Dear Marilyn:

The penis advice columnYou wouldn’t remember me, but we met many years ago at a conference. I’m an intactivist. I donate my time and money to the cause as much as I can. I am writing to ask you how you have managed to keep going for so long. You see, I am very angry at having been cut. I blame everyone involved for not standing up to protect me when I was just days old. Some days the pain is unbearable. And then there are good days when someone listens to what have I to say when I comment on Facebook. I have lost friends and family from my stance. I am struggling to stay involved in the movement. How do you do it? How do you stay sane amidst this insanity?

—Struggling in Colorado

Dear Struggling:

I truly understand the anger you feel for not having been protected from circumcision. The difficulty is, who exactly do we blame? I’m a regret mother because my culture and my doctor lied to me. I didn’t even know what the word circumcision meant, and my doctor didn’t explain. Instead, he said, “it doesn’t hurt, only takes a minute, and will protect your son throughout life.” I’m pretty sure your parents were pressured and lied to like I was, too. They surely had no way of knowing the pain it was going to cause you.

I will always feel terrible for not protecting my sons. What has driven my intactivism over the decades is working to stop circumcision so that other mothers and their sons won’t experience such pain. I encourage you to continue to speak out, too, about your experience. If some people don’t want to listen, it’s probably because they are defensive or in denial about what happened to them. But while they might reject your arguments, they cannot reject your experience, your truth.