On January 25, Andrea Peyser published in New York Post an article about intactivism, called “Circumcision ‘intactivists’ don’t want you (or your kids) to get snipped“.
The article started wrong from the headline. Intactivists recognize the right of adult men to decide whether they want to get circumcised or not. Intactivists are concerned with protecting the genital integrity of minors, but recognize the autonomy of adults to provide consent and make decisions over their own bodies.
Peyser writes that “Intactivists claim that uncut penises deliver enhanced sexual pleasure“. It would be better to say that circumcised penises deliver decreased sexual pleasure, as a result of the loss of mechanic and sensorial tissue.
Then she adds that intactivists “liken male circumcision to female genital mutilation“. This common claim is usually simplified to make intactivists look as extremists. One cannot deny that both cultural practices are usually performed on minors without regard for their future preference. In the places where these practices take place, it is assumed that the individual has no say on whether they will be subjected to it or not, and shall simply accept the genital alteration and live with it. In that sense, both practices are culturally and ethically similar, even if their physical effects are different. The AAP recognized that “Some forms of FGC are less extensive than the newborn male circumcision commonly performed in the West” (in their 2010 Policy Statement on “Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors”).
Circumcision promoters usually get away with claiming that circumcision has benefits while FGM doesn’t. But, as mentioned by a group of 38 European and Canadian Physicians, only one of those benefits has any relevance to children, which is the dubious claim that it reduces the risk of urinary tract infections during the first year of life, infections that are usually easy to treat and of little relevance. All other ‘benefits’ apply to adult life – and an adult would be able to make a decision based on his own review of evidence. When considered the number to treat (100 to 1000 circumcisions to prevent one incident) and the incidence of complications (1 in 500 being an optimistic rate), and the massive loss of normal genital tissue, it simply is not proportional.
Furthermore, societies that perform FGM claim that it has social, moral and medical benefits. Our society denies this. Similarly, other societies may deny the benefits that our society claims, and medical claims often change or stay on the edge, which is why the AAP, CDC and CPS statements simply cannot recommend circumcision – leaving the decision to the parents. Quite an anomaly for a surgery, that it is performed based on a non-medical decision.
Peyser questioned intactivist Anthony Losquadro whether the obsession with foreskin is healthy. From outside, it is quite clear that the American society is obsessed with foreskin – with removing it! Similarly, when some Jewish people claim that circumcision is vital to Jewish identity, they are also being obsessed with foreskin – with removing it. Societies where circumcision is not prevalent are not obsessed with foreskin; they simply have no reason to remove random normal and healthy parts of the bodies of children, foreskin included. This is relevant because Andrea is both American and Jewish. Her non-American parents met while serving in the Israeli army.
Following Losquadro’s response, Peyser seemed surprised that “some men harbor deep-seated issues regarding their members“. But, is there any person in the world who lives unconcerned about their own body, including their own genitalia?
Following a discussion of the rates of circumcision, Peyser wrote that “mohels and doctors recently told The Post that an increasing number of grown men in America are now making the cut for religious, medical or aesthetic reasons” – which falls outside the scope of interest of intactivists. Adult males deciding to get circumcised have every single right to do so and can do it after evaluating the evidence, evaluating their own values, and are capable of providing informed consent. Babies can’t do that.
Peyser then presents that Losquadro drives a 30-foot “van” and hands out literature aimed at persuading parents to retain boy’s “genital integrity”. Peyser wrote “genital integrity” inside quotes, apparently indicating that she does not share this concept.
As the note closes, Peyser offers the typical list of benefits – benefits that, again, are questionable and apply mostly to adults – without comparing them to the typical list of complications and harms.
For some reason, Peyser felt that it was proper to finish her article by making reference to one episode of “Sex and the City” where circumcision was discussed, and where a perfectly normal intact male was body-shamed. Peyser claims to agree with the characters that enthused that “shafts devoid of hoods were more pleasant to gaze upon and touch than intact ones“.
But this sentence is quite revealing. Imagine dear reader if it was a male claiming that “vulvas devoid of hoods and folds are more pleasant…”, as a rationale to justify the surgical alteration of baby girls. This shows one of the real arguments behind American circumcision, and it is not a medical one. It’s simply abuse of children to appeal a social fetish. Whatever kind of penis Peyser enjoys gazing upon and touching should not have any relevance to what surgeries her children or any children are subjected to.
She closes the article by hoping that “guys who spend their lives feeling wounded by circumcision, and the women who enable them, find new hobbies“. We counter that we hope that men and women who make their livelihood by cutting normal healthy genital tissue from non-consenting minors are the ones who should find another career, especially including those mohels in Peyser’s natal Queens who feel that their religion entitles them to suck blood with their mouths out of infant penises they just cut.