Here's To A Boring Year

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Baby boys are less important than puppies

So I was all set to do the chain letter award that Cookie bestowed upon me (thanks Cookie!), and then she up and posted about circumcision.

Oh boy.

Before I go off like a frog in a sock here, I want to clarify that I know every parent does what they think is best for their child. I don’t doubt that. And I’m going to leave out the religious reasons entirely because that’s a whole other ball game.

What I do question is why people think that circumcision is the best option (or even an option). It’s less common here than in America now, although in the 1950s as many as 80% of baby boys were routinely circumcised. According to Circumcision Information Australia around 14% of boys are now cut during their first year. Although given my perception of the American healthcare system as a money-grabbing whore (nobody should have to go bankrupt trying to treat their child’s cancer!), I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that unnecessary medical procedures are encouraged.

There is also an excellent FAQ section on that website, but in short there is no medical reason for most circumcision, and no medical authority which recognizes a routine need for the procedure. Of course there are some instances in which it is medically necessary, but these should be addressed on a case by case basis.

I have friends who are on both sides of the debate. One boy was cut to ‘match his father’ , one was uncut but will likely lose his foreskin to corrective surgery for a common congenital defect. Hubs wasn’t circumcised and disagrees with the procedure in any case, so it wasn’t really an issue for us – Monkey is intact. But I would have fought tooth and nail for his right to stay that way, if it had been an issue.

I don’t understand why people think this is such a small thing to do – just give a boy ‘the snip’. Nobody would dream of having their babies’ pinky fingers removed shortly after birth because they preferred the way it looked.

What really gets me is that several years ago here in Australia they passed a law that banned the docking of puppies’ tails, because it caused unnecessary suffering and had no purpose other than aesthetics. It was commonly done to numerous breeds simply because that was the cultural norm.

And I see no difference between that and circumcision. It especially makes me cringe when people just do it without putting much thought into it, because ‘that’s what everyone else does’ or because they want the son’s penis to match his father’s (does that sound really creepy to anybody else?). My nose does not look like my mother’s nose, and nobody is worried about that!

If you’re going to amputate part of your baby’s anatomy without anaesthesia just days after they’re born, the least you can do is make an informed decision based in valid scientific fact. Surely that is not too much to ask?


9 comments on “Baby boys are less important than puppies

  1. cookie1986
    May 20, 2013

    Oh Boy. Looks like I’ve caused QUITE the stir, lol. I love that, because I like that people have the freedom and forum to express how they feel on matters such as these. I also love your passion about this issue and respect your opinion very much. As someone who has seen their child endure what I can imagine as an enormous amount of suffering, I can absolutely understand your position.

    As a disclaimer, I think the ethics of the American health care system is questionable also. I, however, am in Canada. Where health care is universal. The government doesn’t pay for circumcision, as it is elective in most cases.

    Furthermore, the procedure is not done without anesthetic. This would be cruel and ridiculous. There is a topical anesthetic used prior to the needle which numbs the entire area is given. I’m curious what you think about mothers who pierce their baby girl’s ears during infancy? It think it’s bullshit, interestingly enough.

    I’m not sure that the comparison to amputating a pinky finger is effective. I can tell you as a violinist, lol, that a pinky finger is the difference between me earning my living and not earning my living. Not exactly the same as a foreskin.

    We have other parts of our body that we take out routinely, such as wisdom teeth before they cause a problem for cosmetic reasons as well. And teeth have more function than foreskin, in my opinion. Most of the time they are removed because they would cause overcrowding and crooked teeth. Maybe this is a fairer comparison?

    The puppy argument is going to have to lay as it is. I’m not going there, haha.

    And finally ( sorry this is so long winded) I found it really interesting how the folks are split on this issue. The pros are somewhat more forgiving of each parent’s decision based on medical, cultural, or personal preference. The cons are MUCH hotter on the titties.

    It was definitely an interesting topic to blog about, and I’ve read some informative responses. In the end, we as parents take in the information around us and decide what is best. Stay tuned for more “Hot on the Titties Friday” topics….and I look forward to your thoughts.

    No love lost here, my Aussie friend!

    • boringyear
      May 20, 2013

      I’m glad you’re not taking it personally! (I still love you). I know you’re Canadian but I can’t pick on your health system πŸ™‚

      I’m relieved that they do the procedure with local anaesthetic where you are – my understanding is that this is not always the case. Just a note – if it’s Emla cream they use beforehand, it needs to be on for at least an hour to take full effect.

