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?