Posts Tagged ‘ circumcision ’

Dadvice #7: A Skeptic’s Letter To Intactivists

Friday, March 30th, 2012

16 months.

Dear Intactivists,

I have enjoyed this past week or so as we’ve debated “pro-circumcision vs. Intactivism.” You all have enlightened me. I respect your cause. In fact, I would like to officially crown you the winner.

You win, in the sense that I now see “staying intact” as a legitimate and respectable alternative to circumcision.

You win, in the sense that you seized the opportunity to use the comments sections of both Dadvice #5: How Is It Natural To Circumcise Your Son? and Dadvice #6: Is Circumcision Unnecessary And/Or Immoral to inform not just me, but anyone curious enough to watch our debate, with a plethora of knowledge that we normally would not have exposure to.

You win, in the sense that you have proven that Intactivists can make a powerful presence and be very persuasive.

(In regards to me being curious to hear from those who oppose circumcision but are pro-choice regarding abortion, I realize now that was completely fruitless. I forget that those who are pro-choice don’t regard a fetus as a human life because of the technicality that he or she hasn’t either passed through the birth canal or been surgically removed via C-section. So you’re right; there’s really no comparison.)

In the end, however, I am still sticking to my beliefs on why I personally support circumcision, for the very reasons I have already explained. So while you did win the debate for the world to see, you didn’t win me over.

That’s not a lack on your part; you can’t help my resoluteness.

Throughout our debate, I have asked professionals (doctors, medical students, and an owner of a day care) for their personal takes on the necessity of circumcision; not hinting at my own stance before inquiring them. All their experience-based answers reflected my own beliefs.

If not, I would have been willing to change my mind on this.

Therefore, I believe it’s fair to say that I have been pretty open-minded to what is a new concept for me: Intactivism.

And I guess that’s what bothers me about Intavistism. I don’t see how as its subscribers you are open-minded to any other viewpoint on this: Either all or nothing.

It’s been made pretty clear to me now that unless I vow to circumcise my next (yet to be conceived or born) son, then I am ultimately making a selfish, prideful, self-serving, immoral choice.

Go back and read all the comments on those two posts. Notice how few Intactivists had any words or even tones of encouragement. (Some did.)

But for the most part, I was shouted at (indicated by ALL CAPS, re-occuring italics and exclamation points!) and spoken to in a sharply condescending tone.

It has been demonstrated to me that in the blogosphere, Intactivists have power in their large presence, but overcompensate their passion and zeal in a way that comes across as bullying. Yes, bullying.

Not that I am offended. I instead find the whole thing to be such a curious event.

I am convinced that the comments left on a blog post can easily send a stronger message than the one the actual author writes. The way the majority of Intactivists have chosen to represent themselves, as a whole, is clear for anyone (including those readers who pondering Intactivism) to go back and read.

I think with a better bedside manner, Intactivists could really get their point across in a way that is not so loud that we “cutters” can not hear it. I question your approach, not your morality or your competence; like I feel you have done towards me.

That’s my constructive criticism; though again, ultimately, the way Intactivists have represented themselves in my comments sections is not the reason for my refusal to convert.

This is not an emotional experience for me. It is for you. I think that’s where the disconnect is between us.

Sincerely, I thank you for what I have learned about circumcision from you. These deep discussions have indirectly caused me to think of other hot button issues (or at least strangely moral ones) like “how young is too young to medicate a child for ADHD and/or depression?” (Obviously, I’ll be publishing that one soon, along with one about how questioning if surgical birth control, getting snipped, is like playing God.)

No matter what, we’re still cool. I enjoy being your frenemy. Let me know the next time you’re in Nashville; I’ll let you buy me a Starbucks.

 

Your Open-minded, Yet Barbarically Cut Fellow Parent,

Nick Shell

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Dadvice #6: Is Circumcision Unnecessary And/Or Immoral?

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

16 months.

In this anticipated sequel to “Dadvice #5: How Is It Natural To Circumcise Your Son?” my goal is to answer whether or not it’s necessary to circumcise your son, and more importantly, whether it is morally wrong to do so.

