Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fathers and Sons

I'm glad that despite my neglect of this blog some people are still reading and commenting.  It's interesting that even when life gets in the way of my writing I'm inevitably reminded that yes, I'm still circumcised.

I've made efforts to restore my foreskin with varying levels of dedication and success.  I definitely have more sensation than I used to before I started down this road but recent changes in my restoration practices have led my progress to taper off.  This is, to say the least, frustrating.  I have weeks where I'm very consistent and motivated and I read about others who have completed their restoration and I feel confident I'm going to get there.  But other times I stop and look down and dwell on the absurdity of it all.  Why did someone think this was a good idea to do this to me?  Why do I have this bullshit to deal with?  Why do I have to wear a suspender over my shoulder and a TLC tugger on my penis at night if I want to experience the level of sensitivity during sex I am now accustomed to?  Why did I have to lose some of that sensitivity when I stopped restoring during the day due to a new job without a private office?  In general, "what the fuck?" is what I ask myself during those moments.

If I had made the decision of my own accord to remand myself to this circumscribed (get it?) level of sensitivity I could live with it more easily.  If I had some kind of congenital defect I could live with it more easily.  I could even live with it if I had lost my foreskin in a bizarre car accident.   But I didn't.  Some doctor hacked it off and sent it to Bath and Body Works without even giving it a second thought.  That's what messes with me.  I have to go through all of this because of my parents' decision and that guy.

Of course, this is part of the reason why I receive many comments from people who say they are happy the way they are.  Indeed, some of them are so "happy" they shout from the rooftops about how great circumcision is and how they plan to circumcise every male child they are ever blessed with.  As much as continuing the cycle of violence disgusts me I can understand where these guys are coming from.  It was so much easier when I didn't think there was anything wrong with me, when I thought it wasn't a "big deal."  Once you take these people down the road of really, truly thinking about what was done to them and why, they tend to exit the conversation or get super hostile.  They just don't want to go there.  They know on a primal, subconscious level how bad it's going to be if they go there.

But we as men have a duty to protect not just ourselves, but our children.  That was when my delusions ended: when I had a son.  For the first time I had to really truly think about why my penis looks the way it does and whether I wanted to have part of my son's penis cut off as well.  Needless to say my wife and I decided that was NOT going to happen.  Why would I cause pain and trauma to this tiny being that only just entered the world?  Why would I remove part of his body that had nothing wrong with it?

As fathers our job is to protect our sons.  If we remain unhealed from our own traumas we risk revisiting them on the ones we love.  So if you think you're happy with the way you are.  That's great, I'm glad.  I'm not interested in trying to force anyone to walk the path I've chosen.  But if you want to be a good father and an ethical human being than you have to realize that when someone is holding a scalpel over your infant son's penis and he is screaming and crying while he is strapped to that goddamned circumstraint it's not about protecting you.  It's about protecting him.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Born Perfect

I took some time away from activism.  In August my family and I set off on an extended road trip across the United States and for four months I didn’t read or write about circumcision.  Every day was an unpredictable adventure and we often camped in places that had no electricity much less a wireless signal.  When I did have time to write and a signal to upload it I was focused on keeping our travel blog take5foradventure (see link at right) up to date. 

Now that we’ve arrived in Arizona our travels are on pause and one morning when I wasn’t busy job searching in our new town it occurred to me how long it had been since I had posted anything related to circumcision.  I took a moment for personal inventory and paused to reflect on the insights I had gained in our four months of travel.  Was doing my personal part to end circumcision still important to me?  Had I lost my fire on that front after taking a proverbial vacation from it for a while?

A wry smile crossed my face as I shook my head to myself.  I still feel as passionate as ever about protecting the right to intact genitalia for all human children.  How could I lose that fire when every day about 3-5 times a day I hold my circumcised penis in my right hand and aim it at the toilet?  Every time I change my clothes I look down at the ring-shaped scar on my shaft that despite several years of restorative efforts is still there and always will be even once it is covered up by extra skin I’ve forcibly trained my body to regrow.  The idea that I would ever lose sight of the importance of this cause no matter how long I took away from it was a laughable one.  Even if I wanted to try to forget my role in putting an end to circumcision I would still have to wake up every morning to someone else’s idea of how my body should look just like millions of other boys and men do every day in the United States.

