Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who's the "Douchebag?"

Every once in a while, you'll get someone writing about the "right" way to talk about circumcision.

The latest I've seen is in a blog post titled "How to Talk About Circumcision Without Being a Douchebag."

On the one hand, I could see what the author was getting at, but on the other, I feel that one side is being ignored.

A good point she makes is that intactivists could do a better job of delivering their message, and I agree.

But there are some points that I simply can't see eye to eye with.

To each their own, but I'm not sure I could continue being "best friends" with someone I knew agreed to have their children mutilated after having given them information.

Would you want to continue to be friends with someone you knew was OK with doing other abusive things to their children?

Beating them black and blue?

Sexually molesting them?

Yes, I see circumcision on par with sexual molestation.

Worse; sexual mutilation.

A child could heal from the wounds of sexual molestation through therapy, but a circumcision scar is permanent and can never be erased.

The author also seems to believe that circumcision is "just another choice," like bottle feeding or using disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers.

"We had a conversation about a subject that can be controversial without making it controversial because that is how adults interact.

And both of our children are thriving.  Both of our children our loved, breastfed, well taken care of."

I've seen this "celebrate our parental choices" attitude before:

And I couldn't agree any less.

It is a mistake to attack and humiliate parents over something they honestly didn't know any better about, and who would take it all back if they knew what they were doing to their children.
I'm not advocating that.

But I also do not advocate corroberating with parents, rewarding willful ignorance, making them feel justified and entitled by calling circumcision a "choice" to be "celebrated."

This author seems willing to pander to her "best friend" at the expense of the basic human rights of that friend's children, because she is more interested in "staying friends" than the principle of basic human rights for all.

I can't agree with sacrificing principle for the sake of friendship.

I couldn't pretend like "nothing happened," just to stay friends with someone whom I gave information to, but decided to mutilate his/her child anyway.

Who is a douchebag?
Now, let's talk about just who the "douchebag" is.

Who is a douchebag?

Someone whom you don't like, or has done something you don't like.

I am ready to acknowledge that there are some intactivists out there who cross the line. There is much reason an intactivist does it though; we feel as passionate about male infant circumcision as people feel about say, female circumcision. It is a gross violation of basic human rights and not to be taken lightly.

People keep saying "you shouldn't judge."

But let's ask, how do you feel about female circumcision?

How do you feel about parents that circumcised their daughters?

And be honest.

Would you hold back and "not judge?"

Would you respect that "parental choice?"

Or would you say the first thing on your mind?

That said, there are also intactivists who have lots of time and patience, and who try to deliver their message in as a non-judgemental way as possible. They try to post facts, links to information, and just leave it a that; only to have it be called "bashing" and "harassment" by parents who simply want to hear nothing other than validation and encouragement, and have it promptly deleted, user blocked.

So who's the douchebag?

The answer is, someone whom you don't like, or has done something you don't like.

Intactivists could tone it down. I will admit.

But why is the first reaction from parents who are adamant about having their child circumcised defensiveness and hostility?

Why does it make someone who wants to post factual information automatically a "douchebag?"

Not all intactivists are extreme. Not all parents are close-minded and pawn off whomever they don't want to hear as "douchebags."

This is probably asking for the sun and the moon, but there needs to be acknowledgement on both sides.

Yes, intactivists can be extreme douchebags.

But if you're a parent who things you've got it all right, but then you openly post about your son's circumcision online,
and then complain that you're being "harrassed" and "bullied" by people whom all they want to do is give you information to make a better choice for your children, and that they're "getting into your business," and then delete what they have to say and block them, because you care more about mutilating your son and being "right" than you actually do about his health and well-being, then you're a douchebag too.

The fact is, circumcision is a sensitive subject, and you're not going to get away with posting about it on the internet, and getting people like us roused up.

If you don't want people "getting in your business," then don't post it on the internet for the whole world to see. 

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  1. I think that people who condone genital mutilation already know—at least subconciously—that the douchebaggery originates with them.

    Just look at that poster again: "We cosleep", "He is circumcised", "I work outside the home", and "I exclusively breastfeed her".

    Notice anything peculiar? In all of the cases except for one, the mother is an explicit actor.

    Subconsciously or otherwise, the creator of that poster knew that it would engender cognitive dissonance to write something like "I circumcised him" or even "I had him circumcised".

    So much for celebrating parental choices, because the mother has actually been rhetorically removed from having made any choice whatsoever; indeed, the mother's choice has been recast as an inherent property of the boy himself.

    It is the douchebag who skirts responsibility.

  2. She makes one good point, you make another good point.

    From her blog, I value this: "If you want your message to be heard, it does not need to be screamed. If you want to be taken seriously, you do not have to be overwhelming. If you want to spread awareness and information, all you need to do is have a conversation and be tolerable. And if the parent decides to circ despite the information you provided, then you need to let it go."

    I think intactivists many times fail to speak rationally, and also fail to see that people need time to think, time to process. We hope we can dump all this information on someone and they will have an epiphany and change their stance immediately (or submit to our words). And when this doesn't happen, we get louder and more overwhelming, we gang up on people, and we finally scare them into doing whatever they were going to do anyway, but now they will be reinforced that they have the right to do what they want. Remember, people end up wondering "who are these people who want to take parental rights away", without questioning that their perceived "parental right" opposes their son's right to bodily integrity.

    However, what bloggers like her fail to see is where we come from. We didn't just pop out of a flower and decided to annoy all the people who practice circumcision. Many of us have faced this issue one way or another, whether we are circumcised ourselves, or whether we researched for ourselves or our children, or whether some had their children circumcised and then realized what had been done.

    Many of us are victims here. Victims because we did not have a say on what was going to be done to our "private" parts. Our "private" parts were not considered private because we were minors, and so we were subjected to an injury that we grow up with, that we live with for the rest of our lives. So we either rationalize it as many man do, to think that it was necessary and good, or we snap out of it and realize that we were injured for no good reason at all.

    Many of us wish there had been a "douchebag" who had been there to stop the doctors from raising that scalpel.

    Some are angry at their parents, some are not. Some know that parents did what they really thought was the best for the child. But some have also asked why, and have found such a lack of empathy, lack of concern, and such defensiveness from their own parents, that they have stormed out and shut parents from their lives.

    I agree that we intactivists need to be respectful and rational and not overwhelming. But I disagree, I cannot accept that every decision is a good decision. Not when the injury on a baby grows with him and lives with him through the rest of his life, limiting his sexual experiences.

  3. We have to be realistic: before this custom ends, many millions of babies are still going to be circumcised. We may wish we could save them all, but we won't be able to. And if we let ourselves become angry every time that another baby is circumcised, we won't have the strength to do the task at hand.

    We have to be there in many fronts. Providing education to parents. Confronting doctors. Promoting legislation. Promoting a ban on the commercial use of foreskins. There is a lot to do. But what we don't need to do is to become angry, to damage our own lives, and to alienate other people.

    In my opinion, being a parent is scary and beautiful. One thing you can't wait for is to have your baby on your hands and leave the hospital, and get home and feel whole as a family. Having a bunch of rabid lunatics calling us names from the sidewalk and through the windows is not going to convince us of anything, it's just going to convince us that those people are lunatics.

    So we intactivists have to understand that it's still going to happen, there's going to be more people that won't accept our message than the people who will accept it. And when they don't accept our message, we need to just move on, go away, and put our energy back into our tasks. For each baby that we couldn't save, there are still other millions that may need our help.