Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The perils of engaging in circumcision debates

It's hard, emotionally and physically. It's exhausting. You get called so many things. You end up saying things that you don't want.

It's hard to keep it cool when the subject is an emotional trigger for you. But among everything, the stubbornness of some people and the personal triggers, that's what I dislike the most.

I know that the person defending circumcision at the other side of the internet is not going to change his views. But quite often they will ask one thing, and when you give facts to substantiate your point, they will just jump to a different "benefit" or "cultural" or "religious" thing and dismiss what you just said.

And other times you will explain that a study is not all that everybody wants to make out of it because (all the reasons), only to have them quote the same study as conclusive (ignoring in the process all the reasons you just gave them).

Sometimes people say that we come off as a group of bullies. If you saw someone beating a child at a park, wouldn't you be outraged? Wouldn't you want to stop the beaters right away? Well, that's how we see circumcision of infants. Something that the child cannot defend himself of. Something that the child is subjected to by those who should protect him. But how do we reason with them, especially when they don't want to reason, when they are stuck and defensive?

But there are situations that are especially complicated. Every now and then you have the "I was circumcised and I'm okay" guy. I normally told them that I'm glad for them, but there are others who were not as lucky. But sometimes I end up arguing about all the things that will come with age that they might not have noticed yet, or how what they feel could be better. But that's bad, I don't need to do that. I know that I was mutilated ("mutilation" is an inflammatory word according to the AAP - yet apparently mutilating babies is okay), he was mutilated, but how much do I need to prove to somebody that he was mutilated if he can't see it? Do I really need? And my whole point is not so much for him, but for his possible children. How do you teach someone to not do something harmful to his children, if it was done to him and he doesn't believe he was harmed?

And what's worse, when parents come and tell you that they circumcised their children and they would do it again. It hits low, because on a personal level, I wish the doctor had stopped when I begged him, and had gone to my mom and told her "we have another option, your son is agitated, there's something else we can do", but no, he didn't. And I remember when my friend brought his two sons home and I realize that they were circumcised when he changed their diapers, and I was like why would such a young baby be circumcised - I was not aware of the high rate of circumcision in the U.S. yet, for me it was something that was done on a need-to basis, so I was sad that such a young baby had gone through that. So how do you keep from telling something hateful to someone who is so blind in their ways that he or she would do it again? And why even engage?

My only hope with these debates is that someone else might read them and wonder what's that all about and maybe do some research.

One of the issues of going against something that the AAP or Johns Hopkins Medical say is that you come out as saying something against science. I know its not that. I know that the AAP is making too much of the African studies while dismissing other studies, I know that they haven't bothered to study men who are not happy with their circumcisions, they see us as an anomaly, collateral damage, case studies that don't deserve studying. I see the whole thing as a puzzle from which inconvenient pieces have been left aside. But people see some words and they believe, after all it wouldn't be in the media if it wasn't true right? So it's hard to get through, to show the fallacies. If you give too much information they end up thinking that you are just twisting the information.

What gets me is that the AAP says that there is no change to sexual function or satisfaction, quotes a couple of studies, and suddenly everyone just believes it's true. But I tell them that how can the AAP say that if they didn't even stop to consider the functions and anatomy of the foreskin, and they will just keep repeating the same mantra.

Children see the truth. I just read from a fellow intactivist that her 4 years old daughter heard about circumcision and said "cutting babies is not nice". Another intactivist's child said that those who cut babies should go to jail for ever. Another one said that if the doctors had cut his penis, he would have probably bled  all over until he died. One of two brothers, the older one (circumcised) with a younger (intact) brother, asked his mom if it would grow again - she had to go cry in the other room after talking with him.

Why is it that people become so callous later on? How can they not see it? Something so basic. If you use the word mutilation, they call you dramatic, but if you use the word amputation they still think you are dramatic. Since when an amputation is not an amputation? And why do men do not deserve empathy when they denounce that they have been hurt?

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