Confessions of an 'Intactivist'

By Jill O'Reilly © 2011


I had my first son almost 14 years ago, and the circumcision debate that is raging today is the same one that raged back then. So I've chosen to sit it out - until now.

When I first learned about circumcision I was horrified... How could any mother who is truly connected, attached, loving, and intelligent choose such a thing for her baby?! "How?!" I thought. Why would anyone want to put their soft new bundle in a situation where they would experience such pain - for what is basically a cosmetic procedure? Don't they understand what they are doing? What is wrong with people/society/America?

For years I couldn't see a baby boy without wondering about the state of his penis. Did that cute little smushy bundle in the adorable Gymboree onesie begin his life by being strapped to a plastic tub while a piece of cold metal sliced across his genitals? Did the funny little toddler at the park who is playing with my son have all his parts? Or had his parents been 'sheep' who blindly followed a silly social custom?

But now I have a teenager... and I have had a daughter... and two more sons. And I have been privileged to work with many, many expectant families. I have taught childbirth classes, and I have assisted at homebirths, and I have witnessed many families bring beautiful boys into the world, and love them. Adore them. And yes, circumcise them. I have learned that emotional arguments and my own opinions don't matter. I have seen parents agonize over the decision, and I have seen parents for whom the decision is not even up for consideration. I do not weep for those babies. I do not grieve for their loss of sensitivity, and I no longer see a baby in the store and have the state of his penis be the first thing that enters my mind.

An acquaintance recently had a baby. She has a blog and vehemently opposes circumcision. Her blog is aggressive and very 'in your face.' She reminds me so much of myself. Full of passion about a hot topic. But passion only gets you so far. Along with passion there must be COMpassion. I have been trained how to educate, how to communicate, how to inform, how to facilitate and... how to let go.

When my babies were young, and I was so close to the situation, it was impossible for me to emotionally distance myself from the subject. I couldn't discuss circumcision calmly because it was too easy to imagine my own child in that plastic tub, and the outrage would come welling up, fueled with the passion of a mother bear protecting her cub.

But my passion has cooled, my outrage has subsided - baby and toddler-hood is fleeting. The things that are so dramatically important now will barely register in a few years. If someone had told me that one day I would be posting something like this I would have been shocked. But those circumcised babies deserve mommies who aren't feeling like they abused their kids. They deserve a mommy that is empowered, not belittled. They deserve mommies that feel strong and capable and wise in their decisions making abilities. They deserve to be held by someone who hasn't just had her entire self-image repainted as some kind of monster. What has been accomplished by destroying someone's confidence in their parenting? What have we done when the young mom who loves her baby (and I promise you, she loves him every bit as much as we love ours) thinks that she has failed... and so quickly?

I'll tell you what happens: we create someone who doesn't trust her ability to make the right choices. And that is far, far more distressing to her son's future than whether or not he is intact. The biggest problem with debating circumcision is that much too often the discussion is happening too late... that foreskin can't be put back on. Making someone feel like they won't be a good mother unless they 'confess' and see the light is terrible. And it accomplishes nothing.

I have no idea if any of my son's teenage friends are circumcised or not. I've never asked him and I never would. I've never asked any of his friends' mothers either. It's just not something that comes up often during conversation. Intact care, breastfeeding, co-sleeping... all of these are important topics in the small world of baby and toddler-hood. But the impact of our words - and the feelings that they foster in mothers caring for their babies - those matter forever. Empower each other. Respect each other. Babies need to be raised by mothers who are strong and capable. There are many good mothers, and many good mothers with circumcised sons. We're all in this together.




If you're the parent of a circumcised son and would like a safe space to discuss the subject further, join with others at Keeping Future Sons Intact, or drop Lillie a note to be added to the private KFSI discussion thread. Additional resources for related material at: I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret.




Jill O'Reilly is the mother of four children - three sons and one daughter. She spent years working as a midwife, doula, and childbirth educator. She is currently expecting her 5th 'bonus' baby in a few weeks and is busy planning for her homebirth. She can be reached at JillPOReilly@gmail.com or here on Facebook.

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Pop Media 'Circumcises' Brandy's Ganesh Tattoo


Last month, R&B artist, Brandy, had the Hindu god, Ganesh, inked onto her forearm. Soon after, she posted images of the new design to Twitter before her tattoo artist, Peter Koskela, finished work. Subsequently, fans from around the globe (most of whom are accustomed to the intact male) commented that it looked a bit too phallic. So Koskela decided to change it. "I wanted to fix the offending tip... remove the whole phallic aspect. I told [Brandy] I'd just swing it upwards."

And this week, that is just what Koskela did by adding flower pedals over the bulbous elephant trunk, turning it upwards, and making it smaller. What is slightly interesting, slightly disturbing, is the way that the pop culture media responded - first by agreeing with non-U.S. critic that the trunk was indeed "too much like [intact] male genitalia" and then speaking of the inked art as an imperfect, over-sexualized, man who needed "fixing."
"Brandy’s elephant tattoo resembled a pornographic 'man package'..." -Examiner

"[Brandy's tattoo] needed some work done to it, in fact one might say it needed to be circumcised." -Examiner

"Hopefully, a mohel was present at the time." -TMZ

"Brandy's elephant tattoo was officially emasculated this week..." -TMZ

"...before and after the penis nose!" -InCaseYouDidn'tKnow

"Brandy's tattoo gets circumcised!" -Examiner

"The artist decided to snip the tip." -TMZ

"The tattoo has been fixed, with a snip of the tip!" -Examiner

"...the elephant has been emasculated." -HipHopWire


Hmmm... not that the trunk on Brandy's Ganesh tattoo makes much of a difference to anything, but when are we going to start loving and celebrating the normal male body, rather than clinging to this myth that all U.S. boys are born innately disfigured and in need of 'fixing'? What good can this possibly do to boys' and men's self-image? And when are we going to start paying attention to those who do speak up (and are informed) and tell us how it makes them feel?

I can't help but wonder... how would this play out if Brandy's tattoo had looked a little too much like the vulva? Would it too need to be 'circumcised'? Would we joke and lend analogy to FGM? Likely not... And our boys deserve the same respect of their whole bodies.

Within Hinduism, Ganesh is the god of success, destroyer of evils and remover of obstacles. He is revered as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. A few important things we could probably use a bit more of these days...

Brandy shows off her new tattoo with ink artist, Peter Koskela


My OB Said What?!? "...chewing gum for gays."

The site, My OB Said What?!?, is dedicated to collecting and sharing the (sometimes crazy but true) comments said to birthing women by doctors, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and childbirth educators while pregnant or on their birthing day. Occasionally, nurses and others working along side OBs submit a comment that was said to them while at work. Some are laughable. Some are arrogant. Some are myths. Some are hurtful. Some are heterosexist. Some are outright appalling on so many levels:





Recommend against this OB?!

The Doctors: Daytime Talk Show Disaster



I was planning to critique last week's jaw-dropping (read: full of falsehoods) episode of The Doctors, but Freedom of Speech did such a stellar job, there is no need to add more. This video is well worth your 14 minutes of attention (and sharing).

Intro commentary from FreedomOSpeech:
Daytime television talk shows have never been known for giving the most reliable information to the public. A show called "The Doctors" is no exception.

I'm going to go over a segment of the show that aired on the 12th of January 2011.

The segment is about the proposed circumcision ban in San Francisco California. This bill would ban non-consensual genital cutting of minors when there is no immediate medical necessity. This bill is intended to protect minors, and does not ban medically necessary or adult consensual surgeries.

The clip begins with Dr. Drew Ordon making a horrible case for his position. Dr. Drew, you will henceforth be known as Doctor Fallacy.

Let's begin.



References

Special thanks to Sam of Gallifrey for help gathering sources and arguments. Subscribe here.

