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Forsake The Forskin Vs Tolerate the Turtle-neck

(290 Posts)
UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 02:47:59

When our DC arrives (approx 4months) should we be blessed with a boy (we don't know/want to know) , my partner (Jewish) would like to perform Brit milah on DS. This ceremony must occur 8 days after birth. My folks (Muslim) would also appreciate possible future grandson being foreskin free for similar but slightly different religious purposes. I am not particularly religious and nor is my partner (hence marrying out)

I was circumcised at the age of twelve and have clear (though not painful) memories of the event (carried out by Muslim surgeon at home along with my two younger brothers) Do remember being a little scared and i suppose it might have been a bit of an ordeal... Do have at least one amusing anecdote from it so i can't be that scarred surely?

Despite my own experience I don't like the idea at all. my first instinct is to put it off until later in the hope that everyone will just forget... i mean how often do you think about someone else's foreskin? There are some health benifits, among them; significantly reduced risk of HIV, HPV and also reduced incidence of genital warts among circumcised men. These are not enough to swing my opinion. Now my folks may be cool with leaving it until later since they themselves left it until i was a little older, but she is adamant we have it performed after 8 days (as per Brit Milah tradition)

AIBU to want to make a fuss about this? perhaps i should just cross my fingers and hope for a girl. We shall call her Queenie and she defo won't need to go for a chop thanks. I'd like a girl anyhow and it would make it easier for sure... since this is the case we're bound to wind up with a boy. Comments, Opinions, and possible strategies please!

Cheers people.

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 02:55:13

Bollocks misspelled FORESKIN in the title. blush

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Sun 07-Aug-11 03:03:28

Wonderful thread title. Have you read 'Foreskin's Lament' by Shalom Auslander? It's an autobiography of the faith journey of a man (albeit himself Jewish) considering whether or not to circumcise his soon-to-arrive son. I won't give the ending away...

AgentZigzag Sun 07-Aug-11 03:26:19

You've got a very unusual (if that's the word?) way of writing Usless.

I can't really comment on the circumcision bit because I don't know that much about it and I know some people have very strong reactions to it.

But from a parental point of view, i would feel uncomfortable at pressuring DH somehow (even if I wasn't aware I was doing it) to do something important concerning the DC that he wasn't 100% happy with and wasn't able to say.

Your situation is even more complicated by you saying neither of you are particularly religious and your families may have certain expectations.

How do you think you'd feel if you said nothing and it went ahead? Would your doubts turn into resentment towards your wife, or regret at keeping quiet? Or is it indifference rather than doubt and the event would fade into the background as a short time in a DC life?

It's a difficult one for sure, and like you say, would all be resolved by having a DD smile

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 03:57:42

breastmilkdoesafablatte just ordered a copy. fairly fast reader so unless it's huuuuge i'll let you now how i get soon. agentzigzag I would never resent my partner for something i allowed to happen without speaking up. Fighting this on two or possibly three fronts (Partner, folks in law and my folks also) is daunting to say the least. I suppose getting it dealt with early means the poor tyke wont remember the event. something in my gut keeps asking why we should expose our child to cold sharpened steel when there is no real medical reason to do so. it feels wrong. if it happens, i'm sure i'd get over it. probably in around the same time is DS would heal up. does anyone think that i am being a little precious?

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 03:58:50

sorry let you know not let you now. duh! blush

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 04:33:42

bollocks that line should read:
breastmilkdoesafablatte just ordered a copy. fairly fast reader so unless it's huuuuge i'll let you Know how i get on soon. spelling and grammar are not my strong points

QueenStromba Sun 07-Aug-11 05:55:17

I would say that if in doubt don't give your son an unnecessary operation.

Thumbwitch Sun 07-Aug-11 06:10:35

It's a bit of a tricky one, isn't it? DH is foreskinless (Irish Catholic father insisted both boys were done, shortly after birth I believe) and thought that it would be a good idea to get DS done. That is until we asked about it at the doc's and got told it's not considered a good idea any more and that we might have to pay £100 to get it done privately, at which point he caved.

However, he has no faith at all - was trying to do it really because he thought it was the "done" thing to do.

Why is it so important to your DW? You said she's not particularly religious either, is she being pressured from her parents? Although sometimes residual articles of faith stick with you, even when you're not overtly practising - I wanted DS to be christened because it was important to me - DH as I said has no faith and didn't really want it to be done but if it HAD to be then he wanted a Catholic christening. I couldn't agree to that because I wasn't going to stand in front of a priest and lie to him - I wasn't going to bring DS up as a Catholic because I'm not one, and DH has no faith. So I "got my way" - DS was christened in a Protestant church, the one I had attended since I was a baby and had also been christened in, as had my siblings and my nieces. This mattered to me enough that DH overcame his own reluctance.

I kind of agree that if you're going to do it at all, it's better to do it very young - DS did need to have a tongue-tie snipped (NHS paediatrician did this for us when DS was about 2w old) and a drop of sugar water, dab of novocaine and he didn't feel a thing. Not even a whimper - I was more of a mess when I heard the scissors!

