3.6
March 31, 2013

His Body, His Choice. ~ Heidi Reeves

Source: circfacts.com via Natall on Pinterest

“I’m seeing that the beginning [of life] is a necessary foundation for how it ends. And I think we’re very delusional about civilization—just like we’ve been about circumcision. And it’s the same delusion. If we torture babies, where do we get off thinking they are going to turn into wonderful, peaceful, loving citizens? This is crazy thinking.” ~ Dr. David Chamberlain (effects of circumcision pioneer)

The first time I ever learned about circumcision on boys I was a young girl.

My older brother’s friend flashed me his penis when I was 10. I thought it was gross, of course, and told my mom, and started asking questions. I recall thinking how strange it was that every boy was born with something that needed to be removed.

Why would nature do it that way? I thought.

It never really did make sense to me. As I grew older and became sexually active, I encountered only circumcised men. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. Early on though, after seeing my friend’s intact penis at 18 during an innocent game of strip poker (there were several of us playing), I came to this conclusion: I refused to believe every boy was born with a birth defect that had to be cut off. I did not even think about it again until I became pregnant many years later.

We decided to keep the gender of our baby a secret until birth. I was convinced I was having a girl. One day, a friend on Facebook sent me some information on circumcision, and before even reading it I turned to my son’s father and said, “By the way, if we have a boy, we are not having him circumcised.”

At first, papa was a bit surprised. He was circumcised as a baby after all (like most men in this country), but being a man of science, he agreed with me that removing healthy tissue from a baby seemed unnatural and unnecessary.

Yes! We agreed, No to circumcision.

Then, when we were surprised with our beautiful baby boy in the hospital in Tucson, Arizona, I was pleased not one person there mentioned or suggested it. Good thing too, as this drugged up, post surgical mommy would have come unglued—slurred speech and all! It wasn’t until my son was one years old that I really began researching the horror that is male routine infant circumcision. I had truly been ignorant up until that point. The more I learned, the more I hated it. I made a vow to be an advocate for children and help end this needless practice on infants.

When advocating for peace, it extends beyond just individuals; it encompasses entire societies. What better society to address than the one in which I currently reside. I am deeply concerned with some of our “American” values, especially the one condoning painful, unnecessary cosmetic surgery without anesthesia on male infant genitalia, otherwise known as circumcision.

The circumcision of male infants in this country is, in my opinion, having a profoundly negative effect upon society. First of all, no medical organization in any country of our vast world recommends routine infant circumcision, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Knowing that should cause anyone to question why we do it. Numbers vary, but have at times said that 80 percent of adult men in the U.S. are circumcised. That statistic makes me exceedingly uncomfortable, especially since about 80 percent of the world’s men are fully intact, without any issues (this is speculation as exact circumcision statistics are not kept). The AAP, after years of having a neutral stance, changed their circumcision “policy” in 2012 to state that the benefits outweigh the risks, even though they have Never even researched the “risks!” Even the WHO (World Health Organization) supports circumcision believing it prevents the spread of HIV. Medicare does not cover infant circumcision in many states.

The rate of circumcision in the U.S. has dropped rather dramatically in the last seven years, down to about 32 percent. How does the AAP respond to the decrease in circumcision and its generated revenue you ask?

In the 2012 policy statement they adamantly suggest that Medicare should cover the procedure! Recently, The Journal of Medical Ethics published an article harshly criticizing the AAP’s circumcision policy for its careless cultural bias based off of flawed science. Even the AAP’s own medical journal, Pediatrics, has published an article stating the new circumcision policy is full of cultural bias. What’s worse, our government has a big hand in the efforts to “spread” this American (and more accurately, Jewish, Islamic) custom and circumcise men the world over, especially African men. I shudder to think about the other possible goal of boosting fallen circumcision rates here in the United States.

History of Circumcision

Circumcision is documented to have occurred in ancient Egypt and among Semitic peoples as far back as 2400 BC. Those of Jewish and Islamic faith continue the “tradition” of circumcision. Jews complete the “ritual” on the eighth “day” of life to seal and solidify the bond of man to God. Muslim boys can be of any age to receive their circumcision as there is no religious specification.

In the U.S., the practice of routine infant circumcision did not begin until about 1850. At that time, the medical advisories believed masturbation to be the cause of several diseases and/or disorders. As a solution to the “masturbation problem” the powers that be at the time began advising the circumcision of infant males to curb the desire to masturbate. That didn’t work out as planned, as we well know. Nor did it put an end to things like tuberculosis or epilepsy (imagine that!). What it did successfully accomplish was the start of a horrific U.S. custom, not religiously motivated, that raged across the country like a wild fire and reached its pinnacle at a 90 percent or more circumcision rate.

The Circumcision Surgery

When I hear circumcision referred to as getting “snipped,” “nipped,” or “clipped,” I contend with a combined feeling of wanting to puke and punch someone. Not only do those words completely over simplify a horrifying process that takes about 15 minutes, but they also neglect to reflect on the baby’s experience, who has no choice in the matter, and has been exposed to excruciating pain from which he could not escape.

