Coverage (media, not glans)
CAN-FAP not taking a back seat in the intactivist movement: Maclean’s
Maclean’s, October 2 2012
Efforts to outlaw infant circumcision have been active for the past 75 years with attempts made in Finland, Denmark et al. and, not to take a back seat, our own Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project....
Read the full article “Circumcision is not about the rights of the child” (plus reader comments) at the Maclean’s website. This article appears on pp. 12-13 of the October 8 2012 print edition.
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CAN-FAP featured in the Georgia Straight’s “Best of Vancouver 2012”
Georgia Straight, September 20 2012
Most feisty flap about foreskin:
You’ve undoubtedly heard about it by now. The Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project aims to increase foreskin education and take political action regarding circumcision. CAN-FAP even launched its first annual Foreskin Pride March on August 4 and also marched in the Vancouver Pride Parade the next day.
Read the full article at the Georgia Straight website. This article appears on p. 62 of the September 20 2012 print edition.
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Huffington Post shouts out The Revolution Will Not Be Circumcised and Foreskin Pride
Huffington Post, August 29 2012
Back in the U.S., outspoken opposition groups have proposed [child circumcision] bans in Massachusetts, San Francisco and nationally. The San Francisco Fringe Festival in September will include a show titled “The Revolution Will Not Be Circumcised”. In neighboring Canada, a “Foreskin Pride” parade was held recently.....
Read the full article “Is Infant Circumcision a Violation of Human Rights?” (plus hundreds of reader comments) at the Huffington Post website.
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Foreskin Pride Vancouver protest in The Guardian (photo)
The Guardian (UK), August 28 2012
Read the article “Circumcision: the cruellest cut?” (plus reader comments) at the Guardian website.
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Headless Glen in Toronto Sun (photo)
Toronto Sun, August 27 2012
Read the article “Benefits of circumcision outweigh risks, U.S. pediatrics group says” at the Toronto Sun website.
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Glen Callender on “The Arena”
The Arena (Sun News Network), August 23 2012
View this video (plus viewer comments) on YouTube.
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The Revolution Will Not Be Circumcised leads Bay Area Reporter’s SF Fringe preview
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco), August 23 2012
The deed was done upon me decades ago, and I have no dog in this fight, but the voices rising against circumcision do bring up the tricky matter of non-consensual elective surgery on infants. Glen Callender, who stakes claim to possessing the most famous foreskin in Canada, will present The Revolution Will Not be Circumcised as part of his fight to keep penises in their natural hoodies. This sex-ed comedy is a project of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, which Callender founded in 2010.
Read the full article “Found on the Fringe” at the Bay Area Reporter website.
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Barbara Kay shouts out the CAN-FAP Foreskin Awareness Booth
National Post, August 10 2012
. . . . Okay, I am not a total prude. Partial, but that’s actually not a bad thing. (Fine, we’ll have that discussion another day.) What I am is a woman who gave birth to two children. And I am trying very hard to imagine why I would want to have an actual photograph, whether amateur, taken by my husband or a nurse, or a professional shot of my baby in the act of being born. Why would I? I hear my opposition saying that it’s because it’s the miracle of life and you want to capture it in the instant of it’s happening.
I have news for you. The real miracle of life takes place at the instant of conception.
Do you see where I am going here? I realize that we are already halfway there, what with the advent of “foreskin awareness” booths where people can admire untonsured penises. But where is the logical end to all this bulldozing of former natural “privacy” barriers? Are couples who really want a record of every precious moment from conception to birth going to invite photographers into the marital bed? Don’t laugh. In our strange cultural moment, where boundary-free sexuality, narcissism and digital adventurism meet and greet at high velocity, it could happen. . . .
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Foreskin Pride reaches Israel (photo)
Haaretz (Israel), August 7 2012
Read the article “Replace circumcision with symbolic ritual, says Norwegian children's watchdog” at the Haaretz website.
