An Activist is Born
I've always been an extremely passionate person. When I was a kid my passions were sports and animals. If I did something I did it with every inch of my being and dedicated myself deeply to the task at hand. If it was a sport, I would win, if I didn't win that time, I would definitely win the next time. I am now a mother and true to my personality I have to be the best mother that I have it in me to be. When I think of my children I feel an intense need to protect them from harm, and to teach them about everything they can possibly comprehend at that moment in their life in order to prepare them for anything they may encounter. I care about their physical being just as much as their emotional being; oddly enough, I am totally cool, calm, and collected if they're climbing something a little too high, or if they fall down and get hurt, but I will lose my shit if someone hands them a pack of skittles. My passions may have changed since becoming a mother, but I am still the same passionate person.
When I was pregnant with Harper, my mom asked me if it was a boy can we plan a Bris. I replied with "no" but that we could just do the baby naming part at home. She was a little concerned and asked if we would circumcise him. I let her know that I wanted it done in a hospital. I didn't want to be stressed out or upset on the day that I was to be celebrating my child. See, even before I started questioning anything, I inherently knew that having my baby circumcised would be extremely painful for the both of us but obviously more for my precious new perfect baby. So instead of saying "no he wont be circumcised," I decided to separate the party from the act of genital cutting. I didn't realize that I had an option and I said every superficial stupid thing to myself about why it had to be done.
A few of my thoughts:
He has to look like his dad
He will get made fun of
He will not be able to clean himself properly
He will have trouble finding a partner
He will thank me later when he is an adult.
I am Jewish
It is medically necessary
Well thank you god for blessing me with a beautiful baby GIRL at this time in my life.
12 months later we were expecting again and we knew we were having a boy. Immediately the thought of circumcision came back to me. I remembered my cousins bris, I remember wine being put on a cloth and given to him to suck on, I remembered my grandfather holding his legs down. I remembered the look on my aunts face. She was visibly upset and shaken; the day didn't seem like a celebration of a new life, but something else. Something was wrong here. I didn't quite understand back then but I do now. Every single woman in attendance that day had a twisted look of horror on their face during the cutting. The men were happy, they were smiling during the cutting, during the screams and the crying they were smiling; they continued to smile the rest of the day. After, it was bagels and lox and everyone was all happy again, even the women.
By this point I had met many mothers who kept their sons intact and I was open to hearing why they chose not to make the choice of circumcision for their sons. I started researching, except I didn't really have to. It took me 2 minutes into one video ("elephant in the hospital room" available in LINKS I LOVE) to realize something I had known all along; circumcision is wrong. I started obsessively posting my findings on my facebook wall. I lost many many friends and sparked many arguments from those who had their sons cut years earlier. Little did I know, my husband would be reading these, I was shocked since he isn't much of a social media guy. One day I approached him and said " I picked out his name want to hear it oh and we aren't circumcising him" he replied " Okay I figured". I then had to ask him why he was okay with it, he told me he had been reading the articles I posted and that he agreed with everything. I knew my husband would hear me out and I knew he respected me enough as a mother to know I would be making the best decision for our child. We had to face some very difficult decisions with our daughters health, and he already knew the fierce deep love I have for our kids and that I would take all things into consideration when making a life altering decision.
Now to tell my family. At this point no one knew the sex of the baby that was growing inside of me. We wanted to keep it a secret and surprise everyone. We also didn't want to discuss a bris. We did however discuss the decision we made (or didn't make) with my parents. Both at first were not sure we were making the right choice; each of them had the same concerns that I did and that I had listed above. I gently gave them articles to read and we openly discussed every aspect of the argument. It wasn't that I needed my parents approval not to cut my sons penis, it was that I wanted them to understand, I wanted them to see what I saw; genital cutting for any reason is wrong. They both easily saw the light and would later be in my corner for any argument that arose, and of course it did.
Gunnar was born at home in a birth tub in my bedroom. He was beautiful and amazing. He had a very swollen bruised testicle which concerned me immediately. I was assured it was probably just a hydrocele and not to worry. The phone calls started coming, when is the Bris and what can we bring. My husbands family members asked how and when he would be circumcised since he was born at home, would the midwife do it? I had to tell family friends that there wouldn't be one. I heard many many responses from " he will give HIV to everyone", "he will get made fun of", "he wont be considered Jewish". These comments didn't hurt me, I knew they were coming from a place of ignorance. I had armed myself with education, confidence, and a beautiful baby boy. We took our son to the best urologist in NY out of NYU. She let us know that our sons testicle had died in utero and that it needed to be surgically removed immediately. She supported our decision to leave our son intact, and by supported I mean that she was actually against non therapeutic circumcision. She very clearly knew the functions and benefits of keeping the foreskin. I was happy to hear this and she made us feel comfortable that she would take good care of our boy, and that she did.