Imagine being awake, stripped naked, strapped down to a cold plastic board, unable to move your legs, and often arms as well. Then the doctor paints an antiseptic on the infant’s penis to sterilize it and illicit an erection. Now, without providing any kind of truly effective pain killer (a sugar pacifier is used), the baby’s penis is grasped with an instrument to force open the foreskin which is then ripped away from the glans (as it is fused to it with the same tissue that fuses a fingernail to a finger) with a blunt probe. After that, a device is placed over the tip to protect it from possible removal, the foreskin is slit, clamped, and left that way for several minutes while the doctor waits for the tissue to die. Then the foreskin is cut away with a scalpel, and not long after, sold to the highest bidder (cosmetic companies and scientific testing labs often) for a considerable amount of money.

Numbing cream does nothing for pain relief; you’ve been to the dentist, you still feel the novocain shot. A dorsal penile block does not eliminate all the pain.  Only 45 percent of doctors use any anesthesia (usually pediatricians or FP’s in their offices), and only about 25 percent of obstetricians use anything, and they are doing at least 50% of all circumcisions. It is a known fact that at least 117 boys die in the United States as a result of their circumcisions.

If you can bare it, see for yourself what a baby endures for this cosmetic procedure. I have never watched an entire video, as the screams literally Kill me and I sob uncontrollably.

Myths of Circumcision Debunked

1. Circumcision is cleaner

My first question when I hear this excuse for male genital mutilation is, “Seriously?” Because I know, for a fact, that female infant genitals or even adult female genitals are more laborious to clean than intact male genitals, due to many more folds of skin. I’m sorry, but if you believe this, you’ve been hoodwinked!

The foreskin is fused to the glans penis in infant and toddler-hood, and all underneath is sterile and protected from germs. You literally just wipe it the way you would a finger; clean only what is seen. I am no expert, and can’t speak from experience on this one, but that certainly sounds cleaner, easier and less traumatic for all involved than tending to a fresh penis wound covered in crap. As far as cleaning it in adolescence and manhood, I’m pretty sure most men, young and old, can successfully retract their foreskin and splash some water on that bad boy. Plus, let’s be honest shall we? The lady bits produce way more smegma and other excretions than an intact penis ever could.

2. Circumcision does not affect penile sensitivity.

On the contrary, it removes over 20,000 highly sensitive nerve endings, along with oodles of Meissner’s corpuscles, and other “make your sex life awesome” goodies. The foreskin possesses more nerve endings than the clitoris! Immediately upon forceful removal, the glans penis begins to protect itself by keratinizing and becoming thicker, since it is now forced to be an external organ—something it was never intended to be. As a result of the thickening, the sensations that can be experienced are diminished due to reduced nerve stimulation and over time this may make orgasm difficult and/or necessitate the use of Viagra. Circumcised men are four and a half times more likely to use erectile dysfunction drugs in adulthood.

3. Infants don’t feel pain, or it doesn’t matter because they don’t remember it.

It has been studied and proven that circumcision causes significant stress and trauma to an infant as can be seen by the huge amount of stress hormones found in their blood after the procedure. It is now understood that infants feel pain to a greater degree than adults do. For those who falsely believe circumcision does not cause long term harm because the baby won’t remember it…news flash—the body remembers and as a result of the traumatic experience, babies’ psychological development can be affected dramatically, and the boy can suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) among other detrimental effects.

4. Circumcision prevents contraction of STD’s & HIV.

This assertion is based off of one study conducted in South Africa that contained numerous flaws. Six other studies conducted in different African countries have shown the exact opposite result: that circumcised men were actually more likely to contract HIV than their intact counterparts.

Also, I personally find it absolutely ridiculous that adults think it is acceptable to mutilate a child’s genitals under the auspice of preventing sexually transmitted diseases when adolescents can be taught to make wise choices, and condoms (which prevent many disease transmissions) are readily available, and often free. You don’t see anyone suggesting women’s labias be removed in infancy in the name of prevention.

5. Circumcision decreases the chances of getting a UTI in the first year of life.

While that may be true, it is still a ridiculous assertion when one considers that female infants are still far more likely to get UTI’s than males due to their much shorter urethras. UTI’s can also be cleared up rather easily with antibiotics, no painful cosmetic surgery necessary.

6. Male Circumcision is not as bad as female circumcision

Reality check! Both are genital mutilation! On the contrary, it is likely that the routine “nick” that was once suggested for girls in this country (and was legal until 1997!) would be slightly less painful and traumatic due to the fact the female prepuce contains about one third of the number of specialized nerve endings as that of the male prepuce which contains over 20,000. Both are horrific torture in my opinion. However, girls are now protected from genital mutilation in the U.S., whereas boys are still subject to it.

It’s important that we give boys equal protection as girls for their genital autonomy. There is a bill proposed to ban non medical circumcision on infants if you would like to learn more or get involved. 

