My mother passed away 11 months ago, so this is the first Mother’s Day I am spending without her in my life. I miss her so much.
Growing up, but especially during my younger adult years, I had my share of grievances against my mother. Over the years, I occasionally confronted her with some of my complaints. Some of her responses satisfied me, while others did not. Sometimes airing my complaints was healing, but in other cases I even got perverse pleasure from seeing that she felt badly about certain parenting decisions she’d made.
A few years ago, though, my grievances against my mother simply dissolved. She was starting to become ill, and – all of a sudden – I saw her not as a formidable figure, one who could give and withhold, one who could shape my happiness and unhappiness, but rather as a woman like me, a mother who made the best choices she could at the time she had to make them. From one day to the next, I realized, truly absorbed, that she loved me, and that she had done the very best she was able to do. I also found that by losing any anger and resentment I held toward my mother, and allowing myself to accept and simply love her, my own life became more peaceful and more purposeful.
Since I became involved in the movement to stop the genital cutting of baby boys, I have heard many maternal remorse and child anger stories.
Mothers have called into radio programs where I was a guest, sobbing from grief and regret about having allowed their baby to be circumcised; some of these have been the mothers of toddlers, but many are recounting stories from 15, 20 or even 40 years earlier. For every one of these mothers, there is a son – a boy or man living with the consequences of a decision he did not make, but that is imprinted on his body and in his brain forever. And I have talked to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of such sons.
Many men struggle to resolve their feelings about having been robbed as babies of their right to a complete body; some struggle with where to place the blame. Some blame the doctors; others take issue with society’s blind acceptance of the ritual, and know they were victims of a terrible tradition. The saddest thing for me, though, is men who continue to blame their mothers; this seems to happen especially if they have attempted to talk with their mothers about their feelings, and have been rejected or told that their anger and feelings of loss are overblown or unimportant or, somehow, illegitimate.
This kind of response is tragic for both parties. While my own sins as a mother do not include acquiescing to the genital cutting of my child, I have done many things I now see were foolish, and I have heard plenty of grievances from my son. I am trying, though, to give myself a break, because while I fully acknowledge his feelings, I know how much I have always loved him, and that I did the best I knew at the time.
I also believe that, with (thankfully) very few exceptions, we mothers love our children and try to do the best for them.
We live in a society that accepts as normal a strange and barbaric ritual promoted as health care, and carried out by authority figures who are promoted (and promote themselves) as healers. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to lose sight of the power of custom and of authority, especially during those times (such as childbirth) when we are most vulnerable and most desirous of doing what’s right. With circumcision, both new mother and newborn baby are victims.
My Mother’s Day wish is that mothers apologize to their sons and forgive themselves, and that sons forgive their mothers. We can then all work together on fighting the custom and the real perpetrators of this awful legacy called circumcision.
Amen! Happy Mother’s Day! xo Diane
Important healing words Georganne. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Georganne. Stories like yours are what will ultimately change this awful practice. Not science and citation, but men, fathers, and mothers recounting their pain and anguish of being, at varying levels, victims of this barbarism. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, we will transition to becoming survivors, and then eventually infant circumcision will be yet another bad practice tossed in history’s dustbin.
I wish I could add something positive to this story but I cannot find such words. I would send my wished to my mother for an occasion like this as a wish for her soul to spend as much time as I have years (I am now an old man) in the depth of hell and suffer for what she had done to me in sacrifice to her god. She harmed me into a timid wretch that hated his life and to the point of suicidal wishes; a small boy that grew to hate himself, that was made to feel dirty for being a boy with constant urges brought about by the exposure of his most private and sensitive body part, to feel humiliated at his unnatural state.
I curse the ground that she waked upon and not once did she say sorry to me, no, she blamed me for the sleepless nights when I suddenlt turned into a screaming monster that cried all night, every night and never stopped crying.
