END OF 00s: The decade circumcision without consent gained a new lease on life

(I was going to do an end of year round up type thing. But I think we’ve covered the big stories except for the latest non-sense out of the circumcision camp claiming women just love a circumcised penis. The absurdity of the claim from the same old tired RCT data requires little more than an “um, no” response. All the researcher and self-selection bias that applies to all of their other junk science applies to the latest. And with that, here’s the last post of the year.)

It has been 21 years since I first heard the idea that male circumcision somehow reduced the risk of HIV. For most of those 21 years, rational minds prevailed, and male circumcision never gained funding or much interest in this fight. That all changed in this first decade of the new century when a clever and determined group of circumcision epidemiologists decided to push the idea full force in the context of a demoralized and desperate HIV/AIDS research community.

To be fair, most scientists working hard to find a microbicide, to devise a vaccine, and to formulate prevention campaigns to reach the most affected kept to their areas of research and maintained their drive to improve prevention, treatment, and hopefully one day to find a cure. Perhaps to avoid conflicts that could potentially harm their own efforts, they either ignored the calls or accepted circumcision as proven, granting the agenda-driven scientists the benefit of any doubt since it lay outside of their own areas of research.

It appears that this deference has given the researcher-lobbyists for circumcision the opening to spin out wildly speculative impact, satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness studies that few have questioned. Serious students of their work can see the giant leaps, the stretched conclusions, and the wild-eyed unchallenged optimism, and understand that it’s a disaster unfolding.

This is how we will end the first 10 years of the 21st century. So be it. Let’s accept it for what it is. Let’s go forward and recruit and repeat. Let’s recruit compassionate parents and educators. Let’s find those who will help us. Let’s make individual choices to speak out, to call bullshit, to keep our own children intact so that we can build a movement of millions.

Along the way, let’s encourage those who are with us. Let’s give money to our new and old institutions who are now becoming more visible. Let’s write, speak, tweet, facebook, and do old school tabling at events everywhere that HIV/AIDS is being addressed. Maybe one day most of us will live intact lives although many still will not.

While the very existence of our public activism is no small victory, it isn’t total victory. However, it is progress from where we have stood in the United States with more than half of our boys being mutilated every year for decades now while our adults suffer the highest rate of HIV in the developed world. While we have done a lot, we can and must do more.

About David Wilton

fronterizo, public defender, intactivist, gay
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4 Responses to END OF 00s: The decade circumcision without consent gained a new lease on life

  1. Like KOTFrank, I am optimistic by the past 10 years. The circumcision debate has moved from parents blindly listening to doctors and other parents to the Internet where many speak out. Other than a few bastions of pro-circers I see an ever growing number of informed people speaking out to change the US circumcision culture into a pro-intact culture.

  2. KOTFrank says:

    The intactivist movement gained force in the ’90s as more people got computers to research circumcision and tell others of it’s negative effects. I was/am one of them. The net is our greatest tool that overcomes the pro-circ campaigns of news media (like the SFGate /Chronicle and all). And if it wasn’t for the web communication we would be again controlled by the medical profession and be circumcising every male based on flawed and exaggerated studies like it started 100 years ago. (read Glick’s book “Marked in Your Flesh” for exact dates and people)
    The last ten years have brought the circumcision debate round the world to more than 10 google hits a day compared to 1 hit 20 years ago. The debate is growing too in the world’s Jewish population also like 110 years ago. We are making progress. Note an esteemed female Jewish lawyer commentary wrote circumcision will not end up mandated by law either way, but will peter out of use in the majority and with fewer Jewish circumcisions. (not soon, not later but eventually).
    My point is first, laws are trying to be past to limit communication on the www and must be stopped at every point. Second sites that retain total control of content need to be dealt with, specifically FaceBook who can delete at any time for any reason content. FaceBook has flagrantly done this by omitting an historical fact of Operation Abraham’s drawing an elephant around an intact penis making it its trunk in a racist way.
    I found this when I googled Operation Abraham Elephant. This cache which is supposed to highlight elephant doesn’t at the site. The “The figure of an elephant had been drawn around the penis so that the …” has been omitted. I say censored.
    I urge everyone to post on FaceBook this historical event. The point must be made.
    Here’s what googling showed:
    Operation Abraham: GO HOME | Facebook
    Operation Abraham: GO HOME is on FacebookSign up for Facebook to
    connect with … The figure of an elephant had been drawn around the
    penis so that the …
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=130719771733 – Cached –

  3. David Wilton says:

    The linkage of circumcision with HIV was a set back. Now it awaits our continued response. If you were around in this movement at the end of the 90s, you’d understand how optimistic we all were. So I think I’m being realistic and fair with where we stand today. I was pretty clear in this last post that we must keep moving forward and keep up the momentum which is perhaps slowed a bit by the head winds of indifferent health professionals, greedy AIDS organizations, and outright racists pushing this agenda on Africans for their own professional benefit and to advance their own personal agenda back here in the US. Let’s get out there and do something about it because NO, the CDC/AAP have not issued any new or revised recommendations YET.

  4. Joseph says:

    Wait, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to walk away with here.
    “END OF 00s: The decade circumcision without consent gained a new lease on life”
    What’s the implication of this title? Yes, perhaps this decade was marked by raving circumcisionists promoting circumcision in the name of HIV prevention, but has the worst that we were expecting happened?
    Has the CDC and/or the AAP finally used the flawed “studies” to give their official “recommendation” to forcefully mutilate those who would be at least risk for sexually transmitted HIV?
    Has it happened?
    If it hasn’t yet, then I’d really hope you could change this child.
    PLEASE don’t end this decade on such a bad note…

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