Interestingly, I never would have been asking myself these questions today if it weren’t for the overwhelming number of comments I received in such a short amount of time regarding my personal view on circumcision.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing I learned through this process is that there exists a passionate, underground movement known as “Intactivists” who strongly oppose circumcision and references to Wikipedia.

I didn’t realize I was participating in a debate with them nor was I aware of their existence until I wrote about the hot topic last week.

The way I see it, I’m nothing more than the blog version of a talk show host whose job it it is to initiative engaging conversations. I simply pitch the issue to the crowd, accented in my personal angle, then I step back and see if anyone joins in the from there.

So while Wikpedia is obviously not the most professional, legitimate source for the medical aspect of circumcision, I do find it to be the best source to catch a glimpse of what main social perception of it is.

Because after all, this isn’t simply a medical issue. That’s not why people are fired up about it. Instead, it’s incredibly personal and social.

Normally, I always credit the winner of a debate to the side that refrains from getting overly emotional, shouting (ALL CAPS is the blog equivalent), speaking in a condescending tone, and attempting to prove that the opponent’s moral character is flawed.

And while many of the Intactivists did those exact things, I still think they won the debate. Yes, that’s right, Intactivists. I think you won.

By “won,” I mean that you made my reasoning of pro-circumcision seem to be about as legitimate as the illegalization of marijuana.

The way you to got to me was by showing me that circumcision is not necessary, despite it being “normal” here in the United States. I now agree that there is a lack of overwhelming evidence that circumcision prevents a plethora of health concerns.

Something my previous Dadvise post exemplified was that A) my suspicion of possible health concerns along with B) a peculiar fascination for the commandment for circumcision from God to Abraham (regarding Jews, not Christians) both seem to represent a lot of Americans and why they un-passionately (and maybe even carelessly) say yes to circumcising their sons.

But wait, there’s more…

As I’ve talked to friends and coworkers about why they chose to circumcise their sons, I got the same answer every time: ”I was circumcised and I’m fine, so I didn’t really think about it. I just had my son circumcised too.”

I asked one of my doctor friends in Houston for his take on if circumcision is necessary and I think he summed up it up perfectly: “There are medical benefits but I think it’s still more personal preference and psychosocial than medical.”

Because honestly, why else is circumcision the norm here in America?

He’s right: the psychosocial factor possibly has everything to do with it. I suspect I will be mauled in the comments section for being this honest, but here it is:

I don’t want my son to be the only one who is uncircumcised in the locker room.

And while stones are being thrown at me, here’s another thing:

Even if I ever decided that circumcision is totally pointless (not just unnecessary), if I ever had another son I would have him circumcised too because I wouldn’t either son to have to feel so confused about himself compared to his brother.

My stance: I don’t believe circumcision is necessary, nor do I believe it is morally wrong. (I can’t believe it is morally wrong because God Himself commanded it; even though only for the Hebrew people.)

That’s right; I stand by my decision to circumcise my son (16 months ago, as if I could change that now) yet I recognize that circumcision is not necessary. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

Here’s what I’m really curious about, though. I wonder if there are any readers out there who oppose circumcision but are pro-choice regarding abortion?

I would love to hear that reasoning. Welcome to the Debate Club.

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Dadvice #5: How Is It Natural To Circumcise Your Son?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

16 months.

Though usually this series is for readers asking my unprofessional and unlicensed opinion as a dad, today’s episode is a strange exception. I will simply be responding to a good question asked by a reader of Dadvice #4: Would You Recommend Using A Midwife? when he left this comment:

“You chose to have ‘a natural as possible delivery’ but still chose to circumcise your son? There’s NOTHING natural about a circumcision…where’s the disconnect?”

You’re right. For a guy who is so self-proclaimed “natural” when it comes to medicine and food and lifestyle in general, it appears to be a double standard that I would force circumcision upon my son who was incapable of making that decision himself.

So how is circumcision natural? It’s not.