Her action was selfish, thoughtles and cruel and so was Doctor Hall of Pencester Road Surgery, Dover. May they meet in hell and contemplate what evil deed they did to a defenceless baby boy.
To June Elks (my so called mother) I send you my hate and to Doctor Hall may you burn in hell with her.
Kevin Elks (who’s only crime was to be born to the wrong mother)
Dover, Kent, England (UK)
Thanks, Georganne, for your lovely message on this, your first Mothers Day without your Mom! It’s wonderful that you forgave her, understanding that she did the best she could with what she knew at the time. We all do…
There is much I agree with in this post, but not all. I think I’d have preferred a post- not on ‘Mother’s Day’- from a qualified mental health professional when it comes to the loaded and highly charged subject of men who survive mgm and the relationship with their mothers.
Are words like ‘forgiveness’ (feels too religious to me) and ‘blame’ (some mean ‘please don’t make me feel guilty’)the best you can do? I don’t think they’re good enough.
Apologise to our sons? Sounds fundamental. Reconcile? Ok. Accept mothers’ (and fathers’)mistake? Depends on whether they acknowledge the violation and their part in it.
This really deserves a much, much longer argument, conversation or dialogue.
Mother’s Day? Maudlin.
Time to acknowledge the SCIENCE Georganne for which you have NO DEFENSE
My 6 brothers and I were circumcised and continue to enjoy the many benefits
Thank you so much MUM and Dad !!!
You and your fellow anticircs will NEVER tell parents what is best for their child !!!
You are clutching at straws
As Dr. Thomas Szasz so eloquently pointed out, “I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in the condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male.”
A custom that took root in the U.S. as a moral antidote to masturbation needs to be abandoned and the structure that is written into the DNA of every mammal, a foreskin, should be left as designed by Nature. Scientific discoveries not withstanding, Nature generally knows best.
I am deeply grateful that my mother had the courage to defy American conformism and to refuse to permit my circumcision. She even threatened to divorce my father if he did not back down on this tender subject. All this in 1949.
It took me many years to appreciate that I was completely normal and healthy. It took me even longer to appreciate the sexual advantages to being intact.
Mr Fisher, have you ever spoken with an American woman who’s been intimate with both kinds of men? I have, and have been stunned at how such women defend the foreskin forthrightly.
I never blame American RIC on the mothers of boys, but on medical school profs.
Adam, don’t you listen. Didn’t I tell you that arguing in all uppercase letters means you have already lost the argument. I am glad that you appreciate your mother. That is a good thing.
As a circumcision activist, but NOT a victim, I find this message distasteful. I don’t have anything to forgive my mother for – no one ever mutilated me, because my parents were both against circumcision (due to my father having been circumcised). My mother has now been dead for a number of years and I am not a fan of mother’s day because all it does is remind me of that fact. I resent any messages on Mother’s Day and I vowed years ago to mark as spam any messages on the subject. Sadly, Intact America now gets that treatment. You just lost my support. Thanks a lot!
Thank you, Georganne, for words of wisdom about how to reconcile the often love/hate relationship many of us have/had with our mothers. You seem to have struck a nerve with some posting here. But I think you are right. It is best to try to forgive and accept others as they are because most every parent tries to do the best they know how. We are all ultimately responsible for our attitudes and our happiness.
I’m one of five brothers that were left intact. We appreciate being just as Mother Nature Intended for us to be. Thanks Mom!
When it is asserted that most mothers only learn after the event that it was a cruel mistake I believe that. Most mothers want less than mutilation for their sons and are deceived about the pain and long term effects, and are even encouraged to hand their sons over. We know the stories. So in a medical system that discourages critical thought, yes, they too are victimised by the abuse of trust in medical professionals. Yes, conscientious mothers pay a terrible price when the truth hits.
