When I asked him, Dad said that he didnít want Chris to feel different, and at the time, everybody was circumcising their boys.
I thought back to the Somali women I had cared for, all of which had been victims of female genital mutilation. My job as their doctor was not only to care for them but to help educate them in order to prevent them from putting their daughters through the same disfiguring surgery. When I asked them why they would want to do something so traumatic to their daughterís genitalia, they all said, ďWe donít want her to look different than the other girls.Ē
So we don’t feel… different?
Listen to us! Why are we cutting our children so that they donít feel different? I just donít understand. Why did my parents feel the need to cut my brother when his own father wasnít even circumcised? What is wrong with our bodies the way theyíre born? Why do we feel the need to mutilate our bodies in the name of religion, cosmetics, or societal acceptance?
Contrary to some reports, thereís no proven medical reason to circumcise a boy (or a girl, for that matter). Pediatricians agree that, as long as a child is taught to clean under the foreskin, penises are perfectly healthy and beautiful just the way theyíre made, and thereís no health benefit to surgically altering the penis.
So why do we do it? I understand that thereís a long cultural history in Judaism around circumcision, so I can cut them some slack (although thereís also a long history around cutting a womanís genitals in Africa — does that make it right?).† As for the rest of us, why are we even doing this? Do we think God made a mistake by creating penises with foreskins? And if weíre doing it for purely cosmetic reasons, donít you think we should allow the child to make his own decision when heís old enough to choose? What message are we giving our newborns? Why are we whisking them off hours after birth to have surgery — usually with no anesthesia? What kind of welcome to the world is that?
Loving yourself exactly the way you are
If youíre a parent who chose to circumcise her sons, Iím not trying to make you feel bad. Whatís done is done. You made the best decision you could at the time, with the guidance of those who were helping you make this decision, and I fully support you for doing what you thought was right. But if you donít have kids yet or are pregnant and have to make a choice soon, please consider allowing your boys to keep the bodies they were born with.
The website I founded, Owning Pink, is all about encouraging you to be authentic, to love yourself exactly the way you are, to appreciate and honor your bodies — imperfections included — and to live life with loads of mojo. Why not raise our boys to Own Pink as well? So what if your son looks different in the locker room. Encourage him to embrace his difference, to celebrate his wholeness, to honor diversity. And if he decides later on that he wants to undergo an elective, cosmetic surgery, support him in his autonomous decision but remind him that heís beautiful and perfect just the way he is.
7 Reasons Not To Circumcise Your Baby
- Thereís absolutely no medical reason to do so. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision does not make the penis cleaner — it just crosses off one more area that needs attention in the shower. It doesnít reduce the risk of STDs, bladder infections, penile cancer, or penis infections.
- The surgery carries risks — and yes, while I have never been personally responsible for pulling a Lorena Bobbitt on a poor, defenseless baby, I have seen little boys get the ends of their penises cut off as the result of circumcision. And remember, if you give birth at a hospital that has residents, itís often the intern performing the circumcision!
- Many swear that having foreskin helps prevent premature ejaculation and can lead to longer lovemaking.
- God doesnít make mistakes — and the body was made with foreskin.
- Most countries do not circumcise their boys. Why should we?
- A person should have the right to choose whether they undergo a purely cosmetic surgery that cannot be undone.
- Circumcision HURTS! While some swear that babies cannot feel, I have watched them when I cut their little foreskins. And they definitely feel pain. Maybe they donít remember it, but somewhere in their little budding psyches, they might. Do we really want a childís first experience in life to be this pain?
My colleague, best-selling author of Womenís Bodies, Womenís Wisdom Dr. Christiane Northrup (who also wrote the foreward to my book!), agrees with me. We need to stop circumcision. We just do. It has to start somewhere. Please spread the word.
What do you think? Did you circumcise your sons? Are you glad you did? Do you wish you hadnít? As a lover, do you prefer circumcised penises? Uncircumcised ones? Do you think we should be promoting this procedure? Banning it? Speak up — and feel free to disagree with me! This is worth talking about.