Saturday, June 8, 2013

Intactivism Isn't Making Anyone Rich

There is no money in trying to convince people to do nothing.

It'd be nice if I could leave the job I do every day and live off of trying to convince people that cutting children is wrong.

The sad reality is that while circumcision promoters get cuts (pun absolutely intended) in the form of grants, foreign aid, and getting paid for performing circumcision itself, intactivists have to sacrifice a lot of their time and money to get our message across.

Circumcising a child pays; allowing him to go home whole does not.

Yet I have read here and there, on Facebook, on parenting forums etc., accusations to the effect that intactivists are being "funded by millionaires."

I have never heard of a more ignorant straw-man, ad-hominem accusation.

While intactivists take time out of their busy schedule, not to mention precious time they could be spending with their family and loved ones, not to mention time they could be spending for themselves (e.g. going to school, improving their skills, another job, etc.), there are circumcision promoters whose sole source of income is the promotion of circumcision, if not performing circumcision itself.

The ignorant accusation that "intactivists are being funded by millionaires" stems from the fact that at one point, an intactivist organization, Intact America, got a kick-start grant of a million dollars from a single donor.

While this is irrefutable fact, it's a stretch to say that we're being "funded by millionaires."

Intact America is only ONE organization who got paid one million dollars, one time, by one donor, but that was a long time ago, and that money is gone now. No other intactivist organization has gotten a donation anywhere close to that amount. Intact America now survives on donations it can muster from willing intactivists.

But while circumcision advocates point their fingers and accuse intactivists of being involved in a money-making scam, they either seem oblivious to what's happening in their own camp, or they're deliberately trying to draw attention away from it.

Yes, at one point, Intact America got a million dollar grant from a generous donor.

But how much money do circumcision promoters get?

How much money are circumcision "researchers" like Maria Wawer, Ronald Gray, Robert Bailey, Daniel Halperin, etc., etc., getting for their work in the way of grants and scholarships?

How much money is PEPFAR handing over to PrePex and other organizations to circumcise 20 million Africans?

"Funded by millionaires?"

It would sure be nice if we could get someone like Bill Gates to donate to us the amount of money he's paying circumcision promoters in Africa.

It'd sure be nice if we could get money from the World Bank, UNAids, WHO, PEPFAR etc. to promote HIV prevention to those who don't want to get circumcised.

It'd sure be nice if the NIH, Johns Hopkins, etc. would give grants to researchers who want to find ways to prevent HIV WITHOUT circumcision.

It'd be nice if intactivists were given money to ready information packages, fly to Africa and educate the people of Africa on STD prevention, hygiene etc.

It'd be nice if we could pay artists to write songs about intactivism and speak out against male genital mutilation at HIV/AIDS conferences.

But we just don't have that kind of money.

Circumcisers get cash for their work. For many, this is their sole occupation.

It's intactivists who have to scrounge around for cash, when and if time and circumstances allow, and only after their own obligations and commitments.

When you look at just how much money is being pumped into circumcision promotion and facilitation, it's kind of ridiculous, not to mention dishonest and insulting, to hear a circumcision advocate try and discredit us by accusing us of being "funded by millionaires."

Ad lazarum, ad hominem and projection all rolled into one.

Related Posts:
PEPFAR To Blow Millions on PrePex

External Links:

The 'Circumcision Song' Hits Airwaves Across Africa Thanks to Bill Gates' Funding


  1. Joseph, what prompted this blog? Who said we were funded by millionaires? Intactivists donate their time and money be involved in this human rights issue. It is bizarre that anyone would say otherwise.

    1. Pay close attention to comments on Facebook, parenting forums and commentary in news articles regarding circumcision. There are some circumcision advocates who are saying that the reason the intactivist message is spreading is because we're being "funded by millionaires," and then point to the fact that Intact America received a million dollar donation in the past as "proof."

      The blatant projection in this accusation makes me presume of a particular person who may be deliberately spreading this rumor.

  2. The truth is, all intactivists PAY to DO the work we do. There are many costs involved in devoting time and energy to this most maligned human rights issue. Sometimes those who are more fortunate help other intactivists financially to travel and attend events they would not otherwise be able to. Occasionally non-intactivists understand the issue, see how much work intactivists are doing and help out by donating money. However more often than not we intactivists pay dearly with our own time and our own money to do this work.

  3. Have they really already blown through that $1 million?

    1. They wouldn't be asking for donations otherwise. Hey, shit like billboards, letters published in newspapers, travel etc. costs, and like I've said, we don't exactly have Bill Gates behind us.

    2. That sounds like nonsense; that $1 million surely acts as a reservoir for smoothing over variation in the supply of crowdfunding. If they've already blown through a $1-million reservoir and now depend on nothing but the whims of intactivists, then on principle, I'd never donate anything to them—I could never fund such profound ineptitude.

    3. I don't know the first thing about running a non-profit organization, so whether or not having blown through 1 million dollars already is "inept" or not is beyond me. To me they're one of many intactivist organizations who do what they can with the little funding they can get.

      It'd be interesting to know how many millions pro-circs burn through themselves. Getting major newspapers to publish their articles, not to mention getting "research" published in journals, not to mention the salaries of organizers, celebrity endorsement etc. must add up pretty quickly.

  4. Surprised you didn't mention FORESKINS FOR SALE! They don't just get paid to do them, they sell that skin for MORE PROFIT! woo hoo!

  5. Hey Can you write an article about the male genial mutilation and its prevalence in the Philippines.‎

  6. I was reminded of the following:

    “When we were in Rome, we saw all these people arrayed against us, [and] we're there on our own dime! You know, we are paying for our own way on donations and out of our own pockets to be there to say “You can't be circumcising the world and expect HIV to stop in its tracks! You can't do that!”, and all these people are coming up to us, and they're part of UNAIDS, they're part of WHO, they're with universities—they're with all these different groups, and their airfairs were paid, their lodging was paid, [their admission to the] conference itself [was paid], [and these people are] on salary! I mean, we cannot compete with that any longer! We just can't!

  7. At the 2012 AIDS meeting in Washington, DC I had the same impression. Of the 20 or so people there to push circumcision, I was convinced that none of them had paid their own expenses. They were funded by Bill Gates or Bill Clinton or their money from their research grants. The people protesting circumcision paid their own way and were sleeping on the floor of intactivist who lived in the area. If there was funding for all of the intactivists willing to attend the meeting, I think there would be at least a hundred people who would make the trip.

    It is interesting that Tobian and Gray are out lobbying hard and often for circumcision. The reason is that they know that their research is horribly flawed and they need to keep the research money coming in before the NIH figures out that they were defrauded of their money. As long as they can dominate the discussion in the scientific community and keep any other voices from being heard, their research revenue streams will continue to flow. That is why they have been publishing the same pack of lies in so many scientific venues recently. They are protecting their turf and careers.

    I have been on the board of a non-profit organization in the past and a million dollars doesn't last long. You basically need this much to get your mechanism for bringing in future donations in place. Limited funds should not be an excuse to challenge those who are well-funded.