Congratulations, you're about to have a baby boy. Now you've got to decide: to mutilate or not to mutilate?
Anyone who believes that circumcision is in the best interests of a boy ought to go get a copy of the October 2000 Discover science magazine, open it to page 19, and read. The sidebar you'll find on that page quickly reviews some recent studies that relate to new parents' decision about circumcision.
Circumcision Equals LIFELONG Pain
First: a study finds that infants who are circumcised after birth still have a higher sensitivity to pain six months later than boys who are not circumcised. Second: a study on rats finds that those who are exposed to traumatic pain soon after birth remain relatively sensitive to pain for their entire lives. A similar lifelong study on the circumcised's sensitivity to pain has yet to be conducted, but I'll bet it's in the works.
Connect the dots and you'll see that circumcision may well doom your son to a live of heightened sensitivity to pain. What doesn't hurt others much will hurt him more. Is that the first thing you want to do to your baby boy?
"Well," you may be asking yourselves, "If circumcised men are more sensitive to pain, why don't I know any of them? I don't know any wimpy men with short penises! Answer that, Mr. Smartypants!" The fact is, you do know lots of men who live this way. Studies show that, on average, men have a lower pain threshhold than women. Given the same stimulus, women tend to feel less pain than men. Now, most men are circumcised. Isn't it possible that this difference in sensitivity to pain is due to early circumcision?
I hear the voice of a tough father in the reading audience: "My boy needs to know that there's pain in the world. I'm not going to shelter him from it, and if a little snip makes the pain more real, it's good for his character." First of all, if it's a little snip, why don't you have a little more skin from your penis cut off when he does? Then you can call it "little". Secondly, there are other ways to subject your son to lifelong pain. Why not just ask him to come up to you once a day and stick him in the arm with a pin? Certainly, that would build character. It'd also make your son hate you, but that's just because he sees that you're responsible for the pain. With circumcision in infancy performed by somebody else, he'll never understand that lesson in the same way. It's an awful lot safer for daddy that way, isn't it?
A baby boy who is circumcised will for sure feel more pain for his first six months, and anyone who has taken care of an infant knows that more pain means more fussing and crying. More fussing and crying means a more temperamental child who is more distant from his parents. This circumcision research goes a long way toward explaining the psychological differences between boys and girls. Want to make your boy colder and more distant? Away with the foreskin!
What Does it Mean, Anyway?
Parents who circumcise their boys say that it can add meaning to their lives. It's true that ritual scarification can add meaning to one's life, but so can a good bowl of soup or a walk in the forest. Why choose ritual scarification?
As for myself, an adult circumcised man, I have never found any deep meaning in the fact that my penis is disfigured. On the other hand, I have a non-disfiguring wedding ring on my finger that has great meaning for me. Why can't people do something similar for boys - a small external adornment that does not require mutilation or pain? Is it because the Bible prescribes circumcision? The Bible also says that we ought to stone adulterers to death. So come on, you supporters of religious ritual circumcision - where are your stones for Frank Gifford, Bill Clinton and Meg Ryan?
Circumcision is medically unnecessary, causes an extended period of pain, and provides little if any meaning to boys who can find meaning in other places. I can't understand why there's any debate over circumcision at all. Go head and have your son cut, but don't say you didn't know the consequences.
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