Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
When I published my first blog post a couple of weeks ago, I never imagined how many hundred people would read it; nor did I think so many people would take the time to send thoughtful, considered responses.
But it seems like I discovered a new community. A community of ‘intactivists’.
When I first started planning the blog, I decided that no post should be more than a few hundred words – maybe 500 words. Any more, and people wouldn’t bother reading on, I thought. But one of the nice people who commented typed over 1,800 words.
In fact, I published the post just before going to bed one evening, not realising that the comments box wasn’t working – I’d set it to force people to log in, but then forgot to tick the box in the settings panel to allow people to register. Doh! So rather than do what most people (including me) would do – which is to not bother – several people emailed their thoughts to me.
Many jews are making the decision not to circumcise their sons, one commented. Another pointed out that my understanding of the origins of jewish circumcision was even odder than I thought (rarely having paid attention at Sunday school, I am happy to stand corrected). He told me that “god promised to look after Abraham’s descendants until the end of time, so long as baby boys had their foreskins trimmed when they were a week old. If jews don’t do that, god will stop doing them favours.” Forgive me for having trouble squaring that with the notion of a kind and benevolent creator.
One commentator, Robert Javier, asked whether circumcision might be worth it, because of penises which won’t retract? Or those which get a bit smelly? Joseph4GI replied that non retraction, called phimosis, is extremely rare and often misdiagnosed. Only 3-4% of cases require surgical intervention, he said, because most cases fix themselves or can be resolved using non surgical means.
Another helpful commentator, Lippy Girl, even helped out with a link which confirmed my gut feeling but which I could not prove. I said I believe I was permanently damaged as a result of my circumcision. Research funded by the Wellcome Trust, which she told me about, said that contrary to the popular belief, babies certainly are affected by pain. In fact, whereas adults have a mechanism which suppresses pain, “in newborn babies, this [mechanism] has the opposite effect”.
I still don’t think that any of this will have an effect on my brother and sister-in-law, who would still circumcise a baby boy, because “it’s traditional” or because the family expect them to. My sister in law is pregnant for a second time; it’s due next year. In case it’s a boy, maybe I’ll suggest they read my original blog post, and this one, and they might think again about whether they want to damage their beautiful son so early in his life.
When I was searching for a picture for this post, I found a number which were captioned “We attended a very nicely catered bris this morning for little Jake”. Poor little Jake. Never mind that he’s being wounded in such an unpleasant way, at least the bridge rolls were nice.
There’s nothing more ego-boosting than knowing that several hundred people have read your first ever blog post, and that many have taken the time to provide lengthy and constructive comments about something as close to their hearts as it is to mine.
Thank you for reading. Seriously.