Renee Lute is asking for one thing in regards to the circumcision debate: Respect her and her husband’s choice as parents.
I’m going to begin with an apology to my unborn son, Simon. I’m not apologizing for circumcising him in a couple of months. I’m apologizing to him for writing this piece, because now the world will know just a little bit about the future state of his penis, and most little boys don’t have to deal with that. Simon, your mommy is a writer, and just like she embarrasses your daddy and your sister, she is going to embarrass you. It’s really for the best that I’m getting you used to it while you’re still en utero.
Circumcision has become a very big deal. It used to be a widely accepted practice in the U.S., and now families are finding themselves with more options. There is more information available. That should be great! In reality, it’s only great for the families who choose not to circumcise. It hasn’t been so great for the families who do choose to circumcise. I read an interesting piece on The Good Men Project recently, called “An Open Letter to the Author of ‘How Circumcision Broke the Internet.‘” The author is not in favor of circumcision, but his arguments are smart. They are as smart, in fact, as the arguments in the Slate article he is writing about: “How Circumcision Broke the Internet.”
Neither of these articles really threw me. I know the arguments against circumcision, and I know the arguments for circumcision. What did surprise me, however, was what I found in the comments section under The Good Men Project article. So far, I’ve been really blessed with sweet commenters on my own pieces, because what I usually write about is my relationship with my husband (love you, honey) and bearing and raising my children (love you, children). I wasn’t prepared for some of the name-calling I found in this section. Terms like “pro-cutters,” “circumcision enthusiasts,” and “mouth breathing Americans who have circumcised their sons with their tired rhetoric and propaganda” were used, and the idea was presented that women who have a formal education are less likely to circumcise their sons.
Now, I have a master’s degree, and I really don’t love name-calling. (Truly, I’m sweating and somewhat nauseated right now just thinking about some of the comments I might receive in my own comments section.) I am not a circumcision enthusiast. In fact, I could not care less whether other people circumcise their sons or not. Do it if you want! Don’t if you don’t want! But I am begging you—begging you—to not make families who choose to circumcise their sons feel like they are abusers of children, or human rights violators.
Why am I going to have my son circumcised? Because his father and I have done our reading. We’ve talked about it, and we’ve made our decision. There are legitimate reasons. Circumcision eliminates the risk of phimosis (in which a foreskin is tight and cannot be fully pulled back, which makes cleaning and passing urine difficult, and increases the risk of penile cancer). This affects 1 in 10 older boys and men. Circumcision reduces the risk of inflammation and infection of the head of the penis and the foreskin, and greatly reduces the risk of urinary tract infections in infants. Uncircumcised men have a 15-60% increased risk of prostate cancer (which affects 1 in 6 men).  We are not uneducated about circumcision. We aren’t under the impression that it will be entirely painless (though it is certainly not the scene from Hostel that many anti-circumcision folks would like us to believe). My husband will be with Simon for this very, very quick procedure, and the only reason I won’t be there myself is that I remember clearly what I felt like the day after I gave birth to my daughter. I will still be uncomfortably lying in my hospital bed, willing my vagina to heal. And that’s another thing. One of the aforementioned commenters wrote that anyone who would have their child circumcised should have to experience it themselves, first. Well, my husband has experienced it (and remarkably, he gave me his permission to tell the world just now), and while I have not gone through the completely incomparable horror of female circumcision (I am not going to detail why it’s incomparable here, but I do encourage you to research the differences if you don’t know what they are. You’ll find some information here), I have gone through a vaginal delivery, and with a pretty gruesome amount of tearing. And I’m about to go through the whole thing again, but perhaps with less tearing this time. I hope. My husband and I aren’t unfamiliar with pain, and we are willing to put our child through a moment of discomfort for the benefits this procedure provides. Kind of like we’re willing to put our child through a moment of discomfort for the benefits that vaccinations provide.
This piece is both explanatory and pleading. I am pleading with you. Don’t make these perfectly well intentioned families—like us—feel like monsters because you’ve decided to go a different way with your own sons. We’re doing something different, and that’s okay. We each have our reasons. I don’t care whether you breastfeed or formula feed. I don’t care whether you co-sleep or have your babies in their own cribs, and I don’t care whether you’ve named your child something completely traditional (like Kate) or whether she’ll be answering to Zenith for the rest of her life. I’m asking for the same courtesy.
 Morris, Dr. Brian. Circumcision: A guide for parents. 2006-2012. Print.
Photo: lisarosariophotography / flickr
Read also, from people strongly against circumcision: