DaVinci's "Vitruvian Man" - Did you ever notice that he has his whole penis?
I know, talking about baby penises seems like a strange choice for a blog post. I used to think that penises came in two varieties, circumcised and uncircumcised....but education is a powerful thing. Now, I know that they only come in one style - Natural - and we, as parents, choose to alter what God or Nature or Evolution or The Great Spaghetti Monster created.
Why am I calling "uncircumcised" penises "natural"? Most of the "intactivist" culture uses the word "Intact", which is also accurate, but really, an uncircumcised penis is exactly that - natural.
Just like women without breast implants have "natural" boobs, or a person has their "natural" nose before a nose job. It's the way nature made it - therefore, a natural penis. Does that mean a circumcised penis is unnatural? Yes, it does.
I do want to note that I'm not anti-circumcision. If an adult man wants to modify his body, that is his choice and I support it - just as I would support a woman who wanted labiaplasty, or anyone who wanted to stretch their earlobes or tattoo their body. I am opposed to the routine circumcision of infants for non-medical reasons.
So, here are 50 reasons to leave your son's penis alone and not let a doctor cut it up.
1.) It's his.
2.) I've never met a man who wanted "less" penis when he was old enough to care. Men tend to like their penises just the way they are.
3.) You can change your mind. It's not possible to "un-circumcise", although there are men who have chosen to restore their foreskin later in life. If you're not sure, don't decide at all. It's a non-decision. :)
4.) There is no medical reason to do it routinely.
5.) Circumcision isn't the majority for newborns anymore. According to the New York Times, the infant circumcision rate is down to 32%. That means 68% of your son's locker room will likely have natural penises. If you circumcise, he will probably ask you why he's different from his buddies.
6.) Natural penises are easier to take care of during the diaper-changing years. Just wipe it like a finger. No retracting, no mess or fuss. Compare that to having to care for an open wound in a diaper.
7.) You wouldn't cut your baby girl's genitals. In fact, it's illegal - even a "nick" is illegal. Male circumcision is a lot more involved than a nick!
8.) Many doctors and nurses refuse to perform the procedure because it violates the Hippocratic Oath - First, Do No Harm.
9.) It hurts. A lot. Really. Don't believe me? Watch a video. With the sound up, please. If you can't watch the whole thing, can you really ask your newborn to go through it?
10.) Babies can't be properly anesthetized. An older child or adult would be given anesthesia and strong pain medication after any kind of operation, especially one on their genitals. Babies can't have the same level of anesthesia and after-care medicine that an older child or an adult would receive.
11.) Did you know? Infant circumcision rates are less than 10% in the following counties: England, France, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, all of South and Central America, Japan, China, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia and more.
Infant circumcision rates are higher than 10% in the following countries: USA, Israel, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, and Kenya.
12.) Men with natural penises are less likely to experience Erectile Dysfunction as they age. Translation - your son will be less likely to need Viagra when he's 55.
13.) Female sexual partners of men with natural penises are more likely to achieve orgasm during sexual intercourse. They are also less likely to need lubricant.
14.) There are over 20,000 nerve endings in the foreskin. That's more than in the female clitoris.
15.) The foreskin protects the head of the penis.
16.) The foreskin provides lubrication during sexual intercourse. Men with natural penises are less likely to use lubrication during sex or masturbation.
17.) No major medical organization on earth recommends routine circumcision of infants.
18.) It's easy to clean when he's older. Shower. Besides, by the time his foreskin is retractable, (average age, 10.4 years old), you will no longer be cleaning his penis. I hope.
19.) Circumcision does not prevent AIDS, or any other STD. Condoms do. Having sex with one, monogamous partner and avoiding IV drug use prevents AIDS. Why would you assume your baby's going to be a man-whore anyway?
20.) We don't chop off ears to prevent ear infections. We don't remove baby toenails to prevent fungal infections. We don't cut off body parts anymore when a wound becomes infected. In the very unlikely event your son does develop an infection, we have antibiotics.
21.) Circumcision in the US began as a method to discourage masturbation, advocated by Kellogg, the cereal magnate, who also believed in the importance of daily cold enemas. Really - true story!! He stressed that circumcision should be done without anesthesia so boys would remember the pain every time they wanted to masturbate. How'd that work out?
22.) Natural penises only "look funny" to you if they are unfamiliar to you. Your son's generation will see them as normal.
23.) Women produce far more smegma than men, but we don't cut off their baby girl labia to keep things "clean."