1. H. C. Bazett et al, "Depth, Distribution and Probable Identification in the Prepuce of Sensory End-Organs Concerned in Sensations of Temperature and Touch, Thermometric Conductivity," Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 27 (1932): 489-517

2. Sorrells et al. (2007). Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis. British Journal of Urology, 99(4), 864--869. http://tinyurl.com/sorrells2007bju

3. Van Howe RS, Cold CJ. Advantages and disadvantages of neonatal circumcision. JAMA 1997:278:203.

4. Klein, A. (1989). The healing power of humor. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam.

5. Cornell, DH. (2003). Frequently Asked Questions. Circumcision Center. http://www.circumcisioncenter.com/faq...

6. Detailed Guide: Penile Cancer. What Are the Key Statistics About Penile Cancer?. (2006). American Cancer Society. http://tinyurl.com/penilecancer

7. Country Comparison - HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate. (2007). Central intelligence agency. http://tinyurl.com/ciahiv

8. "Countries" Measure Demographic and Health Surveys. N.p., 2010. http://www.measuredhs.com/countries

9. MedicineNet. (2011). Male Breast Cancer. http://tinyurl.com/mbcancer

10. 18 U.S.C. § 116 : US Code - Section 116: Female genital mutilation. (CITE: 18USC116). http://tinyurl.com/usafgm

11. World Health Organization. (2009). Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement. UNFPA.http://tinyurl.com/eliminatefgm

12. Taylor JR, Lockwood AP, Taylor AJ. The prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision. British Journal of Urology 1996; 77: 291-295. http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/t...

13. Lakshmanan S., Prakash S. Human prepuce: Some aspects of structure and function. Indian J Surg 1980;44:134-7. http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/l...

14. Gairdner D. The fate of the foreskin: A study of circumcision. Br Med J 1949;2:1433-7.

15. Frederick Hodges, Paul Fleiss. "Nontherapeutic Circumcision Should not be Performed," American Medical News, vol. 38, no. 26 (July 17, 1995): p. 16.

16. World Health Organization. (2010). Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement. World Health Organization. http://tinyurl.com/2nfjmq

17. Stang , M.J., & Snellman, L.W. (1998). Circumcision practice patterns in the United States. Pediatrics, 101(6), http://pediatrics.aappublications.org... doi: 10.1542/peds.101.6.e5

18. Hitchens schools Rabbi on issue of genital mutilation. (2009). [Web]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U93ZiR...

19. Planet Parent (season 1, episode 2). (2006). [Web]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyYhRp...

20. Fleiss, PM. (1997, March). The case against circumcision. Mothering.

21. Mark, S, Brown, MD, Cheryl, A, & Brown, RN. (1987). Circumcision Decision: Prominence of social concerns. Pediatrics, 80(2), 215-219 http://tinyurl.com/aapcosmeticcirc

~~~~

BOYS

Poem and photos © 2011 Audrey Bryk

    Autumn walks with wooden swords
    Slaying all the neighbors’ gourds
    Keeping Mama safe from harm
    From within reach of her arm.

    Sailing ships in violent storms
    “It’s certain death!” he informs
    But before he’ll face his fears
    She will wash behind his ears.

    A late-night walk through a cave
    He’s not scared; he’s strong, he’s brave
    But when his head begins to spin
    She’ll close the book, and tuck him in.

    He’ll jump right out of a tree
    Take a fall and skin his knee
    He’ll spill no tears down his face
    Until he feels his Mom’s embrace.

    Boys are something to behold
    Wills of iron, hearts of gold
    Not invincible by far -
    But born just perfect as they are.
                                         
                                                              ~Audrey Bryk




Read more from Audrey Bryk:




Let Him Be

A song adaptation to the tune of The Beatles' "Let it Be"

When I find myself with circumcisers
Angry and confronting me,
I try speaking words of wisdom - let him be.
And when they speak their dark myths
While they're standing right in front of me
I try speaking words of wisdom - let him be.

Let him be, let him be.
I whisper words of wisdom - let him be.

And when the hard-hearted people
Take the time to try to see,
There's a simple answer - let him be.
For though they may be guarded,
There is still a chance that they'll agree
There's a simple answer - let him be.

Let him be, let him be,
Let him be, oh, let him be.
There's a simple answer - let him be.

And though their thoughts seem cloudy
There is still a light for all to see
Shine truth until tomorrow - let him be.
Please wake up to the sound of reason,
Mother, Father, come to see
And speak those words of wisdom - let him be.

Let him be, let him be.
There's a simple answer - let him be.
Let him be, let him be.
Yes, whisper words of wisdom, let him be...

~Sheila N. Vinson
 


