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?
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:
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