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the WHOLE misconception

guest September 19, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Marissa Puffer. Marissa is a stay at home Christian mom who is married to her high school sweetheart. Together they have a beautiful son and are excited to grow their family as big as God plans. Marissa is passionate about Jesus, cooking organic wholesome meals for her family and living a holistic lifestyle. She delights in sharing information with love and compassion to help guide people to a healthier way of life. 

When you are pregnant this overwhelming “bear claws will come out without hesitation if one harmful thing comes near my baby” instinct. With those instincts come the many million-dollar questions. What car seat is the safest? Should we bed share or buy a crib? Should I make baby food or buy baby food? One of the biggest decisions I feel we have made was a decision that I never knew to even question. Looking back at how protective and determined I was to keep my baby out of unnecessary harms way from the moment I saw that positive test, how did I not think to question it long before? Why is there so much silence about things that matter the most?

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(photo courtesey of Flickr)

It all began one evening, when I was researching through the routine hospital newborn procedures. The vitamin K injection was my newest head scratcher. Did I want my son to receive the synthetic vitamin K injection so he could be circumcised in the hospital or did I want to skip the synthetic vitamin K injection and circumcise the following week? I went back and forth for a while, questioning what decision to make.  Finally, I threw my arms up and I clearly remember saying out loud in a very frustrated manor “what is the point of circumcision anyway? Let’s see what I am even stressing myself out over!” The look on my face is a look I will never forget making. American circumcision was originated by John Harvey Kellogg to prevent masturbation. Circumcision removes over 20,000 nerve endings therefore Kellogg believed by removing the foreskin it would remove sensation and the urge to masturbate. He also believed circumcision should be performed with the patient conscious and without any form of pain management. He believed that if the surgery were painful then the patient would associate pain with their genitals and in return, avoid masturbation. He didn’t stop there. Mr. Kellogg also believed in giving little girls carbolic acid (phenol) baths to their clitorises. Cornflakes anyone?

Kellogg's Simply Cinnamon Corn Flakes 2

 

(photo courtesey of Flickr)

Since some babies do not make a peep during their circumcision it was then believed that babies do not feel pain. Hint: question what happens to the human body when it experiences an unbearable amount of pain. Considering the penis is the most sensitive part of the body, the fact that such a surgery wasn’t painful, is absolutely ludicrous. As I continued to research I was at a complete loss for words. “How could this be?” “Isn’t circumcision just what you do?” “Aren’t the ones who don’t circumcise their son’s like, some grungy, crazy, tree-loving hippy?” I was confused, shocked, and at complete disgust with the overwhelming amount of brainwashing we are exposed to. Circumcision is the elephant in the room and you’re just not supposed to question it. Or were you? How am I going to spend more than 9 months of ensuring I am providing the proper nutrition, health and safety to promote the growth of my perfect, beautiful baby to only hand him over soon after birth to be cut on purely for a cosmetic surgery? Where is the irony in that? Like most things, I wasn’t settling on making decisions for such an innocent, helpless soul without it backed up with support. And I mean solid support that provided proof that handing my baby over was going to be for his benefit.

holding baby

(photo courtesey of Flickr)

“I am going to circumcise because it is cleaner.”

Before I even touch on this misconception please be aware that zero major medical organizations in the world recommend routine infant circumcision. Circumcision is not a medical surgery it is a cosmetic surgery. My main reason I believed circumcision was performed was because it was cleaner. I mean, that is what we are told, right? I’m glad I questioned that theory. A baby’s foreskin is completely fused to the head of the penis.  The foreskin serves a important purpose for both the infant and adult. The purpose of an infant’s foreskin being fused shut is to protect the head of the penis and keep feces out, unlike a circumcised penis that becomes an open wound, directly exposed to bacteria. To clean an intact penis you simply wipe like a finger, which is a breeze, compared to carefully wiping around a freshly circumcised wound, which needs ointment to heal. Women, do you know how many flaps and folds you have in your vagina? Women have four times the amount of an intact penis. Do you suffer with medical, health or cleanliness issues? As the infant matures the penis will begin to produce smegma, which is an odor in both female and male genitals. What do you do when your breath, feet, hair, armpits and even (gasp!) vagina becomes “dirty” and smells? You clean them. Perfect, problem solved.

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(photo courtesey of Flickr)

 

 

“I am going to circumcise because it prevents against diseases, infections and cancer.”

