I'm not trying to be controversial when bringing up this topic. I feel like I need to dim the lights, pull out a pack of smokes, throw them at the table, pour a shot of whiskey for you and me, take a few drags from the cigarette, look at you with concern and then start this topic.
"So, circumcision." I look at you and you look at me. Neither of us really knows what to say.
Maybe you respond, "I hear it's the same thing as female circumcision."
I take another drag. I inhale the smoke and then blow it out. I take a sip of my shot. I stare at the smoke flutter around me.
I shrug. "I don't know. Is it, really?"
Neither of us makes eye contact, we're both unsure.
"There sure is a lot of anti-circumcision talk going around the natural birth community." I look up at you quickly to see your response.
"Well, yeah." You nod at me. "Makes sense, right?" I'm not sure if you're looking at me for approval or not.
I start to shake my head at you. "No, not really. It actually doesn't make sense. Why do we need to bundle natural birth, breastfeeding and anti-circumcision? It's almost like a cable package. You get HBO because you ordered Showtime. Maybe I don't want HBO. Maybe I don't want to support a movement that is so opposed to my religious belief. Maybe by being so damn fanatical about everything you're killing the real heart of the movement."
You start to look at me with amazement. You can't believe I would dare differentiate supporting a woman's right to have an informed birth from what the woman does with her son's penis after he is born.
"Look," I say, getting on a roll, "I don't like the idea of cutting my son's penis more than I like the idea of any sort of pain being inflected on my child. But it's God's wish that my husband brings our son into the tribe by cutting that foreskin." I nervously chuck the cigarette and light another, whiskey forgotten in the moment.
"I am totally 100% comfortable with you choosing to not circumcise your son. But don't tell me I'm a horrible parent for choosing to circumcise my own child. Don't try to make me feel bad or "educate" me about circumcision. Don't try to tell me in a breezy excited voice that your husband is Jewish and he is totally against circumcision. You're one of those people that doesn't get it. Your husband can be Jewish and not really understand his religious connection. And that's okay. That's his choice. But I'm Jewish, somewhat observant and this is one of those things I've got to do. Sort of like not eating crab or pork - that's part of the lifestyle choices God demands of me. And actually, the circumcision part, it's not my commandment, it's my husband's task. Hell, if I wasn't Jewish, I wouldn't do it either. But I certainly wouldn't tell you not to do it if you were going to and I wouldn't decide I was superior to you for choosing to leave my son intact."
My cigarette is dead, ash covers the table. We look at each other, neither of us knows what to say.
"Look, I have a dream. I dream of a birth movement that supports women. A movement that defends the right for a woman to have an evidence based birth. If she wants that elective caesarean, she can have it. If she wants that home birth or hospital water birth or epidural - she can have that too. I dream of a birth experience where doctors don't pull the "dead baby" card to control your labor. An experience where nurses support mothers and don't try to push the epidural the moment it gets painful. The right for women to have vaginal deliveries after caesareans without doctors terrifying them with stories of uterine ruptures. Uterine ruptures happen. Sometimes C-sections are necessary. Dammit, my C-section saved my daughter's life.
I don't want other debates to kill our purpose. Breastfeeding moms aren't better than formula feeding moms. Mothers that don't vaccinate do not love their children more than mothers that do vaccinate. Choosing to not circumcise your son doesn't make you a better parent. There's a time and place for all of these discussions, I don't think the birth movement is the right place. By getting stuck in these "ideas" we are never going to attract the majority of the population. We need non-crunchy-hippie-natural-earthy people to believe in our cause. We need to revolutionize birth in a way that it hasn't ever before. If we come off as disorganized and crazy, we won't ever have the respect we need to change the medical industry. Let's focus on the real issues and not get caught up in individual agendas. And let's not bash each other for choosing a different way."
I look up at you and I hope.
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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