Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Privates by name, private by nature

When I was pregnant a number of people asked me whether we would be having the baby circumcised. "Only if it's a girl" was my stock answer. Yeah, I know, jokes about female genital mutilation are beyond the pale, but really, fascinating as the subject is and willing as I am to have a generalised discussion about the subject and my views on whether or not it should be carried out, I was a bit agog that anyone thought that an individual case was their business. 

For a family where one or both parents are Jewish (me, in this case) circumcision obviously comes up in discussions about the unborn child. But I see it as a highly personal issue, and one in which the child deserves privacy. Should I feel able to ask you about your genitals and what they look like? Of course not. So why did so many people think that they had a right to know about my child's? The euphemism 'privates' which we have settled on when talking about those parts, describes both the parts and their nature. 

Yet I wasn't sure how to articulate this without having an argument with anyone who asked. Until my dad gave me a great line to say the next time it came up - "When my son is old enough to decide whether he wants you to know what his penis looks like then you can ask him." Or rather, you can ask me whether you can ask him, though depending on your relationship with us and how old he is, the answer will very likely be no. 

It's a great line. I've never used it though - we had a girl. 


  1. I used to read The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith
    Kerr to my daughter when she was little and then everytime the doorbell rang she would get a panicked expression on her face! Love your blog -

  2. Aw thank you that's really kind. I think this comment might be meant for this post http://goodynuffmum.blogspot.com/2011/09/shes-perfect-we-kept-her.html