Monthly Archives: January 2015

Are There Problems with Intactivism? – Guest Post

guest post by Tony @ Choose Intact.   Any formatting errors will be corrected by the end of the day but I wanted to get it up ASAP and I have no way to edit.




1. Issues with Intactivism


You asked if I think there is a better way to get the message across than what is represented in the list of tactics you offered. If you question is the simplistic, “Is there a better way”, the answer is almost certainly “yes”. It may be that we won’t know what it is until we accidentally try it, so trying multiple paths makes sense. But given that non-therapeutic child circumcision continues, we haven’t found the best way, if there is one. But I don’t think that’s what you’re asking, because the reality in the question is whether or not specific tactics are good. Judging the behaviors in your list is a relevant and useful starting point.


Harassing people on Facebook – BAD (To be clear, harassment is not merely the act of commenting on a public post or disagreeing with a post/comment.)Hanging ridiculous Halloween displays – NEUTRAL – It depends on the display, of which I have seen none, but I’m inclined to a presumption of BAD.Proselytizing via halloween candy – BAD – It’s possibly NEUTRAL to GOOD for candy given to older teens, but I’d be surprised if it did more than generate immature giggles.Celebrating the deaths of AIDS researchers – BADProtesting with a bloody crotch – NEUTRAL – It depends on audience and behavior added to the process. It’s GOOD where it gets people talking, usually BAD in practice when it involves such behavior as not listening or worse.Flooding the comments section of any article or facebook post mentioning circumcision – NEUTRAL – (See above on harassment. Discourse is always useful and necessary. I think circumcision stops by changing minds, often one at a time. That should make this tactic GOOD. The risk is in overwhelming discourse, and often with inflammatory rhetoric, which is what you’re getting at and what happens. I know this from comment sections I’ve participated in, as well as Twitter. I’ve had to tell people to stop “helping” in the past because they want to overwhelm people. Most people won’t change their mind with an information dump or mass attack. They certainly won’t change their minds being called names. Those behaviors are BAD, which leads to my NEUTRAL.Creating sock puppets – BADSoliciting people to lie about losing a child to circumcision – BAD (I haven’t heard of anyone doing this.)Coming up with just beyond poorly designed studies with no intention of an honest assessment of the ‘studied’ issue (Bollinger) – BAD – However, I wouldn’t characterize Mr. Bollinger that way. I’ve met him. He struck me as sincere and honest. That doesn’t mean I’ll defend his paper on the death count. I won’t. Sincere, honest people can be wrong. That paper is an estimate based on assumptions. I read only the first half of the paper before I stopped. I know the death rate is not zero. If it is ever 112 in any given year, it’s a pure coincidence with the number in that paper. I don’t cite it. I wrote as much in a post in 2012. I’ve also said that to other activists in person. (My guess is single-to-low-double-digits in any given year, from complications of circumcision and without circumcision listed as the cause of death.)Telling people who disagree with you to kill themselves or that you will rape them or hoped they are raped or assaulted. – BAD


For good measure, here are some more examples, with my responses. On calling circumcision “rape”: <a href=”; rel=”nofollow”>Truth and Loaded Words</a>. A few references of mine against anti-Semitism: <a href=”; rel=”nofollow”>Opposition to Circumcision and Anti-Semitism</a>, <a href=”; rel=”nofollow”>Opposition to Circumcision and Anti-Semitism: Follow-Up</a>, <a href=”; rel=”nofollow”>Flawed Circumcision Defense: LZ Granderson</a>, and a recent public thread on Twitter: <a href=”; rel=”nofollow”>PDF</a>.


Finally, this video, titled “Baby Cock Cutters for Hire”, is a frustrating example of the nonsense that happens. (Disclosure: I’ve met the featured activists in that video.) This behavior is unacceptable. At the point I started the link, that doctor might be receptive to the arguments. We’ll never know because the two activists, including Brother K, shout her down. They’re focused on “proving” their superiority. They didn’t care what she had to say. I think it’s always indefensible when anyone circumcises a healthy child. But I’m interested in what I (or we) can convince someone to stop doing than what they’ve done.


As I think my Twitter exchange above shows, I want my superior ethical position to win, not to claim a pointless pyrrhic victory over individuals. It’s the principle that matters. It’s about individuals and their rights. People who engage in the behavior in that video, including naming it “Baby Cock Cutters for Hire”, harm the cause for which they advocate.