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Friends of the foreskin march against child circumcision as anger against controversial procedure spreads to Canada
The Daily Mail (UK), August 6 2012
String of protests taking over weekend in Vancouver
Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project claim to be country's feistiest pro-foreskin advocacy group
Demos follow German court decision to ban circumcision
Also extreme Jewish circumcision ritual in New York triggered angry reaction recently
An anti-circumcision group is holding a string of vociferous street protests in Canada to try and get the controversial procedure outlawed.
The Candian Foreskin Awareness Project claims to be the country's 'feistiest' pro-foreskin advocacy group.
On its website it states its aim as being to give the human right of all children &mash; male, female and intersex — to 'grow up with intact genitals'.
Over the weekend demonstrations were staged across the city of Vancouver in British Colombia as campaigners stepped up their efforts to change the law.
Vocal protests took place outside a circumcision clinic and beside the College of Physicians and Surgeons and on Saturday night, there was an educational seminar extolling the virtues of foreskin.
In a video of one of the rally's group leader Glen Callender tells placard-waving supporters: 'I'm here today because I love my foreskin. Why do I love my foreskin? Because it is the most enjoyable part of my entire body.
Later in an interview Mr Callender added: 'What our group is trying to do is extend the rights that girls already have — to be protected against any mutilation until they are 18 — to boys and intersex kids.'
The protests coincided with Vancouver’s Pride parade, and on Sunday a pants-optional Foreskin Pride contingent marched in the main parade.
The events finished with a demonstration at Sunset Beach of which kind of fruit can be picked up with an uncircumcised penis - the answer being grapes.
However, the banning of circumcision has its detractors Vancouver surgeon Dr Neil Pollock — whose clinic was targeted by protestors — specialises in the procedure says he advocates it on medical grounds.
He says circumcision reduces the risks of urinary tract and penile infections and the risk of some sexually transmitted diseases and penile cancer.
The issue has received significant publicity over recent months after a court in Cologne, Germany, took the decision to outlaw circumcision on young boys because it can cause 'illegal bodily harm'.
The step triggered an angry backlash among both Jewish and Islamic groups in the country which both advocate the procedure, a ritual in both religions.
Read the full article (plus reader comments) at the Daily Mail website.
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Sun-soaked Vancouver gets colourful with Pride
The 34th annual Pride Parade kicked off shortly after noon on Sunday amidst a throng of proud marchers, flamboyant floats and colourful onlookers. Called by some the most vibrant LGBT celebration in the city’s history, the spectacle nonetheless pushed boundaries and courted controversy....
The week leading up to the event was not without controversy. The Vancouver-based Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, making their debut appearance in the parade Sunday, staged what they called the city’s first anti-circumcision march the day before at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“Circumcision criminally violates children,” read one sign. “Circumcision reduces and diminishes,” stated another.
Other “anti-mutilation” events near the march included demonstrations at a circumcision clinic and an educational seminar.
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Friends of the foreskin march against circumcision
The Toronto Star, August 5 2012
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.)
Pollock has said circumcision reduces the risks of urinary tract and penile infections and the risk of some sexually transmitted diseases and penile cancer.
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 Callender, 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,” Callender 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.
Callender, 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.”
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the Toronto Star website.
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Foreskin Pride March: 'Intactivists' To Protest Circumcision Practice In Vancouver This Weekend
The Huffington Post Canada, August 3 2012
In a march taking place in Vancouver this weekend, people who believe forced circumcision on both male and female newborns is wrong — known as 'intactivists' — will be making their points loud and clear.
The Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (CFAP) [CAN-FAP, actually], "Canada's feistiest pro-foreskin advocacy group," has organized various demonstrations and rallies around Vancouver on August 4 and 5, spreading the message of the group's anti-circumcision stance.
Along with a focus on expounding the alleged sexual pleasures of foreskin, the group's mandate includes lobbying the Canadian government to change the Criminal Code to add "one body part, the prepuce (foreskin), to the list of specified sexual organs that can not be mutilated or removed before the age of 18."
The group's plan this weekend includes a protest at Dr. Neil Pollock's clinic, owned by a doctor specializing in circumcision. As noted on the clinic's website, "When parents are making a decision about circumcision they should be advised of the present state of medical knowledge about its benefits and harms. Their decision may ultimately be based on personal, religious or cultural factors."
