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MEL Magazine: Why Foreskin Activists Are Taking to the Streets

Why Foreskin Activists Are Taking to the Streets.

At the anti-circumcision trucks in NYC, come for the sex and stay for the graphic snip videos

Quinn Myers

Passersby in Manhattan’s Union Square are no strangers to public stunts. They’ve got high-flying skateboarders, activists, rallies and protests — and this week, a giant truck featuring a half-naked woman ripping the tighty-whities off a helpless dude. At the top are the words “foreskin… a girl can hope.” To the right, there’s a big ad sending onlookers to a site called foreskin.life, which promises a list called “4 Powers of Foreskin” and shows the intertwined legs of a couple in bed.

The group behind the truck is an anti-circumcision group called Intaction — like the words “intact” and “action.” Led by Anthony Losquadro, they’ve dedicated their time to fighting, or at least starting a conversation around, infant circumcision.

“Ninety-nine percent of European men are intact, and right now in America, the rates are closer to 50/50,” Losquadro says. “Thankfully the rate is beginning to decline, and our job is to drive that down to be as low as the European rates.” Though circumcision is a polarizing subject (you can read our extensive guide to it here), Losquadro claims he’s only there to educate the masses. That’s where the truck comes in.

After Intaction lures you in with the sexy stuff, they want you to watch graphic videos of babies getting snipped. “In addition to the main billboards, our mobile unit has exhibits such as the Infant Genital Cutting Exhibit, where people see what’s done to a baby in a hospital. It’s what the doctor won’t show you goes on behind closed doors — and that’s one of our most popular exhibits.”

After you’ve peeked behind the doctor’s curtain, head over to the truck’s historical exhibit: “Completely Bizarre History of American Circumcision.” Losquadro tells me all about circumcision’s history as a 19th-century anti-masturbatory procedure. My own research finds that John Harvey Kellogg, the cereal guy who was also a doctor, prescribed circumcision without anesthesia as a punishment for self-abuse.

As circumcision rates have fallen in the U.S. and intactivists spread their message further, foreskin-rights groups have been the subject of criticism — particularly for a broad insistence on calling circumcision “genital mutilation” and equating it with the more sadistic practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM. According to a joint statement from the U.N. and the World Health Organization, FGM is a human rights violation with no medical benefits. “Painful and traumatic,” it “interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term health consequences.”

As for male circumcision, the WHO says male circumcision (in babies) results in a “very low rate of adverse events,” especially when performed by well-trained medical professionals.

Other doctors argue that circumcision actually provides health benefits, though research is ongoing. Pediatric urologist Anne-Marie Houle writes in the Canadian Urological Association Journal that circumcision can lower the risk of HIV, STDs and UTIs. She and many others provide evidence that circumcision actually improves sexual function and sensation. Houle also argues circumcision can help protect against penile cancer, as it removes the risk of phimosis (an inability to retract the foreskin), which is a risk factor.

Still, the intactivist scene continues to gain steam online. Some men try their hand at underwear that simulates foreskin, and some are on a quest to regrow their foreskins by hanging weights from their glans — take it from Wayne Griffiths, the “father of foreskin regeneration.” But according to Intaction, that’s not what their mission is about, nor are they trying to get to Capitol Hill. “We’re just conducting advocacy and educating,” Losquadro says.

Going on four years of public activism, the intactivists aren’t leaving Manhattan anytime soon — or at least until American circumcision rates match Europe’s. “We’re in Union Square every month, sometimes twice a month, until the winter weather shuts us down,” Losquadro says, adding that New York City’s size and diversity give them something like a perpetual focus group.

And so, the debate rages on in Union Square, in doctor’s offices and online. Intactivists like Losquadro say they’re just trying to tell their side of the story (though some activists have shown to be a bit more aggressive than that), while urologists and health organizations urge each individual to weigh their options and know the benefits.

In other words, it’s the classic example of an issue that cuts both ways.

Quinn Myers is a writer based in Chicago.

An Advocacy Group in New York City Wants People to…

AN ADVOCACY GROUP IN NEW YORK CITY WANTS PEOPLE TO STOP CIRCUMCISING THEIR INFANT SONS

An advocacy group is protesting male circumcision on the streets of New York City in the hopes that the common procedure will no longer be carried out on infants.

Intaction – a play on the words intact and action – aims to convince American men, women, and doctors that neonatal circumcision is a violation of human rights.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/new-york-city-circumcision-america-protest-infant-sons-foreskin-a8500026.html

The non-profit organization was first started in 2010 and their mission statement, according to the Inaction website, is “that every individual has the inalienable right to an intact body. Only an adult of majority age, with fully informed consent, can agree to needless and permanent body modification.”

Circumcision, or the removing of the foreskin from the penis, is one of the most common surgeries in America, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which estimates the rate is somewhere between 76 and 92 per cent of men.

In America, there are various explanations cited in favor for the procedure, including health and hygiene reasons and as part of cultural and religious traditions.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), circumcised males are less likely to contract HIV, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV) from sex. Circumcision has also been linked to lower risks of certain cancers.

However, Intaction views the “abhorrent” practice as comparable to female genital mutilation (FGM), which is illegal in the United States and exists for the sole purpose of controlling female sexuality. Spearheaded by founder Anthony Losquadro, after he questioned: “What did the doctor do to my body?” when he compared his own penis to those of male Renaissance sculptures in Florence, Italy, Losquadro decided to fight on behalf of the foreskin, “the most sensitive and important feature of the penis.”

Intaction uses a mobile education unit to educate the public about the powers of foreskin.
Through “disruptive protests, demonstrations, parental education,” and the use of a mobile education unit which reads: “Foreskin… a girl can hope,” Intaction’s goal is to “raise awareness about the value of intact genitals so that we may reach a point in America where male genital cutting rates are as low as European countries,” according to information sent to The Independent.

The group’s educating of the general public includes descriptions of the four “powers to the foreskin” – pleasure, protection, lubrication, and connection, as outlined in a YouTube video and on the streets of New York.

According to Losquadro, Intaction’s greatest accomplishment to date has been the “personal thanks and gratitude of hundreds of men, women, parents, and expecting parents – for fighting for foreskin, and by supplying the information out that has personally bettered their lives.”Despite the frequency and commonality of circumcision in America, Losquadro told us that he only asks that people: “Don’t assume the issues are linear or that the status quo in America is something to be defended

The Anti-Circumcision Movement Is Gaining Momentum

The Anti-Circumcision Movement Is Gaining Momentum — Should Parents Care?

by A.M. O’Connor Jul 12, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. ET

When I walk up to his truck, activist Anthony Losquadro is blue. No, he is literally blue. Nude except for a pair of speedo bathing trunks, Losquadro is getting his body painted in turquoise scales by a woman in a protective sun hat. We are at the 2018 Coney Island Mermaid Parade, an annual event in New York City, and Losquadro is there on business — specifically, the business of the foreskin. His organization, Intaction Inc. raises awareness about the supposed benefits of keeping the penile foreskin intact and ending the practice of neonatal circumcision. That’s right: He’s not just an activist, he’s an “intactivist.”

I was surprised to see Losquadro’s Intaction-mobile at the Mermaid Parade, but I shouldn’t have been. Part live burlesque, part kids’ little league baseball parade, the event draws plenty of young parents and pro-nudity hedonists alike: aka the gooey core of the Venn diagram of people intactivists like Losquadro are hoping to reach.

Losquadro is a fit 53 years old, but looks younger. He has been an advocate for the right to what he calls “genital integrity” since 2010, but his curiosity about his own circumcision began long before that.

“When I was a young child and we went to Italy on a vacation, I would look at the statues and you see the statue of David by Michelangelo in Florence, and you wonder why things look different,” he said. “You’re like, ‘That’s not what a penis looks like.’”

The first time Losquadro saw an un-tampered-with penis with his own eyes was during his stint in the merchant marines. (His reaction: He averted his eyes and moved along.) But years later, with the dawning of the World Wide Web came more accessible information on circumcision and its history — as well as an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on the topic. And while anti-circumcision activism is not new, the movement seems to be maturing.

“Intactivism” has been around arguably as long as circumcision has, which is to say both practices date back millennia. Of course, members of the Muslim and Jewish faiths circumcise children with penises for religious reasons. And in the 1800s, Victorian Americans turned to circumcision as a supposed “cure” for masturbation — which at the time was itself considered to be a disease that was said to cause conditions such as epilepsy. Some folks wondered whether circumcision held the key to longevity (since Jewish people often lived long lives?). Skipping ahead to the late 20th century, circumcision became the de facto choice for parents in the United States. In the 1980s and ‘90s, some 60 percent of American newborns with penises were circumcised.

Intactivists like Losquadro say it’s time to find a better way. Or rather, to return to the original way.

“The foreskin has the four powers: pleasure, protection, lubrication and connection. It’s all the nerve endings in the foreskin. It feels better for both partners. It protects the end of the penis. It keeps it from getting dried out, like an eyelid. It’s a connection between people,” Losquadro says. (He waxes a little spiritual on this last point for my taste, but I digress.) “Most of the world is intact, and there’s no reason we should be doing this,” he adds, “this” being routine circumcision.

Indeed, a 2016 analysis of population data estimated that 37 to 39 percent of penis-bearers the world over are circumcised. Australia’s circumcision rate, for example, is just 26.6 percent, and in countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Greece and Italy, less than 6 percent of penises are cut. And yet according to that study, the circumcision rate in the United States is still quite high: about 71 percent. And it seems to be remaining popular simply because, well, it’s popular — and Americans want to fit in.

“Growing up, I was nervous about having sex because uncircumcised penises aren’t the norm in America; they have a terrible rep with American girls,” explains 23-year-old Walker of his decision to get circumcised as an adult a couple of years ago. But his choice wasn’t just about cosmetics: “I did it because my frenulum tore and my penis was bleeding profusely while having sex… But honestly, now the adult circumcision saga is a fun story I get to tell people — so I feel like I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

In Walker’s and my lifetime, studies and reports from reputable global scientific bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS have loudly touted the public health benefits of voluntary circumcision. But those studies, many of which were limited in scope and conducted only in Africa, show just correlation (not causation) between circumcision and lower rates of HIV infection and reduced occurrence of urinary tract infections.

“The literature out there on circumcision — over, over and over again — says that it doesn’t help anything whatsoever,” said Lauren Sardi, a professor of sociology at Quinnipiac University who specializes in body modification and neonatal circumcision.

Sardi says she often agrees with pro-foreskin activists’ opinions — but not always their tactics. “They tend to use discourse and not understand the loaded messages behind their discourse, or they fully understand it and they don’t care,” Sardi said. “If your goal is to educate prospective parents about the actual very real information that is out there, calling them ‘mutilators’ is not going to help your cause.”

For expectant parents, making an informed decision about their newborn baby and that baby’s foreskin can be a challenge. On one hand, you’re facing an elective surgery in which your tiny baby is injected with lidocaine and strapped down so that his foreskin can be stretched up, put in a clamp and then cut off. On the other hand, you have supposedly reduced risks of potentially deadly infections such as HIV — as well as a penis that is, by American (especially white Christian American) standards, deemed aesthetically pleasing and “normal.”

Emily Leserman and Courtney Ewell Marshall are two friends who grappled individually with whether to circumcise their own children. After much discussion and research, each came to a different decision.

“We thought it was important to have a likeness to his father,” says Leserman, who ultimately opted to have her child circumcised. Leserman was aware of the potential health benefits, but mostly, she says, for people of her generation — including her husband — it was just “what was done.”

“That may seem ignorant and it probably is,” she continues, “but if we’re going to put it in a particular box, it came down to cosmetics.”

From the same starting point, Ewell Marshall came to the opposite conclusion. “I couldn’t find any good reason to circumcise him; I’m just this side of granola as far as parenting goes,” she laughs. She explains that if her child wants to have a circumcision down the line, he, like Christopher, has the option — and can make the decision himself. “My kids are vaccinated and everything, but I’m big on the bodily autonomy,” Ewell Marshall adds.

This, in the eyes of intactivists like Anthony Losquadro, is a success story. And these days, Losquadro is keeping things positive. “I give a presentation about being foreskin-positive,” he says. “There’s enough problems in the world, [so] instead of saying, ‘I’m a victim; you’re mutilating them,’ let’s talk about the benefits of foreskin.”

After a long pause, he adds, “I don’t even want to talk about circumcision.”

https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1140294/anti-circumcision-intactivist-movement-parents

FORESKIN – The Future Never Felt So Good

On February 8, 2018, Intaction completed the photo shoot for a new and groundbreaking foreskin awareness campaign. Photographer Michael Luppino, with Intaction’s Anthony Losquadro acting as art/creative director, shot the graphic content at S.A. Studios NYC, using a special large format equipment. We are taking steps to complete the new campaign in preparation for the debut of the campaign on April 12, 2018 at Union Square NYC.

THE FORESKIN REVOLUTION IS COMING

Intactivism 2.0, or what we also call the “Foreskin Revolution,” is a well thought out strategy of promoting the adult benefits of foreskin. Intactivism 2.0 moves beyond the well-worn debate over circumcision, and promotes foreskin as a lifestyle choice – even for men that may not have a foreskin.

We hope to shift public perception to view foreskin as something special and desirable. We will promote foreskin as fun, sexy, and sensual.

Now the key to the campaign is the branding and storytelling. This campaign has been created with expert input on advertising strategy.

NOW IT’S UP TO YOU

Now that you understand how a foreskin positive strategy can be the future of intactivism, if you believe in it, then you need to support this campaign. We have all the pieces in place to make this happen. BUT – we need your support and generosity to make this campaign a reality. By donating for this campaign, you can proudly say you were part of the effort that created it. Please donate and support the FORESKIN REVOLUTION

Join us in this new beginning for American foreskin advocacy.

In Memoriam Kevin Cagle

Young man’s anguish over circumcision ends in suicide.

The Death of Kevin Cagle

 

Another young man with his whole life ahead of him decided to tragically end his life – anguished over genital cutting.

Kevin Cagle was unable to comprehend why parents and doctors decided to needlessly cut and mutilate his genitals as an infant. Anger and grief turned into despair and depression. Kevin said to a friend, ” I hate my body. I don’t feel whole. Thanks to my parents for that.”

Kevin was a Leachville Arkansas native but moved to San Francisco California.

Kevin went on to say ” I’m thoroughly disgusted we live in a world where cosmetic procedures can be performed on infants.” Kevin went on to thank friends for being kind, wishing them the best in life. Kevin asked friends to be happy for him now, presumably because ending his life is what he wanted so as to be finally in peace.

Kevin asked a good friend to post his final remarks on Facebook. Afterwards, on March 31 2015, Kevin Cagle made the ultimate decision to end his life. He was just 20 years old.

The suicide of Jonathon Conte, 34, also from San Francisco, in May 2016 followed the death of Cagle.

Some mental health experts feel that circumcised males are physically, emotionally, mentally and socially harmed by the act, and this can lead to depression and horrible consequences. According to StopMaleSuicide.com (circumcision and suicide), when men face problems they can neither fix, nor cope with, their risk of suicide rises.

We are saddened over the despair of those who turn to suicide to find relief from the anguish of genital cutting. Intaction offers a means to constructively heal the wounds and personal pain caused by genital cutting by helping those affected with a way to contribute towards ending this practice.

In Memoriam

Kevin Lloyd Cagle February 28, 1995 – March 31, 2015

“May your spirit live on in those that fight against genital cutting”

Circumcision is a common surgery but what of the ethics?

An American father adopts an Asian daughter. He loves her just the way she is except for her eyes. They make her look sleepy. So he, a plastic surgeon himself, arranges for a blepharoplasty, minimal surgery that will make her eyes rounder. It’s just a small cosmetic procedure, but the results are stunning, and the father is happy. Now his daughter can be a part of her Caucasian family with eyes that approximate theirs.

Does the prospect of the well-meaning father shaping his daughter’s eyes (a true story) make you uncomfortable? If it does, what happens when I draw a comparison between “Asian eye surgery” and male circumcision? Do you protest, as some of my students did, that they’re not the same thing? If so, why is circumcision different. Is it, unlike eye rounding, medically necessary or beneficial? Is it different because a scalpel is applied to the penis and not the eyes? Is it unique because, unlike eye rounding, circumcision has roots in the Hebrew Bible as a covenant between Abraham and his god?

Circumcision is the most common surgery in America, but it raises important questions about the rights of children, parental control, and the duty of doctors to do no harm. For some, these questions are not abstract. Consider the Intactivist Movement, whose members believe, at the broadest level, that humans should be allowed to make their own decisions about their bodies. They envision a world in which no child, girl or boy, is mutilated in the name of “culture, religion, profit, or parental preference.” At Union Square in Manhattan this month, the side of an Intactivist truck displayed photographs of young men holding photographs of themselves as children, along with the words “Circumcision: I Did Not Consent.” The movement has momentum. Later this year, a feature-length documentary directed by Brendon Marotta called “American Circumcision” is due for release. Its purpose: “to start the national conversation our culture needs to have about circumcision.”

What’s the big deal, you might think. Shouldn’t Muslim and Jewish communities —and millions of American families — be allowed to shape their children as they please? Maybe you think circumcision is a vital cultural practice. Like clitoridectomy, it shows you are part of a group.

The truth is, there is risk in circumcision and little benefit. No medical society in the world recommends the procedure as necessary. None of the data in its favor are conclusive, but the risks are very real. For centuries now, advocates have made claims for circumcision. For medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides, circumcision damages the penis just enough to “counteract excessive lust.” In 1860, The Lancet, a medical journal, promoted it as a preventative to masturbation. Today, some say urinary tract infections are fewer in circumcised boys (who rarely have such infections), as is penile cancer (a rare condition). Brian Morris, archenemy of the prepuce, even claims a foreskin will predispose you to stroke and heart attack.

Circumcision is a social surgery that many American parents agree to. In the rest of the world, circumcised men are the minority. Most European parents don’t see the point of needlessly mutilating their boys’ erogenous tissue. Babies have died or contracted herpes or other infections. Not surprisingly, even American parents are increasingly deciding not to circumcise.

A defenseless infant cannot consent to a permanent alteration of his penis. We wouldn’t tattoo a baby, so why would we cut of a part of his body? Parents routinely expose their boys to the actual harm of surgery for cosmetic or cultural reasons — an unnecessary surgery that is covered in New York, at $500 to $1,000 dollars a slice, by Medicaid.

Physicians have a duty not to harm children. Parents have a duty to regard them, as law professor John A. Robertson’s put it, not as “owners of their children’s personhood,” but as “trustees of their children’s separate welfare.”

by Eric Trump, Valley Views Published 3:22 p.m. ET July 24, 2017

Eric Trump teaches bioethics at Vassar College and is writing a book on organ transplantation. Contact him at ertrump@vassar.edu

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/opinion/valley-views/2017/07/24/parents-sculpting-children/464812001/