People give plenty of reasons for circumcising their male children, writes Catherine Deveny. But most of them don’t amount to anything.
NO ONE seems to be able to explain to me why the circumcision of baby boys is not considered child abuse. Why in 2011 is it still acceptable for parents to have their babies’ foreskins ripped off? How can it be legal, let alone ethical, for any human being to choose for another human being’s body to be irreversibly mutilated? No medical reason, no rational thought and in many cases no aesthetic. Just because.
I suggest that we should ban the use of the term “circumcision” and force people to use the term “genital mutilation”. Because that’s what it is. It’s not “a personal choice”, because that person is not making a choice. It’s human rights abuse.
The We Circumcised For Religious Reasons camp justify genital mutilation citing religion. They embrace the parts of religious texts that suit them and dismiss the ones that don’t. And when I say “they”, not all of them do. Many believers I know have all applied a little rational thought to the equation and just decided not to inflict unnecessary pain on their child or expose them to avoidable risk. They’ve decided to file that bit of the Holy Book under the other things that just don’t fit; like selling your daughter into slavery or killing your neighbour if they work on the Sabbath.
What kind of God would disapprove of you, stop loving you, or not give you eternal life if you don’t mutilate your child’s genitals? That doesn’t sound like a nice kind of God. And what caring community would shun you, judge you or ostracise you for not inflicting genital mutilation on your child?
Then we have the We Circumcised Our Boys So They Look The Same As Their Father camp. Sure, it’s not fair for me to pick on people less fortunate in the brains department than the rest of us, but when they are subjecting innocent children to genital mutilation I’m going in swinging. I’m not going to bother asking the hard question “why do you need them to look like their father?”, because you cannot reason with something that has not come from reason but from mindlessness.
I ask the So They Look The Same As Their Father camp, why stop there? If you want them to look the same as their father, dye their hair, have them undergo cosmetic surgery and if the father has any tattoos or facial hair, sort that out too.
Related to this camp is the We Circumcised Our Boys Because A Circumcised Penis Looks Nicer camp. We are talking the shallow end of the intelligence pool here. How would they feel if they had had their nipples, nose or ears cut off by their parents when they were a child because their parents thought “it looked nicer”? I must say that I do applaud these two camps on their frankness and honesty despite it revealing their stunning stupidity. After all, they could do what others do and make the decision for no rational reason and then rationalise it by joining the We Circumcised Our Boys For Health And Hygiene Despite Looking Closely At The Research camp.
I have read the various studies suggesting that circumcision may reduce the spread of HIV and cervical cancer. I have also read the studies disproving the circumcision-reduces-infection myth. Here in Australia, all of these risks can be effectively and safely managed with condoms and cleanliness. That’s right, a bit of frangers and face washers, rubbers and rubbing. Why would you expose a child to an unnecessary medical procedure and all the risks that come with it when you could teach them how to clean themselves and use a condom? Because you can, I suppose. By the same logic, removing all your children’s teeth would prevent them getting fillings.
Unless, of course, there is a sound medical reason to circumcise. And when I say sound, I mean sound as in last resort. I don’t mean that you walk into a GP with a seven-year-old with a constricted foreskin that is not retracting and walk out with a referral to a surgeon to have your child’s genitals mutilated, as a family I know could have.
One of their sons had that very problem. They were offered a referral to a surgeon to have him circumcised. They didn’t like the sound of that. Luckily they didn’t have private health insurance, because that meant that they were given a referral to the Royal Children’s Hospital, where they saw a general pediatric surgeon, or as their son referred to her, a Dick Doctor.
Yes, she said, he could be circumcised, but she was having great success using an ointment available over the counter from the chemist. Three days later, the boy had a retracting foreskin. And two years later, he still does. The wonders of a health service on a budget as opposed to a private business. So if he wants to get himself circumcised as an adult, that’s his choice. And he’ll have that choice. Because when you circumcise someone, you can’t uncircumcise them.