I've come to the conclusion that my objection to circumcision isn't about foreskin-or-not (although I firmly maintain my preference for the intact penis), but about informed consent and male babies' inability to give it. I believe it's ethically wrong to perform such an operation without informed consent, and that babies are unable to give informed consent, therefore such a decision should be offered to them when they are able to become informed and give consent that is meaningful.
Meanwhile, despite my defence of the rights of tiny babies to be allowed to grow up and make their own decisions about their penises, I seem to be going through a phase where I am grossed out by babies. Sometimes I think they are kind of cute (my kid naturally being the exception - he managed to stay cute even when I was grossed out by other babies, go figure), but lately the bulgy bits where their nappies are, their stubby little fingers and fat cheeks and drool just make me go "OMGARGHDON'TBRINGTHATTHINGANYWHERENEARM
Luckily, there are not really any babies in my life at the moment. But.. even ones in pictures are doing it.
Like this one:
*shudder* This, at the moment, is literally making my skin crawl.
Weirdly this doesn't happen with baby animals, just baby people. I know from experience that this isn't normal. Yes yes, amongst my peer group there is probably a higher incidence of this. There's even a name for the irrational fear of babies and children - pedophobia. However, I don't think I have this - it's not consistently there - sometimes I can tolerate being near them, and even think they're cute - I don't run screaming away from them or experience anxiety, and I'm not out there campaigning to have their rights stripped away because I fear their future potential to usurp my own power (I kid you not, that's a theory). They just, plain and simple, gross me out.
When I was living in Dargaville, lots of people had babies. It was that kind of town and I was at that age. And when someone came around with their babies, there was the expectation that everyone would coo and be all "Awww, isn't it cute?" and want to hold it. And the baby would be offered around to everyone, and someone would come up to me and offer me a hold like it was some kind of privilege and I would shrink away going "NO thanks" as emphatically as possible, and the offerer would be offended by my lack of desire to touch their offspring.
Apparently this is not natural, and I can definitely see why people would be offended by it. Most people seem quite taken by babies and will happily and willingly touch, smell, cuddle, and interact with them. So how do you tell someone you are repulsed by the fruit of their loins without offending them? The short answer is, you can't. And at that age, in those circumstances, I wasn't able to articulate my boundaries in such a way as to make it clear it was nothing personal, but that I really couldn't. Also, the "Try it, you'll like it" brigade did not help. It's a bit like offering someone a spider to hold if they're obviously not into it "Look at its lovely soft fur, see how it pulsates so rhytmically". All you're doing is trampling their boundaries and making them more averse.
Suffice to say, The Kid was the first baby I ever held, and I've successfully managed to avoid holding any babies since he stopped being one. Oddly enough, as I mentioned above, I had no problems with him - he did not gross me out, even when (as babies do) he did things that were objectively pretty gross. And it wasn't as if I had to grit my teeth and force myself to get over my revulsion to deal with him - I just didn't feel any.
Aside - I've come across cows like this. Some cows you can mother several other calves onto, and they'll happily treat them all like their own. Other cows will attempt to kill any calf that comes near them if it isn't theirs. I have never had violent feelings towards other people's children (just in case you were wondering), but I think my ability to cope with The Kid is probably a similar kind of "Its mine" protective thing coming out. I remember once being away from him for a day and by 3pm I was uncomfortably full of milk, and someone offered to let me nurse their baby to relieve the pressure. My reaction was physical and emphatic. I was repelled by the idea, actually nauseated by it. There was no WAY I was going to let some other baby nurse from me. Oddly, I couldn't express milk using a pump either, it just wouldn't let down. Yet The Kid got more than he could cope with. I guess those maternal hormones are just really specific in me.
So anyway, as I've got older I've seen enough of the way other people react to babies to understand that this kind of revulsion is not a normal reaction, and wondered why that is. And I can't answer that - I really don't know what it is about babies that I find so.. yucky. I know my Dad wasn't a baby-fancier either, in fact he wasn't even all that keen on children. I wonder if this aversion to little people is a genetic thing passed from him, or a psychological thing that we (I include my brother here because he's childfree and made sure he was never going to have children at quite an early age) inherited with our upbringing. I don't actually know how Mum feels, I just always assumed that she likes babies because, you know, everyone does, and she was affectionate and loving towards us. But so was I, with my kid - just, not anyone else's.
These days I don't have much call to explain myself about this aversion. I have one friend who has had a baby in the last 5 years. I was delighted to find out about her pregnancy, and I love reading her posts about her daughter's development - but I have never even seen her daughter in the flesh and I'm totally fine with that. I have not gone out of my way to avoid my friends' babies, but at the same time I'm very aware that having someone around your kid who obviously is repelled by it, is unpleasant and offensive. So I just.. don't.
And when people bring babies into the office (there's been a spate of that lately) and everyone gathers to admire and hold it, I make myself scarce. It's been noticed, and now nobody brings their baby to me to be held and admired. I mean, I'm not completely insensitive - I can look at someone's baby and say stuff like "Wow, she looks healthy" or "Check out his eyes, just like his Dad" and that sort of thing, and on a good day I can even manage "Aww, cute" - just don't bring it anywhere near me or expect me to want to hold it, mmk?
I guess this is by way of explanation. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but when you're in a room full of normal people and there's a baby, I sure as hell feel like the only one.
I don't think The Kid has inherited this, by the way. He likes babies and will happily ask to hold them. I'm relieved for him that he gets to have joy in something so simple.