~~~~

For more information, see books, websites and articles at: Are You Fully Informed?

~~~~

Neonatal Circumcision [A video for heathcare professionals]


This video was made last year "for healthcare professionals" by Sparks Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in Sparks, NV. It is the circumcision surgery of newborn baby, Ben, in their clinic.

As you watch, note that the doctor states prepuce amputation is done for "cosmetic" reasons - not medical necessity. Yet he continues on to say that this surgery has been conducted in the same manner for 3,000 years. This is not true. [For more information see: Biblical Circumcision and related information on genital cutting pre-1900s North America.]

As Ben's mother is told that there are risks to circumcision, she covers her ears. The amputating physician tells her that complications from the operation are "very rare" and "knock on wood, we just don't see it." Untrue. A large number of infants who undergo circumcision surgery have post-op complications to one degree or another. And all have had the most sensitive, most erogenous, part of their penis removed forever.

As Ben starts to cry, the physician quickly asks, "Do you have any questions?" "Nope," replies Ben's mother, and the tape is stopped while Ben is strapped to the circumstraint board. When the tape begins again, the physician is satisfied that Ben's arms and legs are tied down tightly and explains that you must make sure a baby is "well restrained." Even a newborn will kick and roll and claw in a desperate attempt to avert an knife attack on his body.

The penis is rubbed with alcohol which serves two purposes - it kills bacteria immediately available on the surface of the penis pre-op, and it causes an erection in an infant which makes it easier for the physician to tear and cut the prepuce (foreskin) from the glans (penis head) as the two organs are otherwise tightly fused together (like your fingernail is to your finger). Anesthesia is injected into the penis (which does nothing to numb the dorsal nerve at the base of the penis). As he begins, the physician says, "Sorry, Buddy. This is the part that everyone hates..." and continues on.

Ben's cries may haunt you. They are the desperate, urgent, pleas to be rescued from the most horrific pain imaginable - the cutting off of one's genitals. They are not typical cries of a baby in need. Parents who have viewed their son's circumcision surgery will tell you that they've never heard a cry just like this.

If you have previously witnessed circumcision surgery, this may not be for you to watch. However, if you are considering circumcision for your baby (which, in the United States is the complete amputation of the prepuce organ and frequently the frenulum) please do watch. To make a research-based decision, parents must be fully informed about what circumcision surgery entails, including all aspects of the operation, the many important functions the foreskin serves in infancy and adulthood, and intact care as well.

There are many locations to go for learning more about circumcision. Available books and websites are included on this page, or to view additional surgeries (if one is not enough) search "circumcision" on YouTube. Although the majority of parents today keep their sons intact, we still find a percentage of those choosing circumcision without being well informed. In 2011, no parent should be birthing a child without being well versed in the subject ahead of time.

Ben, before and after his prepuce is amputated:



Note (above) that it is readily obvious Ben has been subjected to forced retraction already at this point in life. As a neonate, his prepuce should be tightly fused to the end of his penis, and there should be no gaping, red area. The physician also tells Ben's mother that they have "already checked" further up on Ben's shaft (commonly, as far as he was able to retract the prepuce) to check for hypospadias. Absolutely no one should be retracting your baby, for any reason. But there is an epidemic of forced retraction in the United States that parents need to be aware of.


(Above) The physician has stimulated Ben, forcing an erection. This allows the prepuce to be torn easier, for the clamp or bell to be placed tightly, and for cutting to take place with a slightly reduced chance of accidental glans (head) amputation. Others have noted that this is truly the first time in a baby's life that sex (manual stimulation of the penis to cause an erection) and violence (the non-consential, painful cutting up of the penis) mix. The Gomco clamp is used on Ben. It is one of the two most commonly used circumcision clamps in the United States, the second being the Plastibell. There are some parents who are told that the Plastibell does not involve cutting. This is not true. The prepuce is still torn apart from the glans, the bell is placed on the raw glans, the prepuce is pulled up over the glans, a string (instead of metal clamp) is tied around the prepuce, and everything above the string is cut off. There is no such thing as a "blood free" or "knife free" circumcision surgery. To view a Plastibell circumcision and learn more see this page.


Ben may now face many weeks or months of "colic" (higher in babies who have endured severe pain in their post-partum days). He may show signs of infant PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) via increased episodes of fright, crying, terror, lapsing in and out of a semi-comatose state (increased drowsiness, sleep), decreased interest in eating, nursing complications, thrusting instead of suckling at his mother's breast, reflux, belly aches, and neurological changes. He is now at a heightened risk for failure to thrive and faces several weeks of post-op healing. He is more likely to face infection, meatal ulcers, post-op phimosis, fibrosis, and potential need for repeat surgery. Until his penis scars and calluses over, he faces the risk of hemorrhage, which, if it occurs, will hopefully be stopped via clamps, or heart failure and death can result. He may move his body differently than his intact peers as he grows, and will respond to vaccinations and other painful episodes with higher cortisol (stress hormone) spikes and a lower threshold for pain, even into adulthood. The odds are, unfortunately, not in his favor to walk away without any post-op complications.

The CDC reports that 68% of baby boys born in the United States in 2009 remained intact. Their parents said "no" to circumcision.


No national or international medical organization in the world recommends infant circumcision.





Additional Gomco Style Circumcision:


Violated: A Baby Boy's Point of View

© 2011 Christina King
King serves as Director of Intact Iowa



Born into a cold world, but settled into warm arms.

I snuggle at a nurturing breast and latch on.

Happy and content, I nurse and fall asleep...

Until the people in white coats come in for me.


Someone straps my legs and arms.

What are they doing? I want my mom!

I begin to whimper... Where could she be?

I'm uncomfortable - need to be held. Can't they see?


They strip me down bare. I'm now naked and cold.

I begin to wail. Everything's so out of control.

The doctor reaches toward me. For my mom, I'll be strong.

But his impersonal touch is somewhere private. And, oh, so very wrong.


The pain that soon follows is too much for me to bear.

Why is this happening, Mom? Don't you even care?

When I was first born, you called me perfect - why'd you lie?

Why aren't you here with me? Or comforting while I cry?


There is pulling and yanking and cutting and slicing.

It feels like each cell of my body they're splicing.

I scream until my voice is raw. I cry 'til tears come no more.

Red liquid is pouring from me. Blood. It pools upon the floor.


I hear the doctor say, "The circumcision's a success!"

He tells the nurse to take me back to mom so I may rest.

I don't know what that big word means, but something's surely changed.

I've got a feeling after this my body'll never be the same.


I'm back in Mom's arms again, but no longer are they safe.

She tries to nurse me at her breast, but I no longer want this place.

Circumcision: this horrible procedure that some will still condone...

I should feel safe and secure and loved - but all I feel is alone.


