At the risk of diving straight into one of those "controversial" subjects, here goes! For whatever reason, the topic of circumcision has been on my mind for a few days, and I'm feeling it's time to share. A great facebook page that I follow called Motherwise shared a link the other day with the image below:
It's a pretty one-sided image, I know. Notice, there are no other boxes with options that pop up with alternate answers. That's pretty much how I feel about the subject personally! To be honest, I'm not going to attempt to write this from an in-between standpoint, because that's not how I feel. I shared the above picture and the accompanying quote on my facebook page yesterday, and got a lot of interesting feedback from it. It was actually half and half men to women, which was great.
As I was sitting here thinking about writing this post, I realized that not a single person asked me (when I was pregnant) if we would by circumcising our child if we had a boy (we had no ultrasounds, but were completely positive we were having a boy). I asked Franky if anyone asked him – he said a couple of people asked out of curiosity – but not a single person tried giving us a lecture or anything of the sort. A friend of mine mentioned the other day that she had received flack about her and her husband's personal decisions regarding this matter, and they had received a few "lectures" from people and family members.
I feel very fortunate that our family supports us in our child-raising decisions basically no matter what! We experienced no lectures on the matter, thankfully. I feel as though people may have avoided asking me about this subject due to them wanting to avoid a "lecture" - coming from me!
I had an interesting personal experience with this matter a couple of months ago. I have a friend with a family whom I love and support. They are of a judaism tradition, and they are very devoted to their spiritual path. They too had zero ultrasounds when they were pregnant with their second child (and their first for that matter) - and were basing the sex of their child upon intuition alone. About a month before the birth of their child, my friend told me they were still deciding upon the circumcision tradition and how they would want it to be performed.
At that moment, I completely dropped out and was no longer able to communicate. For me personally, I needed to take a step back and create some space so that I wouldn't have a reaction that I may not be pleased about in the future. Taking time and space is one of the healthiest things I've ever experienced, I highly recommend at least taking a moment to decide which path to take in a situation that brings up personal triggers.
Spiritually, I understand that we choose our families, and every experience happens for us as an opportunity for growth. I was able to eventually drop the anger I felt around this situation. Shortly after that shifted for me, my friends baby was born and it was a girl!
I suppose I do need to share my point on the actual subject. It's genital mutilation – whichever way you want to look at it. I'm sorry if that terminology bothers you, but please know – it is the truth. For some strange and absurdly scary reason, it is accepted as the "norm" in this society.
One of the strangest concepts that I somehow cannot grasp - is that parents think they only need to concern themselves with the "plan of circumcision" if they are having a boy. Do you know how completely odd and sexist that sounds to me personally? Very.
So basically, it is the "norm" to mutilate the genitals of males, yet if a parent had the same thoughts about circumcising their female daughter, they might get their daughter taken away or the parents go to jail in this country. That's not a double standard at all, nope.
Side note: I might be extra comfortable in speaking on this subject, due to the fact that I have a 21 month old son who we intentionally chose not to circumcise.
One "excuse" I have heard from people before is "I'm going to circumcise my child so that he doesn't look different from his dad." --- I'm sorry, what? Ever heard of communicating with your child? "My dear son. Your penis looks different from your dad's because as the loving parents that we are, we decided not to have your parts mutilated by a man or woman who was no doubt a stranger to you on one of your first days alive on this planet." There. Done.
Side story: I find it rather surprising how parents want to avoid communicating with their children around certain "awkward" subjects (who decides it's awkward!!). One example that comes to mind - my wonderful sweet husband Franky happened to propose to me in an airport baggage claim when he came to pick me up from a trip. He had played a cute little trick on me to make me find a ring box with a ring inside in his back pocket, and it was an extremely special moment that neither one of us will ever forget. Needless to say, once I was "his" – we embraced and kissed a little – really not even that much. Some woman had the nerve to come ask us to "stop" because she didn't feel like explaining anything to her kids at the moment. UMMMM. WHAT? Explain what? Two people in love, celebrating that love and sharing a wonderful embrace. Again. Done.
Ok, that was a bit blunt I know, but truthful? Yes. I'm sure there are many other ways a parent could communicate this "difference" or curiosity that their child might have.
Truthfully, the "circumcised" parts are what a normal male part looks like in this culture - am I wrong? Thus brings up the other "excuse" I have heard before. "I didn't want him to look different." So basically the decision is cruel genital mutilation in order to make the child "fit in" or "not look different from other males." That doesn't sound like crowd or mind control - not at all.
I urge you to read this profound article from Birth Into Being, written by Marilyn Milos.
An article that a friend recently shared from Circumcision.org states this:
Circumcision trauma has long-term effects. In a medical journal survey of 546 circumcised men who reported circumcision harm, the following effects and feelings were noted.
- anger, rage, sense of loss, shame, sense of having been victimized and mutilated
- low self-esteem, fear, distrust, and grief
- relationship difficulties, sexual anxieties, and depression
- reduced emotional expression, lack of empathy, and avoidance of intimacy
Some of these men wish they had been given a choice at a later time rather than having circumcision forced on them when they were too young to resist.
Please read "Psychological Effects of Circumcision" here.
The above effects do not even mention the pain an infant is caused when this mutilation is performed.
Let's pause for a minute here. I remember back to the moments/days when my son was first on this planet. I was fortunate enough to have a homebirth/waterbirth with only my husband, and midwives present. The amount of maternal protection and intuition that is so palpable those first few days/weeks, no one could come between my son and I. To be honest, it was a challenging moment for me to let anyone but me hold him - including his own father.
I have thought back to these moments many times thinking, wow – if anyone had come near me with the intention of circumcising my son or needles to inject (vaccines - whole other subject for a future time) – I can only imagine my results would have been off the charts ultimate protection to keep my baby safe. To be perfectly blunt, I wouldn't be afraid to use violence against someone attempting to jeopardize the ultimate health, safety, and emotional wellbeing of my son.
Here's another great story from a Mom who struggled with the Circumcision decision.
With all of the above being said, I feel I could go on and on about this subject. I encourage you to make an educated and empowered choice when it comes to your child!
If you have already made this choice with your child and regret it, I want to hear your story. Please share your thoughts and opinions below! Please don't be afraid to show your true colors and sing your song. I want to hear it!!