Cultural Baby Mutilation

April 09, 2009 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Spain 2,998 views

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Panda Earring BoxNora, the culture you have been born into has certain unfortunate traditions that place unfair expectations on its ovary-enabled citizens. These practices, such as leg waxing and high-heeled shoes, will cause you much pain and suffering, but your ancient tribal instinct will place such a high value on fitting in with your peers that you will inevitably perform these practices regularly. In Spain, they start early – lucky you! – so we have already mutilated your body without your consent to conform with society’s expectations.

In Spain, infant girls have their ears pierced. The pros include easy face-based gender recognition of babies and the inability to remember the trauma of ear piercing. The con, of course, is that someone else is making a decision about your body for aesthetic reasons, which goes against my moral values. At least we’re not tattooing “Daddy’s Little Girl” or “eπi + 1 = 0” on your forehead or something. I rationalize the situation by telling myself that it will probably never even occur to you that there was ever an option to have unpierced ears.

The piercing typically happens at the hospital at only a few days old, but we didn’t have any earrings purchased or gifted yet, so we waited until your first visit to the doctor at the end of your first week. The pediatric nurse asked if we had brought earrings with us, we said we had, and she offered to “install” them for us. Having never pierced anything nor seen anything pierced, I was under the impression that there would be a special sterilized instrument similar to the single hole punch with the blue plastic compartment that I carried around in my school backpack for so many years. But no, she took out an earring and went right for your lobes. You were rather nonplussed and your mother had to look away. While you were writhing in agony, the nurse pushed those little babies right on in. Amidst the intense screaming I actually heard the *POP* as they went through. Strangely there was no blood to speak of and no swelling afterwards.

When we got home, your mother, a trained ISO9000 auditor, began inspecting the nurse’s handiwork. The earrings were not at all symmetrical, one was closer to your face than the other, and one of them pointed out sideways instead of to the front. So we made the decision to remove them, let the wounds heal, and mutilate you again later! Aren’t you a lucky girl!

Panda Earring Box

This panda looks harmless enough…but when you open him up…


These were given to you by our friend, Marina, who sells jewelry.

Earring Close-Up

They’re pretty gorgeous. Unfortunately the pediatrician said that you can’t wear any earrings that remotely dangle at all until the piercing wounds heal completely, so you can’t wear these yet.

Nora's Pierced Ears - Take One

Luckily we had these, given to you by cousin Mariangeles, to brutally impale you with.

Nora's Pierced Ears - Take One

This is the one that was facing off to the side.

Hopefully “the third time’s the charm” does not apply to piercings.

  • This is a great post. It has jewelry, Nora, cultural insight, anal-retentiveness, a panda, and did I mention Nora?

    What would happened if you guys decided not to pierce her ears again anytime soon? How big a deal is this?

  • It’s not like we would get excommunicated or anything. It’s not like not piercing your daughters ears is actively frowned upon. People would just ask why we didn’t do it. And children, being children, would probably mock her for being different. It’s not that big a deal; it’s just something that’s done.

    • JPDL

      Here in Portugal they seem to do it to most girls too sadly.When I have children I will leave it up to them to decide on comestic non-medically required surgeries tbh.

  • The final auto de fe


  • i’ve noticed the baby piercing thing here too, and i have to admit it’s pretty full on seeing a one month old with pierced ears… and what you’ve described sounds pretty barbaric, don’t understand why they didn’t use a piercing gun…

    but girls being girls, she’ll want them done when she’s older…. my mother would never let me have my ears pierced and i spent my childhood and teenage years desperately wanting them done… as soon as i turned 18 i got them done twice in both ears… so you can’t win!! but maybe you should be grateful you don’t have a boy and don’t have to go through the whole circumcision or no circumcision thing (although i believe that is quite out of medical fashion now)…

    finally, i know they’re not quite straight, but is it really as bad as all that to have to go through the whole thing again? mine aren’t straight either, and i suspect if you look around at all the pierced ears in the world you won’t find many that are perfectly symmetrical…

  • Amy Swor

    Enjoyed reading about Nora’s adventures into womanhood as a newborn. Coming from an Iberian culture, you may know it can be a male dominated society. As a result, newborn baby girls have their ears pierced at days old to show they are accepted and loved by the familia.

