Well – First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I don’t know if anyone will read this today or not. However, I have about an hour until all the work begins for me, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to outline my thoughts on a particular issue. I’m also going to clarify some things that people may be misunderstanding about this blog.
1) I’m not doing this to convince people to circumcise. My goal is reduction of circumcision rate. I am not ‘making intactivists look bad’. They’re doing that to themselves. All I’m doing is holding up a mirror. If intactivists quit acting like bullies and quit spreading misinformation, I’d have nothing to blog about here. If this blog makes intactivists look bad, it’s because they’re doing something that makes themselves look bad. I’m not lying about anything, I’m only pointing this out.
2) I’m actually trying to help intactivists. This may seem contradictory. The intactivists who have left comments for me very much believe that this position is either black or white. That there is no grey area. That is wrong. It is possible to be moderate and still disagree with RIC. If they are willing to open their minds and examine their methods and information, this blog could be of great assistance. I understand that this is an emotional issue, but being overly zealous is only hurting the cause. In my experience, the vast majority of people who choose not to circumcise are moderate people who have no desire to go on the offensive to attempt to end this practice. Every intactivist who speaks out histrionically, inaccruately…manipulatively is only furthering the cause for people encouraging circumcision. Because it is they, not I, who make intactivists look bad.
Nunya told me
the way you’re going about it right now just makes people think they can’t trust what intactivists are saying, which isn’t true
Let’s break this down a little bit, shall we? We now know that intactivists misrepresent the number of baby’s being circumcised (Dan Bollinger and Dr.Momma both do). By using inaccurate information…which is pretty much lying, they lose their credibility. Generally people can’t trust what intactivists are saying, because they do give a lot of false information out, along with good, accurate information. Unfortunately the false information and the bullying and attacking cause the good information to be ignored.
So I guess my position is that if you’d prefer to actually be trusted, you act trustworthy. Ditch statistics that you can’t validate. The NYT article clearly states that it’s a limited demographic they cited, which means there’s no way the circ rate is 32.5%. When that came out in 2009 I was excited but skeptical. Then I read the article. I remember thinking “Oh, I really hope no intactivist decides to use this. It’s so weak”. But nope. 2 years after the fact and well-respected bloggers/intactivists (mentioned above) are still repeating them. That means they’re liars. Does anyone trust a liar? No.
Again, the intent of this site is to point out the erroneous information, the cherry picked information and the outright lies told by intactivists. Not in the hopes of getting more parents to circumcise their kids, but in the hopes of opening the eyes of intactivists. A lot of the statistics you have are shaky. Don’t use them. Focus on more obvious stuff. You don’t need a bunch of science to explain why circumcision is unnecessary. I also think promoting it as unnecessary rather than evil would go a lot farther.
Here’s a sample conversation:
Pregnant Mom – I’ve always thought you had to circumcise your sons. Otherwise they’re stinky, cheesy and prone to disease. Also, they’re really much more difficult to take care of, since you have to pull the skin back to clean.
Intactivist – Oh I know. There’s a lot of misunderstanding in the general population about the intact penis. You don’t have to do it. It’s unnecessary, and there are no medical benefits at the time the procedure is performed to warrant it. Circumcision is a surgery, and surgery carries risk of complications. Also, you don’t have to pull back the skin to clean, you just wipe it off like a finger, very easy. Because it’s fused to the head of the penis, nothing can get in there to cause problems.
Pregnant Mom – But it’s just a flap of skin, and it doesn’t even hurt!
Intactivist – Well, the foreskin is not just a flap of skin. The inner foreskin is comprised of mucosal tissue , there’s a thin sheath of muscle and then very sensitive skin on the top of that. Further, since it’s fused to the head of the penis, (which helps protect the penis from germs and debris getting in) a very painful procedure called a synechiotomy. Without adequate anesthesia, such as a dorsal penile nerve block and pain control after the procedure, it is indeed very painful. Men don’t remember it, but we know that it’s painful based on some studies (provide studies on neonatal cortisol response during circumcision).
Pregnant Mom – Well, my husband has the penis, shouldn’t he make the decision?
Intactivist – If that’s what you feel comfortable with. However, since he’s never had a foreskin, how would he know what it’s like to be intact? You and your partner are on equal ground there. You’re both able to research circumcision and come to your own conclusion.
Pregnant Mom – Well, won’t his friends in the locker room laugh at him for being intact? What about women when he’s older?
Intactivist – Well, I doubt his penis will be closely examined in the locker room, these days. I don’t even know if boys get completely naked in the locker room anymore. The girls didn’t in the high school I went to. Further, with a circumcision rate around 54%, he’s not likely to be the only boy there with an intact penis. The lower circumcision rate would also cause women to become more familiar with the intact penis. Even with 80% of sexually active males in this country being circumcised, many women still prefer intact men.
Pregnant Mom – Well, what’s the big deal anyway? Every man I’ve been with was circumcised, and they had no problem with their penis.
Intactivist – (this is where you can get into a long spiel about human rights, but I think this might be a better approach, personally) The big deal is that it’s unnecessary. It doesn’t provide medical benefits to your son. The only benefits listed when discussing circumcision are potential benefits. Since it’s unnecessary, and a surgery that carries risks, the short term risks include: accidental amputation of the glans, accidental amputation of the entire penis, excessive bleeding, and even death. The long term risks include: adhesions, meteal stenosis, bent shaft (from a too-tight circumcision), hairy shaft, skin bridges, and erectile disfunction. For an unnecessary procedure, that sure is a lot of risks.
Pregnant Mom – (response A) – Well it’s my family and our family circumcises. It’s the family’s choice to do so.
(response B) – Wow, you’re right. That does sound unnecessary, and those complications sound scary. I’ll have to think about this a lot and talk to my husband about it.
Intactivist – (response A) You’re right, it is your legal right to do that. The nice thing about being intact, though, is that if your son really wants to be circumcised, he can choose to do it in the future, and he gets to make the decision, so you don’t have to guess. There’s no way to know whether you son would prefer to be intact or circumcised. However, if you leave him intact he has options. If you circumcise him, he doesn’t have any way to get a foreskin back. The closest thing is a long, painful process called ‘restoration’. In the end, though, you legally have the right to consent for circumcision for your son.
(response B) Thank you for listening to my viewpoint and being open-minded. I know you’re trying to make the best decision for your son. Good luck with your decision.
I know that most intactivists probably find this approach too mamby pamby. There are some instances where a stronger approach would work. You just have to read your audience. Some people take a challenge written in an aggressive manner and it causes them to think about things. Others get defensive and just shut down. Feel out your audience. In the end, the default position should be one of respect, not for their choices, but for them as human beings who only want what’s best for their child. Yes, they’re woefully ill-informed on the topic, but it is possible to teach them without lying or bullying.
Maybe this clarifies what my position is.