Aubrey Terrón (known widely as Aubrey Taylor) relates her own story of awakening to the distasteful reality of circumcision, from first hearing about the bizarre practice when she was a little girl, to experiencing a world of difference between intact sex and circumcised sex when she was a young woman, realizing along the way that the circumcision of little boys is not only unnecessary, but cruel.
The very first inkling I had, I think I was probably [12 or 13]: I was in the kitchen of a girlfriend's house, and her mom was going through the kitchen drawer (like the “junk drawer”, with all the stuff); she was looking for something, and she pulls out this little plastic thing, and she starts telling me about how when her son was in the hospital, this thing was on his penis, and a few days later it fell off. [NOTE: This is a piece of the Plastibell device, which is used for one method of infant circumcision.]
A picture of a Plastibell Circumcision Device on a one month old infant. The Plastibell device had been on the infant for 6 days when this photograph was taken. On the lower right hand side of the Plastibell device, you can see the knot of the ligature that has been used to crush what's left of the foreskin after the rest of the foreskin was sliced away. [source]
I had no idea what she was actually talking about, and I don't know if she said the word “circumcision” or what, because I don't remember that; I [only] remember what [I've just] said—it's the only thing that stuck in my mind, but I was instantly [thinking that something weird and horrible is being discussed]:
That's messed up! Why would you… WHY!?
You know, I was like full of curiosity about it, but at the same time, I was full of suspicion—like: “That can't be right…”
[The subject] totally left my [consciousness] until my sister had her second son—the first one she circumcised, [but for] the second one, [her sentiment changed]:
Over my dead body!
So, then I was like:
OK… there is something they do [to little boys]!
and I knew that it [involves] cutting, but of course, even at that time (I was in high school), [I] had still never seen a foreskin. So, the controversy was there, [and] I was definitely automatically [understanding that circumcision is wrong]:
OK. Yeah. She's right; you shouldn't cut on a baby's penis—that makes sense!
but I still didn't have a clear understanding of what [goes] on [during a circumcision].
Then I saw a "regular", circumcised penis—what my immediate [culture] told me [is] normal—and it was… normal; I accepted it as normal. Then I had an intact lover [laughter], and from that moment, I was like:
OK. That's definitely something! That's definitely the way it should be!
Yeah. It was instant. [laughter] Like, a literal light bulb [moment]—like when you suddenly get everything, and it was like:[laughter]—my hands need to fly wild! [laughter] Now I'm going to turn red! [deep breath]
Do you want me to hold the [microphone] and you can use your hands?
Ummm… No, because then I'll rock back and forth [laughter] I'll be all over the page, and it just won't be good. [laughter]
So, I guess you could have called me an Intactivist [back then], because I told people:
You shouldn't do that!
But, [I was] still lacking the information; I knew what penis A was, and I knew what penis B was, but [I] didn't understand how they got from A to B. Honestly, I would sit and think about it, and I couldn't grasp it in my mind; I was like:
If they're cutting around, they have to cut in 2 spots, because you take that section of skin out. So, you have to have 2 spots and you have to have stitches!
It just didn't make any sense to me—they couldn't not have stitches, because then you'd have a gaping [wound], but I knew that there were no stitches, so I was just so perplexed [NOTE: Sutures are used when circumcising an adult, because strong erections in the adult would pull the severed tissues apart without sutures to hold everything together. However, sutures are rarely used when circumcising an infant, because the severed tissues are crushed together by a clamp for a period of time, which knits them together enough to allow healing to complete without sutures; of course, sutures are still necessary for infants if the clamp does not work, or if the tissues end up separating later, or some odd method of circumcising an infant is employed (such as the free-hand method).]Then when I finally got the Internet, and I saw exactly what was done, and I learned all of the horrible things that you learn [sigh…] It was over; it was over before then—I was really determined, and [thought] it shouldn't be done, but once I knew all of the things—all those details—I just cried and cried and cried.
People, by and large, they do respond really well [to the message of the Intactivist Movement]. There is a defensiveness, and there [are] things that have made this issue hold on over time, and it's still kind of there, and certain people want to argue, and that's there, but people are really responsive—especially young parents-to-be; I've done a lot of baby fairs, and people are just really grateful to have the information. You bring it to them and say:
So that you don't make a mistake, I just want to share X, Y, and Z with you…
and then they're like:
and they come back to me the next year with their son that they've left intact, and they're like:
Look! This is my son! I left him intact!
So, people are actually really happy to have been told. I also work for an attorney, and we represent people who have been really harmed [by having been circumcised]—some of them infants—and it's a much worse conversation to have, unfortunately, for them to say:
How come nobody told me?! Here I am with this heinous damage to my child, and nobody said.
So, you know, they're even receptive after the fact—what could have been: “I wish someone had told me.” [When you hear that], you know you're doing the right thing [by spreading the message].