Sunday, December 16, 2007

the circumcision descision

I found myself at the periodical rack at a book store the other day, guiltily thumbing through a pregnancy magazine. Just to remind me what I'm not missing, I told myself. An article about a father deciding whether to circumcise his son caught my eye, and I glanced through it, first with dismay, and then outright disgust. Basically, he read a lot of stuff about how circumcision isn't medically necessary, is really painful for the baby, and doesn't represent significant health benefits -- and then decided to go ahead and circumcise his kid anyway because "chicks dig a cut guy," and "hey, it worked for me."

Then came across a blog on the New York Times homepage recently about circumcision. I read through the piece with curiosity and proceeded to also read all 167 comments. What a hot-button issue!

Cut men, uncut men, gay men, Jewish men, Muslim men, atheists, straight women, righteous parents, resentful children all weighed in on the topic, and their opinions varied accordingly:

"It's tradition!"
"It's barbaric!"
"It looks better!"
"It looks painful!"
"Cut him now and spare him later!"
"Leave him be and let him decide when he's older!"

And on and on. My, how we get worked up about what others should do with their bodies.

I knew that having a baby would catapult me into a new dimension of decision-making, even well before the baby made its appearance into the world, but I'm still astounded at the fervor on all sides. One of the major dilemmas where circumcision is concerned seems to be how on earth a circumcised father is going to explain to his uncircumcised son why their penises look different. Fellas, is this really an issue?

Fortunately J and I agreed, with little debate and little soul-searching, on keeping our boy intact. I don't want to stray into righteousness here, but I feel a certain pride that J won't need his boy to "look like him" and won't be shy in talking to him about it.

I won't tell you what to do with your boy, but I think we owe it to them to think carefully about these kinds of decisions and what influences them: culture? caution? cognitive dissonance?

I liked best the comment that said, about the religious tradition of circumcision, "If we were made in God's image, why would we need to cut anything off?"


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