The Unkindest Cut

Overheard at lunch

Setting: Two women chowing down in the cafeteria at work. One is hugely pregnant in her late 20s/early 30s. The other is somewhere in her mid 40s maybe, not pregnant as far as I can see. I’m waiting for someone near their table and I sort of hear them talking about babies and giving birth. This seems to be the hugely pregnant one’s first. I’m not really paying attention until:

Hugely Pregnant One: “Oh, and they’re going to charge us like a hundred and fifty bucks for the circumcision.”

Other One: (laughs) “Well, you’re not going to do it are you?”

Hugely Pregnant One: “YES! Of course!”

Other One: “Okaaaayyyy. Why? It’s not a religious thing or anything is it?”

Hugely Pregnant One then goes on to explain how totally gross uncircumcised penises are and how they never get clean and how the first time she saw one she almost gagged….long story about some boyfriend and how when she finally saw him naked she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with his penis because it didn’t look right and how he told her why and how she liked him and everything, but she couldn’t… you know…go through with it… And then they broke up. And anyway her husband is circumcised and they wouldn’t want the baby to look different from his dad.

The Other One looks like she’s not much interested in finishing her lunch and just wants to go back to work.

I really, really wanted to wade into this discussion, but I didn’t. I brought it here instead.

Things I Know & Things I Want to Know

  • I know in North America this used to be a routine procedure once upon a time, but I thought they’d stopped doing circumcisions a few decades ago except for medical, cultural or religious reasons?
  • Are people still having their baby sons circumcised for non-medical, cultural or religious reasons like:  so they’ll look like their dad? (although, in my experience young boy’s penis rarely looks like his dad’s regardless of the state of their respective foreskins)
  • I’ve heard there are men who are having their circumcisions reversed because they feel they were mutilated at birth.
  • I knew a guy once who, at age 25, went and had himself circumcised because he and/or it didn’t feel right the way it was.
  • Do women really have such strong preferences one way or another?
  • Do guys actually get rejected because they do or do not have a foreskin?
  • I understand anti-circumcision groups like, HOOP (Hands Off Our Penises) are gaining strength and numbers and are trying to outlaw the practice altogether except when medically necessary.  Even some religions are starting to do away with the practice. Generally, though you don’t really hear much about this topic. Is it really a big deal for men?
  • Does having or not having a foreskin make any difference in the (sex) lives of men and/or the people who partner them?
  • And, what do they do with the leftover foreskins after they’re snipped off?

Me, I would never have dreamed of having bits of my son hacked off at birth — if I’d had a son. And having had up close and personal experiences with at least one example from each camp, I can’t say I have a strong preference one way or another, though as a rule, I tend to lean toward the natural look in most things.