Look out Willy - he's got a knife!

Thursday, August 28, 2008
Thanks to all for the e-mails, comments, messages etc. I’m feeling quite a bit better today although my head is still a wee bit wobbly – I highly doubt I ate any tainted Maple Leaf meat products. More likely I finally succumbed to the latest bug that’s been making the rounds of our office building. However, I will send Big Brother an e-mail with my passwords in case he needs to post an address for the hospital so you know where to send care packages…

Back into work this morning and smack dab into the middle of a conversation I almost wish I could have turned around and walked out of. Have you ever had that experience? I walked into our kitchen area for a glass of H20 and found the rest of my fellow office slaves huddled around the water cooler (typical, isn’t it?), deep in conversation. I figured this group of conservatively-suited folks was discussing important topics such as retirement plans, investing, corporate infrastructure, politics, or even the results of the weekly office hallway mini-golf competition (we’re a wild bunch). Instead I found them debating the pros and cons of circumcision. I’ll give you some time to let that one sink in…

Up to speed? Good. Yes, my workmates were discussing the age old question “To Snip or Not to Snip”. I should keep you in the loop – one of our coworkers recently had a baby boy and the subject was raised with her (why it’s anyone’s business, I don’t know) about whether she’d be cutting or not. Today’s conversation was already quite heated by the time I wandered into the room, the small group clearly divided into two camps with opposing view points. Three who supported the idea based mainly on hygiene and three who said this was a load of rubbish. I would offer some links to various articles, websites, etc. to help demonstrate the two sides of the debate but it’s probably not a good idea to do so at work…not that I’m at work while I’m writing this…no…that would never happen…and it’s wrong…but it’s better to be safe than fired, right? Needless to say (and you’ll have to forgive my paraphrasing if I get some information slightly wrong), from what I can remember off the top of my head, doctors and other health professionals have argued for some time (and the public has gone along with it since these folks are a form of “authority figure”) that circumcision is the wise choice to promote cleanliness, avoid infection, etc in men and boys. There is, however, a growing number of people opposed to what some believe is the unnecessary mutilation of and infliction of pain upon their male offspring and believe that the hygiene argument is misguided. And it seems as though the medical community is also leaning this way.

Before anything was settled (and doubtless it ever will be), someone noticed the time and people began heading back to their desks. As the men slowly filtered out of the room, a couple of the women continued the conversation but it suddenly turned to preference. Uh oh. I told you we were a wild bunch. The dreaded question “Which do you like better?” … and then it happened. Someone asked my opinion. Oh god. Now what do I do? Admittedly, my experience is this area is, um, somewhat lacking. Suddenly I’m under pressure, I desperately need a lifeline. Can I phone a friend? Poll the audience? Ack! Thankfully another co-worker popped their head into the kitchen to say that a meeting was starting. Yippee! I’ve never been so happy for a meeting in my life. And even better – I didn’t have to attend. I slinked back to my desk, grateful for small favours.

As I’m not a parent, I’ve never really been presented with this particular problem but it did start me thinking about what I would do if I was in that situation. Hmmm. I had no clue. Would I choose to snip or not? I’m certainly leaning towards the not. But if I did, would it be because I believed the hype about hygiene or for aesthetic purposes? Remember that lifeline I was looking for? I decided to cash it in and phone a friend. Actually I e-mailed her but it’s practically the same thing in this day and age. This particular friend is a mother and a wee bit more experienced when it comes to male genitalia than yours truly so I figured she was a good choice. She responded quickly and with great gusto. In fact, she provided me with a Top 10 list to rival anything put together by David Letterman on the reasons NOT to circumcise your son. Most of the information she sent me I was already aware of but other facts and figures that I was surprised at. According to my Phone-A-Friend, the ratio of uncircumcised to circumcised boys in her province is currently around 10:1 (no, I don’t have a source to back that up so don’t ask me to provide one – I’m going on faith here). She finished off this particular point by saying that when “baby XXX grows up and is in a change room with other boys, the circumcised ones will be the odd-balls.” See? I told you she’s funny.

Perhaps I’m completely out of the loop on this issue and everyone else is already keenly aware (other than 50% of my coworkers apparently) that the preference among parents and the medical profession out there has changed so dramatically. I couldn’t tell you if the males in my family are or not (and frankly I don’t want that kind of information, thank you very much). If PaF’s information is correct, the parents of that 10 percent of the population who are snipped, are doing so (1) for religious reasons; (2) because daddy’s been cut; or (3) for aesthetic purposes (i.e. it looks better). All these reasons, in my opinion, are weak arguments including religion. Before anyone gets too upset about that – there are some cultures who choose to circumcise their daughters and look at the reaction most of us have to that. Why then endorse a similar procedure for our sons?

My favourite item on her list was this:
10. And from what I’ve heard, having the head of your penis exposed due to circumcisions makes it less sensitive than that of an uncircumsized man – so the pleasure is lessened. I’m not sure exactly how you would test this theory but congratulations to the researcher who proposed this topic and found funding to follow through. She ended her e-mail with this tidbit of wisdom: Basically, that skin is there to protect the penis and help AVOID infection – just like the labia on a woman. It is SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.

