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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Circumcision Wars

By
circumcision/ mario beauregard - Fotolia.com

Multicultural marriages are sometimes hard, sometimes war, sometimes sweet and sometimes exciting, but one thing is for sure—multicultural marriages are more tiring than marriages between people from one culture because you have to spend more energy understanding and sometimes adopting, or in my case fighting, a new set of customs and beliefs. What is more, when children come into the picture, multicultural marriages can become even more complicated in deciding whose set of beliefs the child will adopt.

The first major difficulty in my multicultural marriage was over circumcision. Having left Bosnia & Herzegovina, I tried to adopt my husband’s Turkish customs since I was living in Turkey. So many things were different from my customs, even the way you have a cup of coffee. Some things were easy for me to adopt. Other things I became frustrated with and felt I was losing myself in the process of trying to adopt. The Turkish custom of circumcision was the first custom I downright refused to go along with.

When my son was three months old, my husband and I decided to circumcise him. This was revolutionary in Turkey. The family was shocked, even our doctor. In Turkey, circumcision is an elaborate ritual accompanied by a huge party that takes place when the child is older, anywhere from four to twelve years old, as a boy’s first step to becoming a man. Isn’t he masculine from the first day he’s born, I wondered? Then I understood that Turkish parents love the ceremony, the party and the fun. It is not about religion. It is about culture.

I was very against waiting until my son was older to be circumcised. It is much better to circumcise as a baby in my opinion. A baby has no fear, pain or tears. I also didn’t want to throw money away on a large ceremony and party. Something else bothered me about the Turkish circumcision custom too. There is no similar party for a girl. It’s just not fair. I like to joke that Turkish parents should throw the same party for a girl’s first period.

My mother-in-law argued that it was too early to circumcise, we could not even–gasp–buy the special circumcision outfit for a baby. Then she tried a different angle. Our son would be upset when he grows up because he would not be like his friends at school, he would feel left out. I have never observed kids talking about circumcision. In fact, they avoid talking about it. They feel ashamed. I tried to compromise with my in-laws. I agreed to have a small party but my mother-in-law kept pressing for more. More guests, this type of meat, this type of cake this type of party. My husband started to waver out of respect for his parents.

My in-laws thought I was rude. They blamed me for not respecting their customs. They wanted to see their grandson circumcised in the tradition they knew which involved dressing him up in the special clothing when he was about ten years old, walking around the city visiting family and friends and giving them invitations to the party. They wanted the large party with hundreds of guests. But the way I see it, everyone spends so much money for nothing. Maybe I am rude. Maybe I don’t understand their culture. Maybe I am wrong. But for me there were so many more important things to get right culturally. As Muslims, we circumcise for religious and health reasons. It is simple and clear. Waiting until age ten to circumcise was not religious. It was purely cultural and a tradition I would not adopt.

In the end, our son became a man when he was three months old. Our ceremony was finished in one hour. Our son felt maybe a little bit of pain, but it was quick and most of all, he forgets. The most interesting thing is that now some of our friends and relatives are following our path. They understood our logic and agree it makes more sense. I fought for my son and won my first war. He was the secret of my courage.

© 2010 – 2013, Vildana Aliç Hocaoğlu. All rights reserved.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Vildana grew up in Bosnia during the war. She is a happily married mother of two kids who currently stays at home with her children in Turkey. In addition to a degree in economics, she has passed all the driving tests and hold licenses to drive 18 wheelers.

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62 Comments
  1. CommentsTweets that mention Circumcision Wars | InCultureParent -- Topsy.com   |  Monday, 01 November 2010 at 8:04 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TheCircDecision, InCultureParent. InCultureParent said: Circumcision Wars | InCultureParent http://bit.ly/cItjzK via @AddToAny […]

  2. CommentsAllison P   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Wow! “A baby has no fear, pain or tears.”???

    Babies don’t experience fear when they are restrained, away from their mother’s arms, in preparation for an unnecessary surgery?

    They don’t have pain when their foreskins are ripped from their glans and then cut away from their bodies with no anesthesia?

    And they certainly don’t have tears when their open, bleeding wound is exposed to urine and feces day after day until it finally heals!

    I am shocked that people, anyone, can still believe this!

    I guess the only thing we do agree on is that genital mutilation does not deserve a party.

