Demonstrating... With Kids!

By Emily Kirsch, Intact Pennsylvania © 2012

Lindsey and Emily ~ International AIDS Conference 2012

Demonstrating...with kids?! YOU CAN DO THIS!

I admit the idea of demonstrating with even one small child in tow can seem incredibly daunting. My first Genital Integrity Awareness Week (GIAW 2011) I barely dipped my feet in the intactivism pool. My sons were three years and fourteen months old at the time and I was also five months pregnant with my third child. We arrived in D.C. for the march, carried a couple signs with us, and then left that same evening. I parked in a hotel’s parking garage along Independence Avenue, for about $20. Gas to DC and back from our home was less than that. We brought water and plenty of snacks so there was no need to source food in the city. We left shortly after noon, arrived in DC by 2pm (the kids got a good, long nap in the car), it was a 10 minute walk from our parking spot to the West Lawn of the Capitol, and we were back in the car by 9pm.

My second year attending GIAW in 2012 was a lot more involved than my first experience. I was a single mom, with a seven month old, a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I didn’t have the money to pay for a hotel room - only enough for travel expenses and our food. David Wilson, of Stop Infant Circumcision Society, generously offered us a bed in his hotel room, and the other people sharing the room were equally as kind. They were even fine with a mother and three little boys under the age of five staying with them for the whole week!

Kids' Dinner on the Lawn ~ Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2012

I brought an electric skillet (for cooking) and a cooler full of food. I made a big batch of hearty, protein-rich banana muffins for us to have as our breakfasts and to nibble on for snacks. I brought a couple dozen pre-cooked hard boiled eggs. Examples of food cooked in the hotel room in the electric skillet included: scrambled eggs, shrimp ratatouille, chicken and veggie stir fry, lemon and pepper chicken with leeks - we ate well that week! I brought plenty of fresh fruit as well - bananas and apples and oranges (easy to throw three of each fruit in a cooler bag every morning for a snack on the go). I also brought my cutting board and chef’s knife. I didn’t think to bring along a crockpot - I plan to do that this year!

Keep in my mind my car is a Honda Civic - and I had no problem fitting a week’s worth of clothes, food, and supplies in it. The logistics of spending the entire week, by myself, with my three children, in a big city... they're not as complicated as they appear. I babywear at home, so I naturally continued this while I was demonstrating. My seventh month old was used to spending the entire morning and afternoon wrapped on my chest or back, with breaks for milk and diaper checks. D.C. was the same. 

We’d wake up, eat our breakfast, get dressed, pack a bag (I’ll detail what to bring later), put baby in the wrap, put my 2 year old on my back, 4 year old in the stroller, and head out of the hotel. Sometimes, the 2 year old wanted to ride in the stroller until we got outside, and since 4 year olds make EXCELLENT elevator button pushers, I’d buckle the Ergo around my waist to have it ready, and out we’d go.
Emily and Baby ~ Men's Health Week 2012

Once outside, we’d get situated and walk the mile to the Capitol lawn. In late March the weather in DC is absolutely perfect - a long sleeve t-shirt, short sleeve t-shirt over that, a hoodie in case there’s a breeze, and hats for babies. A small blanket for over the lap of a stroller-riding child is also useful. I use cloth diapers, but when staying in a hotel room for a week by myself with all three boys, I gave up and bought a pack of hippie disposable diapers for the baby. I got a small pack of larger diapers to put on my older two boys at night. (Typically at home we have a pile of piddle pads and I didn’t mind the extra laundry. Not something I wanted to deal with while away for a week!) This was an extra cost for the week - $30 for all the diapers and two packs of disposable wipes (we use cloth everything at home).

