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Why I Didn't Circumcise My Sons

Courtesy of Will Robertson

Considering that some estimate a 1.5 percent complication frequency rate among newly circumcised infants, I’m okay with my boys’ risking the infrequent urinary tract infection. There is, I suppose, a slightly higher risk of HIV transmission and other sexually transmitted infections for uncircumcised males. But I trust that I’ll be able to convey the importance of proper condom use when my boys reach the appropriate age.   

Before the birth of my first son, most of the parental backyard barbecue banter dealt with either aesthetics or tradition. Who was going to opt for the knife – and why – had a lot to do with personal preference, it seemed. Practical health issues and religious adherents were rarely, if ever, discussed.  Either the men were adamant that their son look like them, or they just didn’t care if they didn’t. There was some talk among the women about whether circumcised penises were “cuter” than uncircumcised penises. They couldn’t agree. While amusing, I did not find any real substance in these discussions.  

Plus: Our Total Guide to Circumcision

There is also an argument to be made that circumcision, in effect, mutilates the genitals of a minor without their consent, which strikes me as neither fair nor particularly holistic. I can’t help but wonder if the practice of male circumcision, as with female genital mutilation, has something to do with a fear of human sexuality and a desire to control.  

A stretch? Perhaps. But it is interesting to note that the Netherlands sure doesn’t think so: In 2010, the Royal Dutch Medical Association stated that non-therapeutic male circumcision “conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity.”  They went as far as to claim that there are as many good reasons for prohibition of male circumcision as there are for female genital mutilation.

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