~~~~

For prepuce (foreskin), intact care and circumcision information and resources see:
Should I keep my son intact?

"I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in the condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male." ~Thomas Szasz, M.D.
~~~~

Violated: A Baby Boy's Point of View

© 2011 Christina King
King serves as Director of Intact Iowa




Born into a cold world, but settled into warm arms.

I snuggle at a nurturing breast and latch on.

Happy and content, I nurse and fall asleep...

Until the people in white coats come in for me.


Someone straps my legs and arms.

What are they doing? I want my mom!

I begin to whimper... Where could she be?

I'm uncomfortable - need to be held. Can't they see?


They strip me down bare. I'm now naked and cold.

I begin to wail. Everything's so out of control.

The doctor reaches toward me. For my mom, I'll be strong.

But his impersonal touch is somewhere private. And, oh, so very wrong.


The pain that soon follows is too much for me to bear.

Why is this happening, Mom? Don't you even care?

When I was first born, you called me perfect - why'd you lie?

Why aren't you here with me? Or comforting while I cry?


There is pulling and yanking and cutting and slicing.

It feels like each cell of my body they're splicing.

I scream until my voice is raw. I cry 'til tears come no more.

Red liquid is pouring from me. Blood. It pools upon the floor.


I hear the doctor say, "The circumcision's a success!"

He tells the nurse to take me back to mom so I may rest.

I don't know what that big word means, but something's surely changed.

I've got a feeling after this my body'll never be the same.


I'm back in Mom's arms again, but no longer are they safe.

She tries to nurse me at her breast, but I no longer want this place.

Circumcision: this horrible procedure that some will still condone...

I should feel safe and secure and loved - but all I feel is alone.


~~~~

For prepuce (foreskin), intact care and circumcision information and resources see:
Should I keep my son intact?