It sounds harsh but yes I’ve been altered to fit someone else’s conception of how the male member of our species should look.  Open up most medical textbooks and you’ll see that the illustration of the penis with labeled anatomical parts is already circumcised.  It’s like the foreskin was never there, a mistake, a mutation that evolution somehow neglected to eliminate via natural selection.  So the US medical establishment definitely had some say in how I ought to look.  I’m sure every doctor and nurse involved with the procedure at the time felt it was very important that this be done so that weird piece of skin that there was absolutely nothing written about could be wiped off the face of the Earth, freeing them from disturbing wonderings about what it was for, or, if they were male, exactly what happened to theirs.

(On a side note back in September 2012 while I was manning a booth at the Mother Earth fair with the head of the NOCIRC PA chapter, Greg Hartley, I had an interesting conversation with a guy who was a nurse.  The guy had this big grin on his face while we were talking and I could tell he thought I was pretty ridiculous.  He had a lot of reasons why he thought circumcision was a good thing, many of them related to perceived public health benefit.  Rather than exchange volleys of medical journal citations with him I thought I would explore the ethical problems of removing part of a child’s genitalia without their consent.  He remained pretty confident until I finally said, “But don’t you think it’s kind of weird that someone cut off part of your dick and now you don’t know where it is.  I mean, seriously, what did they do with it do you think?  Did they just throw it away?”  The color sort of drained out of his face.  He assured me the conversation had been “interesting” and then left at what most would have considered a fast walk, if not a run.  So often I think the worst things we do to children are done because we’ve never healed from the things that were done to the children we used to be.)

Who else had a say in how I ought to look?  Well Mom and Dad did.  They had to sign off on the whole thing.  I’ve never really known how much of that decision was culled from medical coercion and how much was their idea because my parents’ memories have fallen prey to a mixture of forgetfulness and wishful thinking.  I worked in social services long enough to recognize the hollow perfection of a lie practiced on oneself.  If you tell yourself something happened that way enough times then eventually it really did happen that way.  Regardless of the details at the very least they signed on the dotted line to affirm that they agreed with the way the doctors thought I ought to look.

And in the end that’s what circumcision is about, the question of whether parents should have the right to decide which parts of the child’s anatomy are worth keeping and which should be cut off in the name of religion, supposed health benefits, or just protecting dear old dad’s ego.  We’re not talking about a haircut or removing an appendix that is about to burst and flood the abdominal cavity with toxins.  We’re talking about removing a large section of very sensitive and useful tissue that has absolutely nothing wrong with it.  On the contrary it’s essential equipment for the man to experience his full range of sexual functioning and pleasure. 

The bottom line is I don’t think other people should have the right to decide the appearance or future function of a child’s sexual anatomy.  Every sane person on the face of the Earth agrees that the idea of an adult fondling a child’s genitalia is inexcusable and wrong.  How is cutting part of that genitalia off acceptable?  Because the medical textbook says so?  Because the rabbi says so?  Because dad and everyone else in the family had it done to them so it must be ok?   If you respect the sanctity of a child’s body and right to self-determination then you see how perverse and self-serving such ideas are.

So yes as someone who carries the scar born from other’s ideas of how I should look I will always be an Intactivist.  Once I truly admitted to myself what had been done to me my membership in the movement to end circumcision became inescapable.  While I can’t ever regain the original appearance of my body I can partner with others to someday create a world in which no child will have to wonder what happened to part of their sexual genitalia or why.

My son was born perfect.  He should be the one to decide if he ever wants to alter how his sexual anatomy looks and functions, not me.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Something BAD is going to happen!

Has anyone out there NOT seen "Ferris Bueller's Day Off?"  I think that's a fairly safe pop culture reference to make, meaning I'm assuming/hoping even the young kids today have experienced the joy of seeing that great movie at least once.  (Yes, this will tie into circumcision in a few moments believe it or not.) 

My wife and I have had a running joke over the years that she's the Ferris in our relationship and I'm the Cameron.  In case you don't remember, Cameron is the one that Ferris has to drag kicking and screaming to ditch school, take in the art museum, the baseball game, the parade, and all the other fun stuff they do.  Why is Cameron such a stick in the mud?  Because he's worried something BAD will happen.  This is captured powerfully in Cameron's fear of his father finding out he's driven the prized Ferrari that he ultimately admits is more important to his father than Cameron himself.  When the car gets wrecked at the end Cameron finally faces his fear and realizes no matter what happens it can't be nearly as bad as he imagined it might be in his mind.

