Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Post About A Comment--Now I Know I've Gone Too Far...

Fellow bloggers out there, have you ever read a post on someone else's blog and then, say, at some time nearing one a.m., left a comment and then stared at the ceiling half the night thinking about that comment and even though you stand by everything you said in the original comment, you also feel like you didn't say quite enough or quite what you meant to say and there's really, surprisingly, a lot more to say on the topic?


Well, I guess I'm just more of a freak than even I thought, huh?

Last night (this morning?), I read Lindsay's post over at Suburban Turmoil titled "To Snip or Not to Snip. That Is The Question." Lindsay is pregnant with a baby boy and is mulling over the circumcision issue--and finding the conflicting "advice," so much of it militant, a little overwhelming. By the time I read the post, Lindsay had 111 comments on the subject, only some of which I read and which seemed to run about half for, half against circumcision. For every commenter who had a scary story about an unsnipped guy there was a commenter who had scary stories about snipped ones. For every commenter who said not being snipped was no big deal--not a health or social impediment as some of the pro-snippers implied, there was someone who countered that being snipped is also no big deal--the baby doesn't remember the pain or doesn't feel it the same way or whatever.

In short, if Lindsay was looking for a definitive answer or even some sort of general consensus, she wasn't going to get it. So instead of commenting specifically to the issue of circumcision, here's what I said:

~My husband and all three of my sons are uncircumcised. It has not yet been an issue for any of them.(Medically at least. I have my doubts about whether my teenage sons would share any emotional or psychological discomfort, but I'm hopeful that because it hasn't come up, it hasn't been too much of an issue.)
~I think we all get a little wrapped up in seeing someone else's choice as a judgement of our own choice: If you decide not to do it, it's a comment on my decision to do it. Despite all the bluster and insistence that our way is the only way, I think what lies at the core of these raging battles between parents (work/SAHM, breast/bottle, snip/not), is a deep insecurity and uncertainty on each side.
~Ultimately, like so much of parenting, I think it comes down to making a choice in good faith and hoping that whichever way you go you don't scar your kid (emotionally or otherwise) for life. As the comments here from/about both circumcised and uncircumcised men clearly show, there's no way of predicting every possible outcome or side effect from either decision so, once you've done all the research, you just kinda have to cross your fingers and pick one. (Oh, and blog about it--don't forget to blog about it.)

As soon as my head hit the pillow, I started thinking about what a wimp I am and how I should've defended the unsnipped position, because it is something I obviously felt strongly enough about to go against the prevailing tide. The doctor who delivered Son-One eighteen years ago made no comment on our decision not to snip, but some of the nurses did and my mother did. My mother had a lot of comments to make on the subject--she was convinced I was making a terrible mistake that would doom my son to a life of both social and physical discomfort. Son-Two's doctor--a different doctor in a much smaller town--was also very accepting of our choice. My mother still had lots of comments to make. Son-Three's doctor was a little less accepting and asked me five or six times at the hospital if I was sure I didn't want it done. I had a three-year-old and an eighteen-month-old "undone" at home and had never regretted the choice, so, yeah, I was pretty sure. My mother? Still not sure and still there with the comments.

My distress at my failure to defend my position led me right back to the "meat" of my comment which is that we all are entirely too defensive on these sorts of subjects. To me, the issue of circumcision is fairly cut (or not cut) and dried--much of what I've read indicates that there are no compelling reasons to do it. But there is an equal number of (theoretically) equally convincing arguments to do it. What I'm interested in is why these either/or decisions have to be so divisive.

In my comment, I wrote that I think the vehemence often comes from our insecurities about our own choices. I say that not in some abstract way but as a wife and mother who scrolled through a hundred-some comments, cringing at the ones made by women who called intact penises "icky" and other really mature stuff, and not thinking to myself, "Wow, those are some really immature and shallow women," but "Wow, I made a huge mistake and have doomed my sons to a lifetime of having their man-parts mocked by shallow women."

I felt a sudden urge to climb up on a soapbox and start spouting statistics and spewing anecdotes and hurling words like "barbaric" and "unnecessary" and "antiquated." I fought the urge because I'm pretty sure it was coming as much from a desire to convince myself I'd done the right thing than from any desire to convince Lindsay (or anyone) what to do about her son's foreskin.

Obviously, not everyone with a strong opinion is using it to hide their own deep-rooted insecurities. But, I think some of us are and I think we'd all be a lot better off if we could remember that--whichever side of the debate (whatever debate it happens to be) we're on.


