Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A foreword on foreskin

Circumcision is a touchy subject nowadays. It never used to be but like everything else we have overthought it, overanalysed it and turned it into this HUGE politically correct (or incorrect) issue.

Let me be upfront, as I'm wont to be. Just the other morning, during an early morning feed and nappy change with Ben I sat looking at his uncircumcised willy. I'd imagine once his BM had signed him over to the social worker the removal (or not) of his foreskin was no longer a concern of hers. So now we're left with the decision - to snip...or not.

I really didn't think it was going to be such a huge talking point. I didn't realise it was going to make for heated discussions around dinner tables nor did I think I would have people threatening to yank my toenails out so I could get an idea of what circumcision feels like.
I had actually done a post a few weeks back but a kind and caring friend suggested I stay away from the topic completely. So I did. But a tweet got me thinking about it once again.

A soon to be mommy wanted to know what moms of boys think about circumcision. She seemed nervous and apologized for asking questions about such a sensitive subject. I don't quite get it. We're happy to pin our kids ears back and get braces on their teeth. We happily talk about piercing little girls ears or removing 'outie' navels. All painful but all okay in the name of aesthetics. Mention circumcision and you shake up a hornet's nest with phrases and words like 'human rights', 'the right to choose', 'barbaric', 'medieval', 'cruel', 'polo neck', 'turtle', 'don't bite, rather nibble' (oops wrong post yet again!)

I have been told by one parent that it is their child's decision whether he wants his foreskin removed. I have been asked to consider the emotional damage done when one removes a few inches of skin off a boy's penis. I have also had people enquire as to whether Ben's Zulu, Xhosa or Sotho because it will be a deciding factor in when and how he's circumcised. Yes. Of course it will. As a suburban mom I'm going to send my son off to circumcision camp when he turns 16...

I've come face to face (yes, bad pun indeed) with both types. And both have left me with stories to tell...though I won't. Not here. Okay. Maybe. But another time. As far as attractiveness goes, neither really appeal to me. Let's be honest, willies really aren't things of beauty. You don't see women walking around with penis shaped brooches or willies hanging from their ears. So it's not about that. I used to think it was about hygiene but a nurse informed recently that if an uncircumcised wiener is kept clean then cleanliness is not a concern. That drop kicked my theory on diseases as well.

As far as status and achievements go, it's not often you'll hear a man introduce himself as 'an entrepreneur, successful businessman and circumcised (or not)'. You also won't hear a man describing himself as 'a life loving Aries uncircumsised (or not) vegan who enjoys long walks on the beach on an Internet dating site.

Circumcision is still done for cultural and traditional reasons. And it's still acceptable. I think. But when did it become such a taboo in other circles? . When did it change from a parent's decision to a human rights issue?

Recently I took Ben for his vaccinations and asked the Sister what she thinks. I also asked Ben's paed (who happens to be a black male) what his take is on 'chopping or not'. Both agreed. If dad's snipped then it's normally better to snip the baby too. But no matter what anyone says or thinks or screams, it remains a personal decision.

So whether Ben gets the snip or not won't be disclosed here for obvious reasons. Even though my skin is much thicker than a foreskin I'm taking the 5th amendment on this one. Let's just say that should you ever be in a position to see both Mark's and Ben's peni (***is that the plural?) you'll be able to say "OMG they look like each other!"

*** not sure what's stranger - that I'm asking what the plural for penis is or that I'm suggesting an opportunity might present itself that you'll see Ben and Mark's penis / penises / peni / peneye at some point


  1. We circumcised JP.
    1. We are Jewish
    2. Several independant studies have proven a lower risk of HIV infection
    3. When I was young and free to be who I want to be and be with I was told that thrush spores like to hide under the foreskin and no amount of soap and water gets rid of those
    4. Jack is and has no "lasting trauma", doesn't miss anything, doesn't hate his parents etc. etc. and since he is, the conversation of "daddy why does yours look different to mine" will never happen.

  2. That's exactly what the sister on earth do you explain to your little boy why his and dad's don't look the same.

    It's like when we were adopting for the second time. People asked if we were still going to adopt a black baby or did we want a white one this time round. Our response: colour has never mattered BUT how do we explain to Emma why there's 3 pale faces in the house...

  3. Imhave to say dad is and the boys aren't and they have never asked the question. Dad has an answer ready if theynasked and they can decide later if they wanted to

  4. My husband, Dave had an adult circumcision. Not for religious or other reasons, but for health. The foreskin was tight so sex hurt and many STIs and other illnesses thrive (I kept getting thrush from Dave) in a warm, damp, dark environment.

    Having been both as an adult, he feels that it was the best decision he could make. Of course he needed surgery and a long recovery time.

    Children heal fast and if people actually look at the procedure for baby circumcision, it's quick with very little blood. It doesn't seem to hurt because at that age there is very little 'action' going on in that area. Childbirth probably hurt more for baby.

  5. I'm circumcised, as was done to infants back then. Don't do it. He can wash, and stay clean. Its simply unnatural to remove it. I've had technical problems because of it.

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