But Intact America ultimately has to focus on children as Number One Priority. The needs and rights of infant boys are the main focus of Intact America, surely? If there is a need for better support specifically for mothers to cope with grief or regret having cut their sons- understood. Maybe mothers need a specific group, space where they can support each other and the terrible feelings they live with. Of course this is understandable. I fully support that because it seems like a very real need.
I’m not sure this is the best forum for that support as there are many surviving members- men- and supporters of Intact America that have had to end relationships with their parents because they belittle or deny the mutilation and accompanying psychological problems that they have to cope with. Want to wish and encourage ‘forgiveness’ for mothers? Post it on a personal blog and not this one. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother but linking it with a missive about genital cutting and forgiveness seems distasteful at best.
I think you mean well and I feel safer in the world because of your good work on behalf of children. Thank you for your work, Georganne.
This post does not do you credit, though.
You must have been reading a different blog than I read. I suppose the blog may have provoked some to pick at the wounds of maternal relationships and conflicts. I have a great relationship with my mother, so I may have missed it. I would not, however, dismiss the importance of the maternal instinct to this cause. Several of the people who were the vangard for protecting infant boys were motivated by the mistakes they made with their sons and sought to even the score once they learned the truth. At its start, the base of this movement was mothers. They are still a core group. What is encouraging is the number of young men who have taken up the cause, and hopefully they will continue to propell things. I see this as a good thing. In some ways in the past it was safer for women to speak up in our machismo culture than for a man to speak up. The sign that more young men are speaking out reflects another hurdle is now behind us. This can only build momentum (look at what is happening to marraige equality across the country: after only a few states had the courage many other states are jumping on board). Thank you to all of dura maters (tough mothers) for the courage to do what was right. It was worth being the receipient of the funny looks, the condemnations, and tthe rolls on the internet who argue in the uppercase, because you are an inspiration to us and you have accomplished so much.
This movement is for the benefit of children, but a mother’s basic instinct to protect her baby is one of the driving forces. I would not be one to dismiss that.
Thank you. I deeply appreciate the recognition of how costly this blindness has been not only to our sons, but also to us the mothers.
Shteln, your comments are measured and balanced; you must have struggled to get your feelings down just right. I can see how it could be easy to misinterpret your thoughts.
Can I put in a bad word for “forgiveness”? It’s not something you do; it’s something that happens. You wake up one fine day and realize that you are not bound anymore to your resentments. It’s not your doing at all.
Georganne, thank you for this heartfelt message. Truly, it will be the broken hearts of the mothers that will heal this thoughtless and hideous practice. I thank you for your words and your countless deeds on behalf of the babies.
If I’ve offended moms, I apologise. The hard work mother’s- and mothers-to-be have done to end this horrible practice is truly awe-inspiring. There can never be enough gratitude for this monumental shift in American culture that is the result of women’s solidarity. Moms and Dads are getting much wiser and more aware of the rights of their children and you’ve kept that in motion. The next generation will be better parents and your sons will benefit, even if they don’t thank you.
I was wrong to rain on the parade. Sorry, Intactivist Moms.
Thank you. This is a really, really difficult discussion. I truly appreciate all — well, ALMOST all 🙂 — the thoughtful comments.
Thanks Georganne. A good relationship to our mother and both parents (father as well) is an important basis for building up our self confidence and interacting with other people in our society. Our parents serve as an important example and our ability to trust them is fundamental.
Georganne, your very truthful comments about a period of conflict with your mother was simply being authentic. Who hasn’t had areas of conflict with their mother (or father). The important part was the sense of resolution and appreciation you were able to come to. I’m sorry you felt you had to apologize for such a sincere and loving disclosure.
If you were to ask and then really listen, you will find most circumcised American men seethingly resentful over what was done to them at birth. These men know full well they aren’t playing the Sex and Copulation Game with a full deck…that there’s something missing down there…and that “Mom” had something, if not all, to do with it.