Anti-circumcision groups have been making the news as of late, with a court in Germany recently ruling that a "child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' [sic]," sparking outrage amongst both Jewish and Muslim groups, for whom circumcision is a religious practice.
But it's just not tradition that's kept the practice alive — studies in countries stricken by AIDS have shown an almost 60 per cent decrease in infection when circumcision is carried out in sanitary conditions, and the removal of foreskin — a potential hiding place for bacteria — could also reduce the risk of transmitting herpes. Another study found a lowered rate of prostate cancer in men who had been circumcised before they first had sex.
In Canada, previous anti-circumcision demonstrations have included CFAP's demonstrations in Victoria, B.C. and an intactivist contingent marching in Toronto's Pride Parade.
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the Huffington Post Canada website.
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Foreskin Pride March rallies for ban on child circumcisions
Metro Vancouver, August 3 2012
A group of foreskin-loving activists plans to rally outside the downtown offices of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. Saturday calling on the federal government to ban circumcisions on minors.
Glen Callender, founder of the first ever Foreskin Pride March, wants to see the Criminal Code amended to include foreskins in the list of specified sexual organs that can not be mutilated or removed before the age of 18.
The College’s official stance is that routine infant circumcision is a cosmetic, medically unnecessary procedure, with risks that outweigh the benefits.
“The bottom line here is that here in Canada we protect the genitalia of girls from any kind of unnecessary surgery until they’re 18 years old, and then they have the right to modify their vulva as they see fit,” he told Metro.
“If girls have that right, then boys and intersex kids should have the same right. The Charter guarantees equal protection under the law.”
Circumcision rates have been falling in Western countries for decades, according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association, which condemns the practice.
In the U.K., the number of circumcisions on newborns fell from 35 per cent in the 1930s to 3.8 per cent by 2000. In the U.S. the incidence fell from 85 per cent in 1965 to 56 per cent in 2006.
In Canada, the prevalence fell from 47 per cent in 1973 to 32 per cent in 2007.
Dr. Neil Pollock, one of Vancouver’s most prominent circumcision surgeons who has performed the procedure more than 30,000 times, did not return Metro’s call requesting comment Thursday, and when reached Friday said he was too busy to do a phone interview on such short notice.
The Foreskin Pride marchers will rally at 3 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery after protesting at noon on Saturday at the College. An adults-only education session on foreskin at the Qmunity queer resource centre at Bute and Davie Streets starts at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, for the third year, Callender will host adults-only demonstrations at his “foreskin awareness booth” from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Sunset Beach Pride Festival.
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the Metro Vancouver website.
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Kudos & Kvetches: Baggage Handlers
As we were perusing the list of events at this week’s Vancouver Pride celebrations, we noticed an item that struck us as particularly unusual, which is saying something for Pride events: “Vancouver’s first-annual Foreskin Pride March.”
Organized by the Vancouver-based Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, which “promotes foreskin education, appreciation and stimulation, and advocates for the human right of all children to grow up with intact genitals,” the march includes a protest outside a doctor’s clinic that performs circumcisions, a demonstration outside the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., a “Foreskin Pride Rally” and a “Foreskin 101 Seminar.” They even have a clever catchphrase: “The Revolution will not be circumcised.”
By all accounts it should be an empowering, floppy good time. But it also strikes us as a little insane. No doubt there are those who will say that circumcision is insane, using words like “mutilation” and “harm” and “intact genitals,” which for some reason isn’t the name of a band, yet. But you know what, like 80 per cent of dudes born before 1980, there are members of K&K who’ve had their members altered, and we’re totally fine. We haven’t suffered emotional damage, any significant loss of sensation, or nightmares involving Darth Vader battling a pack of Shar Peis. In fact, some of us actually think losing the turtleneck looks better, which we realize is completely shallow, but we like to repeat it because it generates a lot of strangely impassioned letters to the editor.
All we’re saying is go ahead, be proud of your foreskin, wave it around in the air like a set of old, leathery luggage, but let’s have some perspective and protest something that really matters like banning Crocs in public.
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‘Foreskin pride’ movement set to protest Vancouver circumcision clinic
“People don’t keep the sabbath, people don’t eat kosher food … but when you have a son, you’re having a circumcision.”
National Post, August 2 2012
A Vancouver group is leading the city’s first “foreskin pride” march in an attempt to “undo thousands of years of prejudice and persecution.”
“We’re not an anti-circumsion movement,” said Glen Callender, founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project. “What we’re against is circumcision being forced on people without their consent.”
The group plans to protest outside a prominent Vancouver circumcision clinic, to march through Downtown Vancouver — pants optional — and to rally on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Circumcision is enshrined as a religious rite by Jews and Muslims, although the consensus opinion among the Canadian medical establishment is that routine circumcision has no discernible medical benefit. There is “insufficient evidence that [the] benefits outweigh the potential risks,” reads a paper by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.
Parents appear to be taking note: In 2007, 31% of Canadian newborns were circumcised and the number is thought to be dropping.
While female circumcision is described as barbaric in government-issued guides for new immigrants, the legality of male circumcision has never been tested in a Canadian court (aside from an occasional conviction for a botched or unlicensed procedure).
South Africa is one of the world’s only countries with law prohibiting the circumcision of children, except in medical or religious cases. Conversely, South Africa is one of the world’s largest supporters of adult circumcision, owing to a 2007 Lancet study showing that circumcised men have a 60% less chance of acquiring an HIV infection.
Over the past two years, Mr. Callender has led pants-free “foreskin pride” contingents at gay events across North America, but it was only earlier this month that the group held its first dedicated event in Victoria.
The 38-year-old performance artist said it is not an accident the pro-foreskin movement found its feet in GLBT circles. “Queer men are ahead of heterosexual men on the issue, because they interact with penises other than their own — so it’s not difficult for a queer man to quickly come to the conclusion that the men with foreskin have more fun,” he said.
The ultimate goal of the group, and many others in the growing North American “intactivist” movement, is to obtain an age limit on the procedure similar to tattoos or other body modifications. “Everybody has the right to be circumcised, but everybody also has the right not to be circumcised,” said Mr. Callender.
Rabbi David Mivasair of Vancouver’s Ahavat Olam congregation said circumcision is one of the few rites still widespread among Canada’s increasingly secular Jewish community.
“People don’t keep the sabbath, people don’t eat kosher food ... but when you have a son, you’re having a circumcision,” he said.
Jewish circumcision, performed on infants eight days after birth, stems from a passage in the Book of Genesis in which Abraham circumcises the male members of his family as a symbol of his covenant with God. “The uncircumcised male whose foreskin has not been circumcised, shall have his soul cut off from his people,” reads Genesis 17:14.
Muslims are the world’s largest practitioners of circumcision. However, the procedure is typically not compulsory and carries no fixed age.
Last year, the United States saw one of the first attempted legal challenges to circumcision when a San Francisco group successfully got a circumcision referendum on the November ballot. The measure was removed before election day due to a technicality.
Earlier this month, a German court ruled that ritual circumcision amounts to criminal bodily harm, prompting an emergency meeting of European Orthodox rabbis to respond that the court ruling was “an affront on our basic religious and human rights.”
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the National Post website.
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Foreskin Pride March to debut Saturday at Vancouver Art Gallery
An anti-circumcision group says Vancouver's first annual Foreskin Pride March is set to take place on Saturday at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The event is staged by the Vancouver-based Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, a group which advocates for keeping male children’s genitals intact.
Founder Glen Callender says other events at the march will include demonstrations at a circumcision clinic and an educational seminar.
"After thousands of years of prejudice and persecution, it's time for foreskin to come out, be proud, and herald a new era of sexual freedom and self-determination," said Callender, in a news release.
"A new sexual revolution is coming — and this revolution will not be circumcised."
On Sunday the group will also have a marching contingent in the Vancouver Pride Parade and a live foreskin demonstration at Sunset Beach.
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First-annual Foreskin Pride March planned in Vancouver
The Georgia Straight, August 1 2012
With Pride Week under way, a Vancouver group opposed to male circumcision is planning to raise awareness about the issue of surgically modifying children's genitals.
The first-annual Foreskin Pride March takes place this weekend with related activities at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Sunset Beach, and elsewhere in the city.
Organized by the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, the events include protests, educational demonstrations, and participation in the Vancouver Pride Parade.
Glen Callender, founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, said progress is being made on the issue of child circumcision.
“Circumcision rates in Canada have dropped considerably,” he told the Straight by phone. “This is because, increasingly, Canadian parents know that circumcision of healthy babies is unnecessary, it’s harmful, and it’s unethical.”
Callender said girls are protected from unwanted genital surgery or modification under the Criminal Code, but boys and intersex children are not.
“Some people do call the genital autonomy movement or anti-infant circumcision movement radical, but we’re not,” he said. “We’re just asking for exactly the same rights girls have to be applied to boys and intersex kids as well.”
Events planned for the Foreskin Pride March start on Saturday (August 4) at noon with protests outside a private clinic on West Broadway that provides circumcisions and at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. location in downtown Vancouver.
Also on Saturday, a rally is planned at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 3 p.m. and an adults-only education session on foreskin is planned at Qmunity queer resource centre at Bute Street and Davie Street at 7 p.m.
On Sunday (August 5) at 11 a.m., an adults-only “live foreskin demonstration” booth is to be set up at Sunset Beach Pride Festival. At noon on Sunday, a marching contingent is to take part in the Vancouver Pride Parade.
“This is an attempt on our part to start a new movement within the Pride movement, much like the dyke marches and the trans marches and other fixtures that you see routinely at Pride,” Callender said.
“We are hoping that as consciousness of the issue of genital autonomy and the rights of children become more mainstream that this will grow and grow and grow.”
Read this article (plus comments from readers, including CAN-FAP founder Glen Callender) at the Georgia Straight website.
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Pro-foreskin rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery Saturday
Openfile, August 1 2012
A new breed of protest rally will emerge at the Vancouver Art Gallery this Saturday: The Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (CAN-FAP) is staging what they call Vancouver’s first annual Foreskin Pride March.
The CAN-FAP is an adovacy group that wants to expose forced circumcision as an unnecessary early-life procedure that needs to be cut.
Why does the group feel so strongly about circumcision? This four-point handout explains their motives, not the least of which is the claim that it "diminishes sexual enjoyment for life.” More from the CAN-FAP document:
The Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project is standing up to the shoddy science, long-debunked urban legends and religious dogma that convince well-meaning parents to violate the bodies and rights of their children with the unnecessary amputation of their most sensitive sex organs.
The group has all sorts of snippy material in support of the Vancouver Art Gallery event, including a promotional video that’s totally NSFW because it features gratuitous shots of a man’s penis.
In addition to Saturday’s rally, the group will also be represented in Sunday’s Pride Parade.
I have to say, this all reminds me of an Arrested Development episode.
Read this article at the Openfile website.
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On foreskin and grapes
Xtra, July 26 2012
Funny lady Amy Wilding may be sober and vegan, but she certainly isn’t boring. Or at least her Pride memories from when she was a drunk carnivore aren’t . . .
Last Pride, we were at the Davie St parade and decided to go into this tent, because there was a hot “nurse” standing outside telling us we should go in.
The tent held about 20 people — it was small and cramped and full of about 18 lezzies. And let’s not forget the two gay guys, half confused, half excited, looking around, like, What kind of gross lady-bits talk is this going to be? And is there still time to make a run for it?
There was a very small stage at the front. All of a sudden this guy is standing in front of us wearing only a T-shirt that says “I heart my foreskin” and no pants. What we didn’t know yet: he had just shoved 19 seedless red grapes up his foreskin. With his hands on his hips and his manhood thrust forward, he asked us how many seedless red grapes we thought he had shoved up his foreskin. I have never seen more lesbians look all kinds of horrified and curious at the same time.