So, I seem to have given you a bunch of mixed advice here - talk more to your DW, find out why it is so important to her and whether or not you can agree to her wishes; find out how and by whom it would be done and how much it would cost; and then - I don't know! Make a joint decision, I suppose.
Sorry!

Mare11bp Sun 07-Aug-11 06:13:01

Interesting thread. I watched that series recently on Jewish culture, I am sure that programme mentioned that there had been some new research dismissing the so-called health benefits of circumcision?

You don't say why you are against the procedure, you don't recall any pain yourself and seem to suggest that you are not that religious - do you think it's just unnecessary then? Whereas your DW would wish for the procedure on religious grounds?

If you feel that strongly, object. It is still possible to observe any religion without abiding to it to the letter. I have a close friend I consider an orthodox Jew, but none of his boys got the chop.

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 06:32:14

this is how my train of though goes on this.

this is our son, our child totally dependent upon us to nurture and protect.
We are going to let someone remove a healthy part of his body for no medical reason whatsoever.
there is no way we can make it totally pain free
there is no way we can make it totally risk free
we expect him to understand why we have chosen to go ahead with this*
I don't understand why I am thinking of putting him through this.
this does not feel like we are protecting him
*he will probably have to deal with some level of bullying or some kind of awkward social situation in which he will have to explain why he is different...

i think my partners folks are expecting it from her. i know my parents will expect the same. i have tremendous sympathy with her position but i wish she would show a little hesitance, instead of coming out with "your folks will want it done too" and expecting that to be the long and short of it...

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 06:32:52

train of thought dammit!

Mare11bp Sun 07-Aug-11 06:37:39

You have very strong and convincing reasons IMO.

Put your foot down, if you can get away with it (not worth losing your marriage over).

YANBU

extremepie Sun 07-Aug-11 06:40:07

Admittedly I am neither Jew nor Muslim so I don't really have a religious stand on this sort of thing but I personally feel that it is better not to.

I have 2 sons and, fortunately, neither me or my DH ever entertained the possibility of having it done but I just hate the idea of cutting of a part of my baby's body for any reason at all, if anyone suggested doing the same thing to a girl people would be horrified! In fact, female circumcision is usually called female genital mutilation, which I think is a more accurate description of it.

I feel that if it is something you choose to do to your own body as an adult or an older child then that is fine but I personally would not like the idea of doing that to my baby son who has no say in the matter.

Whatever you and your DW decide, I would say try not to be influenced by what other people (including family members) might have to say on the subject, he will be your son and only you and your DW have the right to decide about what will or not happen with him - you will probably find that whatever you decide people around you will have an opinion about it but just go with your gut smile

Good luck!

Thumbwitch Sun 07-Aug-11 06:42:50

We have a Pedants' section whenever you want to pop over there, Useless! grin

Um, another thing to throw into the mix then: A long time ago, when CHannel 4 was just starting out, there were some very interesting programmes being shown around the subject of sex. One of them involved a club in America called "reclaim the foreskin!" (it was normal for all boys to be circumcised for "hygiene" reasons for a while). Men who felt that they had been in some way violated wanted their foreskin back, and some bloke had developed a series of weights with an end a little like a trumpet mouthpiece (his inspiration) to tape to the end of each blokes knob, worn daily to stretch the skin. You start with the lightest weight and then work up until you have a reasonable amount of loose skin again.

Would you want your prospective son to even think about going through that?

There are still a fair number of circumcised men out there so it may not occasion any bullying or "whoa buddy, something wrong down there!" comments.

Another factoid - Louis XVI was unable to have sex with Marie Antoinette until he was circumcised - his foreskin was too tight for him to have a comfortable erection.

I'm really not helping, am I? blush

I do know what you mean about the unnecessary process, especially at 8d old - DS had his first taste of cold steel at 2w, his second at 8w, when he had to have his hernia operated on. Poor boy! But both were health-driven, not for any religious/spurious reason.

Marwoir Sun 07-Aug-11 06:50:25

If you haven't already done it, write out those extremely reasonable points you've made above and ask your wife whether you can go through them together and thrash out all the pros and cons properly, leaving out parental expectation (or at least until the end...sounds like parental expectation is important to you - 'tisn't in our house!)
Sounds like, from reading your posts, part of the problem is you don't feel you've had the chance to talk to your wife about it without all the expectations getting in the way.
This article is also good for recent research if you want another, less emotional starting point.

idlevice Sun 07-Aug-11 07:07:00

If in doubt why not go with what the relevant authorities recommend? I'm not sure what it would exactly be called in the UK, something like the British Association of Pediatricians. I'm fairly sure they would not be in favour of it (but appropriately worded so as not to cause offence on cultural & religious grounds), I do know the equivalent US & Australian professional bodies no longer recommend it. It is ultimately a medical procedure so this is why I would defer to those organisations.

Snorbs Sun 07-Aug-11 07:23:10

I think one of the most important aspects of this is one of consent.

If it is important to be circumcised for religious reasons then it can be left until the owner of the penis in question is old enough to make an informed decision (about both religion and circumcision) for himself.

JanetPlanet Sun 07-Aug-11 07:33:04

Good point snorbs.
It's genital mutilation IMO.

