Wednesday, November 20, 2013

'Intactivists' take to the streets in Providence

This piece originally ran in the (now defunct) Providence Phoenix and is reprinted here for archival purposes

“The destruction to the male genitals is absolute,” says Brother K. “Total. You’re left with a fraction of what God and nature intended. It’s appalling.”
It’s Sunday morning on Hope Street in Providence and cars are whizzing by. Some honk their horns in solidarity; others carry passengers clearly confused as to the necessity of a demonstration against circumcision featuring men in white jumpsuits with large red bloodstains on their crotches
“This is meant to shock the conscience of Americans,” says Brother K, referring to his attire and accompanying signs like, “CIRCUMCISION HORROR BLOODSTAINED MEN.” He pauses frequently to pose for passing cars. “They don’t understand that a man is carrying around a bloody wound for the rest of his life. It doesn’t repair. It doesn’t self heal. It’s as devastating as if they’ve done the same thing to a woman and removed her entire clitoral hood.”
Brother K is his legal name (the K stands for “Kind”) and he leads the Bloodstained Men, a California anti-circumcision group on a seven state tour of the northeast with stops scheduled in Boston, Hartford, Philadelphia, Trenton, and Manhattan. They’re here in Providence today as part of Intact Rhode Island’s “Demonstration for Genital Autonomy,” a family-friendly event to raise awareness about the negative consequences of male circumcision.
Brother K became aware of how much his own circumcision had hurt him back in the ’70s, “when I first had a loving relationship with a woman and found that things just didn’t work the way they should, as much in love as we were,” he explains. As a Vietnam War and draft protester, he was part of a generation that protested everything, he says. But he couldn’t figure out why no one was protesting circumcision. “I finally said, ‘There’s no one else to do it, so we’re going to have to do it.’”
Intact Rhode Island is co-directed by Erin Waldron and Michelle Merritt, two young, self-identified “stay at home moms” and “intactivists” who work to help others make better choices regarding their son’s genitalia. Founded in 2007, IRI counts about 30 members in its ranks, and has mustered seven supporters for today’s event — more if you count their young children. Earlier in the month the group sponsored a “peaceful parenting” table at a parenting event in Waltham.
Merritt became an intactivist for her two sons, she says. “My first son was circumcised at birth, and my second son is intact,” she explains. When her first son was about four months old, she started researching circumcision, and began to learn about the unnecessary pain the baby suffered and the possible loss of sensitivity her son would face as an adult. “I made a promise to my son and to myself that I would help as many boys stay whole as I possibly could.”
Circumcision, of course, pushes a lot of buttons. It requires us to think about our infant son’s future sex life, not something many young parents are mentally prepared to deal with. Perhaps more problematic is the fact that the practice is of religious importance to Jews and Muslims, and many see attempts to curb the practice as tantamount to anti-Semitism. Last year the German Parliament, acutely aware of such appearances, acted quickly to pass legislation ensuring a parent’s right to have their boys circumcised after a regional court came close to equating the practice with child abuse.
 “I was in Germany last year, wearing the bloodstained suit in front of the parliament when they passed the law to legalize circumcision,” says Jonathan Friedman, who arrived in Rhode Island with the Bloodstained Men. “I was there to protest because I’m Jewish, and my family is Orthodox Jewish.” German intactivists were happy to have a Jewish person there, he says.
Brother K understands the sensitivity of the issue as well. “It breaks my heart that so many of our Jewish friends feel that they have to inflict this ancient blood sacrifice, this sacrifice of flesh, on their children,” he says. “Judaism at its core is a very beautiful, spiritual religion, but they’ve kept this horrible custom.”
Changing the American public’s opinion on circumcision is going to be tough. (One woman passing by the event informed me that uncircumcised penises are “gross.”) But Brother K isn’t giving up.
“I’m 66 years old and I’ve been working on this all my life,” he says. “I would like to live my last years knowing that we’ve ended this folly.”
× Comments for this thread are now closed.
    Thank you for your work. Circumcision removes a body part that serves important protective and sensory functions. It causes extreme pain and trauma. And it is almost always inflicted on those who cannot give consent -- our vulnerable, trusting children. It is past time everyone learned the real risks and harms of this irreversible surgery. Very few adults choose circumcision for themselves. We must give boys and girls the opportunity to make decisions about their bodies when they are adults. I urge all expectant mothers to watch a circumcision video and trust their feelings and instincts.
