I never thought much about having kids when I first got married. Marriage was about retaining the excellent partner I had found in a more permanent fashion. I know that's not very romantic but I think most husbands, if they're honest, will say the same kind of thing. I read a quote one time that said, "Woman marry the man they love the most, men marry the woman that loves them the most." Us men, we need to be loved, see? We need our mommies more when we're little (just ask my son) and when we're teenagers we want sex all the time but that's just because we've got that confused with love and once we get old enough to have some sense we get really scared at the prospect of losing this person that loves us for some strange reason so we put a ring on their finger in hopes of discouraging them from considering the prospect of loving someone else who may be better looking, make more money, dress better, or, ugh! all three.
Once married there was a lot of confusion about what exactly I was supposed to do next but I won't digress any further than I already have. Let's cut to kids. The pun will become more apparent later on. So I'm married, I wasn't planning on NOT having kids so it seems like the logical thing to do eventually. My wife at one point tells me she had rather not drag me kicking and screaming into this thing, as she has so many other things, as that would really take the fun out of it for her. I figure what's the point of stalling and hemming and hawing and worrying like I do about everything else (you should see what a frikkin' battle it is for me to pick out the right melon at the grocery store, not because I want it to be perfect but rather because I am so hyperconscious of screwing it up.) I figure what's the point of indulging my cynical side when I'm going to agree eventually anyway, because remember I don't NOT want them, and then she'll just feel like the whole process is tainted somehow. For any of you who don't have a clue: women don't like it when things are tainted. So I go along with it. "Sure, let's have a baby. It'll be fun." It turns out we are as fertile as two sixteen year olds in a low income neighborhood and we get pregnant the first month we try. Pregnancy is awesome, it's great, but it's not what I'm here to talk about. Fast forward 21 months. New baby girl is one year. We love her dearly, love being parents. We want more. Yes, I actually actively want one this time as opposed to entering into the plan as a way of treating my career of reluctanct hesitation with some exposure therapy. Again, we conceive on the first try. Bam! I was not surprised. I WAS surprised that we were able to avoid pregnancy for the first ten years of our relationship utilizing primarily the pull out method after deciding birth control pills are overrated and bad for your health and condoms feel like you are jacking off through a grocery bag. (Sorry for those of you who aren't in a monogamous relationship and have to use the buggers routinely. Perhaps if my writing career remains in this nascent stage when I am 50 I will instead set out to invent a more "sensitive" condom and make my million that way.) This time the baby is a boy and now you, you patient reader you, finally see why this post belongs on this blog.
Like most Americans we're not even really thinking about the question of circumcision when we learn we're having a boy. We're excited about a million other things, a million other potential lives for him and for our budding family. Eventually the question is broached by my wife as to what I think about circumcision. I say, "I don't know but I don't think I can sign off on someone doing that to my son." The wife is equally circumspect. We don't spend much time researching it even though we are compulsive researchers. (I shudder to count the hours I spent online researching our eventual decision to not vaccinate our children.) In retrospect, I didn't research it because my subconscious had built up a healthy resistance to not thinking about the fact that some asshole doctor had cut off part of my dick. Thankfully we had a dear friend who HAD researched it and, unfortunately, directly experienced some reasons for why it should not be done. We were sort of looking for a reason not to do it at that point and this friend, without premeditation, gave us just that. Yet even after we decided not to cut off part of our child's penis I still found ways to avoid thinking about it. I'm ashamed to admit I told myself it was not that big of a deal, that I was glad we had decided not to do it but that our friend was making too big a deal of it. Again, in retrospect, of COURSE I didn't want it to be a big deal. To admit it's a big deal is to admit that I'm not happy that part of my dick is MISSING due to being forcibly removed by some asshole that deserves a Sisyphusian fate. Well I labored in denial for quite a while. I would get irritated when this friend would call and talk to my wife because it would force me to consciously think about what had been done to me. I fought it for a long time. I refused to read the literature my wife acquired about the subject. When she told me she had heard that our friend's husband was restoring his foreskin I'm ashamed to say I laughed and said that was crazy and I would never do that. Little did I know that within the next year I myself would begin the process of restoration, but that's another post entirely. My awakening was fairly gradual as I suppose most awakenings are. I do however remember an important moment in that process. My wife and I were talking in the bedroom after showering. We only had one kid then so yes we actually talked and had uninterrupted conversations back in those days. We were talking about circumcision. I'm sure I was irritated that she had brought it up. She mentioned my scar. "I don't have a scar!" I said with cultivated indignance.
"That's what that ring is right here, honey," she said as gently as possible.
In that moment it dawned on me how little I knew about my own body. My next question was how the hell I could not know that and that was when I finally started to realize I was using this minimalization of what had happened to me to avoid dealing with how I really felt about it. She then proceeds to tell me how this idea of restoration works. She rolls some of the skin on my dick past the scar and it really freaks me out. I stop her twice before she is finally able to do it. Again, I'm left wondering what the hell my problem is when this woman has touched my dick a substantial number of times without ever inspiring this feeling of abject terror and discomfort I'm currently experiencing. Then I realize it doesn't even hurt when she does it, it feels kind of natural and I realize all of it, the discomfort that is, is in my head.
It wasn't like all the lights turned on at once that night but it was the beginning of a kind of awakening that culminated in my realization that I was not happy my parents had signed up for part of my dick to be removed and i was really pissed that the American medical community had encouraged them to do just this and had made a practice of doing it to people for all kinds of bizarre invented reasons since the 19th century. Now I was REALLY uncomfortable. I realized that what had been done to me was really, royally screwed up but I had no idea what the hell to do about it. Boy was I a miserable jerk for a few weeks there. Apparently the first mental breakthrough I had was that cutting in general was bad. I look back at pictures from that time in my life and I had allowed my beard to grow down almost the base of my neck. Coincidence? I kind of doubt it. By then my son had been born and I saw what a real, normal penis is supposed to look like. Um, yeah, it's like the difference between going out to play in the snow with your coat on and walking outside naked. It's like looking at one normal finger and than looking at a finger than has the fingernail ripped off and here's this naked nail bed all dried out and fucking weird. That denial really started to fall apart after the first twenty or so diaper changes. But I'm glad of course. That's a hell of a thing to live your life without realizing that a huge part of you has been missing since you were about 4 days old.
Now my son's almost four and I look back on this time for me and I think how obvious it is why this cycle of circumcision perpetuates itself. We are hardwired for survival. It's a hard thing to face this stuff when you can't even remember it being done and your whole life everytime you hold your dick in your hands to take a piss you think it's perfectly normal that it looks that way. You're talking about rising up against decades of cognitive dissonance. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to come to such a realization after you've already circed your child. Anyone who has the gumption to face a mistake like that and speak out about it deserves a frikkin' medal in my book.
That's what this post is about I guess: facing things. I wrote it the day I found out belatedly that David Foster Wallace had died and he was just about the most authentic writer I have ever read. I thought I am going to write something authentic even if it sucks and voila. There's a lot of reasons why people try to justify circ but I think one of the most important reasons is because it's so hard to face what has been done to them and call it what it really is: VIOLENCE against children for the sake of preserving the ego of adults.