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Thursday, May 24, 2012

"She Said, She Said" - The Call for Gentle Advocacy from Two Different Points of View

"What Are You Hoping to Accomplish?"
by Amy of Zen Parenting

I have a really hard time with the concept of genitally mutilating a babe. I can't imagine harming my son. I just can't wrap my head around it.

Let me tell you what else I have a hard time with: the scads of comments I get whenever I post something about circumcision that go something like this, "Anyone who would do this to a child is evil, should be destroyed, and should not be allowed to call themselves a parent! Eff them and the horse they rode in on!"

As I have stated before, I am a passionate genital integrity advocate. I am not, however, pro-bashing the parents who were misled, lied to, deceived, and now likely feel a tremendous amount of remorse that nothing can ever take away.

I struggle to figure out why some think this is the right way to approach parents. I've rarely found it appropriate, effective, or helpful to go the aggressive route. I generally feel that the gentle approach is best in these cases. Sometimes, assertive is necessary, yes. Passive-aggressive and just plain ol' aggressive-aggressive just doesn't do the job and typically does more harm than good. What is the thought process behind verbally obliterating those who cannot take back the choice they made, cannot unring the bell, cannot undo the damage that they know they did?

When communicating, I think it is always crucial to consider ones audience and ask oneself "What do I hope to accomplish here?"

Your audience is full of parents. Parents, for the most part, love their children as much as you love yours. Sometimes, they make mistakes. So do you, so do I. Perhaps, we haven't all made the same mistakes, but we can all relate to making mistakes as we raise our children and grow alongside them. For many of us, it was a happy accident that we did not circumcise our children, because, sadly, there is just as much misinformation out there as there is valid. Brian Morris (and other circumfetishists like him) sounds brilliant and comes across as quite valid and rational to those trying to research the topic. A parent doing their best to research decisions could easily come across one of his sites and be misled into making a tragic, life-altering decision. There are far too many medical professionals out there spewing the "benefits" of circumcision so as to line their own pockets to new, vulnerable, trusting parents. And, of course, we cannot dismiss the power of conditioning. When circumcision has run rampant in a person's environment for generations, that has an impact, whether or not it should.

If your goal is to alienate and destroy the person, if you're hoping to shut down any hope you have of an open dialogue, by all means, carry on and dismiss this post. However, if you're hoping to engage in an honest conversation in which you have an opportunity to educate, gentle is the way to go. Make no mistake, just because you're gentle, that doesn't mean you'll necessarily get the reaction you want. You may, though, plant a seed that grows in that person's brain and heart and eventually blooms into an awakening of thought. Beating them down, though, will do no such thing - that will only serve to shut them up and shut them down, building up their defenses so you may never have a chance to get through to them.

It takes a strong, brave, bright person to be able to say, "I screwed up. I hurt my child and there's nothing I can do about it. I wish I knew then what I know now." It takes another strong, brave, bright person to be able to say, "I'm sorry you were a victim. I'm sorry your son was a victim. How can I help you not make this mistake again?"

"Healing From Circumcision"
by Jennifer Andersen of Our Muddy Boots

"A little common sense would have saved her baby".

"How could she mutilate her son?"

"She is his mother, she is supposed to protect him! Why didn't she?"

These are not only comments shared by others about mothers who circumcise, they are my worst inner thoughts. The things that I have been saying to myself openly for months and have hidden from myself for years. How could I have not protected my son? Why do I use the excuse that I did not know better? They were CUTTING my child- how could I not have known?

And the truth is that I did know. Every part of my body told me that having my son circumcised was barbaric, and I let them do it anyway. I was a first time mother who was not aware of the depth of evil within our system. And so I let them cut him.

When my son runs around without any clothes, my eyes do not first notice the beauty and grace in his stride, or his smile from running freely. First, I notice the missing piece and my stomach sinks with what it represents; the day I did not protect my son.

Trust me when I say that I have beaten myself up and berated myself enough for all of you. You do not have to. You can rest with the knowledge that I take care of this task every. single. day.

It was coincidental, but I shared this story during Genital Integrity Awareness Week and I was terrified of what the reaction would be. Truly terrified. I had tortured my son and now the world would tell me that I was an evil awful mutilator.

This is not what happened. Instead, I was met with compassionate honesty. Nobody told me that it was okay- I did not want them to. People offered me comfort and kindness as I started to openly face the reality of my choice.

Because really, how could anyone be hurtful to a mother who is devastated? It would be cruel.

The compassion that I was shown significantly changed my life. Once I understood that I was accepted by those who work so hard to stop allowing babies to be cut, possibilities opened up. I realized that while I could never change my own decision, I could help to share the facts about circumcision with other mothers so that they would never have to feel this pain. And so that babies would avoid this atrocity.

I am now a Chapter Director for the Intact Network and I share facts and information about Circumcision on both my website, and Our Muddy Boots Facebook page. And the more I learn, the stronger my desire to share this information becomes.


  1. Parents are victims of a culturally validated sexual fetish concerning the most private part of the male body.

    The villains in the tragedy that is American routine circumcision, are the medical school profs, who teach cohort after cohort of medical school students to circumcise babies, and do not teach and research what circ cuts off and the sexual damage that circ can do.