I kind of feel like I dropped the ball this week. It is Genital Integrity Awareness Week. I had great plans for awesome posts about circumcision. We were visiting my Mom until Tuesday and then the boys have kept me pretty busy the rest of the week. Well, better late than never, right?
Genital Integrity. What does it mean exactly? Well, “genital” is pretty self-explanatory. Genital refers to the sexual organs, whether male or female. Integrity means : the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished; a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.
Intactivists this week, are standing together to raise awareness (well, duh) that being left “whole” is a good thing. Circumcision doesn’t have to be “the way it is”. And it shouldn’t be. Fifteen years ago, it was still legal to circumcise girls. Here in the US. As Americans we look at that practice in absolute disgust. Well, why aren’t boys granted that same basic autonomy? Why don’t we look at circumcising helpless baby boys with the same disgust we do female circumcision? The simple answer, this is what we have been conditioned to think.
I think back to my views on circumcision before I had my boys and don’t really
think I had much of an opinion (it is hard to remember pre-children, lol). It was just the way things were. I had one boyfriend who was intact. It didn’t offend me or bother me. It was just another way for a penis to be. I didn’t really think much about it.
Then I met my husband and I am so thankful to my mother-in-law for leaving him intact. For her it wasn’t about integrity or the rights of a baby. It was about the fact that she wasn’t about to hand over precious little boy to butchered(my interpretation of what she told me). I don’t know if I would have investigated circumcision enough to say no to it with Munchkin if Hubby hadn’t been intact. I definitely would have by the time Peanut was born, but sometimes I wonder. . . .
So again, THANK YOU ! I am eternally grateful to you, MIL, for trusting your instincts.
A few tidbits of information and opinion:
-Circumcision is unnecessary. It is a purely cosmetic procedure. We do not remove an other body part “prophylactically”. The rate of penile cancer is so small. Cancer of the vulva is much more prevalent, but we outlawed female circumcision.
-The foreskin is a functioning body part. It has an actual purpose. Its job is to protect the penis. To keep it clean. It works much like our eyelids protect our eyes.
-More often than not, no anesthetic or pain medication is used in routine infant circumcision (RIC). The foreskin is fused to the penis in babies (and children). Doctors shove a tool under the foreskin and rip it away from the penis. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. Have you watched an RIC video? I can’t even get past the screams of the terrified newborn being strapped to the circumstraint.
-Circumcision can affect breastfeeding. Think about it. This newborn came into the world trusting that his needs are going to met and that he will be kept safe. Instead, he is taken from the safety of his mother’s arms, strapped down, and has his most sensitive body part ripped apart. Did you know the foreskin has over 20,000 nerve endings? The baby boy passes out from the shock and pain of this procedure. Because of the baby’s unwillingness to wake and feed, a bottle is usually given. Every diaper change is excruciating. This little boy has no idea what happened to him or why. He can’t get comfortable due to the pain of the procedure.
-There is a risk of death associated with circumcision. 116 baby boys (just boys) die each year from circumcision complications. That number is pretty outrageous considering the recalls on products that are put into effect when “just” a few babies die because of a faulty product. What about the whole “back to sleep” campaign due to SIDS deaths. Yet nothing is done to prevent these babies from undergoing risky surgery.
-It is said that outlawing circumcision goes against religious freedom. Female circumcision is done for religious reasons, but that didn’t stop us from outlawing that. What about the religious freedom of the boy? What if he chooses a different path in life. He should be able to choose circumcision when he is old enough to decide for himself.
-Caring for an intact penis is very easy. The golden rule is, “If intact don’t retract; Only clean what is seen” Simple as that. Only the owner of the foreskin should retract the foreskin. No doctor, parent, or other individual should retract a child’s foreskin. Forcibly retracting the foreskin will tear the adhesions causing infections or scar tissue that can cause problems. Most cases of medical circumcision that need to be performed later are due to incorrect information being shared with parents from medical professionals who really have no idea how to care for an intact penis. As for cleaning, all you do is clean the outside gently like you would a finger. When the foreskin is retractable, teach your son to pull it back, rinse, and then move the foreskin back in place again. Easy. Don’t use soap under the foreskin. That is equivalent to using soap in your vagina. It can cause irritation and mess with the natural PH balance.
Here are some useful links.
The Intactivism Pages – Lots of information to go through
Mothering.com’s circumcision forum – Mothers discussing circumcision, again lots of great information
The Intact Network – Look for your local chapter and become involved
His Body, His Choice
*disclaimer : I did check with Hubby before sharing that he is intact. He is pretty awesome. 🙂