Challenging feminism on male circumcision

The Men’s Network has just been informed of Travis Wisdom, a young gay feminist American who is committed to building feminist opposition to male circumcision.

Travis is heading to the UK later in the year to continue his studies at Keele University which is home to some leading experts on the issue of male circumcision.

Around 40% of boys are circumcised worldwide and in the UK approach close to 100 circumcisions take place every day (in a ritual ceremony 8 days after birth for children of Jewish parents, and at approximately 7 years of age for children of Muslim parents) with complications ranging from severe bleeding, urethral scarring, infection, and in rare cases, death.

What’s interesting about Travis is that he appears to be one of those rare humans who is prepared to stand boldly in two camps and attempt to bring people together – something we’d like to see more people in the men and boys sector taking on.

Travis says of his work so far:

“ In terms of male circumcision, obviously in feminism we talk about female circumcision – it’s a violence against women and it’s a reproductive rights issue. Male circumcision is no different.

“We as feminists are concerned with (people) inflicting some kind gendered violence or violence in general against someone without consent – doesn’t matter if it’s male or female. Both of these surgeries are being inflicted upon children  who cannot consent. The majority of them are medically unnecessary and they have a litany of problem associated – and ethical dilemmas of course.

“And so I think that a current limitation of feminism is that it doesn’t incorporate male circumcision or the concept of a genital autonomy as an inalienable right across the gender continuum, it only focusses on Genital Autonomy as it relates to females and at times I will feel a bit betrayed.  But that does mean I am going to give up on feminism.”

Travis says that feminism is about ending sexism wherever it exist and says he likes bell hook’s definition who says that “the problem is sexism not men and it doesn’t matter who is perpetuating sexism regardless of whether it is male, female or an intersex person”

Travis adds: “One of the limitations currently is that Genital Autonomy is not conceptualized as an issue that is relevant to males. I think that my contribution  to Feminism or Genital Autonomy or the Intactivism movement to do what I can to bridge the movements which is very difficult.”

We hope we will have an opportunity to meet Travis when he comes to the UK to continue his studies in 2012.

I have certainly made people uncomfortable in the process but most of the time people are vey receptive to what I have to offer because…….I don’t have to argue that I’m a feminist .They don’t think I’m disguising as one just to promote Intactivism.



Glen Poole is UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, Director at the consultancy Helping Men and news editor of insideMAN magazine. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at

Posted in NEWS
2 comments on “Challenging feminism on male circumcision
  1. […] gay, American feminist who is keen to inspire fellow feminists to campaign against the issue – read about this here. Also the film actor Alan Cumming is launching a book called “May The Foreskin Be With You” to […]

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