To Snip Or Not To Snip

Hamlet didn't have his priorities straight. Then again, he wasn't expecting a baby boy, and probably the question of circumcision wouldn't have come up for him anyway. I guess I'm making some assumptions about 16th century Europe. Except for Shylock, of course, but then we'd be mixing our Shakespearean metaphors. All of which is entirely beside the point.

There was a time when this decision would have been made for us, and probably still would be in many places, but instead, it's a choice we have to make. My initial instincts are to say yes, snip it off, because that's the cultural norm I grew up with. Every penis I've had the pleasure to know has been snipped. (was that too much information?) It's been true enough of even casual acquaintances (skinny dipping and so on) that I've noticed the few turtlenecks in the crowd as standing out. But that's starting to shift - in fact, I'd say most of the little boys running around our current neighborhood, who do often run around naked, are not snipped. I'm less sure about the adults, though not at all shy about asking. So now we actually have to think about it.

The problem is that even a dip into internet research reveals people on both sides who are totally nuts, and totally convinced you are going to RUIN YOUR CHILD FOREVER if you make the wrong choice. It's a bit harder to find actual rational info on this. When I talk to people I know about their choices, it's not much more useful - they're not crazy dogmatic about it, for the most part, but don't really add anything helpful to either side. Yes, there's potential that it can reduce the risk of disease, but if you teach the kid to wash well, it's not such a problem. Yes, it's potentially unnecessary surgery, but with fairly low risk. Nobody really knows about sexual sensitivity - although one guy pointed out that he could not have handled any more of that in his teenage years! Some folks say leave it alone and let the kid decide - but how many boys or men do you know that would actually choose to let someone near them with a sharp knife? I'm not even going to get into the arguments about birth trauma and related issues from suppressed painful experiences as a newborn.

Turns out this is quite a hot-button topic, though. One interesting angle I hadn't considered until I recently read a few articles/posts/etc. related circumcision to Gardasil and our double standards for boys and girls when it comes to sex. Apparently the CDC is considering recommending circumcision as an HIV preventative. When Gardasil appeared on the scene, a vaccine for girls that helps prevent HPV (which can cause cervical cancer) the moral majority came out in force against it, claiming it would encourage promiscuity. Not once have I come across that argument about boys and le snip. There's not an exact parallel here, but it whiffs of the old slut/stud dichotomy.

Also related: for those who don't want wrinkles, there's a new injection out there for you made of baby foreskins! You can fill in your own jokes on this one.

Speaking of foreskin jokes (because really, what better topic is there? there's that one about the rabbi and the wallet that becomes a suitcase...) - I'm reminded of an old SNL fake ad for a fancy car that showed how smooth the ride was by having a mohel perform a circumcision in the back seat while driving over a bumpy road. And this is why I love the internet - I just took a detour and found the clip on hulu, which I'd link to if I knew how, but if you search for SNL fake ad royal deluxe circumcision - you, too, can enjoy that fine viewing experience.

All of which is to say, I'm still kind of where I was to start: let's do it, because it's what we know, and it looks funny otherwise. I'm helped along by a friend who shared Dan Savage's take on the matter: "Cut cock tastes better." Words of wisdom, y'all.

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