    Thank you for all that you do Brother K! Changing minds one person at a time.
    For all those in Providence, RI, intactivists and anti-circumcision advocates from across the country and globe will be gathering at the nation's capital the last week of March to protest this barbaric practice. If you feel like you would like to learn more or join us, find us on Facebook!:
    Bloodstained Men and Their Friends
    Saving Our Sons
    Intact America
    I was so happy to see a protest going on here in Providence but also so sad that I couldn't be there! Thanks for all that you do! I've been sharing all the press coverage from the event on my page!
    Well said Brother K. You speak eloquently for many who are too ashamed and harmed to speak. You also speak for the rights of those who cannot yet speak. We will end this dreadful atrocity, the cruel and crude sexual mutilation of children's genitals in our time. This is an issue of human rights.
    Wow! That is a powerful statement on the truth about cutting babies' genitals... It's a bloody shocking horror.
    BTW, absent from this interesting article is the fact that last month the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted on and approved a resolution about the Children's right to physical integrity, and non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys is named as one procedure that violates this right.
    Thank you, Steve Ahlquist and the Phoenix, for this very clear, direct and balanced coverage of the subject. No sneers, no editorialising, just the facts. This is what newspaper reporting ought to be like and used to be like. You even left off the quotes from "Intactivist" after the first mention. Speed the day when you won't need them at all - and then the day when the word will be purely historical, like "abolitionist",
    Here's the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:
    So a sexist woman who probley parades around 24/7 squealing "woman's body woman's right!" Had a typical male shaming comment about all men born, made by God and or Nature Knows Best.
    There is no adverse effect of infant male circumcision (MC) on sexual function, sensation or pleasure, if anything sex is better after circumcision. See large methodologically impeccable systematic review and a meta-analysis at:
    The health benefits that include cancer prevention in both
    sexes exceed risks (which are virtually all trivial). See new evidence-based policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
    An evidence-based policy statement in Australia by Fellows
    of the RACP and other medical bodies reported benefits exceed risks by over 100 to 1 and that half of all males will suffer an adverse medical condition over their lifetime if they are not circumcised in infancy:
    Infancy is the best time for a host of medical, social, cosmetic, hygiene, economic and other reasons:
    A scholarly understanding of the United Nations Rights of the Child leads to a conclusion that infant MC should be supported to protect the current and future health of the child. Not to circumcision violates his rights. See detailed evaluation by legal, ethics, pediatric and public health experts:
    Claims by intactivists and other opponents have been exposed as completely fallacious. They should be dismissed in the same way that intelligent people reject the claims of the anti-vaccination lobby (whose membership overlaps with
    the anti-circumcision lobby):
    The hysteria of the extremists and their tactic of picketing
    the home of a respected member of the medical profession are despicable. Dr Blank is merely the messenger. The intactivists should read the medical literature rather than their group’s blinkered propaganda that is intended to damage public health and individual well-being. Importantly it is causing men such as “Brother K” to foolishly believe that his sexual problems have something to do with his childhood circumcision and so fail to receive proper medical attention for their problem.
    The intactivists bombard the Internet with their spurious comments. Their views were considered by the AAP in formulating its policy and were rejected as non-evidence-based anecdotes and weak "research". It seems the intactivists think they need to shout loudly and engage in ridiculous stunts to get attention. This says a lot about these people.
    See also:
    Brian Morris, Professor Emeritus, Sydney Medical School,
    University of Sydney
    see more
      And here's modest Emeritus Professor Morris, who co-authored all of the "large methodologically impeccable systematic" "scholarly" reviews he cites, himself!
      The Fellows of the RACP he mentions (he's not one, not a paediatrician, not even a doctor of medicine, but a molecular biologist) are all at odds with the policy of the RACP.
      The AAP policy has been slammed by 38 of the world's top paediatricians, heads and spokespeople for the paediatric associations of most of Europe. They say it's faulty and culturally biased. (They got involved when the AAP policy was being used to influence the German Bundestag to allow infant genital cutting.)
      That bias is evident, for example when the AAP considers the specialised nerves of the foreskin only in the context of circumcision pain, not their obvious function, sited where they are, of giving pleasure. It is highly likely that not one of the Task Force on [Cutting Foreskins Off] has any post-neonatal first-hand experience of having a foreskin.