Females have a three times higher risk of contracting an infection than males are so why are we still using that excuse for males?  When a woman gets an infection it is treated with a round of antibiotics, not amputation. The infection claim was based upon one study that looked at charts of babies born in one hospital (Wiswell 1985). The study had many flaws, a few being that it didn’t accurately count whether or not the babies were even circumcised, whether the babies were premature and in return became more susceptible to infection in general, whether the babies were breastfed (breastfeeding protects against UTI), and if the babies foreskins had been forcibly retracted (forceful retraction is one of the greatest causes of infection). So, ladies, are you ready to send your little girls off for surgery? I mean, what is the difference? Circumcising a little girl is crazy though and just disturbing, right? Female circumcision became illegal in the USA in March 1997. Like male circumcision, there are also several forms of female circumcision. The “nick” method being the least severe and the infibulation method the most severe. When the bill was written to ban circumcision, it originally included both female and male circumcision but it was changed because there was thought to not be enough support for it to pass the bill with both female and male circumcision bans. Therefore, banning male circumcision was removed from the bill, and the female circumcision ban was passed on it’s own. So, if females are at a greater risk for infection then males are, and female circumcision is now illegal, where is justice for males? Think about it. 

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(photo courtesey of Flickr)

 

Note: You do not retract an intact penis at any given time. The only person to retract the foreskin is the owner of the penis. This will usually begin somewhere around 3 years to puberty. Forcefully retracting a penis is very painful, much like ripping your fingernail off its nail bed. Unfortunately, parts of America are still very uneducated on the intact penis. Advice has been known to be given by some American doctors to begin forcefully retacting the penis from birth. Many cases of infection in an intact penis is due to forceful retraction.

Penile cancer is extremely rare in North America and Europe. Penile cancer occurs less than 1 in every 100,000 and accounts for less than 1% of cancers in men in the United States.  Circumcision kills more then 100 babies each year. Circumcision kills a greater amount than the average of 44 babies from suffocation, 8 in automobile accidents and 115 from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Each of those matters has created deep concern and fear in society. Then why has the even larger number of deaths from circumcision per year not created the same concerns? Speaking of cancer, breast cancer is far more prevalent then penile cancer. Mastectomy in women would dramatically lower the risk of contracting breast cancer. Does that mean we should begin removing the breasts? If circumcision did in fact reduce the risk of contracting an STD or HIV, than why is it the United States has the highest rates of Routine Infant Circumcision in any industrial nation but yet also has the highest rate of HIV and STD in the entire industrial nation as well? In parts of Europe where it is quite rare to find a circumcised boy, HIV practically does not exist. Circumcision does not help to prevent STD or HIV, condoms do. Having sex with one partner and avoiding IV drug use prevents AIDS. Why would you want to assume that your child is going to be a man whore anyway? Teach them abstinence and responsibility. Thanks to the millions of years of evolution we know every man and most mammals have been designed with foreskin. That isn’t just a “mistake” in nature. To read more on circumcision and infections please click here. To read more on circumcision being a dangerous mistake for HIV please click here.

 

 

 

“I am going to circumcise because it is part of my religion.”

The biggest misconception is that modern day American circumcision is the same as biblical circumcision. The Hebrew words used in the Old Testament when referring to circumcision are “namal” and “muwl.” Namal means “clipped,” the same as when you clip your nails. The word muwl means, “to cut shorter.” Those are two completely different words described in the Bible to refer to circumcision then today when the foreskin is fully cut off and removed. After Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant, the New Covenant became the law for Christians. Jewish circumcision and animal sacrifices were ended and circumcision of a male child born in the New Covenant is referred to as blasphemous and macabre torture. “God made you perfect and in his image.” God wouldn’t create our image with something he didn’t want us to have. You can find many passages in the Bible that express God’s stance on circumcision. Galatians 5 is one book of quite a handful in the Bible that speaks multiple times on circumcision. Biblical circumcision was considered a sacrifice to cover our sins. Wasn’t the point of Jesus dying for us on the cross to cover our sins?

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(photo courtesey of Flickr)

If you are interested in reading passages from the Bible on circumcision and/or learning more on biblical circumcision VS. modern day American circumcision please click here and here.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139:13-14 

 

 

 

“I am going to circumcise because I don’t want my son to be made fun of and I want him to look like his dad.”

I find that one of the most popular justifications toward circumcision is to look like dad or to not be made fun of when their child gets older. This one always gets me. Since when is father son bonding done in comparing each other’s matching penises? Do we alter our children’s hair color, shape of their nose or complexion of their skin to match mom or dads? It’s time we stop thinking about ourselves and lay down our own benefits for the benefit of another. I personally know my two adult brothers do not have a childhood memory of comparing their penises to our dads, much less what our dads penis even looked like. Although, I am aware in young boys and young girls comparison is quite the norm but does that mean as we mature we don’t let go of certain memories? I mean, do you want to hold onto the memory of what your dad’s penis looks like? Talk about awkward family dinners.

