Anti-circumcision advocates say their cause is ‘shock treatment for the American public’
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IDAHO FALLS — It was quite a sight on Saturday afternoon — a small group of men and women walking the intersection of 17th Street and Hitt Road all dressed in white with bright blood red paint splattering their crotches.
The protestors or “intactivists,” as they call themselves, also carried a variety of startling signs. All of them advocating the end of circumcision in America.
“No excuse for baby blade rape”
“End male genital mutilation”
“I want my foreskin back”
“Stop cutting baby penis”
“Nobody likes less penis”
Brother K, the founder of the Bloodstained Men & Their Friends, said the costumes and the signs are meant to be shocking and disconcerting to the public.
“I call this shock treatment for the American public,” he said. “It’s a bitter medicine for a disease on our culture.”
That disease, he says, is the stigma that circumcision is necessary for newborn boys. It’s a position he calls an “outright fraud and deception on the American people.”
The group, which includes members from all across the country, was formed in 2012 after the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that the “benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision.”
“That infuriated me and a lot of people in our movement,” K said. “We understood it was their way to try to push and promote circumcision back into the mainstream, because it had been in decline.”
The Bloodstained Men & Their Friends view circumcision as a “violent attack on a helpless human being.” They also say the removal of the foreskin carries a risk for infection or medical complication, and that circumcision can reduce sexual pleasure during adulthood.
The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain circumcision promotes cleanliness and can reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Yet, both entities say the medical benefits alone may not outweigh the religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices of individual families, according to the AAP statement.
Members of the advocacy group point to other countries around the world. In 2007, the World Health Organization found between 76 and 92 percent of boys in the United States are circumcised, compared to about 20 percent in other western European countries.
Bloodstained Men & Their Friends spokesman Harry Guiremand argues circumcision is an American stigma that other countries simply don’t have.
“The idea that half the human race needs corrective surgery upon birth is crazy, of course that can’t be true,” Guiremand said. “Your boy will be happy if you let them grow up whole and happy.”
Saturday’s protest was one of the final stops in a 20-day protest tour through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Protestors will be in Pocatello on Sunday. K said the group tries to visit about 60 cities per year.
The protestors in Idaho Falls Saturday were from Utah, Illinois, California, Washington and a variety of other places. One Idahoan, Michael Vier from Boise, showed up to join the protestors.
Vier says he came because he feels like protesting allows him to have a positive influence on other people.
“This is an issue I care a lot about,” Veir said. “People deserve the respect to make decisions about how much of their own body to keep and I wish I had been given that respect. This is something that does a lot of damage and needs to stop.”