Though Americans rarely give circumcision a second thought, some may be surprised to learn that it is actually far less common in many other regions of the world. The United States is the only country that routinely circumcises its infants for non-religious reasons.
In fact, outside the United States, many medical and children’s rights officials have condemned the procedure. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe even called it “a human rights violation.”
To promote discussion on this topic, Intact Cleveland, a local chapter of the non-profit organizations Saving Our Sons, and The Intact Network will be hosting the award-winning documentary “American Circumcision” on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. in Bingham 103.
Alexandre Rotta was a co-producer for the documentary. Rotta, who left the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012 to protest their support of infant circumcision, spent five years as Case Western Reserve University’s Linsalata Endowed Chair in Pediatric Critical Care and Emergency Medicine and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care. He currently serves as Chief of the Division of Critical Care Medicine at Duke University.
“Public awareness of this debate is growing, and more and more people are choosing to not circumcise their sons,” second-year student, intactivist and event organizer Desmond Weisenberg said. “Ultimately, this is a political issue, though, which is why it is especially important to start the conversation on college campuses.”
Although circumcision is often thought of as being more hygienic and having health benefits, intact (not circumcised) men are just as hygienic and that all “health benefits” merely reduce the risks of certain conditions to a trivial extent.
Furthermore, despite the misconception that the foreskin is “just a flap of skin,” it is rich in nerves and sensitivity, and protects the head of the penis from clothing contact and reduces friction during sexual intercourse.
Most importantly, it’s a matter of bodily autonomy—though we allow parents to make necessary decisions such as vaccines, there are limits, and unnecessary body modifications cross them. Though many circumcised men are fine with it, many also aren’t, and more and more are speaking out against it.
Resistance to the procedure has mainly come in the form of the intactivist movement, which asserts that people have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and that infant circumcision violates this right. The movement has grown over the last few decades and with the establishment of organizations such as Genital Autonomy America and Intact America, public awareness has radically grown.
Most notably, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted his opposition to the practice and called himself “highly aligned with the intactivists” and stated that “history will prove them even more correct.”
“More and more Americans are waking up on this issue and beginning to question circumcision, and I hope this screening will help CWRU students—many of whom will go on to become tomorrow’s parents, doctors and lawmakers—do the same,” Weisenberg continued.
For those who cannot make the showing on Tuesday, Oct. 1, “American Circumcision” is currently streaming on Netflix as well.