Intactivists and Lactivists

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.

6 thoughts on “Intactivists and Lactivists

  1. I've been following your blog with great interest. In your recent post \”cheeks\” I saw the label about circumcision, and this being a subject that emotionally touches me, I clicked on the label and read the other posts related to it.You say that you are not convinced that the government needs to act against the routine practice of circumcision, and that common sense should be enough. While I was of the same mindset, now I have plenty of reasons to disagree, the first one being that common sense is far from common.As to my reasons to believe that the government needs to act:* More than 100 babies die every year in the U.S. as a consequence of circumcision.* Many men suffer permanent damage, either by a botched circumcision, accidental mutilation (ouch) or a too tight circumcision that will affect their sexual life permanently by causing pain during erection.* All circumcised men automatically lose part of their sexual sensibility permanently. While men who were circumcised as babies don't know what they are missing, men who were circumcised as adults have documented the loss of sensibility. By analogy, it's like taking an eye off from a baby: that baby will never be able to watch a 3D movie when he grows up, and that's just how it is. It's not that those men will not enjoy sex, they will, but they won't ever know what sex was really meant to feel like. I think that with the exception of religious based circumcision (which is only on the Jewish and Islamic tradition), the routine practice of circumcision should be banned because it violates the basic right to have a whole body, by giving the parents the right to mutilate the baby's body, often without knowledge or understanding of what they are doing. I don't think that any doctor who performs circumcision warns the parents of the permanent loss of sensibility that their child will suffer.If we leave it up to the common sense, it will take forever because there is constant misinformation, and people in general are not interested in the subject until something bad happens to their baby or someone that they know.I wrote a post about this subject here: you for your always interesting blog! Best wishes.


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