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(photo courtesey of Flickr)

But I know, you don’t want your intact son to wonder why his circumcised dad or older brother looks “different” right? If the situation ever presents itself where your child is asking why their body looks different, you could gently explain that as time goes on we gain information that educates us and changes the way we feel about things. Unfortunately, there will always be bullying at some point in life. Whether the bullying will be over braces, glasses, acne, weight, the list goes on and on. Does that mean we exhaust ourselves by trying to alter our children to “fit in?” Children questioning and wondering why Billy is “different” then Bobby or why Suzy is “different” from Sally is going to be an ongoing conversation, no matter the topic. We should focus more on teaching our children to hold their head up with confidence and know that we are all created perfectly, in His image, the way we were created to look. A chance of a child being made fun of who is left whole is slim to none. In 2010, a slide presented by a CDC researcher at the International Aids Conference claimed that circumcision rates in the United States had dropped to 32.5% in 2009. While this number was not actually endorsed by the CDC, their reports show circumcision rates have dramatically dropped over the years and in 2010 were at 54.7%. Either number you decide to go with, the results conclude the same answer: circumcision rates are dramatically decreasing in the United States with each following year. The reason these two rates differ is because some hospitals routinely or accidentally charge all parents of boys for circumcision even if they are not circumcised. This is only noticed though when a parent asks for an itemized bill, which many parents never do. With the percentage of circumcision continuing to decline, by the time our children are off in locker rooms, the minority will be the boys who have been cut. By the way, if the situation ever presents itself, my son will be sure to speak up and ask the little bully boy why he is starring at his penis long enough to even know what it looks like.

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(photo courtesey of Flickr)

 

I will never forget the feeling in my stomach after I processed this information. My head was spinning for days. The only thing I could replay in my head was “how am I going to go more then 9 months to ensure the proper health and safety of my beautiful baby boy only to hand him over hours after I bring him into this world to be cut on. To be cut on purely for a cosmetic surgery?” I was confused. I was angry. I was disgusted. I was empowered. I would firmly like to believe that every parent has their child’s best interest at heart. I am not here to judge or bring guilt to someone for their past, present or future decisions. I understand and realize that many parents decide to make the choice of listening to the advice of their doctors and trusting advice of others. I want to plant seeds and empower parents to make informed decisions and to help guide them to question the things that should be questioned. Question why 85% of the male population in the world is left whole, question the motive behind circumcision. Question if putting your son in unnecessary harms way is justified when the benefits are lacking. Before you arrive at a decision I highly suggest both parents watch a video of a circumcision being performed. I believe that in order to arrive at an educated decision each parent should be fully aware and fully informed of what your baby will be experiencing. You can watch a video here and also here to learn more about plastibell method which is the most common circumcision method in America.  (Please keep in mind not all circumcisions are performed with lidocaine. Some are performed with just a topical and some are performed with no use of a pain management. Also, please be aware that use of a pain management takes time to “kick in”. Many doctors do not allow enough time for the agent to begin working.) Don’t ever feel guilty for doing something that at the time you thought was in best interest. We only have the capability to make choices based upon the information we know and are given which is why shining light and speaking out about important issues is so crucial. Circumcision was always a topic I didn’t think I would ever talk about. It’s personal, it’s awkward, it’s sensitive. I never wanted to bring guilt into a mother’s heart over the shocking truth and motives behind circumcision. It’s then that I had an epiphany. What if I was the mother reading this after the fact? How would I feel? If me speaking up about something that can potentially be offensive means saving even one mother from future guilt and heartache or one baby from going through an unnecessary body modification then so be it. Why was it that it took me 24 years to question the one thing you just don’t think to question? Because its not talked about. No one tells you the risks, the lack of benefits and the history behind modern day American circumcision. You just do it and honestly, thats scary. Could you imagine a world where no one questioned a thing and never thought for themselves? Could you imagine a world where no one said “hey, here is some additional information on that topic. Look into it a bit so you fully know the background on that decision before making it.” Could you imagine a world where no one spoke up for the ones who can not speak? That is not the world I want my son to live in. My voice may tremble and my hands may shake but here I am and here I will be speaking up about a topic that is so “taboo”.

 

If you are interested in learning more on circumcision, click here for a great educational video.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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19 Comments

  1. You are a voice from God, and I thank you for being such a brave mother/women to inform others about something that is so “taboo” and never questioned !!! Very GOOD post !!!!!

    Reply

  2. My boys were born in Europe, where it was a big hassle/big expense to circumcise. Their father is also uncircumcised. When I briefly considered circumcision and discussed it with my husband, he was shocked that I brought up these issues of cleanliness/infection. These are things I had always heard and taken as fact, but there is little basis in reality. We ended up not circumcising, and the more I read and the more thankful I am for our decision. I hope readers will take time to think/research/pray about this issue, because it is one that will affect a boy for life. Mommypotamus has some good posts on this topic as well

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  3. Wow! This was awesome. I did not know a lot of this information especially including the info about masturbation and the creator of Kellogg cornflakes!!! That is jaw dropping! I am pregnant with my first son. After reading this article I was shocked and did a bit of digging myself… I showed this article to my husband and we have decided to NOT circumcise our son! Wow wow wow! Just wow… why are we not told these things more often??? I had no idea!! And no medical organization in the world including world health organization or american academy of pediatrics are not in favor of circumcision either??? Blown away…. So thankful I stumbled along this! GREAT JOB!!!!

