Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Fourth Son: Knowing Better, Doing Better and Why Gentle Advocacy Approaches Are Effective

By Vanessa Shirey © 2014

Mason is my fourth son, but the first who we kept intact. My other boys are 12, 10 and 6 years old, and unfortunately, I wasn't educated on circumcision when I was pregnant with them. Or, maybe I should say that I wasn't receptive to information available on circumcision at the time. I'd only come across such material when reading through circumcision 'debates' on parenting forums, and they were usually pretty ugly - with name calling and hateful remarks tossed out at parents who had circumcised in the past. Why would I want further information from someone who said I was a bad parent, or from an individual who didn't think I was fit to be a mom? The ol' saying that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar is sometimes true...

It wasn't until I found other genital autonomy advocates with gentle, research-based approaches that I truly grasped how atrocious genital mutilation is. Then, I began to ask myself questions -- Why do Northern Americans find it appalling when they hear of girls being circumcised, but not our boys? Why are boys not granted the same genital autonomy as girls? Why are our boys less deserving of full and functioning genitals simply because they were born male? We often focus so much attention on the equal rights that women deserve in our society, and yet our men are dealt the lesser hand in this department.

When we found out we were expecting another perfect little boy, it was a no brainer. I told my husband that I would absolutely not circumcise again and braced for battle. But his retort was to say, 'okay,' and it was as easy as that! Fast forward to May 28 when our little ham arrived, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that this time I was leaving our son the way he came into this world. His penis wasn't defective. Everything about him was perfection.

Today I tell pregnant mothers to research, research, research. Your husband having a penis doesn't make him an expert on the functions of the foreskin, or on circumcision, just as me having a vagina doesn't make me an OB/GYN. There is nothing strange or abnormal about having an intact son after circumcising in the past. It shows that we are capable of change and facing mistakes head on. Even my mother-in-law, (who unexpectedly passed away in October and mothered three sons of her own) became informed on how barbaric infant circumcision is. I will never forget her thanking me for leaving her new grandson, Mason, whole.

While I cannot save the world, I managed to save at least one baby boy -- my youngest son. And it is my hope that you will be encouraged to do the same for your next baby boy as well.

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  1. This makes me feel so much better. My 16 month old is circumcised and I regretted it the second they took him into that room. I still cry just thinking about what I had done to him. I will never do that to any other child of mine.

    1. It's really hard Melanie, but know you can always help another parent from regretting this unthinkable act. I'm still coping with my regret too.

  2. My first son is circumcised and I regret it. Thankfully, we learned more and did better by keeping our second son intact.

  3. This is exactly why I take a gentle approach. Arguing accomplishes nothing. Insulting only pushes people away. I too am a circ regret mom. My first is cut and 2nd and 3rd are intact. I did come across an intactivist page when I was pregnant with my first, but they didn't give any facts. It was all blaming the parents and emotional instead of fact based. I wish I would have looked into it further when I came across that, but my only experience with intact awareness info turned me off completely Thankfully, I came across some informative, non-judgemental info while trying for our second son.

  4. How can we expect boys to be treated peacefully if we don't treat their parents with the same compassion?

  5. Being the first and the only intact one of four brothers, I would never have thought my mom to be anything less than a great mom. She loved us and did the best she could with the information she had. Information is out there now, but it doesn't mean everyone gets it, or is honestly informed.

    We learned privacy, and rarely saw each other naked, much less thought about it too much...then there was the YMCA and all the kids swam butt naked...but no one even looked at your penis.

  6. Et voilà, il est possible de laisser un garcon intact même if les frères sont coupé. Devrait être méme plus facile si c´est le père qui est coupé.

  7. I love this! Our stories are VERY similar! Our 4th son is our only intact boy as well♥ we also have a 12, 8, and 5 yo and our intact son was born may 22 :) wonderful post thank you!

  8. I have a friend that circumcised 4 boys before she kept her 2 youngest intact. Gentle information is definitely the way to go!!

  9. Many intactivists, including myself, are in this position. Unfortunately the few intactivists who have been mean and condemning of those who have chosen circumcision in the past have scared many away and created enemies for us.

  10. We also circumcised our first two boys...our third is intact. When our 2nd had to get a surgical procedure to repair damage from the circumcision, hubby and I researched it for the first time. When we found out our 3rd was on the way, we both knew he was perfect and we didn't have to change him!

  11. Way to grow Momma! You can't change the past but you can always make better decisions this time.

  12. Glad I'm all there, it made it a no brainer when my wife and I had our son.


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