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An “FYI” to My Daughters

4 Sep

This is written as a response to the horrendously hypocritical and disgustingly sexist article(s) titled “FYI” and “FYI #2 (the one where everyone’s covered up)”.  I urge you to read in chronological order to get the incredible double standard in one, big, hefty dose of sexism and self-righteousness.  If you’ll take a moment to notice that as she is judging girls by their Facebook posts and the clothes they wear, and how they are not allowed the honor of spending time with her sons, she includes a few pictures of her sons, shirt-less, all wet from the ocean and flexed muscles-a-bulging…I cannot.  I just cannot even.

I am not going to pick apart the article.  I am not.

I am, however, going to speak up for my daughters…who will be judged, ridiculed, and told that they are less than their male counterparts.

I am going to take a stand for my girls who will be told they are nothing more than how they dress…that they are only viewed as a piece of ass, and it is THEIR responsibility to keep the male population’s thoughts “clean and pure.”

***

To my Incredible Daughters,

Did you know that you are allowed to dress how you like, what expresses who you are in that moment, what makes you feel good about yourself, what is comfortable to you?  Did you know that you can do all of this, and how everyone reacts, judges, thinks, whatever…that is all, ALL…fully and completely on them?

Did you know, that if you wear a cute mini skirt to a party because you are loving the way it makes your legs look…did you know that you are NOT “asking for it” if your date forces himself on you?

Girls, did you know that if you decide to drink too much one night…

or if you stay out too late

or you get a speeding ticket

or if you fail your math test

or you decide to have sex with someone

or you decide to burn your bras

or your best friend ditches you for someone else…

did you know that you are still lovely?  Did you know that you are still wonderful?  Did you know that you are filled with amazing qualities, amazing capabilities, amazing talents?  Did you know that life is full of choices, lessons, love, heartbreak, and adventures…and that all of those are yours to experience?

Did you know that men are, in fact, capable of thinking of more than sex?  Did you know they are capable of controlling their actions?  Did you know there are men out there who look past bad decisions, and look deeper into who you are as a person?  There are men out there who truly want to know who you are, what you love, what you dream of…regardless of how your dress or how you wear your makeup.

Did you know that women actually like sex?  Did you know that women are “visual” creatures, too?  Did you know that that is okay, and normal, and natural?

Don’t get caught up in it all, my darlings.  Don’t wear that mini skirt because you want the attention of that guy.  If that guy is worth your time, he will like you regardless of what you wear.  Sex obviously sells, which is a sad thing.  You see it everywhere, I know you do.  Remember that you are MORE than just sex to the world.  You deserve to be treated that way, and the way you dress doesn’t make you any less deserving of that.  However, if you love how confident you feel in that mini skirt, or that bathing suit is *just* your style…by all means…rock it, sister.  Wear the clothes you love for you.  But be sure to take the time to get to know you.  Take the time to learn to love you.

I promise I will take the time to get to know you.  I will guide you and advise you along the way to the best of my ability.  When we protect you, know that it will be for your safety, and not some facade that really just makes us feel more comfortable with the inevitability that you are are indeed growing up.  I will give my opinion when asked (and maybe sometimes when I’m not), but ultimately, this is your life.  Your dad and I will do our very best to fill you with confidence, compassion, tolerance, and love.  Remember that.  We will love you with every fiber of who we are, and you don’t have to do anything to earn that.  And nothing you do will ever take that away.

There is a double standard in this society that women don’t deserve to be “treated like a lady” if they don’t “act like a lady.”  However, men can apparently dress, act, say whatever they like with no negative repercussions.  I am not even sure what the phrase, “treated like a lady” means, but I think it means treated with respect…which should be granted to people of BOTH sexes…because we are humans.  We are all part of this human race together.  We all deserve love and respect. 

Parents need stop with the gender stereotyping.  They are doing much, much more harm than good.  They teach their boys that girls who dress a way they don’t find appropriate aren’t worth the time and acceptance of their son.  They teach them that girls are just temptresses out to muddy the thoughts of their precious little boy.  They teach their children that it is OK to sit down as a family and scroll through their social media and shame anyone who doesn’t fit in the tiny little box they keep them in.  They teach them that girls who act or dress or believe differently than them have no character.  No self respect.  No right to be respected by others.  They are doing nothing but perpetuating this horrible cycle.  And trust me, no matter how much you try to be *perfect* for their son, this type of person will always find something “wrong” with you.  No girl will ever be deserving of their perfect little son.  Ever.