"I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in the condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male." ~Thomas Szasz, M.D.
~~~~

Medical Congress on Children's Pain: A Report from the Field

By Nicolas Maubert 
Read in French here; Translated to English for DrMomma.org
[Note: Although circumcision is uncommon in France, there are still those who cut children for religious justification.]




We recently held a conference in Paris, France, The Pain of Circumcision: What to Do?, which was a part of the Medical Congress on Children's Pain and organized by Pediatol.

Dr. Daniel Annequin led the conference and indicated that while the topic is a controversial one, we were gathered to discuss the subject of circumcision pain, not the ethical issues that the actual surgery draws up. A program was given to all participants that read, “This literature review deals only with the management of circumcision pain and does not enter into the controversial and pressing subject of neonatal circumcision in particular."

When the question was raised that circumcision is often performed for religious reasons, Annequin quickly dismissed the question with, "We have nothing to say." In this case, why do we “have something to say” something about female circumcision, which is also commonly performed for religious justifications?

I will not detail the course of the entire conference here (several slides below), which focused solely on the pain aspect of genital cutting and ways to respond. But, it is of significance that Dr. Annequin showed images of infants screaming in pain while they were being circumcised, as well as a lot of horrible “tools” of the circumcision trade (including a seat used in U.S. hospitals in which a baby is literally tied up so he cannot move, while his legs are forced apart and the foreskin is amputated). It is possible that merely through the display of these images, those in the Medical Congress were made aware of the horrors of this practice (regularly conducted on U.S. soil).


 


 

Another significant aspect of the Congress report which caught be my surprise is when Annequin compared human babies to lab animals. "Our children are less well protected than even laboratory animals," he said. And then continued, "It is a paradoxical situation: we've never performed circumcision on other mammals or practiced the surgery on an unanesthetized animal. We've never even considered such research in the lab."


This gives us reason to pause and think about the truth of such things...

After his comparison, questions were taken from physicians in the audience. Dr. Michel Cymes, the medical host of a show on France 5, was there to lead questions and respond.


Like Dr. Annequin, Dr. Cymes reminded the Medical Congress that this is a sensitive issue, but we were gathered to discuss the subject of circumcision pain - not to speak upon the ethical issues of male genital cutting.

At this point, I decided to change my question to the Congress, because I was prepared to ask:
I would like to know what the position of the French medical profession is on the serious ethical problem of circumcision? One which is a violation of the basic human right to bodily integrity and the right of the child. Dutch medicine unanimously came down against circumcision on May 27, 2010. What is the position statement of France?
But with the insistence that we did not bring up ethical concerns, I chose instead to focus on the importance of the prepuce (foreskin).
Do you believe that the minimum we should do as medical professionals is to inform parents of the many functions of the foreskin? An organ which plays an essential role in the sexuality of men?
I could have added research citations to clarify that the foreskin is an organ richly endowed with both outer and inner sub-sections, but at the moment this is all I could pose.

The question was genuine - no information highlights the foreskin and its many purposes. It is clear (as we've witnessed when parents become informed) that the rate of infant circumcision would fall if parents were accurately and adequately educated on the prepuce.

Dr. Cymes answered me in two stages. My audio recording of his response is not the most clear, but essentially he replied:

- First by minimizing and joking about my question. He said that while the foreskin does play an important role in male sexuality, those who are circumcised are probably not "insensitive." It is impossible to adequately translate into English the meaning of his laughable response, but it was understood clearly in French and garnered a chuckle and applause from some in the audience.

So yes, we recognize that men who were circumcised as infants have not lost 100% of their sensation, but is this justification to continue taking the same from future men? If we follow this reasoning, we may as well begin tomorrow to re-instate female circumcision. After all, we do not amputate the entire clitoris (most of which is an internal organ) - circumcised women still have sexual pleasure and sensation as well! The majority of women who were circumcised as infants or children continue to have sexual function, and experience orgasm, to the same degree as their intact peers.

This is likely the way I should have responded, but I was in shock at his reply and unable to react properly and professionally - feeling helpless, really.

- In a second response, Dr. Cymes cited the African HIV/circumcision trials and proposed that male circumcision may reduce HIV transmission. Of course, we know that more recent studies demonstrate that those same areas in Africa where men were circumcised are those that have seen an increase in HIV infection. Circumcised men (believing they are 'protected') start having sex without condoms. Cymes did note that circumcised men "should not believe themselves to be protected from HIV" only moments after he mentioned the trials and their asserted outcomes. It is not difficult to understand: condoms alone protect against AIDS - not circumcision!

Interestingly, if medical societies around the world bought into the claims made by those African trials, the the rest of the globe would advocate for adult male circumcision. Yet the Dutch and the French and all other national health organizations do not favor the practice. Why is it only in Africa that we deem circumcision to be a "good thing?" It seems to be an easy way out: instead of providing condoms to African peoples, we prefer to tell them to cut off a part of their genitals! What a deep contempt for Africa we must have...

And this is what I wished to answer with. But I could not find the words to do so... I just mumbled, "These studies are contradictory." Cymes interrupted and said no, the trials were accurate, and I could not add any more.  My question was bypassed, and obviously there was no willingness to inform parents on the prepuce and its functions. (I wonder, how would women react if we laughed at their sexuality, their whole genitals, at a medical conference, and claimed they were not important - and could be removed without significant implication?)

Cymes at this point demanded again that questions be posed only "about the pain" of circumcision - making it clear that questions like mine had no place at the conference.

As we concluded, I stood at the podium to speak with them both, but Cymes quickly left the room. Annequin and I discussed the recent study finding a reduced sensitivity for men who were circumcised. He seemed to agree, stating, "Yes, when parents are informed [on the functions of the foreskin] just as we have witnessed among some groups of parents in the U.S. - rates decline."

Annequin still appeared a bit embarrassed and I do not know if he could express precisely what he thought among peers in this room, but truly he seemed to be a professional against circumcision. I intend to re-contact him by mail.

I spoke with another attendee - a nurse - who agreed that there is a fundamental human rights/ethical issue posed by circumcision and that it is key for us to inform both parents and practitioners on the foreskin and its functions.

In the end, I am disappointed with my "contribution" to this conference, and the way in which the subject was dealt with. It was a Medical Congress devoted to children's pain, yet clearly we were not allowed to engage in the ethical dilemma of the cause of this pain!

At future conferences, I hope to be better prepared to respond appropriately to physicians who are still too cowardly to condemn the male genital mutilation that occurs annually to millions, most of whom are born on U.S. soil, and cut before they ever have the opportunity to realize what was taken from them.


