Hi there, I am going to cut your clitoris off now with almost no anesthetic while you are strapped down and helpless.
If the above statement sounds sudden and harsh it should. This is the female equivalent of circumcision. Meaningless flesh is not lost when the foreskin is removed. In fact there are more nerve cells in the foreskin of the penis than on your tongue. In our modern day circumcision is becoming less common, but it is still prevalent – especially in the midwest. There are many myths surrounding this medical procedure that continue to drive the circumcision rates. Then there are also religious issues.
Let us start first with the myths. Or I would if Psychology Today hadn’t so aptly already addressed it. However I will quote one of the pieces and let you go and read more,
“Myth 4: Even if it is painful, the baby won’t remember it.
Reality check: The body is a historical repository and remembers everything. The pain of circumcision causes a rewiring of the baby’s brain so that he is more sensitive to pain later (Taddio 1997, Anand 2000). Circumcision also can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anger, low self-esteem and problems with intimacy (Boyle 2002, Hammond 1999, Goldman 1999). Even with a lack of explicit memory and the inability to protest – does that make it right to inflict pain? Law requires anesthesia for animal experimentation – do babies deserve any less?”
Now let us consider religious reasons to circumcise. Christianity? There are, in fact, no laws requiring circumcision. In fact there is a specific scripture that says -not- to do so, “Watch out for those wicked men – dangerous dogs, I call them – who say you must be circumcised. For it isn’t the cutting of our bodies that makes us children of God; it is worshipping him with our spirits. – Phil 3:2-3“. This is just one of many quotes that can be found in many books variations of the bible that decry circumcision. There is, in fact, a fantastic blog that goes into much greater depth about Christianity and Circumcision than I feel the need to and it can be found here.
But what about Judaism? Well, I have something to say to that as well. What circumcision is today has nothing to do with what it originally was. In fact if it was there would be quite a few less people on the planet because most of them would have died from hemorrhage, infection, or disease. The original ceremony was a small slit in the prepuce so as to let only a few drops fall. These would then either be sucked up by the rabbi or the child’s father as the blood sacrifice. It is also known as Cutting the Blessing. These days we amputate, not just make a small cut. The sad fact is we do not need to amputate the entire prepuce (foreskin) organ. There is another option which is known as a Brit Shalom. More information on the history of Circumcision can be found here. And more information on the Jewish Brit can be found here.
Now we come down to the grits of this post. Who should decide? Should the mother and father have every right to amputate a fully functioning organ? Many people come back stating that it is cleaner and the risk of disease and other problems are less. This is simply not true. If you don’t wash a circumcised penis it, too, will get nasty and yucky. You may wash them slightly differently, but you are not going to be dirtier because you have a foreskin. As to disease there are many studies now debunking the HIV and other STD research stating the risk is less if you are circumcised. We can look at Africa and it’s increasing prevalence of HIV and AIDS despite the ‘circumcision’ campaign as easy proof.
Now what about problems with phimosis and UTIs? The risk of phimosis is very small..if the penis and foreskin are left alone. The same is true for UTIs, a simple cleaning and not forcibly retracting the foreskin go a long way in making sure everything stays in good shape. Besides…you don’t yank off all of a child’s toenails because they might get an ingrown nail, or fungus, or need to be cleaned under them do you? Why would you then remove something far more sensitive and vital to sexual function? The answer should be, “I wouldn’t.” However I know there are people who are reading this and scoffing. Who don’t believe me. I am just a doula with a passion and like others with a passion I promote it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen and do more research. In fact if you want to make sure you are fully informed I recommend requesting a Circumcision Info Packet from drmomma.org. The info in these packets is non-biased and includes DVDs, hangouts, and more. You can order them HERE. I hope after reading this you will consider your child’s body as sacred as I consider my own children’s. Not to be altered, unless they ask it to be, for non-health reasons.