And that’s the whole point: Circumcision is not natural.

I do believe in the hype and subscribe to the dogma that circumcision is “cleaner” and prevents urinary track infections and all that good stuff that has not necessarily been clearly proven. I’m aware of all the arguments for and against circumcision: I read them all on Wikipedia today.

But for me, my support of circumcision is a personal one: It has to do with Biblical teachings. As I’m sure you know, circumcision goes back to a covenant between God and Abraham; a commandment for the Jews. From there, it also has become popular among Muslims and Christians.

In particular though, why would a Christian Gentile such as myself observe a commandment so blatantly Jewish? Why pick and choose certain parts of the Jewish law to observe when the Apostle Paul in the New Testament made it pretty clear that Christians do not have to eat kosher food or become circumcised?

With me being Mr. Natural and all, I pay special attention to the Old Testament concerning random commandments God gave to the Jews; because sometimes though not specifically mentioned, it has something to do with health.

He instructed them not to eat pork and shellfish; which are extremely low on the food chain.

God didn’t point out the fact that that eating pork would be the leading cause of people getting intestinal parasites, but it is. Why are so many people allergic to shellfish? Because they are the bottom feeders of the ocean; they are slightly toxic.

Why did God tell His people not to eat milk products with beef? Because, as a Jewish man from Israel explained it to me one time, eating the two together in the same meal slows down digestion and promotes constipation.

So two and a half years ago, I converted to a kosher diet(That eventually led me to become a vegetarian.)

Similarly, I believe circumcision is like that. God didn’t make this commandment for His people in the name of health; but ultimately I think that has a lot to do with it.

Back to my point at the beginning, circumcision is not natural. Instead, it’s man’s recognition of God’s instruction and intervention.

And I think that concept has everything to do with faith in God: As a believer, I am constantly having to make a conscious decision to go against my own selfish desires; like choosing to love my neighbor as myself.

That is not natural.

Sure, ultimately I try to be as natural as I can. Unless I feel that there’s something health-wise I can learn by observing God’s random commandments with the Jewish people; though as a Christian, it’s not necessary I do so.

Yeah, I know: I’m kinda weird.

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Baby Boot Camp

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Week 1.

Regarding immediate life in the home front and finding a method to the madness, my wife and I are starting to get things figured out.  When Jack needs a diaper change, I put in his pacifier, “shush” him, and place my right hand over his chest while my wife handles the dirty business, delicately cleaning around his healing circumcised penis and belly button (similar to playing the Operation board game by Milton Bradley).  Regarding sleep schedules, my wife has come up with this gracious plan: On weeknights, I sleep in the guest bedroom on a futon bed from midnight until 6 AM for 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, then I get ready to leave for work.  When I arrive home 12 hours later, I do whatever my wife needs me to, including but not limited to rocking him, holding him, and helping with the feedings.  But during the weekends, I pretty much just take naps when I can.

Yes, this is my new normal.  I look at the situation for my wife and I as “baby boot camp”.  We are being broken down to the point now where we see two hour naps as a valuable prize, as sleep becomes the new currency in life.  Though so many people have told us the “sleep when the baby sleeps” rule, he inconveniently sleeps between 4:30 and 8:00 PM, a time slot where I am always widest awake and eating dinner.  Hopefully keeping him awake during this time will push back his schedule enough to ensure better sleep time for his parents.

I figure if we can make it through the difficulties of breastfeeding and learning to deal with sleep deprivation, we can officially handle all else that will come our way in raising him.  So I remind myself that every good and present father has been through this too.  I look at parenting as a necessary rite of passage for myself as a human being.  It’s something I was meant to do in order to fully serve my purpose here on Earth; never really knowing all the positive chain-reacting side-effects that my influence on him will cause in the world.  Deep.


