An American Baby Intactivist in Scotland

By Laura D.  © 2010
[last name withheld at author's request]


I, like most people around the globe, had no idea that Americans cut their baby boys on this grand scale. I thought it was solely done on occasion for religious reasons or the rare medical need. I remember hearing a couple of things on television (such as on Friends) and wondering about the practice of genital cutting in the U.S., but I didn't have anyone to ask, so put it to the back of my mind.

About 3 and a half years ago I was talking online to a young man from Arkansas. He was only 19 years old and had just realized he was circumcised and told me about what he'd discovered. I asked why he would be circumcised, and he didn't know, so he asked his mother. She told him it prevented STDs and was cleaner and prevented infections. As soon as I heard this, I knew it was obviously nonsense. I had never met anyone in my life who was circumcised and I didn't know any man, anywhere, who had ever had an infection. I also knew that the U.S. had higher rates of STDs than any of the intact nations in the world.

I was pregnant at this time as well. And because of my severe health problems, I had a late term scan to make sure my baby was doing okay. At that time I found out my baby was a boy.

So with this new information about circumcision in the U.S., and I knowing I was having a son, I decided to do some research.

I was already very aware about the ins and outs of female circumcision and had previously campaigned against FGM (female genital mutilation).

I started reading the myths passed around in the United States and I knew it was just silly -- none of it was true. Penises aren't dirty or smelly. Foreskins aren't tight. They don't get in the way during sex. Infections are very rare. I've been with my partner for 14 years now, and never once has any of this applied to him. In addition, I'd never heard of anyone in my lifetime mention 'bad things' happening to them or their intact partners.

I read about the numbers involved in genital cutting the United States and I was pretty taken aback and felt very uneasy about it.

And then I researched the actual practice of circumcision surgeries - how the prepuce is amputated, and I forced myself to watch videos of this practice. I was genuinely horrified. There is simply no other word for it. It was sheer horror. I experienced nightmare after nightmare. I woke up crying. I thought about it constantly. I thought about my son growing warm and safe in my belly and I wanted to hurt anyone who dared try to touch or harm my son like that. I was angry and freaked out and I desperately wanted to do something. I HAD to do something. I wanted to scream from rooftops in America and tell people this was nonsense! I wanted to beg people not to do such things to their newborn sons.

After doing some more research, I found several online groups and began posting prolifically, answering every question, arguing (I'm one hell of a debater), searching out pro-cutting/circumfetish groups and blanketing them with accurate information. I added friends who were intactivists from the groups and started organizing them and encouraging others to research this subject fully.

I compiled a large database of research, articles, facts and figures, and pictures. I would message my intactivist friends whenever I saw a pro-cutting article, blog, group, or comment and we would make sure truths were told.

We worked really hard for about 18 months until I got sick. I still messaged my friends and handed out articles, etc., when they needed it. I linked people from various charities and helped NORM-UK do some work. But I had to stop the constant debating because I was too ill to stay online, let alone have the energy to fight this horrific battle.

In fact, I nearly died last year, and it was a physical and emotional struggle to just stay here, let alone do anything constructive with my time. Being fed through a nose tube, I dropped to waif weight, and had repeat surgeries. I'm still extremely weak and very ill. I need more surgery, and I'm not strong enough to sit up. I shake constantly. I desperately want to keep fighting for this cause and I still answer messages from people looking for help -- usually from parents and men who have been cut. I put them in touch with the right people, give them information to read, and talk them through what they're thinking and doing. But the arguing I can't do anymore. I get upset and focus on it too much - end up losing sleeping and getting sicker and weaker. Right now I must concentrate on getting well, while making attempts at doing what I can for infants in the U.S., because this subject hurts me deeply.

I genuinely wish I could do more. And I wish everyone reading this could have a better idea of who I really am. Right now I may be a rather useless lump... But inside, I am as activist as I've ever been!

Hopefully you'll see me back in the game one day very soon.



~~~~


For further information, see resources at Are You Fully Informed?
Get involved at The Intact Network


Circumcision: A Male RN's Perspective

By Chris of The Man-Nurse Diaries



Before having my first son, we were presented with the decision (at least in the United States) of whether or not to circumcise him. While we were initially assuming we would, we did some research. We began finding that not only is male infant circumcision almost never medically necessary, but it's not even performed in most of the developed world. The majority of European countries never began circumcising in the first place. The United Kingdom doesn't pay for it; it's an out-of-pocket expense. The United States is the only secular country that routinely circumcises males.

I can personally attest to this now, because I worked for six years as a certified nurse aide prior to becoming an RN. I worked with countless intact men, mostly European immigrants in Chicago: Poles, Serbs, Lithuanians, etc. Younger men and older men. Men who could walk to the bathroom, and men who constantly soiled themselves. Men who had indwelling Foley catheters and men who didn't. Men who were impeccably clean, and men who were homeless. Men who were healthy, and men who were critically ill and severely immunocompromised.

Never once did I encounter an adult male patient who had ever had a medical problem due to being intact.

Not only that, but during the cleaning of patients, I only ever worked with two nurses (that I remember) who would actually go through the rigmarole of retracting the foreskin, cleaning the glans, and replacing the foreskin. That's what we were taught in CNA and nursing school, but almost everyone would leave it alone. I suspect most people who work with a high intact population do the same. If it never presents a problem, it's always clean, and you're just causing discomfort, why do it?

In fact, female patients are far more prone to fungal and bacterial genitourinary infections than male patients are—yeast infections, urinary tract infections, abscesses, etc. And we know that this is largely due not only to their shorter urethra, but also to their labial folds—their "excess" skin. Why don't we cut that off? Why isn't female circumcision considered for infection prophylaxis? That's how we think of male circumcision. Except the reality is that, as with male patients, the 'benefit' of circumcision would be negligible, because the number of serious complications with women staying 'uncircumcised' is extremely minor.

So as it stands, we have two sons who are intact. One is almost five years old and the other is nearly three. They've never had a problem. During diapering they required less care and bother than our daughters did. And now, during bathing, we don't retract or mess with their prepuce (foreskin).

They're clean.

They're fine.

I suspect that someday they'll be like my patients were: ninety years old and intact—with no regrets.



Chris is the father of four (intact) children, 2 daughters, 2 sons. His career as an RN has taken him to the intensive care unit at one of the largest urban trauma centers in the Midwest (United States). More of his chronicles as an RN can be read at The Man-Nurse Diaries.





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