      Maybe pinky finger was the wrong analogy here (mine aren’t that useful!) But I don’t think wisdom teeth are right either. Maybe a little toe? Wisdom teeth don’t make an appearance until the individual is old enough to make their own choice.

      And maybe that’s the heart of it for me. I am also strongly opposed to piercing little girls’ ears (why do you think circumcision is OK but piercing is not?) – I think these kinds of things when done purely for aesthetics should be the choice of the individual. Some grown men do choose to be circumcised and that’s fine – it’s their body.

      I think it’s easy to have a more relaxed attitude on the pro side of this, where it’s mostly about the way it looks. On the con side, it’s more about the pain and suffering it causes, and that’s harder to ignore.

      My understanding is that a newborn is too young to have post-op medications for any pain, and I know my friend’s baby who was circumcised had trouble for at least a couple of months after the procedure with chaffing/rubbing/bleeding etc.

      I would be really interested if you would post again after the fact and talk about how it went, what the aftercare was like etc. I hope it goes super-smooth, but I find there is a lot of debate but not many people who share what it was actually like in the days afterwards.

      • cookie1986
        May 21, 2013

        That’s a great idea. I will definitely post about the experience once it happens. Hopefully you all stay tuned for another couple of months.
        I’m not sure why I think piercing a baby’s ears is so stupid, but it just seems different somehow.
        I will make sure to ask about the cream, thanks for the tip!

  2. Pomegranate
    May 20, 2013

    I think I have a different perspective on this.

    Bunny is a part of the 1% where it absolutely was a medical necessity. He was in the ER once and in-patient twice in his first six months because we did not have him circumcised. He ended up having the procedure done with general anesthesia as soon as he was old enough to go under. In a different time or place (without access to IV antibiotics), my son would have died from kidney infections because of the combination of the structure of his foreskin that made him prone to UTIs and the vesicoureteral reflux that caused the infections to travel to his kidneys.

    I know it’s a personal choice. We do not live in a time and place where Bunny’s conditions would be considered terminal. He probably inherited it, though, because his ancestors (Muslim and Catholic) were circumcised. If they hadn’t been, they wouldn’t have lived to have children of their own. I don’t judge condemn anyone who does not circumcise their son. It wasn’t something I chose to do myself when Bunny was born. But, if I have another son, I can promise you he will be circumcised at birth so that we don’t have to do it later when it’s a much more serious procedure. And I am thankful to all those Pakistani and Filipino men who were circumcised who made it possible for Bunny and I to have our lives.

    • boringyear
      May 20, 2013

      I’m sorry you had to go through this. There is no doubt that in some cases it is absolutely necessary, and in your position I would not hesitate to circumcise any future sons.

      I’m interested to know if this experience makes you feel that all boys should be cut, or all boys of certain lineage, or if you still feel a wait and see approach is best in most cases?

      Although I am passionate about not making it an across-the-board procedure, it does have its place.

      • Pomegranate
        May 21, 2013

        I think if we lived in a time and/or place where antibiotics were not readily available, I would be for circumcision across the board. I see where it came from and why it was important in the past. In a society with diagnosis and treatment options for infections, I’m fine with it being a choice. First world problems, right?

  3. Ashley
    May 20, 2013

    Just wanted to say that my son, too, is intact. I’m a single mother by choice, so there was no issue with the father wanting it or not, but I was surprised at how many medical personnel just assumed I would want him circumcised. It was much more work to NOT have him cut than to have this optional (and I believe unnecessary) procedure done. I don’t talk about it a lot, but I have friends on both sides of the debate, and I’m happy to say that we’re all pretty respectful of each other’s decisions. Even though I think I’m right πŸ™‚ I just wanted to throw this in, because it’s another way I feel that you and I share our parenting philosophy, and I think that’s pretty cool to connect like that across the globe.

    • boringyear
      May 20, 2013

      That is cool! I’m sorry it took so much work for you to opt out – my worry is that a lot of people just do it because it’s easier!

      Thankfully here there’s not that kind of pressure.

      As I said I also have friends on both sides, and in fact the majority of them would have no idea of my opinion. I keep it to myself unless asked (or provoked in the blogosphere!).

  4. Oregon Intactivist
    June 21, 2013

    Excellent post. And unfortunately so true.

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This entry was posted on May 20, 2013 by in baby talk, brain fry and tagged .
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