Oh, fabulous – a Florida court has ruled that a mother has to have her 4-year-old son circumcised because his father wants it. A court has ordered a mother to get her son mutilated because that’s what his father wants.
As we reported in the spring, Boynton Beach mom Heather Hironimus was ordered by the court to have her then-3-year-old child circumcised, in accord with a parenting agreement she’d signed in 2011. However, in the intervening years, Hironimus had read up on the practice and come to learn it was not medically necessary and even risky.
She went to court to fight the father’s wish to have the procedure completed and was granted an emergency injunction.
Now, however, she has reportedly lost an appeal, and sympathizers are using social media to make pleas to the judge in the case and to raise awareness to her cause.
Rights of the child, folks. First do no harm. When in doubt, don’t mutilate. What should the default be? No mutilation.
A campaign called “#SavingChase Photo & Video Crusade” encourages parents to “take pictures and/or videos of you or your children pronouncing ‘Save Chase from Circumcision,’ or something along those lines, on camera with the hashtag #SavingChase.”
Many have complied:
Cindy Hetzer via Facebook
But wait! Can those children with the signs consent?
The irony — of people arguing that boys shouldn’t be circumcised until they can consent yet using their own toddlers to make points in social media campaigns — was not lost on some commenters, who fired back with statements like: “I don’t feel comfortable using children for political means. They can’t consent much like they can’t consent to genital surgery.”
Don’t be silly. The two are not comparable. One is an irrevocable removal of a piece of the body for no medical reason, and the other is holding a sign in a photograph. I’m not generally a big fan of enlisting children to hold political signs, but in this case the relevance is obvious – they are little children like Chase, who given a choice would prefer not to have pieces cut off them for no medical reason. (No, I don’t think parents should pierce their children’s ears.)
Why is it so important for the father to have the boy cut NOW?
Why can’t he wait until the boy is old enough to make his own choices regarding his own
Larissa Verhülsdonk says
I agree that genital mutilation (or any mutilation) on children is horrible and should in no way be up to discussion. I also agree that photographing kids is vastly different from mutilating them.
But just because the two are not the same doesn’t mean I’m cool with children being used to push an agenda. I don’t like children being used for election campaigns or consumerist commercials, so why would I be okay with that, here? Because our side is right and is therefore allowed to field children? Well, politically inclined parents (of either side) might think the same, so… I can’t really say I’m okay with that.
Exactly. (And agreed re ear-piercing too. It’s hardly comparable in medical terms, of course, but the idea’s the same – no-one has the right to impose a totally unnecessary procedure on someone else who can’t consent to it. And why the hell would anyone want to? )
What on earth is the father so obsessed about that this can’t wait until the boy can decide for himself?
Ophelia Benson says
Larissa – why be ok with it here? I think because the potential victim here is a small child. These small children are holding signs that defend their interests, even though they of course are too young to understand that. I think that fact makes it way less exploitative, and more reasonable.
Yes, the other side could do ads with small children holding signs saying “don’t force me to attend a secular public school” or “don’t teach me godless Darwinism”…but they’ll do that anyway.
Eamon Knight says
Sounds like court-sanctioned abuse on the part of the father to me. Neo-natal circumcision? Not good and we should work to end the practice, but at least a baby is pretty much oblivious and won’t remember (I don’t — didn’t even know I used to have a foreskin until I was, I dunno, 8 or 9). But doing it to a kid who’s old enough to know that something is being done, and that he’s missing a bit of himself afterwards? For no good medical reason? Yeah, I’m calling that abusive.
Larissa Verhülsdonk says
Ophelia – I think I might have overthought this, focussing on lofty ideals rather than real world application. After thinking long and hard I think I can concede insofar that I could probably live with my ideals bending over to save inumerable children from unwarranted mutilation. I just have this real weird ideals vs. real world battle going on in my head at times.
Ibis3, These verbal jackboots were made for walking says
Circumcision for non-medically necessary reasons on a minor child should be illegal. Full stop. The idea that a court can *mandate* child abuse is horrific.
Al Dente says
Like several others here, I wonder why it’s so important to the father to have his son circumcised.
Ophelia Benson says
Larissa – oh, I get that, believe me. I have that battle going on in my head a lot.
This is good opportunity to counter the ‘comparison’ nonsense.
Cutting pieces off of unconsenting children for no coherent reason is bad. Doing it in a dirt-floored hut in Ghana, with rusty razor blade is worse than doing it with a metal clamp in a hospital….so….um. Did I forget to mention that cutting pieces off of children is so categorically wrong that relativising it is obscene?
I seem many people doing just that about routine cutting of boys in the US. The issue is giggled off on sites like Jezebel, and even Slate and Daily Beast go very weak-kneed around it. I think too many journalists don’t want to think about their missing body parts, and FAR too many women have had they sons mutilated without any thinking.
How *on earth* can a parent explain to a four year old that he needs to have completely unnecessary surgery on one of the most sensitive parts of his body…just because? I was fortunate that my kids only needed minor procedures like vaccinations, stitches and an occasional blood draw. But I’ve heard the gut-wrenching stories from parents of children with cancer or other life-threatening conditions – how hard it is to explain to the kids that they need to have painful procedures in order for them to get better. How could anyone deliberately choose to put their own son through that for no good reason?
Omar Puhleez says
A quick look on the web indicates that the issues of male circumcision are not final, though my computer is running at very slow speed at the moment. (And no, I don’t need the services of ‘The Windows Care’ or any other bunch of scammers.)
Cervical cancer in female partners of circumcised men may be reduced, also penile cancer in males and STD transmission.
If that father gets his way (hope not!) and the kid ends up resenting him for inflicting this on him
(I bloody well would) , do you reckon Daddy will whine about “Parental Alienation Syndrome” or some such horseshit?
1) penile cancer is rarer than breast cancer in men
2) regarding cervical cancer, I’d rather ask a male sex partner to wear condoms than to cut of a part of his body
3) the STD stuff is iffy at best, some studies even suggest circumcision INCREASES risk of transmission
4) this is a child we are talking about! When he’s old enough to have sex, he can still decide to get cut.
5) nobody is hating on cut dicks here, the question is bodily autonomy. Cut dicks are fine.Uncut dicks are fine.The dick in itself is fine.People permanently altering dicks without the owner’s consent are not fine.
Chilli Devil says
I wonder how many people know what circumcision is like for a child? Check out this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLhEoOQhsVw.
This is a *promo* video for a healthcare firm that makes money out of performing genital mutilation on infants. Watch it. Go on, see if you can watch it to the end – without cringing, and without wanting to beat the shit out of the adults who conspired to do this to a helpless child.
There is no – repeat NO – proven medical justification for circumcising a child. Anyone who still thinks it is a good idea after watching that video is welcome to come and try to seperate me from part of my cock. Check your health insurance is up to date first…
Back in the 20s circumcision was touted as a means to prevent getting VD. Frank Kapra had it done, as he was a bit of a womanizer. He later complained that his circumcised privates had become so desensitized it felt like he was having sex while wearing a boxing glove as a condom.
I worked with AIDS victims in the 80s, and the rates of infection per 100,000 among UK gay men ( mostly uncut) and American gay men ( mostly cut) were virtually the same.