Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Not The Same Thing

OK, so I fully expect that I may lose some followers on this point or offend some.  I know it.  I've been around my earthy-birthy peeps for a long time.  It's a topic, that when brought up at birth network meetings or childbirth educator or doula conferences, I politely excuse myself to the bathroom before my opinion is asked for.  But, as this blog is MY forum, I'm going to go out on a limb and share my opinion.  Please don't hate me.

The topic is circumcision.

Now, truly I do not care whether you circumcise your sons or not.  You can argue the merit or benefit of circumcision all day long.  It's medically a good idea vs. it's medically useless.  It's completely safe vs. it's potentially dangerous.  It's an outdated, antiquated practice vs. it's still relevant.  It's OK to practice only for religious reasons vs. it's never OK.  The debate can go on and on.

Those who are anti-circ or "intactivists" would make a lot more progress, however, if they left out the comparison to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  Those who would convince you not to circumcise use the comparison as their trump card.  "If you are against the female genital mutilation that happens in Africa then you have to be against the male genital mutilation that happens in the West."  They maintain that the two are the same and totally comparable.  I beg to differ.

Image from here.

First of all, FGM is always a means of controlling women and their sexuality.  In contrast, in all countries that widely practice circumcision, males are dominant.

Also, male circumcision rarely, if ever, has long-term medical consequences; FGM always does.

FGM removes at the very least part or all of the clitoris taking all pleasure out of intercourse.  (Often FGM removes even more than that.  Sometimes all outer genitalia is removed, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood to be released.)  Circumcised men still enjoy intercourse.

FGM damages the urinary tract leaving a woman with reoccurring infections and often very painful urination.  On the other hand, circumcised men have a slightly reduced rate of urinary tract infections.  And for men with reoccurring UTIs often circumcision is recommended by urologists.  

FGM can cause fertility problems, sometimes even making vaginal childbirth impossible, forcing women to undergo more risky c-sections.  Male circumcision does not effect fertility.

Male circumcision almost always takes place when the boy is still an infant (in Jewish tradition at 8 days old). If it occurs at an older age it is done under general anesthesia.  FGM happens at various ages, often in the teenage years.  And it is never done with anesthesia--neither general nor local.  

Infant circumcision heals very quickly.  If done at 8 days there is scarcely any bleeding at all.  This is because vitamin K peaks in a boy at 8 days, allowing for swift blood clotting.  Vitamin K is higher at 8 days old than it will be at any other time in his life.  FGM, which happens at a various ages, sometimes never full heals and is often re-injured and torn open when sexual intercourse does eventually occur.

Male circumcision is always carried out in a sterile environment, using medical grade tools.  FGM is typically carried out in an unsterile environment using everything from razors and scissors to fingernails and sharpened glass or rocks.  Sutures can be anything from agave or even thorns.   

Complications from male infant circumcision in the West are very rare. (from 0.2 to 0.6 %.  Source: "Report 10 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (I-99):Neonatal Circumcision". 1999 AMA Interim Meeting: Summaries and Recommendations of Council on Scientific Affairs Reports. American Medical Association. December 1999. pp. 17.)  In contrast around 10 percent of those subjected to FGM die of hemorrhage or shock. (Source: Van Zeller, Mariana. "Female Genital Cutting",Vanguard, Current TV, 31 January 2007.)

As you can see it's really not the same thing.  For intactivists to keep using this comparison belittles the atrocities committed against women all over the world through genital mutilation.  This is a very serious social injustice that deserves our outrage.  It is not at all comparable with male infant circumcision.

You can disagree with male infant circumcision, choose to keep your sons intact, and advocate better information and education regarding circumcision.  But, don't compare it to female genital mutilation, please. Women, we need to care more for our sisters than that.  To compare the two is not only bad science, it's disrespectful to women all over the world who have had this heinous thing done to them.  

Artwork from here.


Sue said...

I completely agree. How can anyone compare the two?! I don't get that at all. And, just for the record, our sons have not been circumcised, for the simple reason that it's not done here in Japan. Yes, we could have gone out of our way (and it would have been way out of our way) to find a doctor willing to do it, but we decided to let them be like Dad and all the other guys here. If they had been born in the US we may have decided differently.

Happy Elf Mom said...

Our boys are not circ'd because they are Gentiles. :)

And no, it is not the same thing in a boy or a girl, medically or culturally. I saw a link on fb about growing foreskin back with weird devices and I thought really, just why. You know? Just... why.

I would like to hear your opinion on male circumcision, though. It is not pushy to have an opinion.

Karen Joy said...

I 100% agree with you.

I only heard about FGM a few years ago and was completely appalled and grieved for all the girls and women who have had that inflicted upon them.

Then, when I next heard about it, it was in context of the male circ debate, with intactivists comparing the two. I had the SAME THOUGHTS. It's not the same, and it is beyond disrespectful to our sisters who have had this atrocity to say that it's the same. :(

My boys are circ'ed because my hubby wanted them to be. I had never given it much thought until I had to stand in the hall when my oldest was circ'ed (all of them done at 8 days... well, one was on the 9th, because the 8th day was a Sunday and we couldn't get into the doc)... It just seemed so sad and unnecessary to me. So, I can absolutely sympathize with families who choose not to circ, for whatever reason. But, the feeling is not mutual, in that most women who do not have their sons circ'ed think I'm a Bad Mom bordering on abusive, for having my sons circumcised. It is baffling to me -- and does seem like a destructive distraction -- why so many in the natural childbirth community can get *SO* caught up in the argument.

Sheri said...

Thanks for sharing. This needs to be shared.

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