Is Circumcision Medical Child Abuse? | Brendon Marotta
"Everyone has a right to their intact body"
On this episode of BEST MEDICINE I am lucky to speak with Brendon Marotta, the director of the "American Circumcision" documentary, and author of 2 books on activism, including "Intactivist Guidebook" and the forthcoming "Children's Justice."
Brendon is also a novelist, fiction filmmaker, NLP & healing work practitioner, and podcaster. Brendon is a prominent figure in the Intactivism Movement.
What is "Intactivism?"
As Brendon explains, it's a mix of "Intact" and "Activism."
Intactivists object to circumcision being performed on children, citing it as non-consensual activity, medically unnecessary, and traumatizing for the child with long term mental health consequences.
The most striking thing to me about this conversation is Brendon's mindset around activism.
The typical stereotype of activists for any cause is that of a young angry person proclaiming their distaste with one singular ill and a lack of concern for any one else. In many cases, but certainly in Brendon's, this sterotype does not apply at all.
Brendon is not only an empathetic, self-aware person, but believes that activist movements will fail if the proponents of said cause do not first heal their own traumas and learn to empathize with opposition.
However, this mindset has brought us to a unique fork in the road which I was unprepared for - the utilization of Critical Theory outside of left wing racial activism.
In Brendon's search to understand how movements win and lose, he discovered the messaging must be highly targeted to appeal to 3 different directives:
- Convert the neutrals
- Demoralize, Absorb, Trap, Neutralize or Discredit the opposition
- Activate supporters to become productive to the cause, and to spread more effective messaging themselves.
In his quest to convert neutrals and delegitimize opposition, he discovered that the Intact Movement has been using "Human Rights" rhetoric.
The hallmark of Western Moral discussion for the past 300 years. It goes something like this: "Humans have natural rights to bodily autonomy, consent, and to their bodies, therefor circumcision is bad, and anything that violates rights ought to be banned."
Regardless of correctness of the statement, it's clearly not worked yet. Brendon noticed that "human rights arguments" in general have not really advanced since the Civil Rights Era, and that in our new century it is Critical Theory that wins.
If you lived in 1400s France, would you try to convince the King to adopt a program because it aligned with "Human Rights?"
No. Because the King's locus of power does not revolve around human rights. If you made an argument that appealed to Catholic Dogma, or to the Nationalism of the French Monarchy, those tactics may have worked instead.
Brendon points out that in today's climate "Human Rights" is not the argument that the strong will listen to.
The Black Lives Matter movement marches over the summer of 2020 led to near universal acknowledgement of things like "Privilege" and "Systemic Oppression."
Everyone from NIKE to AMAZON to the US Government to individual hospitals and universities have adopted this framework of "intersectional Critical Theory."
It is Brendon's view that there is certainly no more powerless "identity" group in society than children, especially at birth.
Children have no power to physically, legally, financially, or rhetorically defend themselves in any way. They are completely at the mercy of doctors, parents, teachers, priests, and even adults with no special relationship to them whatsoever.
In Brendon's upcoming book "Children's Justice" he will go in depth on the argument to ban circumcision from a lens of Critical Theory.
I personally am a fan of Human Rights rhetoric, and am so used to Critical Theory being used to advance left-leaning political causes in a cynical and power-hungry way that I did not get as in depth with Brendon on this subject as I would like.
His book is out in the spring and I do hope to have him back on soon to discuss it.
IS CIRCUMCISION MEDICAL CHILD ABUSE?
Regardless of my approval or disproval of utilizing Critical Theory for ANY cause, the basic arguments surrounding the immorality of circumcision are very convincing and strong.
There has been a large discussion recently around over-prescribing of medication. Several examples include: Giving too much oxycontin to the injured or those exiting surgery, being too quick to sling ADHD pills to young children for simply wanting to play during school hours, and the massive amount of SSRIs and Anxiety meds being prescribed to people who might benefit more from lifestyle changes.
I bring this up to be transparent that in the medical field we certainly have an issue with assuming "the way you are is wrong, and we have a solution (that you happen to need to part with additional dollars to receive)."
I believe Circumcision lies in this category. The most charitable way of describing the procedure is "unnecessary."
90% of the globe agrees, as the United States is the single greatest male-circumcising nation on Planet Earth. Certain Middle Eastern and African countries engage with the practice for religious reasons, but no industrialized nation continues the practice for medical reasons... except the USA.
It just so happens that circumcision is also a multi-billion dollar industry. After all, anything a doctor does is a billable expense.
The justification goes that any good parent would want to make sure their new born is set up to succeed in their health, right?
So why wouldn't a parent (and their insurance company) be willing to part with any amount of money to accomplish that goal?
Mothers are often met with high pressure sales tactics to convince them that they ought to allow their child to be circumcised.
I don't know about you, but most times a medical procedure has been pitched to me, it was either abundantly clear on the level of factual analysis whether it would be beneficial or not, sales tactics don't need to be used for medical procedures.
They need to be used to push circumcision because it's NOT a medical procedure. It's an unnecessary mutilation of a baby boy for the profit of the doctor and hospital.
I won't go too much more in depth here on the issue.
I am curious to know what you think of the issue and why.
Please join the conversation on any social media app @bradleywerrell and tell me what you think of this episode!