Being an activist doesn’t make one very popular in some circles. Especially if one of the things you speak out against is child circumcision. Especially when you are an American, in a culture very uneducated about foreskin, with a long history of children’s rights violations (indeed, many scoff at the idea of children even having rights autonomous of the ones their parents grant them).
So why bother? Why risk damaging relationships because those around you think cutting the healthy genitals of children is no big deal? Why risk isolating and offending people you love? What is the benefit of being dubbed the “crazy anti-circumcision nut-job” among friends and family who don’t share your conviction?
I’ll tell you. The benefits are not worth it in the short term. In the short-term, I make a lot of enemies, I hurt a lot of feelings, I isolate a lot of people. I make a lot of people uncomfortable because I will not stay silent about a moral wrong our society is only comfortable discussing in terms of “medical benefits” and never “medical ethics.” In the short-term, the risk of intactivism is much greater than the benefit.
In the long term, in the marathon of social justice activism, in the end, when the story is written, when parents choose to leave their sons exactly as their DNA intended, when circumcision rates fall to nil, when the Supreme Court rules that cutting the genitals of children without the presence of pathology violates medical ethics and human rights, it will be worth it. That’s the day I work toward. That’s the benefit that will likely not bring me to celebration, but to weeping for the hours, the relationships, the loss I’ve endured in the short-term.
Apathy is the human condition. Conformity is how the masses are controlled. Most people live much of their lives never questioning the status quo. In fact, that’s why social justice is such a monster. The status quo is in charge. When we think about other social justice atrocities throughout human history, hindsight is 20/20, but it was those who questioned and risked it all who moved humanity forward.
This is why I care so much. This is why I am okay with being the crazy anti-child genital cutting, thorn in everyone’s side, always talking about children’s rights, family embarrassment. Because someday children will be granted their human right to bodily autonomy and intact genitals, regardless of their parents religious, cultural, or personal beliefs, and I want to be on the side of history that brought about that human progress.