The two guys had their heads cocked at a 90-degree angle from start to finish of the presentation. And what kind of presentation is this? We had been seduced into the Foreskin Awareness Booth! While we watched him push each grape out, he had one of my friends sitting in the front row count them as they dropped into a Tupperware container. I have not been able to eat seedless red grapes since!
But I must say, a very informative presentation on why we should just let guys keep their foreskin, including an up-close-and-personal look at how easy it is to keep it clean. I had no idea how easy it can be! I left that presentation a whole lot gayer and knowing way more about foreskin than I ever thought one could.
On Pride advice:
Don’t eat any fruit without washing it first.
Read the full article “Glitter and Grace: Pride memories, meanings and mayhem” at the Xtra website.
Glen’s response, published in the August 23 2012 Xtra:
I have been performing my tent show Foreskin Awareness Booth across Canada and the USA since 2010, and my signature bit — where the audience guesses how many red seedless grapes are stuffed into my foreskin — keeps getting better. In 2010 my average red-seedless-grape-carrying capacity was nine-ish. In 2011 it was 10-ish, and this year, it’s 11-ish. (What can I say? Practice, practice, practice...)
But in your July 26 feature “Glitter and grace” [Xtra #494], lesbian comic Amy Wilding displays comically lesbian psychology by remembering my humble male schlong to to be far more threatening than it actually is — she remembers my foreskin containing a stunning 19 red seedless grapes!
I suppose I should be flattered, but now everyone in town will expect my foreskin to regurgitate an impossible 19-ish grapes and be disappointed when the actual number ends up closer to 11 — which was already a decently mind-blowing number before you gave them such ludicrously grape expectations. Damn you, Xtra!
In spite of these blatant media distoritions, I will continue to perform Foreskin Awareness Booth because it provides a vital public service. Every Pride, several lesbians (not to mention hetero women of a certain age) tell me they’d never seen a real live male foreskin before seeing my show. That’s a tremendous honour, and I hereby vow to perform until every lesbian and foreskin-starved baby boomer in Canada has witnessed my foreskin at close range. Just hold off on wildly exaggerating my penis size until I’ve retired from grape-stuffing, all right?
Glen Callender, founder
Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project
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Victoria hosts first Foreskin Pride March
The Martlet, July 16 2012
Foreskin awareness advocate and performer Glen Callender spearheaded his first-ever Foreskin Pride March in conjunction with the Victoria Pride Parade on July 8. Representatives and supporters of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (CAN FAP) and other counter-infant-circumcision demonstrators carried their message down Government Street to MacDonald Park.
The group’s signs read “Human rights begin at birth” and “Foreskin is not a birth defect.” The activists then manned information booths, including a private tent where Callender performed live foreskin demonstrations during the festival in MacDonald Park.
For his final talk of the day, Callender stood on a podium in front of a “Foreskin is fabulous” banner and showed that foreskins can be a more substantial part of the penis than might be commonly perceived by giving short penis anatomy lessons. After removing nine red seedless grapes from under his foreskin, he told the audience that circumcision eliminates up to half of the surface area of the penis, including the inner and outer expanses of the fold, the frenulum and frenar band. Callender says all mammals, whether male or female, have foreskin (he equates the hood on a female’s clitoris to a feminine foreskin).
“Different shapes, same organs,” says Callender, who points out that female circumcision is recognized as sexual repression and vehemently opposed in most Western cultures.
While the parents of many boys still seek circumcision from specialists for religious or cultural reasons, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia no longer supports circumcision for prophylactic health benefits like cleanliness, stating on its website, “Routine infant male circumcision performed on a healthy infant is now considered a non‐therapeutic and medically unnecessary intervention." In addition, a court in Cologne, Germany, recently ruled that circumcision is a criminal offence because it causes grievous bodily harm. However, the German government has vowed to find a way around the ruling due to backlash from Jewish and Muslim communities that say their religious freedom has been violated.
