Saturday, September 18, 2010

A little snip here and there...

So a Kenyan friend of mine tells me the other day that he’s considering circumcision. He’s in his 20s and seems otherwise sane. So when I ask him why, his answer didn’t quite compute. 

Me: Why get circumcised?
Him: Cause all my friends are circumcised.
Me: But... is it for sanitary reason?
Him: No.
Me: Is it for religious reasons?
Him: No.
Me: Then... why? I’m confused.
Him: It’s a rite of passage. My friends did it... now I’m suppose to do it.
Me: But what’s the purpose?
Him: Because...

The conversation ended with confused laughter and we went on about our business. A few days later he told me he had the procedure and it was awful. (I must confess I secretly laughed.) He said that watching them pull the foreskin up and snipping away was horrifying! (I can’t blame him!) And that when they went to suture it up he almost fainted. (Wouldn’t everyone?)

After the procedure I asked him if he was going to tell his family.

Me: So are you going to tell your mom?
Him: No. She would just worry and call me every few hours to see how I’m doing.
Me: Why don’t you want your family to know?
Him: Oh, they would just worry.
Me: So you want to suffer alone.
Him: Yep. That’s it.
Me: (smile) Tell me again why you are doing this?
Him: Because my friends did it. It’s a rite of passage. Remember?
Me: oh... of course. So what did your girlfriend say about it?
Him: She just laughed. My sister laughed at me too when I told her.
Me: oh...

I’ve watched him bent over in pain for a number of days, complaining of the pain and barely able to see straight. Each day I tell him how sorry I am for his pain, but I secretly wonder why.

What is it about the foreskin that screams ‘rite of passage’? I would understand if it was for religious reasons... but because your friends did it? What kind of reason is that?

Also, the midwife-side-of-me wonders if it is this painful for an adult, how painful must it be for a newborn? It’s not like we have fewer nerve endings when we grow up or anything. It gives me a new insight on how a newborn must feel post-procedure.

But as a whole... I plead a bit confused -- Not having the proper equipment to honestly comment.

Help me out here... is there any other part of the body that we would willingly cut off just because our friends are doing it? Perhaps an ear lobe? A finger? The tip of our nose?

I’m just asking...