Know that as a way to protect you while you are young, there will be stipulations on using social media.  Profiles will be made private, no contact information will be posted, I will ask who certain people are on your friend’s lists…I will not, however, judge who you can and can’t be friends with based on the way someone looks, or the pictures that they post.  Because someone posts something that I think to be a mistake or inappropriate, does not mean I will ask you to cut them out of your lives.  Do I give an eye roll when I scroll through countless pouty- lipped selfies on Instagram?  Yes.  I eye roll in the same sense my parents eye rolled when we wore our overalls with just one strap fastened, or we lathered copious amounts of glitter on our faces because we thought it looked pretty.  I’m getting old and I just don’t *get* some things.  Maybe I am just bored of it.  Regardless of my eye rolling, I NEVER think, “Oh wow.  That girl posing with all that cleavage must be a real slut.”  A pose, an outfit, a selfie…doesn’t make anyone, anyone, a “slut.”

In our house, we are tolerant and accepting.  In our house, we love fully.

we love big

we love wholly

we love freely

we love unconditionally.

In our house we give second chances.  We give third, fourth, and fiftieth chances.  And thank goodness we do.  I know I am going to need all of the chances I can get.  Do not be afraid to be yourself, to explore this world, to love unencumbered.

Remember, there is always more than what meets the eye.  Look deeper, my loves.

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Can of Worms {a note from the mother behind the MotherWise photo controversy}

29 Apr

So, a funny thing happened yesterday.

I have been a part of the MotherWise community for awhile now.  I periodically share photos, stories, or links to “This Woman’s Work” with them.  Yesterday, a story and photo of mine was shared.  At first, the comments were sweet and supportive.  Parents shared the picture on their timelines with comments like, “Awww!” and, “What a sweet story!”  The more it was shared, however, the more people outside of the MotherWise community saw the post.

bfolive


“Breastfeeding my 14 month old daughter, Olive on the ferry. A little boy was walking by with his mother and stopped to look. “My mommy gives me Na-Na’s too.” He said. His mother smiled. I asked her how old he was, and she said 5. He then walked right up to us and touched her head and said, “I bet your Na-Na’s make your baby smile. They are warm and sweet.”

“Yes, she loves them.” I replied, “You are so lucky to have such a loving Mommy.”

Seeing mothers normalizing breastfeeding, especially full-term, gives me hope for our future generation. Keep it up, Sweet Mamas. Keep it up.”

I mean…as of this morning, the post has been shared over 2000 times from a variety of pages (that I can see), thousands of comments, thousands of “likes.”

Which, I think is great.  Really.  I expected there to be mixed reactions.  I expected people to be shocked.  I expected ignorance, hateful comments, and for the trolls to get in on the action.  I KNOW that nursing in public is still a controversial issue.  I KNOW that full-term breastfeeding is a hot topic.  I KNOW that whenever a breastfeeding picture is shared, for some reason, formula feeding gets brought into the conversation (I still don’t get why, however).  I KNOW all of this.  Which is the exact reason the picture and story was shared.

Several of my mommy-counterparts have differing opinions as to why breastfeeding, breastfeeding in public, and especially breastfeeding full-term bothers (also downright disgusts) a large part of American society.  You can think it’s gross.  You can think that 5 years old is “too old”.  You can think that it should be done in private.  You can think that full-term breastfeeding is perverted.  You can shout about how everyone has an opinion, and that yours is just as valid as mine.   But the difference between your opinions and mine, is that mine are based on facts (I will lay out those facts shortly).  You want to know the root of all of these skewed ways of thinking?  All of it?  It all started with the sexualization of breasts in this country.

Compared to EVERY other country on this planet, the U.S. has an unnatural fetish with breasts.  I am going to give you all a little Women’s Studies lesson here.  Every generation and every culture has its own idea of what is considered beautiful.  Its own idea of what is considered sexual.  In the 1800’s, American women were afraid of being too thin.  Food products were made to “plump up” women so they would be more appealing to the opposite sex.  Then, in the 1920’s flat breasts and a slender figure were all the rage.  Bra’s were invented to flatten out a women’s bosom.  Now, here we are, in the height of the plastic surgery obsession to obtain the largest breasts as possible, all while having the tiniest of waists– which happens to be a completely unattainable figure to accomplish without the help of a scalpel.  What perpetuates what is fashionable, what is considered attractive, what is considered sexy?  The media.  We are bombarded at a young age with Victoria’s Secret ads, Girls Gone Wild infomercials, magazines, and the entertainment industry that breasts are for SEX.  That’s it.  Bottom line.

