This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In Loudon Wainwright III's song "Men," he says that men are treated as if they were expendable, fodder for wars and drowning ships. Women, in general, stay out of direct combat and join the children on the lifeboats.
It is true that our culture expects men to sacrifice, fight, protect. We are not in the habit of reflecting upon where men and boys need help, concern, change. Our cultural blinders allow us to inflict upon men what would be considered atrocities if they were inflicted upon women. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the practice of circumcision.
American girls are protected by federal law from the cutting and removal of even the slightest bit of their genitalia. Even a ceremonial "nick," desired by some immigrant cultures, is outlawed.
Of course, this is as it should be. Every girl, of every culture, should be able to keep her whole body intact. Yet, as the mother of both a daughter and a son, I have to ask: Why do we treat our boys differently? Why are boys' bodies less valued in this way? Why is it OK to separate, slice, and sell off part of a boy's body, often without anesthesia? (The selling of foreskins in America to biomedical companies is a million-dollar industry.)
Is it inherent sexism? Is it because, as Wainwright suggests, we are just going to send them off to war anyway?
Fortunately, many parents are realizing just how insane this practice is, and are leaving their sons intact, whole, and just the way that God and/or Mother Nature made them. They are saying "no," loudly and clearly, to this barbaric cosmetic surgery. They are valuing their newborn sons just as they would their newborn daughters.
The circumcision rate is plummeting. Informed parents realize that the risks of circumcision include shock, infection and death. Losing just 2 ounces of blood can be fatal for a newborn. Moreover, 18 states (including Utah) no longer use Medicaid dollars to pay for circumcision.
Thus, I fully support the San Francisco ballot measure that would ban the sexist, outdated and harmful practice of routine infant circumcision. My son's body is as valuable as my daughter's. Codifying this into law is a civil rights movement of our time.
Julie Van Orden teaches English in Ogden.