By: Heather Somaini
Circumcision. It’s a big word and depending on whom you’re talking to, a passionate subject. There are whole websites dedicated to telling you that you should or shouldn’t. It seems like such a personal thing. No woman really wants to ask a man if he is or isn’t and no woman wants to bring it up with a group of men in case one of them isn’t. But regardless of the reasons in either direction, it’s something you’re probably going to have to think about if you are about to become a parent. It’s just one more decision you have to make in a long line of decisions.
It starts with picking a donor – anonymously from the sperm bank like we did, or in person like that cute fellow you decided to marry. Then once that’s out of the way, the decisions never end. From what to eat and drink while pregnant to what tests should be run to make sure your baby is ok. From what I understand we keep making these choices for a very long time.
One of the biggest decisions we made for our 10-day-old son was to be circumcised. I’ll be honest, we didn’t do much research. I actually did more research for this blog than when we actually decided to do it and I’ve really struggled with my findings. Apparently, there are literally no medical reasons to circumcise a baby boy. We’re not Jewish or Muslim and there was nothing wrong with Free when he was born.
So why did we do it? Because a group of men in their 40’s –and fathers in their own right –told us to. Yep, that’s it. I’m embarrassed to say that their very simple reason swayed us. They said we should circumcise our son so that he wouldn’t be made fun of in the locker room as a teenager. And that was that.
Approximately 60% of male babies in the US are circumcised at birth. No one’s really sure why or even how it got started but circumcision was accepted in the US around 1900. The prevailing thought at the time was that circumcision prevented disease and reduced masturbation (which apparently was a “bad” thing at the turn of the century). Later it was also believed to protect against syphilis. If you go back further, it just gets murkier. There are many reasons why people may have circumcised – it gave advantages to tribes that practiced it, as a demonstration of a man’s ability to endure pain, as a rite of passage for a boy to become a man, to humiliate enemies…the list goes on and on. The only thing that scholars agree upon is that promoting good health had nothing to do with it.
It’s interesting that our poll group of 40-ish-aged men relied on the “you don’t want your son to be made fun of by other boys” argument. Another poll group I queried of 20-ish aged young men gave me a different reason albeit the same resulting answer. They said that young women expect a circumcised penis and none of them wanted to disappoint their young conquests. I sort of like this answer. It makes me think that their girlfriend’s wants and desires are most important to them. I’m not sure if it’s true but I’m going to stick with it!
On the 10th day of his very new life, Free was circumcised. We both agreed that I would be there to hold his hand and comfort him but that’s not how it happened. With his sudden and unexpected release to go home from the hospital, we authorized the procedure to be done when our doctor was available that day. They didn’t call us until after it was over.
When we did arrive, Free was sleeping soundly. He wasn’t screaming at us for ruining his life for no reason other than vanity. Maybe one day he will. Maybe one day he’ll blame us for a dump truck full of stuff but if the 20-somethings are right, this probably won’t be one of them.