At the end of all this, I couldn’t tell you which I prefer (and I wouldn’t even if I did have an opinion). However, I like the idea of some little fella popping his head out like a jack-in-the-box. After all, who doesn’t like a surprise.


Anonymous said...

Great blog-topic Karen. Yes, I am a bit ‘passionate’ about this subject and can get a little carried away sometimes. Just to show you how nuts I can be, here is the rest of my Top 10 list that I think EVERYONE should read (ha ha)….

1. Hygiene has nothing to do with it!!!! Is a little girl any dirtier ‘up there’ than a boy is under his foreskin? There are natural body lubrications that keep those areas clean and you can actually facilitate an infection by cleaning too often (as a woman, you can get yeast infections from douching too often so that is why you are not supposed to do it).
2. A baby boy’s foreskin is actually attached to the head of his penis for up to 2-5 years. It only get’s TORN down when parents do it to supposedly ‘clean the head’…but they shouldn’t. It usually separates as the boy starts to discover it and pull at or play with the skin, thus separating it (sometimes painfully) himself. When it does separate, pulling it back in the tub to rinse it with water is fine but not necessary.
3. Circumcision was originally done for religious reasons. Someone from the bible (whoever?….we’ll call him David) had to sacrifice a part of his body to god to show his devotion and he picked that part (maybe because he thought it was ‘where the sin came from’ or something). Had nothing to do with hygiene. Not like he was gonna cut off a leg right!?
4. Doctors did think it got dirty underneath so circumcision was popular for a while but that theory is completely out the door now – hence the reason why you have to PAY for it now and many doctors refuse to do it. (Only 2 doctors in my (big) city perform the procedure.)
5. Most babies are not given anything other than a topical numbing agent when this brutal procedure is forced upon them. What parent would voluntarily PAY for their child to be tortured and mutilated in this manner??? Is there a reason why we don’t do female mutilations in this country????? YES – because it is sick! So why do it to our boys???
6. Apparently now there are WAY more boys NOT being circumsized than the ones that are (in my province the ratio is 10:1 according to the health nurse at my prenatal class ) so that means when my son grows up and is in a change room with other boys, the circumsized ones will be the “odd-balls”. Ha ha. Ok, that was funny.
7. There are sometimes issues of the foreskin growing tight around the male’s penis (later on in life) and then a circumcision needs to be done. This is rare and is because scar tissue has grown around the foreskin…from parents forcing it back and tearing it at an earlier age. This can easily be avoided.
8. There are MORE cases of circumcisions going wrong (cutting off too much/damaging the penis) than of the issue in #7 happening.
9. Some people do it now because the child’s father is circumsized and they don’t want their son to be different. Well frankly, the penis is different from a vagina so that already has to be explained by the parents and if the child is old enough to look at his dad’s penis and his own and ASK why they look different….well then he is TOO DARN OLD to be looking at his naked father!!!!!
10. And from what I’ve heard, having the head of your penis exposed due to circumcisions makes it less sensitive than that of an uncircumsized man – so the pleasure is lessened.

Basically, that skin is there to protect the penis and help AVOID infection – just like the labia on a woman. It is SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.

Thanks for letting me rant!

Captain Karen said...

Thanks J!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Call me callous and sexist, perhaps, but this is really nothing that I have ever given a lot of thought to, other than a passing curiousity on occasion, which we will not discuss here.

It's probably best that I never had a son, then.

tweetey30 said...

Got the suprise of my life when I opened up your blog today. LOL.. Great topic yes indeed. I have two girls and we were faced with the fact that they could have been boys and what were we going to do.

Esp with the church we joined boys are suppose to be circumsized by time they are eight years old according to the Bible and I refuse to follow it. I havent been to church in months again so I am not preaching here. I refuse to preach.

So yes there are lots of reasons to get it done and not to get it done.

Captain Karen said...

Barb: Ooooh, now you've piqued my interest....You can just e-mail me all the juicy details ;)
Admiitedly I didn't give it much thought either until I walked into the middle of the debate.

Tweety: ha ha! That's what I'm here for!

Captain Karen said...

Should I be surprised that no men have weighed in on the topic...?

nwtrunner said...

Okay, will weigh in. Am one of the cut ones. Can't say that I've ever felt hurt, violated, or de-sensitized. Maybe I don't have a 'victim mentality' - which seems to be an ever-growing thing in our society.

But, I'll leave it at that. I don't hate my parents for it, nor do I feel that I lost anything from it. And I don't need compensation for it.

I know that I could never have come up with 10 reasons. I probably couldn't come up with 10 reasons for anything, but certainly not for being snipped as a kid.

As the kids say today - whatever....

Heather said...


'Male circumcision reduces the risk that men will contract HIV through intercourse with infected women by about 70 percent, according to a study reported in The Wall Street Journal.'

If that's the cast, that would be about all it would take for me to decide to do it. Of course, I'd need to have a son first.

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