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IOTM – Gaye Blake-Roberts

JANUARY 2014: Over the last year, much attention has been paid—and rightly so—to the men in the intactivist movement who’ve found the courage to speak publicly about the negative impact circumcision has had on their lives. But that is only part of the story. Gaye Blake-Roberts, a member of NORM-UK (Britain’s leading anti-circumcision organization) for several years, has long been committed to intactivism, particularly from the perspective of women—the mothers, partners, and friends of men who have been involuntary victims of genital cutting.

In her professional life, Gaye serves as Director of the Wedgwood Museum in Staffordshire, England. She’s also Deputy Chairman of the Trustees of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, trustee of several other organizations, and president of the College of Fellows of Keele University, Staffordshire. (You can watch a fascinating video of her introduction to the Wedgwood Museum here.)

But protecting boys’ rights is her true passion. In a lecture she gave at an annual NORM-UK general meeting, Gaye made the point that male genital mutilation would never be properly and openly discussed until the men who were affected were willing to speak openly and without embarrassment about their damage—a concept which led to her proposal of a conference to help partners understand the impact of circumcision and issues experienced by their loved ones. Much to Gaye’s surprise and frustration, the idea was met with ridicule by some of the very men in the movement she was looking to support.

Gaye persevered, approaching the issue from a different angle by offering to guest-edit a special edition of NORM NEWS, the house magazine of NORM-UK, presented from an entirely feminine perspective. This groundbreaking collection of essays, written by women from all around the globe, has just been published, and you can download a PDF of it here.

“The instant and enthusiastic response from everybody I approached was inspirational,” Gaye says. “Those who provided perspective from North America included Marilyn Milos of NOCIRC, and Georganne Chapin, whose work with Intact America truly has changed attitudes throughout the United States. Together with contributors from the U.K., Finland, Germany and other nations, the all-female edition of the magazine presents a truly international and cohesive band of women. My hope is that this will inspire others and help men realize that mothers, girlfriends, wives and partners can be sympathetic, supportive and, more important, influential in developing a greater understanding of the range of problems created by male circumcision carried out on babies and boys who have not consented.”

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.