Friday, 25 May 2012

Quote For Today

"Treat me exactly as you would want me to treat you - exactly.Do not punish me ever. Teach me. Hold me. Love me. Trust that I, just like you, want to do what is right. Help me understand what I don't know. Don't call me names, or label me or compare me, or make me compete for anything. Help me cooperate and collaborate. Be the example for me."
~Bruce Scott

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

peaceful parenting: Why Spanking is Never Okay

peaceful parenting: Why Spanking is Never Okay: By Nestor Lopez-Duran, Ph.D. For Child Psych Posted with permission. The most recent issue of the journal of the American Academy of Pe...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Paradigm Shift: My Journey From Pro-Circumcision to Intactivism

I have a memory of being a teenager and thinking to myself; "I hope I marry a circumcised man, because foreskin seems so complicated and unclean".

I couldn't tell you specifically how or why that idea formed in my head, but it did. And that's all there was to it; foreskin was a useless flap of skin and without it, penises looked better and were cleaner. If I were to have boys of my own someday, they would be circumcised, no question.

When I thought about what penises looked like, I always thought of them in their adult form. I had no memory really of changing any baby boys' diapers when I was younger and I didn't know what actually happened during a circumcision. No clue. I had also almost never heard anyone talk about it in my life and had really never given it much thought. I was very naive and ignorant, to say the least.

When I became pregnant I read all about pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding. I ate healthy, exercised regularly, got plenty of rest. I wanted my baby to be healthy and I wanted to birth naturally. I read countless books and watched all kinds of videos preparing for the big day.

Not once did I read anything about circumcision. I didn't even Google it.

I thought it was a 'personal' choice and each couple just needed to decide what was 'right for them'. My husband and I discussed it a few times but couldn't really decide either way. 

I actually sometimes secretly wished my baby would be a girl so we wouldn't have to make the decision. 

By the end of my pregnancy, I was almost positive that I wanted to leave our son intact if we were to have a boy. It just seemed like the right thing for 'us' and my husband agreed.

We did end up having a boy, and not even 24 hours after his birth, my doctor very casually asked, "so are we circumcising?" I answered no and felt fairly confident with this decision, but in my postpartum emotional fog, I can't say for sure that I couldn't have been talked into it.  But no one tried.

We went home and as time went by I felt like we had made the right decision and thought my son was perfect the way he was born.

A few months later, the topic came up with some other moms (who had circumcised their babies) and they spoke very casually about it: "He handled it so well" "He slept through the whole thing" "It's better to do it when they won't remember" "We wanted him to look like his dad" "It's so much worse if they have to have it done when they're older".

I left the conversation thinking, 'maybe it's really not a big deal'. It tweaked my curiosity and I wanted to learn more.

I googled 'circumcision' and found a website called Peaceful Parenting. They had some information and even videos to watch of a circumcision being done. I hesitantly clicked on the link to the video and braced myself. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see.


This poor infant was naked and alone, arms and legs strapped down, crying hysterically while a physician inserted a probe underneath his foreskin and forcibly separated it from the glans, to which it was fused. 

I was horrified. 

Then the doctor took scissors and cut down the foreskin and proceeded to cut and crush the skin until all that was left of his penis was this tiny, raw, bleeding nub. 


I will never be the same after seeing that. I thought circumcision was just a 'little snip'? How naive was I? 

I thought to myself, 'could it be that the majority of new parents and parents-to-be are just as naive to this as I was?' I could have done this to my child.

I started digging deeper trying to learn more and found more videos, more articles, and countless blogs of parents who had circumcised and regretted it; men, young and old, who were sad, disappointed and downright angry about what had been taken from them when they were circumcised as infants; and child's right groups dedicated to the cause; Doctors Opposing Circumcision, Mothers Against Circumcision, The Whole Network, and NOCIRC to name just a few. 

Could it be that I wasn't the only one who was deeply disturbed by this whole thing? 

I just couldn't believe that I didn't know about all of this. 

✂I did not know that the foreskin was more than 'just a flap of skin'. It is actually about 15 square inches  on a grown man (the size of a 3x5" index card). It is highly sensitized, containing over 20,000 nerves and serves a multitude of purposes.

