INTACT: Let's use correct terminology

By Danelle Frisbie © 2008
Intact onesie from Made By Momma

I would like to challenge everyone to start using correct terminology when it comes to the intact boy, intact man, and intact penis.

If you must qualify boys and men based on their genitalia, they are INTACT.

Not uncircumcised.

It is troubling to hear (read) people use the un-word.

We do not call women 'unclitoridectomised' or 'unlabiaplastectomised.' Girls who have not been subject to the hand of a mutilation knife are intact. And so are boys. They come from within fully formed and perfect - all in one piece and made just the way they are meant to be made - intact.

In their most excellent book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision, Drs. Fleiss and Hodges encourage us to call our babies brought home whole exactly what they are - INTACT. "Uncircumcised," they write, "is an unscientific, unhelpful, useless, and confusing term because it uses terminology normally reserved for abnormality to name a natural, normal body part. Let us avoid confusion and stick to science." Yes, let's!

Embarrassingly, I, too, was once guilty of throwing around the term 'uncircumcised.' In fact, while writing my dissertation I used the word before being as informed as I (thankfully) am today on issues of genital autonomy. I cringe when reading over early publications and know that libraries house a document I wrote, but made such a grave mistake within. I suppose it is reflective of the slightly ignorant time in which I began to write and study... And thankfully times are now changing!

So when you are talking about your intact son, or your intact husband, or how you plan to keep your baby boys intact - do just that! You don't need to say, "I am against circumcision" but rather, "I believe in keeping all babies intact at birth." If you work in obstetrics, midwifery, or Labor and Delivery, you can ask, "Do you plan to keep your baby intact?" rather than [oh, how I hate this question] "Would you like your baby circumcised?"

Words have meaning. They hold power. They influence our thinking about the concepts they surround. Just as the intact clitoris is the normal, natural clitoris--the intact penis is the normal, natural penis. We must normalize and naturalize the word 'intact' in the United States.

So, let me hear (and read) you using it!

Additional information on the prepuce, intact care, and circumcision:


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