Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring is Just Around the Corner

Get it?  Get it?

Yeah, spring is just around the corner and it's been a long time since I've felt this hopeless.  Troubles with the magic boy, my dad's still (STILL) hospitalized (though he's in a rehab facility now), his wife may  have stomach cancer, and that damnable lump in my arm is still there and almost certainly growing.

Oh, and a tax lien.

Yeah, we've been on a payment plan with the state tax folks for a couple of years.  We have it paid down to less than three hundred.  Then, out of the blue, we get a letter last week telling us they've filed a lien.  Any idea what a tax lien does to a credit score?   It's devastating.  That's not going to peel off that credit report until I'm almost SIXTY.

House?  New car?  Probably not in my lifetime.

Plus, my mom's A1c has jumped from 5.7 to 9.9 in six months.  And suddenly her circulation is shot.  Add that to the macular degeneration.



A friend's son is expecting his first, and I'm wondering how on earth to broach the subject of genital mutilation.  Yeah, this is my blog, I don't have to pull punches and call it something pretty and sterile like "circumcision."  There are so many reasons NOT to take sharp objects to a child's genitals.  The rest of the world is solidly in the "that's barbaric" camp.  Scandinavian countries are banning the practice.  It's not routinely done in Canada, England, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, etc.  It's an incredibly cruel thing to do.  Is it a "personal choice?"  You bet--so personal that it should be left to the owner of the genitals.  The foreskin is attached at birth much like a fingernail is attached to the finger--that's fixed connective tissue in infancy.  Which is why they have to take a metal prod and TEAR the skin away from the shaft and glans before slashing and crushing.  In adulthood, that skin is no longer adhered, which is why it's such a minor thing in adulthood.  Of course, men who have it done in adulthood overwhelmingly regret it.  Why?

Because 85% of the sensitivity comes from that foreskin.  Remove it, and you're left with a small band of sensitive tissue around the glans.  Men who are circumcised are left with almost no normal sensitivity.  Circumcision is the cause of most sexual dysfunction in men, from premature ejaculation to erectile problems.  

I know, someone's bound to cry "urinary tract infections!"  You know who gets more UTIs than intact boys?  Little GIRLS.  But (thankfully) I don't see anyone proposing taking a sharp object to their genitals.  

Another "medical" argument?  The cancer/HIV argument.  Which utterly falls apart upon examination.  Cancer?  Penile cancer is incredibly RARE--that's like removing the brain to prevent glioblastoma or amputating a newborn's breast buds to prevent breast cancer (which is far more common).  And cervical cancer in partners?  That's not the foreskin, that's HPV.  Use condoms, get your girls vaccinated (and your boys, too).  There you go, problem solved.  And the HIV defense?

Falls apart when you look at the research, which was all done in sub-Saharan Africa with groups also instructed to use condoms.  If circumcision prevented (or markedly reduced) transmission of HIV, the U.S. wouldn't be where it is today.  

Another common "justification"?  "He'll be laughed at in the locker room!"  Okay, a few things:

1) Any boy who points and laughs at another boy's penis is setting himself up for disaster.

2) If kids are looking to bully, they'll find any reason, from acne to glasses, braces to height.

3) Cut boys are now the minority in many parts of the country.  In the western US?  Fewer than 35% of newborn boys are circumcised.  So there's not going to be much laughing, because he's not going to be different.

And most importantly?

4) We don't carve up our kids to make people accept them.  That's just totally wrong.

And finally, I want to address the scary "so he'll look like his daddy" argument.

What?  What?  People are different.  People don't look the same.  Would you have your infant's nose carved to resemble yours?  How about ears?  

Some parents circumcise because they've already cut one child and, even though they now realize it's an awful thing, they want their boys to be "the same" or don't want to have to explain to their older, cut child why he's different.  Know that there are tens of thousands of parents who made the mistake with their older child, then learned more and chose not to alter their subsequent sons. There's no shame in saying "we didn't know."  When you know better, you do better.  

Circumcision is agonizing.  It is traumatizing.  It permanently alters the victim's pain response.  It is often the cause of unsuccessful breastfeeding.  It creates a raw, bloody wound left in a diaper with feces and urine.  It has the potential to do devastating harm through infection and necrosis.  And it makes a baby's introduction into this world terrible.  Pain and fear are not the things I wanted my son to feel as a newborn.  I wanted him to feel safe and warm.  I wanted him to look at me with trust.

More boys die in the U.S. each year from circumcision than from any recalled crib, carseat, blind cord, or toy, yet those are recalled and production halted immediately.

Our boys are perfect when they're born.  Even if circumcision WAS beneficial, those benefits could be conferred on men when they're old enough to decide for themselves.  

If you're expecting or you know someone who is, please introduce them to the Saving Our Sons.  It's a gentle start, with good information.  If all else fails?  WATCH AN INFANT CIRCUMCISION.  Because there are people who will say "it doesn't really hurt" or "he's just crying because he's restrained" or "Babies don't feel pain."  If you're going to choose to do this to your child, make this surgical alteration that will cause life-long changes, then at least make sure you KNOW what you're doing.  Don't soothe yourself with lies.  

And I guess that's all for today.  I'm writing at a new  It's brand-new, and I'm hoping it will take off.  Still very sad about Epinions, though.  I wrote for them for 14 years.  That's a lot of time, and now it's gone.

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