This is as good a place as I’ll find in this essay to <a href=”; rel=”nofollow”>quote myself</a>:


<blockquote>I’m familiar with the term intactivist. It’s cute and descriptive, but because it’s cute, I do not like it. As the article shows, it does little more than give reporters an excuse to fill in the story with details at which typical readers will roll their eyes. That’s not helpful.</blockquote>


I’ll add that I don’t like it because it lumps activists together. In any cause there will be people who behave badly or who glom onto the cause for their own purposes. I don’t think we see much of the latter, but the former occurs, as the examples above show. Outside of any organization I run, I can’t be responsible for the behavior of others. I can attempt to influence people agitating with me or for the same goal, as I think my links show I’ve done. (I’ve also spoken up when witnessing this behavior in person a few times in the last decade, but I can’t prove that here.) Still, I’ll be lumped in with those who share a label. That’s the other reason I still reject the label. I can’t stop you from applying the label to me, and I see that as a logical inference if you take it to mean “activist against circumcision/for child bodily autonomy“. But it would be unfair to judge me or any other individual, by default, for the behaviors of another because we share a label. This is especially true with evidence that I oppose such behavior and have challenged it in various ways.


I want to anticipate a valid rebuttal. I am not making a No True Scotsman argument. I am not saying that only good behavior represents intactivists. Those behaving the worst can be intactivists. They reflect poorly on all of us. It angers me. Some people engage in bad behaviors or lose sight of the principle (e.g. the last item in your list hardly reflects a respect for bodily autonomy). I am saying the principle of bodily autonomy matters. Having people respect that for all people is the goal. How we encourage that, through good or bad, is distinct from the principle itself.


I hope that suffices to show my bona fides on support for “good” tactics and opposition to “bad” tactics. I’ll move on to the follow-up, what better ways there are. I wish I had a clear answer to offer Tactic A, Tactic B, and Tactic C. I don’t. I have suggestions for things that might be useful. Blogging, which I do. Using social media, without the bad examples above and the like. Protests at the U.S. Capitol, which I’ve participated in because the moments where I can talk to people and offer a better viewpoint can change minds. Talking with friends and family. And so on. Really, it’s anything people do to convince others of a position.


At its core, I (we) engage in marketing. Our principles and rights are the product. Those who disagree are the audience. What works in reaching them is likely to be “good”. What they ignore or hardens their opposition is likely to be “bad”.


That’s a bit simplistic but a good guideline. I’m going to judge on outcome, but not only on outcome. I care about process, too. I’m not going to shy away because saying “circumcision is wrong” is going to hurt someone’s feelings or risks a man thinking I’m telling him he has to share my view about my genitals for his genitals. I’m likely not going to tell parents they are evil, but I’m not going to suggest they didn’t harm their children, for example. Good people do bad, indefensible things. “When you know better, you do better”, which I have issues with but serves as a passable frame for this.


There are very few villains here on either side of the debate. I want people to protect their sons. Those ostensibly on my side want the same thing. I assume they’re mostly ignorant of how awful their tactics are. They express their justifiable anger in unjustifiable ways. I think it’s reasonable to assume that, since we’re also expected to assume that parents who circumcise do so with only good intentions. I assume that and their ignorance about the harm they impose on their sons. Humans are complicated. Our interactions are messy. We must strive to be better.


The path to ending non-therapeutic child circumcision requires a cultural shift. It requires educating on normal human anatomy. It requires correcting our societal misunderstanding of equality. It requires expanding our analysis of circumcision from the incomplete benefit-versus-risk to benefit-versus-risks-AND-costs. Although I’m more inclined to bluntness as I gain experience and become bored with encountering the same tired excuses, kindness and decency are still the basis for changing minds and actions. People who support parental choice for non-therapeutic circumcision (or support non-therapeutic circumcision itself) are mistaken. Activists are correct to challenge that position. But we must attack the position, not the person. We must do so honestly. These are requirements.


There’s an additional reason beyond this being the right way to engage. People need an exit strategy. We want them to change their minds. We can’t ignore that we’re asking them to give something up. Good diplomacy, which is really just another form of activism, requires allowing people to save face. We’re asking them to change from something worse. When they change, they know they changed from something worse. If someone knows you’d be willing to rub their nose in their past, based on an inference from your present behavior, they’re less likely to change their minds.


That’s my general approach to activism.

The Only Thing Intactivists Have in Common with Integrity are the Letters I-N and T


Editors note – this blog was a team effort between myself and another prominent parents choice advocate, though the other author doesn’t want to be named, even with a pseudonym.  