Many belatedly contrite and regretful mothers will seek their sons’ forgiveness. And of course, being “Mom”, sons will give it. BUT THEY WON’T FORGET…THEY CAN’T… Every time they urinate, they are reminded what she okayed by the scar and the sight of his denuded glans. Most guys just can’t forget what was irreversibly done to them with their mothers’ wishes…no matter how often they’re admonished to “get over it…”.
Many of today’s young women will have had sex with both the natural and the skinless variety of penis and your circumcised son will be deemed wanting. His “hell-bent”, pile-driving, “Jew-Screw” copulatory technique; her sore, dry, and chafed vaginal walls; the anguishing long thrust times for him to ejaculate; and worse, for her the total lack of smooth, loving, natural, and easy orgasms…all because of his absent foreskin.
So tell me, Ms Chapin, have you and you other penitent, teary-eyed circumcising mothers sought the forgiveness of your sons’ wives and/or mates as well? No? Well, you best get after it…before she seeks a separation citing “incompatibility”. Your admission doesn’t change much for her, but it is safe to bet that in her sexual frustrations, she has wondered as to what in hell were you thinking, if at all, when you remanded your then perfect, new little guy and now her mate, to the circumciser to have his foreskin shorn away? (…and, for that matter, so is your son…) You might bring her an Hitachi “Wand”, so as to provide her an orgasm now and then…she will be getting few, if any, copulating with your skinless son.
You mothers should be ashamed! Think of the lifetime of mischief your ignorance has wreaked upon your sons’ and daughters’-in-law sex lives… it’s unconscionable…
Gordius Knot, please note that Georganne started this blog because she did NOT circumcise her son and he was thankful later in life to have been left intact. Georganne understood then that every boy should be as lucky as hers and grow up intact. This is what motivated her to found intactamerica.
So, you are right that the wives of circumcised men also suffer besides the men as well and deserve to be considered as well. But if that is true, why is it then that circumcision keeps getting perpetuated? I still meet young non-jewish mothers who get their sons circumcised. If they have experienced different partners and know the difference, why do they do it to their own sons? The excuse is usually “because daddy is circumcised” or just “because it’s tradition”.
I just believe that it’s all because of misinformation and the fact that Americans are generally not comfortable talking about these issues in public. It’s another one of those “psssst” things. But when men start speaking out, not just prospective fathers but also young, sexually active men, that is going to make a huge difference. Americans start coming out from the dark ages and feel more comfortable talking about their body.
As one of those mothers whom you demonize with utter contempt, I want to tell you that it is not a simple thing to confront the truth and horror of what we were persuaded to do out of complete ignorance and misinformation. I would never argue with the depth of your pain, nor the legitimacy of your rage. I do challenge you on three points: 1) your seeming inability that any mother’s heartbreak could be sincere; 2) the assumption that these mothers have not apologized to their sons; and 3) your need to use anti-Semitic caricaturing (“Jew screw”) to emphasize the vileness of circumcision. If you are really interested in furthering the cause of protecting babies, you will need to reflect on the way you assign blame and express your rage.
An open reply to Miriam Pollack’s May 15 comments to me…
No Miriam, not contempt, at least not “utter”. I regard you all with complete loathing…disgust, if you will.
“Contempt” is the word I’d ascribe to the feeling you all have for Mother Nature. Remember her? She is the gal who delivered you a small, perfect (IN EVERY WAY) little guy. Remember? And rather than nuzzling him with warm hugs, soft caresses, a sweet suckle, you let him be hustled off by cold strangers to suffer the most traumatic pain any body could imagine. In my book that is contempt., not only for Mother Nature but your son’s masculinity as well.
Not quite the same for a bris…but still traumatic. At the one I attended, the little guy, gussied up in his father’s and his grandfather’s bris raiment was hustled off by a couple of hirsute men to another room and the door closed. Still, one could hear his wails (and to this day, I still can). In the next room the mother and other guests were busy setting out his after-party feast. (And for this Gentile…hard to understand, but the new little Jew wasn’t even brought to the festivities…he remained mostly alone in the other room.)