The bag each day was packed with:
  • 4-5 bottles of water (which I brought and recycled whenever possible)
  • fruit (3 apples, 3 oranges, 3 bananas)
  • a protein-rich snack (veggies and hummus, crackers and nut butter, trail mix, cut-up cheese)
  • an extra change of clothes for each kid
  • half a day’s worth of diapers and wipes
  • a plastic bag for trash
I’d tuck my phone, metro card, and a little cash in a zippered pocket inside my diaper bag - no need to bring my whole wallet! We flipped our days around - sometimes I’d hang out on the Capitol lawn first, demonstrate while the kids ran around and played, or sit under a tree and nurse while having conversations with other demonstrators. The set-up of the West Lawn of the Capitol is such that kids can run freely and play while being enclosed by massive stone walls with only two sets of stairs for exit. We all kept an eye on the children as a group, enabling some to get into conversations or walk holding signs, still ensuring that all of the kids are ALWAYS safe and supervised. The police protection at the Capitol rivals that of anywhere else. We always feel very secure there!

Danelle and Colleen ~ Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2011

Some days we’d spend our morning sight-seeing, out at the zoo, at the many Smithsonian museums, at the Botanical Gardens, and one day I even met up with an old high school friend for coffee. Almost all of the attractions in D.C. are FREE. There is no admission to the zoo, museums, or Botanical Gardens. Museums and Gardens are a short walk from the Capitol, and so is the Washington Monument. The zoo is easily traveled to on the Metro and even that is just a few dollars for the trip. If we spent the morning demonstrating, we’d either sight-see in the afternoon or just hang out and relax at the hotel. I didn’t demonstrate every day - we did take a couple days off.

It might seem overwhelming, but once you make the push to get out and do it, you learn how easy it can be to demonstrate with kids. Be prepared, relax and go with the flow. Ask for help if you need it - intact advocates are kind and generous people - we’ll always help those in need!

Danelle, Emily, Lindsey and Kids ~ Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2012



  1. Peggy Zabicki3/02/2013 7:51 PM

    I was glad to see that my son and his wife chose not to circumcize. I worry about the baby boys. When I had my first baby almost 35 years ago, you weren't always given a choice. Caring for the circumcized baby boy is challenging. I felt so sad for my baby boys. Today however, people are so much more informed and have more choices.

    Question - is there actually a need to protest circumcision today? It seems that parents either choose it or they don't. I haven't heard about or talked to any parents these days that were forced or pressured into it.

  2. roger desmoulins3/05/2013 1:20 PM

    A young American woman, standing on the Mall, holds a sign defiantly proclaiming


    She does this even though she is a single mother of 3 children. For two years now, I have noticed her steely resolve. Her name is Emily Kirsch.

    People, America is changing.

  3. roger desmoulins3/05/2013 1:39 PM

    RIC by default is, I gather, gone from USA maternity wards. Many mothers report that they were pressured to circumcise last century. There are almost no reports of that nature arising from births this century.

    Most doctors no longer browbeat mothers into circumcising their newborn sons. But American medical schools still don't teach the truth. American pediatric urologists still won't reveal how much of their case load stems from RIC problems. In August 2012, the AAP gave its seal of approval to a report filled with flawed logic, and cherry picking. A gang of public health academics, centered on the Bloomberg School at Johns Hopkins University, publishes paper after paper wrongly arguing that routine circumcision is a valid public health measure, not just in the AIDS belt of Africa, but in middle class USA. A sexologist as progressive as Dr Marty Klein cannot see that RIC is antisexual, and that intact men have been a stigmatized American sexual minority. Jesse Bering, whose domestic gay partner is an intact Latino, yells on and on in print about how RIC is an alleged public health slam dunk. Prof. Brian Morris in Australia, who teaches in a medical school but is not a doctor, publishes article after article, often with American coauthors, arguing in a sinister fashion that RIC is wonderful. Dr Morris simply refuses to entertain the possibility that RIC can be sexually damaging, especially after age 40 or 50. Hanging over all this is a vast common sense FAIL.

    America needs to see that many intactivists are everyday mothers of childbearing age. They are NOT just gay men with an agenda, or men angry about having undergone RIC. This is why we need mothers, wearing their babies, carrying signs defiantly proclaiming things like


    People, you cannot imagine how radical that sounds to a baby boom midwestern like myself, who grew up in the heart of the Empire of the Bald Penis, in a social environment where the words circumcision and foreskin were never spoken, even in bawdy male-only talk in high school and college. In the maternity wards of last century, every baby boy got the chop, but nobody dared talk about it.


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