Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Boys Don't Cry


I still remember the numb, buzzing sensation of shock as the words settled into my soul.

I was sitting at the playground, watching my kids dart in and out of the slides and tunnels. I reached that point where I was vigilant, but on autopilot. My ears slowly tuned into the background noise and heard several ladies next to me at a picnic table discussing circumcision.

I had tuned in just in time to hear one lady make a clear assessment of her son's genitals.

"We made sure to schedule his circumcision right away because my OB supposedly has a good hand. He knows how to shape them [baby penises] up into something beautiful. He'll thank me when I'm older."

I sat there, frozen. The words seemed to echo across the park, but no one else noticed. The other ladies had already continued their conversation, some giggling, some making similar remarks. But I was caught on that statement.

Just imagine. Just imagine if a group of dads had been sitting at that table, congenially discussing baby girl circumcision.

"We made sure to schedule her circumcision right away because my OB supposedly has a good hand. He knows how to shape them [baby labias] up into something beautiful. She'll thank me when I'm older."

Imagine if other dads had chimed in, laughing and agreeing.

I wonder if anyone at that park would have turned, or grimaced, or even confronted that table if the parents sitting at it were dads discussing daughters and not mothers discussing sons.

This ties into the subtle cultural message about boys versus girls. It goes a bit like this. We all know that sons are never sexually molested. They are never kidnapped. Never assaulted by babysitters. We all know that female caregivers are never sexual molesters or rapists and that male molesters (and all males are potential molesters and rapists) only like female children. We know that our sons will never be touched wrongly, never told to keep a secret, never objectified or sexualized for someone's personal benefit. 

We can cut them to match our sexual appeal. We can hurt them in their genital area without their consent. We can laugh about the way their genitals look at a picnic table at the park. We can discuss their future glibly, entirely centered on our desires. We can assume their orientation and sexual activity to such a degree that we do surgery on them for it.

But, it's not as if sons are ever sexually abused or harassed. Their genitals are never cut, stabbed, poked, yanked, torn, smashed. Parents never refer to them as dirty, nasty, gross, defective, or diseased. We never reduce our sons down to one aspect. We never assume they are too stupid or helpless to make healthy/safe decisions about sex. Right?

Big boys don't cry. Not even on the circumstraint board during surgery.

It's not like those male chauvinist pigs who demand that their girlfriends get boob jobs to look better for them, right? We'd never permanently, surgically alter our sons for sexual appeal because that's disgusting, right?

Right?


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