush his teeth and wash his face and tie his shoes, why can’t you teach him how to clean himself properly?  Why slice off healthy flesh from your baby when you can achieve the same effect by being a good parent and encouraging a conscientious hygiene regimen?  As someone stated above, it literally takes only a few more seconds to clean an uncut penis.

  • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

    General question.

    I remember a Penn and Teller: Bullshit episode on circumcision.

    They asserted that the foreskin is loaded with sensitive nerve-endings that intensify male sexual pleasure, and also that because of this in recent centuries puritan Christians widely encouraged circumcision to reduce the incidence of masturbation in men (Eeevvr’y sperm is saaaaaa-cred/Eeevvr’y sperm is graaaaaaate/Iiiiif a sperm is waaaaase-ted/God-gets-quite-iiiii-raaaaaate…)

    While I love Penn and Teller to pieces, I don’t always take everything they say without the occasional pinch of salt.

    Are their assertions, as I have related them above, actually correct?

    I genuinely don’t know the answer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    It’s like giving your baby a nose job. Fuck circumcision. It’s child abuse.

  • PJB863

    A couple of observations. 

    First, I’ve never seen so many comments on a subject on this blog of late, especially since it’s not per se a religionist/atheist issue. 

    Most, but certainly not all,  of the commenters who view it as mutilation seem to be women or uncircumcised men, yet 75% of American men are circumcised.  I’m going to assume (yes, I know what happens when we ass-u-me) that most readers and posters on this blog are in the U.S.

    My  perspective:  I am a gay American-born male  (circumcised at birth) who’s “been around the block” a few times, and been with both cut and uncut men in the sack.  Circumcision doesn’t seem to make much difference when it comes to sexual pleasure.  If it did, I would think uncut guys would enjoy sex a lot more than cut guys.  My experiences indicate that both sets of guys seem to enjoy sex a lot (they are guys, after all!), and once they get down to business, it’s really hard to tell the difference (no pun intended).

    As for the appearance argument, yes, guys do look in locker rooms, etc., but it’s not something any healthy male is going to obsess over.  The Jr. and Sr. high school I went to had several European immigrants who were not circumcised.  When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I asked my dad about it and he explained it – a 3-minute conversation.

    • Rich Wilson

      First, I’ve never seen so many comments on a subject on this blog of late, especially since it’s not per se a religionist/atheist issue.

      I’m pretty sure Hemant has a comment quota to keep up with Patheos :-)

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

        No quota. Just an interesting topic!

        On Wednesday, September 21, 2011, Disqus <

  • Ben

    When I was young, about 12 or 13, a friend of mine had a condition (I don’t remember which, it was nearly 20 years ago) that meant he had to be circumcised. This brought up a discussion at the time with my parents about why I and my brothers weren’t circumcised.

    They told me they didn’t have it done because it wasn’t their decision to make, it was mine to make when I was old enough. Funnily enough my parents also told me the same thing about religion, which is why I’m both uncircumcised and atheist. Yes, they could have had me circumcised if they wanted, just like they could have indoctrinated me into their religion (not that they’re overly religious), but they respected me as an individual before I could vouch for myself.

    As an adult now I’m extremely grateful that my parents didn’t circumcise me because even uncircumcised I barely have any foreskin. If i’d had a portion of it cut off when a baby I’m sure as an adult it would be extremely uncomfortable (conjecture I know, but for me it’s quite easy to imagine having seen many other foreskins in my time). I’ve known a couple of men who’ve claimed they feel some uncomfortable stretching and sometimes pain because of their lack of foreskin.

    This alone, the not knowing whether you’re going to cause your s0n sexual discomfort, should be enough to stop parents from circumcising their children.

    This is no judgement on people who have circumcised their boys, there are many factors at play that can cause pressure to do it, and plenty of misinformation. But I can’t respect anybody who would walk away from this discussion with the opinion that circumcision is a choice for parents to make for their children, any more than I could respect a parent who decided to have their own name tattooed on their baby’s arm.

    • Anonymous

      When I was young, about 12 or 13, a friend of mine had a condition (I
      don’t remember which, it was nearly 20 years ago) that meant he had to
      be circumcised.

      It may have been phimosis, a relatively common condition where the foreskin cannot retract automatically when the penis is erect. There are nonsurgical treatments but circumcision is also a typical way of treating it. One excuse I’ve heard for circumcision is that you prevent phimosis and the painful surgery on a teenager that ensues (somehow the suffering of a newborn doesn’t matter?). Oddly enough, none of the people saying that think that all babies should get their appendix out at birth, even though appendicitis is a much more serious condition than phimosis.

  • Siamang

     How long would circumsision last as a cultural relic if it was something that children forced on their parents?

