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Making the Cut: The Circumcision Quandary

Making the Cut: The Circumcision Quandary

“The first cut is the deepest, Baby I know” –Cat Stevens

I am Jewish and I am circumcised, both of which were not of my choice. This is not to say that I have any problem or issue with being Jewish, it was just the bloodline I was descended from. On the other hand, if somehow I could wind back the clock and do it all over again, I would remain Jewish, but kindly refuse the circumcision when offered.

This thorny issue became an issue when my son came into the world a few years back. My wife and I were adamant about “not carving” the boy, and while we weren’t ready to become anti-circumcision activists, we just really didn’t see the point in subjecting our boy to something that seemed wholly unnecessary. A few family members (why is it always the family?) that are a bit more conventional than myself, took issue with my lack of enthusiasm for circumcision, cautioning me that it was both a heritage thing, as well as a cosmetic obligation. “He won’t look like his father!” a certain family member cautioned me. My response was a mix between incredulous and mild indignation.

Without overstating the obvious, the issue of circumcision (in this case I am only contending with male circumcision, as female circumcision [or genital mutilation] remains illegal in the United States along with most of the world and is beyond any sane rationalization) is knotty and highly emotional. Recently, a group of “intactivists” marched on Washington D.C. to honor Genital Integrity Awareness Week, as well as protest a practice that many deem at best, unwarranted, and at worst barbaric. In the U.S. the only industrialized western country to practice circumcision, 56 percent of male infants were circumcised in 2006, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics claim the benefits of circumcision are not sufficient enough to recommend the procedure. Still, the majority of Americans unflinchingly and obediently adhere to the status quo for religious reasons, perceived health and hygiene benefits, as well as cosmetic preference.

Back in 2005 much noise was made about the proactive benefits of circumcision in regions of Africa where the AIDS virus was highly prevalent. According to reports, the incidence of contracting HIV was somewhat decreased among circumcised males who practiced unprotected sex. While I am all for taking a stand against the AIDS epidemic, I find obvious holes in this argument that are too numerous to list.

The real issue here is whether to cut or not to cut. This common procedure, while many in the medical profession would argue is relatively painless and benign, has been proven to be physically impactful on both the short-term as well as the long-term. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for circumcision, I would argue that the decision should be a personal one, and if you do elect to carve your child, you should be prepared to answer some awkward questions down the road–questions that will no doubt be more troublesome than “why doesn’t my weenie look like yours?”

So it goes without saying that this is a highly charged subject matter, and I am genuinely curious how my readers feel. Do you think it is barbaric and should be outlawed post haste? Should this be a personal decision among parents and families? Do infants have rights on this matter? Is this an issue best left to God and medicine? Or is all this talk about weenies just yucky?

A Case Against Circumcision
Should Circumcision Be Banned?

Read more: Babies, Children, Family, News & Issues, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


+ add your own
3:03PM PST on Jan 2, 2014

Well what do you know... you yanks are catching up with the rest of the civilized world.

1:57PM PST on Nov 29, 2013

FGM is wrong, mutilation is evil. i am so deeply sorry that millions of children are mutilated, without reason.

1:54PM PST on Nov 29, 2013

Jew is Jewish mother.
Circumcision prevents viral degradation
of the mitochondria.

That preserves the ability to prove relation
by way of mitochondria, which are captive
bacteria preserved, potentially, from a genetic
line's original mother.

With that, one can prove relation between
Jews, Chinese Jews (Kaifeng Jews--Lost Tribe)
and teachers of a lesson in morality, math and

It would parallel a line of instruction started with
humanity's first literature:
The Epic of Gilgamesh (eternity from informational
waves of awareness of good deeds.)
Logos (living word)
Paranoia (all knowing)
Nostradamus (combined math, morality, history with seeing through time-space,
proved with the Pasteur and De Gaulle "hits," and with the "Duel" trove of
mechanical information)
Pascal (discovered that in used it in transforming Yang Hui's decision triangle)
Quantum mechanics: existence from waves of awareness ("informationalism")

The following is the mechanics of the lesson with the
elements lending themselves to division and defensiveness

It is this amalgamation of links which is thus not present in
my formal presentation of the above theory.

I theorize we are living information and information lives and
equality freedom and love are living informations.

The theory is not apocalyptic.
The vast majority of professors of theology are not apo

3:12PM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

i am surprised to read heather's comment...i have to ask what other variables were taken into account in this asssessment?

9:12PM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

I read that Jewish women had less incidences of cervical cancer because their husbands were circumcised. Thats no small thing.

9:03PM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

It should absolutely be personal choice. I wish i had not chosen to circumcise my son i feel it was a pointless thing to do. However my boyfriend who is uncircumcised wishes he had been and has considered having it done now as an adult despite the pain and complications that come with doing the procedure in adulthood. It certainly should not be made illegal it causes no problems for infants and any problems that might arise later in life would be entirely confidence issues. While it isn't necessary or pleasant to circumcise it isn't really harmful. It's hardly different from piercing a little girls ears.

4:58PM PDT on Jul 13, 2013

The foreskin is a protective skin like an eyelid. Offer someone to cut there eyelid off and wait for their respons. Amputating normal healthy skin without the consent of the person being altered is absolutely cruel. Anything that causes unnecessary harm to a child is Child Abuse so circumcision is Child Abuse!

If you wouldn't cut your girl for the same reason then why would you cut your boy?

11:55PM PDT on May 28, 2013

Thank you.

11:54PM PDT on May 28, 2013

Thank you.

10:33PM PST on Nov 18, 2012

Most know it's wrong to commit sexual rape, but there are other forms of rape, see definition #4. All forms of rape are wrong!

rape1    [reyp] Show IPA noun, verb, raped, rap·ing.
the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.
statutory rape.
an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.
Archaic . the act of seizing and carrying off by force.
verb (used with object)
to force to have sexual intercourse.
to plunder (a place); despoil.
to seize, take, or carry off by force.
verb (used without object)
to commit rape.


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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