Recently, I was told that this blog talks about how intactivists bully or try to emotionally manipulate, but I haven’t explained how. I’ve pointed out some misused statistics, but haven’t commented much (aside from Nunya’s comment) about the actual bullying done by intactivists. I wasn’t really sure how to do this, because I don’t want to quote people from online without their permission. Even if I had their permission, I wouldn’t feel terribly comfortable doing it anyway. However, it’s not hard to find what I’m talking about. You can check out BabyCenter’s Community Forums, Mothering’s Forums, CafeMom’s Forums, and pretty much any online article about circumcision to see what I mean. So lets get down to some actual specifics.
First, I’ll posit some reasons why intactivists would want to be offensive or bully people. I have seen some misguided intactivists claim that by offending people, they’re getting their attention and are more able to convince them not to circumcise. This is the most ass-backward logic I have ever heard. I also have seen them swarm on people, like a hive of angry bees on a hapless victim. Bullying-by-numbers is an old play out of the Logical Fallacy Handbook: Argumentum Ad Populum. The more people agree, the more right you are.
Here’s some of the offensive terms I’ve heard used:
This is the most commonly used, emotionally-charged term I have seen. Many intactivists refer to RIC and even religious circumcision as ‘mutilation’. They’ll dance around it, pull out dictionary definitions and pretend to not understand why it’s offensive. I’ve seen that particular scenario played out hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Mutilation is a word with strong, negative connotations. Nobody uses the word mutilation in a positive light. When you use a word like that with parents who have circumcised their kid, or are considering it, you’re telling them that they are bad. Evil. Harmful. Parents who would harm their child. Most parents who circumcise their children are doing it because they’ve bought into the cultural misconceptions about the foreskin. They think they’re doing what’s best for their child…that they’re doing him a favor. They’re not doing it because they’re bad or evil. They’re doing it because that’s what they’re familiar with. Telling them they’re mutilating their children or considering mutilating their children is no more going to cause them to listen to your message than a Christian Proselytizer coming to your door and telling you you’re going to Hell right off the bat. Pretending that you don’t know why that word is offensive is disingenuous at best. Intacitivsts use the word because it is offensive.
Let’s face it. If anyone told me I was victimizing my children, I’d rip their fucking face off. So why anyone would use this term to someone who’s not actually victimizing their children is beyond me. This is total fail. Turn that around. What if someone were to say to you “You’re victimizing you’re children because you left them intact, and now they’re going to be mocked and no women will have sex with them!”. You’d be indignant. Hell, you’d be outraged. So why would you say that to someone else? I think the Golden Rule is just about the most perfect rule to follow when it comes to intactivism.
Variations on the same theme. These terms are broad brush terms that are very popular with anyone who doesn’t agree with them, whether they’re moderately anti-RIC or full-blown circumfetishests. Not everyone who ‘researches’ circumcision comes to the same conclusion. Not all the evidence is as clear cut as it’s made out to be. There’s a lot of conflicting information and studies that come to polar opposite conclusions on the same topic. Just as intactivists take advantage of this to cherry-pick information that supports their position, so do circumcising parents. I’ve seen a lot of comments from circumcising parents that show that they’ve not read much about circumcision or the foreskin, I’ll grant that. Instead of calling names though, why not just correct the misinformation? Most people are more willing to consider the information if it’s presented in a polite, calm fashion. If you call someone ignorant or stupid and then post a link with a self-satisfied cyber-smirk, chances are they’re just going to dismiss it.
That’s right. There’s a grand conspiracy of doctors who know that circumcision is ‘wrong’ and ‘harmful’, but just won’t admit it for fear of lawsuits. I’m going to have to label this as more silly than offensive, but considering how many doctors, including the AAP have stated that circumcision is not necessary…well, I think it’s obvious that doctors aren’t afraid. The question of whether it’s wrong is more of a philosophical one, and in our culture, it’s not considered wrong. Individually, we may consider it wrong, but culturally, we do not.
Then there are just the implications. The implications that parents who circumcise don’t love their children as much as the parents who don’t. That the parents who circumcise are more stupid or are sheep. That parents who circumcise are unenlightened or sadistic. Or that parents who circumcise are easily manipulated by money-hungry doctors who are only doing it because it’s easy money.
I’ve seen posts on message boards where intactivists discussed the merits of lying by omission to sway people to their decision. I’ve seen them talk about outright lying, I’ve seen them encourage intactivists from other websites to swarm down on a person who dared to contemplate circumcising their child. The case against circumcision is strong, and doesn’t necessitate bullying. The problem is that to intactivists, it’s all or none, and so to them, any dissent means that they need to do anything and everything to get agreement.
I’d like to take a moment here to clarify something. While I admit that I’m using ‘intactivist’ in a very general way, I’m not talking about everyone who labels themselves intactivist. I’m talking about a very specific group of people who do very specific things and behave in a certain, very easily-identifiable way. The all-or-nothing, the black-and-white, the us-and-them. I’d encourage people who are against circumcision, but who do not agree with or utilize those methods to find another way to describe themselves. The reason is that the public perception of intactivism is really, truly bad. The average person who is not an intactivist sees the people I’m talking about as Intactivism. That is what it is to them. Not people who politely debate, refrain from bullying, lying, name calling or attacking. I apologize if I have offended anyone, period. Extremist or not, the point of this blog is to attempt to point out to intactivist exactly what they’re doing and how it’s harmful to the cause against RIC.
I’d also like to let you know that the following topics will be addressed this week, along with any suggestions anyone would like to give me, and any guest posts that I receive:
Brit Milah/Jewish Circumcision
Why RIC Is Wrong
More Statistics For You
Why Using Statistics In An Actual Debate Against Circumcision Is Wrong
MGC and FGC Are Not The Same
The Harm Factor
A Post About The Risks of Melodramatic Presentation