Circumcision: Is It Child Abuse?

“You can’t go cutting the body parts off people without consent.” – Georganne Chapin, Intact America

| Emboldened by the body-positive movement and a sense of rage, a growing chorus is pushing back against a common custom

Gary Nunn, 20 Jul 2019

The Guardian – The media officer of one of the UK’s top medical schools doesn’t realise she hasn’t muted herself as she puts me on hold.

She sniggers with her colleague as she passes on my request – to speak to an expert on male circumcision – before informing me they don’t have one.

This foreskin flippancy festers into revulsion in some areas of popular culture.

In one Sex and the City episode, Charlotte is so repelled by her lover’s foreskin, she likens it to a “shar-pei”, the analogy cementing Miranda’s resolve to circumcise her kids.

It’s written for entertainment value, but for Adam Zeldis, a 36-year-old software developer from New York, it’s no laughing matter.

Many men circumcised as babies “have an epiphany when the cultural blinders come off”, he tells the Guardian. “I was a vulnerable 16-year-old when I realised how much skin was removed and that my bodily autonomy was violated.”

Georganne Chapin, who runs Intact America, hears about foreskin degradation often. “Men call us saying their wives think it’s ‘disgusting and dirty’ not to circumcise their sons. It’s sad,” she says.

“Intactivists” (portmanteau of “intact” and “activist”) are raising their voices in increasing numbers about infant male circumcision – but are they being heard?

Not according to Zeldis. “I felt immense loss and grief that I’d never be given the chance to experience sex the way nature intended it. And nobody in society cared. It was terribly isolating.”

America is the western nation with the highest proportion of infant male circumcisions. Many do it for non-religious and non-therapeutic reasons.

Due to different tracking measures and non-uniform reporting of newborn circumcisions, the prevalence is difficult to measure accurately. One American healthcare agency report in 2012 found that circumcisions had dropped from around 60% in 2000 to 54.5% in 2009. Read more. 

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