When it comes to circumcision, one of the main arguments for circumcising is so that the boy will look like his dad. Uh-huh. First, many boys don’t see their dads naked as a matter of course. Secondly, there is a lot more different between an adult male and a small boy — do men shave their chest and body and pubic hair, so that their sons will look like them? Or give their sons doses of testosterone, so that they’ll develop body hair when they’re three, so they don’t notice a difference between themselves and their fathers? For what it’s worth, neither my five-year-old nor my three-year-old have ever mentioned any difference between their uncircumcised penises and their father’s circumcised one; nor have they mentioned pubic hair, and rarely mentioned chest or body hair! And they’ve taken showers with him on occasion, so, yeah, they’ve seen him naked. But many families are more… modest (?), and wouldn’t allow parental nudity around children, aside from breastfeeding.
How far should we take this “so he’ll look like his dad” reasoning? I know many families who have adopted across ethnic lines. One (white) family adopted twin boys from Korea. Should they have undertaken plastic surgery to “correct” the boys’ eyes, so that they would look like their dad? Or give them green contact lenses, so they have the same color, not the dark brown they were born with? Should they have a procedure done to lighten their skin, so that they look ethnically white? Or a tattoo procedure so that they have freckles? Or a perm, so that they have wavy hair like their dad, instead of straight?
Even in adoptive families who adopted within the ethnicity, should my brown-haired friends dye their blond son’s hair, so that it looks like his dad? Or get plastic surgery on his nose, so that he’ll look like his dad? Or change his ears?
What if a father loses his pinky finger in some sort of accident? Should we cut off all of his sons’ pinky fingers, so that they don’t feel odd? Oh, yeah — that makes sense!
So, really, if it is not important at all for a son (biological or adopted) to look like his father in things that are constantly visible, like hair color, eye color, skin color, shape of the eyes, nose, head, ears, etc., why is it suddenly so important for them to have matching genitalia, when it is usually not visible to either father or son? If a child can handle being different from his dad in color or ethnicity, how much more should he be able to handle being different in something that is usually hidden? And if the father can handle having a son who is different in color, ethnicity, or some other feature, why is necessary for them to have matching penises?
Also, I had heart surgery when I was a baby, so I have a scar running the length of my sternum, or breastbone. It is very visible when I wear a bathing suit or any shirt with a modestly low neckline. [But my children have never mentioned it either. It’s just a part of who I am, just like the color of my hair or eyes, to them.] Should my daughter, if I ever have one, be sliced from stem to stern, just so her chest will look like mine? What doctor would countenance such a medical decision for no benefit, and with such an inadequate reason?
You may have read or heard that being circumcised may reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Perhaps, but not likely, and I’ll tell you why. Most researchers that look at circumcision are very biased towards circumcision, so their results may be suspect merely for that. Also, many critiques of the published studies have highlighted serious or even fatal flaws in the studies. The main problem I have with it, though, is that the United States has among the highest rates of circumcised males (aside from countries that practice routine religious circumcision), but it also has a very high rate of HIV and AIDS — more than many European countries, where circumcision is much more uncommon. If circumcision were that protective, then the US should have much lower rates of HIV/AIDS — at least lower than Europe and Japan and other countries where routine circumcision is not practiced. And finally, in one study I read about, circumcised males in one country in Africa actually had higher rates of HIV transmission than uncircumcised males, and it was probably because these circumcised men thought that having part of their penis removed would keep them from acquiring or spreading AIDS, so they did not use condoms regularly. After all, if you’re “protected” because you’re circumcised, then you don’t need no stinkin’ condom! Except… you do. So, just like teenagers drive their cars too fast and don’t wear their seat belts because they think they’re invulnerable or invincible, and end up killing themselves or others, if men think that circumcision has made them invulnerable to AIDS, then that increases the odds of engaging in risky behavior while lowering the likelihood of them taking more precautions.