i have a baby girl right now, no boys yet, but plan on having lots of kids so i'm assuming i will at some point have a boy. i am totally against circumcision. however, my husband is all for it. he is from a very conservative religious family, and is himself circumcised, and just can't understand what the "big deal" is. his view is that it's tradition and just what "everyone does". so my question is whether others had a spouse who was pro-circumcision, and if so, how did you reason with them/convince them? all of the medical statistics i can find have about equal health benefits and problems for circ'd or un-circ'd, so it's hard to come at it from that angle (but medical seems to be the only argument my husband thinks holds water). but i am so against it at my very core. i cannot see any good from circumcising a tiny infant who can't consent to it. if a boy feels strongly that he wants to be circumcised he can choose it when he is old enough to understand it, imo. i'd really love ideas/advice on how to talk to my hubby about this.
how to convince pro-circ partner that we shouldn't do it?
For me, dh wasn't really convinced by anything until he held ds in his arms. I just had to be firm in my resolve but not argue the point with him. For us, it worked out better for me not to plaster him to the wall with facts. He just shut down if I tried to do that. The best thing you can do for yourself is to arm yourself with knowledge now. You have plenty of time to talk to your dh about this. You need to convince yourself first, and understand exactly why so many of us are so against circ. Then firm up your resolve and know that your dh may not come around. I wasn't about to pick a fight with my dh because I love him very much and understood where he was coming from. I just wasn't about to budge either. Our doctor is from a country that doesn't circ, and he talked to dh for me. That helped a lot. Well, that and knowing that some of our good friends also skipped it. In the end though, dh never agreed with me until he held ds, as I said before. He apologized to me that night. He still doesn't talk about it much. You just have to remind yourself that, as much as he might huff and puff, this isn't about your dh or his feelings. As blunt as that might sound, it's true. It's about your ds's feelings, so you are just going to let him decide (simple argument is best!)
For me the best way to go about talking about circumcision is to present the foreskin facts. What is the foreskin? What does it do? These questions can be answered with facts. Personally the anatomy of the foreskin and its function are what convinced me that it was a big deal. My favorite link is this one- http://mensightmagazine.com/Articles/Fleiss,%20M.%20Paul/tellaboutcirc.htm
It is an excerpt out of the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision, http://www.amazon.com/What-Your-Doctor-About-Circumcision/dp/0446678805 If you click the search inside this book link you can read quite a bit of the book. I would order the book and ask him to read it at his leisure.
Betsy- I was once in your shoes, but I didn't have a good plan to approach it, it was a disaster. Because you are not currently pregnant expecting a boy- you have some time to work on this, so go slow, be loving and be careful to not set him on the defensive.
It might help for you to look up a little about human nature and learning before you attack the specifics of circumcision. James Atherton has some great essays (online) on issues of cognitive dissonance, supplantive learning and "learning as loss". Ron Goldman has identified an emotional situation he calls "the adamant father syndrome" in his book "Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma" ...is a good one. You might try to get some of the classic genital integrity books through your local inter library loan system- it only costs about a dollar. "Marked in your flesh" by Leonard Glick and "Circumcision: a history of the world's most controversial surgery" By David Gollaher these two books are a good historic overview to put circumcision in context. They are not activist books- except from the standpoint in that false assumptions fall in the presence of the historic facts.
I'd advise you to stay away from "Sex as nature intended it" which can be very insulting and angering to circumcised men and make them feel very defensive and attacked. if they find it on their own it's one thing, if their wife hands it to them- not so good. This book annoys me.
Then, with that foundation. i think you need to get your husband to understand a few things-
#1 . We are not supposed to discuss religion in this forum, so you will need to find that specific support elsewhere to deeply understand this dynamic. If the connection between his circumcision and his family values is misplaced- that must be identified and corrected. The books I mentioned should help you with that.
#2 medical concerns- http://www.courtchallenge.com/letters/skcoll2.html
Circumcised men tend to not assign any value to anatomy they don't have. So they are free to weigh tiny reports of "benefit" as if these are overwhelming evidence that 1, foreskin should be gone and 2, they were benefited by being unburdened from this troublesome worthless bit of flesh. (circle back to the James Atherton here) The man who has been circumcised will likely "hear" excuses with a more willing ear because he wants his circumcision to be justified- to believe anything else opens up a very sad possibility- that he lost something of value for no good reason.
Idea to consider presenting gently:
Your body was not flawed.
Your perception of masculinity is being based on something you did not choose for yourself.
What is the history of circumcision in your society? In your family?
If you think you would have chosen it for yourself- is that only because you are coming from a position that feels alienated by the natural human body? The foreskin a future son will be born with is still coded in the DNA you both carry- what will it take to reconstruct a whole body image that accepts the human form?
What purpose does the human foreskin play? What function does it serve in sex? (not- sex is better yadda yadda...) Look at it like a mechanical engineer- what does immobilizing the skin system of the penis do to the mechanics of intercourse? You know those massage rollers? How they massage the muscles without rubbing the skin? What would be changed if you locked up the rolling mechanism? would it feel the same to rub it up and down your back? A person has no difficulty imagining how that would make skin friction- some of that could be overcome with lubrication- which is just what circumcision does- it shifts the burden of compensating for that friction onto the female's sexual lubrication- something our bodies were not designed for. what is often considered a female sexual problem is often a result of what was done to her circumcised partner. For me, understanding the sexual function is essential to being able to digest the information that exists which refuses to take it into account.... It would be like reading a list of pros and cons of burning your house down... "lower property taxes and no electric bills"... etc. and you are arguing with a homeless person who says, "If I had a house I would burn it down- who wants electric bills!!? ...ignoring the fact that millions of men all over the world live in homes, pay electric bill and rather enjoy some of the benefits of electricity and home ownership.