  • Ken

    My dad was cut and I wasn’t. Growing up, I never had a problem with mine not looking the same as my dad’s.As for the first day of gym class. I was nervous because my parents told me there was a good chance everyone else was cut. When I actually came to it, I discovered it was more like 70% were cut. Circumcision rates are really not as high as people think. It is very regionally dependent.Locker room bullies were never an issue because if a guy was stupid enough to make fun of another guy being uncut (this literally has never happened in my life), they would be intensely ridiculed for admitting he looked at another guy’s junk. You’ve gotta try to think of this situation like a nervous 14-year-old boy starving for acceptance (the bully).Throughout my sexual development, I never had a partner who cared about my foreskin. Most were a little intrigued. But, none of them really knew the difference enough to care.Now as a married adult man, I am very grateful for being uncut. I’m convinced that sex is much more stimulating and pleasureful because of my foreskin.All the baby boys in my family since my birth have been uncut. As well as dozens of family friend baby boys. There is no way I will cut my baby boys when the time comes.

    • Ken

      Damnit. What happened to all of my paragraphs?

      • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

        Disqus does that to me every now and again too.

        Usually if I go back in and edit in all my old line-breaks and then save the edit, things get fixed.

        • Ken

          I’m wondering if editing is not allowed for posting as a guest. I don’t see any way to edit my post.

          • Rich Wilson

            The edit does go away after a while.  You have to be quick about it (or maybe it’s the guest thing also)

          • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

            Ah – yes, that’ll be it.

            I have permanent edits on my Disqus comments – but then again, I have an account.

  • nom de plum

    All these people talk about circumcision like the uncircumcised get harassed by their peers and laughed at by their potential partners. Well here’s one uncircumcised guy who has never had anyone cares about it one whit. No girl cared, none of my friends cared when we changed to go swimming. This “he’ll be made fun of crap” is just crap.

  • 3k4rf99w

     “women are freaked out by uncircumcised men” – Really not a problem.  By the time he is sexually active, he’ll be old enough to choose whether or not he wants to have cosmetic surgery to conform to some perceived social norm.  No one considers getting their infant girl breast implants so that guys will like her when she gets older.

    “Would my son be sad, that his ‘didn’t look like Daddies.’” – If you simply don’t make a habit of showing your son your penis, this shouldn’t be a problem either.
     

  • Fester60613

    I would NEVER sign off on circumcision for a newborn.
    As an anti-religionist I would NEVER sign off on circumcision for religious reasons.
    The only reason i would agree to circumcise would be medical – too tight, the skin attached to the crown of the penis  (I forget the name of the condition, but Louis XVI had it) and other such conditions.
    Please do NOT butcher your son without medical cause.

  • Steven

    My circumcision, performed just after I was born, was botched. As a result, I have never been able to have a climax without using my own (or a very cooperative partner’s) hand, and even that takes a lot of perseverance. My parents first mentioned that something had gone wrong to me when I turned twenty, years after I had started worrying about what was wrong with me. The offending doctor was long dead, and there was nothing to be done about it. 
    I wouldn’t want to force anyone to take even the slightest chance that they’d end up like me, just for the sake of its supposed advantages.

    • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

      Thanks for sharing that.

      I wasn’t aware that this was a possible risk of the procedure.

      It’s too common that people suggest that there are slight benefits to the procedure but entirely ignore the harm/risks.

  • kaileyverse

    I think circumcision is something that a person should decide for himself.  I definitely think that it is a personal preference – and a person should be allowed to make an informed decision.

  • Cerenatee

    7% of men who are uncircumcised will end up being circumcised because of problems.

    Men who were circumcised as adults were asked if they noticed a difference in their enjoyment of sex. They said no. 

    Circumcision protects against urinary tract infections.

    Circumcisions protect against cervical cancer for women.

    Circumcision guarantees males won’t get penile cancer.

    Circumcisonunquestionably facilitates better hygiene and the avoidance of conditions that result from uncleanliness. However, the most compelling reasons for circumcision among pediatric surgeons and urologists are balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and phimosis (stricture of the foreskin, resulting from recurrent infections). These painful conditions almost always occur in uncircumcised males. In babies, balanitis is caused by soiled diapers, as well as by playing or sitting in dirty areas.

    A circumcised penis looks 1000 times better than having that worm looking thing. 

    I think the men that are circumcised have sexual hangups and are just looking for something, anything, to blame their problems on. No foreskin, that’s it. That’s the reason I’m a sexual embarrassment. 

    Whatever. I suggest you seek counseling but as an adult, you do what makes you happy. As for my family, I have three sons and a husband who are glad they got circumcised as babies and would never dream of the horror of having to go through a circumcision as an adult. And if we have another son, we’re going to get him circumcised also. I’ll let my husband and sons clap me on the back.

  • Cerenatee

    Oh yeah, circumcision reduces the chance of getting and of spreading HIV. And I know guys could easily get  around that by using condoms but the fact is, they don’t. I don’t live in what people should do, I live in the world of what they do. Most men don’t use condoms consistently. Being circumcised saves lives.

    • Anonymous

      I think you jumped the shark on that one.


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