The truth of it is, breasts aren’t for sex at all.  You don’t use breasts to reproduce, you use breasts to nourish the offspring as a result of reproduction.  They ARE NOT sexual, though they are being classified as such.  Yes, breasts are part of what makes a woman “female,” but they are only a reproductive organ because they make milk.  If all of a sudden, the sexual stigma of breasts was removed from society, who do you think would be the biggest group of people trying to KEEP the sexualization of breasts alive?  The media.  The porn industry.  The lingerie industry.  Without the allure or mystery of breasts…without that taboo…they would lose billions.

In all reality, breasts are just for feeding children.  That’s it.  Other cultures get it.  Carolyn Latteier, author of::  Breasts, The Women’s Perspective on American Obsession said,

Well, we do have a peculiar obsession with breasts in this culture. A lot of people think it’s just the human nature to be fascinated with breasts but in many cultures, breasts aren’t sexual at all. I interviewed a young anthropologist working with women in Mali, in a country in Africa where women go around with bare breasts. They’re always feeding their babies. And when she told them that in our culture men are fascinated with breasts there was an instant of shock. The women burst out laughing. They laughed so hard, they fell on the floor. They said, “You mean, men act like babies?”

If you remove the idea that breasts are for sex, and therefore should be covered up…all of the issues with breastfeeding fall away.  There would be no reason to feel the need to nurse with a cover, or nurse behind closed doors.  Mothers wouldn’t feel the need to hide away, or sit behind a pump for hours just so they can bottle feed in public…even though they have it ready, right on tap.  People wouldn’t put an appropriate “age” on children breastfeeding…because it would never get “weird.”  What is “weird” about breasts being used for what nature intended?

As for the whole age ordeal, which seems to be the issue causing the most uproar, human’s natural age of weaning is 2-7.  The world average is 5 years old.  The comments on this issue made my brain literally ache.  “So, the mom just shows up at his kindergarten class for lunch time?”

“If the kid can ask for it, then the kid is too old.”

“Once they get teeth, they don’t need boob anymore.”

Yadda, yadda.  The insanity continued.

First of all.  After about the first or second year…children’s diets are mostly food.  Like…95%.  Maybe more.  The child may breastfeed before nap and bed and that is it.  Maybe just once a day.  Maybe a couple of times a week.  The psychological and neurological benefits for full-term breastfeeding are numerous.  As are the physiological benefits.

I hear from most mothers of toddlers how picky they are when it comes to food.  According to Australian Physician Sarah J Buckley breast milk provides toddlers with up to one-third of their daily energy needs, two-thirds of their fat requirements, 58% of their vitamin A requirements and nearly a third of their calcium needs.  It’s no wonder why our children are so sick!  They are weaned much too early, then expected to function on a diet of synthetic “food” and a different mammal’s milk.  How backward is that?

If the kid can ask for it, the kid is too old?  Seriously?  My child was asking for it minutes after she was born.  The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding until at LEAST 6 months (before offering solids), then continuing to breastfeed until at LEAST TWO AND BEYOND.  According to The American Association of Physicians “If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.”   Jen Davis explained in a 2007 edition of Le Leche League’s (LLL) New Beginnings:

“Even after 12 months, babies continue to benefit from human milk. At one year of age, a baby’s immune system is functioning at only 60 percent of adult level and because formula has no live antibodies, it is strongly associated with high rates of infection (Huggins 2007). A child’s immune system isn’t functioning at adult level until age six (Dettwyler 1994).”

These are facts, people.  Test yourself a little.  Peel away the beliefs you have that the media and society has ingrained in you.  Look at nature.  Look at anatomy.  It is simple.  It is so easy to understand.  It isn’t some convoluted issue with grey areas.  It is a woman using her breasts to nourish her offspring.  Only the child knows when they are no longer reaping the benefits from the breastfeeding relationship…whether nutritional, physiological, or psychological.  Trust your body.  Trust nature.  Trust your child.  Contrary to popular belief…your children aren’t out to manipulate you.  Promise.

Breastfeeding moms…keep on keeping on.  The more you fight this social taboo, the more the taboo melts away.  Maybe, just maybe, by the time our children are having children…the crazy idea of nurturing your child the way nature intended will be a thing of the past.

