Well, what’s making me feel so nauseated? It all started when I was pregnant. And no, it wasn’t morning sickness.
I was just a few weeks pregnant, thinking about my future baby boy or girl. And I thought to myself, Well, if we have a boy, he’s going to have to get circumcised. My husband is Jewish…. it just wasn’t something you questioned.
…wasn’t something you questioned.
I immediately became skeptical of myself. Why am I NOT questioning circumcision? I question everything in my life, from having children, to eating animal products, to the origin of the coffee I had with my breakfast. Clearly, I needed to do some research.
So I did some researching. And the more I researched, the more I felt that sick feeling in my stomach. It turns out that no medical organization in the U.S., or anywhere else in the world for that matter, deems circumcision as a medically necessary surgery. I didn’t even realize that it was a surgery before I did my research, but it IS a surgery. And like all surgeries, it comes with risks. Even potential death.
“Surgical removal of the foreskin involves immobilizing the baby by strapping him face-up onto a molded plastic board. In one common method, the doctor then inserts a metal instrument under the foreskin to forcibly separate it from the glans, slits the foreskin, and inserts a circumcision device. The foreskin is crushed and then cut off. The amount of skin removed in a typical infant circumcision is the equivalent of 15 square inches in an adult male.” (from intactamerica.org)
I was beginning to feel nauseous. Very nauseous. But just like when I began to learn the truth about animal agriculture, I knew I couldn’t just ignore this information I was reading. I did more research. I read how the analgesics used during infant circumcisions do not eliminate the pain felt. It is still an incredibly painful procedure.
A painful surgery that isn’t medically necessary? On my son’s genitals!? This sounded nightmarish. I began to realize that maybe the reason more than half of all American newborn males were still being circumcised wasn’t because it was a lifesaving, medically necessary procedure. It’s more about tradition. About fitting in. About wanting to look like dad.
Well, my husband and I are not ones to just go with the popular consensus just because it’s popular. If we did that, we’d be eating cheeseburgers for dinner tonight (We are eating cheeseburgers for dinner tonight, actually. But the burgers are made from quinoa, and the cheese is made from coconuts!) So I sat down with my husband and presented him with my research.
Now, my husband is Jewish. He’s not religious. He’s a secular Jew. A “Jon Stewart” Jew, we joke in our house. But he’s still Jewish, and we celebrate Jewish holidays, and read Jewish history, and sit Shiva when a family member dies. We make Yiddish jokes. Many parts of Judaism are important to us, and as I sat there, pregnant with our child, we looked forward to sharing those holidays and Yiddish jokes with this little person we were going to welcome into our family. It just felt so very un-Jewish to be questioning circumcision, one of those Jewish traditions that seemed so set in stone. But that’s exactly what we were doing.
In the end, after reading all the facts, we came to a conclusion: circumcision was not something that we were going to elect for our child. We feel that it is a cruel, painful, unnecessary procedure, and putting a baby through something like that just didn’t mesh with our family’s core values. We decided that our family believes in body autonomy, and that unless a painful procedure was medically necessary and lifesaving, that we would not be performing them on our child. And to us, circumcision certainly fell into this category.
Does this mean our child would not be Jewish? To some, yes. But in all honesty, having a non-Jewish mother technically means you’re not Jewish at all, so we aren’t exactly concerned with what religion our child is labeled. We’re not big fans of religion anyway, since religion teaches you not to question things. We are, however, big fans of heritage. We’re happy to teach him about his ancestors and Jewish roots. He’ll also be learning about his Italian, Irish, and German heritage, too.
Does this mean our child won’t look like his father? Well, as most of you know, our baby has been around for a few months now. And guess what?! He doesn’t look like his father. He doesn’t have the same hair, or the same nose, or the same mouth. Sure, there are parts of him that resemble his dad. He has his dad’s dark brown eyes, and soft eye creases that turn up when he smiles. He has his dad’s olive skin. But no, he is not a clone of his father. They look different. That’s how genetics works, you guys. So we really don’t think it’s a big deal that they don’t look exactly the same “down there.”
I’m really proud of my husband for supporting this choice, for doing research with me, and for going against the grain. He is the one who taught me about animal cruelty, and inspired me to go vegan, and I’m glad that I could teach him about this. I know people may think he was forced into this decision by his crazy crunchy hippie wife, but he and I know we both made this choice for our child together, as a team. I’m really, really happy that we chose to leave our son intact. Every time I look at our perfectly healthy son, I can’t help but think of how much I love him. And how I never want him to suffer. And how I just couldn’t imagine putting him in pain, and removing a sensitive body part, if we didn’t have to.
We’re a cruelty free family. We don’t kill and eat animals. We don’t steal their milk. We don’t wear dead animals skins or fibers. We don’t breed or buy animals. We don’t force animals to perform. We don’t perform experiments on innocent beings. We don’t support slavery. We don’t support the destruction of the planet. We don’t scream at our children. We don’t spank our children. And we also don’t cut our children.