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 07:53:05

my partner has taken a great deal of stick to simply be with me (my folks haven't been as awkward about her being a Jew, at least not to my face). get the feeling that not doing this might make her the target for yet more grief. apart from this particular issue we agree on more or less everything. she is a wonderful person and if it's that important to her... or if she feels unable to cope with the fallout from not going ahead, then my instinct is to allow it uncontested and hope for the best. I don't subscribe to the genital mutilation school of thought, partly because i don't wish to see myself as a victim of such a thing and also i guess because i am from one of a few cultures that sees it as normal. In a way she is making this very easy for me. all i need do is say nothing. unfortunately this is way harder than it sounds. i'm not even a father yet and the thoughts and feelings stirred up by this are at times a little overwhelming. who knows how bad it'll get when he/she (hopefully she!) is born. then 8 days until zero hour. it seems insane to me. it just feels wrong. these are not good arguments to be making but they are the only ones i can punt whole-heartedly... There will have to be a discussion i guess. not one to look forward to.

Andrewofgg Sun 07-Aug-11 07:59:31

If the boy, if it is a boy, ever wants to become actively Jewish in adult life, and he might, it often happens, his journey back to the faith of his family will be a lot easier and less painful if he is circumcised at birth - consider that point!

Thumbwitch Sun 07-Aug-11 08:02:47

Useless, I can see that your DW might be trying to somehow "make it up to" her parents for marrying out; I have a friend who married a Sikh girl and the shit they both got for it! Especially her - her father had died of a heart attack, apparently after some act of rebellion on her part, and her mother made her feel as though it was all her fault. Guilt Trips R Us, type of thing. So when they got married, they went all out to make the wedding as "Indian" as possible - he wore traditional Sikh costume, even grew a beard; they did many of the traditional Sikh things, got most of their guests to wear Indian clothes etc. - all to appease her witch of a mother, who still spent the whole day looking like she was sucking lemons and trying to mess things up.

Perhaps there is some leeway on the timing that can be discussed - perhaps you could offer that you are not saying a definite "No" to the circumcision per se, you just don't really want it done at 8 days old.

UselessForeskinHiddenSurgeon Sun 07-Aug-11 08:24:43

andrewofgg future issues are also a worry. both the Islamic and Judaic traditions demand circumcision and as you say, it is far easier if he is done at an early stage. by not going ahead we would effectively be alienating him from his heritage. these consequences do make me uncomfortable but not so much as the thought of cold steel on healthy tissue. oddly if i try to be rational or logical (if indeed these are not one in the same) i wind up thinking we should go ahead, but my emotional head keeps saying no, no, no. thumbwitch Don't think the time thing is negotiable on her side but i could be wrong. although it's hard to see what more time might do... perhaps once she has given birth and we can both see our baby, perhaps then she might feel differently. i don't know. i'm trying to think of approaches that will not antagonize her or make her feel like i'm not on her side. i am on her side i just worry about stuff. is this what parenting is going to be like? agonizing over decisions to the nth degree? oh dear god what have we done

FutureNannyOgg Sun 07-Aug-11 08:42:38

My husband is not Jewish, but has (Spanish) Jewish ancestry (his grandfather married out) and circumcision is still the done thing in his family as far as he is concerned. He wanted DS circumcised (partly so he was like him) and originally I wasn't all that bothered, I figured he had a penis so he knew what he was talking about.
However, once I was pregnant and I started to feel protective towards my baby there was no way I could have gone through with it, when we found out I was expecting a boy I told DH that there was no way I could allow someone to unnecessarily hurt my child and, although he was not happy with the situation, he felt he couldn't argue against a mother's instinct to protect her baby.
I have watched videos of the procedure (you might consider this if you haven't already, it's pretty distressing, but better to be prepared if you are thinking of going through with it for your own child) and there's just no way I could let them do it, not even if I wasn't present (moreso really).
If he had a medical reason for it, that would be a different issue, but this is rare and I don't see the point of doing it just in case.
I am a secondary school teacher and I know at my school, boys have been badly bullied because they are circumcised (conversely though DH says that at his secondary school, boys were bullied for being intact - kids are just nasty.)
Condoms are much better protection against HIV.

InTheNightKitchen Sun 07-Aug-11 08:51:39

I consider it to be genital mutilation. It does not make the penis cleaner, the foreskin is designed to protect the penis in the same way that the eyelid is designed to protect the eye. Cutting off your eyelids and washing your eyes directly would not make them cleaner or reduce the risk of disease. In particular, the foreskin keeps a baby's urethra clean inside a dirty nappy.

A hundred and fifty years ago the stated purpose of circumcision was to reduce pleasure during sex, thereby reducing 'sin' and to make masturbation more difficult. (Jewish writers in the past have also said this) So roughly the same as female genital mutilation. This is a less popular justification nowadays, so the 'hygiene' argument is used instead.

IMO boys should be left intact until they can make the decision for themselves. As an adult he will still be accepted into either Islam or Judaism if he is circumcised then (may be considered a conversion in Judaism though). And some branches of either religion will accept him anyway.

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