The cleverly named intactivists (against circumcision) and lactivists (for breastfeeding) have protagonized the news lately. One group wants the government to ban a bodily practice, the other group wants the government to encourage a bodily practice. But most importantly, both groups embrace the inviolate integrity of the human body and the functions for which it is naturally designed!
I’m an example of the wrongs that the lactivists and intactivists are struggling to right. I was born into a Protestant family in the late 1960s in the United States. Almost immediately and very much on purpose, a surgeon mutilated my penis. Then, I was denied my mother’s breast, and as a growing baby I was not breastfed at all. What an awful way to come into the world.
I look back at my parents, and at American society in general, with pity for its spastic Sputnik dyspepsia. What good does it do to cut off the tip of a newborn’s foreskin, leaving a scar and an exposed glans to be wrapped up in airtight-but-soiled superdiapers? What good does it do to deny a newborn the instinct to root for mother’s breastmilk, and the unparalleled nutrition, immunization and bonding that it provides? Somehow, a deceived America misplaced its faith in humanity and bought some sort of ultrasterile pseudoscience of anti-secretion hygiene and violence that sought ruinously through circumcision to “nip in the bud” masturbation and other forms of sexual expression, and that sought substance over form in the manufacture of space-age powdered infant formula and the indispensable, chemical-leaking plastic bottles and rubber nipples needed for its administration. The only “good” generated from these practices went straight to the coffers of physicians (do no harm?) and laboratories. Even today “studies” continue to tout the supposed nutrition benefits of infant formula or the alleged disease-prevention benefits of circumcision.
|Intactivist and Lactivist symbols|
I’m not convinced that we need our governments to act either against circumcision or for greater public acceptance and awareness of lactation. One would think that common sense, aided by courage, would be enough to recognize the rights of nursing mothers, their babies, and the rights of babies to remain whole. But whether or not we enact new municipal, state, or federal laws, this much is true: we ignore and deny our bodies at our own peril. Who knows what further functions of the breast or of the foreskin are yet to be discovered? How will we learn what these functions might be, if these body parts are so seldom dis-covered? If we continue to dress, slice, and stuff our body parts like so much tripe, we’ll never know.