I Am a Peaceful Intactivist

Dec 2, 2013 Posted by Nathan Blog

There’s an old saying which goes: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

I find this to be true in many situations, including the topic of intactivism.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “Intactivist,” it’s a combination of the words “intact” and “activist.” An Intactivist is a person who promotes putting an end to circumcision, particularly the circumcision of newborns.

Most Intactivists get furious about the topic of circumcision—and rightfully so! It’s unfair and unwarranted to circumcise a newborn child, who obviously can’t give consent to having a vital part of his penis cut off, and I don’t support it.

But I know that if I want to really evoke change in this world, I have to do it with a cool head and a loving, compassionate heart.

It always comes down to love, doesn’t it?

We all want to change a parent’s mind about circumcision, right? Find a parent who was thinking about circumcising his or her baby, and enlighten them. Just imagine the joy we’d feel if we could save one baby from going under the knife!

There are many ways to pursue this goal, and some Intactivists pursue it with aggression. They scream at the parent, “You monster!” They throw around colorful words, such as “mutilation” and “barbaric.”

Again, rightfully so! Circumcision is mutilation and it is barbaric. But we also have to keep in mind how this looks to the parent. That is the person we’re trying to reach, right?

These aggressive scare tactics can make us look like extremists, or worse yet, raving lunatics.

And how do we usually treat lunatics when we encounter them? We look the other way, tune them out, avoid eye contact. This is not the ideal way for parents to perceive Intactivists because it means they will ignore our cause. Game over, case closed.

Appeal to a parent’s heart to win them over

An expectant parent is living in a world of baby showers, little socks with puppies on them, a quilt made by Grandma, and Ikea dressers that they put together on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This magical world is protected by a bubble of baby bliss.

When you chase someone down with a 20×16 inch poster showing a close-up of a bloody baby penis, you just look like a monster. The targeted parent(s) may be so shocked that they block out the entire image and fail to realize the correlation with circumcision.

After all, childbirth itself is pretty messy, and while they probably saw a video showing all the graphic realities of pushing a baby out of the body, it wasn’t enough to scare them away from getting pregnant. So what makes you think a photo of a bloody penis will scare them away from circumcising their son?

This is why I take a more sensitive approach to discussing circumcision with parents. I like to paint a picture for them of that newborn baby boy. Can you picture this with me?

10 teeny, tiny, perfect little fingers and 10 toes that you just want to put in your mouth and nom, nom, nom… A little head of wispy hair that’s soft like cotton. The cutest little nose, filled with little boogies, but they are the cutest little boogies you’ve ever seen.

Yes, a newborn baby is the sweetest creation, and he will turn you into a sentimental mess. You’d do anything to protect him, right? You never want him to feel an ounce of pain. And he’s perfect, isn’t he? Perfect and pure like newly fallen snow.

“Bring your whole son home,” I say to the parent.

With a caring smile, I go on explain that circumcision is painful, and there’s no need to inflict pain on him. I tell them about the bloody bandages they’ll have to change with dirty diapers.

If I really have the parent’s attention, I may ever so gently tell them a few stories about babies who’ve had their entire penis amputated due to a doctor’s mistake. (“You wouldn’t want to risk that, would you?”) If they’re still listening, I might even point out that there are babies who die from circumcision. But again, do it compassionately. Don’t yell it at them like a madman.

It’s the same premise with a gentler narrative

I am still working as an Intactivist. I am still warning the parent about the risks of circumcision and essentially making the same points as angry Intactivist makes. But I’m doing it with honey; doing it peacefully. This is how I win parents over, change minds, and save babies.

I can’t say this approach is better than the angry one. What do I know? I’m just a man, like any other man. Maybe the angry Intactivists do change minds.

But for me personally, I prefer to be a peaceful Intactivist. I believe that if I can get myself into the good graces of an expectant parent, he or she will be more willing to sit down and listen to what I say, and will be receptive to the points I make. I hope my story helps you as you decide what kind of Intactivist you want to be.



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