      "half of all males will suffer an adverse medical condition over their lifetime if they are not circumcised in infancy"
      Prof. Morris spun this claim up himself by taking the upper outliers of all possible medical conditions. Even if it were true, how would it compare with the rest of the body? Over their lifetimes, most people will experience "adverse medical conditions" over very many parts of their bodies, maybe half, meaning the same claim is true everywhere - so long as those parts have not been cut off at birth. Having a body exposes its parts to risks, but we don't even consider cutting any other normal, healthy, functional, non-renewing part off newborns to avoid those risks, and in fact it would be illegal to do so without the patient's (not the parents') informed consent.
      In light of the recent news of children who have died and those whose penises are completely obliterated by botched "circumcision" the first line of BM's lengthy spew about "no adverse effect …. on sexual function, sensation or pleasure, if anything sex is better after circumcision" is a boldfaced lie!
      Those children didn't even have a chance to experience life or sexual pleasure, it was snuffed out by ignorant people who believe and perpetrate the drivel posted here to promote a sick fantasy.
      This is an issue of human rights. It is also one of respect for normal human anatomy.
      People coming to this issue innocently should know if you dig deeply enough into this issue (and the links provided by BM) you will find that the enthusiasts for genital cutting of children are all linked to Vernon Quaintance, the pedophile who collected videos of children being circumcised for his porn.
      Look it up!
        Quaintance was the head of the circumcision-promoting Gilgal Society, which published a sheaf of pro-circumcision leaflets written by Professor Emeritus Morris.
        Professor Emeritus Morris has been at pains to cover the traces. He only recently removed from his website (which he cites above) a "circumcision humor" page which included a verse by "Vernon Quantance" and some (but not all) of the links to circumcision-fetishist websites.
        He has been only partially successful. The Gilgal logo still heads a "List of Possible Circumcisers in Australia and New Zealand" at The Gilgal Society website, frozen in time since Quaintance's first conviction, still advertises Professor Morris's leaflets:
      Why should anyone trust you? As far as I can see, you're nothing more than someone with a strange fetish.
      You were involved with the Gilgal Society, whose head Vernon Quaintance, was arrested on several counts of possession of child pornography. http://www.thisiscroydontoday....
      Now, let's take a look at the archives of your website:
      After Vernon's arrest, you removed all of the Gilgal Society logos from your brochures, you removed the "circumcision humor" section which included a photo of a nude male toddler with a flip phone dangling from his foreskin, and you removed a poem written by Vernon from his site.
      Here is the circumcision humor section, including that wildly inappropriate photo and Vernon's poem, from 2010:
      If you click on the brochures on the right sidebar, they all display the Gilgal Society logo... here is one of them:
      You did make the mistake of leaving a strange list of Yahoo Groups on your site... If you click "Links & Resources" on his website, and go down to "Online Discussion Groups" strange groups like "eroticmalecircumcision" "circumcisionfetish "cuttingclub" "circumcisedkids" and "circumcisedteens" are there.
      Those links have been there for years, since at least 2008:
      Here is an archive of the "eroticmalecircumcision" group from 2003. the group appears to have been shut down in 2004, but you have not removed the link from your site. The group is a circumcision fetish group, by their own admission.
      Here is an archive of "circumcisionfetish" from 2005
      it's funny that most of the references you posted are co-authored by you. Unreliable at best.
      What do the world medical organizations think? Well, not a single one recommends routine infant circumcision, and quite a few are against it.
      The British Medical Association:
      "Parental preference alone is not sufficient justification for performing a surgical procedure on a child."
      The Royal Australasian College of Physicians:
      "After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand."
      The Canadian Paediatric Society:
      "Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed."
      The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG):
      "There is no convincing evidence that circumcision is useful or necessary in terms of prevention or hygiene... circumcision entails the risk of medical and psychological complications... Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors conflicts with the child's right to autonomy and physical integrity."
      see more
      is there someone actually justifying and promoting circumcision here? You come all the way from Australia to do so. Wow, you are really committed.
      Penis minus foreskin = less penis. It is called subtraction and common sense. Get with it "professor"
        Well it isn't far as the internet flies, but circumcision is getting less and less traction in Australia - about one in eight boys is being circumcised there now, well under one in 30 or 40 in some states - so Professor Morris is hoping to plant his seed (you should excuse the expression) in more fertile ground.
