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Intaction News

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.”


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.


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 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


The Lesser Known Complication Of Circumcision | A Parent’s Regret

circumcision botch complications
Originally Published at RAVISHLY.COM
JONI EDELMAN | June 8th, 2017

Hospitals are quiet at 6 a.m. Nurses are arriving for shift change, carrying giant insulated mugs full of caffeine, trying to look awake. The smell of coffee and scrambled eggs comes from the cafeteria; the smell of disinfectant from everywhere else. I’m in a hospital. It’s a big day. My son is being circumcised.He’s 17.My alarm was set for five but I woke up at 4:57. I think a mother learns early on to wake up before her children — especially one about to have surgery. We live five minutes from the hospital in our small town, getting “ready” for me involves putting on pants — and that’s about it. I wanted time to make toast, so I could pop the meds that have to be taken “at mealtime,” so I set the alarm I didn’t even use for 5 a.m. to eat toast I don’t even want.Who would even want toast before their child is taken from their sight into a room they’ve never seen? Even if they are 17. Even 17-year-olds are still babies.Circumcision. That’s how I came to be in this hospital, sitting next to my 21-year-old daughter, across from my ex-husband and his new wife, drinking coffee, typing this article as some bizarre writer’s coping mechanism.

You’re probably wondering why a 17-year-old would be circumcised.

It starts in the year 1998 when my first son (who is now 19 and living in his own apartment being an adult) was born. In the year 1998, circumcision was the thing you did. At least in America, it was a thing you did. At least with good insurance, in a big city, with a fancy pediatrician who had the latest studies that somehow proved that circumcision reduced your risk of cancer and STDs and the risk of people thinking your penis looked weird, you circumcised your babies.I was 23 then. I was a smart 23-year-old with a circumcised husband and a circumcised father who told me I’d better not “let my sons go through life wearing a turtleneck.” Which is I guess how he describes penises with foreskin. It wasn’t that I wanted to circumcise my kids. I cried from outside the room they wouldn’t let me in. It’s just that’s what we did then. This was when people were still saying, “Don’t you want him to look like his dad?”I don’t really care. My youngest son isn’t circumcised, and I don’t care if he “looks like his dad.” I do care that he has a choice about what to do with his own body. I do care about inflicting unnecessary pain on him.I also recognize that other people feel differently. I recognize that we are all doing our best.In the year 2000, I was doing my best. I had my son circumcised.The risks of circumcision were explained to me as “low.”Including:

  • Pain
  • Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision
  • Irritation of the glands
  • Increased risk of meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis)
  • Risk of injury to the penis

These possibilities were presented as “unusual.”Risk not mentioned above by WebMD, or by my physician? Adhesions.Adhesions are, in essence, scar tissue. When a body is injured, as in the case of skin being removed, it tries to heal itself. This is the literal job of the body; you can’t really blame the body for doing its job.Owen’s body did its job. It healed the circumcision the doctor gave him when he was just a few days old. It did so very quickly. I noticed the beginning of the scar tissue forming not long after. On a newborn penis, scar tissue happens fast.The pediatrician wasn’t worried. When you change his diaper, just “separate the skin by pulling,” he said. Then apply ointment to your hysterical infant. He didn’t say that last part, but that’s what happened. Eventually, despite my pulling, it healed itself, as wounds do, and our pediatrician told us not to worry. “When he starts getting regular erections and having sex, it’ll fix itself.”

It did not fix itself

That’s why I’m here, in this hospital. That’s why I’m drinking coffee next to my 21-year-old daughter, across from my ex-husband and his new wife, typing this article and worrying about my baby boy that isn’t a baby anymore.We’ve checked in over the years, me asking how it’s doing, is it correcting itself as the doctor said it would, him saying, “No, it’s not.” It was a few months ago that I asked him if it was causing him pain. “Yes, it is.” Did he want it “fixed.” Yes, he did. There really isn’t a way you can leave something like this “unfixed,” not with pain.Owen is the youngest of what I call my “big kids.” The baby. There are ten long years between him and Ella, which means for ten years he got to be my baby boy. Despite being 17 — driving a car, dating a girl, getting ready to go to college — he is still my baby. His dad used to say I was too soft with him, I let him manipulate me with his tears. He used to say it was obvious that Owen was my favorite.circumcision botch boy complicationsI don’t pick favorites among my kids, but he sure has my heart, this kid. He’s the kid that asks me everything — once upon a time, about the sun and when it will burn out, now, about sex, about how to pay taxes, how you get a mortgage, about how you know who you should marry. He’s the one who sits with me on my bed late at night, after the little kids have gone to bed, and laughs and talks about people and politics.