  3. Commentsserina   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 6:28 pm

    It is genital mutilation, and they do cry, and it does hurt. It is unnecessary surgery, and serves no purpose. I am not saying these things to make anyone who has had their son circumsized feel bad, I am saying it so that anyone who reads this blog post can be alerted to the fact that there are many people that agree that it is not a tradition that should be carried on.

  4. CommentsJane   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 6:29 pm

    I was very happy that my husband was an older black man who was intact. We are both from the US but the culture difference is that I am white and much younger. Because this is the only thing that we haven’t had a disagreement about. Our twin boys were born 10 months ago and I was so happy that we both new how important it was to not cut off a vital part of their bodies.

  5. CommentsAmy   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 6:33 pm

    “A baby has no fear, pain or tears”??? EXCUSE ME?!? Then please explain why my two month old cried when he got his immunizations(pain) or why he clung to me for hours after being at a large party and being handled by lots of people he didn’t know (fear)? And he tears up when startled or frustrated etc? Babies and children are people too and we’ve no right to go hacking off parts of their bodies! Please everyone- keep your sons (and daughters)the way God made them!
    It’s NOT cleaner, easier, better looking, nor does it prevent STDs.
    http://www.nocirc.org/
    http://www.nocirc.org/

  6. CommentsAmanda   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 6:44 pm

    You’re wrong. Babies DO feel pain, and experience trauma. Watch a few circumcision videos — there are plenty on the Web.

    Hypothetically, even if you were correct about the pain issue, it is still mutilating your child for life, without his consent. It is morally wrong. It may be customary in Turkey, but it is a barbaric custom that must end. It is never, ever, under any circumstances, ok to permanently mutilate someone without their consent. It’s child abuse, pure & simple. If you mutilate your child, whom you should be trying to protect, you do not deserve to be a parent. You should be in prison (and Turkish prisons are infamous) for horrific child abuse.

  7. CommentsAudrey   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I have seen a documentary about the circumcision ritual in Turkey and even just thinking about it literally makes my stomach turn. What a thing to throw a party over! I have seen the terror in those boys’ eyes. But to think it’s any better for a baby is DELUSIONAL. You are deluded if you think what you did to your baby was no big deal. It’s violence against a baby. It’s sick. And it’s wrong.

  8. CommentsCyn   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Another child mutilated unnecessarily. Poor kid.

  9. CommentsErin   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 7:14 pm

    A baby has no pain, fear, or tears??? What?????? Of course a baby can feel pain, and circumcision is like having your fingernail ripped off, about the worst pain imaginable! Sure, a baby won’t remember his circumcision as a memory, but what might that early pain experience do for him emotionally, and for his bonding with his mother? Babies deserve to come into a peaceful environment when born, not to be subjected to cosmetic surgery. Why do it at all? There are no health benefits. We don’t amputate the breast tissue of baby girls on the chance that they might develop breast cancer later in life, do we? Why cut off any healthy part of a baby’s body when there is nothing wrong with it??

  10. CommentsErica Wijenayaka   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 7:30 pm

    It’s too bad the author is so obviously misinformed about the realities of circumcision and perinatal psychology. Babies do feel pain, and their subconscious remembers it, and as far as human rights go, infant circumcision is a human rights violation. Personally, I know many men who were circumcised as infants and are actually angry that this was done to them without their consent. The foreskin serves a purpose, it is not some defect of Nature. As a woman who has slept with men both circumcised and intact, I can tell you that intercourse feels a lot better with a man who is intact. And thank goodness my husband is! There is NO WAY we would ever cut our son, and it absolutely puzzles me how any parent would consent to allow this barbaric practice to be performed on a beautiful, perfect child that is supposed to be under their PROTECTION from such abuse. May such ignorance about circumcision, and the tortuous practice itself, end once and for all!

  11. CommentsIgnorance is not bliss for infants   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 7:35 pm

    A baby has “NO FEAR? NO PAIN? NO TEARS?” Only dead babies are like that. Scary how people still believe infants don’t feel pain, they used to also do open heart experiments on infants in the 1950’s. The baby has the penis, so it should be their choice whether or not the foreskin should be hacked off. Societies that routinely circumcise their infants or boys are much more violent than those who don’t. Source: Dr Ron Goldman’s book Circumcision the Hidden Trauma that effects us all”.

