Although my husband and I had discussed and agreed upon what we would do (or, more precisely, not do) if we had a boy, I have to admit to feeling great relief upon hearing the same three words both times I delivered our babies: “It’s a girl.” Phew: No one would be asking us about whether or not we planned to have our child circumcised.
Circumcision is a topic that makes me greatly uncomfortable, and not because I’m squeamish about sex talk. Yes, I have pierced ears; so does my eight-year-old. And I’m even open to the idea of a discreet, meaningful tattoo. But otherwise the thought of altering a natural, non-harmful body part seems wrong to me.
Recently, the Globe and Mail reported on the growing movement to outlaw circumcision. Supporters of the movement, who call themselves “Intactivists,” argue that we consider the practice of female circumcision in other cultures to be mutilation, that babies are strapped down and experience great pain during the procedure, among many other points. (Check this link if you want more details.)
Plus, there are all the anecdotal accounts of circumcisions gone wrong. These are stories we wouldn’t have heard about in earlier generations, but now are coming to light. Canadian-born author John Colapinto made headlines around the world with the release of his book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who was Raised as a Girl. It’s the supremely sad, and ultimately tragic story of David Reimer, a Winnipeg boy who was sexually reassigned after he lost his penis to a botched circumcision. Forced to dress and live as a female named Brenda (and urinate from a hole in his abdomen), David was bullied, and became depressed and suicidal.
Of course, this is an extreme example of what might happen in the very worst case scenario of the procedure. But I figure, why take the risk, especially since there is evidence circumcision doesn’t reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, as previously thought.
At the same time, I’m in the position of being free, from a religious standpoint, to make that decision.
What’s your stance in the circumcision debate?
Photo by joshzam via Flickr