And today he is being circumcised. Again.

Being re-circumcised is not the same thing as the quick in-office procedure that happens to a newborn. It’s a surgery now. It requires the don’t-eat-after-midnight kind of general anesthesia, IVs, antibiotics, bedrest. Two weeks. No straining. You don’t want to disrupt the stitches, or you might end up with another adhesion. Another surgery.It’s not the same for a mom either. Instead of sitting outside a doctor’s office examination room with my postpartum tears, I’m sitting in a hospital, crying after seeing my son stuck four times — three in the right arm, one in the left — to place an IV in his stubborn veins. Instead of taking my newborn baby into my arms to nurse him, I’ll be driving him home, stopping at the pharmacy on the way to pick up his pain meds. I’ll be delivering food to his bed. I’ll be explaining to him how to take care of his newly re-cut penis.He’ll be applying ointment every day for two weeks. He’ll be lying flat, with all the parts and pieces that are most important to a teenage boy surrounded by gauze, covered in antibiotic cream. He’ll be in pain, for several weeks, which might as well be forever when you’re 17 and you’ve never had anything more than a broken pinky finger.And I will regret that I ever decided to circumcise him in the first place. I will wish I could undo that decision and give him back today, and the summer he’ll spend in bed.I guess the risk of bleeding, pain, irritation, inflammation, and injury wasn’t enough to make me question the decision to circumcise my boys. But the risk of having to sit in a hospital while my teenage son is alone in an OR, undergoing a surgery he never would have needed had I left his penis alone, would have been.

*This story has been told with his permission and desire to make folks aware of something rarely discussed. 

Botched Circumcision Case Damages > $100 Million Dollars

Clayton County, GA. The efforts of veteran attorney Jonathan Johnson are, at the moment, heavily focused on a medical malpractice case that will have long lasting consequences for a three-year-old boy who will be growing up with a mutilated penis after a circumcision went very wrong.

His mother has already incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills and there will be many, many medical appointments for her son in the future.

On October 21, 2013, baby DeJuan Williams’ mother brought him to a medical clinic in Clayton County, Georgia where he was scheduled to be circumcised by a nurse midwife.

“The child went in for a circumcision with a nurse midwife in Clinton County when he was three weeks old,” says attorney Jonathan Johnson from the Jonathan Johnson Attorneys at Law in Atlanta, Georgia. “The nurse midwife accidentally severed a portion of his penis. It is the end of the penis called the glans.”

Glans is Latin for the word acorn and refers to the shape of the hyper sensitive tip of the male penis.

According to the statement of claim, the midwife nurse at the Life Cycle OB/GYN clinic laid baby Williams on his back on a table, draped and prepped his genital area. She then used a medical device called a Mogen Clamp to do the procedure.

In the process, the complaint says, the midwife “amputated the glans of DeJuan Williams’ penis by placing and using the Mogen Clamp in an attempt to perform a circumcision on the infant.”

A doctor at the clinic and another nurse midwife were called in and observed the injury. According to court documents they permitted Stacie Willis and her baby to leave the clinic without sending the baby for an immediate consultation with a pediatric urologist along with the severed portion of the penis.

When the lacerated area continued to bleed later that day Stacie Willis took her baby to a hospital emergency room.

“The mother was not told what occurred,” says Johnson. “When she took him to the emergency room they could not visualize the injury. It was actually sometime later when she found out how serious the injury was,” says Johnson.

“The weird thing about the case is that the doctors that cut off the tissue put it a saline solution and put it in the freezer. They never advised the mother or anyone else that they had this tissue available. It possibly could have been re-attached to the child if it had been done properly,” says Johnson.

“The mother never knew they had it,” says Johnson. “We later found out they had it in their refrigerator for several months.”

The case is now in the important examination for discovery phase and will be followed by the certification of expert witnesses.

The named defendants include the nurse midwife, several doctors and the medical clinic. The suit also names Teleflex, the manufacturers and sellers of the Mogen Clamp. According to the statement of claim Teleflex had “a duty to recall the Mogen Clamp because they knew, or reasonably should have known, that it was a defective and unreasonably dangerous medical device not suitable for the intended purpose and use, with the propensity to cause severe and permanent mutilating injury to infants, including amputation of their penis glans.”

It is unlikely that DeJuan Williams will have a normal function of penis now or at any time in the future.

The suit claims Teleflex was reckless and failed to warn that its Mogen Clamp could cause serious debilitating injury. The suit demands in punitive damages $100 million from Teleflex.

“It really cannot be corrected,” says Johnson. “There is no way to correct it at this this point.”

HeatStreet: No Longer Cutting It: Backlash Against Circumcision

The movement against circumcision is gaining more visibility in the U.S. with some young men particularly questioning the practice as a method of overbearing societal control and unnecessary trauma. And overseas, in Norway, the push to officially ban circumcision has just resulted in a controversy involving allegations of anti-semitism.
Brochure from an anti-circumcision group.

“IDIDNOTCONSENT.ORG” is the name of a group that has been positioning its rather expensive looking truck at prominent locations in Manhattan. The group calls the truck a “mobile education unit.” Staffers hand out brochures and answer questions from a steady parade of men. Some who stop to ask questions are sheepish. Others want to know what they’ve been missing. A few furrow their brow and seem close to throwing up.

The “I Did Not Consent” folks are rather blunt about their message. Their literature contains photos of stern looking guys holding pictures of themselves as babies with statements such as:

Amputation of the foreskin is painful & traumatic for babies. I was tied down in an infant restraint. I was given little anesthesia while a doctor crushed my infant foreskin with a cruel medical device. After ten agonizing minutes, he cut me…I cried out. I DID NOT CONSENT

Another says “foreskin contains 20,000 specialized nerve endings. Circumcision removes them.” And perhaps the most novel argument against the practice; “circumcision was introduced in America as a way to ‘cure’ masturbation in boys.” Certainly many Jewish people would not agree as the practice first appeared in the bible.

Widespread circumcision in the U.S. is a product of medical research that showed it was a way to prevent infection and disease. Many Americans don’t necessarily think of it as a Jewish custom.

For the record, the American Academy of Pediatrics says the medical benefits of routine infant circumcision outweigh the risks. This guidance stands in contrast to guidelines in other English-speaking countries such as Australia, Britain and Canada, which say circumcision is not medically necessary.

In Europe, there is a stronger cultural association between Judaism and circumcision.

A controversial Norwegian newspaper cartoon comparing circumcision to pedophilia.A cartoon in one of Norway’s largest newspapers recently compared circumcision to pedophilia amid a debate in that country over whether to ban the practice.

The cartoon, published Tuesday in Dagbladet, depicts a disheveled man talking to Jewish and Muslim protesters holding signs reading, “Yes to circumcision” and “Freedom of religion.” The man responds, “I understand exactly how it is with you! I also get messages from invisible men in the sky to play around with small kids’ penises!”

Some Norwegians were offended by what they saw as a clear anti-Semitic message. The cartoon came after the Libertarian Progress Party voted to prohibit circumcision. The party, which also strongly opposes immigration, is the third-largest in Norway and is currently in a coalition with the Norwegian Prime Minister’s Conservative party.

Among younger men in the U.S. the entire topic is not as taboo as it once was. A recent Heat Street documentary told the story of the growing number of men who are trying to restore their foreskin. Many of them want to feel whole again.

There are no official numbers, but online forums and sales figures from device makers suggest there are tens of thousands of men currently “restoring.” The largest online community, RestoringForeskin.org, has more than 16,000 members. And Ron Low, maker of a restoration device called the TLC Tugger, says his business has grown steadily over the past decade, with around 5,000 new customers each year.

Restorers believe the foreskin is not just a useless flap—they argue it protects the head of the penis and makes for better sex. They use a range of devices—typically they involve gradually stretching with weights and straps—and their hands to gently tug on the remaining foreskin. This sustained tension over time creates extra tissue. And although it doesn’t have the specialized nerves and physiological functions of an actual foreskin, restorers say it makes a big difference in the bedroom.