The ignorant comments sparked something inside of me. Something that I cant exactly put into words but I can tell you that it ignited a fire in me to protect baby boys. When I say protect baby boys I mean it turned me into an activist, or intactivist if you will, I had to stop this barbaric procedure from being legal in the United States. I could no longer remain quiet, I had to speak out against it. So many little boys die every year because of this procedure, they are maimed for life, left with a scarred minimally functioning penis. I almost did this to my son, how could I have believed all of the lies I had been fed for years believing that this is okay, normal, and just a part of being a boy. I couldn't do this to my son, I wanted him to have all of the sexual pleasure god and nature had given him. I wanted him to be able to pee for the rest of his life without a narrowed urethra and a scar staring back at him, or even worse complications. I wanted him to have the ability to make the decision for himself if it was something he wanted as he grew older. You see, I am not against circumcision, I am against circumcision on minors for non therapeutic reasons. Most insurance companies are no longer covering this procedure because its deemed purely cosmetic. Do cosmetic procedures have a place on newborns? Especially if they carry a risk of death and permanent disfigurement? Would you sign your newborn daughter up to have her labia trimmed because its too long? Probably not, considering the genitals of baby girls are protected by law here in the United States. Does someone else have the right to make a cosmetic decision about your body? Imagine if your mother and father wanted to get you implants as a 16 year old girl, not because you wanted them, but because they favored large breasts. That sounds really really wrong right? So why do parents feel they should have a say in how their newborns sons penis looks, considering it is purely cosmetic. There is something very wrong and pedophilic about parents having a say in their children's genital appearance.
So your pediatrician says its cleaner. Did you ask them the functions of the foreskin? Do they realize how amazing the foreskin is? Do they know how it protects the glans (head of the penis) from rubbing on clothing, infections, and dirt? Do they know the glans is an internal organ, it is a mucous membrane and needs to be kept covered and moist. Do they know that the foreskin is homologous to the clitoris in terms of development and sexual pleasure. Gosh if someone cut off my clitoris I know I would be super pissed. Do they realize the 16+ functions this organ serves? Probably not, and that is why your pediatrician is not the person who is capable of helping you make this decision. You cannot simply base your decision on the myths you've heard, because if you do, you will be making a grave mistake, one that could cost your son his right to reproduce and function normally.
So you have to teach your son how to brush his teeth, clean his ears, clean his butt, his toes, and every other inch of his body. What is one more thing? When people say they don't trust their boy to keep his own penis clean I laugh. We don't give our kids enough credit, why does our society dumb down little boys? My son is capable of great miraculous things, including learning how to wash his penis. Men have sent rockets to the moon, invented lightbulbs, and many other things, but they cant wash their penis? Thats asinine. I have to teach my daughter how to clean her vagina only because genital surgery on females is illegal here, but I have the option to remove my sons foreskin only because it is legal? HMMMM weird. Have you ever walked into a CVS and seen the huge display of feminine care products? I mean, Summers Eve, Monistat, douche bags, and an a plethora of other things. You really mean to tell me vaginas are clean and penises aren't? Antibiotics, ever heard of those, they're pretty amazing and can cure infections, uti's, and any other overgrowth of bacteria on and in your body. No need to cut things off. The HIV claim is just hilarious; don't want your son to contract HIV? Teach him safe sex! I know many circumcised men so I have asked them this question "would you knowingly put your dick in an HIV laden orifice without a condom?" the answer is always "NO!" Good thank god because everyone knows that surgically removing the foreskin does nothing to prevent HIV. My husbands side of the family has a history of breast cancer, does that mean we should remove our daughters breast buds at birth to prevent her from possibly getting cancer as an adult? No it doesn't, so why would we remove our sons foreskin to prevent something that has like zero chance of happening to him. He actually has a greater chance of dying from a circumcision surgery than he would penile cancer X 100.