~~~~

Intact Friendly Business List

The following businesses are those whose owners are advocates for genital autonomy. This list began in 2010 by Christina King of Intact Iowa, and carried over to Saving Our Sons. We thank each business for the seeds of intact awareness you plant along the way for the sake of babies everywhere, and the adults they become!


To add your business, email SavingSons@gmail.com with:
  • your name, business name
  • your website/URL
  • product/services offered or one tag line that describes your items
  • Facebook page (if applicable)
  • city/state (if applicable)
  • 1 image, photo or logo that represents your business (optional)

Intact Friendly Businesses
alphabetical by category
** Currently Being Updated ** Photos to be added **

Amazon
Shop Amazon by clicking through any item at this link (or the 'powered by Amazon' logo) and Amazon will give back 2% to Saving Our Sons and the baby-saving work we take on. Shopping and check-out remain the same. http://astore.amazon.com/savingsons.org-20

Crunchy Mama Creations
blankets, hats and more
FB.com/CrunchyMamaCreations1

Get Baked with Helen
baking services
http://www.getbakedwithhelen.com
FB.com/GetBakedCake
Perry, Iowa

Hippie Tree
jewelry, body butter, and more
https://www.etsy.com/shop/HippieTTree
FB.com/hippiettree

Made With Love Cloth Diapers
FB.com/MadeWithLoveDiapers

For the Love of Fluff
cloth diapers
https://www.etsy.com/shop/4TheLoveOfFluff
FB.com/ForTheLoveOfFluff

Nature's Nurture Boutique
https://www.etsy.com/shop/NaturesNurtureBtq
FB.com/NaturesNurtureBoutique

Made By Momma
Shirts, onesies and advocacy apparel for the whole family
MadeByMomma.spreadshirt.com
FB.com/MadeByMom

MommaBaby Love Photography
Photography for your baby-growing days and beyond
FB.com/MommaBabyLove
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Top Shelf Cleaning
Personal cleaning, decorating, and home-care 
FB.com/TopShelfClean
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Twisted Okie Dyes
Eugene, OR
I produce handmade tie dyes, from children's clothes, swaddling blankets, and cloth diaper inserts to adult clothing and tapestries.