As to assigning blame…it is the mothers, who have full sway over her neonate, and Miriam that includes “protecting babies”. “Full sway” means FULL. She trumps Doctors, Nurses, the birthing center Staff, EVERYONE! AND need I remind you, it takes only one signature on the Consent to Circumcise Form to have a male baby “done”? A father’s alone, won’t cut it. So the question remains, why was it so hard for you grieving mothers to have just said “NO”?
Princess Diana said “NO” despite her husband, Prince Charles, her father in law, Prince Phillip and the total British Establishment’s insistence. So William and Harry both have all the royal parts and pieces they arrived with. Tell me, why can’t more American mothers be like her? Take responsibility for your actions? Why do you scurry behind a cover of ignorance? Or blame it on the father? Or on patrimony? Is it because you women know you can get away with it?
And no, Miriam, it is not rage I am expressing, it is dismay…a sadness. And I am certain our real mother yours and mine, Mother Nature, is close to tears as well.
And the three challenges you threw down? I’ll pick up that gauntlet in a later posting. That is, if I am permitted…from the replies I’ve been reading, I am making a lot of you mothers uncomfortable, Good! And that I am not supportive enough in your “what I did to my son” grieving, Too Bad!…Truth Hurts! And that my remarks are not being received too well, My Goodness!
Bear up! You mothers suffer this self inflicted soul searching bewilderment only occasionally. Circumcised men suffer it 24/7, 365.
But if permitted, I’ll be back, Miriam…I’ll be intrigued to hear how you mothers can and do rationalize your actions (i.e. how you could ignore your deep maternal instincts to not protect your infant son from harm.) Plus I not quite finished excoriating you and the rest of you simpering “too late” heartbroken mothers. Don’t go away…but I’ve got to go to work. GK
If both the mother and the father decided on circumcision, it seems that only the mother (here, anyway) is the recipient of blame and resentment. And I don’t think it’s because we’re discussing Mother’s Day.
Why don’t some of you angry men confront your old man, and see what happens. And don’t get on my case, I didn’t have my boy cut – even though my husband said later it would have been okay with him if that’s what I decided. (Child care is women’s work.) To add crap to the story, I got lectured in the hospital from my roommate for deciding not to mutilate the kid. And the shocking, derisive comments from a sneering jew acquaintance didn’t help.
Circumcision, or lack thereof, appears to be the gift that just keeps on giving.
Ok, then let’s wait until it’s father’s day and have a similar discussion replacing “mother” with “father” 😉
I’m just kidding, but I agree with you, Bettie, one should not just blame mothers. They were trapped in a flawed system aggravated by the fact that the father is in many cases also circumcised and carries the trauma within himself. Americans need to wake up and become comfortable openly talking about their bodies and sexual matters. Sexuality is not a crime, it’s part of life and should not be hidden. The male body is not something that needs to be grossed out. There is lots of prudishness in this country that prevents openly discussing important health matters.
Certainly, your comment regarding the lopsided targeting of the mother is a crucial part of this issue. However, when you say, “To add crap to the story, I got lectured in the hospital from my roommate for deciding not to mutilate the kid. And the shocking, derisive comments from a sneering jew acquaintance didn’t help,” I must take issue with you for your need to identify your acquaintance as the “sneering Jew”. You didn’t seem to need to single out the hospital staff who were harassing you as Christian, did you? Your anti-Semitism will not help this movement even if it does make you feel more righteous and superior.
Miriam, I didn’t say that I got harrassed by hospital staff. I was lectured by my hospital roommate (you know, two women to a room) for not having my baby cut. And, no, I would not identify her as Christian since I don’t know what her religion is. I really ought to have asked her. As for my antisemitic remark, I think Georganne should make a decision one way or another to excise these kinds of comments if they are indeed detrimental. It’s okay with me if she removes mine, but I don’t know how the fellow who said “Jew Screw” would handle this censorship.
