Let me start out by stating that, as a woman, I feel underinformed on the topic of foreskin. I don’t have a penis, and therefore, I have no foreskin of which to discuss, remove, or wish I still had. The fascination lies, for me, in the debate about whether the removal of foreskin on infant males is right or wrong.
In the USA, it seems that it is strongly recommended by doctors that male children are circumcised as soon as possible after birth–for a variety of reasons. Some studies suggest that circumcision is beneficial to male health. Circumcision is not done instantly, or without parental consent (although, I’m sure mistakes have been made), but many parents seem to feel pressured to have the procedure carried out on their sons. The debate concerning circumcision seems to revolve around the question of whether it is right to remove foreskin without that person’s consent. Given that the procedure is usually performed on infants, does that mean only adult males should be circumcised?
At the moment, a proposed ban against circumcision is waiting on the November ballot in San Francisco, California. This ban, if passed, would make it illegal for a male to be circumcised until he is 18 years old. I am unsure whether medical reasons would be a sufficient exemption from this, but religious exemptions will not be made.
Today, at work, we got into a little discussion on this topic. A friend said he was against circumcision, but felt that it was no one’s business what parents did. He also reasoned that there should be no religious exemptions, that if there was a possibility that there should be, then that sort of ban should not exist in the first place. Fair enough.
The problem with passing this law, however, is that many people of the Jewish faith and heritage consider it discrimination. Take for example, Rabbi Abraham Cooper’s article on the subject–which, states that the activists behind this movement are arrogant in their opinions, believing them to be turned into law. The Jewish Journal has come out against the ban, and also against the random comic called ‘Foreskin Man’, which claims to be ‘pro-human rights’. The Journal, and others, claim it’s anti-semitic.
Not to downplay anti-semitism, but this viewpoint aside, is this ban the right thing to do? My personal opinion–its no one’s business but the family’s. Admittedly, foreskin cannot grow back (however, men can have foreskin replacement surgery). But if part of the problem is making a life and body defining choice for you barely concsious child–than cannot the same argument be made against bringing your child up religious? I was raised Roman Catholic, and even though I do not believe myself to be of that particular faith anymore, remnants remain. I think they always will. So, in a way, could you not say that this to is an irreversible act made without your child’s consent? Parents are not going to stop bringing their children up under a chosen faith. So, where does this end?
I agree with my friend. Its no one’s business.
I find circumcision, frankly, weird. But as I stated, I have no foreskin to consider, so its all weird to me anyway. I’ve told my husband that the decision will be up to him for that reason alone. I think that this a bigger issue, as it deals with actual physical alteration–but it does put me in mind of all the other things that ‘activists’ say are best for children. You need to breast-feed. You need to use cloth nappies. You need to let your child wean itself. On and on. To people who are new to the parenting game, or are going to be–the whole sheboigan is confusing and making these decisions is hard. Its not right that someone should be made to feel like a bad parent, or an unmindful parent, because they don’t agree or they don’t feel comfortable with certain processes. But that is another debate altogether…
In the end, a parent has a right to make a decision for their child, end of. Not especially if this, or especially if that. Parents make these choices because they believe they are for the child’s good–whether it be spirtual well-being or physical. A child might grow to resent this, but hey–that’s part of growing up, right?
Please also see this great article from another blogger: