Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today’s Genital Integrity post is about mothers. I’d like to start with an assignment for you. The next time you are in a bookstore, go to the pregnancy books and pick up a copy of “From the Hips” by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwin Morris. It’s a popular new book with edgy illustrations and snazzy graphics. You don’t have to buy it, just find the section on circumcision and at the end – there is a green word balloon with a mother’s quote. How do you feel reading her words? As always, I look forward to reading your comments.

I hope that you find the graphics I’m designing for these posts to be thought provoking and amusing. If I could take all my own words, ideas and feelings and express them with a single picture, today’s would sum it up for me. I did not become an “intactivist” overnight. I feel that various life experiences laid a perfect groundwork so that when the final light bulb moments occurred, I could not help but be changed.

"The biblical injunction to circumcise speaks to a man about men. But circumcision is also a woman's issue, for on a subtle, but very potent level it is, like the akedah, about the primary disempowerment of the mother. At no other time is a woman so in touch with her most elemental and powerful mammalian instincts as after a birth, When, her culture tells her that in order for this male baby to be a man, to be part of the masculine community and bond with the male God, the men must cut her male baby on his most sensitive male organ, this mother is inevitably in conflict with her entire life-giving feminine biology. And if a woman is made to distrust her most basic instinct to protect her newborn child, what feelings can she ever trust?"
- Miriam Pollack from Jewish Women Speak Out

Circumcision is not just a men’s issue, nor is it just a parenting issue. You don’t need to be pregnant, have a medical degree or have a penis to develop your own opinion. Unfortunately, I feel that many women allow their thoughts, feelings and instincts to be disregarded - even by themselves. I feel a deep sadness to think of the number of women who in their very first moments as a mother- feel they must submit to something that goes against a very deep instinct. I understand that not all mothers feel this way, and many have a deep conviction that circumcision is the right thing to do and reasonably they do not have many, if any, negative feelings about it. In my experience as an intactivist, when mothers are given a compassionate listening audience, free of the burden to defend circumcision or past history that can't be changed... a large portion of mothers do describe feelings that are not compatible with empowerment and peace.

This link will take you to a page of mother’s stories about circumcision, it will take some courage to get through more than just a few of these. Circumcision doesn’t just hurt babies. Circumcision hurts mothers too.

Mother's Stories

Reading stories is one thing, but I always find videos so compelling, to hear someone's voice and see their face. I've chosen two videos from youtube which show two different women, the first speaks of something long in the past and the second speaks of something only hours before.

Why don’t you take a walk?

Liz talks about her son’s circumcision that day.

I hope that one day soon, mothers can look forward to the birth of their baby without this anxiety; that when baby girls were wished for, that it wasn't just because that was the only way her mother thought she could avoid a baby circumcision.

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