As I've gotten older and realized how important it is I don't pass this "worrying" quality on to my children I've become more motivated to figure out where exactly these feelings come from.  In short why have I been worried something bad would happen from a very, very young age?  Hmmmm.  Sure I got bullied a bit in grade school but I was a worrier even before that.  I had my share of conflicts with my parents but nothing to go on "Oprah" about.  Hmmmmm.

OK, I know some people are going to think this is crazy but here it is: I think if you take a little baby only a few hours or a few days old away from his mother, strap him down to a plastic restraint, and cut off part of his dick, it traumatizes him.  Trauma embeds in memory.  (See previous posts or read current scholarly articles in mental health if you doubt this.)  While that trauma was not something I remembered consciously it made what you might call an impression on me.  I never really felt "safe."  I was always waiting for something bad to happen (still am on bad days.)  I'm just saying that maybe I felt that way because when I was a defenseless infant some asshole cut off part of my dick without asking my permission.  I mean if that won't destroy your trust in the world I don't know what will.

I know, I know... Your husband is circumcised and he's "fine."  Your boyfriend is circumcised and he's "fine."  You yourself are circumcised and you're "fine."  All that I ask is that you seriously think about how this might impact other baby boys and think twice before you subject them to trauma they will have to continue to deal with their entire life.  Why not let your baby boy have a default Ferris setting (life is fun) instead of having the default Cameron setting (life is gonna screw ya if you're not careful enough)?

The irony of all this of course is that US medicine constantly offers a plethora of reasons why something bad WILL happen if you opt not to circumcise your child.  Forget about the fact that the vast majority of men in the world are intact and just fine; in the US you are taught to believe that if you don't circumcise your son women won't want him, he'll get the ultra rare but scary sounding penile cancer, he'll get shmegma and annoy nurses who have to care for him when he ends up at a nursing home, and God knows how many other ridiculous rumors I haven't even heard.  Well guess what?  My son has been intact for six years and nothing "bad" has happened.  Not to mention the fact he's happy and blissfully unaware of how lucky he is to have all of the body parts he was born with.  It is my sincere hope he grows into a Ferris, just like his mom.

I hope this doesn't sound whiny or like I'm using circumcision as a crutch for mistakes I've made in my life.  I'm happy with who I am and the person I am still becoming.  I just think it's important to think about where fear comes from.  I felt a lot of fear when my wife and I made final preparations to quit our jobs and travel the US and beyond, but you know what?  It didn't stop me from doing the things I want to do.  As of 8/2 I'll be unemployed and a full-time blogger, writer, and adventurer.

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Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Circumcision and Trauma

I don't talk about it a lot on this blog but my day job is in the mental health field.  Trauma informed care is the big buzz word in behavioral health practice right now.  Finally doctors and clinicians are acknowledging the impact that trauma has on people's ability to cope with stress and function in general.  The vast majority of people receiving mental health services are survivors of some kind of childhood trauma, typically physical or sexual abuse.  Many researchers believe that when children experience trauma it affects their developing brains.  There was a recent study called ACES that looked at how the number of Adverse Childhood Events a child experiences is directly related to the likelihood of them seeking mental health and/or drug and alcohol treatment as adults.  More adverse events like sexual abuse, physical abuse, parent being drug addicted, death of parent, etc. means more likelihood that the person will develop mental health and/or substance abuse problems later in life. 

The reason all this is relevant to this blog is that circumcision is traumatic.  Trauma is defined as an event that the person experiences where they feel a lack of control and fear that their life is in danger.  It is also accompanied by a state of heightened central nervous system arousal, a fight or flight type response.  The flood of chemicals released into the brain as a result of these periods of stress/arousal are what is believed to affect the child's developing brain.  Advocates of circumcision often say it makes more sense to perform the procedure on an infant, that he won't remember it and it will be "just a snip" compared to what the experience would be like as an adult who was able to give consent to the procedure.  Ironically, carrying out this violent, invasive surgery on an infant probably causes much more damage to the brain than if it were to be performed on a person old enough to consent.

