This was originally written for pediatricians who are represented by www.HealthyChildren.org – with a few modifications for this blog post. Feel free to use parts of it or all of it and edit it to your heart’s content…
I understand that your organization represents:
“…pediatricians committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.”
If this is so, then I would respectfully suggest that this organization refrains from recommending foreskin retraction and circumcision. Neither contributes to “the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.” In fact, there is quite a bit of evidence that retraction creates a host of iatrogenically induced problems, that can lead to a “need” for circumcision – and circumcision can be detrimental to “the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.” Circumcision has even led to death in some cases. Infection due to circumcision, bleeding due to circumcision – these are not all that rare.
Plus, an adult retracting a child’s foreskin could rightfully be interpreted as a sexual assault, as can circumcision itself. The child does not know why adults are touching his private parts and cutting on them.
It is highly understandable that the young mind can see circumcision as sexual abuse. The details of the memory might be clouded but the body never forgets. Most circumcised men are reminded something is wrong every time they go to the bathroom or attempt to engage in sexual relations. They never achieve the height of ecstasy they know they could and should. They know something is wrong, very, very wrong. But their expressed concerns are often scoffed at by trained professionals, who are perhaps themselves circumcised and therefore in denial of their own condition, or embarrassed to address the subject of genitalia.
Let me tell you my story.
When I was a little girl, a little white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant girl, in Kansas in the 1950s, I was circumcised by a probably well-meaning physician who might have believed that female genital mutilation was conducive “to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.” Genitals were private in those days – nobody talked about them – so I lived in a secret hell for many years, suffering from conditions usually associated with males in our society: night terrors, suicidal ideation, depression, misogyny, anger, rage, and above all, an aversion to all things medical. It is difficult to get a circumcised person into a doctor’s office, even for an annual checkup.
However, there came a time – after age 50 – when I discovered I’d been circumcised. Thankfully, I had a background in and understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and realized that I had been badly traumatized and, as I saw it, betrayed by my mother, for she was the one who had allowed the doctor to cut me. Once I recognized the problem, I was able to do the healing work to release the fear and dread that had followed me, wherever I went, all my life.
But not all who were circumcised even realize they were cut and very few get to the point of healing the PTSD they’ve carried from infancy. Many of the aware yet still unhealed are those you see demonstrating at medical conferences with bright red circles at the crotch of their pure white suits.
The “aware but still unhealed” men – and women – are for the most part angry that they were hurt as children and angry that as adults they do not have the full natural, functional bodies they were born with. It also pains them that even to this day, children are still being subjected to unnecessary cosmetic genital surgery. And I fully understand their grief. Sorrow expressed by the unhealed often looks like anger and rage.
I pray you listen, actually hear, look, really see, and let this message sink deeply into your hearts. Begin treating birth as the amazing, awe-inspiring wonder that it is, women as human beings worthy of great respect, and the children they bear as conscious beings who deserve protection, love, care and “the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being.” – not just slabs of meat.
I am sorry if you too were hurt by circumcision as a child, but the lesson to learn from our own misfortunes is to never treat another as you were treated when you were hurt. To pass on the abuse is a failure to learn the lesson. If you still think circumcision is a valid medical procedure, you are among the wounded. A cursory objective investigation would serve to convince the adult in you that circumcision is – quite frankly – a barbaric torture and has no place in a civilized world.
Patricia Robinett, author
“The Rape of Innocence: Female Genital Mutilation and Circumcision in the USA” (2006)