7. Circumcised boys suffer no long term effects from their surgery.

Not nearly enough studies have been conducted about this topic, which I find incredibly short sighted and stupid. Here is an excellent resource that may help answer/address some concerns of the long term effects of circumcision, including low self-esteem, rage, violent/aggressive tendencies, inability to process emotions or feel empathy, erectile dysfunction, and etc.

8. A circumcised penis “looks better.”

Says who?! When American women, and most of the men who were circumcised at birth, personally have nothing else to compare a circumcised penis to, of course they are going to believe it “looks better.” I swear, foreskins are like instant bimbo repellant. Circumcision is not natural, so how could it look better? You be the judge.

9. Son should look like his dad.

Circumcising your boy so he will “look like his daddy” is preposterous. If dad only had one eye, or one arm, would it still be required for baby boy to match his daddy? I think not! That is illogical justification for forced genital mutilation on a non-consenting minor. Medical necessity is entirely different and perfectly understandable. Be aware, however, that a boy has only a one in 16,667 chances of requiring medical circumcision.

Functions of the Foreskin

First of all, every single mammal is born with a foreskin or prepuce, including females. It serves specific functions, most notably offering protection of the glans penis or glans clitoris. Both of those organs are meant to be “internal” not external. Its other functions include preventing the invasion of germs, quite the opposite of the touted benefits of circumcision being cleanliness. The glans is a mucous organ and the inner surface of the foreskin is a mucous membrane. These two work together to form a feedback cycle in response to using the penis. The foreskin is also responsible for keeping things moist. Anyone who has ever had dry sex knows it’s much more comfortable with moisture. Most importantly, especially for males, the foreskin, which possesses over 20,000 specialized nerve endings, acts as an aide to sexual stimulation, and it helps to keep moisture where it belongs during intercourse: in the vagina. This prevents chaffing, something that causes discomfort for both people during intercourse.

Circumcision forces the glans to adapt as an external organ, something it was never meant to be. As a result, it becomes keratinized and tough, which ultimately, especially over time, lessens the sensations experienced by the owner of the penis, often leading to the “need” for rougher sex to experience the sensations sought after.

 Religious Freedom: Where does that parental right stop?

This is an issue that may never end. It is my personal opinion that religious freedom ends where someone else’s body begins. Nature or “God” puts a baby together in a way to prepare him or her for their earthly journey. Do you really think man knows best and that nature screwed up? I have a tough time with that one. It seems prudent for all parents, especially religious ones, to ask themselves prior to deciding circumcision for their boys, “What kind of creator would want me to cause my baby pain?”

I am not religious but I found these New Testament Bible passages to be highly relevant to this discussion:

“Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you.” ~ Galatians 5:2

“And I testify again to every male who receives circumcision that he is in debt to keep the whole Law. You who do so have been severed from Christ…you have fallen from grace.” ~ Galatians 5:3-4

“I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves.” ~ Galatians 5:12

“Watch out for those wicked men—dangerous dogs, I call them—who say you must be circumcised. Beware of the evil doers. Beware of the mutilation. For it isn’t the cutting of our bodies that makes us children of God; it is worshiping him with our spirits.” ~ Philippians 3:2-3

Personal Message to Circumcised Males

In no way believe there is something “wrong” with you. A piece of your body was removed without your consent when you were a baby and I am sorry for that. You deserved better, you deserved to keep your body whole the way you came into this world. I am so sorry you were forced to endure pain and suffering as a baby to meet some silly cultural standard that most of the world does not practice. I have wept, numerous times for all boys, and boys who are now men, who went through this unnecessary, traumatic, cosmetic surgery. I will be compiling shared stories from men who are unhappy, or dissatisfied with their circumcisions. If you would like to share, please message me. If you are a circumcised man happy with your circumcision, I’m glad for you! I only hope you will research the ramifications of making such a choice for your son.

Personal Message to parents who had their sons circumcised

I respect you, and in no way will ever attack you. Myself and other activists are merely trying to protect babies from this unnecessary act. The way in which we do that is to educate people who may be ignorant about the procedure prior to subjecting their boys to such unnecessary pain and trauma. The decision should be left up to the owner of the penis when he is of a legal, consenting age.

It is certainly not my goal to belittle or criticize parents, only to educate and encourage you to look at a different view point. We don’t have to cling to the old ways. On the contrary, history has shown us that futility. I have heard countless parents share how they had their first sons circumcised, then learned about it and regretted it deeply, which led them to leave their subsequent sons intact. I have a profound sense of respect for parents who can admit they have made a mistake. When we know better, we do better.

Conclusion

I will always fight for the rights of children and their rights to bodily integrity. Male infant circumcision is undoubtedly a human rights issue. Girls’ right to genital autonomy is protected in the United States but boys’ right to genital autonomy is not. That is blatant inequality.

 

I am a stay at home mom, massage therapist, personal trainer, writer, and advocate for children, peace, and life. It is my goal to help improve the quality of life, by hopefully improving the quality of society through various efforts.

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Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby
Ed: Brianna Bemel

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