by Amber Craig,
Coordinator of Genital Integrity Week
After months of
fretting over how things would turn out, I am so delightedMy special thanks to Marilyn Milos for
arranging presenters at the conference, Dan Bollinger for coordinating
the media campaign and David Wilson for coordinating the marches.
over the huge success Genital Integrity Awareness Week was. I truly think
all attendees benefited
significantly, and tens of thousands of tourists, as
well as all of the legislators have been educated.
On Friday most of
us arrived. It was so nice
to see old friends and meet
new faces. Saturday began the conference. 92 people had registered ahead
time, and an additional 14 people registered at the door - what a
surprise! The room we
reserved held 100 people and it was a pleasure to see
standing room only. All
of the speakers were phenomenal, they all shared
something different and important to this issue. It was nice to have three
mainly working on eradicating female circumcision, and for Marilyn
devote a little time to the Intersexed Society of America, as all issues
of genital integrity really need to be addressed with the American
A personal highlight for me was meeting and listening to Jim Price, as I
devoted so much time and energy to helping save Matthew.
began a little hectic with trying to get 100 people from the suburbs
of Virginia to downtown Washington, DC in time for the march. Ultimately,
we all got there. We
had a little time at the Ellipse for pictures and
admiration of all the different signs and banners. There were several
children attending the march this day. We were supposed to have a
march in the streets the whole way (over 2 miles), unfortunately,
around the Ellipse were not very cooperative or helpful. We ended up
starting the march on the curb.
We took up an entire city block!
traffic slow down to gawk at us - lots of horn honking and thumbs
of pointing from bus passengers - we definitely gathered
first set of police wouldn't help us out at all, but as we walked
police (different police) became increasingly helpful. A little bit up the
street, the officers began blocking side street traffic for us so
could cross. Then,
about a mile and a half up, some new police were aware
we were supposed to be in the streets and they pulled their cars
lane and blocked off traffic - from this point forward we marched
streets and had appropriate police escort. I know I speak for many when I
say that the final few yards as we approached the steps was truly
the steps came in full view we all began chanting "Hey,
Hey, Ho, Ho, Circumcision's got to go." We marched up the steps and
around with all of our many banners.
thousands of tourists that
saw us - lots of tourists were taking pictures, pointing and
themselves. WOW! There is an appropriate time and
place for everything -
the point of being on the steps was to alert the American public
circumcision is a human rights violation - you always target your
your audience. So
many of the tourists were young and impressionable, and
they all have access to the internet. Now is the time to reach them
the message. We stood
on the steps for about a half an hour, chanting and
shouting - our message was very clear - it's time for this brutal
Then everyone headed back to the hotel for a
luncheon with Kristen
O'Haraand the second day of the conference. Again, there was a great line up
speakers. We wrapped
up the conference a little after 10:30 pm. It was a
long, but very rewarding day.
Monday was another
hectic morning. Several
people left Sunday night or that
morning, so far fewer people came into DC for the second day of
many individuals met in the Ellipse to march again.
I and a few others headed straight to the Capitol to attempt to
set up a
Genital Integrity Education Fair.
Lisa Stephon and Tim Shane willingly
volunteered to tackle weekday traffic to haul 12 tables, tons of
literature, backboards and other necessities to the Capitol.
Little did I
know that seemingly hurricane force winds would make setting up
backboards a near impossibility.
Nonetheless we tried. We
set up 12
tables, but they kept blowing over, which made setting up
literature all but
tied and anchored the backboards to the tables, but they
too kept blowing all over the place, despite being tied down, some
ripped in half because the wind was so strong. Oh well, next year, forget
the tables and backboard, we'll just stick with passing out pens,
bumper stickers and small cards - this was extremely effective. After two
hours of painstaking effort, we did have a few tables up and lots
up. About this time,
the marchers arrived. From
11-5:30 the huge "Stop
Infant Circumcision" sign remained on the Capitol steps -
tens of thousands
of tourists could only take a picture of the Capitol with that
it - I can't wait until these students get their film developed -
quite the talk with mom and dad.
For some reason, the police did not allow
any more banners on the steps on Monday. So all the other banners came
to the grass area and were displayed there for the remainder of
The "Arrest Penis Butcher Doctors" truthfully was simply
the best - every
student wanted their picture in front of it, and it sure was a
piece. I assure you
that there was a not a single DC visitor on Monday that
didn't talk about circumcision.
This is what we want, and need to happen.
A slogan like that would not be appropriate in a legislative
staffing a booth, where more conservative approaches are needed -
but in the
middle of American democracy - this is what democracy is all
American people need to be aware that there are angry males out
this is okay, it doesn't hurt our cause at all. Now, if these angry males
take their anger inside when trying to start a dialog with
expectant parents - That's when it hurts our cause - the anger
needs to be
on the streets - where protests belong. Politeness, politically
correctness, etc...are the facades we need to be under when trying
convince people of power that we know what we are talking about. Anger is
not convincing in a one on one basis, calm rational, factual
I hope everyone
can see the differences, and realize that two different
situations call for two different hats - some people can't wear
and that is why some individuals chose not to protest and some
chose not to visit legislators.
I think the best part about this day was
seeing Laurie Evan's daughter, age 14, and Tim Shane's son, age 15
the teenage crowds. They
were real troopers. They
both went up and down
the long lines of teenagers distributing pens and information. The
teenagers seemed thrilled to take it from other teenagers. Alex
www.uncutentertainment.org pens were a big bit. The
chaperons were a mixed
bag - some wanting the info and having no problem with their
us, and others that yelled at us to stay away from their kids and
physical block to prevent them from taking info - that personally
worked to our advantage - because the bigger taboo the chaperons
this subject, the more likely these students are to be curious and
our info later on the web.
wrapped up on Tuesday with approximately 20 intactivists
going to visit legislators. Some
individuals went on Monday because they
had to leave. As to
be expected, there has been a mixed bag of how the
Medicaid report has been received.
Some legislators (or their assistants
receiving the information) are intact or have children who are
were delighted to get the information. Others were far more negative --
is not ready for this." "Doesn't circumcision prevent AIDS in
Africa." But please remember folks - we don't need to
convince all of
congress - we only need to convince one - legislators attach
amendments and "pet projects" all the time as riders. As all 535 members of
congress received the Medicaid report documenting tens of
dollars in Medicaid waste, and as the government funds 25% of all
circumcisions - this needs to be our focus. Please do your part by writing
a letter in support of legislation that would ban government
non-medically necessary circumcisions. (addresses at www.senate.gov and
www.house.gov ). And
we will probably make progress quicker at a state
level, so please begin working on contacting your state
you have not requested so yet, please e-mail me and I'll send you
the report to mail to your state legislators. If you want the report
petition for your own personal interest please mail a 9 1/2 "
X 12" envelop
with $2 postage to NOCIRC NC PO Box 5081 Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
In summary, this
was a wonderful educational experience that benefited all.
Marilyn Milos was so moved by the display on the Capitol that she
that NOCIRC would be holding the 2002 Symposium in Washington, DC
weekend in March to enable us to march on April 1 again. Mark your
calendars and start planning now!
We learned a lot this year and next year
will be even bigger and better.