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Pet Peeve #84

I tend to dislike parents who pierce their infant's ears.

Explain to me why they can't allow their child to have some say-so over his, or, in most cases, her, body? Maybe he or she doesn't want pierced ears. What on earth would it hurt to wait until the child is old enough to make an autonomous decision? Even if the individual opts to let them heal over, there's still scar tissue there that didn't have to exist.

Outside of the ethical issues, why open your child up to the possibility of contact dermatitis, keloid formation, or possibly swallowing the earring? Don't babies have enough stuff to get through already? And I've read that infants have greater risk because their immune systems aren't fully developed yet.

I'm aware of the Hindu tradition on this, but on this one, I think practicality and the well-being of the child should take precedence over religious belief. Just because an action is steeped in tradition does not make it a just action. Sometimes tradition needs a swift kick in the butt with the boot of informed consent.

I say this as someone who made the conscious decision to get her ears pierced at around age 14 or so. The other immediate female members of my family do not have pierced ears. I think my mother was very wise to make me wait.


Oct. 13th, 2005 11:37 am (UTC)
Interesting. I wonder if you feel the same about circumcision? Just in case you don't, can you let me know in advance? I'd like to bring popcorn to the raionalizaion.
Oct. 13th, 2005 01:46 pm (UTC)
Ahead of you, I am! Talk like Yoda, I will! I was waiting for someone to mention this. :)

Unfortunately, I'm at work right now, so I can't Google something like that without the link getting blocked. However, from my reading last night, it's my understanding that it is possible to make a pro-circumcision case on medical grounds in terms of infection risk, and that the procedure is more problematic when it is done for adults. No such comparable case exists for ear piercing. In fact, from what I understand, it's almost the opposite: from what I read, one may reduce the risk of certain messy infections if the foreskin is removed, while one actually increases an infant's exposure to risk with an ear piercing. On the other hand, I know there are some schools of thought that indicate that the circumcision issue is more about cleanliness than anything else, and if you keep the area clean, you're fine, so then it really does become a cosmetic issue. Still, given that there is some bacterial accumulation there that has to be given special attention, there is at least a very small "best interest" advantage to it.

However, I will also be the very first to acknowledge that I do not have an owner's manual, as it were, on the circumcision issue. If you are able to provide more information on it that I do not have, please be my guest.

Unlike Portia's famous comment, ;) I don't think I've ever asked my male friends if they wish they'd had the choice, and if so, what that choice would have been.
Oct. 21st, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
katharine, you're right on the circumcision thing - it's better to circumcise as an infant, better blood circulation on day 8 (our rabbis somehow knew what they were doing...), and does prevent infections on the whole. as i do have a son, we know the research on the matter, it's more of a health issue for circumcision; whereas for ear piercing, it's an accessory.

i had my ears pierced when i was 7, along with my cousin, and my mother (who never had her ears pierced before then)...:)


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