Whether you are convinced by the arguments presented or not, I commend you for not being blissfully ignorant, and questioning a controversial topic rather than accepting the (U.S.) ‘way it is’. Ignorance comes from not understanding what we see, and not searching for that knowledge. Regardless of your final perspective, you have shown you are not ignorant.
Anyone who has lurked on this or any other circumcision board has come across a parent who’s only reason for circumcising is ‘just because’. Even with solid medical advise, and proven references, the reason is still ‘just because’. Religious aspects aside, I have come to believe that the main reason parents choose to circumcise their boys (and girls elsewhere) is purely emotional, with the medical arguments used to justify the emotional response.
There are several topics that I don’t think have been covered yet, and they may give you and your husband a slightly different perspective, or at least something to discuss. Men and women end up having different perspectives, but equally strong emotional reasons.
Locker Room Teasing / All His Peers Are: I have found that this argument is mostly used by men. I would imagine that if a study was done on the whole ‘locker room teasing’ concept, that the results may have nothing to do with the locker room. I suspect that “I don’t want my son teased on the locker room” can actually be translated into “I don’t ever want to risk a woman having a negative reaction to my son’s unfamiliar penis, and not wanting to have sex with him.” An entirely hypothetical concept, but one based on the constant (North American) barrage of women / media expressing the “ewww gross!” statements. What man would even risk such a catastrophic reaction for his son? This is no longer even a concern as here (Canada) where the intact guys could gang up on the circumcised guy. And anyways, who would admit looking at another guy’s penis? It is just not an issue.
Look Like Me: I believe that this has more to do with the insecurities of the father in dealing with an unknown sexual issue, than with any (extremely vain) attempt at needing the kids to look like Dad. My parents never talked to me about sex, sexuality or my body, and I can only recall ever seeing my father nude once. they would doubly feel uncomfortable having to explain something to their son that they themselves aren’t equipped with. No foreskin equals no need to deal with it, nor talk about it, not think about it. ‘Looking Like Me’ therefore equals ‘one less uncomfortable sex subject to deal with’. Some my find this a positive, but I believe that the loss versus gain is too high.
Later In Life: This is often brought out as the trump card for a parent. Why would they not do it now when the baby feels no pain (proven wrong), and have to do it later when it is more painful (and the man can adequately control the pain with codeine or whatever). I agree that no parent ever wants to have their child go through a trauma like this, and no man wants their boy to ever have a problem with his penis. The truth is, the majority of intact men will NEVER have a problem with their penis and the vast majority will never need to be circumcised, EVER. According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, about 10 in 1000 (1%) of uncircumcised boys need to be done later in life. The CPS also indicated that about 10 in 1000 (1%) of CIRCUMCISED boys will need to have it done AGAIN due to problems. http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/babies/Circumcision.htm
A specific fact from a world recognized, National organization. Other countries have significantly lower rates (proportional to the acceptability of the foreskin in the culture). Some may ask, “Isn’t it better to have surgery now to remove a healthy part of your body, rather than risk that later in life he is probably - possibly - maybe - perhaps – debatably - doubtfully - not likely – improbably going to have a problem?” If all the ‘My brother’s best friend’s cousin had to have it done when he was 12…’ stories were true, then there would be very few intact men in the world. It just isn’t that common. Again, the means don’t justify the ends.
Loss of Sensitivity / My Penis Works Fine and I Wouldn’t Want It To Be More Senitive:
This response is completely false for several reasons:
- A circumcised man has to admit that there is something wrong or lacking with their precious equipment before they can even think about what it is that is lacking. What man do you know that would admit that they are deficient when it comes to sexual equipment? We have enough trouble getting over feelings of size inferiority without also worrying that there may be something else wrong with their penis. As well, there is nothing that can be done (other than foreskin restoration) to change things ‘so why worry’, so they don't.
- Although I am circumcised and have been since I was an infant, I can tell you as a fact that sensitivity is reduced in a circumcised male. How do I know this? I am loosely circumcised, and my inner foreskin remnant extends about half of the length of my average penis. My understanding is that I am at one end of a spectrum that goes from where most of the inner skin is remaining to virtually no inner skin remaining at all. It is a fact that there is more sensitivity in my remaining foreskin than in my shaft skin. It is similar to lightly stroking the palm of your hand versus the back of the hand. It is a fact that I can climax simply by rubbing the remaining inner foreskin (I have little if any frenulum left) without ever touching the glans. It is a fact that if I were to remove the remaining inner skin, I would have less sensitivity. That is not conjecture, that is not ‘‘I heard of a guy who knows a guy…”, it is not relying on someone else’s ’‘study’‘, it is fact. I wonder what else I am missing from being circumcised, and am thankful that I have more than average skin left. It makes me laugh when someone brings up the sensitivity issue. Removing sensitive tissue = removing sensitivity. As to how the glans reduces in sensitivity though exposure, I cannot factually say. I cannot judge having nothing to compare. Nor can I really say how the loss of my frenulum has affected me, other that to wonder at the reports of how sensitive the frenulums of intact men are reported to be, when mine (what if any is left) really isn't.
- The idea that more sensitivity would be a negative is also based on false ideas. There have been studies that show that circumcised men are both more AND less likely than intact men to experience premature ejaculation. It is often due to psychological conditioning, or physiological triggers/training, with little bearing on circumcision foreskin status.
I have come to the sad realization that although my penis does work fine, but it could have worked better.
My Buddy is Intact and Hates It: Translates into “if I decide to leave my son alone, he may hate it later.” Unfortunately when a father hears this comment from a friend or co-worker, it just reinforces the idea that that their son could potentially have negative things said about their status. Doubly unfortunate is that the Buddy may feel this way due to the myths he himself has just reinforced, continuing the cycle when the Dad circumcises his own son.
OOOO Gross!: Although health issues are on the list of reasons (North American) women want to circumcise, they will almost invariably cite that they prefer the look of the circumcised penis, and that an intact penis is gross. Teen girls who say this have probably never seen one (but perpetuate what they hear), and a grown women may have never experienced one (but perpetuate what they hear). Again, if you take away the medical argument (not supported by ANY medical association in the World), then what is left is the oooo gross factor. This is not a rational argument, especially if there is no direct experience with the intact penis. North American women have been conditioned to think of it as gross…so it must be…right? So they circumcise the child on the off chance that some girl along the way may think of their penis as gross, (see locker room argument) reinforcing and perpetuating the idea.
Harder to Care For: (See OOOO Gross above). I also have to clean my circumcised penis or it starts to get funky. From conversations I have had, it may take a couple second longer to retract the foreskin and clean, but that’s about it. And that is ONLY after puberty when a parent is really not likely to be bathing the child. Before puberty, body chemistry means that it is just not required (like body odour).
I have made some generalizations that may not apply to you with the intent that you and your husband at least think about these ‘arguments’ and how they are based solely on emotion and not on anything concrete. Arguments that you may not have even thought of as emotional.
Emotions can be as important as facts in some cases, but subjecting an infant to a painful, irreversible, potentially damaging, cosmetic surgery on healthy tissue should not be based on emotions.
Sorry about the super long note. :-)