Way back when I was pregnant with P. but didn't know she'd be a girl, I went on an information gathering rampage. The question on my mind was whether we'd circumcise if our little mystery babby turned out to be a boy. Circumcision rates vary widely by state in the US (in 2009, it was 12% in Nevada and 87% West Virginia, with 54% being the countrywide average), and are very, very low in other parts of the world (though quite high in the Middle East as you might expect). Where we live, rates are smack dab in the middle so our kids would be in good company no matter what we decided to do.
Of course, thanks to P.'s double X chromosomes we could shelve the whole issue. But when Bo was in utero, the question came up again and ultimately we decided not to circ. Here's why:
- It seemed weird to cut off a perfectly good piece of my baby. Men all over the world (including about half of my male extended family members) are enjoying life with turtlenecks downstairs. As with most parts of the body, my opinion is that you leave stuff where it ought to be unless you have a good (medical) reason to modify it or remove it.
- Aesthetics was not a good enough reason to subject Bo to a surgical procedure. Or any procedure. It's the same reason I didn't pierce P.'s ears when she was a baby. As cute as those tiny baby earrings are, it's not my place to make permanent decisions about what my children's bodies will look like (except when medically appropriate).
- The 'looking like dad' line of reasoning falls under the umbrella of aesthetics, but I'll address it directly because it's silly. P. has blonde hair and I have brown. I'm not going to dye her hair to match mine. And I'm certainly not going to body mod my baby's junk to look like the mister. Lots of kids look different than their parents in lots of different ways. It's not traumatizing.
- I don't feel like it's my place to make decisions about my son's future sexuality/sexual satisfaction, which is what I'd be doing by removing a part of the penis that both has nerve endings and can play a role in sex. If he wants to get snipped someday, he can do it when he turns 18 and has his own money.
- The APP supports circumcision without full on recommending routine circumcision for every new baby because when it comes to HIV transmission rates and rates of penile cancer, circ'ed guys have a tiny edge. But here's the thing... in the former case, I say go nuts in countries where thanks to cultural norms, dudes refuse to wrap it before they tap it, but I live in the US of A where there are about nine billion ways to score free condoms. And in the latter case, you could potentially reduce deaths by breast cancer - which is far more common and deadly than penile cancer - to nil by removing babies' proto breast tissue at birth, but I don't see anyone recommending that. Even for boys, who can die of breast cancer but don't need to lactate.
- Re: keeping clean... the eventual maintenance of the intact penis is much like the eventual maintenance of lady parts. Or any other part for that matter. A thorough rinse that gets to the crevices is more than adequate. As babies, they're not that dirty so baths and a quick swipe get the job done. By the time kids are older and grosser, they're old enough to keep their own bits clean. It's not rocket science.
- I read about the procedure. Then I watched a video of the procedure. With sound. ::shudder::