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Foreskin Advocate Speaks at UBC's Buchanan BuildingRichard Sterndale-Bennett The Ubyssey
“There’s a 2,000-year body of Jewish writing, a 200 year body of medical writing illustrating that the purpose of circumcision is permanently damaging an innocent boy so that, when puberty comes, he will not be able to fully enjoy sex” - children’s rights activist Glen Callender
(VANCOUVER, BC) - It’s a rare thing to meet an activist who manages to remain persuasive and credible when naked from the waist down.
Judging by the audience’s reaction to children’s rights activist Glen Callender’s presentation at UBC on Friday, he pulled it off.
The talk, hosted by UBC Freethinkers in the Buchanan building, was part of a larger effort founded by Callender, the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, or CAN-FAP. Its purpose is advocate for the right of male, female and intersex children to grow up with intact genitals.
Along with videos of real circumcisions on infant boys, the talk — described on the event’s Facebook page as an “X-rated sex-ed-comedy-horror show” — included footage of the presenter masturbating and video from a live show where he counted how many grapes he could fit in his foreskin — eleven.
“That’s one of the reasons I get in the news and why things happen,” said Callender. “It’s because I’m difficult to ignore, and I do things that are controversial. And that’s my niche — and I’m not claiming to be, you know, the right guy for everybody, maybe not even most people.”
The show serves as a lighter entry point into what for many is a difficult and deeply personal issue.
CAN-FAP’s primary objective is the legal protection of a boy’s right to choose whether or not to be circumcised. Callender’s main argument is that routine circumcision of male children is as damaging and immoral as circumcision of female children.
“We use the term ‘female genital mutilation’ to talk about what people do to girls,” Callender said. “Circumcision is what we do to our children with their best interests in mind. Mutilation is what other people do to their children with bad intentions.” Callender thinks this is a double standard — a claim not without controversy.
In recent years, circumcision has been performed as a preventive health measure. For example, research conducted in South Africa published in 2005 and trials in Uganda and Kenya published in 2007 suggested that circumcision could reduce rates of female-to-male HIV transmission from heterosexual sex by approximately 60 per cent. This led to the World Health Organization’s 2007 endorsement of circumcision as a legitimate public health measure in parts of Africa.
But Callender argued that the health benefits are largely irrelevant given that the procedure, when conducted on a child, permanently changes a man’s physiological capacity for sensation without his consent.
“There’s a 2,000-year body of Jewish writing, a 200 year body of medical writing illustrating that the purpose of circumcision is permanently damaging an innocent boy so that, when puberty comes, he will not be able to fully enjoy sex,” said Callender.
Callender’s next presentation will be at the Taboo Naughty but Nice Sex Show in Vancouver.
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