Intactivist. Not many people know what that word means. Just a few years ago I didn’t either. An Intactivist is someone who believes that Routine Infant Circumcision (ric) is wrong and should not be preformed. They fight to change both current public opinion of ric and laws governing ric. Now that you know what an Intactivist is let me tell you my story of becoming one and why you should be too!
When I was younger I thought all or close to all boys were circumcised. I didn’t know why, I didn’t know what it involved, or what was removed. I was a girl, in the US at the time I was born it was very unlikely that my parents would have considered circumcision for me or my sister and I had no brothers so to me it might well have not existed. it didn’t effect me. I knew as I got older that there were men who were not circumcised. It was public opinion at the time that to be intact was weird. It looked weird and no woman would want to sleep with an intact man. I had never seen an intact penis. Not ever. Not even in porn. I just knew everyone said it looked like an ant eater and was ugly. It wasn’t until much later that I found out that a guy I knew in high school was intact which I learned from another friend who thought it was weird. There was a time when I was pregnant with my first child, a girl, that I first heard anything about circumcision as a problem. There was a news story about San Francisco trying to ban ric in the entire city. I thought “how ridiculous! You can’t tell me what to do with my kids! Its a personal choice.” I now know how wrong I was. Since I was having a girl the issue passed and I did not think about the subject much past knowing that friends who had boys around that time chose to circumcise. About a year or so after my daughter was born I found out at that I was carrying a boy. I had known from the moment I had the BFP that it was a boy and was happy to have my instincts confirmed. When asked about circumcision at my next prenatal appointment i told the doctor that i wanted my son circumcised and there was no further discussion. I was given no information on the procedure or asked if I had done any research or even told that there was another option. I’m a pretty crunchy mama and followed many natural parenting blogs and facebook pages. That is where I first saw circumcision mentioned in a negative light. It made me think. I had researched everything else about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I practiced attachment parenting with my daughter and intended to continue with my son. So I began to research ric. It did not take me long to find a huge amount of information. And almost all of it was against ric. The more I read the stronger my feelings became. Finally one day I knew I had made my final decision. I pulled up websites that I thought had the best information and I went to my husband. “I don’t want to have Will circumcised. I have been reading a lot about it and I have some stuff for you to read too.” My husband read the information and agreed with me that we would not be circumcising our son even though he himself was circumcised. I informed the doctor at my next appointment of our change and it was noted in my chart. Nothing further. Again no discussion, no questions, no emotion, nothing.
Almost as if there was some newsletter that went out my family suddenly decided to all ask (rather confirm) if we were circumcising our son. When I said no I got a mix of responses. My dad was not happy. He said it would look weird and that there was nothing wrong with ric. My sister simply couldn’t believe it and thought it was weird and I was making a bad choice for my son. She thought he would be made fun of. my mother though said she totally understood. She didn’t feel it was necessary and she confided that she was happy she only had girls and never had to make that decision because she knew that my father wanted it done but she also knew that she didn’t think she could do that. Once Will was born I was asked one more time if I was circumcising. This time by a doctor I had never met before. I replied no I did not want him circumcised. She responded with a big smile an excited arm movement and said “yay! I decided to leave my son intact too!” I was thrilled!!! Finally I actually got a response on the subject and best of all, it validated my own choice.
I was pleased to discover that care of the intact penis is probably the easiest thing in the world. I do not know how people can say otherwise. To me it is common sense that an open wound covered in pee and poop is more likely to have problems. Everyone comments on my son’s personality. He is always happy! I do believe that not having an extremely traumatic experience right after birth contributes to that. My dad now believes the same thing which is really nice for me and my husband and I are both very happy with our decision.
I want to include some facts about circumcision and I will also be including some bible verses for christians because I think that circumcision is a point of confusion for some christians. I am Catholic and I never knew about these verses until this year! The following points are from AskDr.Sears.com
- Medical benefits – THERE ARE NONE! Do not circumcise your baby because you think there are some medical benefits. A recent review by the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at all the data from the past decades to see if there truly were any medical benefits. Their conclusion – NO. There are no significant medical benefits that make circumcision worth doing. Here are a few benefits that we used to think were true, and now know are not.
- Cleanliness – although it is true, a circumcised penis does not collect any white stuff underneath the foreskin like an intact penis does, THIS IS NOT A MEDICAL BENEFIT. It is really just one less area to wash in the shower.
- Decreased risk of STD’s – this was a myth that we now know is not true.
- Decreased risk of penile cancer – it used to be thought that circumcised men had a much lower chance of cancer of the penis. We now know that this benefit is much smaller than previously thought. The AAP determined that this benefit is so tiny, it is not worth circumcising for this reason.
