This weekend will begin my 5th Session at Sacred Mountain Midwifery School. Each month we are given personal homework on top of our regular homework. I was assigned a topic in our circumcision debate. I have to be Pro-Circ. If you know me you will know how hard this has been. Since you don’t know me I will tell you about this emotional struggle I have had.
Growing up I never knew what circumcision was or what it meant. Even after the partners I have had over the years, I was still naive to the subject. It wasn’t until I became pregnant that I familiarized myself with the subject. We did not know the sex of the baby I was carrying so we wanted to educate ourselves on all topics. I came across circumcision photos taken by Patti Romos and my decision was made. The terror on that sweet boy’s face was enough for me.
It didn’t take any persuasion to get my husband on board. He was horrified by what was being done and confused by what was done to him. He vowed never to harm our future sons. We then began educating ourselves with facts and statistics so we would be prepared when family or friends questioned our choice.
Fast forward. My son is now 8 months old and completely whole. Each day I thank my husband for keeping him intact. I have been working on my debate project. Surfing the web for Pro-Circ information and facts. Each day I read it I become sad and discouraged. Reading things like “clinical and neurological testing of the ventral and dorsal surfaces, as well as the glans, and detected no difference in penile sensitivity between circumcised and uncircumcised men.” I became very angry when I read this:
“Separation of the prepuce from the glans during development is completed in the 5th month of gestation [Diebert, 1933]. The foreskin has no role after birth.”
How can I know what I do and present my class with such flawed studies? Such false information? I have become sad and withdrawn. My husband tries to encourage me by telling me “This will just make you more passionate and knowledgeable about intactivism.” I am not swayed and continue to struggle.
Then one night it comes to me. A solution to my emotional struggle came to me as I was watching a video by Ryan McAllister called Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital. In the video he compares 3 photos. One of a young boy being circumcised, one of a young girl being circumcised and one of a baby boy being circumcised. They all have the same agony across their faces. Each are feeling the same horrific pain. In that moment I knew how I would approach the debate. I would argue Pro-Circumcision but in my own way.
I will be arguing pro-Female Genital Cutting (FGC) but carefully avoid telling people I’m referring to females. In this I hope they might assume I’m referring to males and then reveal that I’ve been arguing for females the whole time. I am doing this in the hopes that people will see how unnecessary and ridiculous circumcision is on any gender. How though they are different sexes the procedure causes the same harm and disfigurement. I know a lot of people don’t think that FGC and RIC go hand in hand. They argue that FGC is so much worse and horrific than RIC could ever be, I politely disagree.
Each involve cutting of the genitals without consent. Both are done for religious beliefs or the thought that the end result “looks better.” On both sexes this custom remove erogenous tissue and is justified by supposed health benefits. With this I have found that all the fighting and education I am providing about RIC should be extended to the other sex. The extreme forms of FGC are not commonly practiced and the most commonly practiced forms are generally equal to or less severe than male circumcision. Many people think that all female circumcision is the removal of the clitoris, hood and labia and sewing up of the vaginal opening and are very surprised when they find out most of the time it’s just the hood or labia.
We should be working to protect the rights of all infants not just males. Our laws should protect all infants, not just females. I think our country’s views of equal rights need to be reevaluated. How can we protect one and not the other? Our country says by law that a woman has the right to choose what to do with her own body, even if it means ending the life of a person who didn’t get to choose. So then why are we still not protecting a mans right to choose what to do with his own body? Men are forced to have their penises cut without consent, we do this when they are too little and small to fight back or say “No.”
Studying and preparing myself for this debate has made me more passionate about intactivism but not just keeping little boys whole. I have had my eyes opened to keep all our children whole. Isn’t that what intactavism should be about? Protecting the rights of all children not just one sex or another.
There are some great charts that outline the similarities between FGC and RIC provided here: