Needless to say we weren’t entirely welcome
The protest, organised by Mike Buchanan, leader of the political party Justice For Men & Boys, started at 1300 sharp and by the time I arrived several were already present, setting up banners and talking with the local police – they had arrived to oversee the demonstration. It was a hot day, certainly perfect weather for a protest, people will be out and about, living their lives and hearing what we have to say. We were collecting outside the Temple Fortune Clinic, this location had been chosen because Dr Martin Harris, a known genital mutilator, worked here. We were hoping to see him.
We were generally met with positive reception, although inevitably there were those who came and argued. A man claiming to be a doctor came out to inform us how we were wrong and did not know anything. Alas he was not Doctor Martin Harris, the man we had come to see. He, despite giving no credentials nor any evidence himself, argued with a pretentious certainty that what he was saying was correct and what we were saying was not. “Circumcision has no lasting, negative effects”. I’m sorry sir, but there were several men, in fact several circumcised men, who were present that would very much beg to differ.
A car went passed us at one point when we were outside the clinic. It slowed down and the woman in the passenger seat yelled out the window “What about the women, don’t you know FGM exists!? You should be protesting that! Women are more important!” Evidently she’s not aware that FGM is specifically illegal here in the UK yet there is no specific law prohibiting MGM.
Outside the clinic
We later left for The Jewish Chronicle and along the way gave out many of our leaflets, which were very successful with the locals. Of the 3,000 that were brought with us barely a few hundred were left, hardly any could be found discarded on the ground nearby and only a few were torn in our faces. So all in all they went down a hit! We arrived at The Jewish Chronicle, although their offices were tucked away down an alley, so we had a few pictures taken, delivered some leaflets for them (I doubt they read them, but I’m hopeful) and soon set off for the nearby intersection, out by the tube station.
We split and head out in different groups to cover as much ground as we could when demonstrating. We wanted to achieve maximum coverage in the space we had and by opening out like this we were much more successful in giving out leaflets, they were flying out like hot cakes.
In one group we were approached by a young boy and girl, who came to us together, they were in their early twenties. The male was circumcised and will get his children (should he have any) circumcised as well. They argued that it’s cleaner, that they’ve been doing it for thousands of years and is part of their faith. The first argument is false and two other arguments are not justification enough to remove a healthy part of the body from an un-consenting child.
There were interesting moments when we were met by those who were so saturated in their views that our criticisms were drowned out by cries of abuse. One woman in her fifties walked by and without even a moment’s hesitation started yelling “anti-Semitism! You are racist!” I was actually quite taken aback by this. Is it really so that being against child genital cutting is comparable to being an anti-Semite? To being racist? Insanity. She even tried talking to the police presence, tried convincing them that we were being anti-Semitic, offensive and racist. They did not take her claims seriously.
The leaflets were a roaring success
A young Jewish man, maybe early 30s, approached us later in the afternoon. He really did not like us. Notably he referred to one of the people I was with, a lady who herself is Jewish (and against circumcision), as a “self-loathing Jew” who had “turned her back on her religion”. I was later informed that this sort of behaviour is typical. Why is this?
He laughed and claimed we did not know our research because we didn’t know the entirety of the Jewish religion. When he asked us “what’s this really about?” he couldn’t accept our answer of “trying to end child genital mutilation”, he would ask again “no, what’s this really about?” Sigh. I asked what answer he wanted but he dodged the question. He said that this sort of protest, these activities and petitions only attract anti-Semites and Islamophobes. This is a non-point because that hardly happens – also, nice implication that we’re anti-Semites and Islamophobes, because that’s clearly the only reason why someone would be against circumcision. Forget that maybe we’re against it because YOU’RE POINTLESSLY REMOVING A PART OF A CHILD’S ANATOMY OR IS THAT NOT GOOD ENOUGH!?!? The boy & girl couple would support this guy when he would imply that being anti-circumcision is thus anti-Semitic. Sigh … again. Although, this is the same guy who went off on rants about how we were also anti-Israel, supported BDS and “all that other nonsense”. He was like a self-winding alarm clock, alas he had no snooze button.
Near the end of the day, a man took a leaflet but his wife snatched it out his hand and thrust it back to us. “Doesn’t your husband want to read it?” “No, he does not!” “Are you speaking for him now?” Sorry, Mike, but your words fell on deaf ears. But don’t worry, women never exhibit controlling behaviours in relationships. Never ever. You can take our word for it.
A man, who we nicknamed “our little stalker” (because he was little and followed us around like a stalker), approached us and rapid-fired off words like a machine gun. Even now, barely 36 hours after the sudden outburst, I cannot remember what he said. It’s all a blur, like someone has played the same track over and over until it became a flat noise. Amazing. He then followed us around giving us more crap then, from what I could gather, tried calling the police. Whomever he phoned, he gave a description of us to them. Good thing we had a real police presence the whole time we were there, it would have awfully sucked for him had the cops come only to talk to the officers already on-scene and hear how we had been as good as gold(ers green). That would have made him look like a right idiot, not that his presence hadn’t already done that.
But do not think it all to be doom and gloom, oh no, for there were many glimmers of hope! One man, whom we met by the train station, was himself both Jewish and intact. He told us how his mother became a missionary when she was pregnant with him and thus he was not circumcised! He agreed that you can be both Jewish and intact! Yet, like the damned fool I am, I did not take any contact details! Confound it!
One notable difference between this protest and the Luton protest was the claim(s) of racism. I cannot recall anyone at Luton accusing us of Islamophobia or saying that we were doing this to incite Muslims or to attack them, yet here at Golders Green we were met with many accusations (some screaming) of anti-Semitism, that we hated Jews and even accused of hating Israel. This was not the case for Luton. Whilst there were people who used their Islamic teachings as justification for circumcision, I do not recall it being used as a weapon against us. Just an interesting phenomenon I noticed.
Let’s take a little look at the “arguments” put forward for circumcision. The Mayo Clinic names these “possible benefits”:
Note how it says “might” have various health benefits!?!?
Point 1 says circumcision makes it simpler to wash the penis. True, you wouldn’t have to retract that pesky foreskin every time you have a wash, and as an un-cut man I can say that it is such a tiring, arduous, strenuous job each time I take a shower. Retracting that skin and holding it there whilst I clean. So damn difficult. Hint: obvious sarcasm. Also, look how it says “Washing beneath the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis is generally easier, however.” Did The Mayo Clinic contradict the point in the explanation? I think so!
Point 2 says decreased risk of urinary tract infections, but the overall risk in males is low. So thus circumcision is not entirely necessary as risk is low. Also, the body can fight off UTIs on its own, serious incidents only require a short dose of antibiotics. No need for circumcision.
Point 3 says circumcised men might have a lower risk of certain sexually transmitted infections, key word here being might. But, as the post shows, this can all be prevented by practicing safe sex, so no need for circumcision.
Point 5 says decreased risk of penile cancer is rare, although it’s less common in circumcised men. So it’s rare and the idea is to trade the foreskin, home to thousands of nerve endings and part of a man’s body, for a decreased risk of an already rare cancer!? The answer, would you believe (!?!?!?), is that circumcision is not necessary.
So what we can learn, for those at the back, is that circumcision does not really provide any health benefits. It is mainly a cultural and religious practice, one that must be forgotten to the history books. It is a barbaric practice that needs to be prohibited, not for our sake, but for our children’s.
For those interested, a far superior analysis of MGM can be found here.
My thanks to Patrick and Simon, whose pictures I have used.
My thanks to those who attended, for showing support to the cause.