It’s not Georganne’s responsibility to monitor the surfacing of the ever present latent anti-Semitism that continually bubbles up around this topic. It’s up to each of us to clean up our own acts, both in speech and thought. If you or any of the other activists who so casually throw these slurs around have any hope of a dialogue with Jews or the Jewish community, it will have to be coming from compassion and respect, not these cheap anti-Semitic labels. Would you really have felt so free to use pejoratives when speaking about blacks, Hispanics, or Asians? Why is this category so permissible? And, why am I regularly the only one who objects?
Why, indeed, Miriam? Could it be because youre a too sensitive Jewess with little humor? Get yourself a carapace. Or better yet, get out from the one youre under. For Christ s sake (and take that as a Christian slur) Get a life! Hang Loose(r) Dont take yourself so damn seriously!
Consider heeding the just get over it advice an apellous is given, when hassled by the great unwashed intact hoard.
Not only are you Up Tight you are Up WAY Too Tight! And worse, you are becoming No Fun
On Thu, May 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM, The Intact America Blog wrote:
> ** > Miriam Pollack commented: “It’s not Georganne’s responsibility to > monitor the surfacing of the ever present latent anti-Semitism that > continually bubbles up around this topic. It’s up to each of us to clean up > our own acts, both in speech and thought. If you or any of the other a” >
Why, indeed, Miriam? Could it be because you’re a too sensitive Jewess with little humor? Get yourself a carapace. Or better yet, get out from the one you’re under. For Christ ‘s sake (and take that as a Christian “slur”)…Get a life! Hang Loose(r) Don’t take yourself so damn seriously!
Consider heeding the “just get over it.” advice an apellous is given, when hassled by the great unwashed intact hoard.
Not only are you Up Tight… you are Up WAY Too Tight! And worse, you are becoming…No Fun…
Well, I think that was a well written piece, Georgeanne. Thank you! I sincerely hope that where there is a need for healing, that it does take place.
As a child, and even a young adult, I was too buried in shame and embarrassment to broach the subject of my feelings over being circumcised with either parent, so I do not think that my mother ever understood how I felt. However, I did ask why. Her response indicated that she did it with the best of intentions. She was a victim of bad information. It was not like she had access to the internet, or even a library (not that there would have been useful information on circumcision there anyway!). Yes, I wish that she would have put more logical and critical thought into the decision, but in those days one just trusted the doctor, right? I am one who blames a greedy and unethical medical system. All that doctor had to was tell her that it was uneccessary, and it would not have happened.
But even today with all the information on the internet, a lot of mothers and fathers still keep circumcising. I simply canNOT believe it.
Thank you Georganne, for your thoughtful blog. My mum is alive at 92. She is deeply, deeply, sorry about what she did to 4 out of 5 of her boys, including me. But I am keenly aware that she was entirely a victim of medical stupidity and greed, not heartlessness. We have had our tears over it, she and I, and there is an end on it.
She is and was a wonderful mum to all ten of us –healthy and productive adults— even if the four boys are a little light and insensate in the midsection, (which you, Georganne, were smart enough to dodge for your own son.)
There will be an end to this barbarity in the USA —but it will take time. The ethical and kindly physicians of my native New Zealand who stopped the practice in its tracks there in the 1960’s, are apparently in short supply in the USA.
They need help to see the light, and I suggest that is where some of the anger I read in this thread should be directed.
I have always liked this Greek proverb: “That country is good where old men plant trees whose shade they will never enjoy.”
John V. Geisheker, J.D., LL.M.
Doctors Opposing Circumcision
I think forgiveness is overrated, and reconciliation is but a euphemism for “learning to ignore trespasses because it’s easier”.
In my opinion, forgiveness is overrated, and reconciliation is just a euphemism for “ignoring past trespasses because it’s easier”.
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