  12. CommentsAM   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 12:40 pm

    If you fought for you son and won the war, wouldn’t he still have his whole body? It’s not ok to cut off a healthy and vital piece of another human being without their consent. I’m so glad my husband and I both knew better than to do this to our son.

  13. CommentsIgnorance is not bliss for infants   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Excuse me, I meant open heart surgery on the above comment.

  14. CommentsNathan   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 12:49 pm

    You act like you did something so grand and good for your child but that’s just a fantasy you abused your child if your husband and his family wanted to do the equivalent of a male circumcision to a future daughter of yours would you call that acceptable or child abuse? Your son’s body belonged to him not you so you had no right to have his healthy foreskin cut off shame on you for being a bad mother.

  15. CommentsMary Noll   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 12:54 pm

    So genital mutilation makes a ‘baby’ a man?
    Wow, how come they don’t grow up into an adult immediately after that? I guess then genital mutilation of baby girls also does the same thing, right? Tell me, are your female genitals mutilated? If not, you better hurry and get them cut off! Make sure to not use any pain killers too. Oh, and also have them ‘sew’ you up, so you can remain virginal.
    It’s amazing how much in the dark ages some people still are.

    If it’s ‘okay’ to mutilate a baby’s penis because ‘he won’t remember it’, then it’s okay to rape women as long as you use the date rape drug rohypnal so they won’t remember it. Oh, but they DO remember it.

    Babies, cut by their parents ignorance.

  16. CommentsLynn B   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 1:14 pm

    So much for the “leave educational comments” at your Intact America leaders request. You are nothing more than a hateful group.

  17. CommentsDoulalee   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 2:09 pm

    This woman must not have witnessed a circ video to say that babies feel no pain, fear, or tears. These babies cry so hard, some go into shock. They feel every bit of that horrific pain, especially when done without anesthetic. This is mutilation with a huge price tag. There is NO reason to do this unless medically indicated, and it better be a DAMN good, legitimate medical reason, not phony phimosis and BS like that!!!!!!!

  18. CommentsAJ   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 2:32 pm

    If someone said they beat their child to stop him or her crying because ‘babies feel no pain’ they would (rightfully) be called abusive monsters. It isn’t right to cut healthy body parts from anyone at any age. And of course babies feel pain and fear they just don’t remember the event when they are older so they are less likely to hold it against you. But the scars physical and mental will remain. Accepting people’s cultures doesn’t mean adopting all their practices, slavery still happens in parts of the world along with many other awful things that are wrong. One can be respectful and progressive.

  19. CommentsAlisa   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 2:50 pm

    This article shows a tragic lack of understanding of infant pain responses. Babies have no fear, pain or tears? That is a very cruel and dangerous misunderstanding.

    “Circumcision is a surgical procedure that involves forcefully separating the foreskin from the glans and then cutting it off. It is typically accomplished with a special clamp device ( see Fig. 2 ). Over a dozen studies confirm the extreme pain of circumcision. It has been described as “among the most painful [procedures] performed in neonatal medicine.”( 2) In one study, researchers concluded that the pain was “severe and persistent.”( 3) Increases in heart rate of 55 beats per minute have been recorded, about a 50 percent increase over the baseline.( 4) After circumcision, the level of blood cortisol increased by a factor of three to four times the level prior to circumcision.( 5) Investigators reported, “This level of pain would not be tolerated by older patients.”( 6) ”
    http://www.circumcision.org/response.htm

  20. CommentsLinds   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Babies expereince no “pain, fear or tears”? That’s one of the most insipid and horrible lies I’ve ever heard. (I mean, it would be WONDERFUL if circumcision were pain-free for all babies…but for most, it’s not). Not by a longshot.

  21. CommentsMariah   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 4:16 pm

    There is no medically necessary reason to circumcise. If it was not something you would do to a boy there is certainly no reason to do it to an infant. I am also from an intercultural marriage, fortunately formless however curcumsicion was just never something we considered. I feel so proud of my choice every day. I do not think this woman should be attack though she did what she thought was right. The magazine however should include medical facts along with it rather than influencing parents to make emotional decisions about something so permanent

  22. CommentsLynn B   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Get over it people! It’s legal and it’s the parents choice. My twin boys will be circumcised when they are born.

