Genital Mutilation American Style
How a father discovered, too late, that circumcision is not a good thing.
by Rio Cruz
My baby was shrieking now, his protest going from a simple cry to what sounded like screams of sheer terror. His body was rigid, contorted as he strained against the straps and the pain. If the Circumstraint had not been bolted down, it and my child would have crashed to the floor. Every instinct I had told me this was not right, that I should be protecting my son instead of acquiescing to the barbaric spectacle before me. But I am a "civilized" man. I have been socialized to accept what the doctor is doing. It's the right thing to do. Right?
The foreskin did not easily give up its hold on my son's glans. The doctor continued to rip the skin with the hemostat. My son was shaking, tossing his head from side to side, his fists and eyes were clenched, sweat beaded on his brow.
The doctor finally got the glans and foreskin separated, then clamped the foreskin tight with another hemostat and cut the skin vertically with scissors. The wound was bleeding profusely. He tried to insert a steel cone into the tissue but had to force it because the incision was too short. My son stopped screaming. His eyes were glazed and rolled back. He appeared to be sleeping, but he was really in a state of complete and total shock.
The doctor put a large metal clamp around the bleeding foreskin, the cone supposedly to protect the glans, and he proceeded to crush the nerves, the blood vessels and tissue of the foreskin with the clamp. He took a knife and sliced around the clamp, letting the foreskin drop onto the cloth. My son lay motionless on the board, completely disassociated into some other, more hospitable space. The doctor looked at me and winked. He left the room. A nurse gave my son back to his mother. Welcome to America, little man.
"Why not?" I ask again. I'll tell you why not. Because my son had absolutely no medical condition requiring the amputation of his perfectly normal, natural, healthy foreskin. None! There is not one child born in this country who has any condition requiring this procedure, yet out of cultural inertia, greed on the part of circumcising physicians and hospitals, flat out abject ignorance on the part of both doctors and parents, and the satisfying of psycho-sexual compulsions on the part of certain sadistic practitioners, the grisly business continues. And, it continues to fill the pockets and coffers of physicians, hospitals and clinics to the tune of approximately one billion dollars a year.
Perhaps protecting this cash cow is one of the reasons I could not get even one of our area's circumcising physicians to agree to an interview on this subject. Not one! "That's much too emotional an issue to discuss," said one. "There are concerns for legal liability," said another. Others gave no reason. They simply refused to be interviewed. Still others never returned my calls. They all seem brave enough when armed with steel knives, clamps and scissors against an infant's naked penis, but try to engage them in adult conversation on this issue and they flee into the shadows.
However, one well-known, popular family practice physician who does not perform circumcisions but who, nevertheless, preferred not to go on record for this article, said that circumcisions were done en masse in this country because "It's really a question of cosmetic surgery. It's an elective. It's tradition. There is no medical justification for it," she said. "We simply do it at the request of parents. It's their decision to make." But only if the child is a boy. Remember, girls are protected by law from such parental requests.
Not many years ago it was perfectly accepted for dog owners to amputate the tail and cut the ears of their pets for cosmetic reasons. It was the owners' choice to make. Social consensus now holds this to be inhumane treatment of animals and few veterinarians will accede to such requests. The idea that anyone would even consider circumcising their pet for any reason at all is abhorrent. Incomprehensibly, it is still perfectly acceptable for parents to consent to the cosmetic amputation of their son's prepuce, a far more injurious operation than an ear clipping or a tail docking. As a society we should be ashamed of this fact.
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