Do you remember what you wanted to do with your life as a child? Most of us can clearly recall that memory, as can I. My dad asked me the familiar question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Looking back at it now, maybe becoming a mad scientist was a little unrealistic. However, I remember my father’s response better than the daydreams of glowing chemistry beakers. He told me, “Just be a better man than me and be happy.” Now, as a father of two sons with a third on the way, I understand his sentiment completely… life is about progression.
Like most fathers, I want better for my boys than what I experienced. I also want them to grow up to be better men than me and to have a happy existence. However, to achieve that noble goal, I had to examine the good and the bad about my life. I couldn’t shy away from sensitive topics like my personal character flaws or topics that are normally not discussed at the dinner table. One such subject, which is rarely brought up in public, is circumcision. I know it’s an uncomfortable conversation, but it is in dire need of discussion for mainstream dads.
Before casting me as a new-age hippy, you should probably know that I am just a normal, everyday dad. I, like most of the men in America’s Generation X, am circumcised. I do not sit in judgment of my parents, nor any others for that matter, for several reasons. At the time of my birth, common people thought of doctors like local celebrities and they were infallible. They were trusting in their doctors to guide them to do what was best. Unfortunately, parents are still pushed into circumcision by medical staff based on myths and flawed data.
Regrettably, I am one of those parents that trusted the hospital staff with my first son. I am very remorseful for it and have cried over my mistake. The most unmanly (or inhumane) thing I can think of is hurting an innocent child. I didn’t know any better, but I do now. I hold onto my father’s sentiment that life is about progression. With that notion I would like to keep other parents from making the same mistake. Here are some questions that I am asked when talking with expecting moms and dads:
Q: Isn’t the procedure painless? After all it’s just skin and it’s cleaner right?
A: No. It hurts the baby greatly and I don’t want one of the first experiences my son has outside the womb to be traumatic. Just watch the procedure for yourself to make that conclusion. Baby boys die every year from the procedure and even more have their lives devastated by botched circumcisions that leave the future man without the ability to have intercourse.
The foreskin has so many functions that I can’t list them all here. On the other hand, your earlobe is just skin but we don’t advocate slicing it off. Even if accurate studies showed that it was cleaner (which no such study exists), wouldn’t it be more sensible to teach good hygiene instead of surgically altering a baby?
Q: I’m circumcised and sex is great, why are you unhappy about it?
A: I agree sex is great, but I can’t even begin to imagine how awesome it would be if I had all of the form and function that I was born with. There's also a touch test you can take to be able to feel the difference in the specialized tissue of the foreskin- can you feel the difference? Basically, a decision was made to permanently alter my body and I had no say in the decision. As a spiritual person, it bothers me that I will never know what it is like to make love to my wife as God created (or for my atheist friends as nature evolved) me. The unnecessary procedure has predisposed me and any other man that has been circumcised to keratinization. Keratinization leads to further insensitivity of the penis and increases with age. It’s no wonder why America leads the world in Viagra sales and is also the only industrialized nation still circumcising for non religious reasons.
Q: Don’t you want your son to look like you/other siblings and match?
A: Of course not. I want my son to resemble my good characteristics like my intelligence and green eyes. If I were missing an arm, I wouldn’t have my child amputated to match me. Besides, when did you ever compare your penis to your father’s as a boy? I doubt it ever happened. My sons do not match and they have never made a comparison.
I caught a lot of flak from family and friends for not having the procedure performed on our younger son. They took the decision as a pointed finger telling them they made a mistake. Although I wish it hadn’t been done to me, I am not condemning them. However, my father wanted me to be a better man than him and that is what I am trying to do. I know that if he had heard the case that you are being presented I would be whole today.
I believe as men and fathers, we have to possess and practice intestinal fortitude when making sensitive decisions. Our children deserve to have fathers that will not waiver in the face of adversity. They deserve a hero and I hope all dads live up to it. I am very glad that I did not cave after being repeatedly criticized. The circumcision decision should rest with the owner of the penis. After all, it is his body- not mine- so the choice is his when he is old enough.