    Obviously, Nora is loved and looks like a little cherub with her newly pierced ears. I love the look of pearls on little girls and Nora is just precious with hers. You and your wife are to be commended on following culture accepted practices in her home county.


  • Tr

    I always cringe here as I see parents yank sweaters etc off the little ones, envisioning the earrings being slammed into the baby’s neck.

    Not matter that other little ones are going to take the piss out of her, at least when she decides to have them done, it will be as you say, her decision.

    A creepy pervert pouring water over her head is a similar situation, how are you going to avoid that one?

  • Last night I dreamt that I made an unsuccessful and rather messy attempt to pierce my own ears by stabbing them with an oversized tack.
    I hold you responsible.

  • orangiey

    My daughter was born in Madrid and she hasn’t got her ears pierced and the creepy pervert hasn’t poured water over her head either. She can choose these options when she’s older, and YES ‘la familla’ LOVE her, we’re from the UK and it’s seen to be of low class, ie a Chav or with Romany gypsy origins.

    • Fghjk

      if you dont like spanish customs why do you live here? better raise your kid in uk, and dont insult the country were you live saying those stupid things

      • katy77

        Come on we’re talking about painfully mutilating a little baby here. Get off your high horse.

  • Josh

    Your story is as good an advertisement for the services of a professional piercer as any I’ve heard. Strangely enough, most of the people I know who opt not to pierce their newborn childrens’ ears are professional piercers. The rest of the population seems content to suffer their children to get shoddy work done from incapable nurses, pharmacists, etc. While I’d like to think that we’ve chosen not to pierce Sophia’s ears out of some lofty idealism regarding the sovereignty of the individual respecting his body, etc. the ugly truth is that we were simply unwilling to deal with the logistics of caring for the wounds. I figure that when S. is old enough to care for (and pay for) her own piercings, she’ll get them done. Until then, she probably won’t even miss them. On the other hand, she will have deep-seated gender issues deriving from Spaniards’ incapability to grok the possibility of a girl without pierced ears. It seems they will more easily accept that a little boy might be wearing a pink dress than that a girl have virgin lobes.

  • Britta Plum

    Poor litle baby. Did you bring here to another place the month after or did you gave this nurse another chance to do it right ?
    Why haven’t you used a jewelery service ?
    They have sharp studs to pierce. I did it to my doughter also nothingh is wrong with piercing a little Babys ears but just pushing a earring trought the ear is barbaric it must have broken your heart I guess.
    But anyway now she looks so cute with her earrings congratulations

    • For the second go we took her to a pharmacy that has one of the special guns. They were also professional enough to take her into a back room so we didn’t have to witness it.


  • Heh. “Chav” is a funny word for a funny thing.

    • Did you just learn that word? You can’t live in the UK without knowing it. I’d never heard it before moving there.

      • No, I think I learned it from an email forward containing photos from a “Chav wedding”. But I hadn’t heard it in a while.

        I did learn last week that I’ve lived in the U.S. south my entire life without ever noticing the regionalism “tump over”:

        • Heh. I’ve never heard that. It’s wonderfully onomatopoeic.

  • katy77

    That’s terrible – why wouldn’t you at least get it done professionally with piercing equipment like a gun or needle? Why didn’t they use topical cream? – ouch.

  • ads

    Piercing baby girls: sexism and gender differentiation since birth. Totally against it and glad not having them since birth, nor my mom, nor my grandma did but got them as an adolescent. Why does a baby even need them? they don’t even know what they are. babies are babies and just want to survive and play. Totally a social sexist rule, favoring that girls are for decoration, that I will always be against.

    • JPDL

      Yeah these types of cosmetic procedures shouldn’t be done on children they should be left for the individual to decide when he/she grows older. (this applies also to procedures like male and female genital cuting for example which are common on many cultures)