    Reply

  4. Every time I read a post like this I cry. I cry because almost 4 years ago my son was circumcised, and I’m reminded of how much I regret it every time I read a post like this. The problem I faced was my husband. He wanted him circumcised (as he is). He had no other reason and did not want to hear any of the facts. In the end, I compromised since he compromises with me on most things. And now, here I stand almost 4 years later, still being tormented by that decision. The part that makes me sick to my stomach is that I’m sure it would not be the other way around had we chosen not to circumcise! I was so thankful when we found out our second was a girl, knowing that I wouldn’t have to face that again. Not sure what will happen if we have another little guy in the future… 🙁

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  5. You failed to include Islamic Circumcision in the Religion section. I was hoping to read more about it but it wasn’t there. Please also include discussion on circumcision at an older age, for example, boys aged 6-10, which also is widely practiced. How might that change things? Thank you!

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  6. If you have another little guy in the future DON’T circumcise! It’s as simple as that! Put your foot down. Have a backbone. Demand that the next baby boy you have is left intact. You won’t have any regrets from your next son if you stand up to your husband and TELL him NO CIRCUMCISION, end of discussion. And stand your ground.

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  7. THANK YOU for this post. I am so happy you took the time to write this! I was on the fence about it, but now you’ve got me thinking. It’s so true that in America we have become so numb because “everybody does it.”

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  8. This is a great article and I agree with you. I was wondering if you could supply a reference list. Thank you 🙂

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  9. As married people, we make decisions as a unit. That is not always easy. It’s not a matter of “backbone”–you were working on conjunction with your husband.
    While I agree with this post and am so thankful for the spread of knowledge, many of us are married to wonderful, circumcised men who are fine, functional males.Your son will be too; try to let go of the guilt.

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  10. Bless you. We have 3 cut boys and one intact one. If I’d read your article 26 years ago, none of our boys would be cut.

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  11. My 4 year old is also circumcised. I regret it terribly. I chose to leave my second son intact, and now BOTH my husband AND I are against circumcision. It took some time for him to come around and do his own research, and he had to deal with the reality that something important was stolen from him, but now he’d never force that onto his son! The cycle of abuse stops with us!

    http://www.moralogous.com/2013/07/22/real-stories-i-changed-my-mind-about-circumcision/

    Reply

  12. I just wanted to clarify something. Both male and female newborns are given the vitamin K shot. The purpose goes much further than just circumcision.
    Babies have very little vitamin K in their bodies at birth. Vitamin K does not cross the placenta to the developing baby, and the gut does not have any bacteria to make vitamin K before birth. After birth, there is little vitamin K in breast milk and breastfed babies can be low in vitamin K for several weeks until the normal gut bacteria start making it. Infant formula has added vitamin K, but even formula-fed babies have very low levels of vitamin K for several days.
    With low levels of vitamin K, some babies can have very severe bleeding – sometimes into the brain, causing significant brain damage.
    While I agree that it might sound disheartening to hear of your child receiving a synthetic product, you have to weigh the risks vs the benefits. As a neonatal nurse who has seen her fair share of neonatal brain bleeds and the effects left on the child, it was a no-brainer as to why we automatically give those to newborns.

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  13. Thank you do much for this wonderful post. After reading it, my husband and I did some serious research and soul-searching. We decided not to circumcise our little boy, who was born 9/30. I feel nothing but peace with our decision. In his short six days, we’ve already dealt with quite a bit of criticism from family members. I feel so blessed that your article came across my email, less than two weeks before he arrived! We’d already pre-paid for the procedure, without questioning it, because “it’s always done”. I can’t thank you enough. And I’m sure my precious son would thank you too!

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  14. love the article, except for your mortality stats near the end. many more children die in car crashes and from SIDS each year. What was your source of your numbers? I’d hate for someone to discredit your whole article due to a couple mistaken numbers 🙂

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  15. So good Leslie!

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  16. I only have little girls, so I haven’t had to face this issue head on yet, but this was extremely educational and informative. Thank you!

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  17. I decided not to circumcise my sons for all the same reasons. When my oldest son was 10, HE decided he would like to be circumcised. I took him to a urologist, who eventually did the surgery. Why do we let a gynecologist do this surgery! My son was under anesthesia and the urologist could take his time and actually used tiny stitches and did a much neater job. Because my son was 10, he took care of it himself and we did not need to worry about his penis being covered with the poop from a dirty diaper. Later his younger brother made the same decision when he was 9. They are now 36 and 31 and we are all happy with the decisions we made,

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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