The Truth of Routine Circumcision

28 Mar

In honor of Genital Integrity Awareness Week, I thought I would dedicate my first post to this issue that is very near and dear to my heart.  I have two daughters, why does this issue have anything to do with me?  This is a child’s rights issue.  Bottom line.  I do not discriminate.

There have been countless articles and blog posts on the issue of routine infant circumcision.  I am not going to say anything new, but I do hope that in my attempt to educate on this topic, that maybe someone will read this and decide to question circumcision.

I am going to approach this from two angles, medical and ethical.  Before I go there, let’s discuss anatomy, the circumcision procedure, and the history of circumcision.

Anatomy

In utero, the penis and the clitoris are analogous organs.  They actually develop from the same tissue.  Their functions are very similar, their design is similar…both the glans (the head) of the penis and the clitoris are actually internal organs, both protected by the prepuce, or foreskin.  Yes, females have foreskin too.  At birth, the foreskin is fused to the glans, very much like a fingernail to a finger.  The glans is highly sensitive, and highly innervated, and when born, it isn’t fully developed yet.  The foreskin is attached to the glans by a natural membrane to protect it from feces, ammonia from urine, and any other invading pathogen.  The foreskin naturally begins to separate itself from the glans as the boy’s body grows and matures.  Throughout his life, the foreskin serves many functions.  It keeps the glans moist, lubricated, and supple.  This in turn will increase sexual function and pleasure.  It regulates pH balance of the penis, temperature, and covers the vulnerable urinary meatus (opening in the glans) to protect from harmful invaders.  All of this can be said about the clitoris and it’s “clitoral hood” as well as the vaginal opening and the labia minora and majora.

Circumcision Procedure

There are a couple popular ways circumcision is performed in the US, and I will discuss the most commonly used one, Gomco and Circumstraint, here.  The baby is strapped onto a Circumstraint board.  Each arm is strapped down to either side, as well as each leg.  (I will note that this is the most unnatural position for a new baby who has been in the fetal position for the past 9 months, and you can imagine how traumatic this would be.)

cstraint

Circumstraint Board

After the boy is strapped down, the penis is rubbed with alcohol.  This both sterilizes the surface of the penis pre-op, and causes an erection in the infant so it is easier for the doctor to tear and cut the foreskin away from the glans.  Anesthesia is then injected into the penis (only numbing the dorsal nerve at the base).  The administering of anesthesia isn’t always used, and is definitely a “new” part of the procedure.   The doctor now uses the Gomco clamp.  The vertical post and bell are placed over the glans and the foreskin is pulled over the outside of the bell. Post and bell are then drawn through a hole in the base plate, clamping the foreskin between the bell and the plate. The foreskin is then cut off with a scalpel that is run around the bell.  Once this happens, three feet of veins, arteries and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves and more than 20,000 nerve endings are destroyed; so are all the muscles, glands, epithelial tissue and sexual sensitivity associated with the foreskin. Finally, what nature intended as an internal organ is irrevocably externalized.

gomco

Gomco Clamp

Let’s take a moment to look at this from nature’s view.  I think that from whatever theological backround you come from, we can all agree that babies are born perfect.  There isn’t anything that our bodies have that doesn’t serve a purpose.  For nine months, the woman’s body is meticulously, and intricately putting together a person.  Our bodies know what to do, as they have been doing this since the very beginning.  So, why is it that parents are opting to remove an obviously vital part of their perfect child’s body?  Over the years, there have been several “routine” procedures on organs that are viewed as “pointless” or “not needed.”  Think of appendectomies and tonsillectomies.  Doctors are now discovering the vital roles these organs actually DO play in the overall homeostasis of our bodies.  The foreskin is FUSED to the glans.  It doesn’t want to budge.  And won’t for YEARS.  There is a reason for this.  The circumcision we are seeing in America today, is a relatively new practice.  So how did this act against nature become so widely performed?