Foreskin advocates go a step further, asserting that what they see as elective, irreversible partial genital amputation is a violation of the human rights of children who are not able to make the decision for themselves. Callender says infant circumcision doesn’t jive with accepted medical practice of amputation only as a last resort.
Circumcised and uncircumcised male audience members participated by confirming that Callender’s portrayal of the ease of cleaning both forms of penis was accurate. It’s not difficult to persuade a boy to rub his most pleasure-sensitive organ with a wet hand, says Callender, so cleanliness shouldn’t be a problem for uncircumcised boys who retain a greater amount of sensitive tissue.
Men with intact genitals who were in the audience confirmed that were they to pull back their foreskins and wear clothing, the abrasion of boxer shorts against membranous tissue on the penis would be painful. Callender says that’s evidence that circumcised penises, which don’t experience discomfort from direct contact with underwear etc., are desensitized by a layer of keratin tissue that develops as a result of exposure to abrasion since childhood.
Thus, the tissue of a circumcised penis becomes more like regular skin with nerves buried underneath. He says that reduced sensitivity could explain why countries where rates of circumcision are higher — such as the United States, where a majority of all men have undergone circumcision (estimated at 79 per cent by a 2006 cost analysis of neonatal circumcision) — also experience greater incidence of erectile dysfunction.
Expressing elation that he “won the stupidest lottery in the world” by not being circumcised as a child, Callender encouraged rousing agreement from women in the audience who were glad their genitals had not been modified without consent.
He believes the original impetus behind male circumcision was the same as for female circumcision: to discourage sexuality. To the foreskin pride demonstrators, theirs is the latest in a line of sexual liberty movements, not unlike interracial marriage and gay rights. Like similar movements before, foreskin advocacy is getting its first legal traction outside of America. In Norway, a ban on the circumcision of males under 18 was recently proposed to match the ban on circumcision of females under 18.
Callender is as much entertainer as teacher, and his half-nude talk at Victoria Pride Festival was punctuated by audience laughter. However, he concluded the show by saying that in the near future, child circumcision may be viewed as malpractice. Looking at an audience member who had earlier volunteered that he is circumcised, Callender suggested men who were involuntarily circumcised should sue.
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A continuing debate: Should the state ban male circumcision?
VUE Weekly, July 11 2012
Last month Cologne, Germany barred the circumcision of male children unless it is deemed medically necessary. Although I am a big fan of foreskin and think it should be left as it is in most cases, I wondered whether governments can actually ban circumcision. It turns out they can and do, but usually only for girls. In Canada, female genital cutting is illegal. The criminal code specifically states that cutting off or altering the labia or the clitoris of anyone under 18 is aggravated assault unless done for medically necessary reasons.
Glen Callender, of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, believes that Canada should follow in Cologne's steps and add the word "prepuce," which refers both to male foreskin and the clitoral hood, to that section of the criminal code.
"If a girl has a right to keep all of her sex organs and decide for herself if she wants any of them cut off, a boy and an intersex child have the same right," Callender says, "This is basic equality and basic human rights, and it's time for Canada to protect all children equally."
From the 1950's the late 1980's male circumcision was pretty much routine in Canada. But as more research is coming out about what foreskin actually is and what is does, attitudes are changing.
Far from a simple vestigial piece of skin, foreskin is actually packed with nerve endings. No one knows exactly how many but the estimates are in the thousands. Some researchers claim to have found special types of receptors called Meissner's corpuscles which can detect very light touch. These are the same kinds of receptors we have in our fingertips and lips. Those corpuscles play a very important role in helping us perceive and define sensations. A study done in 2006 found that the glans of the penis in intact men is significantly more sensitive to touch than in those who have been circumcised. Callender agrees that foreskin is an important part of sexual experience.
"My foreskin is by far the most sensitive and orgasmic part of my penis," He says, "Circumcision removes well over half the nerves of the penis, as well as the most sensitive parts, diminishing sexual sensation for a lifetime."