  23. CommentsRon Low   |  Wednesday, 03 November 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Hundreds of thousands of men are enduring a tedious multi-year process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo some of the damage of infant circumcision, but the thousands of lost pleasure-receptive nerve endings are gone forever.

    No parent had the moral right to mutilate my body and diminish my sexual experience.

    Lynn says “get over it.” I say get over here and let me choose what to cut off of you.

  24. CommentsSigismond (Michel Hervé Navoiseau-Bertaux)   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 3:53 am

    Sexual mutilation of whatever sex has nothing to do with culture, religion or tradition; it is mere collective madness:
    “Sexual mutilation and the moral order”
    http://circabolition.multiply.com/journal/item/340/Sexual_mutilation_and_the_moral_order

  25. CommentsGillian   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 4:31 am

    “A baby has no fear, pain or tears.”

    You’re in absolute ignorant denial.

    Babies feel pain to a much greater extent than do adults. They are hypersensitive to pain. Doctors have acknowledged this for a long time, and they’ve also acknowledged that to perform the same procedure on an adult would be torture.

    So why allow torture of babies? Why allow torture of your own son?

    “Something else bothered me about the Turkish circumcision custom too. There is no similar party for a girl. It’s just not fair.”

    Well, you could always set a new trend – start cutting off parts of your girls’ genitals in the interest of fairness. Or, more logically, perhaps leave ALL children whole. Because what’s really “unfair” is that girls are allowed to enjoy their entire sexual organ, but boys have part of theirs painfully stolen from them.

  26. CommentsAmber   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 6:03 am

    A baby does feel pain, fear, and has tears. There is no medical reason to circumcise. Science has demonstrated that. Science has also demonstrated that babies do feel pain. Their brain changes in response to pain and stress hormones flood their bodies. Circumcision also carries risks. A baby boy’s foreskin is not a defect that needs to be removed. It serves a purpose. Baby boys should be left intact and whole! Just like the other 75% of men in the world!

  27. CommentsLynn B   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 6:31 am

    Ron Low. It’s legal and it’s a parents choice, that’s all you need to know. I don’t tell you what you can or cannot do so you have NO RIGHT to do it to me. Get over it.

  28. CommentsHalley   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:05 am

    “A baby has no fear, pain or tears.”

    What are you smoking?? You shouldn’t be allowed to HAVE a baby if you actually think this is true, dear god. What an asinine argument, “when should I mutilate my child and rob him of his basic human rights, when he’s 3 weeks old or three months old?” give me a break.

  29. CommentsH. Jacobs   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:11 am

    I believe it is a parents right/choice as to what is best for their children. With that being said my family gave to my son a gift, a “I Survived the Bris” onesie. It was a funny and great way to celebrate my sons Bris.

  30. CommentsRob~   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:19 am

    @Lynn B

    That’s the point. It shouldn’t be legal or the parents’ choice. I hope your sons grow up to resent you for mutilating their genitals like so many men are these days when they find out what was taken from them without their consent or any justification.

  31. CommentsJoseph4GI   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:25 am

    @Lynn B
    Slavery was “legal” at one point. That didn’t make it any better did it…

    Currently it is a parent’s “choice,” but the bigger question is, how is it doctors can perform circumcisions in healthy, non-consenting children, let alone giving parents any kind of “choice?”

    How far are doctors expected to take orders from their patients’ parents?

    If doctors are obliged to circumcise boys for his parent’s “religion,” “tradition” or “culture,” does it not follow that doctors should be obliged to circumcise girls as well?

    After all, if a doctor does it in a hospital, then he will use clean utensils and pain killers. The baby girl won’t even remember it, and that seems to be a good excuse to mutilate boys, yes? No?

    Bottom line: Unless there is an actual problem that couldn’t be fixed any other way, unless there is an actual necessity for circumcision, no, doctor’s can’t even be performing them in healthy newborns, let alone be giving parents any kind of “choice.”

    If a doctor charges someone for an unwanted surgery, he can be sued for medical fraud. How is it it’s perfectly legal that he can go ahead and perform needless surgery in healthy infants, let alone even let parents have a say?

    There is already a ban no female genital mutilation. It should also technically apply to boys under the 14th ammendment.

