Earlier this month Cynthia Maloney, a 48 year old mother of two from Newtown, Massachusetts, started a social media craze that has seen women all over the internet publicly supporting the global campaign to end unnecessary male circumcision.
She didn’t plan it. In fact this online phenomena was so spontaneous that Cynthia was still in bed in her pyjamas when it kicked off. “The morning I was called into action I wasn’t really thinking,” she told insideMAN magazine, “all I knew was that I saw red when I saw a picture of a young woman holding a sign”.
The picture that stoked Cynthia’s anger came from the news site Elite Daily, which asked 12 of its female staff what they would do differently if they were men and posted photographs of the women holding their answers alongside the hashtag #IfIIWereABoy.
The young women’s responses were a list of personal grievances against men including:
- #IfIIWereABoy I’d treat girls as humans that should be respected
- #IfIIWereABoy I’d educate myself about feminism
- #IfIIWereABoy I’d keep my hands to myself
- #IfIIWereABoy I’d never tell a woman to ‘smile’
- #IfIIWereABoy I’d be courteous and remember to put the seat down
But it wasn’t these messages that caused Cynthia to leap out of bed, but the words of a woman holding up a sign that said: "#IfIWereABoy I’d be able to make choices about my own body".
As an intactivist (a campaigner against male circumcision and other genital mutilation), Cynthia was instantly struck by the absurdity of making such a statement in a country where routine infant circumcision is still prevalent.
“It really speaks to how blind the American culture is to the forced genital cutting of infant boys,” said Cynthia. “The same women who are complaining about not having choices are handing over their own sons to have their genitals amputated”.
Cynthia knew, without thinking, that she had to take action and hastily scribbled her own message and posted on the Elite Daily website. Without pausing for breath, she began to encourage others to do the same and before she knew it, the internet was flooded with pictures of women holding up placards with messages like this:
“#IfIWereABoy I would have been strapped down to a board and raped with a knife 27 years ago. My outrage at this violation would have been ridiculed. Instead of enjoying sex as nature intended it, I would be missing the most sensitive part of my penis. #Boys deserve better #genital cutting is not a parental right.”
Cynthia is overwhelmed by the response and is convinced it can make a difference.
"It’s raising awareness" she told us. “People see it in their newsfeed with their morning coffee. It’s sparking conversations. The more we talk about it the more the truth will be exposed to the light. Once it’s seen, it can’t be unseen. It will soon be socially unacceptable to take a knife to the genitals of all babies: male, female and intersex. Cynthia has always believed circumcision is wrong and is committed to ending the practice for ever. “I knew the difference between intact and cut sex and I knew intact sex was better,” she says. “I also knew from working with babies that there was a drastic difference in their personalities before and after circumcision. But it wasn’t until I really started researching it when I found out just how dark and twisted the whole thing is.
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Cynthia believes the practice of “forced genital cutting” in America has changed the nation’s psyche. “No-one escapes harm in a cutting culture" she said. “Primarily it’s the men who’ve been cut, but the women are brainwashed to pass over their sons without question. Intact men suffer from these women’s ignorance about the natural male anatomy.
“Every time a woman says ‘gross I would never have sex with an uncut guy’ it’s abusive, it perpetuates the violence against our newborn sons. Once I started learning I couldn’t stop speaking out. As we stay silent more babies are violated. More men live in silent struggles afraid to speak about the violent sexual assault they experienced as an infant. I have to do everything I can to stop this.
One of the unusual twists in this extraordinary story is that some Men’s Rights Activists have joined in with the #IfIWereABoy conversation online seeing it is an opportunity to challenge and ridicule the original campaign with its feminist sensibilities. Some recent tweets carrying the #IfIWereABoy hashtag have included:
- #IfIIWereABoy being raped by a woman would be called a rite of passage, not rape.
- #IfIIWereABoy I'd learn that #feminism means all people are equal but women are more equal than men
- #IfIIWereABoy then I'd be accused of being a sexist member of patriarchal rape culture just because of my gender by #feminism
For intactivists like Cynthia, circumcision is not a question of feminism versus anti-feminism. We need to stop the gender wars on both sides," she told us. "We’re all human. If your fellow human being is being violated we need to step in and help them. It’s time we started treating humans humanely."
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men