24.) Your son will respect you for leaving the decision up to him, and for respecting his right to genital integrity.
25.) Complications of circumcision are NOT rare. Check out this thread on Babycenter.com (a mommy board, not a circumcision website) to read their stories.
26.) Most hospital circumcisions are performed by Obstetricians and Gynecologists, whose specialty is female reproduction, not male.
27.) Circumcision is not usually performed in a sterile operating room, but in a dirty nursery or a side room in hospitals without nurseries.
28.) Circumcision makes money for doctors. A doctor who performs circumcisions makes an extra $20,000-160,000 per year on the operations. That's why they offer circumcision at hospitals - for cash. They'll ask you if you want your son circumcised multiple times at the hospital: they want the money.
29.) Less than 1% of men with foreskins will ever "need" to be circumcised, just as the vast majority of women will never need a hysterectomy or mastectomy. We don't remove tonsils or fingernails or anything else at birth "in case" it has a problem.
30.) Penile cancer causes 300 deaths a year, almost exclusively in men over the age of 70. Infant circumcision causes over 500 deaths a year worldwide. Circumcision does not prevent penile cancer.
31.) Babies with foreskins are more likely to breastfeed successfully. Infant circumcision interferes with breastfeeding and hinders breastfeeding success. Isn't breastfeeding hard enough?
32.) Fathers don't spend time comparing penises with their sons. If your son does notice that his penis is different from Dad's (other than size and hair), you can simply explain that Daddy had an operation when he was a baby. My dad lost half of his ring finger in an accident, but I was never bothered by having all of my fingers.
33.) Your grandfather (or great-grandfather) probably wasn't circumcised, unless you are of Jewish or Muslim descent. It's a relatively new thing in the USA. Abe Lincoln and George Washington had foreskins.
34.) Most circumcised penises have scars. If you've ever seen a circumcised penis, you have probably seen circumcision scars and didn't know what they were. Curious? Click here for pictures (adult eyes please, extremely graphic).
35.) When erect, natural penises don't look very different from circumcised ones (adult eyes please)
36.) Babies have died following complications of circumcision.
37.) Babies have had the glans (head) of their penis accidentally amputated during circumcision.
38.) Female circumcision was legal in the United States until 1985. It was practiced in the USA as recently as the 1979 to prevent masturbation.
39.) Your health insurance may not cover the procedure. Medicaid does not cover it in 16 states, and many major insurance companies also do not reimburse for the surgery, since it is cosmetic. If your insurance doesn't cover it, it probably also does not cover any complications.
40.) Babies are strapped down on a circumstraint to have the procedure done. That is the most unnatural, terrifying position for a baby, who previously was all curled up and safe inside Mama's body.
41.) If you believe in evolution, why are men born with foreskins? If you believe in God, why did he give men foreskins? Did they screw up?
42.) If you are Christian, your religion actually *forbids* circumcision. Your son's body is a temple, and Jesus was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices - including the foreskin. See this link for more info.
43.) If you are Jewish, you should know that there is considerable debate about the religious necessity of circumcision.
44.) If you do believe that your religion requires the sacrifice of the foreskin, your son can choose to sacrifice his foreskin in the name of religion when he is old enough to make the decision himself.
45.) The foreskin is fused to the head of an infant's penis, just like your fingernail is fused to your finger. Have you ever pulled back your fingernail all the way? Owwwwwwwwwwwww.
46.) Circumcision makes penises smaller. Who wants a smaller penis?
47.) "My partner should make the decision, he has a penis/she looks at penises" is a dumb reason to abdicate responsibility for a decision. You are your baby's parent, penis or not, and you have a responsibility to protect your child from harm. Victims of FGM (aka female circumcision) are the most vocal supporters and perpetrators of the abuse. Call on your inner Mama or Papa-bear and stand up for your baby's rights. Make your partner watch a video with the sound on and convince YOU why they want this done to their precious child.
48.) You have seen an uncircumcised penis, and you probably didn't even notice. Take a look at this (safe for kids) picture!
49.) He'll be in good company. Check out this (in my opinion, mouth-watering) gallery of famous intact men! From Elvis, James Dean, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law and sooo many others.
Jensen Ackles, my personal favorite.
50.) It's his. I know, I said it already. but it's really the first and last reason - and perhaps the only one you really need. It's his body, and unless medically necessary, it should be his choice. You wouldn't give him a nose job without his permission, you wouldn't tattoo your infant. This is the same thing. If you really look at your motives, why would you want to take the risks? Leave the decision where it belongs - in your son's hands.