I just watched a show on telly about circumcision.
According to Sixty Minutes there are two opposing camps at the moment, one who wants every baby boy born in Australia introduced to the benefits of plastic surgery and the other who feels strongly it should be totally banned as barbaric and pointless.
You ever notice how these shows always choose the radicals on the fringes and never people who are prepared to discuss something and hear the other side out? You know, maybe concede a point or two if the facts warrant it.
Well if the show did one thing it was to pique my interest and I’ve done some vigorous and thorough research into the origins of circumcision because I wanted to know how it ever came to be an option some bloke with a scalpel needs to ask.
Naturally I headed straight over to Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge worth knowing – not that what I read made me think it was especially necessary for someone to take a knife to my frank & beans.
Now for the record, my two boys haven’t been done. I didn’t want them done, primarily, because the idea of circumcision causes my favourite appendage to retract quicker than stepping naked into a butcher’s cold room. Needles scare me, with their sharpiness and jabbiness, so you might imagine how I feel about elective surgery. For me it was a no brainer.
I remember when it was Master21’s tackle we were contemplating. The major argument in favour of circumcision amongst the girls at work was how much better his penis would look if we doffed its hat. I figured the potential for work in the porn industry wasn’t reason enough.
When Master7 came along I think the discussion with our doctor went for half a dozen sentences and was along the lines of:
Doctor: “What are your thoughts regarding circumcision?”
Tracey: “I’m not interested.”
Me: “And I’ve been done, thanks for asking.”
Tracey: “He means for Joshua.”
Me: “Did the temperature just drop in here?”
Tracey: “He might need the extra length. We’ll teach him to wash.”
As for my own situation, I wouldn’t know the difference. I don’t know if I’m missing out on something between the sheets or if I’ve gained a better chance of aiming well at the bowl.
I thought it might be an interesting exercise to run through Wikipedia’s list of reasons for circumcision to see if any of them changed my mind:
A religious sacrifice. You know, if they offered this up as a choice at Sunday services – your foreskin or forty bucks – the plate might do a little better.
A rite of passage marking a boy’s entrance into adulthood. I’d be the oldest child in the village.
A form of sympathetic magic to ensure virility or fertility. Not sure where the sympathetic bit comes into it. Maybe from all the other men who’ve endured this magical moment.
A means of enhancing sexual pleasure. Oh, I see the problem now. Someone confused foreskin with foreplay. Easy mistake, if a little on the painful side.
An aid to hygiene where regular bathing was impractical. So take a shower. I mean, we’ve all got our preferences but sometimes you’ve just got to compromise.
A means of marking those of higher social status. Seriously? Goes to show money is no guarantee of intelligence. If I had the higher social status I’d have instructed all those with lower statuses to take a snip and have left mine in tact.
A means of humiliating enemies and slaves by symbolic castration. Surely something less drastic would have done. They could have dressed them in tutus or made them sing Karaoke.
A means of differentiating a circumcising group from their non-circumcising neighbors. I’d have moved to the sane neighbourhood.
A means of discouraging masturbation or other socially proscribed sexual behaviors. I can assure you this has not worked.
A means of removing “excess” pleasure. I have seven children. The most pleasure Tracey and I have together is when we manage to sneak off to a cafe for a private coffee together and get to finish sentences and other crazy stuff. Not sure having or not having a foreskin would help in this scenario.
A means of increasing a man’s attractiveness to women. Foreskin or not, I think flinging open a trench coat and showing a woman your wanga actually decreases your attractiveness to that woman and lessens your chances of scoring. I could be wrong.
A demonstration of one’s ability to endure pain. I see it more as a demonstration of one’s inability to break free when Dr Scissorhands and his assistant are holding one down.
A male counterpart to menstruation or the breaking of the hymen. Now they’re just making shit up.
To copy the rare natural occurrence of a missing foreskin of an important leader. Lucky the bugger didn’t have an arm missing.
A display of disgust of the smegma produced by the foreskin. So don’t look. And bathe. Or if you can’t bathe, shower. It seems a bit drastic to cut it off because you don’t like the look of it. I mean, if you don’t like the program you’re watching you don’t toss the telly out, you just change the channel, right?
At least, that’s what I did. It suddenly occurred to me I’m not having any more kids and the decision on my two boys had already been made, so I didn’t need to watch Sixty Minutes and feel uncomfortable.
Besides, I already know how I feel about the whole thing. I come out against circumcision (you may already have caught that). My decisions when my boys were born, for my part, were based mainly on emotion, although I was pleased there were well supported arguments to back me up. But then there’s well supported arguments for both camps.
Finally, I don’t think my views need be forced onto you or anyone else. I’m happy to let the independent scientific studies inform us and in the meantime let people make the best informed decision they can.
Whatever you decide for your boy, I just hope you get balanced advice and don’t only listen to the hard cores on either side of the fence.
After all, it’s a big decision for your little man’s little man.
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