When I found out I was having a baby boy, my first thought was, “There’s a little penis growing inside of me. That’s weird!” My second thought was, “And I’m going to have to protect it.”
Protect it from cultural and religious traditions that would pressure me to cut off half of a perfectly normal and natural body part. I felt instinctively and from the beginning that I would never circumcise my son. But when he was born, and I saw the perfect little penis that millions of years of evolution had decided was healthy and reproductively necessary for baby boys, I felt even more protective.
And yet, I still feel like mine is a decision that needs to be defended. Or at least, defending it feels like something that I need to do. The easiest way is probably to respond to all the arguments for why I should circumcise him.
1. “If you don’t circumcise him, he won’t look like all the other boys.” I have two main responses to this criticism. First, it’s not factually true. According to the CDC, nationwide the rate of circumcision is about 54%. It varies state by state, with some states (especially on the west coast) with very low rates and some states with much higher rates. My state’s rate is about 50-50. He’ll look like about half the boys his age. Not bad.
But more importantly: really? If your baby boy had a larger nose than normal, would you get him a nose job in infancy so that he matched all the other boys? (If your answer is yes, we need to have an entirely different conversation.) People look different. Some women have larger labia than others, so much so that it’s noticeably different. No one is talking about routine female infant circumcision so that all girls look alike. (Well, some people are, but we’ll get to that later.)
And also, if the worry is that the circumcised boys will make fun of my intact son, allow me to just throw this out there: Parents of circumcised boys, can you go ahead and teach your boys to be kind and thoughtful individuals who wouldn’t tease someone just because he happens to have his entire penis?
2. “If his dad is circumcised, he needs to be too, so that he looks like daddy.” Continue reading »