The key to reaching consensus on this issue, in my mind, is to treat it like the important decisoon it is and use logic and guidelines to sort it out.
You are the parents, so you should research the pros and cons. Then evaluate them.
A good paper for background information on the issues is here: http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/pdf/GenitalIntegrityStatement.pdf
It is lengthy, but written by doctors and includes references so you and your husband can read more.
The default should be leave your child's options open, ie leave him intact. You, as parents, should be making the decision in the best interest of your child, and he can always choose to get circumcised later if he feels it is a good choice. But you cannot undu amputating his foreskin. In addition, our society widley accepts the premise that people have the right to bodily integrity and safety form pain and harm that is not medically indicated.
As you have said, there are no compelling medical benefits. With no compeling medical benefits it makes no sense to put your child at risk.
The person advocating for circumcision needs to come up with sound reasoning as to 1) why the pros outweigh the cons, by a significant margin, and 2) why this is the appropriate time to do it, rather than wait. This need to be based on logic that can easily be understood by a reasonable person, not emotional arguments and pressure or fear mongering. You need to be strong and hold your husband to this rational decision making process.
You will have some uncertainty and risk tolerance issues to deal with. And there is much misinformation and fear mongering out there that you need to guard against. Careful reading and relying on peer reviewed articles is your best bet. Keep in mind that circumcised men have no clue what they are missing. So they discount the value of a foreskin for sexual pleasure and function. People (men and women) who have experienced both know and value highly what a foreskin provides, by a wide margin. Also keep in mind that these days, many are left intact, so it is just as likely his peers will be intact as circumcised.
For me, the choice is easy. I highly value what the foreskin provides, as does my wife, having experienced both. I have not seen any compelling benefits. Even the supposed benefit of reducing HIV is really no signficant benefit for the loss of a foreskin. An intact man has to do everything a circumcised man has to do to practice safe sex, plus he loses the most important part of his sexual anatomy for sexual plaesure and fuctionming. all he gets is a slightly reduced chance of aquiring HIV if his condom breaks.
Hope this helps.
i am totally against circumcision.
however, my husband is all for it. he is from a very conservative religious family, and is himself circumcised, and just can't understand what the "big deal" is. his view is that it's tradition and just what "everyone does". ...
all of the medical statistics i can find have about equal health benefits and problems for circ'd or un-circ'd, so it's hard to come at it from that angle (but medical seems to be the only argument my husband thinks holds water)....
great idea to start the discussion process early, rather than in the L&D room!
One point that I made over and over to my DH was that it is not our body, so why alter it in anyway. If he wants to do it later, then so be it, but it will be his decision.
My pedi did say that he has had a couple of uncirc'ed teenage boys come into him to chat about getting circ'ed, but not one of them actually went through with it in the end.
You say your husband is all for it because of "tradition" and it's just "what's done." Yet, the only arguments he will consider on the other side are medical arguments. That right there shows that he is not coming at this from a place of logic. He only wants to validate his own circumcision - to believe that it didn't hurt him ("no big deal") and that it has helped him to fit into family and society ("an important tradition!"), and that it has had NO effect on him sexually. Learning that these assumptions are not true will likely be very, very painful for him. Posters above gave tons of great resources for you. I just wanted to chime in to mention, don't treat it like a logical debate, because he isn't in a place where he can be detached and listen to facts. He is, for obvious reasons, very emotionally connected to the idea that circumcision is good.
Edited by jenP - 4/6/11 at 1:16pm
Do stress that the cir rate is dropping like a stone. What state are you in? Here in Oregon, its down to 30%.
Do stress that you will protect your son... even if this means making him absent from the birth process.
Do triple check with your hospital that they won't cut your son without his mother's consent.
Edited by philomom - 4/7/11 at 4:48pm
I'm chiming in:
I just don't see the point in circumcision. Most especially when it's done because "everyone else is doing it." I discussed this with my husband even before I was pregnant with our first son and we respectfully agreed to disagree. (He likes the aesthetics of a cut penis - he's circumcised, many of his family and friends are...) The fact that I would always come back to is that that little foreskin is there for a reason.
As I got ready to give birth we still didn't have a decision. My beautiful son was born, and we still didn't know what to do. At the eleventh hour, my husband finally agreed to forgo cutting our babe. Like the earlier poster said, keep everything calm and civil always...reason should prevail. (It did in my case!)
My mom and some of our friends have given me a slightly hard time about it - like my babe will get made fun of for having an intact penis or it's hard to take care of, and I just laugh. I actually feel really lucky we didn't have to take care of a circumcised penis that first week - talk about hard to take care of! It was all we could do just to keep him diapered!
I love our son's cute penis and am so happy he's uncut, and I'm certain my husband does too. Good luck!
While I agree, I would have been thinking this... this approach would not have worked in my situation. I think every relationship is different, and for any other mamas who might be reading this helpful post, I would advise to tread carefully. Saying this would have been very hurtful to dh, in my opinion, and it definitely would have escalated things. Inside, he was truly worried that we weren't doing something for ds that really needed to be done. It wasn't until afterwards that he saw how absurd that point of view is.
On a gentler note, remember that your dh is a victim of a culture of circumcision, even if he doesn't think of himself that way. It helped me to think compassionately about dh (and other people who choose to circ. Cultural pressure can be immense to some. I remember how I felt! It's just uneducated docs and shallow opinions about vanity that draw my ire now) Be like steel on the inside for the sake of your babe, but you can be softer on the outside towards dh (being softer doesn't mean giving an inch.... just trying to have empathy for his difficult position and agreeing to disagree if need be. Again, remember your son will have the tie breaking vote )