Saturday, June 11, 2011

Circumcision - Whose Choice is it to Make?




I am Kathleen, owner of both Cottontail Baby and Mamaclothonline and, most importantly, mother to three young boys. It is in my Mom role that I have been reading with great interest the news that San Francisco is considering a ballot initiative that would outlaw circumcision for boys under 18. The ban would make circumcising minors punishable by a fine of $1000 and up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions. The more I read and the more I learn, the more I am finding myself quite conflicted about this proposed ban.


Certainly, on the one hand, circumcision is a form of mutilation of the body of a very much innocent and helpless infant. If God made it this way, why do we need to tamper with it as the actor Russell Crowe infamously tweeted earlier this week? I agree with this and feel the same way regarding this and a whole host of cosmetic procedures.


On the other hand, I do understand all the studies that indicate the health issues related to circumcision (some studies in Africa suggest that circumcision helps stop the spread of AIDS). I also understand the cultural and religious rituals associated with circumcision especially amongst Muslims and Jews and the importance placed on this rite of passage in both religions. Circumcision is so important to both groups that a ban of the practice could be seen as violating one's First Amendment rite to practice one's religion as one sees fit.


One study I read indicated that while only 30% of males world wide are circumcized, over 80% of males in the US are circumcized. Clearly, this is a US cultural issue in many ways. I am curious to know why this is so important and prevelent in our country but significantly less so world wide? Does it have something to do with our anti-septic, shrink wrapped culture? Are we just a nation of conformers and afraid, even for our tiny infants, to go against the norm? Are we lemmings who do not think for ourselves but just blindly and unquestionably approve unnecessary procedures?


One issue in the debate that I find most interesting is the dichotomy between what is good for the males and what is good for the females (female genital mutilation). Female circumcision (the removal of the clitoris) is illegal in this country. The San Francisco ban would simply provide males the same protection that is already enjoyed by females. I have yet to speak to any parent who believes in circumcision for boys who feels the same way for girls. Why is that? Is it that the process for girls is so much more barbaric (done when they are so much older and in such a crude fashion leading to significant illness, disfigurement and, occasionally, death)? I think that has to be part of it. In addition, for boys, circumcision is done for religious and health reasons but for girls, it is a cultural practice designed to repress women by eliminating their ability to experience sexual pleasure.


In the end, is this simply a parents rights issue? Does the government really need to legislate every choice parents make for the children? Is this just another in a long line of Big Brother laws such as outlawing spanking, criminalizing parents when their children misbehave (many laws that penalize and, in some cases, jail parents for having truant children for instance) or criminalizing parents who smoke in cars in which their children are riding.


What do you think? Is this a clear cut issue for you or are there many shades of grey? What would you do if you lived in San Francisco and this law passes?


GIVEAWAY


In terms of a giveaway for this sunny month of June, I would like to give a Thirsties Fab Duo. The relatively new Fab Duos are so soft and squishy and remind me of wrapping up in a towel after a long day at the beach. They come in fun, summertime colors such as mango, ocean and honeydew. No matter what you choose to do in regards to circumcision, these are great, comfy, wonderful diapers for your children.


So, to enter the drawing, you need to do the following by June 25, 2011:


  1. Comment on this blog post and tell us what you think
  2. Fan Cottontail Baby on Facebook
  3. Fan the Cloth Diaper Retailers Cooperative on Facebook
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Good luck!


32 comments:

  1. To my knowledge, as you stated, female circumcision takes ALL pleasure out of sex. It IS done to repress women in other countries. It is done as the girl enters preteen age, with rusty, dirty tools that often cause infection, and the girls are lined up and the same blunt instrument is used on all the girls at once. And EVERY time a woman has sex, they sew her BACK shut to a very small hole for urine and menstrual blood to pass. Can you imagine being forced open and shut so many times in your life? Repeated surgery, basically, to keep the woman 'honest'--which puts her at risk for infection,and perhaps death repeatedly?!? Versus a small snip made with local anesthetic during infancy in a safe, hygienic hospital setting, which does NOT affect pleasure or future life in the slightest? It seems like you can't really 'compare' the 2. I think it should be up to the parents. Current studies are not conclusive as to the actual rate of disease prevented by circumcision for males, but I would compare it to a vaccination. Most parents do it because there is practically NO contraindication- parents would rather be safe than sorry-- if they are even aware of the statistics, which I would wager most aren't. You do have a few people that are adamantly against it (like with vaccinations)-- but most people accept it as normal, and perhaps 'preventative' care.

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  3. This law is going too far! This is totally the parents choice.

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  6. Other than religious reasons, there is really no legitimate reason as to why someone should circumcise (and I would agree that there are a FEW medical reasons- but only for a select few boys). We are afraid as an American society to step away and do something different- and here in America, not circumcising is different. I wouldn't be opposed to a ban- but with the addendum of allowing it for religious reasons (which I know could get messy- pun intended- because anyone could say it's for a religious reason...)

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  7. as a mom of a boy, i do think that it would be great to give the choice to the child. if they want to have it done once they become an adult, then great.
    taraz9 at excite dot com

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  10. I'm conflicted on this matter. On one hand i'm the mom of a boy and didn't want it done, but daddy did. I cried when I heard him cry as it was done. On the other, my grandfather wasn't circumsised and ended up doing it very late in life due to repeated yeast infections.

    booboo79as at yahoo.com

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  11. I like Cottontails on FB as Amber Stawicki.

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    I am a Fan of the Cloth Diaper Retailers Cooperative on Facebook as Rebecca Henson

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  17. I had my son circumcised because my husband at the time wanted it done. Our Pediatrician did it- he took my son AWAY FROM ME, OUT OF MY SIGHT- was gone over a half hour and I could hear my baby screaming through doors (like 4). I was hysterical and alone AND MY POOR SON WAS HYSTERICAL, ALONE and BEING TORTURED. I am getting sick writing this and all teary eyed because I wished from that moment and to this day that I never would have done that to him. It was absolutely unnecessary! I am an idiot! I am so angry at myself for letting that happen to him. Please mommies- hear a mom who did it- DON'T DO IT! NOT WORTH IT!

    I have 2 girls as well- my last baby (3rd one & gender was a surprise) before she was born, I told my new husband that if it was a boy I couldn't let him get a circumcision- that it is horrific and wrong and I made a mistake with my son (first born). It was a huge argument. Thank God, He made me a girl in my womb!

    henson.rebecca AT rocketmail DOT com

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  18. i don't think this is something they should pass as a law. It is the parent's choice, and a religious practice. I had my son circumcised, and will do it if I have more... Maybe partly because it is so common, and also because my husband ism and I don't want my son to have to ask why he is different.

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  21. I personally won't circumcise if we ever have a son because I don't feel it is necessary, but I don't hold anything against those who do. I certainly don't think it should be outlawed though. It is a personal decision and I don't feel like the state should interfere in something of this nature.

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  25. I look at it as a more religious and cultural thing rather than law. If it's nothing to do with the religions and cultures, i personally not support the circumcise, as i believe there is a reason (naturally) males are born in this way.

    P/S: I'm fan of Cottontail Baby and fan the Cloth Diaper Retailers Cooperative on Facebook, also joined the Cottontail Baby mailing list

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  26. We had a little girl but if we would of had a boy, we would of had him circumsized. There are grey areas and I don't think it's something that the government should have any control over. It's a parental choice and each parent should have the freedom to choose what they want for their baby. If I lived in San Fran and this law passed, I would consider moving. I would go outside of the city to get my baby circumsized if I had to. I've witnessed numerous circs and most babies are 100% comfortable throughout the process.
    fmgrice2(at)yahoo(dot)com

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