Circumcision undeniably creates a feeling of loss of control for the infant.  Imagine just a few days after he has left his mother's womb he is taken from his mother's arms into a cold room.  He is then strapped down to a hard plastic circumstraint or he is physically held down by a mohel.  If this isn't a loss of control I don't know what is.  Does he fear his life is in danger?  Is an infant of only a few days able to fear?  For years doctors argued newborns couldn't feel pain.  That ridiculous notion was finally dispelled.  As for fear, I think anyone who has heard an infant scream as he is strapped down, has his foreskin ripped away from the glans and then violently sliced off with a sharp instrument knows that child is afraid.  That child is possessed by the innate understanding of the threat of violent death that has shaped the evolution of the human race.  He knows his mother is safe and that the people that took him from her are hurting him.  He is cold and frightened and by the time he is returned to her he will be missing an important part of his body.  Soon what little relief the local anesthetic offered will wear off and he will scream as the sensitive and suddenly exposed glans chafes at his diaper.  He will cry when his own urine burns the injury.  The pain will interfere with his ability to concentrate on nursing leading to frustration for him and his mother.  The only way he can survive is to teach himself not to think about it, to pretend that everything is ok.  Many circumcised men will do this until the day they die.

Circumcision is trauma.  Trauma is proven to affect a baby's developing brain and to play a role in the development of mental health and/or substance use problems.  Unfortunately your baby's developing brain is one more thing the AAP doesn't seem to give two shits about.

Many survivors of childhood trauma have only vague memories of what was done to them.  I've talked to hundreds of them over the years.  Each has their own unique story but I can tell you it typically isn't a comfort to them if their memory of the event is fuzzy.  They often wonder what other things were done to them.  They wonder what precipitated the event, did they do something to "deserve" what happened to them?  (The answer is always no but they speculate nonetheless.)  Sometimes they wonder why they experience these abstract feelings that something is missing.  So how can people really think that doing trauma to an infant is ok because they won't remember it?  Is sexual abuse not as bad if it's done to a child that won't remember it?  The trauma of circumcision is inscribed in an infant's developing brain just as surely as any other form of abuse.

Trauma affects everyone differently.  Not all combat vets develop post traumatic stress disorder.  Likewise not all survivors of circumcision will go on to develop problems later in life.  Indeed, many will use their ability to achieve ejaculation as proof that there's nothing wrong with them.  Yet they carry what was done to them as surely as I carry what was done to me.  I don't think about it every day, but sometimes when I'm taking a piss I look down at my penis in my hand.  I'm happy with it: it's given me three children, it gives my wife and I pleasure, yet sometimes I look down at that desensitized, exposed glans and I say aloud, "What the fuck?"  And I know that even if I work at restoring my foreskin for the rest of my life I'm always going to know what was done to me, that I was circumcised.  And it will always hurt on some level.  That's the nature of trauma.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Circumcision and Female Genital Mutilation

Please check out the newly developed and very easy to use genital mutilation comparison sheet before reading this post...

True for BOTH Male Genital Mutilation and Female Genital Mutilation
Sometimes called "circumcision"
Involves the cutting of part of the person's genitalia
Alters the appearance of the person’s genitalia
Typically causes some bleeding in the genital area
Is often carried out without the consent of the person being cut
Is supported by religious groups who believe its practice is important to their faith
Is often described as a way to ensure "cleanliness" of the genital area
Is sometimes described as a rite of passage
Religious proponents say criminalization of the procedure infringes on the practice of their faith
Negative effects are often downplayed by those that practice the procedure and those that have allowed it to be practiced on their children
Reduces sensation/pleasure during sex
Proponents claim it keeps various bad things from happening to the child
Proponents express worry that if they don't cut the child it will affect how desirable the child is to the opposite sex

True for Male Genital Mutilation only
Legal in the United States
Profitable for US medicine
Endorsed by some US doctors

True for Female Genital Mutilation only
Illegal in the United States
Not profitable for US medicine
Not endorsed by US doctors

