Tough Questions: On Banning Circumcision

Iceland is currently discussing a bill that would ban infant male circumcision and, if it succeeds, it will become the first country in the European Union to do so. I always knew that I would eventually comment on this most touchy of subjects, and in light of this current news I guess now is as good a time as any.

I am aware that for many people, this is not a “tough question” at all. Many have very strong opinions on the subject one way or another, whereas I find myself quite torn on the topic. I am also aware that, as someone who does not own a penis my opinions on the subject are somewhat less valid than someone who has more skin in the game, so to speak, but my current dilemma is mostly based on the science and the fact that both sides often exaggerate or twist it to fit their own notion.

Before we continue yes, I made a circumcision pun. I totally meant it. I apologize… kind of. Now let’s move on.

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What An Interesting Perspective

While I acknowledge that memes are often used to spread misinformation and to reinforce preexisting (and often completely wrong) ideas, I also think that they are just as often used to spark new ideas and make people challenge their own preconceived notions.

Such a thing happened to me today when I came across this meme on facebook.



Hmm, I thought, that is very interesting. On the one hand, I can see how some people might scoff at this as being overly sensitive, libby, and feeding into this general notion that modern-day parents don’t know how to raise respectful and polite children. On the other hand, I remember being a shy child (despite having grown into a woman with no boundaries or problems with physical contact) and how much I hated feeling like I had no agency and no choice over my body, how I dressed, my hair style, or any such matter. I remember how being forced into physical contact when I didn’t want it only increased my surliness, and how my avoidance of strange adults stemmed from the pressure I felt to behave contrarily to how I felt. I can imagine how taking the pressure off would have relaxed me and made me far less shy in adult company.

This meme got me thinking about how forcing children to be physically affectionate is just one of the many ways that we attempt to “civilize” children, and the cultural expectations surrounding physical contact*. It prompted me to read the description beneath the post, which brought me to the article posted on CNN that inspired the meme titled I don’t own my child’s body.


*By the way, I have been meaning for months to address the cultural differences about physical contact, as it was suggested by a reader and an interesting topic of discussion. I haven’t done it until now because I was trying to unpack what I was going to say about it in my own mind. I have now, so I will have that post up soon.

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Thoughts On: Shaming Your Kids

Note: This is an old post, slightly edited

A year ago, a discussion came up on TYT that got me all conflicted, as it sometimes does. I’ve realized that when you agree with some people 95% of the time, that only makes the 5% you disagree on feel more jarring. This case had to do with parenting, and whether or not it is a viable parenting strategy to shame your kids.

Jimmy Dore and Karamo Brown – a new occasional co-host on TYT, disagree quite strongly on whether or not subjecting your child to public humiliation is a good parenting strategy. Viscerally, I disagreed with Karamo Brown, but I wasn’t quite sure why. There were other instances of publicly humiliating kids that had been covered by TYT which I did agree was a good strategy, despite the fact that Ana often comes out 100% against it. In this case, however, I found myself siding with Jimmy Dore, although it took a while for me to wrap my head around why that was.

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Tough Questions: Will You Lie To Your Kids?

Note: I wrote about this before, but it has been heavily rewritten as I have thought about it further

The easy answer is no. While I do not have children at the moment, it is a distinct possibility in the future, and I have always thought that I want to be completely honest with my kids, if I ever have any.

I don’t think that this is a tough question when it comes to teenagers. I remember how my mother never told me anything about herself and her teenage years, and this created distance and mistrust between us. However, when it comes to small children, there are two lies that I was told as a child which I find myself wanting to perpetuate: Santa, and heaven.

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