Interestingly, you would think this blog would be a hub for parent’s choice advocates, parents who are upset about being bullied, and people looking for some information about intactivist claims. Instead, it’s usually a hate read, or a way for certain intactivists (like Brother K, for example) to pretend to be victimized. It’s a place to solidify outrage. But why? I’m not lying about anything. The questions about Carol weren’t an attack, merely someone finally asking the questions a lot of people have quietly been asking each other (and by the way…a picture of a sandwich and a video of a male and female voice with the camera pointed at a Facebook page?? L.O.L) for awhile now. The bad behavior shown here is not photoshopped, or made up. It’s just a light shined. Yes it’s a one-sided story. But a lot of the time, there really is no excuse for that bad behavior. And it shouldn’t be excused.
This is a legitimate advocacy. I want to see it succeed. I know some people will say that I’m some sneaky snake or an intactocop (a word used to prevent self-correcting). That’s because I’m not going with the flow, I’m not sitting down and shutting up, and I refuse to. Anti-circumcision advocacy should be better than this. Those voices shouldn’t be the overwhelming voices, shouting down the more reasonable advocates. Read nearly any mainstream media piece about intactivism (or the comments section in any story about circumcision) and intactivists look unhinged. Why would I want to be a part of or excuse that kind of behavior?
When an advocacy has more in common with extremist anti-abortion advocates, including threats of violence, that’s an advocacy I’m not ashamed to speak out against. And the thing is? That kind of advocacy isn’t the majority of anti-circumcision voices. If I’m not highlighting your behavior, I’m not talking about you. If you’re getting offended on behalf of someone else because they’re ‘saving babies’, you need to really consider that. Really think about it. Sure, it does work sometimes. But it certainly hasn’t done much to change the numbers significantly over the last decade, which is about the point the advocacy got really aggressive. Keep in mind, the majority of your audience is simply reading silently. It’s only a small portion of the people that are actually reading that will be interacting with you. How do you think most people react to people raging at them, threatening them, calling them ‘cutters’, telling them their abusing their children, raping their children, that they themselves should be mutilated and raped, and ascribing essentially every negative action by a person to them being circumcised? Yes there is room for aggressive advocacy, but there isn’t room for it to be shouting down more moderate, information-based advocacy.
We also know that fear-based approaches don’t work. Over-emphasizing risks and minimizing benefits (to the point that many claim there are none) is a fear-based approach. It’s also not a truthful approach. The best evaluation of the current science is that there are few benefits, fewer risks, and it is unnecessary. That is hard to hear when you’re being told over and over and over that circumcision is the biggest atrocity perpetuated on helpless infants, that doctors are just out for your money and don’t care about their patients, and that there’s some big conspiracy to keep circumcising infants to steal their foreskin for face creams.
Finally, there is the all-too-common anti-Semitic attacks on Jews. Claiming that because members of the AAP taskforce were Jewish that they are biased, for example. Well, Jews don’t proselytize. They don’t want Goyim circumcising. That is their covenant with their G-d. It is an important covenant that cannot be replaced with a made up ceremony. And yes, some very ultra-orthodox Jews engage in a practice called metzizah b’peh. This is oral suctioning of the blood from the infants penis. Yes I find it abhorrent. But presenting it as a common practice in Brit Milah is bullshit. And that doesn’t even begin to address the claim of the ‘traditional Jewish circumcision’. Most intactivists don’t know anything at all about Judaism, but they want to tell Jews how to be Jews.
Lastly, the constant comparison to FGC. It is done to shock, because most people know the picture painted by anti-FGM advocates instead of those who study it. They picture a 14 year old girl thrown down and having her genitals cut out and sewn up shut, leaving only a small hole for menses and urine, for her husband to cut open when he takes her virginity. Then the intactivists yell about how that’s not the most common type. But that’s the reason they use the comparison, because they want to transfer that same horror onto infant circumcision in the US, which really isn’t comparable and which really is less invansive. But yes, there are methods of FGC that are less invasive, like in Malaysia. Yes, that is true. And yes, people are still horrified by even that, despite it being less invasive. Because they are trained not to think critically when it comes to FGC. Trying to take the horror from a procedure that is, in most ways, completely incomparable to male circumcision in the US, is disingenuous.
These are my biggest issues with the advocacy. Not the basis of the advocacy. The attitude. The aggression. The parroting of information (accurate or not). The lack of self-correction. The lack of critical thought. The constant confirmation bias. The Dunning-Kruger effect. The threats. The echo-chamber. The refusal to converse with people who don’t agree with their tactics. The labeling and shunning of ‘other’. The violent language. The willingness to lie. The bullying. The harassment. Not the fact that they are against infant circumcision.
Because I am against infant circumcision. I want it to be widespread knowledge that infant circumcision isn’t necessary. I want people to willingly choose not to do it, not have their hand forced because advocates are impatient. I want advocates to leave Judaism and Brit Milah alone, no matter how much they don’t agree with it (AND NO, THERE IS NO RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT TO CUT A GIRL). I want solid science used. I want advocates to know how to understand the science, and how to use it effectively, not to parrot what they see on Dr. Momma. Not to post idiotic memes. Not to regurgitate un-sourced claims. Not to repeat lies pulled straight out of the ass of Dr. Fleiss. Not to rely on the well-meaning-but-erroneous math of Dan Bollinger. Not to bully well-meaning parents or cuss out well-meaning doctors. Not to threaten people or use violent language.
I want to see anti-circumcision advocates to use critical thinking, including critical thinking of their information and their tactics. Because I think what they are doing now is failing to accomplish anything. That makes me angry and sad. I want them to succeed. But that isn’t going to happen through fear, and anger, and lies. Please. You are better than this.