Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Circum[de]cision; Considering Circumcision? Read On...

"What's done to children, they will do to society."
Karl Menninger, psychiatrist

My heart was racing and absolutely pounding out of my chest, tears streaming down my face. I could hardly breathe. I had to look away.

It was a circumcision video. I decided to watch it after I had debated circumcision with a couple of friends who had chosen it for their sons. They talked so casually about it that for a second I actually thought to myself, ‘well maybe it’s not such a big deal.’ and decided to educate myself.

I had no idea I would become so passionate about the subject, but the more I learned, the more my passion grew. After watching that video I feel like I was forever changed. I needed to speak out. It was even worse than I had imagined. I wanted so desperately to reach through the screen and sweep that baby into my arms before they could do anything to him. He was hysterical, arms and legs strapped down, having his genitals cut. This baby was someone’s pride and joy, in the tender first days of his life, having a healthy body part removed forever. I wept for him and thought ‘why is this happening to our beloved babies during the most helpless and vulnerable time of their lives?’ A circumcision is, for far too many boys, the first genital experience in their lives.

Thank you for taking the time to hear my take on this, as I know it is a very emotionally charged issue. My writing is from the heart and is done without judgment, but rather passion. I am mother to an intact son. I shudder to think of the decision I could have made on his behalf had I not been informed, done my research, and followed my heart. Every single day I am grateful that my husband and I chose to keep him intact. I hope I can inspire even just one person to make the same decision for their son. I am sharing some of the information I have found useful and feel the need to spread around to other new parents or parents-to-be. Knowledge is power.

In male human anatomy, the foreskin is a generally retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers the glans penis and protects the urinary meatus (pronounced /miːˈeɪtəs/) when the penis is not erect. It is also described as the prepuce, a technically broader term that also includes the clitoral hood in women, to which the foreskin is embryonically homologous [the same]. [1]

cir·cum·cise (sûr k m-s z )
tr.v. cir·cum·cised, cir·cum·cis·ing, cir·cum·cis·es
1. To remove the prepuce [foreskin] of (a male).
2. To remove all or part of the clitoris, prepuce, or labia of (a female). [2]

None of us would even consider taking a baby girl in to have all or part of her clitoris removed in the tender first days of her life. Female circumcision is considered barbaric, unethical, and unnecessary by our North American culture. We are quick to condemn this practice and commonly refer to it as ‘Female Genital Mutilation’. It is removing one of the most sensitive body parts on a female, considered the “key to females' sexual pleasure.” [3][4] Though female and male circumcision procedures are not identical, (given the anatomical differences of boys and girls) they are shockingly similar. It is the position of the Canadian Children's Rights Council that "circumcision" of male or female children is genital mutilation of children. [5]

No national medical organization in the world recommends circumcision. [6]

With that said, why are so many precious baby boys still being circumcised? Some parents are choosing it simply to ‘look like dad’ or because ‘it’s more hygienic’. Many parents circumcise their sons knowing little about the actual procedure and the lasting effects it can have on their child.

If we know better, we can do better.

Dispelling the myths:

“It’s easier to keep clean”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) stated: "…there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimal penile hygiene."[7]

There is nothing hygienic about an open wound being covered in urine and faeces multiple times per day. Cleaning a baby's intact penis? Simple. Clean only what is seen; do not retract. 

“They won’t remember it”

Psychologists suggest there is a ‘critical period’ in a child’s life which experiences during this time can have a profound impact on their lives.

In general, a critical period is a limited time in which an event can occur, usually to result in some kind of transformation. A "critical period” in developmental psychology and developmental biology is a time in the early stages of an organism's life during which it displays a heightened sensitivity to certain environmental stimuli, and develops in particular ways due to experiences at this time. [8]

I just can’t shake the feeling that the pain and trauma of genital cutting done in infancy, a time when humans cannot understand or cope when something negative is being done to them, can somehow imprint on their developing brains and affect them, in some way or another, for the rest of their lives.

Imagine you went to have your wisdom teeth pulled and were administered sedation for the procedure. While you were sedated, they took out your wisdom teeth and also decided to give you a nose job, without your consent, because they thought ‘it would look better’. You don’t remember it being done, but you are left to endure an uncomfortable healing process and an altered appearance. Hard to imagine, right? Ultimately, circumcision is not much different: it is performing a cosmetic procedure on a non-consenting individual. Children will not remember almost anything from their first few years of life. This does not give us the right to do whatever we want to them during this time.

"A whole life can be shaped by an old trauma, remembered or not."
Lenore Terr, M.D., child psychiatrist

“But I’ve heard some babies actually sleep through the procedure”

“But he will look different that the other boys in the locker room if he is not circumcised”

Or will he? Turns out, the opposite is true. Statistics show the numbers are declining in Canada, with 31.9% of boys circumcised from 2006-2007. [9] There are widely varying estimates for the US, but the average number is somewhere around 32% as well. [10]

“But he should look like his Dad”

“The BMA [British Medical Association] does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view.” [11] There is also no possible way to predict how your son will feel about his circumcision later on in his life. [12] When he is older he can make the decision for himself. Like most intact men, however, he will probably be perfectly happy with his complete penis and not even consider having the surgery.

“But what if he has to have it done as an adult?”

