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Circumcision - The Final Cut

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- The continuing trials of an accidental mother- week 14 -

My parents were very anxious to meet the Glam Rocker. Messages had been left on my answer phone. It's not that I purposely kept them apart it's just that... well my parents are a very traditional old-fashioned couple. I told them a meeting was possible but they would have to promise not to mention...

"Marriage?"
"No."
"Engagement?"
"No."
"Living together?'
"No!"
"What then?" said my father exasperated, "What?"
"Circumcision..."

There I said it and the room fell silent.

The Glam Rocker is neither religious nor cut. The idea is wholly foreign to him, whereas to me, circumcision is as natural an act as cutting the umbilical cord. I realise in the current climate my opinion may strike a foul chord.

Firstly, I do not regard it in anyway as mutilation or child abuse. I see no correlation between male and female circumcision. The loss of skin taken from a penis does not impede, detract, or deny a man's sexuality in the way the removal of a clitoris does to a woman. Billions of men are circumcised the world over and it is a custom practised not just by Jews and Muslims, but was a routine procedure in the 20th century in countries such as America, the Caribbean, NZ and Australia.

Historically a circumcised penis was deemed to be "cleaner". Practically it is easier to clean, (many would also argue more aesthetically pleasing) but most importantly less susceptible to disease. This latter point is, today advocated by the World Health Organisation in an effort to stem the current spread of Aids in Africa.

"We are not living in Africa," argues the Glam Rocker. "Hygiene is not an issue. There is no physical need to circumcise a new-born. We are born complete beings."

I cannot refute his points. My argument is that it is an integral part of a boy's Jewish identity, his heritage, my heritage.

I grew up in Dublin in an orthodox Jewish family. I say orthodox but only in the hypocritical sense. I am not in any way religious. Despite a strong cultural affinity with the religion, I am the type of Jew who observes a bespoke pick and mix of traditions, (High Holidays and Friday nights) primarily because such occasions are all about family and family is hugely important to me.

This issue has the potential to be a colossal problem, or rather a snippet of a problem with huge repercussions, not just for us as a couple but especially for my parents. Regarding the former, the Glam Rocker and I are in the embryonic stages of our relationship. I have to consider his views. He is the child's father. Why should his son be different to him?

As for the latter, (the effect on my parents), the idea of their grandson being uncut would be an anathema to them. They would feel betrayed by me and that their grandson would not be 100% kosher albeit Judaism is passed down the maternal line.

As always, nothing's ever cut and dried.

We arrived at my parent's apartment, the Glam Rocker, Boy Wonder and yours truly. The Glam Rocker came prepared with a bouquet of flowers for my mother and I'd come with a mere 20 minutes on the parking meter. What could possibly go wrong in 20 minutes?

As first meetings go, it went - washed down easily enough with a cup of tea, some small talk, and a digestive. Religion didn't rear its provocative head (thank the Lord, Allah, Yahoo etc).

Instead, the Glam Rocker and I had astutely (to our minds at least) viewed a property together earlier in the day, the details of which peeked from my open shoulder bag. This instantly reassured my folks that the Glam Rocker's intentions were honourable and floated the idea of perhaps sometime in the future the pair of us living together.

TO BE CONTINUED

Gender politics of a 14-week-old foetus.
While upstairs we contemplated cutting the skin of a week old boy, the baby's sex would be determined and become apparent during this week. Ovarian follicles begin forming in girls and the prostate appears in boys. It is about this time the baby's arms will reach the final relative lengths they'll be at birth and its neck becomes more defined. Red blood cells form in its spleen. By now the baby might be almost 3.5 inches (87 millimetres) long from crown to rump and weigh about 1.5 ounces (45 grams).

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