Monday, May 07, 2018

[The Life of Shaun #560] Why I Spent Six Years Making A Documentary on Circumcision

In honour of the 2018 World Wide Day of Genital Autonomy, I am sharing the below from Brendon Marotta, director of the film American Circumcision.  The film has just completed a successful tour of America, including winning best documentary at the Lone Star Film Festival, and will be coming out on Netflix and Amazon later this year.  Sign up for updates to be notified when the film is released (and see my name in the credits!), or make a donation to help spread the word and save a child from non-consensual genital cutting:

Keeping up the fight for everyone's right to their own bodies,

Why I Spent Six Years Making A Documentary on Circumcision

When people hear that I've made a documentary on circumcision, one of the first questions they usually ask is "why did you decide to make a film about this?"
In the past, it has been a difficult question for me to answer, not because I don't have strong reasons, but because I don't know how anyone could know what I've learned and not make this film.
Imagine for a minute that there is an issue that affects every man in America, every person who loves a man, and every parent, child, and family, and that no one had ever made a major documentary about this issue. Wouldn't you want to make a film about that?
Now imagine that this issue affects men in the most deeply personal way possible. That it causes us pain as children, permanently alters our sexuality, literally scarring us for life. People are afraid to speak about this issue publicly, but everyone knows what it is. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, we have a responsibility to talk openly and honestly about it.

The circumstraint, a device babies are strapped down to when circumcised.

When you begin discussing this issue, you'll find that people have false beliefs about even the most basic facts. People will try to claim that circumcision does not involve cutting or removing tissue, that there isn't a specially designed board children are strapped down to when this is done to them, or that circumcision hasn't often been done without anesthetic. People are naturally repulsed by what this does to children and find it nearly impossible to integrate the truth about circumcision into their day to day life.
When I first began working on this film, I thought I would just share information with people, and then they would understand. What I found was that people are resistant to even learning new information. They fear what they might discover.
In our culture, men are only allowed to have one feeling about circumcision: "I'm fine with it." But what does it mean if you aren't fine? What happens when you allow yourself to explore the full range of emotions you feel about circumcision?
When circumcision is discussed in American media, it is typically viewed as a one time decision that parents make and never have to think about again. The truth is it's more like dropping a stone in a pond — a decision that ripples through that man's life — through his sexuality, his body, his self image, his relationships, his feelings, his culture, religious institutions, medical institutions, and even through the laws of his country — for the rest of his life. This film looks at these ripples echoing through time affecting our social order and our intimate relationships — the feelings we're not allowed to explore.
What I've learned by working on this project for over six years is that on the other side of these questions there are answers. The challenges presented by this problematic and painful procedure have solutions, which seem simple and clear when we are present with our feelings. I invite you to explore those feelings with a variety of perspectives I've gathered from interview subjects all around the world. If you approach with an open mind, you might find these people have something to teach you about circumcision and yourself.
Brendon Marotta
Director of American Circumcision

Education leads to protection of boys

The trivializing term "circumcision" stands for the amputation of the foreskin of the penis, which involves the loss of approximately 50% of the entire penile skin - including the parts most sensitive for sexual stimulation - and irreversibly alters the natural physiology of the penis and its appearance. Possible psychological late effects have also increasingly been documented.

Currently, about 600 million to 1.2 billion males worldwide are affected, based on tradition, religion or, most recently, highly negligent HIV prevention programs in Africa. Foreskin amputation has become a mass phenomenon only in cultures and societies where it is performed on children, meaning without the mature and informed consent of the person who solely has to endure the assault and live with the consequences forever. This is particularly the case in the United States of America and parts of Africa and Asia. Little known in the Western world is the fact that around 65,000 boys in Africa are likely to be seriously injured every year and that several hundred boys do not survive this ritual.

Total foreskin removal is medically avoidable except in very rare cases.  A snug or non-retractile foreskin does not constitute a medical condition in children and adolescents if a boy has no painful obstruction, which is a rare condition. Usually the opening becomes wider until the end of puberty. In instances of an actual medical condition, most cases can be treated non-invasively.

Shaun H. Coley ~ Shadwell ~ Tower Hamlets ~ London E1 ~ UK ~

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