PART 1 –

So I’ve been quiet lately.   Been busy keeping my eye on a few developments in the intactivist world, and taking my regular intactibreak.  Seen a lot lately that’s disturbed me.  All things considered that’s fairly tough, considering what I’ve seen from the intactivists, including, but not limited to:
Threatening to rape, beat, mutilate or kill their mother.
Threatening to rape, beat, mutilate or kill anyone that doesn’t agree with them.
Ask to see photos of children’s genitals.
Handing out intactivist propacandy to children.
Carrying around bloody baby dolls (Just like the anti-abortion activists they’re not supposed to be like!!)
Lie about creating a database of circumcised men and boys (to intimidate parents who do it)
Lie about teaming up with Anonymous against ‘cutters’ (to intimidate parents and anti bullying advocates)
Lie about The 2015 Lawsuit (Apparently many don’t know it’s a lie, some do though.  I’ll tell you why it wouldn’t work in three words – Phyllis Schlafly ERA)
Endless antisemitism and non-Jews who know nothing of Judaism ‘educating’ Jews.
Continuously shaming circumcised men until they feel broken and inadequate (If you didn’t feel that way before becoming an intactivist, you didn’t feel that way.  If you functioned perfectly fine and dandy before, then became ‘educated’ by intactivist propaganda and bullshit, and suddenly you have 600 complaints about your penis and you are a LOUD ANGRY BLOODSTAINED MAN, it’s more likely the intactivism did that to you than the circumcision).

But all that…well, all that is pretty par for the course.  But I keep watching.  They do this all publicly.  What they don’t do publicly is even worse.  Secret groups like ‘The Dream Team’, where one set of intactivist Queen Bees talk shit about another set of Intactivist Queen Bees.  Guess what intactivists?  If you don’t intactivate aggressively in the exact manner that Brian Herrity (AKA Brother K’s bulging left testicle), he’s talking shit about you.  So when another Intactivist and her friend (another, less prominent intactivist) started a group to try to find out from Parents Choice advocates what they were actually doing wrong, and going in willing to talk and listen, well, that was just not ok.  See, if you’re an intactivist, you are 100% absolutely not allowed to talk to ‘cutter trolls’ unless it’s spitting the maximum allowable vitriol with high potential for arrest.  That is just not ok.  You step out of that Echo Chamber and suddenly, even if you aren’t ok with circumcision, you yourself are now a ‘cutter troll’.  The only time it IS acceptable is if you cultivate trust with the ‘cutter trolls’, and then screen cap everything they say, spill all their secrets, laugh at them behind their back and basically act like as shitty a human as possible.  Integrity, thy name is most definitely not intactivism.

So when this intactivist and a select group of other intactivists and ‘cutter trolls’ got together, oddly, they discovered they had more in common than they originally thought.  It turns out they weren’t monsters, slavering to get at ALL TEH BABIEZ and cut them wide open!  Some of them didn’t even like circumcision!  But they liked bullying and harassment and crazy and lying and ESPECIALLY assholes even less.  The group was actually getting on like gangbusters.  I’ve seen the screen caps.  So then the Intactivist took a chance on one of her friends.  She talked to him carefully, let him know what happened in the group, and let him in.  He immediately treated her like the ‘cutter troll’ I’m sure he considered her as.  He worked his poor little dinky brain all into a sweat trying to find a way to screen cap the group to make it look bad.  And of course, to the Brian Herrity’s of the intactivist world (of which there are many, and yet still only one) ANY contact with the ‘cutters’ that doesn’t involve screaming, threats of violence, overwrought hyperbole and declarations of one’s ability to “End Circumcision and END IT NOW” is as bad as it gets.  He called on every other intactivist to shun this intactivist.  Oddly, help came from a corner I wouldn’t expect, and Hollie Redinger managed to well up a bit of integrity and put those dipshits in their place.  FSM only knows how.  I’d give her a huge round of applause and a pat on the back, but then Brian would just pissy his panties all over again.

But that was just one, sad, sad example of my point.  And of course the take home lesson here is that any intactivist who has the integrity and ethics they feel they can school others on, can’t actually have them.  And most certainly cannot be seen approaching this topic with anything even remotely resembling rationality.  Because despite having people with a different perspective, but maybe a similiar goal, working with you (instead of against you) being a possibility, in their minds, it is betrayal.  Betrayal, I think, is forcing everyone to think what you do, think how you do, talk how you do, and demanding that loyalty mean only thinking, acting and associating with the proper people in the proper ways.  Change never happens in that environment.  Change only happens, good change, the kind of change that makes you better and stronger, when you can truthfully examine your actions.  And that’s completely impossible when doing so makes you an ‘intactocop’.  That’s completely impossible when betraying people you’ve been friends for headpats from idiots with an over inflated sense of ego and importance is MORE valuable to you than being your own good person.