The History of Circumcision

Circumcision dates back past 3000 BCE.  However, the circumcision that is performed now is drastically different than the circumcision depicted then.  It is rare to see images of circumcision being performed on infants, and the entire foreskin was not removed.  Circumcision was done for a variety of reasons; religious tradition, rite of passage, to decrease sexual sensation, and done as torture to prisoners.  To this day, many people believe that the circumcision that is being performed today is biblical.  The two Hebrew words used to describe Old Testament circumcision are “namal & muwl.”  Namal means “clipped,” like you might clip your fingernails. The word muwl means “to curtail, to blunt, to cut shorter.”  There are totally different words used in Hebrew for “cut off” or “removed.”  A little cut in the tip of the foreskin was done to draw a drop of blood.  The drop of blood was a symbol of the sin of the world that would someday be paid for by the coming Messiah.  Today, the amount of penile skin that is removed during a typical infant circumcision is equivalent to 15 square inches in an adult male.  Since Christians believe that Jesus’ death paid the price for the sin of the world, circumcision falls into the same category as animal sacrifice, and is no longer required.  Nowhere in the Bible does God demand the amputation or mutilation of male or female genitalia.

Circumcision came to America from Britain in the 1800’s and was said to cure a wide array of  maladies, imaginary or not.  Mainly, it was used to cure masturbation, as it can drastically decrease sexual sensation.  It was believed that masturbation caused blindness, mental illness, alcoholism, epilepsy and several other illnesses.  It therefore made sense to some physicians that circumcision would stop masturbation and prevent the onset of these illnesses.  Circumcision didn’t get extremely popular in America until World War II, many soldiers were circumcised because they believed that it would cut down on venereal disease and other infections.  After the War, the urban and suburbanization of America meant more babies were born in hospitals, and some say that upwards of 80% of boys were circumcised.

Circumcision is now losing its popularity in America.  Last year, an estimated 38% of boys born in the US were circumcised.  A dramatic decrease from a whopping 90% from the 1950’s-1970’s.

Ok, now that we have a good backround…

Medically Necessary?

NO.  Not-a-one health organization in the world states that routine infant circumcision is medically necessary.  Many state it is simply a cosmetic procedure.  Even the AAP, with it’s flippy-floppy “eh, it doesn’t do too much harm,” stance…states that it “is not medically necessary.”  There are a growing number of countries, Sweden being one of them, that have actually banned routine infant circumcision unless there is a medical reason.

Here are some myths surrounding the medical necessity of circumcision:

MYTH:  Circumcision makes the penis easier to clean.

FACT:  An intact penis is extremely easy to clean.  In an infant, you just wipe the end like the tip of a finger.  Since you do not forcibly retract the foreskin until it does so by itself, a simple wipe is sufficient.  As the boy matures and his foreskin retracts, teaching him to wash in the bath or shower will be just fine.  Why is it that we worry about boys not being able to wash their genitals, but we don’t have this concern with girls?  Don’t vaginas have more flaps and folds?

MYTH:  Circumcision decreases UTI rates

FACT:  While circumcision does decrease UTI’s, they are still very rare, and even so…they aren’t life threatening.  Again, UTI’s are much more prevalent in girls, yet we don’t circumcise them.   A round of antibiotics will do the trick, just as you would for your daughter.

MYTH:  Circumcision reduces STI’s.

FACT:  Wrong again.  With the world population of men mostly being intact…the US has the highest rate of STI’s AND the highest rate of circumcised males.  Circumcision isn’t an excuse to not practice safe sex.  Teach your children the importance of using protection.  There have also been very eye opening studies showing that the function of the foreskin, and it’s natural smegma actually decreases transmittal of STI’s.

MYTH:  Circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer

FACT:  In a letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society stated that it “does not consider routine circumcision to be a valid or effective measure to prevent [penile or cervical] cancers. …Penile cancer rates in countries which do not practice circumcision are lower than those found in the U.S.”

MYTH:  Boys who are left intact will have a greater chance of needing circumcision later in life

FACT:  Actually, boys have a greater risk of dying from their circumcision than they do needing a circumcision later in life.  Many people talk about the Uncle who was intact and got recurring infections, or had phimosis (foreskin that is “too tight” or will not retract).  This is primarily due to medical advice that was given.  Back when circumcision was at it’s peak in the 50’s and 60’s, we didn’t know as much about how to care for an intact penis.  Medical professionals would (incorrectly) tell parents to retract the foreskin and clean with Q-tips.  Doing this tears the foreskin and the tissue (called synechia) that connects it to the head of the penis, leading to scarring and infection.  Instead of preventing infection, it would actually cause problems by introducing harmful bacteria.  Remember that humans evolved from animals, so no body part that required special care would survive evolutionary pressures.  The human genitals are wonderfully self-cleaning and require no special care.  (Again, Creationists, God made you perfect in your Mother’s womb.  He wouldn’t give you something so highly functional, just to be amputated and discarded.)

