Friends of the foreskin march against circumcision
By Petti Fong
VANCOUVER—A savvy street performer knows when another act is about to overshadow his own, so when placards proclaiming Foreskin is Fabulous began appearing across the street, Morgan “Wizardhawk” paid attention.
Morgan’s 7-year-old son Thomas has a stick-juggling act he performs in public, and on Saturday the two of them found themselves competing for attention with a dozen or so anti-circumcision protesters outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson St.
It was another event in what organizers with the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project called the first annual Foreskin Pride March. Earlier, the protesters, holding signs proclaiming Circumcision is Mutilation, demonstrated outside a circumcision clinic and at the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons. Later, on Saturday night, there was an educational seminar extolling the virtues of foreskin.
Morgan and Thomas were unknowingly the circumcised and uncircumcised versions of what the group was demonstrating about.
“My sons aren’t circumcised and I was. So I had no control over what happened (to me), but I could control it with my boys and didn’t think circumcision was right any more,” said Morgan.
“It was interesting to hear these guys talk about foreskin and circumcision and stuff. That’s something you don’t hear every day on the streets of Vancouver.”
The protests coincided with Vancouver’s Pride parade, and on Sunday a pants-optional Foreskin Pride contingent marched in the main parade. The events were capped with a demonstration at Sunset Beach of which kind of fruit can be picked up with an uncircumcised penis (grapes).
Circumcision does have its defenders. Some religions dictate male infants should be circumcised, and Dr. Neil Pollock, a Vancouver surgeon specializing in circumcision, advocates the surgery on medical grounds. (It was his clinic that was the object of Saturday’s demonstration.)
This issue grabbed headlines earlier this summer when a court in Cologne, Germany banned medically unnecessary circumcision of minors, ruling it is a criminal act.
Glen Callendar, founder of the Foreskin Awareness Project, and his supporters hope to eventually bring a similar case before Canada’s courts.
“For years, there was this idea that babies had to be circumcised because the thought was that boys couldn’t keep their penises clean,” Callendar said. “These are boys that will grow up to be doctors, lawyers, and the notion they can’t keep their penises clean on their own is just ridiculous.”
Canada has banned female genital mutilation, and he thinks it’s time to do the same for circumcision, a procedure he considers invasive.
Callendar, a comedian, said he’s not concerned about the scant turnout for Saturday’s protests.
“Every serious social movement starts with a lot of people making fun at you. They are threatened by what you’re doing,” he said. “Every group that has asked for equality has faced ridicule.”