On the 12th anniversary of the U.S. law banning female genital mutilation, 50 protesters marched on Washington to demand that the U.S. pass a law banning circumcision for newborns.
In so-called "Intactivists" have already gotten 16 states to ban public (i.e., Medicaid) funding for circumcisions, including Florida. For many, though, it's a hard issue to get your hands around.
How intactivists define circumcision: a cruel, traumatic and unnecessary surgery (the American Academy of Pediatrics says the benefits are not sufficient enough to recommend the procedure) that causes enduring sexual and psychological injury to a helpless infant who can't give his consent.
How much of the medical community defines circumcision: a simple, nearly painless operation that removes an obsolete part of the body that can increase a man's susceptibility to infections and sexually transmitted diseases (circumcision reduces the risk of getting HIV by 60 percent, studies show).
How religion defines circumcision: as a covenant with God, as conveyed to Abraham.
Basically, no one is ever going to agree.
The real money quote of the piece, though, comes from a doctor.
Brian J. Morris, professor of molecular medical sciences at the University of Sydney, writes in an e-mail: "Only deception by their propaganda leads some gullible men into believing that their sexual problems have something to do with their circumcision as an infant. This is just not true."
In other words, being anti-circumcision is just another way of blaming your mommy. How very Freudian. Even the men of the movement admit that their sexual dysfunction is problematic.
"Circumcision increases sensation!" [a heckler] shouts, in response to one of the protest signs.
"No, it causes premature ejaculation!" says Marilyn Milos, a former nurse and founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers.
"That's never happened to me!" the guy yells back.
And everyone laughs.
Logic fail: if it doesn't increase sensation, how does it cause premature ejaculation?
And, because so many men believe the world revolves around their dicks, circumcision has a lot to answer for.
Spend some time with intactivists and you will hear how circumcision is responsible for, among other things, the oppression of women, sexual disharmony, deforestation, militarization, the rise and fall of empires and the invasion of foreign lands for oil.
And they wonder why it's so hard to get taken seriously.
There is, of course, the occasionally reasonable-sounding person.
Then there's Soraya Miré, a speaker and activist who endured female genital mutilation in her native Somalia when she was 13. After witnessing a male circumcision in the United States, she broadened her message to include both genders.
"I understand women's circumcision is more severe but, to me, pain is pain," says Miré, who lives in Los Angeles and doesn't believe anesthesia for circumcision makes a difference.
She is, naturally, overshadowed by two hunger strikers who think they are really, really, really missing out on good sex.
Leading the pack are two 21-year-olds, Jason Siegel and Zachary Levi Balakoff, who are on Day 3 of a hunger strike. They say they won't eat until genital mutilation is exposed. Go ahead, ask them why. They'll tell you, for many minutes, about the "entire realms of exquisite feeling" they are missing by not having foreskins and the corresponding nerves. The "giant monstrosity" of circumcision "envelops" their entire lives.
Between these two dudes and the many guys hawking DIY foreskin re-growing devices (something you truly do not wish to Google), if the anti-circumcision advocates are wondering why the rest of the country has trouble taking them seriously, they needn't look that long or hard for an answer.
Rallying in the Name of the Unkindest Cut? [Washington Post]