MYTH:  PHIMOSIS!!! PHIMOSIS!!!

FACT:  First of all, if your infant is diagnosed with phimosis…you need to get a new doctor.  We know that the foreskin is fused to the glans at birth, and naturally separates and starts to retract as the boy’s penis matures, anywhere from age 3 to puberty.  So, a diagnoses of phimosis in an infant is completely incorrect.

Some men actually DO have phimosis.  This is mostly caused by incorrect care for the penis in infancy, but sometimes, it does occur naturally.  As long as it doesn’t interfere with sexual intercourse, it is no problem at all, as urination itself cleans the inside of the foreskin (note that urine is sterile when leaving the body.) Phimosis can also be treated conservatively with a steroid cream and gentle stretching done by the man himself, should he so desire it, or, at worst, a slit on the foreskin, rather than total circumcision.

MYTH:  It doesn’t hurt the baby.  My baby fell asleep right after.

FACT:  Babies feel pain.  Bottom line.  There was a study done in Canada in 1997.  They wanted to see what type of anesthesia helped the most with the pain of circumcision.  So, like every study, there is the control group…who didn’t receive any anesthesia.  It was realized that the babies in the control were in so much pain during the circumcision that it was unethical to continue with the study.  A couple of babies began choking, while another had a seizure.

“Falling asleep” after a circumcision is a COMMON myth.  Babies are equipped with the same protective mechanisms you and I have.  It is called the sympathetic nervous system.  In the face of physical or mental trauma that is TOO much for one to handle, the body retreats within itself and goes into a state of shock.  There will be no crying, and the baby basically is in a trauma induced sleep.

MYTH:  Well…MY doctor uses anesthesia!

FACT:  Not necessarily. Most newborns do not receive adequate anesthesia.  Only 45% of doctors who do circumcisions use any anesthesia at all.  Obstetricians perform 70% of circumcisions and are least likely to use anesthesia – only 25% do.  The most common reasons why they don’t?  They didn’t think the procedure warranted it, and it takes too long.

Risks of Circumcision

Meatal Stenosis: Many circumcised boys and men suffer from meatal stenosis.  This is a narrowing of the urethra which can interfere with urination and require surgery to fix.

Adhesions. Circumcised babies can suffer from adhesions, where the foreskin remnants try to heal to the head of the penis in an area they are not supposed to grow on.  Doctors treat these by ripping them open with no anesthesia.

Buried penis. Circumcision can lead to trapped or buried penis – too much skin is removed, and so the penis is forced inside the body.  This can lead to problems in adulthood when the man does not have enough skin to have a comfortable erection.  Some men even have their skin split open when they have an erection.  There are even more sexual consequences.

Infection. The circumcision wound can become infected.  This is especially dangerous now with the prevalence of hospital-acquired multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Accidental amputation of entire penis.  This happens much more frequently than you would imagine.

Death. Babies can even die of circumcision.  Over 100 newborns die each year in the USA, mostly from loss of blood and infection.

Ethical Issues

Now that I have discussed the anatomy of the penis, the circumcision procedure, the history…then we have found that it isn’t medically necessary and actually causes plenty of harm, let’s finish off by discussing the ethical boundaries routine infant circumcision crosses.

1.  It isn’t your penis.  This is a cosmetic procedure that is being inflicted on a non-consenting infant.  It is the amputation of a highly innervated and extremely functional part of the male genitalia.  This is not only a physical and mental assault, but also a sexual one.

2.  It isn’t your penis.  I hear so many people say their main concern is that they want their son to look like Daddy.  Out of all of the reasons, this one bothers me the most.  So, taking into consideration all of the medical and health issues circumcision causes, DEATH being one of them, having a son “look” like his Daddy trumps it all?  How often do fathers and sons compare penises?  I know I never compared my vagina with my mother’s.  Circumcised or not, all penises don’t look exactly the same.  It is easy to be honest.  “Son, you look different because you have your foreskin and your father does not.  His was removed in a surgery that was popular when he was a child.”  I am sure he will shrug it off and move on with his day.  As an adult, I guarantee you he will be thankful that he has his entire penis.

