Originally Posted by armychicmkm
Dh and I are expecting our first child and I have been studying up on everything. He's opposed to circumcising. I've never even thought of it. I understand this is an anti-circ board but I really would like both sides of the argument. Thanx all!
Congratulations on your first pregnancy! And good for you for "studying up." There are plenty of things in the realm of pregnancy, birth, and parenting that are often taken for granted and these are the very things that should be questioned. Circumcision is one of them, often way down the list of all the other things that one has to learn about and make decisions about when pregnant, but one not to be overlooked! Many parents never get to the point of looking into it, and some come to later regret a decision to circumcise when they find out things that they did not have the chance to consider.
So you are way ahead of the game (not to mention you have a very sensible and wise DH!).
You asked for "both sides of the argument." But it isn't really as easy as that. You're just not going to find nice neat lists of equal numbers of reasons for and against. Even the sources that purport to be unbiased (e.g. medical position statements on circumcision, or patient information handouts) don't always tell "both sides".
For instance, they may give a list of potential medical benefits, but then neglect to give any counterarguments as to why these claims may not be valid .
Or they may not give parents a realistic picture of what a circumcision actually entails or mention all the risks.
Or they may not give any information about what the foreskin is and what it is there for (hint: it's on the business end of the penis!).
Or may avoid any discussion the ethical issues potentially involved.
In fact, most sources put the focus on circumcising, without covering much at all about the alternative of NOT circumcising.
So much for "both sides."
Some of the things you mentioned you have heard about possible benefits (medical, "cleanliness," whatever) of circumcision are about as far as most people get when they think about or are taught about circumcision. What you will hear on this board is the "other side," the side that is usually left out of what you hear in the myth-driven mainstream American culture. So it may SEEM unbalanced, but in fact it IS the balance.
It's strange that only in America do parents have to "wrestle" with the decision of whether to circumcise or not - because NO other country in the world circumcises the majority of its newborns for non-religious reasons. England, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand used to circumcise newborns, but now no longer do. Thanksfully, in the US, the rates have dropped from 80-90% in the 1970s to approximately 55% in recent years - but we still have a long way to go to protect every boy.
The simple fact is that ALL boys are born with a foreskin. Probably 75% of males in the world grow up and live their whole lives quite happily with intact genitals. It would never cross the minds of most parents in the world to cut off part of their newborn baby's genitals!
By the way, it is very interesting to dig into the history of how circumcision got started in the US, which was scientifically actually on pretty shaky grounds. Here are a couple of good sites: http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/http://www.icgi.org/medicalization/
If I may just say in closing that, to me, the starting point for learning about circumcision is just realizing that the foreskin is a normal body part, worthy of as much respect and protection as any other. Realizing this, and that a decision to cut it off (off someone else, no less!) is not an inconsequential decision and is irreversible to boot, makes it all the more important that you research this carefully and thoroughly - which is exactly what you seem to be setting out to do.
Please keep in mind that though parents are given the right and responsibility in our culture to decide for or against circumcision, there really is a third very important stakeholder in the decision – the boy himself! This is where the ethics of it comes in. It’s his body and he alone will have to live his life with the consequences of the decision, so perhaps a consideration of his right to have a say in how much of his penis he gets to keep should be part of one’s deliberations.
Glad you found us! If you have more questions, ask away! We're passionate, but we don't bite, and we LOVE people who come here with an open mind!