We respect our sons right to his entire body as he was made just as we respect our daughters. My husband and I have tattoos; I love tattoos, I find them attractive, artistic, and visually appealing. Does that mean we get to tattoo our kids so they aren't worried that they look different than their parents? No, its illegal and we would have our children taken away by CPS had we tattoo'd them, but we can cut our sons genital tissue? Hmmm weird. My son has different hair, eyes, nose, feet, and ears from my husband, actually they look nothing alike. Do you think he will ask me why his nose is different? Why his hair is different? No I doubt it, so I doubt he will ask us why his penis is different from his fathers. In the chance my son does ask us we have a very simple answer planned. Daddy had surgery on his penis and you didn't. Depending on his age at the time, we will go in depth and explain in detail what circumcision is and how he has been afforded the right to make decisions for his own body, I mean after all my husband and I aren't using his penis, he is so we will leave the decision making up to him. Considering that the circumcision rate for boys born in 2014 was less than 40%, I know my son will be in the majority amongst his peers. I think its extremely important to teach your children self appreciation and to celebrate everyones differences. I will raise my son to NOT be a bully, I will raise him to love others and accept them for who they are. I will not remove parts off of my children to appease others tastes or to prevent them from being bullied. Heck, some asshole kid may choose to make fun of the way he says a certain word. We cannot prevent everything, we cannot fix everything as parents but what we can do is arm our children with confidence, love, and understanding.
I was bat mitzvah'd at the age of 13, I studied the torah and attended temple regularly growing up. My father was raised orthodox and grew up in a very orthodox town. Stephen and I had an interfaith wedding officiated by a Rabbi and a Monseigneur and Harper had an interfaith baby blessing in which she was welcomed into both faiths. We researched Brit Shalom for Gunnar, he was welcomed into the Jewish faith without ritual genital cutting. We did not force our newborn son to consume wine while his genitals were ripped apart and sliced away from his body. Instead, we named him Gidon, said a few prayers, dunked him in water, and ate a good meal. Do people consider Gunnar Jewish? Absolutely, you are Jewish if you are born to a Jewish mother, no matter what you do. So yes, my son and his whole penis, are Jewish. I respect religion; however, my religious practices end where my sons body begins.
So your husband is pressuring you, you aren't sure what to do so you default the decision to your circumcised husband; the man who doesn't know what he is missing. The man who hasn't done a second of research, the man who pounds his chest and would never admit anything is wrong with his own penis. Cognitive dissonance is a pretty interesting thing. It is a method of protection for the psyche, it tells your husband that he is satisfied with his penis, it works just fine, and that he likes his circumcised shortened, less sensitive scared penis. Does he think it will make him less manly to admit the sexual trauma he endured as an infant? For some men, it is easier to perpetuate abuse rather than face it head on. I married a compassionate humble man and I am thankful for his willingness to recognize a problem and stop the cycle of abuse. It may take a few arguments, articles, and videos but this conversation must be had.
Its super easy to care for my son when changing his diaper. He is almost 2 years old and never had a single infection and let me tell you, this kids shits are about as terrible as anything you've ever seen or smelled in your entire life. The foreskin is fused to the glans (head of the penis) just like your fingernail is fused to your finger. No poop, dirt, or whatever you want to imagine, can get in there. When I change his diaper I wipe it down like I wipe his hands down. You never ever ever ever ever pull the foreskin back, doing this will cause tears and an open wound that you may not even be able to see. This will leave your son susceptible to infection, inflammation, and chronic issues. Be careful bringing your intact son to pediatricians, they are not taught about intact penises. In their medical books, circumcised penises are pictured, there is literally zero mention of foreskin. You need to make sure your provider never touches your sons penis and retracts his foreskin. This is very dangerous and medical assault. The foreskin naturally separates from the glans as your child manually manipulates himself, to his own comfort, coupled with hormonal changes as he gets older. This separation is supposed to happen naturally over time. I have never even seen the glans of my sons penis, theres no need to, after all it is an internal organ. As he begins to explore himself it will naturally separate. Voila, nature makes no mistakes!
My passion took me to Manhattan exactly two weeks after Jagger was born. My mother, best friend, and I protested in Times Square with the Bloodstained Men. It was such an eye opening experience, one that I hope to have many more times throughout my life. I hope that you were able to gain a little bit of insight here into why its best to make no decision at all. Leave your son the way he was born, let him experience all of the sexual pleasure and function nature intended for him to have. Do not put your child at risk for a multitude of complications, even death, for nothing. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or need help with anything,
This video is a must watch:
This one is my favorite
This article goes in depth about how the intact penis works:
Other Great Resources: