Activism is Hard

Sometimes being an activist can get frustrating, no matter what your cause is. Occasionally you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and as though you aren’t making any progress. You might feel like giving up because you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere.

Please, don’t give up.

I am an intactivist in a country where it is the norm to circumcise infants. People have been lied to and told that this makes the penis cleaner and reduces the incidence of STDs and penile cancer. Few of them realize that NO medical organization in the word recommends infant circumcision. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the procedure as a cosmetic surgery.

Believe me when I say that I’m diligent in broadcasting my cause. Also believe me when I say I often find myself having heated debates with friends that say they would circumcise their sons regardless of the information that I have given them. Regardless of the fact that surgery ALWAYS poses a risk of infection, and bleeding out, even my FRIENDS say they would cut their sons. Even though the surgery is often performed without any anesthetic, my friends would still have their perfect newborns circumcised. Circumcisions can be botched and a person might not even realize it until later in life when they have issues with tight skin during erections or odd flaps of skin. There is no way to properly measure the “right” amount of skin to remove. The doctor can’t possibly know how much the boy’s penis is going to grow as he gets older. And yet, knowing that the decision to circumcise may cause sexual dysfunction, I know people that would still circumcise their sons.

I would be lying if I said I never got frustrated.

Part of being an activist is knowing that your ideas are controversial. You want to change the world! People are going to disagree with you!

I would also be lying if I said I never felt proud.

Recently I learned that a male friend of mine is now against routine infant circumcision. He’s against it because I gave him the information and then he decided to do the research and learn more. Imagine if he educated one more person and that person went on to educate more people…how many of those people might one day have children that will now be kept intact?

So, even though it can be a real struggle to be positive when it seems like every person you talk to is a brick wall…just keep trying!

You never know when you’re going to change someone’s mind.

 

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Can’t VS. Won’t Breastfeed

Often times in breastfeeding support groups you will find women who like to constantly preach that there is a difference between not wanting to breastfeed and being unable to. While it certainly is true that some women really don’t want to breastfeed I don’t think that this is EVER an appropriate response to hearing the plight of your fellow breastfeeder.

Breastfeeding is easy for some and difficult for others. Some mothers and babies are able to get the process right away and others take a longer time to even get a good latch down to a science. Some women have flat or inverted nipples that make it hard to achieve a good latch without practice. Other women have what I like to call “gum drop” nipples and do not struggle to get their nipple deep into the infants mouth.

Are you starting to understand my point? There are a number of reasons that someone might struggle to breastfeed and you will never have a complete understanding of the physical and emotional pain that any mother has gone through.

By telling a woman that she could have breastfed if she had tried harder you belittle her experience and any effort that she DID put into breastfeeding. You intentionally make her feel guilty and build yourself up as better because YOU were able get passed YOUR obstacles and breastfeed your baby. This is wrong. We are not all the same. You did not automatically have the same issue as another mother. Your ability to cope, your knowledge of breastfeeding, your support, the time you were able to dedicate to breastfeeding all make your experience very different.

Telling a woman that there is a difference between can’t breastfeed and won’t breastfeed is also just downright mean. You are going to hurt that woman’s feelings and make her insecure. Perhaps now she is going to be even less likely to seek consolation when she struggles with subsequent babies. Maybe now she isn’t even going to try to breastfeeding because the lactivist community was cruel to her and she doesn’t want to associate herself with you.

It only takes ONE lactivist to ruin one person’s view of the entire lactivist community. Do you really want to be that lactivist?

If you want people to believe in your cause is being mean to them really going to make them understand it? My personal experience is that calmly expressing your opinion is more effective than shoving your opinion down a person’s throat.

And maybe instead of criticizing that mother you should offer suggestions for solutions. Ask her what she has tried. Ask her if she has support.

You should NEVER be insulting towards a mother that is trying to share her story and her grief. She is trying to heal from an ordeal that was difficult for her. She is mourning the loss of her breastfeeding relationship with her child.

So remember. There IS a difference between can’t breastfeed and won’t breastfeed.

But there is also a difference between can’t be nice and won’t be nice.

Please don’t ruin the lactivist community for those of us that want to help other women.

Circumcision: The Non-Debate

Circumcise: tr.v. cir·cum·cisedcir·cum·cis·ingcir·cum·cis·es

1. To remove the prepuce of (a male).
2. To remove all or part of the clitoris, prepuce, or labia of (a female)

There are few topics that get me as riled as circumcision. Nothing gets my blood boiling like a circumcision debate. Nothing makes me as agonizingly sad as ignorant comments about circumcision.

Let’s face it, folks; circumcision is just one of those sad subjects. What isn’t sad about mutilating the genitals of infants?

It is illegal to circumcise female infants in the United States but it is cultural norm to circumcise male infants. It is done for rumored health benefits…but primarily is practiced so that the male child is not ostracized by his peers later in life or so that the child doesn’t look different from his father. There are numerous issues with all of these reasons. Let’s cover some of them, shall we?

The reported health benefits: Many studies have claimed that circumcision will prevent things such as; penile cancer, urinary tract infection, the spread of STD’s and STI’s, and overall cleanliness.

Why this isn’t a valid reason to circumcise: Put simply, there just isn’t enough concrete evidence supporting these supposed health benefits. Many of these studies have been done by sources that hold the bias that circumcision is necessary. Other studies have even shown evidence to the contrary.

The best way to prevent urinary tract infections is to keep the penis clean, this also ties into overall cleanliness. It’s a simple process that involves a little mild soap, a tiny bit of time and a little education. The foreskin is naturally fused to the glans (the head of the penis) when the infant is born. You do not have to and you SHOULD NOT retract the foreskin (pull the foreskin away from the glans) until the foreskin has retracted on its own. Until natural retraction occurs you only need to wash the external part of the penis just like you would wash your finger. And be gentle. Once the foreskin naturally retracts completely  you can clean under the foreskin, but it’s really not necessary until sometime around early adolescents. Again, the cleaning procedure is easy. Gently cleanse with a mild soap and remove any smegma ( an oily, waxy substance that accumulate both under the foreskin and in the folds of the female labia) and then rinse. Not at all difficult…besides, do you really think you’re going to have a difficult time convincing your son to touch his penis in the shower? I didn’t think so.

Common sense and a quality sexual education class should have taught you by now that the very best ways to avoid the spread of STD’s and STI’s is through abstinence. If abstinence is not an option then you can reduce your risk of contracting diseases by choosing sexual partners carefully and keeping them to a minimum. If you’re just promiscuous and don’t want to be tied to one person there is an amazing invention that I think you may be interested in. It’s called a “condom”. They’re inexpensive, prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce your chances of catching the clap from the girl you slept with at that party last week. They protect the entrance to the penis from vaginal fluids and vice versa. By telling the masses that having a bit of their penis cut off they are safe from HIV, you cause them to think that they’re safe from infections and they aren’t. Now they are less likely to use a condom and more likely to contract HIV, AIDS, and a number of other nasty bugs.

It’s an unfortunate truth that some people will contract penile cancer. It’s also an unfortunate truth that some people will contract breast cancer but you do not remove the mammaries of infant girls to prevent this disease.

Medicaid does not even cover the cost of circumcision in some states, so exactly how necessary can it really be?

I don’t want my son to be made fun of: Apparently a massive concern parents have for their children is that they will feel inferior to other children and be ostracized for being different.

Why this isn’t a valid reason to circumcise: If you are that concerned that your child is going to be made fun of then you just shouldn’t have children. Your child will be bullied for a number of reasons other then what his penis looks like, trust me. I was made fun of for being a redhead. For having freckles. For being short. People are made fun of because of their weight. Because of how they dress. If they have glasses. People are made fun of because they enjoy reading or because they do not partake in drugs. None of these are bad things. You would reassure your child that he was perfect in the event that he was teased for any of these things. Why is his foreskin any different?

But girls are going to laugh at him: Actually, they probably won’t. More and more children are being kept intact every year. This means that by the time your child is sexually active, being circumcised might be the less common occurrence in the bedroom. Besides, you DO realize that you’re stating that you only want your child to be with girls that care about what his penis looks like. If she’s a nice person she’s not going to care regardless. If she loves your son she isn’t going to condemn him for having the skin on his penis that he was born with. Another issue I have with this argument is that you, as a parent, are thinking about your child’s sex life FAR too much. You’re trying to control it before it even exists! Not to mention that more surveyed women preferred the feeling of an uncircumcised partner.

I don’t want him to be confused because he doesn’t look like his father: When your child is still young enough to bathe with his parents he isn’t going to care about how his penis compares to his father’s. He’s going to care about splashing and coloring on the walls with Crayola bath paints! As a woman, I do not recall ever comparing my breasts to my mother’s, not even when I started to develop them. They’re different from hers. That’s life. You son will probably be just fine when his nose is different from his dad’s. He isn’t going to become suicidally depressed when dad has more back hair than he does. Really, human beings are unique. None of us look exactly the same. Especially our genitals.

His father is circumcised so we won’t know how to clean an intact penis: You can solve this problem exactly the way you solve any other conundrum you may have. Google it. If you type “caring for an intact penis” into your search bar a number of fantastic resources will come up and suddenly you will be an expert! Go you!

Circumcision for religious reasons: A good deal of pro-genital cutting arguments revolve around religion. People state that in order to belong to certain faiths a child must be circumcised.

Why this is not a valid reason for circumcision: This argument is not seen as a valid reason to mutilate the genitals of female infants so it should not be a valid argument for males. Damaging and infant for the sake of pleasing a god (one that MADE him a foreskin in the first place) is ridiculous. Besides, circumcision as we know it today was not performed thousands of years ago. Infants would have bled to death or obtained deadly infections. Circumcision as biblically depicted was a simple blood sacrifice. A slit cut in the foreskin to produce a drop of blood. Even so, shouldn’t the child be the one to grow up and decide that he even wants to donate his foreskin to the same God that you believe in? Maybe your child is going to follow another religion. Or maybe your son would like to willingly make the sacrifice instead of you doing it without his consent.

Circumcision is a human rights issue: Infants are human beings. Circumcision is an irreversible surgical procedure. By circumcising your infant you have taken away his right to autonomy and genital integrity. Your son will never be able to revive the numerous sexually receptive nerves that you paid someone to cut off of his body. Your son did not give consent for his genitals to be mutilated.

Can you imagine your son growing up to hate you because you took that piece of him away? Because you denied him the right to have a natural, functioning penis. A normal sex life the way biology intended it. Can you imagine him feeling incomplete for the rest of his life and mourning the loss of an organ that he can only partially restore. It’s not uncommon. There are entire sites dedicated to this type of man.

Also consider that you are not only robbing your son the right to a natural, healthy sex-life; but robbing his future partner(s) of this as well. You may not believe it, but there really are women out there that would appreciate your son in all his natural glory.

At least if you leave your son intact he can later be circumcised if he wants to be.

Your son’s foreskin is not just thrown away: Foreskin fibroblasts are cultivated to grow new cells. It’s used for a variety of purposes such as facial creams and collagens. That’s right, hospitals sell your son’s foreskin to the highest bidder. There’s a chance that your son’s foreskin is rubbed on Oprah’s face in a product called SkinMedica. Yep, your son might not appreciate that his foreskin is being used in cosmetics and he didn’t see any of the profit.

Circumcision is a cosmetic surgery that your child may not want and did not give consent for. Making the decision to circumcise for your child is selfish, you cannot possibly know what the child wants or what the child will experience in life. It is your job to protect your child and cutting pieces of them off is not very protective.

The procedure can never be reversed, even with foreskin restoration.

The decision as to whether or not you circumcise your child is a non-debate. It is not your penis. It is not your right.

Please leave your baby intact and take the WHOLE baby home.

Facebook Continues to Censor Breastfeeding

When is Facebook going to learn that it is WRONG to delete the pictures or the profiles that belong to women that post pictures of breastfeeding? I’m sure we would all like an answer to that question…but will we ever get one?

Kate Hansen, an amazing artist, mother and breastfeeding advocate has had her Facebook profile DELETED. Why? Because she posted some of her VERY beautiful breastfeeding portraits.

A page has been made on Facebook titled “Bring Kate Hansen Back” in an attempt to get her profile reinstated. The only way that this page can make a difference is if you join and spread the news.  It must be made clear that breastfeeding is a perfectly natural (and medically preferable) way to feed babies. There is nothing gross or wrong about it.

Tell Facebook that breastfeeding is not obscene! Support Kate Hansen! Support breastfeeding mothers EVERYWHERE!