This argument is well explained here: http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/garcia/

Men who have been circumcised as adults are the only people who can accurately explain what it is like to be both intact and circumcised. Here are some quotes from these men:

"After the circumcision there was a major change. It was like night and day. I lost most sensation. I would give anything to get the feeling back."

The greatest disadvantage of circumcision is the awful loss of sensitivity when the foreskin is removed. . . . On a scale of 10, the intact penis experiences pleasure that is at least 11 or 12; the circumcised penis is lucky to get to 3.

The sexual differences between a circumcised and uncircumcised penis is . . . like wearing a condom or wearing a glove. . . . Sight without color would be a good analogy. . . . Only being able to see in black and white, for example, rather than seeing in full color would be like experiencing an orgasm with a foreskin and without. There are feelings you’ll just never have without a foreskin. [12]

It’s time we gathered our courage and started the conversation with our friends and families on this taboo subject so that no more baby boys have to endure this. Our babies are perfect the way they are born. Beautiful. Pure. Intact.

We are their voice. Let’s gather our courage and speak up.

With gratitude,

There are many videos on the web on genital cutting. This is the one that opened my eyes: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/08/plastibell-infant-circumcision.html

"I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in the condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male." ~Thomas Szasz, M.D.

Want to know more? Check out these websites:


1.       “Foreskin”. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreskin (August 5, 2011).
2.       “Circumcise”. The Free Dictionary By Farlex: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/circumcise (August 6, 2011).

3.       “Clitoris”. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.  Chalker, Rebecca (2000). The Clitoral Truth. Seven Seas Press. pp. 1. ISBN 1-58322-473-4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoris (August 6, 2011).

4.       “Clitoris”. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.  O'Connell HE, Sanjeevan KV, Hutson JM (October 2005). "Anatomy of the clitoris". The Journal of Urology 174 (4 Pt 1): 1189–95. (August 6, 2011).

5.       “Circumcision”. Canadian Children’s Rights Council. http://www.canadiancrc.com/Circumcision_Genital_Mutilation_Male-Female_Children.aspx. (August 7, 2011).

6.       “Welcome to CRC”. Circumcision Resource Center. http://www.circumcision.org/ (August 7, 2011).

7.       “Circumcision”. Circumcision policy statement. American Academy of Pediatrics. Task Force on Circumcision". Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia. Pediatrics 103 (3): 686–93. March 1999. doi:10.1542/peds.103.3.686. PMID 10049981.  (August 7, 2011).

8.       “Critical Periods”. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_period (August 7, 2011)

9.       “Welcome to CRC”. Circumcision Resource Center. http://www.circumcision.org/ (August 7, 2011).

10.    “United States Circumcision Incidence”.  The circumcision reference library. http://www.cirp.org/library/statistics/USA/. (File revised 1 January 2011) (August 7, 2011).

11.    Circumcision: male genital mutilation. Canadian Children’s Rights Council. http://www.canadiancrc.com/circumcision/circumcision_medical_opinions.aspx

12.    “Men Circumcised as Adults”. Circumcision Resource Center. http://www.circumcision.org/adults.htm. (August 7, 2011).


Thank you so much for writing this well researched article. Circumcision never even entered my mind with my boys, for all of the reasons you have listed above. I hope your article will help other parents put more thought into the circumcision decision.
Enjoyed reading your blog. I just wrote a blog about circumcision also the other day. I shared your blog link on my page. My son is also intact and so glad that I researched this before he had it done. Keep spreading the word. -Ash
Thank you for this post. You will open more eyes!
You rock! Thanks for all the great info!
You rock thanks for the great info!
I will add this post to my long list of resources to share with pregnant mamas. Thank you for such a thorough post. I am SOOOO thankful I researched beforehand and I thank God every day that he opened my eyes and my baby boy is WHOLE. Blessings.
Wonderful post! So many baby boys are being spared these days because people dare to question and research this issue. Our baby boy is due VERY soon and he will remain exactly as he was made.
Excellent. Would be nice to see under "it's cleaner" that there is no cleaning to an intact penis, unlike a mutilated one. What could be easier than doing nothing?
Vey well done. Thank you for another great resource for parents!
I could have written this, since my evolution from ignorant woman to passionate intactivist was the same. We need more women to watch those horrible videos and do the research to get through the hype that is fed to the public in a disgusting agenda to circumcise all boys. It's revolting.

I'm ashamed that I once supported this barbaric practice, but I'm educated now. So everyone who thinks it's a good idea needs to be educated too.
Yet one more North American wife and mother whose understanding of the tip of the penis far exceeds that of the vast majority of North American men. Almost everything I've learned about the natural penis over the past 10-15 years has been penned by a woman. I think that there is an ongoing revolution in women's body acceptance and sexual sophistication. Could it be that that revolution is not confined to the female body but is spilling over to the male body as well? Or is it simply that a woman with a movable clitoral hood has a much better appreciation of the male foreskin than a circed man?
roger::) those are brilliant observations~and i agree~a woman with a clitoral hood & clitoris understands exactly what is at stake for an infant boy~and the same exact logic "its cleaner, smells cleaner, looks cleaner and will make their husbands happier and prevents uti's " is used by male and female doctors in africa and the middle east (university educated abroad most of them!) to justify performing female circumcision in infancy and childhood!
Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

Feel free to surf to my site; homepage ()

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