Aubrey Hardwick decided she “needed a damn good reason to throw a piece of her babies in the garbage.” Savas Abadsidis discusses the dilemma of unnecessary circumcision of boys with her.
A mother who is concerned about the unnecessary circumcisions of boys, Aubrey Hardwick is originally from New Orleans, a city of beautiful contradictions. She believes that this is what most informs her creative work today. She is currently the director of Willow Street Films, a small production company in Brooklyn. Clients range from worldwide NGOs to NYC dance companies to book publishers. WSF is known for their ability to beautifully capture the true essence of their subjects, making captivating films, often with an emotional underbelly.
Kenny Neal Shults asked Aubrey to make the trailer for his Kickstarter campaign, “An un-serious look at a the serious subject of why we circumcise our kids. Two short comic films that poke fun at American secular circumcision.” It was an easy “yes”. They have worked together on several other film projects, so she knew that the project would not only be a worthwhile one but fun to boot. Plus, she also (obviously) believes in the cause. The more penis the better-duh!
What made you NOT circumcise your sons?
I didn’t circumcise them because I couldn’t come up with a good reason to do it. I am not Jewish, and their father is a non-practicing Jew, so religion wasn’t an issue. After doing some reading, the common misconception that hygiene is an issue for men with uncircumcised penises was blown to pieces, as long as they bathe like everyone else. I also learned that there are many nerves in the foreskin, so cutting it off seemed not only pointless but kind of cruel.
Did you feel pressure (medical, social or otherwise)?
No, I didn’t but I live in NYC, one of the most open-minded cities in the world. If my children had been born in a more conservative environment, I definitely would have expected it. The decision not to circumcise is not an uncommon one in my neighborhood.
Had you been aware of the issue prior?
No. I had honestly never thought about it. I was raised amongst only circumcised males. I never questioned it. In my mind, Americans got circumcised and Europeans didn’t. It wasn’t until I found out I was pregnant with a boy that my mind started spinning with questions about it.
You said something really beautiful about “needing a damn good reason to throw a piece of your babies in the garbage” and that “it being the ‘cultural norm’ just didn’t do it for you.” How did you come to this understanding?
Again, when we found out we were having a boy, his dad and I realized that we had a responsibility to make a decision about our son’s body, whether that was going to be to alter it or leave it alone. His father is circumcised, so at first, it seemed like a no-brainer. Of course a son should look like his father, right? My husband was raised by parents who came from religious Jewish households, so the fact that they decided to circumcise their son made sense. We weren’t religious at all, so doing it for spiritual purposes seemed totally phony. Then we both realized that making the decision to change the way our son’s body came naturally—“just because”—seemed uninformed. I was used to the way circumcised penises looked. Uncircumcised penises were completely foreign to me but the truth is that it’s not my body. My sons’ penises are theirs, so why would what I am accustomed to have anything to do with it? When they are older, if they want to change their penises, they can. Circumcised boys don’t get that decision. There isn’t a superglue for that yet.
Savas Abadsidis has been a contributor to The Good Men Project since it was founded. He is currently the managing editor of The Advocate Magazine (including advocate.com), Plus Magazine (including HIVPlusMag.com), Out Traveler and pride.com.