|My mom holds my intact son for the first time (2 days old).|
© Sanfis Daly 2011, published with permission:
"Sometimes when I talk about circumcision, I find other people assume it means I hate my parents, or that I blame everything on my parents, especially my mom. If I say I hate that I was circumcised, people automatically assume I hate my parents.
Last night I read about Baby Joshua and Baby Jameson, two boys who were circumcised despite severe health conditions (Left Hypoplastic Heart Syndrome and Hemophilia, both posing extreme risks for any surgery). Baby Joshua tragically died the morning after his circumcision and news is pending on Baby Jameson. These stories hit me particularly hard because I was a heart baby and experienced open heart surgery, and additional surgery is in my near future. But the comments I read on my wife's Facebook made me stop and think about how people attempt to draw attention away from the victims of this human rights violation by focusing on the mothers.
Why is this a bad thing? Besides removing attention from the victims and their suffering, it sends a message to mothers who have already played a part in the circumcision of their sons. If they sense that others will condemn them, they might not have the courage or integrity to speak out against circumcision or to share their stories with other parents.
Also, even if they do become advocates for babies, they might struggle with guilt, shame and a lot of inner pain. My wife showed me comments from other mothers who had allowed their sons to be circumcised before they were informed. The guilt and worry I read is what prompted me to write this post.
To mothers who allowed their sons to be circumcised and are feeling scared and guilty and wondering what your son will think when he grows up, I want to share my story with you.
I was circumcised as an infant. It was "just what you do" and my grandma encouraged my mom to consent, despite being Catholic. (I would later learn that many Catholics are poorly informed on this aspect of their faith and wrongly believe circumcision is a non-issue, or even believe it is approved.) I had a vague idea that my dad and my brothers were circumcised, but I never once compared penises with anyone. I also had a vague idea what circumcision was, but I was so ignorant in normal male anatomy that I had no idea what was missing on my own body.
It was the beginning of puberty that shoved me into the issue. The doctor amputated so much of my foreskin that as my penis began to grow during puberty, the tight skin chafed and tore. I experienced tearing, painful skin with bleeding. My body pulled the skin from my scrotum up onto my shaft, putting embarrassing hair onto my shaft. I even started to experience chordee, where the shaft bends. Being a shy, embarrassed teenager and not knowing these were complications of my circumcision, I didn't ask my parents but instead began to search online for answers. What I found shocked and angered me. When I was a tiny baby, someone had stolen a piece of my body. They held me down and cut me. My parents let this happen. My own grandma said it was the right thing to do as a Catholic. I was speechless, broken, depressed. Literally, depressed. I am about 5' 7" but almost reached 300 pounds as a teen. I thought my Catholic faith was a sham. I had to realize I was going to live with painful, embarrassing complications for the rest of my life. I had to process that my own parents allowed this, my own family promoted this.
Words caught in my throat. I wanted to call out for help, but I was too angry and ashamed to say anything. I suffered in silence until the complications slowly lessened as my skin began to stretch. The issues have never fully gone away, and new ones such as keratinization of the glans have appeared. I am considering restoration.
As time went on and I got older, I braved a discussion. I asked my parents, "Why?" So much more was behind that word. But I got a foot into the discussion by framing it as religious curiosity. "Why, mom, did you circumcise me? We're Catholic, not Jewish." She said it's because Catholics are an extension of the Jewish faith. I knew this didn't make sense to me, but I didn't have the right information at the time to delve into it. Her answer, however, was not the important part of the conversation. More importantly was the concern I noted in her behavior, her tone of voice. The look, the hesitation. No words were directly said about what she let happen to me, but that look was enough. It was one of regret, of concern. My mom didn't wish this upon me. She was as ignorant and hoodwinked as I was about the whole thing. I forgave her in that moment.
As I continue to learn more about the unethical practice and societal myths behind circumcision, I have come to view the parents as victims in their own way.
Today I remain close to my mom and my dad. I do not hold anything against them. I do not hate them. I speak to them as frequently as my busy life allows. I am happy that they are grandparents for my children. My fight against routine circumcision does not detract from my love for them, and in fact it is for my parents, and all the other parents out there, that I speak out loudly and clearly.
|My parents meet my intact daughter for the first time.|
|My parents meet my intact son for the first time.|
A compiled list of links related to circumcision:
Confessions of a Circumcised Man:
Confessions of a Circumcised Woman:
Baby Joshua's Story According to His Mom:
Circumcision and Religion (includes Catholic links):