Sin City Birth: Las Vegas Doula & Childbirth Education
SinCityBirth.net
FB.com/SinCityBirth
Las Vegas, Nevada

Wild Earth Herbals
http://wildearthherbals.com
FB.com/HerbandRenewal
Timmonsville, South Carolina

Bradley Method® Childbirth Classes
Sara Garside
http://www.bradleybirth.com/saragarside
Imperial, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Sacred Path Midwifery
http://www.sacredpathmidwifery.com/
FB.com/sacredpathmidwifery
Coppell, TX

SoftBums
SoftBums.com
FB.com/SoftBums

Seven Spiral Birth & Holistic Services
SevenSpiral.com
FB.com/SevenSpiral

The Tie-Dyed Hillbilly
https://www.etsy.com/shop/TieDyedHillbilly

Tastefully Simple
Theresa B.
https://www.tastefullysimple.com/web/tbasile
Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania

Be Natural Baby Care
FB.com/be.naturalbaby.care
Cypress, TX

Pearland Family Chiropractic
http://www.drbrandigriffin.com
FB.com/Pearland-Family-Chiropractic-256324417872437/
Pearland, TX

Anya's Boutique
baby items
https://www.etsy.com/shop/anyasboutique
FB.com/anyasboutique

Brandi's Birthing Service
FB.com/BirthingService
Omaha, Nebraska

Cuties with Cloth Booties
diapers and more
http://hyenacart.com/stores/cuties/
FB.com/cwcbcm

Creative Captures by Crystal
photography
http://scphotomom.wix.com/ccbycrystal
FB.com/CCbyCrystal
Honea Path, South Carolina

Earth Mama Birth
childbirth education and doula services
Evidence Based Birth instructor
http://www.earthmamabirth.com
FB.com/EarthMamaBirth
Howell & Brighton, Michigan

Fluff of Enchantment
diapers and more
http://hyenacart.com/stores/fluffofenchantment/
FB.com/FluffofEnchantment

Free Range Family Designs
clothing, flags and more
https://www.etsy.com/shop/FreeRangeFamily
FB.com/FreeRangeFamilyDesigns

Gracefully Created
children's clothing, beads, vinyl and more
https://www.etsy.com/shop/gracefullycreated
FB.com/sewgracefullycreated

Honeybuns Cloth Diapers
http://honeybunsclothdiapers.com
FB.com/honeybunsclothdiapers

Mama Bird Fleece
fleece made items
FB.com/mamabirdfleece

Mama's Felt Cafe
toys, novelties, and baby items from felt and beyond
http://www.mamasfeltcafe.com
FB.com/mamasfeltcafe

Melange Jolie, LLC
soaps, scrubs, moisturizers and more
http://www.melangejoliellc.bigcartel.com
FB.com/MelangeJolieLLC

Mum and Me Magazine
http://www.mumandmemagazine.com
FB.com/Mum.and.Me.magazine

Holistic Parenting Magazine
http://blog.holisticparentingmagazine.com/index.php/hpm-home
FB.com/HolisticParentingMagazine

Peep.Ooie Cloth Diapers
diapers and momma cloth
FB.com/PeepooieClothDiapers

Rock-a-bye Bootie
cloth diapers
http://hyenacart.com/stores/rockabyebooty/
FB.com/Rockabyebooty

Sacred Earth Massage and Birth Services
http://www.sacredearthwellnessne.com/index.html
FB.com/SacredEarthWellness
Bellingham, Massachusetts

Tori's Tushies
cloth diapers
FB.com/TorisTushies

Kinderpack
A small percentage over retail/shipping/fees goes back to baby-saving efforts.
DrMomma.org/2016/05/kinderpack.html

Made for You: By Anu
blankets, headbands, baby clothes and more
https://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeForYouByAnu
FB.com/MadeForYouByAnu

The Perfect Tension
custom key chains, suck pads, t-shirts, towels and more
ThePerfectTension.com
FB.com/ThePerfectTension






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