Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cut Me Some Slack

I get worked up about stuff. But never politics; to me, the government is like the weather. You're not really gonna change it, so it does little good to worry. Don't get me wrong - I vote, I participate, but I don't go to rallies, I don't write letters to my MPP, and I don't get upset about taxes or gas prices. I just don't. But there are a series of social issues that really grind my gears.

Chief among them is my deep desire to criminalize the routine circumcision of boys. It simply needs to change. Unless required by religion or a medical condition, there is no good reason for it. I always use the old eyelids comparison. Snipping off your bouncing baby boy's foreskin is like hacking off their eyelids because you think it's better. Eyelids have a distinct purpose, as does the skin that covers the head of the penis. Until we've evolved something out or off of our bodies, I just think it's a bad idea to lop it off, fast and loose.

At some point, outside of religion and medical necessity, circumcision became a fashionable thing to do. By the 1950s about 70% of boys were being circumcised routinely after birth in the United States. It quickly became the norm and an uncircumcised penis became "gross", "dirty" and a variety of other unflattering terms. I don't blame people for taking this route at the time - Until very recently it was what was recommended by medical professionals and seemed the right thing to do. It has since been refuted and is no longer provided free of charge within our health care system. So why are parents forking over $250 when every doctor worth their salt strongly advises against it? Because we're a fucked-up people, that's why.

We pierce baby's ears. Somehow that's socially acceptable, but I'd like to give my newborn a nose ring and just see what the neighbours say. Or how about a tattoo? Maybe gift-wrapped hair extensions or Baby's First Vagioplasty. Because these things aren't much different than mutilating the baby you had 20 minutes ago.

There are a series of reasons given for circumcising one's offspring - aesthetics, tradition, hygiene - none of which seems good enough to warrant slicing off part of your child's body.

Aesthetics: Get over it. A wise person (online somewhere in my half-assed research) said that the only time a penis' looks are in question, really, is during some kind of sexual experience, at which point the penis is erect and the foreskin is, really, a non-issue. (Non-tissue?) Unless we start to shift our notions of what looks good, this will never change. Much like wrinkly old ladies in soap commercials, we need to embrace what we've been given and celebrate it.

Tradition: "Well, my husband is circumcised and I don't want my son to be confused." There will be a variety of differences between the childhood penis of your son and his father - I hope. Hair and size, in particular, unless you're adopting a present-day Colin Farrell and he's planning a nightly bath with your husband, in which case please comment below to arrange for a free babysitter! You and the girls can catch the early show of Made of Honor. I'm very good with a loofah and a real stickler for the naughty corner.

Hygiene: Will you teach your child how to brush his teeth, or is that too big a commitment as well, you deadbeat. Cleaning beneath his foreskin will be one of the quick and easy daily routines, unlike having sex with his future wife for 90 minutes because all sensation in his penis has been obliterated. Oh wait, his mother is a control freak and he'll never maintain a long-term relationship.

Times have changed, people. It's like smoking - We have no excuse anymore! It's just wrong. Like Scientology, circumcision is a choice someone should make when they're an adult. I know what you're thinking: "But ouch! At least a baby doesn't remember the pain!" Does not remembering the pain take the pain away? Think about that for a second. If someone other than a doctor came into your hospital room, picked up your recently-born baby and said "Hey Mom! Just gonna take little Franky here to another room and slice off part of his penis. Back in a jiff!" every maternal instinct would kick-in and you'd be up on homicide charges. Somehow, within the sanctity of some half-rate, under-funded hospital in Who-Knows-Where, U.S.A., we let it become so normal that it became freakish not to.

Okay, now I'm preaching, so I'll stop. But seriously. YouTube it or do a Google Image Search. It might change your mind. Unless you're insane, in which case, please don't have a baby. Even if it's a girl, you'll probably make her wear an anklet or dye her hair. I know your type.


  1. Yup, circumcision should be an individual choice, not a parental prerogative.

    Call your congresspeople to support

    If it happened to you, register a complaint.

    And keep on speaking out!

  2. Do you have any idea how many parties I've ruined because someone raised this subject and I went off on a rant? I have converted a few people, but the majority of people simply don't have that strong of feelings about it one way or another.

    Check this out:

    It's definitely an uphill battle.

  3. I'm re-reading that link I just posted (mine are the posts by The Tonic, obviously), and I'm afraid I'm quite a zealot. :S You should read the whole thing, or at least my posts, if you have the time.

  4. Well-written! (And hilarious, but I get that that's not really the issue - tissue - here)

    Preliminary (or at least.. they were preliminary when I was in third year uni) psychological studies have found that men who have been circumcised have a lower pain threshold, thus suggesting that maybe there is some sort of (albeit subconscious) memory of the painful nip.

    Good entry!

  5. Bravo - well said.
    I agree wholeheartedly and also feel extrememly passionate about this issue. Especially since having two baby boys and I couldn't even imagine allowing someone to hack off their foreskin or any piece of them for that matter.


  6. I totally agree, it's barbaric. Also, circumcision based on religion is just an extension of "you think it's better;" just now it's "lots of people like you think it's better, so it's okay."