  1. I find commenting on people's blogs far more stressful than blogging -- especially about tough issues like this one. I did leave a comment because, like you, I was shocked to hear grown women describe uncircumcised penises as unpleasant. What infantile nonsense.

    I actually thought your comment was good and true -- that much of our parenting "competition" comes from seeing other people's choices as judgments about our own choices when in both cases, we're just doing what we think best.

    Right on, MM.

  2. I'm glad that you posted this- I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I posted and yeah, I'm still feeling like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. UGH!

  3. SM--I saw & loved your comment. It was part of why I felt I should've made a little more fuss about some of the backwards attitudes that were being flaunted.

    Lindsay--I really do wish you a lot of luck. I was thinking that night how weird it was that I had made the decision (for Son-One) when I was 19 years old. But then I started thinking how it might have been an advantage to make that kind of decision at an age when it's still possible to convince yourself that you are infallible. I also didn't have the Internet and wasn't surrounded by people spouting pros and cons--I was the first of my friends to have kids. Hubby & I read a few magazine articles and a blurb or two in a book and that was that.

  4. This is not a tough issue at all.

    HIS body, HIS decision.

  5. John Rowland1/11/07, 10:31 AM

    You wrote a plain sense blog about circumcision and your decision not to have your boys circumcised .Your blog was well reasoned and objective . I am uncircumcised with normal loose healthy foreskin and do not plan to get circumcised since I am faithful to my wife and do not mess around .Plus my soft foreskin arouses her so there are added benefits to foreskin.

  6. John Rowland1/11/07, 11:07 AM

    I guess to some women men's foreskins look unpleasent but that is individual subjective preference and they are entitled to their prefeneces .The only negative social discomfort I experienced being uncircmcised was a as high school and college swimmer .With foreskin you look different in the showers so you get stares and sometimes comments or teasing .But you learn to cope with that .

  7. Janet Powell1/11/07, 12:24 PM

    My hubby is uncircumcised and so is my four year old son .I am teaching my son in the tub to retract is foreskin to clean his penis head and return his foreskin to the top . Both him and my hubby have normal foreskin and with routine washing they should not have problems being uncircumcised .Not sure if you woaman know a soft foreskin acts as a buffer inside of you during intercourse and a foreskin is so much more sexually stimulating for a man .Not anti or pro circumcision just sharing somethings I learned .

  8. This is a beautiful post.

  9. Thanks for the comments everyone--I hadn't really thought about circumcision one way or another for years and I was stunned by the responses over at Lindsay's & elsewhere.

  10. I'd just like to say that from the point of view of almost everyone that isn't American, Jewish or Muslim, (barring a few hundred perverts who troll parenting sites discussing and encouraging it -yes they're real- like the adherents of The Acorn and Gilgal Societies) circumcision IS thought of as barbaric, antiquated and totally unnecessary - because in the rest of the world, it is.

  11. Routine circumcision is but one way America differs from the world at large and while I personally feel that the procedure is barbaric (not just for the few seconds that it takes place or for the recovery period, but on principle as well), unnecessary and antiquated, I also understand that the social pressures and medical "evidence" for circumcision aren't something that everyone is willing or able to face down or dismiss. Until or unless something major changes, that fact is going to remain more relevant in the US than world views toward circumcision.

  12. Janet Powell1/17/07, 5:35 PM

    Not pro or con on circumcising just go by family period.Brothers, dad , hubby and four year old son all uncircumcised and foreskins no problem. Yea years from now perhaps freskins will act up like their hearts , kidneys or whatever. Perhaps we should have baby heart transplants too since hearts bug out quicker then foreskins

  13. Mary Powell1/18/07, 2:28 AM

    This is for Masked Mom and Anneh . Janet my younger sissie has already posted so you know her deal . I got three boys and a hubby uncircumcised but no details except their foreskins work for them in the sense no issues medical wise. I taught my boys in the tub how to clean their foreskins so they were trained as with much other training mommies do. Sissie Janet explained our brothers ,daddy,our both hubbies and sons are all uncircumcised no medical issues so far .So very much agree with the plain common sense of Masked Mom amd Anneh

  14. as disturbing as it is to now know the status of not only my uncle but my three cousins areas i feel a need to comment... this reminds me of something i saw on tv girls getting plastic surgery on there you knows... i think its absolutely retarded and shallow.. to judge those sort of things based on looks... the way i see it if those particular areas of the human body were meant to be pretty they would have faces... even then i'm not sure how pretty they would be... there is a reason.. that sex has been referred to as bumping uglies.