Mary G. Ray Mothers Against Circumcision (MAC), was created in January 1997. We maintain a website listing the many benefits of remaining intact and the physically, psychologically, and sexually damaging effects of circumcision. We are dedicated to ending circumcision of non-consenting children by educating parents. Members communicate online through an e-mail list. We post current news, exchange ideas, implement strategies to end circumcision, and provide support to one another. Members, including men, are of all ages and walks of life.

Mary G. Ray, Sept. 2000

How I Joined the Movement Against Circumcision
by Mary G. Ray © 1997

Back in 1987, when I was single and childless, I saw a very informative Phil Donahue show about circumcision. It was the first and only time I ever requested a transcript of a talk show. That information alone was enough to convince me that if I ever had a baby boy, he would not be circumcised.

       My son was born five years later, in 1992.  In the interim, I became aware of female circumcision and although I wanted desperately to do something about it, I felt powerless. In 1994, I discovered the wondrous world of online communication. I was able to conveniently gather research on female circumcision and began writing on the subject. I started a very long discussion about it on a bulletin board. At first, I was appalled when men would dare to mention male circumcision on this board. The two were entirely different. How dare they demand equal time for something that involved a tiny piece of skin!

       Then one night, I had a dream. My son had an extremely high fever.  We immediately took him to the doctor’s office. Oddly, as dreams can be, I was instructed to leave him there for a while. When I returned, everyone seemed uncomfortable around me. No one would look me in the eye. I became apprehensive, knowing in my gut that something was horribly wrong. Without my knowledge -- without even seeking parental consent, my 3 year old son, all alone, was circumcised. There are no words to describe how intensely devastated I was. My son had become a victim of an unnecessary circumcision. I felt victimized too. I’d deliberately chosen to leave my son intact. How dare they do this to my son! The choice I’d made for him was torn from my heart, and something of value was amputated by people who had no such right.

       This nightmare motivated me to become more educated on male circumcision. I shifted my focus and seemed to have no time to devote to the issue of female circumcision. I also believed that we could not effectively persuade a completely different culture to erradicate female circumcision when our own culture practices a similar custom. Who were we to judge? By setting an example, we could dramatically increase our influence.

       The old ‘apples to oranges’ argument comes up repeatedly when male and female circumcision are linked together. Yes, they are different. By gosh, the equipment is different. How can the results be anything but different? Little girls in Africa share a common bond with American boys. Their genitals are also cut. These natural organs are seen as ugly and unclean. Uncircumcised girls are considered unfit for marriage. There are American women who similarly insist that the natural male is unclean and unappealing. These women are not unlike African men who demand that their wives be circumcised. Many Americans claim, “The penis simply looks better that way,” and yet 82% of the world’s men have natural, intact penises. Whether it occurs in Africa or America, non-religious circumcision is a tradition.

       Which procedure is more severe is not the issue. They are joined together because both male and female circumcision modify the genitals. Both are unnecessary. Both are cosmetic. And many believe circumcision of either sex is a violation of the human right to a body intact.

"The fact that many circumcised men will ardently defend the continued practice...and dismiss it as a trivial matter has its parallel among circumised women in Africa."  Tim Hammond, NOHARMM
How is Female Circumcision Trivialized?

   Similarities between Male & Female Circumcision from Prisoners of Ritual: An Odyssey into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa by Hanny Lightfoot­Klein

       The medical profession cannot always be counted on to properly inform parents. Many are oblivious of the fact that it’s more healthy to remain intact. The myth that the penis with a foreskin is difficult to clean is exactly that -- a myth. Cleaning is so simple, it’s amazing that people fret so much about it. The big hoopla over hygiene is pure and unnecessary paranoia. How many parents receive documentation that circumcision is not medically or hygienically necessary? Many parents walk out of their doctors’ offices unaware that routine circumcision is purely cosmetic.

       Instead of being given accurate information that the need for circumcision later in life is extremely rare, parents somehow have the impression that ‘it’s best to get it over with now.’ The fact that the foreskin is healthy, protective tissue is overlooked. Its several functions and sexual benefits are not explained. Parents are told this is a simple procedure -- a “trim.” Most people think of the foreskin as a tiny piece of insignifcant skin. Actually the foreskin represents 60% to 80% of the entire penile skin covering. It is hardly insignifcant. They are not alerted as to the many risks and possible complications of circumcision. Occasionally a circumcision is bungled, but how many parents are apprised of that fact?

       A medical professional’s automatic assumption that a baby will be circumcised is a strong influence for many parents. If a doctor is bias toward circumcision, how can a parent get to see the other side?

       Parents end up with a lot of misinformation. They dutifully follow the doctor’s recomendation and believe they are doing what is best for their baby. But without a presentation from the other camp, they are handicapped and cannot make an informed choice. My dream made me realize that automatic circumcision can victimize parents along with their children. Parents who later learn that routine circumcision is unnecessary are often filled with regret. Think of the parents whose children experienced complications.

       I began speaking out online and I am now hoping to finish a book on the subject. It is my belief that once parents are fully informed, most of them will automatically choose against circumcision. I do this work for babies who will become men and I do it for their parents.

       Meanwhile, the U.S. is alone in automatically circumcising over 60% of all newborn males. Many young boys who were left intact are later circumcised unnecessarily. American doctors typically suggest radical treatment for even the smallest problem. However, there are effective non-surgical remedies.

       Intactivists are often labeled as fanatics. I am passionately committed to a cause I deeply believe in. I refuse to believe that people cannot cause major changes in our country. “Hope is like a path in the countryside. Originally there was no path. Yet, as people walk all the time in the same spot, a way appears.” [Poem by Lu Xun]

       At this point in my life, I am unable to devote my time to this work, because I am busy with my two children, my husband, my house and the pursuit of a full time job (See my resume).  But I am hopeful that the website itself, as is, can continue educating expectant parents.  

       I was not paid for the countless hours I've devoted to this work. But my efforts have been rewarded many times. Every once in a while, someone writes and tells me they chose against circumcision. I relish that bittersweet moment in time. This one little baby boy has been left alone, the way nature intended, unaltered by man, while 3000 others are needlessly circumcised each day.

       All of this explains why I am an intactivist. I am not alone. There are lots of us out there paving the way.

For more information visit my website:
Mothers Against Circumcision

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Originally written: 3/20/97
Last Revised:  4/11/01