As I mentioned in my “about” section, this blog is going to be an area for me to mentally debate myself about certain topics that are in my head. In this case, I would love people to give me their point of view should they have one.
A couple of disclaimers regarding this topic: when I am talking about circumcision, I am not talking about it with regards to religion, I am talking about it in all secular contexts. Also, when I give reasons for and against certain things (circumcision, ear piercing), I am in no way trying to put down the people, or cultures who do these things, I am just examining the different sides.
We live in a country (well, a world) of contradictions. What is okay to do in some cases is completely abhorrent in others. Specifically, I am referring to childhood body modification (my personal preference will be to call it mutilation, a reasoning I will explain in a different post).
Should you pierce a baby girls’ ears? This question is met with mixed responses here (in the US). Many people I asked who are American born and raised would say no, of course not; that would be mutilating a child who cannot consent to it. However, many of the people of Hispanic cultures whom I have asked said yes, why not; it’s a cultural thing. Personally, it has never been a big deal to me. It’s not permanent; if the child decides he or she doesn’t want pierced ears he or she can take the things out, and usually the holes close up without a visible scar. I don’t like it as a concept despite the fact it is not necessarily permanent, though, since it’s doing something to the body of someone who cannot consent.
Circumcision, on the other hand, is something that I have had a lot people get mad at me for asking about. “Of course we should circumcise baby boys, it’s healthier, it looks better, etc”, these are often the same people who argue that piercing a baby girl’s ears is a violation, but slicing a piece of the end of a baby boys penis, a piece that cannot ever (realistically) be attached is completely fine. Why? I don’t get it. Personally, I don’t like the idea of circumcising a baby. Fine, if a man wants to be circumcised, by all means go ahead – but how can one know what a person will want before it can even speak.
Let’s take the main two arguments: the public health perspective, and the aesthetic perspective (remember, I am putting religion aside here).
1. Public health: more sexually transmitted diseases are spread and caught by uncircumcised men than by circumcised men. Well, this is a debatable point on a couple of levels, but let us for the sake of argument accept it as truth. Even then I am still at a loss. This point only rings true for unprotected sex, and in this discussion I am talking about the USA, where access to condoms and other safe sex “supplies” is ample. So do we want to say that it is easier to cut up a baby’s penis than to teach a teenager about safe sex, and hope they will practice safe sex? It is so widely unexpected that men will bother to practice safe sex that as a culture we have put an extra safety net in place so as to help reduce the transmission of sexual diseases. This seems really sad to me.
2. Looks: one of the top reasons men (and women) gave to argue for circumcision was that “it looks better,” and that “uncircumcised penises are creepy”. SERIOUSLY GUYS?! We are going to permanently alter a baby’s body because of our personal preferences. If people think that other people look better and less creepy without their little toe, or with a tattoo on their ankle, would that make it okay for me to do that to my baby so they could grow up looking “better” according to my definition? Of course not. I have heard some good reasons for circumcising babies, but this one is decidedly terrible, and sheds a sad light on our values as a society.
I understand that circumcision is (supposedly) painless and (supposedly) not traumatic but I just don’t feel right with the idea of permanently altering someone’s body before that person can decide.
The interesting argument that I have heard in favor of circumcision, one against which I cannot argue, is the idea that “I’d rather have it done then, when I can’t remember, then have to do it now”. A number of guys have explained that they would prefer to be circumcised, and are glad they are, but would never want to go through it now they are adults. So they are thankful to their parents for “getting that out of the way”. I find this to be an interesting argument, although it slightly reduces the argument that its “painless and not traumatic” for the baby if grown men are scared at the concept.
I don’t know. I find it to be something I viscerally don’t like. This is why. I have trouble understanding why it is so accepted, and in a way necessary. The third most common reason I heard when people said why they would have (or did have) their child circumcised was to prevent bullying. It seems that an uncircumcised boy in this country is so unnatural today that they would be bullied and mocked in a locker room setting. I find this to be very interesting, and again it’s not fixing the behavior (the bullying behavior in this case) but giving in, accepting it will happen, and changing the child so they would not get bullied.
All in all, the main reasons I heard in support of circumcision did not leave me feeling good about the way people behave or expect others to behave.