We had our oldest son in the hospital and he was circumcised at birth, partly because we didn’t know any better, and partly because I wanted him to “be like me” (“it’s normal, everyone does it”). I decided that I would accompany him and be with him during the process because I needed to know what it entailed, and I wasn’t going to send him to a room with the doc by himself. After witnessing his birth and holding his tiny body to my chest, being filled with love and awe at this miracle, I couldn’t let him be taken behind closed doors to have surgery without me.
I’m so grateful that I went with him. Not because I could do anything to comfort him or bond with him, but because my eyes were opened to the trauma inflicted on me and on him (and all other cut men) by the barbaric practice of circumcision.
Warning: Graphic video! Watch this if you want to be totally turned off to circumcision. If you have a weak stomach or are prone to fainting, please do not watch it!
I now believe that if you want to circumcise your baby, then the mother should be required to hold her newborn while it is done. I can guarantee you that circumcision at birth would be a rarity if mothers had to pry their son’s legs apart and restrain them while someone cuts off a part of their infant’s penis. There aren’t any mothers that I know that would let pain and suffering be inflicted on their child by a stranger with a knife. For more, see Mothers Who Observed Circumcision.
How could we look at our brand new baby boy, thinking he’s so perfect, and then almost immediately send him out to have something surgically removed from his body? And not for disease or dysfunction, but because we’re stupid sheep that run with the flock…
Think about it: A newborn, just starting to breathe air and take nourishment through the mouth, has a pretty immature immune system, and we’re willing to let someone cut off a large flap of skin and leave an open wound on the genitals. In a hospital, one of the most infectious environments that humans have created, no less.
Here are some circumcision links to get you started:
- Psychological Impact of Circumcision on Men
- Why Most Circumcised Men Seem Satisfied
- Nurses for the Rights of the Child
- Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.): Physicians for Genital Integrity
“Circumcision, The Hidden Trauma is the first intensive exploration of the unrecognized psychological and social aspects of this increasingly controversial American cultural practice. The book has been endorsed by dozens of professionals in psychology, psychiatry, child development, pediatrics, obstetrics, childbirth education, sociology, and anthropology.
Without much knowledge, the American public generally assumes that our cultural practice of circumcision is a trivial and benign procedure. As discussed in Circumcision, The Hidden Trauma, plain facts and recent research results conflict with these beliefs and raise questions. Dr. Goldman’s application of psychological and social research coherently explains both the tenacity of the practice and the contradictory information and beliefs about it. After a review of the surprising abilities of infants and their responses to circumcision pain, the long-term psychological effects of circumcision are examined from the perspectives of both traditional and more recent, innovative psychological theories. We learn that circumcision has potential effects not only on men and sexuality, but also on mother-child relationships, male-female relationships, and societal traits and problems. The text is supported with clinical reports, interviews, surveys, and thorough documentation.
Circumcision, The Hidden Trauma identifies an overlooked source of early pain and simultaneously points us in the direction of both healing and preventing this pain. It is of particular interest to men who seek to explore their sexuality and deepen self-awareness; women who want to understand men better; parents and children’s advocates; childbirth educators and allied workers; and mental health, medical, and academic professionals. The book has wide appeal because, more generally, it is about trusting our instincts, questioning some of our cultural values and assumptions, and reflecting on who we are and who we can be as individuals and as a society.”
More links to rethinking circumcision:
- An Appeal to New Fathers
- Deconstructing Circumcision
- Foreskins For Sale
- Genital Mutilation Prohibition Act
- Medical Fraud and the Criminal Assault of Boys
- History of Circumcision
- Genital Integrity
- Circumcision: A Closer Look
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Circumcision Policy Statement
I certainly can’t speak for the ritual/religious side of the circumcision issue, as I don’t have that experience in my life. If you believe that it is a covenant with the Creator, then I respect that as your faith, but I don’t think we should circumcise baby boys at all. However, I think that it would be a great test of manhood and faith to undergo circumcision as an adult or in a coming of age ritual.
For the most part, circumcisions are performed on a routine basis, with no religious or ritual significance. Maybe it’s a way to get a little more revenue, to get you to buy into the machine of big medicine, maybe it’s just monkey-see, monkey-do. I know it was for me. I didn’t even question it. Circumcision is just what you do when you have a boy baby, and everybody else is doing it… Then you have the fear factor of “what could happen if we don’t do this?” that adds to the argument for cutting, and the thought that if you didn’t do it, you’d be different, and he’d be different, and so on.
So what? Be different. Let him be different.
If enough of us are, then we’re the norm, and circumcision is the oddity.
UPDATE: The real reason you’re circumcised:
(Just realized that I needed to clarify: I have two sons. The oldest was born in a hospital and was circumcised. He lives with his mother, and this post is about that experience. My younger son was not circumcised, was born at home, and I tell his birth story here: Unassisted Birth: A Father’s Experience.)