Don't get me wrong. I am against the forced genital cutting of healthy, non-consenting individuals. There is nothing that I would like to see more than to have the practice of circumcising healthy, non-consenting children abolished, and that the individuals that do this be put in jail and/or taken to court by the men who resent this violation upon their bodies.
All in all, I'm glad somebody managed to propose a ban on circumcision, and that it has gone on as far as it has. Never before has our cause garnered this much attention. It was about time somebody did something to put this issue "in your face," and nothing gets people's attention quicker than the proposition to enact legislation.
Up until now, it was rather taboo to talk about circumcision. Questioning circumcision got you labeled an anti-Semite, or it was dismissed as a "non-issue." The only context in which it was acceptable to talk about circumcision was to try and make little "snip-snip" jokes, or to talk about all the "health benefits" of cutting off part of a child's penis. The ethics of performing needless surgery on a healthy, non consenting individual were never addressed. Whenever circumcision is presented in our media, it is always to secure acquiesence to circumcision as an "age old tradition," or "one of many decisions parents have to make for their children." Our opponents would call it a "non-issue" and laugh it off.
Well, they're not laughing anymore.
In fact, religious and (at least on the surface) non-religious groups have begun to coalesce, and are trying to shut down the debate. Could this be it? The beginning of the end?
In my opinion, we've got a long way to go.
The US is simply not ready to handle the fallout of such a ban. Too many parents see this as their "right," and the state would have to deal with the logistics of arresting countless renegade mohels and doctors. There is too much misinformation in our country concerning the normal development of human male genitalia. The normal development and function of the foreskin is hardly taught in American medical curriculum. Too often, the only thing that is ever taught about the foreskin is that it must be cut off at birth, so that's all American doctors ever learn or know.
Assuming the ban was instated tomorrow, parents would still forcibly retract their sons' foreskins because misinformed (or willfully ignorant?) doctors would tell them that this is what they need to do "to clean underneath," causing iatrogenic problems and making the necessity of circumcision a self-fulfilling
prophecy. Knife-happy doctors would still prescribe circumcision for any and every problem, real or percieved, an intact child may have with his penis, and parents would agree to a circumcision because they simply wouldn't know any better. We've still got a long way to go to sway the public in our favor, and to change the flawed curriculum regarding male anatomy.
So on the one hand, it's exciting for me to learn that there is actually a ban on circumcision on the ballot. Nothing in our country ever got changed because people sat around wishin' and a hopin'. Human rights issues in this country were addressed because somebody had the courage to stand up and question the status quo and to challenge social constructs and expectations. Just imagine what would have never changed if people had never taken action; slavery, women's rights, gay rights etc.
I think that it's a shame that religious interest groups are trying to silence the debate before it even begins. If they are so confident that the ban will be "soundly defeated," then why the need to keep it from the voters? Intactivists need to unite and fight to make sure the ban stays on the November ballot. We can't let religious interest groups derail the democratic process. Last time I checked, church and state are separate, and religious interest groups simply can't intervene and silence debate they don't like.
On the other hand though, I think the ban ought to fail. I believe the ban's real purpose is to bring attention to our cause, and it has served this purpose wonderfully. Realistically, though, we have to admit to ourselves that, at least for now, it could never actually work. If the ban happens to make it to the November ballot, we shouldn't be surprised or disappointed when it's voted down. Rather, we should be thankful for the opportunity to further our cause and keep fighting. We've got a long way to go, and I think it's a mistake to think that our fight would end would that this ban was enacted. America is quick to brag about its own talents but slow to admitting its own mistakes, and in finally getting this country's attention, the fight to educate America has only just begun.
We shouldn't give up the ship just yet; we need to fight for our right to be heard. We should persevere until the very end. But let's keep our feet on the ground; our country is not ready for a ban against circumcision.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
DISCLAIMER: What I have expressed in this blog post is my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all intactivists.