Originally Posted by vermontgirl
Wow. That is a wonderful post. Thank you so much for your beautiful words.
You're very welcome.
Want to know a little secret? Back when this issue was new to me I became a regular on another circumcision discussion board. At the time, I disliked circumcision but was not pregnant and had no biological children. I worked in a hospital birth center where one of my job duties was assisting with newborn circumcisions. It was my job to set up the room, lay out the circumstraint and instruments, sterile gloves, medicine cup, sucrose, syringe, lidocaine, etc. I paged the doctor, gathered the consent form, and retrieved the baby. I was often the one to unwrap him and strap him down. I was so terribly conflicted. I came from the typical American perspective of believing that it was just a piece of skin and that, "If it was so terrible, doctors wouldn't do it!"
Boy, was I ever wrong.
It was Frank (Frankly_Speaking) who lit the fire under my feet and challenged my misperceptions. He and another now-dear-friend, Ron, provided me with tons of information, links, and resources. I began really researching and what I learned broke my heart. By the end of my time at the birth center I'd begun speaking out about circumcision to some of the nursing assistants and nurses, and had begun refusing to assist as a 'conscientious objector'. I'd also begun to debate circumcision online with others-mostly parents-from an intactivist perspective...and I know I went in with guns ablazing and I'm sure I was pretty brutal.
I was angry. I was horrified. I was disgusted. I was outraged! I wanted to tell the world, inform the public, shout the truth from the rooftops until parents knew better and I was completely unprepared for the defensiveness and venom circumcision-minded parents shot back at me. They felt attacked, so they retaliated; it was a defense mechanism.
I think the biggest epiphany-major, "uh huh!" moment-came when I stumbled across the Stages of Grief
Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
Suddenly, I saw all of the emotions being expressed by circumcising parents who had been presented with literally overwhelming information about what they'd robbed their children of for exactly what it was: GRIEF.
It's probably important to note that it isn't always wise to play the armchair psychologist in these dealings and announce to parents that they're just grieving, that's why they're so angry and defensive; they tend to perceive that as condescending and patronizing, which only results in more anger and defensiveness. It is helpful though, from an intactivist perspective to know that these aren't generally arrogant, heartless parents no matter how hard the struggle against the truth your sharing. Knowing they're grieving increases our understanding, patience, and compassion. It helps us keep kind and calm even in the face of those who wish to 'shoot the messanger'.
Anyway, I've shared all this because we all journey through these feelings-even as intactivists-at different pace and in our own time. It's okay to be angry! It really, really is. Circumcision is a terrible thing, an awful, damaging practice that permanently harms vulnerable, unconsenting, defenseless children. It's that horror, outrage, love of babies and the men they become and desire to protect them that fuels our passion and revitalizes our efforts. It's not just okay-but essential-that we stay in touch with that and tap into it from time to time.
The challenge is to do our best to not alienate those who are truly ignorant or who are processing grief. We're planting seeds, even when we don't see the fruits and may never reap the harvest.