    The time will come when grown men will sue the doctors that mutilated them. Doctors will have to decide whether to try and get away with pawning medically needless surgery on parents or run the risk of getting sued by his victims.

    At least 200 baby boys die a year in the US due to circumcision complications. Let’s just hope your poor twin boys don’t bleed to death. Poor, poor boys.

  32. CommentsJoseph4GI   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:30 am

    I leave the author with this question:

    Would that your husband was of a religion, tradition or culture that circumcised girls, would you circumcise your daughter?

    Oh, but what if your daughter would be circumcised in the clean environment of a hospital? By a trained professional? With clean utensils? With pain killers? As a baby girl so she doesn’t “remember the pain?”

    Would you circumcise your daughter then?

    Or would you only fight this “war” for your son?

    The answer to this question should tell volumes.

  33. CommentsMajkitab   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:34 am

    Aw Mama, you sure could’ve found courage in other ways. Bucking up and saying NO to the “party” when it was actually due to happen.. I think could/would have been an even bigger boost.

    Without a doubt- circumcising our oldest son is the BIGGEST mothering regret I have on my shoulders. My Husband didn’t blink an eye when I presented him the facts and we made the NOdecision/Nochoice to leave him normal and intact with the majority of the World.

    Best wishes to you and your Family on your journey. Please reconsider your stance that circumsizing is anything more than a harmful, unnneccesary surgery. Thank goodness you and your child did not have to endure the (mental for me)(physical for my son) pain that we had the humble experience of feeling his first year of Life.

  34. CommentsDavid   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 7:53 am

    Circumcision wars? Flatly refused to go along with it? Babies feel no pain? Did it anyway? This is a poor treatment of conflicting cultural practices in culturally mixed marriages. The author would have the reader believe she did the right thing by bending the Turkish practice to her more reasoned approach. She did no such thing. She misunderstood the nature of circumcision generally, failed to influence the situation towards the best interest of her child, and has gone public with this very personal (for the child) and unfortunate outcome of her failure to research and understand the issue.

  35. CommentsJennifer   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 8:29 am

    “A baby has no fear, pain or tears.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? You are experiencing madness! Please seek help. And I mean that in the most supportive and concerned way! Children’s genitals should never be cut for any reason unless completely medically necessary for saving their life (which is pretty much unheard of!). What else can I say that everyone before me on this comment string hasn’t already said.
    Please recognized the mistake you’ve made and do everything in your power to make sure that it does not happen again. Be an advocate for genital integrity in every aspect of your life. Learn everything you can about Human Anatomy (babies, children, adults), the Foreskin, and Children’s Rights, and then go on and educate everyone you know (personal and social).

  36. CommentsLynn B.   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 9:26 am

    Until circumcision becomes illegal (and it won’t), you cannot tell me what I can and cannot do with my sons, period. Don’t agree? Fine, that’s your problem not mine.

  37. CommentsHalley   |  Thursday, 04 November 2010 at 9:31 am

    @Lynn B: no one is telling you what you can’t do, we’re telling you what you SHOULDN’T do if you have any moral or ethical standards or are able to acknowledge a baby as a human being with their own feelings and rights.

    Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it okay. As mentioned before, slavery used to be legal – I guess if it still was you’d be all over that owning a slave thing and telling the rest of us not to tell you what to do because owning a slave is your “right,” to hell with the rights of the slave? Well, that’s the babies when it comes to circumcision. Their rights as human beings are completely ignored. Don’t hide behind the law to justify your crimes of humanity.

  38. CommentsGreg H   |  Friday, 05 November 2010 at 5:52 am

    @Lynn B – Actually, circumcision is illegal in the US…for females. Unfortunately, the 1996 Federal law banning female genital cutting is unconstitutional since it’s a clear violation of the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection clause). In the future, I am confident that this egregious situation will be corrected. What if your son grows up to be an adult who wanted to have his intact genitalia? Whose Body, Whose Rights?

  39. CommentsLynn B.   |  Friday, 05 November 2010 at 6:18 am

    Halley – their rights are not being ignored. In your twisted and hateful views they are. You people don’t care about educating, only throwing hate towards parents and anyone who doesn’t share your views. You try to make yourself look like you are bigger and better than those you attack but you are clearly the same. Your message isn’t about education, it’s only hate.