Why do so many people take issue with comparing the US male circumcision phenomenon with female genital mutilation that takes place in other parts of the world?  The procedures are far more similar than they are different.  To maintain that "circumcision" in the US is so much different than female genital mutilation is downright ethnocentric.  Americans think it's different because they need it to be different.  This is part of the cognitive dissonance that always permeates the circumcision debate.  Americans who believe circumcision is a good thing for children believe so in part because it is what they know, it is the "right" thing, culturally speaking, to do.  All the poorly supported medical research is just an excuse for them to do something they wanted to do anyway.  (I'll bet if a doctor did research “proving” that keeping your son's hair short will help him do better in school, TONS of people in mainstream America would say that's why they cut their son's hair.)  Thus when someone like me tries to tell them, "Hey did you know they do the same kind of thing to girls in other parts of the world?" they vehemently deny that it can't possibly be the same thing at all.  People who cut female children are disgusting and backward but somehow those that cut male children are enlightened.  To accept that these procedures are essentially the same thing is to accept that circumcision is a cultural practice and, as with many cultural practices, the people that practice them don't see them as culturally correct practices they see them as TRUTHS that are essential to survival.  To accept that circumcision isn't a simple truth, that's it's not something they HAD to do is so frightening, so horrible they will go to any extreme to protect themselves from this reality.  It is essential to all the cultural mores that define who they are and how they function in daily life to maintain the belief that female genital mutilation and male genital mutilation are two radically different things.  Well, I hate to break it to ya… They’re not!

Let's be real: People have been cutting genitalia for thousands of years.  Lots of different superstitions, religious beliefs, and cultural ideas have grown up around both male and female genital mutilation over the years but the essence of the practice remains the same: mutilators forever alter the child’s appearance and his/her future sexual experiences.  Those who facilitate or support mutilation of either sex do harm to children who can’t advocate for themselves.  If you’re going to be one of those people I say at least be consistent and support female genital mutilation too.  Women and men are supposed to be equal after all.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Speak out against the AAP

Now is a more important time than ever to speak up if you oppose routine infant circumcision.  The new AAP statement could potentially do a lot of damage to the progress that has been made in reducing the rate of circumcision in the US.  More babies will suffer circumcision and even death as a result of the AAP statement.  There is hope though.  In its infinite wisdom the AAP put out a statement back in 2010 advocating for laws to enable doctors to offer a "ritual nick" to families that wanted to circumcise their daughters.  Fortunately, shortly after its release the backlash against this idea was so great that the AAP backed away from this statement.  We need to create that same kind of backlash through letters, education, and every other kind of activism you can think of.  Here are some ideas to start:

1)   visit Intact America's Website to send a letter to the AAP.

2)    read this NY Times article It's actually a lot more balanced than NPR's coverage of the issue was and probably because of that many doctors have written to the NY Times in an effort to get them to retract parts of the article.  Send a letter to the NY Times of 150 words or less and let them know why you disagree with the AAP policy.  Here's a copy of the letter I wrote to them:


I was shocked and dismayed to hear the AAP had shifted its stance on infant circumcision. 

Regardless of what research the AAP trots out now or at any point in the future infant circumcision will always be unethical.  Circumcision removes healthy tissue that is required for normal sexual function thus forever altering the appearance of the man's sex organs as well as his future sexual experiences.  The AAP report does not consider the dramatic reduction in sexual sensation that circumcision always causes, much less the deaths and other serious complications that can also occur. 

Every child worldwide should have a right to intact genetalia.  No one should have the right to alter a person's sex organs without his/her consent.  As a survivor of circumcision I am angry this was done to me without my consent and I think it is unethical that the AAP supports such a practice.

Jeff Sanger, MFA

3)    Continue to talk to friends and family members that are of child-bearing age or are already pregnant, especially on twitter or facebook where others can view the info as well.  Talk openly about the AAP policy shift and why you disagree.  Direct them to websites and blogs (several good ones are listed on the right) that make it abundantly clear that circumcision is harmful and unethical.

4)    Write a letter to your local newspaper or periodical editor as well expressing your views on the AAP changes and encouraging them to provide local coverage of the issue.

5)    Don't be discouraged by the AAP.  Just GET LOUDER.

 Let's make it clear there are PLENTY of people in the US that disagree with what the AAP is doing.   Shame on them indeed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Top Five refutations for AAP "evidence" for benefits of circumcision


Why do these people want to cut baby penises so desperately?  What is wrong with them?  Their devotion to cutting child sex organs is simply fanatical.

The "evidence" the AAP has put forward in support of circumcision is so poorly supported they might as well have built a house of cards on a Florida beach in hurricane season.  Just to prove that yours truly will now, despite my utter lack of medical training, refute some of the reasons the AAP has given for circumcision.  I know it seems crazy but you don't need years of med school to figure this out.  It just requires a little empathy, some ethics, and the ability to think for yourself.

