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.