[Editor’s note: DadWagon has been paying attention to the petition circulating in San Francisco that aims to outlaw circumcision. Not only are we all “marked in the flesh” as part of our increasingly tenuous covenant with G-d, but two of us have had to decide, for our own sons, whether to continue the tradition. Here, in our MicroTantrum, DadWagon’s three editors weigh in on the relative merits of Making the Cut.]
Nathan: Over at TheStir, one mom wrote about how she deferred to her husband, who insisted that their boy would feel “different” if his penis looked different than his father’s. I’m fairly unconvinced by that argument. I don’t really spend a lot of time crossing swords with my 2-year-old or otherwise engaging in activities where we just look at each other’s junk. And I also don’t know that a difference in foreskin status would really stand out that much anyhow. Not to be a braggart, but the biggest difference between us is size (he is two, after all). And then possibly skin tone–as I’ve written about before, my son is 50% less white than I am. However, in the wake of talking to people behind the San Francisco petition, I do have a new ambivalence about circumcision. The thing that really got me: the realization that it’s cosmetic surgery, which seems a weird way to start off life unless you really feel strongly about this covenant-with-God idea. However: now that my first son is circumcised, it would be weird, right, to leave a second one unshorn? It would seem to invite the idea that one is favored by God. So there I am, trapped by an earlier decision that may quite possibly have been a mistake. Which is actually what raising kids is all about to begin with.
Theodore: Let’s go there, shall we? I am, to the use the parlance of certain communities found both in San Francisco and my part of Brooklyn, “cut.” As is my boy, JP. I must admit to having spent zero time investigating the health benefits or drawbacks to circumcision prior to allowing JP’s bit of man-meat to be taken from him. I just did it! Or, rather, I let our Chinese-American ob-gyn just go ahead and do it, and then… I panicked. What if he did it wrong? What if he took to much stuff? I should apologize to the doc (the very same one who delivered Matt’s Sasha) for my lack of confidence. His work was exemplary, as far as I can tell (I haven’t seen that many pricks with which to compare JP’s). As perhaps you can tell by this meandering stretch of narrative, I’m not tormented about the ritual, religious mutilation of little boys. It’s just one of the many stupid things we do as part of our culture. Really, my only thought was that JP’s thing-a-ling should look mine, thereby avoiding questions from him. Unfortunately, it seems pondering the pecker is inescapable in this day and age, as evidenced by this post. Shame on you, Nathan.
Matt: Before I say anything else, I am required to announce that my bris was a particularly joyful event—it took place the day of Richard Nixon’s resignation. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, there seem to be two things at issue for the San Francisco “intactivists” (which is an awesome nickname, by the way): 1. “Sensitivity.” Sure, it’s logical that by snipping away the foreskin, you’re losing some pretty damn sensitive material. But does that ruin what’s left over? Personally, I’d say no. I’m perfectly happy. And historically, given my gender’s many thousands of years of pursuing sexual gratification at all costs, I’d say that if circumcision were really that much of a hindrance, we would’ve given it up within minutes of Abraham’s death. 2. Consent. Can you believe we’re doing this allegedly horrible thing to our children without their knowledge and permission? Yup, I can. Just like I require my daughter to wear socks and shoes to go outside, just like I get her vaccinated, just like I make sure she’s fed three times a day, whether she likes it or not, I do things without her consent, and even against her will. She’s a kid, that’s the way it goes. Tough shit. But, and this is all anyone really ever cares about, would I get my hypothetical son cut? Yeah, probably—especially so if it is definitively proved that circumcision leads to bad sex. Why should my kids have it any better than me?