If you're a new parent to a baby boy, one of the biggest decisions you'll face is circumcision. It’s an irreversible procedure, so it’s not always an easy choice to make. Many parents opt to circumcise their sons because they're also circumcised, others do it for religious reasons, and some parents decide to forgo the procedure entirely. Knowing the choice is a highly controversial one, I asked dads to describe why they did or didn't want their son circumcised. Turns out, like literally every other parenting decision ever made in the history of parenthood, people have their own unique, usually well-informed, completely personal reasons for why they make the choices they make for their children.
Personally, I wasn’t sure whether circumcision was right for my son and our family. Prior to ever having children, I thought I would definitely say "yes" to circumcision if I gave birth to a boy. It seemed like most of the men around me were cut, and I didn’t really question the procedure itself. Fast forward to a few years later, and I realized I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of putting my son through a potentially harmful, and definitely painful procedure — especially when he was so young and completely incapable of understanding what was happening, let alone giving his consent.
While I don’t judge those who decide to circumcise their sons, I do think that more and more people are beginning to question the procedure itself, and are doing the necessary research in order to make informed decisions as a result. So, with that in mind, here's what went through the following dads' minds when deciding whether or not to circumcise their son:
"The main reason my wife and I chose not to circumcise our son was respect for his bodily autonomy. It's a completely optional, irreversible surgery. We didn't feel it was our right to make that decision for him, especially when we couldn't find any particularly compelling health benefits to having it done. Also, when you look at the history of circumcision in the United States, it's not based on health or wellness but sex-negative, anti-masturbation pseudoscience."
“A procedure like that sounds painful, especially for an infant. So we decided not to do it.”
"All three of our boys are uncircumcised. When [my partner and I] were about to have our first, we briefly talked about having him circumcised. I was born in the late '70s, so pretty much all the boys in the '70s [through the] '90s were circumcised. I was adamant about not having it done. My wife tried to make the argument that she was worried the boys would get made fun of. I said that wouldn't happen and that if they really want to have it done, they can make that decision for themselves later in life. She also asked me what I’d tell them if they ever ask why daddy looks different. I responded with, ‘I'll tell them that I am circumcised and that I didn't get to have a choice when it happened to me.’
Another reason why is because it's an unnecessary and painful procedure and ultimately based on religious beliefs. Or anti-sexual puritanism that essentially amounts to male genitalia mutilation.”
“At the time my son was born, the information and research we were looking at said a small reduction in risk of cancer, and we really were neither here nor there on it. So we had him circumcised. In retrospect, I wished we had been given more time and research.”
“We mostly did it for cleanliness and medical reasons, and the fact that babies recover so quickly as opposed to older kids or adults. It's to avoid infections and other possible complications during their childhood and teen years. I had mine late in life — at 6 years old. [I wanted] to avoid the pain and recovery [for my son]. Also, probably a bit of tradition.”
"[The foreskin is] natural. There's nothing wrong with it. All that stuff about cleanliness and everything is really BS. Why put your child through near birth trauma when there's really no need to? It's barbaric."
"It honestly was never even something I gave a second thought to. I'd had it [circumcision] done, so did my brother, and so did every guy I know. I guess it comes down to the fact that it's the cultural norm and I didn't see any negative health risks about it."