          Since pulling out of publicly endorsing his old pedophile / circumfetish pal Vernon Quantance, BM is finding there is less and less "fertile ground" for pedophiles, circumcision enthusiasts and snake oil salesmen.
          With the subject now in the public's scrutiny, through a lens of human rights and respect for the law, these sex crimes, and the sociopaths promoting them, will find little to no fertile ground left.
      Morris sure loves to reference Morris.
    • "Impeccable systematic review" by Morris himself. Oh you think of yourself highly. oh Emeritus.
      The AAP does not even mention cancer in women and considers the preventive value over penile cancer to be very small when compared to the potential complications and rarity of the issue. Try again? Or better yet, stop trying.
      Who are the authors of this policy by fellows of the RACP? Oh, Morris, what a coincidence. And why is that not the RACP own policy? Because they don't care about what you say, Morris.
      Infancy is the best time, says who? I'll be damned, Morris again. Because you can immobilize babies easily, and because by making circumcision normative within a community very few people will question it. Guess what, it's not working. We are questioning it here in the U.S. in spite of the misinformation by Morris et al.
      Not to circumcise violates his rights? Says who? I must be dreaming, if it's none other by Morris.
      A paper against intactivists? Who is it by again? Well, I should have guessed. By Morris.
      And who is the author of that last website? Well, Morris of course.
      Have you read the article by the European and Canadian physicians about the cultural bias in the AAP? Have you heard about the Council of Europe? Have you read the viewpoint of the Royal Dutch Medical Association? Are they too fringe for your taste?
      Oh Morris, you must be the most lonely man in the world. Dismissed by the RACP, the AAP does not make reference to your papers, nobody believes one word you say online. At least you have your jerk buddy Tobian, so you guys can compare your scars and tightness.
      Have you read the RACP's statement on Circumcision?
      Here are some key points you should note quoted straight from the RACP-
      "The protection against Sexually Transmitted
      Infections (STIs) and HIV is less clear-cut in Australia and New Zealand than in high prevalence countries.
      Ethical and human rights concerns have been raised regarding elective infant male circumcision because it is recognised that the foreskin has a functional role, the operation is non-therapeutic and the infant is unable to consent.
      After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infantcircumcision in Australia and New Zealand."
      "Firstly it exists to protect the glans penis. Secondly
      the foreskin is a primary sensory part of the penis, containing some of the most sensitive areas of the penis.[21] The effects of circumcision on sexual sensation however are not clear"
      "Urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs in up to 4% of boys, predominately in the first year of life, and in 11% of girls.[60]" using these stats should we then circumcise females a well? No We give them antibiotics and other alternatives are taken.
      "Nevertheless, 111 circumcisions would be required to prevent one UTI because of the low baseline risk of UTI,"
      "In low prevalence populations such as Australia and New Zealand circumcision does not provide significant protection against STIs and HIV, and is less effective than safe sex practices."
      Even the RACP acknowledge the child shuld have a choice in the matter-
      "Informed parental consent should include the possibility that the ethical principle of autonomy may be better fulfilled by deferring the circumcision to adolescence with the young man consenting on his own behalf."
      Stop using the AAP as your backing, we all know they are bias as are you.
      see more
      Morris, Morris, Morris. You disgust me. I don't see how an intactivist is the extremist. All they wish to do is protect baby boys from cosmetic cutting and free the universe of these sick societal and cultural norms....all of which stem from oppression of one sort or another. You, on the other hand, act and speak as those you have some kind authority over every little boy on the planet, and have some psychopathic and twisted vision of personally circumcising every infant on Earth. Cutting is NOT a cure. Circumcised boys and men STILL get UTIs, STDs, AIDS, HIV and penile cancer. Cutting an infant doesn't make these things go away. I stand, unashamed, next to brave men like Brother K, fighting every day for the equal protection of infant boys' genitalia. I stand, unashamed, next to brave mothers and brave parents of the Jewish faith that are saying NO to this "tradition". May we all be able to watch as this "norm" falls to the wayside, much like slavery and foot binding. Step away from the scalpels and plastibells. ALL BABIES ARE BORN PERFECT. LET'S KEEP THEM THAT WAY.
      I think from all of the intelligent comments left in rely to Brian Morris, we have concluded that Brian Morris is truly a "B.M.", or BOWEL MOVEMENT.
      Good try, buddy. It hurts for your peculiar life's work to go down in flames with all the other follies & cruelties of human history.
    <3 p="">
    thank you!

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