  40. CommentsLynn B.   |  Friday, 05 November 2010 at 11:40 am

    Well thank you Captain Obvious, Greg. I have twin boys on the way so I must be talking about male circumcision, right?

    Oh and Halley, I am still laughing at the “crimes of humanity” comment. See, that is how I view you and your group. Extremeists who would berate parents in order to get their agenda across.

  41. CommentsStan Barlow   |  Saturday, 06 November 2010 at 10:22 pm

    One of the strategies for reducing the harm of female genital cutting (FGC) is to make a small incision in a girl’s genitals instead of doing a more damaging form of FGC. I wonder if the editors would print an article by a mother from Somalia who feels she “won” the circumcision wars by making a small incision in her daughter’s genitals instead of doing a more severe form of FGC. If the article were printed, I wonder if the readers’ comments would be supportive of her decision.

  42. CommentsThe Editors   |  Saturday, 06 November 2010 at 10:30 pm

    The mission of InCultureParent is to publish articles on a range of topics related to culture, language, tradition/faith and books. We aim to include many different viewpoints from all over the world to increase understanding and foster greater global communication. This article shares one woman’s experience. We are committed in our role as Editors to publishing stories that are authentic, irrespective of our personal opinions.

    While we consider debate and disagreement to be healthy, attacking another mother’s choices in a pejorative way is not constructive dialogue. It is also not constructive to disparage the country someone is from or lives in. That is not the sort of behavior anyone would want to model for their children and the goal of us here at InCultureParent is to raise little global citizens. Please note that we moderate comments and hateful comments and insults (which we have received) will not be approved.

  43. CommentsMe   |  Monday, 08 November 2010 at 8:23 am

    Written by a woman who will never be able to feel and think about the male genitals as men do. Son became a man… sure, just by doing this they grow up to the age of 21 just by cutting off parts of their genitals. Curture ends where ppl suffer. Imaging your “culture” would force you to cut of your daughters breats. I bet my a** you would never do that to her… You should be happy we’ve never met…

  44. CommentsEllen   |  Monday, 08 November 2010 at 9:01 pm

    When I first read the title of this article, I expected a war like my own, where my mother-in-law’s family was adamant that we circumcise our sons. (I wouldn’t “circumcise” a girl, why would I circumcise a boy?) After our second son was born, we received congratulations from my husband’s grandmother only after a sound scolding on how we were ruining our sons’ lives and health by refusing to circumcise them. I was surprised when I read that the author was fighting to circumcise at a younger age instead of not at all. While much of the feedback on here has been very negative towards the author and circumcision in general, you must take into account that she did what she felt was best for her son. While she was ill-informed that babies do not feel pain, and it was never her intention to completely avoid circumcision, perhaps her choice of early circumcision her son will be a catalyst for change in her community. Questioning tradition can be a slow process, but maybe the author’s story can inspire those around her to ponder the consequences of this violent custom.

  45. CommentsLynn B.   |  Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 7:33 am

    Ellen: Don’t you see? You’re still throwing digs towards parents and insulting with that comment. You don’t see a parents side of this so stop pretending that you do. You are just like every other Intact America member, hateful. You just word it differently.

  46. CommentsAlex   |  Thursday, 11 November 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Hey people, why all the hate? This article isn’t about the pain a baby feels or not. Yes, the baby feels pain. But the article is about cultural vs. religious traditions. The author is muslim and from a country where baby boys are traditionally circumcised for religious reasons. Fact. Whether you agree to the circumcision or not is a completely different issue. Her husband is from a country where young boys are circumcised for cultural reasons (although they probably say it is religious). So, there is a conflict. That’s what this article is about! That’s what you should opine about.

    I was circumcised as a baby (for medical reasons). Never thought it could be a big deal to anyone. Note: boy circumcision cannot be compared to female genital cutting.

  47. CommentsJoe   |  Saturday, 13 November 2010 at 10:24 am

    Alex said: “Note: boy circumcision cannot be compared to female genital cutting. ”

    Why not? It’s the same thing.

