I am the proud mother of three boys. Actually...judging from the results of our measuring session this morning and the fact that our 13-year-old has now slightly surpassed his older brother and is now pushing the six-foot envelope...I am the mother to three young MEN! And as they approach official manhood and have to face all the challenges that such a status entails, I am once again grateful for the decision that my hubby and I made upon their birth.
I am speaking of the controversial question: To cut or not to cut?
For us the question was a relatively simple one. Not only was my husband circumcized, so there was the factor of not wanting the boys to look "different" from the dad. But also, thanks to my work at the hospital which had shown me that there was a startling number of full grown men coming through for circumcisions later in life, I just felt that good routine hygiene notwithstanding, it was the safer option and would just mean that my boys had one less HEADache to worry about. (Head. Get it? You smirked. Admit it.) So, at the time--more than 18 years ago now since our first was born--the decision was based more on simple practicality than on esthetics. And certainly the notion of social pressure and sexuality never entered into it. I mean who thinks about their 6 pound, 4-day-old son eventually facing the scrutinizing stare of a potential sexual partner!?
But now...considering what I know of the sexual socialization of our North American society, I am doubly grateful that my boys will not be faced with the label of being "uncut." I know that the sexual experts would likely disagree. They would say that medically there is no reason for the procedure. That it is unnatural. That it causes a decrease of sensitivity, and is an antiquated custom. This is all true, I am sure. With modern hygiene customs there is no reason that an uncircumcized man can't be as well-groomed, clean and attractive as his counterpart. However, the simple truth seems to be that public perception is different.
A few months back I overheard a conversation between a couple of women whom I work with. These two women are mothers of young sons. They were arguing with another young woman who is of dating age, and who was trying to explain to them why she vastly preferred to date circumcized men--and that she was not alone in this attitude. But these women who had chosen not to circumcize their boys were having a hard time accepting her arguments.
I joined the discussion and reinforced what the younger woman was saying. She is not alone in these attitudes. I know of many single women who have told me that they are very hesitant to be with an uncut man. They tell me that they've had bad experiences in the past. That yeast infections seem to follow such encounters, and that too many uncut men do not seem to have the knack of keeping themselves properly groomed. There is also the simple factor of esthetics. Right or wrong, we've become accustomed to the sight of the circumcized penis, and deviations from that "norm" may cause some hesitation in potential partners.
So, whether this convention is right or wrong is not the issue. Should we take strides to change it? Personally...considering my experience with medical issues like infections and unretracted foreskins, I'm not convinced that it is medically unwarranted. If I felt that it was harmful in some way, either medically or to men's self esteem--such as the attitudes towards women and their weight, then I would feel very differently. However, I don't. I think it's a procedure that, while not exactly necessary, has numerous benefits, and parents should consider it as such.
Many years ago my sister-in-law had a son and was planning on circumcizing him, but a meddling and opinionated doctor accused her of wanting to "mutilate" her child and eventually talked her out of it. She regretted that decision numerous times in the years since, but of course later in life the decision becomes much more daunting. Frankly I think that doctor should have to endure a Jewish bris sans anesthetic for using such strong-arm tactics!
The choice should be made by loving parents who have their child's best interests at heart and have all the information they need to make an educated decision. And social convention is not a factor to be dismissed out of hand. Just ask any teenage boy who is dropping his drawers in front of a girl for the first time!
So read, comment, ask questions, rant and rave...but most of all enjoy and open your mind to possibilities!