Botched circumcision at NYC Bellevue Hospital

Forced & botched infant circumcision at NYC’s Bellevue Hospital

A botched circumcision at Bellevue Hospital filled a Manhattan infant’s first months with pain, a mom claims in court papers.

An intern circumcised Karina Collado’s baby boy without asking a day after his February 2015 birth, she said in a Manhattan Supreme Court filing.

The boy’s “deformed” penis has two holes on either side of his urethra and “significant” foreskin still attached, the mom charges.

Ironically, Bellevue was the same hospital where the renowned Dr. Lewis Sayre made outrageous claims that circumcision cured a boy’s paralyzed legs in 1870. While at Bellevue, Sayre also claimed to cure hernia, epilepsy, mental disorders, and hip-joint pain. Sayre’s promotion helped set America on the path of genital cutting of babies that still haunts us over 147 years later. Sayre was later elected as President of the American Medical Association.

The case will be heard before a judge to determine if the case can proceed due to a late notice of claim filed with NYC. (Bellevue is owned by the NEW YORK CITY HEALTH & HOSPITALS CORPORATION)


IMAGINE 2016 – A Celebration of Foreskin Protection

On December 10, Intaction held its first ever event for intactivists to celebrate foreskin advocacy. We call it IMAGINE because it takes imagination to make a dream a reality. The dream where babies can enter the world peacefully without the threat of genital cutting.

We recognize that change is happening. What seemed impossible before, is becoming a reality. Where Americans used to view genital cutting as beneficial and healthy, now they are starting to value being intact as natural, anatomically important, and desirable.

The celebration was an evening of fun, food, and entertainment, that took place at the  Knitting Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC. Some of the evenings highlights were:

  • A welcoming speech by Intaction Director Anthony Losquadro
  • An appearance by radio personality and comedian Sal “The Intact Stockbroker” from the Howard Stern Show.
  • A soulful performance by the intactivist singer Audra “Ms Blu” Berger.
  • The debut intactivist raunchy comedy act of Tony “The Alarm Guy”
  • Introduction of our Guest of Honor and pioneer intactivist Marilyn Milos.
  • Portions of the event were recorded for replay on the Howard Stern Show and in Kenny Neal Shults upcoming documentary “Pigs Without Blankets.”

Over fifty people attended our event, some traveling as far as Philadelphia and San Francisco to join us.

Imagine 2016 became the subject of several discussions on the Howard Stern Show – Sirius XM 100, covering the issue of circumcision and genital cutting. Some of these on-air discussions were very lengthy and were repeated on replays and Sirius on-demand services.

The Intaction Board of Directors want to thank our guests, our talented performers, and our guest of honor for making it a very special night that culminated a year of achievements.





FUSION – Inside the Anti-Circumcision Movement

Inside the anti-circumcision movement: These blood-soaked activists want you to cut them some slack

 Anthony Losquadro makes for a gallant chauffeur, though the vehicle he’s driving is a 30-foot-long, 9,000-pound repurposed van tricked out with a sound system, special lighting, and LED text signs. We’re in Washington, D.C. for the annual conference of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: he, to protest and me, to watch him.

For the past two years, Losquadro’s anti-circumcision group,Intaction, has used this eye-catching truck to highlight their cause. The images plastered to the tall, flat sides of Intaction’s mobile education unit are portraits of young men of various races, holding baby pictures while looking aggrieved. Those LED text signs scroll through messages like “Hygiene is about soap and water, not CUTTING,” and “Circumcision is painful and risky for babies.” I DID NOT CONSENT is emblazoned above and below, with Intaction’s name and website.

“We encounter a lot of curiosity,” Losquadro tells me. “The majority of the response is positive.” I watch a man inside a sedan next to us tilt his head to read the truck’s sides. He makes a “hmm!” expression, nods in concession, and finally grabs his phone to take a picture.

A former merchant marine, Losquadro is square-jawed, dark-haired, and burly—the type of Italian New Yorker made famous by early Scorsese films. It was he who found the volunteer models and arranged a photo shoot, but it was Intact America, another anti-cutting group, who started the “I Did Not Consent” campaign in 2012 by inviting circumcised men to send shots of themselves in this same pose. (“Intact” is the anti-circumcision movement’s preferred descriptor for uncircumcised men.) Those opposed to infant penile circumcision often emphasize the harm it can cause while refuting its alleged medical benefits. But according to Losquadro, the most irrefutable argument is the one that hinges on personal rights.

“You can’t force a medical procedure on someone, no matter how beneficial it is,” he says, using the example of a cancer patient who forgoes chemotherapy. “How can you not sympathize with this position?” Even though we usually defer to legal guardians about what happens to the bodies of children—whether that involves dietary choices and medical treatments or even ear piercings—the intactivists find elective genital surgery particularly indefensible since it involves such an intimate part of the body.

Most Americans are loath to consider the ethical implications of male circumcision given many men’s apparent apathy about their own. If it’s not usually a problem for those who’ve been through it, what’s the big deal? But Americans also claim to staunchly support independence and free will, whether that means freedom from the desires of the state or another individual, and bodily integrity is a crucial part of that. At a time when debates about campus assault, the sentencing of convicted rapists, and the alleged sexual crimes of Bill Cosbyand Roger Ailes dominate mainstream news, Americans are becoming more fluent in the language of consent. So why shouldn’t it apply to babies and their penises?

Though their tactics can be inflammatory and sometimes rely on troubling, unexamined analogies, the anti-circumcision advocates have a point: America’s embrace of male circumcision, established in an era deeply hostile to sexuality, uniquely lays bare our gendered double standards about bodies, physical pleasure, and trauma.

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When we pull up to the convention center corner where other “intactivists” are spreading the message on foot, Losquadro receives a hero’s welcome: waves, shouts of greeting, rainbow flags and sturdy signs. Intactivism isn’t only for cis men. Plenty of women are in attendance, too, in a crowd of about 40 people that spans an age range of about 45 years. As Losquadro makes one more loop around before finding a parking space, I have the sense that I’m in a parade float, like a pageant winner. “Born in the USA” plays through the truck’s speakers. It’s a beautiful May morning in the nation’s capital. I text my friends: I’ve never felt so American.

Compared to most of the world, the United States is big on circumcisions. At this point, it’s a secular American practice; it’s an obstetrician, not a religious figure like a mohel, who’s most likely to perform one. The U.S. circumcision rate (meaning how many newborns undergo the procedure) is officially placed at around 56%, which is lower than it once was but still far higher than other parts of the world. One-fourth of the planet’s men are Muslim and many are circumcised for religious reasons, as are most Jews, but the majority of European, Asian, and Central and South Americancountries don’t practice ritual foreskin removal, and the World Health Organization estimates only 30% of all men are circumcised.

Even fewer countries practice female circumcision, more commonly known as female genital mutilation and largely regarded as a serious human rights violation. (About 5% of the world’s women are circumcised, or 200 million of 3.7 billion.) In many parts of the world, it’s long been accepted that infant circumcision is unnecessary and devoid of substantial physical benefit.

Some countries have even banned it outright. In Denmark and Sweden, circumcisions that aren’t medically necessary are not allowed on children under the age of 12. Germany came close to an effective ban after a high court’s condemnatory ruling, but Parliament rushed to protect it in response to Muslim and Jewish outcry. In the 1970s, our own American Academy of Pediatrics agreed, “there are no valid medical indications for routine circumcisions, and the procedure cannot be considered an essential component of health care.” The Academy’s 2012 policy walked back this claim, stating “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks,” but still stopped short of recommendation.

The politics of male circumcision first caught my attention in 2007, when the WHO officially recommended the procedure for Africans of all ages as an “important strategy” for HIV prevention in heterosexual men. For years, Washington D.C.—where I lived at the time—has struggled with an HIV epidemicthat rivals rates of contraction in some African countries, and the United States’ HIV contraction rate overall has long outpacedother developed nations, countries in which circumcision is far less common. If circumcision were such a magic bullet for African states, why hadn’t it worked better here at home? I thought. And if it’s so effective, why wasn’t the recommendation that males everywhere be circumcised? The implicit argument seemed to be that it was easier to convince African men to sever a piece of their genitals than it was to convince them to use condoms—either that, or parts of Africa were to be the test region for a prescription not yet applied to the Western world. It had the hallmarks of colonial mentality run rampant.

Circumcision is still not regarded as a viable HIV deterrent on any other continent. Even South Africa has rejected circumcision as a way to prevent HIV, and has prohibitions in place on circumcisions performed on boys under 16. Yet circumcision continues to be touted by many American doctors as a “surgical vaccine”—an inflated claim so widely criticizedand so breathtakingly irresponsible it’s a wonder it’s still repeated. “Surgical vaccine” is not an actual thing, and the only time the phrase is ever used is in connection with HIV and male circumcision, in spite of the fact that condoms and anti-retroviral drugs are far, far more effective. (Why not rebrand condoms as a “wearable vaccine”?)

Anti-circumcision activists have to push back against a more-than-century-long ugly history.

All of this matters for any society invested in scientific accuracy, but it also matters for intactivists’ mission of winning hearts and minds. (None of the people I spoke with attacked religious beliefs, or prioritized passage of laws banning the act. A cultural shift was the goal.) When male circumcision is stripped of its patina of medical legitimacy, it becomes an ethically suspect procedure, at least when it’s performed on infants or children too young to give meaningful medical consent. Without health advantages, a parent’s decision to cut their child’s penis starts to seem capricious and indefensible.

That’s exactly why some circumcision advocates grasp at straws to portray it as an easy, health-improving package—not just a surgical vaccine but a surgical multivitamin. In addition to the HIV angle, they cite lower rates of HPV contraction (although there’s a real vaccine for that) and lower incidence of urinary tract infections, which already has a low rate of occurrence among men.

The real pro-circumcision clincher, though, is the locker room argument—the claim that cutting is necessary because it’s already the norm, and without undergoing it, other boys will make fun. But parents regularly bestow children with names that invite ridicule. Bullies are merciless about a host of physical traits, from big ears to red hair, but parents don’t habitually dye their kids’ hair or interfere with their baby’s ears as a teasing preempting measure. And if Garfield is a traditional family name that’s been passed down for generations, you better suck it up, Garf, Jr.

Such distinctions can work in reverse, too. I went to high school with a boy who propositioned girls by promising his natural penis was more interesting, responsive, and special than circumcised ones. In gay communities, uncut men are often explicitly fetishized and if you’re looking for testimonials from women who love foreskin, you will find them. Fear of mockery is especially unfounded now that half of American babies do not get circumcised. Intactivists believe a more accurate count would put that number even lower, and that regardless of what it is now, it will continue to fall in the years ahead.

Circumcision rationalizations, and the stigma they depend upon—that foreskins are dirty, hard to clean, and therefore teeming with bacteria—make sense in the context of America’s circumcision history. Foreskin removal became popular during the Victorian era, when an obsession with eradicating germs and masturbation took hold. Circumcision was recommended as prophylactic for a variety of health issues, especially “sexual problems,” and various medical professionals of the ageremarked approvingly on the potential of creating a link between genitals and pain. (Use of anesthesia has only very recently become the standard, following an inexplicably protracted debate about whether babies actually felt pain during the procedure.) Nowadays we don’t often fret that foreskin is too perfect a masturbation sleeve, but the old chestnut that foreskins are filthy disease traps has held its ground.

“This is a lifetime wound. This is a permanent injury made visible.”– Brother K, anti-circumcision activist

Today, it’s the defenders of those supposed health benefits who often frame aversion to circumcision in Asian, Latino, and black parents as an issue of ignorance instead of cultural differences. Disconcerted by news of falling circumcision rates, which some experts attributed to the United States’ increasingly diverse demographics, the authors of one 2014 article suggested that the procedure be treated, once again, like vaccination and “be part of public health policies.”

This legislative rhetoric has solid historical precedence, too. In the 1890s, several American physicians “vigorously advocated” for compulsory circumcision of black men to keep them from raping white women: The government should be “enforcing circumcision” as one would “vaccination or quarantine regulations.” (This suggestion was endorsed by at least twomedical journals on the theory that Jewish men never rape, and their lack of foreskin must be the reason why—presumably because it was thought to decreases both genital pleasure and sexual craving.)

In the early 1900s, a doctor writing in the Journal of American Medical Association bemoaned the challenges of convincing syphilitic black men not to have sex, and suggested infant circumcision as the best method to control the spread of disease. As recently as 1949, doctors pointed to promiscuity, “meager” education, and a low circumcision rate to explain STIs among black citizens. Today, there are still doctors who maintain circumcision keeps Jewish men from committing rape.

Anti-circumcision activists have to push back against our more-than-century-long inculcation of this ugly history, along with a complacent modern medical community and deeply ingrained public misconceptions. So it’s no wonder they sometimes resort to dramatic, eyebrow-raising tactics to get their points across.

One thing that hardly tempers intactivists’ reputation as a group of isolated crazies is their fondness for blood imagery. On that day in D.C., fake blood is everywhere. As Losquadro and I take another pass by the protesters, I spot one man leaning over to spray paint another’s crotch deeper red. They’re both wearing white jumpsuits, the better to make the “blood” stand out.

Brother K is the man most prominently associated with the red-crotch-on-a-white-body look of some intactivism protesters. (Women wear the suits, too.) He’s head of the non-profit groupBloodstained Men, and he came by his name in 1986 when he changed it as a way to heal himself from the lasting psychic effects of circumcision. During a phone call after the protest, he would tell me that the “K” stands for “kind,” which I found easy to believe. He struck me as a deeply sincere and thoughtful guy in spite of his predilection for inflammatory visuals. “This is a lifetime wound,” he says. “This is a permanent injury made visible.”

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Brother K realizes the outfits “enrage some people,” but that’s part of what he’s going for. “Of course bloodstained suits generate an emotional response! We’re the shock troops of the movement.” He’s pleased when passersby take pictures and share them on social media, even as a form of ridicule, because a conversation is often sparked in the comments: At least the word is getting out.

It’s hard not to make a parallel between intactivists’ gory tactics and anti-choicers’. While I’m with Losquadro, a gruesome anti-abortion van follows a similar route to ours. Its images of choice are mangled fetuses; its words concern Jesus, Planned Parenthood, the government. “This guy…” Losquadro says. “He’s really fringe.” But as I exit his truck to get lunch, something catches my eye: It was a mounted, life-sized diorama of a baby strapped to a circumcision board, with forceps and scalpel poised over its penis.

I’m not the only one who made connections with the anti-circumcision movement to unsavory rightwing extremists. When I speak to friends about anti-circumcision activists, they sometimes respond as if I were discussing men’s rights activists: I get eye rolls and derisive laughter. The implication is that intactivists are just whiny men seizing upon a flimsy excuse to feel oppressed. I was relieved, but not surprised to find the people I spoke to didn’t fit that stereotype, not least because many of them are women. (MRAs, of course, sometimes blame feminism for circumcision.)

There’s nothing wrong with (or unusual about) one group of protesters borrowing from the other. And there will always be extremists in every movement. Still, it’s hard to explain away some of intactivism’s common tonal missteps. Most intactivists are white, which makes sense since white families are the ones most likely to practice circumcision in the U.S. But it facilitates the regrettable lack of perspective that allows activists to suggest they’re participating in the equivalent of the 1960s civil rights, or to analogize a mother fighting to keep her son intact to Rosa Parks. And given the penchant for “consent” language, it’s not surprising that many intactivists compare circumcision to rape, often in crude and upsetting terms—including calling doctors rapists or “sex criminals.” (Losquadro had Nirvana’s “Rape Me” on his protest playlist.)

Visceral provocations like the baby diorama seem unfair and inaccurate in a different way; as pro-choice advocates often point out, surgeries always involve blood. It’s true that in hospitals the baby is literally tied to a “circumcision board,” a phrase that wrenchingly evokes brutality. But babies sometimes have to be restrained for other, necessary procedures, too.

Instead of focusing on blood alone, it’s confronting the cosmetic purpose of male circumcision that forces nuanced ethical issues to come to the fore. “It’s not an exact science,” says one doctordescribing the operation on video. “Sometimes we take too much [skin] or too little. The worst,” he adds, “is too little.” Because then the parents request the surgery be done again. There can be no doubt that in these situations, cutting is a culturally-mandated cosmetic choice, not a medically-driven one. But that distinction doesn’t come across when all you’re visually confronted with is a bloody crotch, or a baby’s penis underneath a scalpel.


Yet even without Intaction’s diorama and Brother K’s suits, it’s the suggestion of fragility in a male body that would (and does) alarm and rankle. Given the way most of us think about cis male bodies and sexuality, a message of male genital vulnerability is likely to be received as extreme and lacking perspective no matter what. Intactivists demand serious protection of bodily integrity in a culture that doesn’t value it, not for women nor for men, nor, as some intactivists point out, for intersex people. (If only attention to the spectrum of invasive, status quo-establishing medical acts were as common as their predilection for overeager use of “rape.”) Feminism, queer theory, and other progressive scholarship has at least laid a groundwork for women to talk about their genital and sexual violations within a patriarchy. But men have not yet done the same for their own specific challenges.

Nobody knows this better than Intact America’s Georganne Chapin, who meets me inside the convention center’s capacious lobby near a Starbucks. Unlike some of the protesters, she wears normal street clothes—no message tee, no bloody pants—but there’s no mistaking her focus. She’s pleasant and candid with me while we speak, but maintains the capable, brisk energy of a woman on a mission. “It’s a terror to confront what we’ve done to our boys,” she says.

Chapin sees circumcisions as part of a larger tendency towards indifference and denial of male pain. She mentions a recent Dear Abby letter in which a man writes in about his anguish and anger regarding his circumcision as an infant. Abby curtly tells him he needs psychological help because he’s probably displacing his reaction to a sexual assault—an example of our culture’s tendency to tell men, “it’s not the end of the world, get over it,” and a response Chapin finds to be woefully callous. We expect men to be so impervious to trauma that only large-scale horrors, namely combat in war, can harm them. (And even then, they may be regarded as wimpy or emasculated.)

Intactivists are treated as practically hysterical when they talk about male circumcision as mutilation but it’s not always a dramatic misnomer; sometimes circumcisions are botched. One study of Canadian doctors concluded that “most physicians performing neonatal circumcisions in our community have received informal and unstructured training.” A credentialed, practicing American pediatric urologist made a point of publicly confirming that he sees the effects of that educational oversight in the many corrective surgeries he performs, none of which are for cosmetic reasons alone. (Which means the effects are severe enough that penile function is impaired.) To deny and ignore the acute shame some men must feel, knowing they’ve been permanently injured in a culture of toxic masculinity that holds a penis to be a man’s defining characteristic, seems indefensibly cruel and senseless. A group of European physicians from 16 different countries unequivocally stated as much, in response to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2012 policy suggesting the health benefits of circumcision:

There are no compelling health arguments in favor of circumcision, while it can have serious long-term urological, psychological and sexual consequences. And performing medically unwarranted circumcision of underage boys conflicts with good medical practice. Male infant circumcision conflicts with children’s rights and the doctors’ oath not to do harm.

I don’t learn it until the day of the protest, but 34-year-old West Coast intactivist Jonathan Conte killed himself just days before the ACOG conference. His Facebook page is headed by the same sensationalism of the movement that gives some people pause: images of bloody babies paired with the imagined words of a villainous rapist. “Just relax, I know you’ll like it.” “You deserve it.” “It won’t hurt long.” Yet by all accounts of those who knew him, he was sensitive, intelligent, and gentle. Like the Dear Abby letter writer, Jonathan felt depressed, incomplete, and confused that his parents allowed him to be circumcised. “I didn’t have anybody to talk about this with,” he says in a video still online. “I felt isolated. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

Of Conte’s passing, Brother K wrote, “All of us see on a daily basis the frantic denial of our friends and relatives, the denial that circumcision has any meaning or significance in our lives.”

It makes sense that Conte borrowed the language of rape to express his pain; men don’t have any other models for discussing intimate forms of physical violation. And this type of social desertion is doubly poignant when considering how cold our culture is to male victims of actual rape. Chapin knows no one can definitively say why Conte killed himself. Still, she points out, “we would have no problem believing … a woman’s trauma [from circumcision] was valid. But we really resist hearing this from men.”

If they learn to speak the language of mainstream politics, the intactivists’ most profound contribution may be breaking down this gendered double standard, along with providing some necessary validation to men who are genuinely hurting. Chapin recalls conversations she had with circumcised men who’d met Losquadro or heard Jonathon Conte speak. “They were just overwhelmed with grief and gratitude that someone was talking about this,” she says. “The isolation is awful.”