- Avoiding infections in the foreskin – it is true, occasionally intact foreskins get irritated. This is easily treated with warms soaks and washing. Rarely, the irritated foreskin becomes infected. This requires antibiotics to clear up, but is easily treatable. Even if this does happen once or twice in a person’s life, it is not a reason to circumcise at birth.
- Avoiding the need to do it later on – very rarely, someone has a problem with recurrent infections in the foreskin that need antibiotic treatment. Some of these men then need to be circumcised in an operating room under general anesthesia. This is extremely rare, however, and is not a reason to circumcise everyone at birth.
- Avoiding bladder infections – it used to thought that circumcised boys and men had a much lower chance of bladder infections. The AAP now knows that this benefit is very small, and is only true for the first few years of life. After that, there is no difference in the number of bladder infections. Again, not a reason to circumcise.
THEREFORE, IF YOU DECIDE TO CIRCUMCISE YOUR CHILD, DO NOT DO SO BECAUSE YOU THINK THERE IS ANY MEDICAL BENEFIT.
- Religious reasons – some people choose to circumcise for religious or cultural reasons. This is a personal decision.
- Don’t want to be teased – while this may have been true in the U.S. decades ago, the truth is that your uncircumcised kids will be in good company in the locker room when they are teenagers. Less and less people in the U.S. are now circumcising their boys.
- Too much trouble to take care of – some people think that an intact penis is too much trouble to pull back and clean, especially during childhood. Well, the truth is, you are not even supposed to pull back the foreskin until it naturally comes back on its own between age 3 years and adolescence. So there really isn’t anything to even take care of until then.
- Want your boy to look like dad – the main difference that your child will notice between him and dad is the hair. He won’t even notice any difference in the penis until he is old enough that you can then explain to him the difference.
So, what are the reasons TO circumcise? Here is the list:
Religious reasons – as discussed above.
That is all. There really is no good reason to circumcise other that personal preference and religious reasons.
Are there any reasons NOT to circumcise? Consider these:
- Leave nature alone – whether you believe God created men with a foreskin, or nature simply evolved this way, there must be some reason men have foreskins. Why change something that God/nature has created?
- Sensation and sexual pleasure – the foreskin is filled with nerves, and is therefore extremely sensitive to touch. This enhances sexual pleasure.
- Protects the glans (head) of the penis – the glans is another highly sensitive area. The foreskin protects the glans from constant rubbing and chaffing against clothing that can desensitize it over the years. This preserves sexual pleasure.
- Ethical issues – there are groups of people worldwide, including medical societies, that oppose routine circumcision because they feel it is unethical for a parent to decide to alter the penis of their child without the child’s consent. Parents who are deciding whether or not to circumcise their son may wish to consider the impact this may have in the future if the child decides they wish they were not circumcised.
So, when making this decision, the first thing to ask yourself is this – “Do I have any good reason to circumcise my baby?” If your answer is for religious reasons, then follow your faith. If not, and you can’t think of any other significant reason other than just “because”, then consider the above information as you make your decision.
The following are bible quotes:
“Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you.” – Gal 5:2
“And even those who advocate circumcision don’t really keep the whole law. They only want you to be circumcised so they can brag about it and claim you as their disciples.” – Gal 6:13
“For there are many who rebel against right teaching; they engage in useless talk and deceive people. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced. By their wrong teaching, they have already turned whole families away from the truth. Such teachers only want your money” – Titus 1:10-11
“Watch out for those wicked men – dangerous dogs, I call them – who say you must be circumcised. Beware of the evil doers. Beware of the mutilation. For it isn’t the cutting of our bodies that makes us children of God; it is worshiping him with our spirits.” – Phil 3:2-3
“And I testify again to every male who receives circumcision, that he is in debt to keep the whole Law. You who do so have been severed from Christ…you have fallen from grace.” – Gal 5:3
“As God has called each man, in this manner let him walk. And thus I command in all the churches. Was any man called in the circumcision [Old Covenant]? Let him not try to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in the uncircumcision [New Covenant in Christ]? Let him not be circumcised! Circumcision is nothing. And uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called.” – 1 Cor. 7:17
“And some men came and were teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ But Paul and Barnabas together had great dissension and disputing with these men. . . Then Peter stood up and said to them ‘…Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” – Acts 15:1-2, 7, 10
“But if I still proclaim circumcision. . . then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.” – Gal 5:11
“I wish that those who are pushing you to do so would mutilate themselves!” – Gal 5:12
I highly recommend and thank Drmomma.org for resources on ric. Also The Whole Network, Saving Our Sons, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, and others. Thank you for saving my son and for all of the work you do!
I hope that this information helps you learn more about ric and changes you into (or validates you as) an intactivist too!