1)  "Circumcision helps prevent HIV/AIDS"
I placed this at number one because physicians developed this idea in the hopes it would really grab people.  HIV is not as scary of a subject as it was in the '80s and early '90s, but the idea that it can be prevented still gets people's attention.  The problem is the studies they are basing this claim on are flawed.  Don't even worry about the numerous articles in academic journals refuting the HIV/circumcision studies done in Africa, JUST USE YOUR BRAIN.  The United States has six times the HIV rate of Sweden and 3 times the HIV rate of the Netherlands yet a far higher circumcision rate than either of those predominantly intact countries.  Comparisons with other industrialized European nations yield the same outcome.  What happened there?  If circumcision really helped prevent HIV than Europe with all of its intact penises should have a higher infection rate than the thoroughly circumcised US shouldn't it? 
The truth is circumcision does NOT help prevent HIV.  Just ask all the circumcised men in the US that are infected with HIV.  If you want to prevent HIV transmission wear a condom.

2)  "Circumcision helps prevent the spread of HPV"
Since when do we as a society perform surgery on infants without their consent for the sake of public health initiatives?  If it was discovered that the female labia helped promote the spread of HPV would the AAP promote the removal of the labia at birth?  Oh heavens no that would be genital mutilation.  How is removing part of a baby boy's penis any different? 

3)  "Intact penises are driving up health care costs"
Hmmm.  This got me thinking: how much does our country spend on breast cancer?  I'm judging a lot just based on all the walks and ribbons that are out there.  I'll bet if we removed breasts at birth that would save billions in health care costs.  What, no one thinks that's a good idea?  How about we remove everyone's appendix after birth so they don't have to worry about paying for emergency appendectomies in the future?

4)  "Circumcision prevents UTIs"
Seriously?!?!?! This is the reason Susan Blank leads with on her interview that was aired on NPR this morning?  You're telling me the hope of preventing a minor infection is reason enough to perform surgery on a baby without his consent and remove part of his body that he needs for healthy sexual functioning?  Are these people crazy?  If they found out removing one of the male's testicles would forever cure the common cold, would you sign your baby up?  Would you sign yourself up?  How about your earlobe?  What parts of your body are you willing to have cut off for some supposed medical benefit?  It's a tough call isn't it?  It's better to let your son make his own decisions about which parts of his body he wants to remove.

5)  "Circumcision prevents penile cancer"
Hmmm.  I've heard mastectomies prevent the return of breast cancer but we don't do those at birth do we?  I'll bet removing a boy's testicles at birth would prevent testicular cancer.  What, you say he needs his testicles for healthy sexual functioning?  News flash: he needs his foreskin for that too!  Circumcision is the removal of healthy tissue that men need for good sexual functioning.  In what other case do doctors remove healthy tissue to prevent cancer?  I don't see anyone signing up for a proactive colostomy and TONS of people die of colon cancer. 

The bottom line is male circumcision is something that, unfortunately, has been around for many years and people, usually ones that are themselves cut and/or do the cutting, are always looking for reasons to justify circumcision to salvage their ego and pad their wallets.  Monetary concerns and ego drive the AAP's decision today NOT what is best for our sons.  If you circumcise your child you take away his right to his whole body and you will forever alter his sexual identity and experiences.  If you leave your child intact he can make his own choices about his body.  If he disagrees with your decision then when he's 18 he can sign up for circumcision if he chooses.  If you circumcise him at birth and he disagrees when he grows up there is nothing you can do to return that part of his body to him.  (By the time he asks you where his foreskin went it will have already been sold for research or skin cream.)

This is not an issue of medical evidence.  This is an issue of ethics.  Do you trust doctors/mohels that are cut themselves and make money from cutting babies or do you trust independent researchers from intact countries and the millions of unpaid Intactivists working every day to spread information about why circumcision is wrong?  Circumcision is yet another place to apply that old cliche: Follow the money.

Do I trust doctors?  Sometimes.  I trust a doctor to treat my trauma in an ER if I'm in a car accident.  I trust him/her to mend my child's broken bone.  But I always keep in mind that not all that long ago doctors used to say smoking was good for you.  Doctors also used to put icepicks in people's brains to "cure" mental illness.  And let's not forget they also used to think circumcision could "cure" masturbation or epilepsy.  Doctors make mistakes just like other people do, especially when their own paychecks are involved.

Upton Sinclair: 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'