3.  It isn’t your penis.  I have a feeling that if you were to have a cosmetic procedure done to you as a child, against your consent, you would be highly upset.  So many circumcised men DO care.  They DO speak out.  They DO suffer LASTING consequences from their circumcision.  It affects their sexual relationship with their partner.  Many circumcised men also state they have no problems with their penis.  They are happy they don’t have their foreskin.  Well, that is fine and dandy, but you can’t compare it to something that you never remember having.  That is like someone who can only see out of one eye saying that their eyesight is amazing.  They will never know what it would be like to see with both eyes.  Taking into consideration the tens of thousands of damaged nerves, and completely amputated nerves…I have a feeling there is QUITE the difference in penises.

4.  It isn’t your penis.  You think whole penises look weird?  Ok.  So, subjecting your son to a dangerous cosmetic procedure against his will is OK because you don’t like the look of it?  Well.  It isn’t your penis.  It isn’t the penis you will be sexually active with.  Why does your sexual preference have ANYTHING to do with the state of your son’s penis?  This argument weirds me out too.  Think of it this way.  Aesthetic preferences change drastically every generation.  Whatever is popular in society at the moment is what wins.  Styles change…body style preferences.  There was a time when heavier women were all the rage.  Then Twiggy skinny.  Then muscular.  Yadda yadda.  In places where circumcision is almost nonexistent, circ’d penises look “weird” to them.  Worried he won’t find a partner?  Think again.  Plenty of women prefer natural penises (I will discuss the anatomy of sex with circumcised and natural penises in a separate post).   How superficial of a woman to refuse to be with your son because he has his whole penis.  I wouldn’t want my son partnering up with a woman or man like that, anyways.

5.  It isn’t your penis.  “My son will thank me for having him circumcised while he was a baby.”  Maybe.  But maybe not.  He may have physical and medical complications.  He may learn the truths of circumcision (since it is greatly losing it’s popularity in the US) and be very upset that he was violated as an infant.  He may be enraged that he never had a choice.  It’s his body.  Give him the choice.

6.  It isn’t your penis.  Just like your daughter’s vagina isn’t your vagina.  Just as you would never even consider having her circumcised because it would be easier to clean.  Or you thought it would look better.  Why is circumcising a girl called “female genital mutilation,” but circumcising a boy is just a common, no-big deal, happens everyday surgery?  Boys deserve better.  His body, his choice.

It isn’t your penis.  His body, his choice.  Boys deserve better.

I hope that this post has sparked even the tiniest amount of interest in you. I hope that you dig a little deeper.  I hope that you question circumcision.  Do your own research.  I hope that if you have circumcised your son, that you don’t beat yourself up, but that you take this information and run with it.  Once you know better, you do better.  You can’t take this information and shrug it off thinking that it is no big deal.  This is a huge deal.  Hundreds of thousands of our sons are being subjected to this procedure in this country.  Babies are permanently scarred.  Babies are dying.  For what?  This madness has to end.

References:

Anand et al., “Can Adverse Neonatal Experiences Alter Brain Development and Subsequent Behavior? Biol Neonate 77 (2000): 69-82.

Bollinger, D.  “Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths,” Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies Volume 4, Number 1 (2010).

Boyle, G.,et al., “Male Circumcision: Pain, Trauma, and Psychosexual Sequelae,” Journal of Health Psychology 7 (2002): 329-343.

Hammond, T., “A Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood,” BJU 83 (1999): suppl. 1: 85-92.

Goldman, R., “The Psychological Impact of Circumcision,” BJU 83 (1999): suppl. 1: 93-102.

Lander, J. et al., “Comparison of Ring Block, Dorsal Penile Nerve Block, and Topical Anesthesia for Neonatal Circumcision,” JAMA 278 (1997): 2157-2162.

Schwartz, William M., MD et al., PEDIATRIC PRIMARY CARE: A Problem-solving Approach, 2nd Edition, Year Book Medical Publishers, Inc., 1990, pp. 861-862.

Stang, H. et al., “Circumcision Practice Patterns in the United States,” Pediatrics Vol. 101 No. 6 (1998): e5.

Taddio A, et al.,  “Effect of neonatal circumcision on pain response during subsequent routine vaccination.” Lancet 1997;349(9052):599-603.

Van Howe, R., “Variability in Penile Appearance and Penile Findings: A Prospective Study,” BJU 80 (1997): 776-782.

Van Howe, R., “A Cost-Utility Analysis of Neonatal Circumcision,” Med Decis Making, December 1, 2004; 24(6): 584 – 601.