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Baby Jack is Born!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Born on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 8:50 PM

22 hours 20 minutes of labor

8 pounds 6 ounces

20 ½ inches long

Head full of black hair

There is only one person who directly assured me back before we knew the gender of our baby that he would be a boy.  That was Tommy Huong, a Vietnamese co-worker who had already predicted the gender and birthday of another coworker (he has evidently memorized the 12 year patterns of the Chinese calendar).  So last Friday (the day after the due date) when someone at work suggested we all do a “baby pool” to predict when Baby Jack would actually be born, a better idea instantly surfaced:Go ask Tommy!

I ventured over to his desk and as he turned around it was as if he already knew why I was there, being that he was too far away to have heard the recent conversation.  “When was the due date?” he asked me.  “Yesterday,” I answered.  Tommy turned to his calendar and without any hesitation, placed his finger on Tuesday, November 16th.  “Tuesday, he will be born Tuesday.”

So we enjoyed the weekend.  Then I worked a full day on Monday.  That night around 8:45, my wife said I should finish the last two episodes of Dexter on the disc from Netflix so we could mail it off the next day- and so I have could time to watch my new favorite show before our schedules became forever changed.  I watched my two 50 minute episodes of Dexter, walked to the bedroom in perfect time to hear my wife proclaim, “I think I’m in labor.”  And she was.

From 10:30 Monday night until 5:11 Tuesday morning, she labored at the house.  Then we drove in the rain to the hospital; a 40 minute ride.  After laboring for 12 hours without any pain medications, she then pushed for four more additional hours while not furthering past the 8 centimeters mark (and 100% effaced).  By that point, it became clear that after making it that far, she no longer had the strength to push without some outside help.  So my wife chose to get an epidural.  Because ultimately, we wanted to do everything we could do to avoid major surgery.

But even after several hours of the epidural, it took everything she had to push our baby out.  In fact, if it weren’t also for the diligence and determination of the midwives to honor our request of avoiding a C-section, cutting the baby out of my wife’s stomach would have been the only option.  But the midwives tried every trick in the book, and finally, it worked.  In the end, Baby Jack turned out to be one big Bambino.  The first words my wife said when she saw him coming out was, “You’re a big baby!  How did you fit inside of me?!”

I realize that the expected Hallmark way to portray the first time I held Jack is to say that I cried, as the emotions surrounding the miracle of life flushed through me.  But for the fact all my emotions were exhausted from helping my wife suffer through over 22 hours of labor, here’s what I thought instead: “You’re darker than us!  If anyone should be Mario, it’s you!”

I’ll explain.  A few months ago I told the story of how the name my parents gave me while my mom was still pregnant with me was Mario.  My mom is half Italian and half Mexican, and therefore, dark skinned.  The name Mario would not only have represented my dark skin, but also cover both my Italian and Mexican heritage.  But as soon as I was born, my pasty skin and seemingly American features brought cause for a name change.  Therefore, a few hours after I was born, I was named Nicholas- a less ethnic name that still points to some kind of a foreign background.

So 29 years later as I held my own son for the first time, I had the opposite reaction from the one my mom had when I was born.  Because as of now, Baby Jack doesn’t necessarily especially look like my wife or me, but instead what I would imagine Super Mario would have looked like when he was first born.  One of Jack’s noticeable features his full head of black hair.  I think he has “Gerber baby” lips.  And as I have already studied his profile multiple times, it’s safe to say he has an Italian nose- which I am so proud of!

My parents holding their first grandchild for the first time.

Right before we were released from the hospital, Jack was circumcised.  I felt really bad for him, yet at the same time realized that I don’t remember my own circumcision.  It’s still sad to think about him having to go through that though.  He’s holding up just fine and so is his mommy, despite a drawn out entrance into this world.  God has answered all of our prayers for his and my wife’s safety and health; we are so grateful for that.  The pediatrician at the hospital told us that she checked him from head to toe and couldn’t find anything that needing fixing or reason for caution or concern.

Jack is a cool baby, if I do say so myself.  He’s pretty low maintenance- he just wants to be held all the time.  But I’m guessing we won’t have trouble working that out.  Thanks for following dad from dad one, so far.  If life is a sitcom, this is the season finale.  The new season premieres next week where I am promising an interesting new plot twist…


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