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Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Regarding Circumcision" A mans view

Let's face it, women do 90%  of the homework when it comes to pregnancy, birth and raising children.  Then we filter down the "need to know" stuff to our male partners, usually in small, easy to swallow pieces that won't cause undue choking, or cause their eyes to glaze over.  .... well, that's how it all started in our house anyway.  Now my husband is as much of a Lactivist as I am and probably knows more about natural childbirth than the average Obstetrician!  But some subjects are harder to talk about than others.  Yes we can prep them for Labour & Birth with instructions like:  If a doctor even mentions the word "Episiotomy" , they are to flex their biceps and growl menacingly "NO!".  And after the Birth: If any medical personnel tries to interfere with mother and baby while they are bonding skin to skin, Ditto to the flexing and growling.  (my husband is particularly good at the flexing and intimidating medical staff!).  But what if you need to talk about the dreaded  "C" word?


It's a tough subject to bring up.  To begin with, if you've been educating yourself about Male Circumcision, you've probably already viewed the pictures and videos, and having been completely emotionally wrung out by the very thought of someone doing THIS to your baby....well, it's hard to discuss it with any emotional detachment  or without throwing a sobbing fit.

I Highly recommend reading these articles:

regarding circumcision and intactness - the writings of vincent bach by Vincent Bach

 Vincent writes about circumcision from a mans  perspective, discussing   The Science of Circumcision

and   The Bias of The American Academy of Pediatrics    But his discussion of  The Vulnerability of Men  Is an excellent look at the emotional and psychological  issues of discussing Circumcision with a man who IS circumcised:

"I see on the boards many times where a pregnant wife is frustrated when attempting to discuss the issue with her circumcised husband. She wants to leave her son intact but he won’t listen to reason. Well, the rest of this article is written specifically to try and offer some insight and suggestions for those ladies. I hope it helps someone. As an intact man who grew up and has lived among circumcised men, I think I have some insight into what drives their behavior on the issue of circumcision. Of course this doesn’t apply to all of them, but I think my generalizations may be useful for you in dealing with this issue with your husband.
First of all, you need to understand that circumcised men are cornered on this issue. They were circumcised without their consent and have no inherent knowledge of what being intact is like. Even though they rarely will discuss the issue, they are keenly aware that they have been surgically altered in a very private way. There are several ways for a man to deal with this issue but the safest way, psychologically speaking, is to believe at all cost that the surgery performed on them was an enhancement and is preferred by women. Confirmation of this belief is essential to their sexual self-image. Do I need to tell you that sexual self-image is a major issue for men? Didn’t think so.
Now put yourself in the shoes of the circumcised man. He asks for very little. All he wants is football on Sunday and to be assured that there is nothing wrong with his package. A nice bonus would be that women actually prefer it the way it is. Then along comes the newly pregnant wife and the issue of circumcision is no more personal to her than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she starts openly discussing it with him with all the casualness that she would with her gal pals down at the salon. Yikes! Batten down the hatch. Incoming torpedo!!!! At first the strategy is to dismiss her without appearing to be alarmed. He’ll probably toss back the usual "It's not clean" or "That could cause health problems" hoping this will scare her off since he assumes she’s heard those things before. He won’t seem particularly disturbed at first. Its part of being a man to not show vulnerability.
If this doesn’t work and the wife mentions that she heard otherwise, he’ll be shifting uncomfortably in his chair just a little but still keep his cool. At this point he may try plan B which is to make fun of you for your silly ideas. Maybe make a joke about turtlenecks. If you persist, he’ll bring out the ol’ "I want him to be like me" knowing you women are suckers for us men when we talk of bonding and emotional attachment - any kind. Finally, if this doesn’t work, he’s probably going to relate some made up or exaggerated story from his school days when some uncircumcised kid at school was teased mercilessly until he circ’d himself right in the middle of Shop class. The resulting low mark the kid received in Shop kept him out of Harvard and he had to settle for a life as a carnival worker. Do you REALLY want that for your son?
If you haven’t given in by this time, he is probably now showing signs of agitation. You’re close to getting the ol’ "I have the penis so I have the last word!" Most men won’t go beyond this point in the discussion. They will clam up and refuse to discuss it any more. If he’s particularly panicked, he’ll probably enlist the help of sympathetic family members or friends to weigh in on what a mistake it would be not to circumcise your son."...
Going into the discussion, you’ll be much better off knowing what’s really bothering him. Trust me, he really doesn’t give a hooey whether his son’s penis looks like his. What is important is that his bulb is not dimmed. Probably not a good idea to refer to the practice in initial discussions as genital mutilation (although it certainly is that). The thing that you need to get across to him with all your female charm is that you love him EXACTLY the way he is and wouldn’t change a thing. In other words, I think the best strategy is probably to build him up as high as you can before lowering this boom on him. The ship can only take a hit so big before going under. So get your armor out and start fortifying his self-image. What means everything to him is that he is the best lover and provider that you could ever hope for. "
 So if you're concerned about having this difficult discussion with your other half, I highly recommend reading the above articles.... and maybe having him read The Daddy Experience
It's a touchy subject, but you owe it to your future sons to have this discussion Now, before the whirlwind of birth.