  48. CommentsEileen   |  Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I’m a foreign teacher in North Africa, and once this subject came up in class. The boys told me about their experiences:

    http://elementaryteacher.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/circumcision-experiences-related-by-third-graders-in-the-middle-east/

    In North Africa, they say that “a boy should be old enough to remember it,” which is why they don’t do it young. Also, the reason for all the pounding of the tambourine and singing loudly ISN’T because the family misses a party. It’s so they won’t hear the boy screaming in the other room. His own father can’t take him in (because it’s too difficult) and usually this job falls to his uncle for that reason. The presents and rest of the party are mainly like a “consolation” party for the boy, and he hardly has a good time at this party. The boys are not told in adavance what will really happen at this “party.”

  49. CommentsSLee   |  Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 10:02 am

    No Joe. Female Mutilation (circ) is not the same thing as Male. In its traditional sence- it would be akin to lopping off all the male genitalia. – There are a few different ways FGM is carried out and none of them are akin to male circumcision. A simple search of medial articles will help you here. There are less traditional/alternatives that are beginning to make a difference.

  50. CommentsDSanchez   |  Friday, 28 January 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Many people who circumcise for religious reasons have a different method than what is preformed in the hospital in America or other western countries. I circumcised my son for a combination of reasons (religious, cultural, etc.) But I paid for a mohel and pediatrician to do it. He was in my arms the whole time, able to breast feed immeadialty after, and barely cried or bled. Someone does not deserve to be called a bad mother for desiring to pass on her religious beliefs in the best way possible to her child.

  51. CommentsF, Berkeley, California   |  Friday, 08 April 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Excellent article. I agree with many things you say here. Our son was circumsized by his pediatrican when he was a few days old. He was circumsized for religious reasons. Also there are many compelling health reasons to cirumsize. As a physcian, I see many young and older men with problems that ultimately need circumcisions later in life. This is painful. I am dismayed at the narrow minded, self serving responses/comments here.
    As for my son, he slept through the whole thing.He certainly felt no pain or fear as he may have experiencde were he older.

  52. CommentsAM   |  Wednesday, 27 April 2011 at 7:00 am

    F from Berkeley, just what compelling reasons for circumcision were you fed? Don’t tell me hygiene – ever hear of a shower and soap?

    Seems like the people who use religion as an excuse for mutilating their baby’s genitals are the first to forget that God made us perfectly as we are.

    Are you sure your baby wasn’t in a deep state of shock? Would YOU sleep through someone snipping off skin from your penis?

    Please, inform yourself.

  53. CommentsF, Berkeley, California   |  Wednesday, 27 April 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your uneducated and uninformed comments. This is not a forum to attack the comments or authors. Since you are in need of it, let me educate you.
    Circumcision has clearly been shown to decrease STD and HIV transmission. I’m a physician and see many older children and adult men who have to have a full general anesthestic for circumcisions later in life. They have issues like recurrent urinary tract infections and painful strictures. Are you aware that the main risk of general anesthesia is death?
    As a physician, I do know what shock is and I can tell you my son was not in shock, he was sleeping!

  54. CommentsAlex   |  Wednesday, 18 May 2011 at 2:47 am

    @ Joe. @ All that compare boy circumcision with female genital cutting: It is in no way the same! Female genital cutting means the whole clitoris or an integral part of it is cut away. It means to bereave a great deal of the later sexual experience. Circumcision is just cutting a piece of skin. No big deal. The sexual feeling is not affected (I know, I’m circumcised).

  55. Commentssaill   |  Wednesday, 18 May 2011 at 5:01 pm

    A measure banning circumcision will be on the ballot in San Francisco this November!!

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=89248&tsp=1

  56. CommentsJaspal Singh   |  Wednesday, 09 November 2011 at 7:09 pm

    What a truly ignorant lady!! Circumcision is barbaric and totally unnecessary. I am sure her son will appreciate her cutting off a major part of his his sex organ and leaving a denuded dry calcified stump to thrust around in this future wife. Sad on so many levels. I have always suspected that there is something fundamentally screwed up with any culture that mulitlates its helpless little children, be it females or males.

  57. CommentsEmily   |  Saturday, 07 April 2012 at 8:46 am

    This article is very disappointing, I thought it would be about a courageous woman not circumcising her son, while having to fight cultural customs and beliefs of her family and the society she lives in. Unfortunately, it sounds like a trivial family dispute of when to have the party. Babies do experience pain and fear, like adults do. I wish parents would make more informed decisions.
    As a Jewish woman I’m not going to circumcise my son, although it’s a part of our tradition.

