This post was written by N.O.R.M. North Houston coordinator Eric Smith (known to this blog as The Designated Dad). We both receive questions from parents who regretfully had their sons circumcised and want to know if they can or should attempt to restore his foreskin. The following information addresses this question.
For a reminder about what foreskin restoration is and how it can benefit men, read about it here, here, and here.
Image courtesy Saving Our Sons
Here we gathered, sixty four of us. All affected by circumcision in one way or another, the lucky among us protected from the worst of its damage. Sixty four of us prepared to deliver the message that natural bodies are normal, healthy, and beneficial; to leave the alteration for medical necessity or personal consent.
We were here for Genital Integrity Awareness Week — which, in the great fortune of the 2017 calendar — happened to fall on the same week that female genital cutting was outlawed in the U.S. twenty years ago.
For the past two decades, baby girls have been protected from threat to their genital integrity, but their brothers, sons, nephews and grandsons are still routinely cut in barbaric fashion. Some die, and the rest bear the telltale scar forever.
Image courtesy Saving Our Sons
It was perhaps the first beautiful day of the season and hardly anyone showed up. The morning was slow, and though I was grateful to spend a few hours outside without nearly fainting from the usually oppressive Texas heat, we had come here to talk to people… a lot of people.
The turnout did remain slight all day, but the conversations we had were meaningful. Even those who seemed to think they had no personal history with circumcision certainly had plenty to say… or plenty left unsaid, for now.
At the end of the day, though I did feel somewhat frustrated, confused and deflated, I walked away feeling mostly just thankful. The best part is, I know I wasn’t the only one.
We changed minds last weekend. I actually saw the process happen.
Sometimes like this: a pregnant mother walks up, admits she hasn’t researched circumcision and has no opinion on it, is told there’s no medical indication for routine circumcision, and walks off with her eyes glued to a handful of information she just received.
And sometimes like this: a mother of circumcised boys walks up, her attention caught by “117+ boys die” written on a frame, says “I didn’t know any of this when my boys were born,” is told “I’m so sorry,” and assures us “Don’t be sorry! You are doing a good thing. Tell EVERYONE.”
It was clear our message was supported, even by many of those who were hearing it for the very first time.
We wanted people to know about babies. That all babies want to remain whole. That babies of both sexes are equally “too cute to cut.” We wanted people to know about foreskin. That foreskin is normal. That its absence is a big deal.
We had a message about parents, too. We want to help you. We support you. We have answers.
The lovely Pat Jones of the Whole Mother Show (90.1 KPFT) asked if I’d like to be interviewed for a live episode about routine infant circumcision. It was to be with local doula Debbie Hull, along with my Intact Houston co-director Abbie who’d offered to join me. I was so excited to be there (a little nervous, but mostly excited and actually feeling well-prepared!).
Here are twelve questions we don’t often think to ask about circumcision.
Last weekend I hosted a Peaceful Parenting table for Intact Houston/Intact Texas, local chapters for Saving Our Sons (the not-for-profit organization Peaceful Parenting/Dr. Momma‘s focus on circumcision).
My challenge was to include genital autonomy as one crucial component of the peaceful parenting lifestyle … without calling it by name.
I had spoken with a marketing director at my local Babies ‘R’ Us about setting up inside the store to hand out information. After browsing the Dr. Momma web site, she said she’d love to have us there. In fact, as a company they’re very welcoming toward many of the topics mentioned, she explained. Ones like co-sleeping, breastfeeding (they hold regular classes there for newbies) and child-led weaning, babywearing (regular classes at Babies ‘R’ Us for this too), encouragement of gentle discipline and alternatives to punitive parenting (i.e. spanking and crying-it-out) and so on.
But…(there’s always a but, isn’t there?)