Intactivism is about genital integrity for all children, regardless of religion
Intactivists seek genital integrity for all children. This means we want to see male infant circumcision end in the United States and do not want female circumcision to be reinstated in the US. Cutting the sex organ of a child, boy or girl, is barbaric and has no place in the modern world.
Some religions still practice the ritual of genital cutting. Jews practice ritual circumcision of infant boys. Muslims practice ritual circumcision of both boys and girls. In Indonesia, female circumcision is widely practiced on infant girls. Generally, only a sliver is removed.
Recently, the second issue of the Foreskin Man comic book became news because of its imagery. Foreskin Man Number One has the hero fighting an evil doctor to save a boy's foreskin from amputation. Foreskin Man Number Two has the hero, a blond-haired strapping male, fighting "Monster Mohel," a bearded, black-hatted man wearing a prayer shawl.
When the second comic came out late last year, I was surprised that there was not more of an outcry against it. Perhaps the intactivism movement had not garnered enough attention where the comic was considered worth speaking up about. With two cities in California considering banning infant circumcision, the comic was put in the spotlight. The controversy was enough for the backer of the Santa Monica, California, effort to drop out. The ballot measure to ban infant circumcision in San Francisco, California, continues.
The controversy stems from the imagery used in the second issue of the comic. To me, the hero is a blond haired Southern California surfer dude. To many others, he is a stereotypical Aryan. The mohel and his cronies are Jewish caricatures. Together, the Aryan hero and the Monster Mohel conjure images of antisemitic propaganda used against Jews in the 1930s and 40s. That many are offended by the imagery in the graphic novel is sufficient reason to condemn the comic.
Just to be clear, I am offended by the second issue of Foreskin Man. The comic book with its antisemitic imagery should be condemned and put to rest. There is no calling the comic back from the Internet, but the author should speak up and apologize for any offense caused.
Many intactivists agree with me. The comic should never have been published. Unfortunately, many are painting all intactivists with the same brush used to condemn the comic's author. Just to set the record straight, I am not antisemitic. The vast majority of intactivists are not antisemitic. Our goal is to protect children from genital cutting. Intactivists do not have a hidden agenda with respect to any religion.
What troubles me, along with many other commentators, is that so many fail to recognize the antisemitic symbolism in Foreskin Man. More than 60 years have passed since the Holocaust. Many of the younger generation do not see the parallels the Aryan hero and the monster Jews has with the oppression of the Jews in the last century. Our education system is failing us. That, to me, is a larger travesty than the imagery in the comic.
Also, based on what I know of the author of Foreskin Man, I do not believe that he intentionally used antisemitic imagery. In correspondence I have had with him he has defended others who were being discriminated against. He strikes me as a very open minded man. The author lives in San Diego, California. The blond-haired, muscular surfer dude is the stereotypical figure for that area. I believe that it was just an unfortunate circumstance that the Foreskin Man comic includes antisemitic imagery, although there are some who think that the imagery is consistent with the style of graphic novels. I think the author would have done better to be sensitive to those who would read the comic and avoid any appearance of antisemitism, since none was likely intended.
The Foreskin Man controversy has riled up many. Last week Russell Crowe tweeted his belief that male infant circumcision is barbaric. He then bantered with a friend, who was Jewish. He was immediately condemned by the press for making antisemitic comments. His friend came to his defense and said everyone was overreacting. Russell Crowe apologized for any offense he may have given and removed the offending tweets. He did not apologize for his belief that circumcision is barbaric.
Russell Crowe did the right thing by apologizing, even though he was unjustly accused of being antisemitic. I think it is time for Matthew Hess to step up to the plate and apologize for offending anyone by the imagery in the Foreskin Man comic. Only then can we put this behind us. Intactivists as a group are not antisemitic.
- The New York Times: AAP Backs Ritual ‘Nick’ as Female Circumcision Option
- Get Religion.org: Anti-Semitism and the ‘intactivists’
- The Daily Caller: Foreskin Man’s antisemitism may only be skin deep
- Joseph4GI: The "Anti-Semite" Card No Longer Washes
- Zap2It: Russell Crowe's anti-circumcision Twitter rant: 'Stop cutting your babies'
- Rolling Doughnut: Opposition to Circumcision and Anti-Semitism