PART 2 – 

Now this part is actually sort of disturbing.  I’ve got multiple sources telling me multiple things (Oh yes, intactivists, I have multiple little birdies amongst you, and none of them are who you’d expect) but no matter what, this is a disturbing betrayal to the intactivist community from many people, not the least of which is the person at the center of it.
PART 2A – As many of you probably know, a young boy (C, because I respect his privacy enough NOT to use his name or photo) was caught in the middle of a nasty custody battle.  Neither parent should really have the kid, as it’s apparent that A) they’re only trying to get back at each other and B) both of them are fighting for their fucked up ideologies and not in their child’s best interest and C) since the court battle was lost and the boy will be circumcised, chances are good that his mother will damage him deeply because of her association with intactivism, while his father will probably damage him deeply because of his conflict with his mother.  I truly feel for this child.  He will probably spend his entire life being held up by the intactivist community, encouraged to become dark and angry because of his ‘mutilation’ and that sucks.  Intactivists, please take heed, leave the kid alone.  He doesn’t deserve to have his mother weeping over him and apologizing constantly, putting him in a position of power over her he shouldn’t have, and he doesn’t deserve to have the intactivist community indoctrinating him into hating himself and his body.

PART 2B –  So C has a community of intactivists that have sprung up around him, trying (and I actually support this, the kid is too old, the father is not doing anything to help him) to prevent his circumcision.  They’ve hired an attorney they have tried to help mom fight in appeals, and unfortunately, they’ve lost.  Hopefully they’ll set aside the donations they’ll need for a trust for C or to help fund the mental health help he’ll need for the rest of his life.  Who knows.  I do know that the intactivists have protested outside of the father’s place of business, doxxed him, doxxed the physician who is going to perform the procedure, and attempted to threaten and intimidate them into not doing it, which is just not how to accomplish anything other than restraining orders and arrests.

Regardless, a prominent ‘Bloodstained Man’, Jonathan Friedman, has either had a complete break with reality (telling people the CIA is watching him.  Who knows, maybe they are.  I can see why they would.) or a complete break with integrity, and posted that Dr. F had called him (breaking HIPAA) and told him he’d SEEN THE LIGHT PRAISE CHEEBUS, and he would NOT perform the circumcision!  Further, the father had only 8 days to find a doctor and have the procedure done, so if they could only intimidate all the other pediatric urologists in the area, C WOULD BE SAVED!

The FB page that was the hub for the community posted that that night they’d post a DETAILED summary of events.  Instead, there was hemming and hawing, and Jonathan Friedman was not actually named until a person unaffiliated with the page named him, and some mealy mouthed excuses were given.

Because preserving the public front is far better than being honest and forthright with your community and donors, who deserve to know who and what they’re donating to, and what exactly is going on with their community.  Instead, they’re betrayed, because it is more important to maintain a public front than it is to maintain integrity and ethics.  And that thread was drowned by introductions from the admins, and the page was further drowned in posts that had nothing to do with this HUGE betrayal.  Just as many intactivists don’t actually know that their planned 14th ammendment lawsuit was never going to work, many intactivists probably still don’t know that this was all a lie.

So in the end, I’ve had many intactivists come here and complain that I’m painting with a broad brush.  But how can I not, when intactivists themselves insist on maintaining a united public front?  If you insist on standing next to slime, chances are you’ll get some on you.  If you want to be viewed as the serious, ethic group with integrity that I think many of you think you are, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.  Open your ears and eyes.  This isn’t a sewing circle, but it’s not a war either, and you CAN talk to people who disagree with you.  During WWI, a truly horrendous war, soldiers from opposing sides would crawl out of their trenches on Christmas and exchange gifts with the enemy.  If they can do that, why can intactivists and pro parents choice people not talk without it being considered a betrayal?  Ironically, most parents choice don’t agree with ROUTINE circumcision, they just don’t think it should be banned or made illegal.  And it won’t.  It won’t.  Drop that fight because you’ll lose it.  Instead, focus on changing the cultural conversation.  And that won’t happen if you make people too angry and defensive to listen.  And finally, quit fucking eating your own, quit lying, quit backstabbing and telling the person you’re backstabbing that you’re doing it because THEY betrayed YOU by simply talking to someone who disagree with.

There are so many moderate intactivists, intactivists who actually have integrity.  And they’re getting drowned in the ocean of shit being produced by asshole extremists.  Moderate intactivists, you are the future.  And you are the people who will accomplish this thing.  Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t let the assholes pull you down to their level.