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21 January 2012: Am I an Intactivist?

I received an angry message in my anonymous comment box from a reader asking, among other things, if I was some sort of intactivist.

In all truth, I am not entirely sure.

I'm sure this would have come up sooner or later, so I'll just take some time to explain, now.

When I see the word intactivist, I see a portmanteau between the word "intact," and "activist."  In the literal sense, I am neither intact, nor am I an activist.

I support the right for children to not have knives needlessly taken to their genitalia, period.  Having been through what I have, how could I not?  However, this being said, the "activist" portion of "intactivist" implies being physically or otherwise observably active to fight for bodily integrity rights, which I have not done, physically.  I have written no letters, called no congressperson, marched, nor held up a sign.  In my physical life, I am not like this.

If anything, I am covert.

For example, one evening someone was joking around about circumcision with a chainsaw, to which I casually (and superficially) in jest replied "Oh, yes.  Because circumcision isn't traumatically frightening and painful enough as it is," to which he replied "babies don't remember it."  I then said something in my continued, feigned joviality like "Neither do people who get roofied, because not remembering makes everything OK" with light sarcasm in my voice. 

My conversation partner grew quiet.  He then said mumbled something like "it's cleaner."

My the final words on this topic, uttered conversationally lightly, came out of my mouth when I said "Say of it what you will, but in the end you are taking a knife to a baby's genitals, and that is never going to be OK in my book."

I am not an intactivist in that I am overt in the physical world about it, but rather deliberately and pensively covert with my sentiments and statements.  Every statement I make in this sense is measured, carefully planned, another progression in an invisible game of perspective-altering chess.  The moment I might say aloud a statistic, I risk marking myself to them as somebody "obsessed."  If I keep it in jest, keep it light, and focus on the ethical facts, I can plant many, many seeds of doubt in others' minds about circumcision.  It isn't hard.  If anything, I prime and open up this sort of person for the real intactivists to spread the truth.

If I am an intactivist, I am undercover, working in the margins and behind the lines.  My support is there.  It is small, it is not measurable, but I am doing what I can to at least call people to think outside of their own box on this issue.

In my own way, I guess I am sort of an intactivist.  Or at the very least I can say that I am against the genital cutting of unconsenting minors, and am doing subtle things to spread this feeling.

1 comment:

  1. Your partner in conversation is dead wrong. Babies do remember it - on a subconscious level. There are two types of memory: Explicit and Implicit. Implicit memory starts when the baby is still in the womb. Everything he/she is sujected to leaves a trace on their brain, which may or may not have a psychological impact on them for the rest of their life.
    Explicit memory starts at around age 3 and involves the ability to consciously recall data.

    To say that babies do not remember their circumcision ia a cop-out. Much later in life many will exhibit Post traumatic stress issues because of it.