✂I did not know that the foreskin is fused to the head of the penis at birth (to protect the underlying glans), similar to the way our fingernails are fused to our fingers. During a circumcision the foreskin must be forcibly separated from the head of the penis before the skin is removed, leaving a raw glans, which must then develop layers of callous in order to protect itself from urine, feces, and the constant friction from diapers and clothing.

✂I did not know that circumcision was affecting my sex life. An absence of foreskin significantly affects sexual function for a man and his partner. I always thought that the need for artificial lubricant and often feeling 'sore' or 'raw' after sex was normal. Now I know that it is not normal, as the circumcised penis functions very differently than an intact one, resulting in increased friction for the woman on her sensitive vaginal wall and a decrease in lubrication. It all made sense to me after viewing this article & video.

✂I did not know that each year approx. 117 babies die in the United States each year, and likely many more, but whose cause of death is listed as 'hemorrhage' or something that happened as a result of the circumcision, instead of the circumcision itself. One hundred percent of these deaths are preventable.

✂I did not know that less than 1% of intact males will ever choose or require circumcision later in life. Less than 1%!

I did not know that circumcision can have profound psychological effects that can last a lifetime. Psychologists have suggested for decades that what happens to us in the first 5 years of our lives, especially traumas, significantly impact who we will become. Circumcision is a trauma that will forever be engrained in a person's subconscious mind even though they will not remember it

I did not know that many babies appear to sleep or remain expressionless during a circumcision babies actually go into shock, as the body's way to cope with the trauma.

✂I did not know that circumcision can significantly compromise breastfeeding and bonding.

I did not know that there are thousands of men are trying to restore their foreskin to improve sexual function and sensation and regain at least some of what was lost.

✂I did not know that there are thousands of parents who chose to circumcise their sons who have went on to deeply regret the decision. These courageous parents are speaking out in record numbers in hopes of saving other parents from the same regret and from baby boys from having to endure this unnecessary traumatic surgery and having to live with an incomplete penis their entire lives.

I did not know any of these things, yet I had the power to make this decision for my newborn son. I am thankful every single day that no one tried to talk me into it. I am thankful that my circumcised husband was OK with being different from his son. I am thankful that my doctor also saw no benefit to being circumcised. Countless other parents, including some people very close to me did not become informed in time and now have to live with their decision for the rest of their lives. They (and their sons) have been failed by our medical system. 

This is why I speak out.

Intactivist: Someone who loves, honors, respects and protects the rights of the child to an intact body. Someone who sees genital mutilation -- of girls or boys -- as a contradiction to that fundamental human right. ~The Urban Dictionary

What is interesting to me is the taboo surrounding the subject. Why are people so afraid to talk about it or to question it? Is it for fear of being judged? Or is it because we are afraid of the truth? Perhaps it is just hard for our species to accept that something we have been doing for decades has now been disproven to have medical benefits and has robbed millions of babies, and thus men, of one of the most sensitive parts of their bodies, without their consent

The emotions that rose up in me on the day I watched that circumcision video were no different than the emotions I remember feeling as a teenager when I was watching a documentary film in which girls were having their genitals mutilated in Africa. I never, at that time, even considered that what we do to baby boys in our country might be just as violating and horrific. Now, I know that ethically, it is no different, but because of social custom, we often don't view it that way. 

"Being Ignorant is not so much of a shame as being unwilling to learn" ~Benjamin Franklin

What is really boils down to is this; it is not about who is right, but rather what is right. It is not about who's a 'good parent' or a 'bad parent' based on whether or not you circumcised your son(s). We really need to get past these judgments, so that we can see circumcision for what it really is.

It's time to have objective conversations about why this is still happening, even though it is not recommended by a single health organization in the world. 

It is also not an issue for only parents to consider, but for all people as it is about basic human rights.

I urge people on both sides of the debate to learn all they can, find the courage to question their current notions and beliefs about circumcision and really get to the root of all of those beliefs. We owe it to our baby boys, who are also our fellow human beings.

"I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in the condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male." 
Thomas Szasz, M.D

With gratitude,

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