Everything going well, a good friend of mine from Israel is going to become the father of a baby boy in a few months. Having met the guy while visiting Israel recently I can testify he seems totally ill prepared for parenthood while his partner seems quite up to the job, so hey – I hope they manage.
One question that did surface in our regular round of email teases is the question of circumcision. Is the newborn going to be circumcised or would his penis be spared?
My friend’s answer was that because absolutely everyone in Israel circumcises their boys the act of circumcision is taken for granted. More than that, the child would be a freak amongst his peers if he was to have that extra piece of skin.
I can relate to those arguments. It is incredibly hard to go against the flow and do something contradicting the auto-pilot mode of the society you live in. It could also be that the parents actually believe in the religious reasons for Brith/circumcision: while, to the best of my knowledge, they are both heretics, they probably also take pride in belonging to Club Jew. You know, the type of pride a Manchester United supporter is full of after the team won.
I’m afraid there are no easy answers there. In my opinion the argument of “everyone doing it so I must do it as well” is invalid. If everyone is doing the wrong thing then there is no point in continuing the erroneous habit, is there? Someone has to set the record straight, and it just might be that you’re the one.
The question, then, is whether circumcision is wrong; in my opinion it is. Health wise, there is a reason why evolution gave us foreskin, and while there may be some hygienic advantages to having no foreskin those advantages pale in comparison to the risk. There is also the argument against mutilation: generally speaking, people adhere to the concept of avoiding the mutilation of others' bodies. For example, it takes a major sacrifice to give away your breasts in order to mitigate cancer; but if that is the case, why would you give away another piece of yourself on the grounds of some highly unlikely health benefit and at the price of a risky procedure?
As for making one’s son a freak for standing out, foreskinned, against a background of circumcised children. For a start, the boy could have positive attraction on his side; it’s not necessarily negative attention alone that he may attract. Second, given the Jewish sages themselves acknowledge the main purpose of circumcision is to subdue sexual drive through a reduction in sexual pleasure (see here), leaving the boy’s foreskin intact is likely to leave the parent with an eternally grateful son.
Regardless, the thought that circumcision is plainly wrong cannot escape me. I remember when my son was a week old, fragile and – let’s face it – barely clinging to life. The thought of taking a knife and cutting a piece of him off at that time, as per Jewish guidelines, was probably the most sickening notion I could have thought of. It’s pure barbarism, period.
No, I don’t expect my friend and partner to change their opinion because of this particular post. I am, however, lamenting the billions of children born into this world only to be painfully mutilated due to the delusional religious faiths held by their parents or the need to belong to a group whose main association is through religious delusions. By my book, all those parents are criminals. My parents and some of my best friends included, but still criminals.
Image by Ronen Frieman, Creative Commons license (14/4/2014: Image removed at owner's request; see comments below)