I know LOTS of fantastic parents who circumcised their newborn sons, including some of my closest friends. I don’t think that circumcising your child makes you a terrible parent or that there is a special place in hell for circumcisers or anything like that. However, I do think that routine infant circumcision is misguided.
Here are some common reasons why people choose to circumcise their sons and why I don’t think they are valid. I know this is a touchy subject. I am in no way trying to put any parent down. I am trying to tread lightly on a subject that I think matters a lot.
I don’t have a penis, so I deferred to my husband.
So who makes this decision for single mothers? For lesbians? Your husband may have a penis, but chances are pretty good that he was circumcised as an infant and knows no differently. Research circumcision. Watch a video of it. We watch birth videos, why not a circumcision video? If your husband is circumcised, a doctor did this to him. That is no reason to do it to your baby.
If it was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for my baby.
Circumcision in antiquity was not the same process as what occurs today. DrMomma has a great article concerning biblical circumcision.
“For there are many who rebel against right teaching; they engage in useless talk and deceive people. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced. By their wrong teaching, they have already turned whole families away from the truth. Such teachers only want your money” – Titus 1:10-11
“Watch out for those wicked men – dangerous dogs, I call them – who say you must be circumcised. Beware of the evil doers. Beware of the mutilation. For it isn’t the cutting of our bodies that makes us children of God; it is worshiping him with our spirits.” – Phil 3:2-3
“I wish that those who are pushing you to do so would mutilate themselves!” – Gal 5:12
My husband is circumcised and his penis is perfect.
Your husband’s circumcised penis is no doubt awesome, but he has lost a valuable and functional part of his body. When circumcision was pushed here in American (and Britain) in the late 1800s, it was done to decrease masturbation among boys. Most circumcised males (and some circumcised females) are still able to have a “healthy” sex life, but the foreskin of the penis does have a valuable function. A LOT of sexual problems that are attributed to the female (low libido, lack of lubrication, soreness after sex, IT JUST HURTS) may actually stem from sex with a circumcised partner. We aren’t supposed to be the only ones providing lubrication and we shouldn’t be sore and swollen after a marathon sex session.
“After circumcision, the exposed head of the penis thickens like a callus and becomes less sensitive. And because erotically sensitive areas of the penis have been removed, the circumcised penis must thrust more vigorously with a much longer stroke in order to reach orgasm through stimulating the less sensitive penile shaft. In her study of women who have had sexual experiences with both natural and circumcised men, O’Hara notes that respondents overwhelmingly concurred that the mechanics of coitus were different for the two groups of men. Seventy-three percent of the women reported that circumcised men tended to thrust harder, using elongated strokes; while intact men tended to thrust more gently, to have shorter strokes, and to maintain more contact between the mons pubis and clitoris.” Read this full article from Men’s Health Magazine at DrMomma.org.
(If you are my family member, please skip this next paragraph)
On that note, I’d like to say that I love my husband’s circumcised penis. It’s a part of him, I love him, I love sex with him, and I don’t view him as maimed, mutilated, or disfigured. However, I do know that we have both been robbed of the opportunity for sex to be even more awesome than it already is because of our culture’s promotion of routine infant circumcision. The circumcised men in our lives have been wronged, but they aren’t ruined. They have had a functional, highly erogenous part of their body cut off for no good reason though. When we were discussing circumcision while I was pregnant, Jed told me, “If sex without a foreskin is great and with a foreskin is even better, why would we rob our son of that?”
Circumcised penises are easier to clean.
As a culture we have more experience cleaning circumcised penises, but don’t be intimidated by a foreskin. It requires no extra effort in the beginning, no retraction, and cleaning the outside only. There are a lot of great resources on how to care for an intact penis online. A lot of parents have heard a horror story about a cousin’s friend or friend’s cousin who had an infection and had to have their foreskin surgically removed at the age of 8 or 88. I think that if I was a little boy and someone said I had to either clean my penis correctly or have a surgery to cut part of it off, I would be motivated to be more hygenic. As for old men in nursing homes, that is a care issue and absolutely breaks my heart.
I am not, however, saying that medically necessary circumcision is never a valid decision. Things can go wrong, penises can need surgery. The routine removal of healthy, functional tissue that will affect a huge part of your son’s life for no good reason is what bums me out.
Circumcision reduces the rates of STDs/cancer.
So does abstinence, condoms, and monogamy. Those things also allow your son to keep his body parts.
We circumcised my first son.
There is no reason why you can’t leave your second son intact. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You can find some great resources for dealing with family discussions here.
It’s just an extra piece of skin.
This was originally intended to be a guest post, but fits beautifully here. Written by The Family Penis.
“The function of the foreskin is often missing from the debate over its fate. What is it there for? It’s there for pleasure and protection. Pleasure? The structures of the inner foreskin are all erogenous. Protection? Along with the glans, the inner foreskin is only exposed during excitement.
So what does circumcision do? It removes varying amounts of inner foreskin leaving what’s left exposed becoming desensitized over time. The glans dries out and develops a toughened surface. Circumcision also removes the mobility of the skin system of the penis making the skin taught and immobile during excitement. So why?
Non-religious infant circumcision in the USA started during the prudish Victorian era to prevent masturbation. It may not have worked but circumcision does make masturbation more difficult. A normal intact male masturbates by rolling his foreskin back and forth over his glans like this:
Image courtesy of http://penisprepuce.tumblr.com/
The foreskin is like a built-in masturbation sleeve. And the inner foreskin is all erogenous tissue so it feels fantastic as it rolls back and forth over the glans. Circumcised men are left with varying amounts of inner foreskin. It is that different colored skin running between the glans and the circumcision scar. But a circumcised man must rely on lube or friction for pleasure as the mobility is gone.
The rolling action of the foreskin aids with sexual intercourse. There is less friction and the rolling foreskin provides pleasure for both the man and his partner. Yes, women experienced with both report sex is better when a man has his foreskin. Penetration is easier as the glans is slippery and moist and foreskin unrolls as the penis penetrates.
Is it any wonder the anti-sex/anti-pleasure types were for circumcision?
So remember, the foreskin is much much more than just a piece of skin. It provides pleasure and protection often overlooked in the pros and the cons.
More information available at http://www.circumstitions.com/Sexuality.html ”
-The Family Penis (http://twitter.com/FamilyPenis)
It’s our family’s decision.
I don’t own my son’s penis. It’s not my decision. He has not consented to the removal of his foreskin, it’s not medically necessary, so I won’t make that decision for him. I also won’t pierce my daughter’s ears or put her on birth control without her consent. I plan on teaching my children to respect their own bodies and to respect the bodies of other people. I want my children to know that they have to make their own decisions someday regarding sex, relationships, reproduction, and many other things, but that nobody can make those decisions except for them.
I will respect those decisions. My respect for them started before their birth.
I am thankful every day that I went with my gut feelings and said no to circumcision for my son. I fully believe that he was created/evolved to have a foreskin for a reason. I have no doubt that forgiving yourself when you think you made the wrong choice is a lengthy process, but part of being both a human and a parent (in my experience) is doing things wrong and learning from them.