  58. Commentsadski   |  Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 11:43 am

    Ok, so you were shocked not by your husband’s cultural requirement for circumcision of boys, but by how long they wait until the boy is cut. In your opinion, boys should be mutilated, err…sorry…circumcised… sooner than that.

    See, for me a cultural shock would be to find out that my spouse wants to mutilate my son, not the age at which she wants to do it.

    In any case, my son is 4 months old, intact, and will remain so. It would never occur to me, not even in a state of the most delirious fever, to take a scalpel to his penis. It’s just too bad you don’t see it that way. Too bad for your son especially.

  59. CommentsHeather   |  Friday, 27 July 2012 at 8:20 am

    Yeah, I don’t get it. Did it never occur to the author to skip this unnecessary surgery altogether, and leave her little boy’s body the way it was made? Every pediatrician I have ever spoken with (even the ones who routinely perform it) has said that circumcision is an entirely voluntary procedure done only on parent request, and is the only “non-medically necessary surgery done on a minor for cosmetic reasons.” They admit that while there are some potential advantages (lower rates of disease transmission) there are also serious potential risks (botched procedures resulting in permanent genital damage). Some physicians refuse to perform it at all: http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/. I’m with the two most recent posters, and I admire the Jewish mom for choosing her son over the tradition. There are lots of traditions in the world that cause more harm than good, and should be abandoned. Parents: it’s NOT YOUR BODY to make irreversible changes to. If your son wants to get circumcised for religious or other reasons as a teenager or adult, more power to him. Until then, respect his bodily integrity.

  60. CommentsChristopher Briggs   |  Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 8:05 am

    With respect, you have taken a decision that does not belong to you. I agree with the comment above. It is NOT your body. You have forced a procedure on your son that cannot be undone. He will never have the feeling in his penis that the uncircumcised man has, even if he opts for restoring the foreskin later in his life. This disgusting practice should be abandoned. There are no medical reasons for it in most cases, and the faith of the parents should not take precedence over a human being who is completely helpless to say no. Your only comfort is that since he will never have experienced the feeling that you have taken away, he will (like many) never know what he is missing. I cannot praise you for your decision. Sorry.

  61. CommentsLaura   |  Saturday, 01 February 2014 at 10:34 am

    I don’t want to post a hateful comment, since what’s done is done, and it seems that you (in my opinion, very misguidedly) thought you were doing what was best for your son. To my mind, no one has any right to cut off a piece of his or her child and subject him to pain and psychological suffering unless it is to address an existing medical condition and is absolutely necessary. I have also fought the circumcision war, but I REALLY won. I am also married to a Turk, but perhaps not for long. That is up to him. I told him I’d never give permission for my son to be circumcised. He was angry because it’s his tradition and everyone would ask when his sunnet dugunu would be and why he wasn’t yet circumcised. I told him that avoiding any embarrassment caused him by deviating from tradition was not reason enough to put our son through such torture, and that he was being selfish if that was his reason. He told me to go home if I don’t want to follow the traditions here. NO PROBLEM. I will and have sacrificed a lot of things or the people I love, but my son’s body is not one of them. In case you are in any doubt about infants feeling pain: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjkd30_infant-circumcision-injection-and-procedure_news

  62. CommentsMarie   |  Sunday, 28 December 2014 at 1:52 am

    Hey People. My body my rights huh. Don’t see anyone saying that when they poke your child with immunizations! Maybe they wanted the right to refuse that as well. I love how when it suits peoples ideals they are quick to bash others beliefs but they don’t stop to think about how stupid their own are. There are many choices parents make for their children that arguably a child could or would want the right to refuse. The point is WE are the parents and WE have the right to make choices for those children within the best of our ability. So you disagree with what she did, its still her choice. And honestly the only reason a boy would grow up feeling inferior or angry about his altered penis is if someone told him. There are just as many men who are happy to be circumcised and those who get the surgery done as adults. Furthermore mostof these procedures today are done with topical and local anesthetic so pain is a mute point regardless of what she said. Insulting this woman is far beyond uneccesary. Not to mention hoping a woman’s son hates and resents her for her choices is the most hateful and hippocritical crap I’ve ever heard. How can you come to a website that is pro cultural and religious differences, and then crap on people for having those differences, now that’s shameful.









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