A few days ago Phenicks posted an article in the feministing community about the relationship between circumcision and feminism. She asked:
If one of our rallying cries is bodily autonomy and we’d raise all hell when AAP briefly decided to allow "nicking" of female newborn genitals, does being against male circumcision become a feminist issue on the grounds of bodily autonomy or is it the universal right of a parent to SONS to do with their child’s genitals as they please?
Feminists have been fighting hard for decades for the right to bodily autonomy. We fight for the right to control our fertility and we fight against sexual assault. It’s obvious that feminists should be allies against circumcision, and its downright hypocritical for us not to be. However, we have a long way to go towards being effective allies and ending circumcision.
We need to start by recognizing that cutting up a child’s genitals to make permanent bodily modifications is child abuse. Full Stop.
Once we recognize that circumcision is child abuse, we can start treating it like child abuse. In feminist spaces, we don’t debate about whether other forms of child abuse are acceptable or whether they should be legal. The fact that circumcision is even up for debate is highly offensive and can be triggering for victims.
From here, we can start supporting the Genital Mutilation Prohibition Act, which would prohibit genital mutilation of all children and non-consenting adults. This bill has been proposed to congress every year since 2004, but has yet to gain a sponsor.
We also need to make feminist spaces safe for circumcision victims so that they can speak for themselves. We need to recognize that circumcision debate, pro-circumcision comments, and circumcision apologia can all be triggering for victims, and we need to act by prohibiting these behaviors in feminist spaces.
We can’t honestly call ourselves allies until we start doing these things.