Foreskin also moves in a funky way because it is a double layer of skin and mucous membrane. It has what some have called a "gliding" motion. Researchers suspect that it functions this way in order to make movement more comfortable and reduce friction. It also has the convenient side effect of making masturbation easier. It's like a built-in masturbation sleeve. In fact, circumcision was prescribed as a preventive measure for "masturbatory insanity" and hysteria in Victorian England. It was thought that without his foreskin, a man would be less sensitive and less able to masturbate and therefore more pure in thought and body.
Although there are, of course, other sides to the circumcision debate, I think that Glen may be onto something in his fervent support of foreskin. He is so passionate about it that he travels North America showing people all the magical things his foreskin can do. Yes, that's right, in a demonstration somewhat like Puppetry of the Penis, Glen has showed his foreskin to almost 4000 people since 2010—1000 of them right here at the Edmonton Fringe last year. And he's only getting started.
"Later this year, he says, I will roll out an epic series of online foreskin demonstrations that will show Canada and the world that the male foreskin has immense erotic potential." He hopes that this "exposure" will make Canadians want to save the foreskin and push our government to ban infant circumcision too.
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the VUE Weekly website.
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Glen Callender Brings “Foreskin Awareness” to Pride
Torontoist, June 29 2012
Some people have to look very hard in order to find their true vocations. All Glen Callender had to do was look down.
For two years, the Vancouver-based freelance writer and performance artist has been an anti-circumcision activist, working under the aegis of his personal foreskin-promotion organization, CAN-FAP. His major outreach activity is something he calls the Foreskin Awareness Booth.
The booth is a tent that Callender erects at festivals in different cities. He invites strangers inside, and then attempts to win them over to his side of the circumcision debate by showing them his foreskin—he is uncircumcised—and demonstrating, among other things, how easy it is to clean, and how many red, seedless grapes he can fit in there. (Apparently, he can fit quite a few.)
Starting tonight, the Foreskin Awareness Booth will make its Ontario debut at the Pride Street Fair, which will be taking place along Church Street throughout the weekend.
Callender spoke to us about his project. Our edited, condensed interview is after the jump.
Torontoist: What, exactly, should people expect when they visit your booth during Pride?
Glen Callender: Well, it’s a 15- to 20-minute show. I demonstrate my foreskin, so it’s like Puppetry of the Penis, but educational and political. I do some tricks with my foreskin. I educate my audience about the foreskin anatomy and function.
Because you didn’t learn about the foreskin in sex ed, right? If you were like me, you went through sex ed in school, there was no foreskin on the diagram of the penis that they showed you, and you didn’t really learn anything about the foreskin. My objective is to correct that oversight, and show people how wonderful a foreskin actually is.
It’s a show about the benefit of foreskins, the harm of circumcision, and the right of all boys to enjoy all of their penis.
You started in 2010, is that right?
Yeah, that’s right. Almost 4,000 people have witnessed my foreskin in the Foreskin Awareness Booth over the past two years. I’ve been at it a while.
If there’s one body part that I really should be associated with forever, it’s the foreskin. And it is my ambition to—and I already basically do—have Canada’s most famous foreskin. I don’t think there’s any other Canadian foreskin that’s better known than mine. And I’m proud of that.
As somebody who does have a foreskin, what exactly was it that made you decide to take up foreskin awareness as a cause?
Well, I have a really, really, great foreskin. I can’t lie, it’s a great foreskin. It’s extremely enjoyable, very sensitive, and I’ve always had a really, really great relationship with my foreskin. When I learned of circumcision when I was a boy, I already had a good relationship with my foreskin at that point, and it absolutely horrified me to learn that they were strapping down babies and cutting off their foreskins. That feeling of horror has never really gone away from me.
When you lose a part of your body, you lose a part of your life. You lose all the experiences you would have had with that body part. And the foreskin has really good experiences.
So, those of us without foreskins are missing out. But what exactly are we missing out on?
Well, circumcision removes well over half the nerves of the penis, and removes the most sensitive and orgasmic parts of the penis.
I teach a seminar in Vancouver where I actually show intact men—men with foreskins—how to have orgasms with their foreskins. There are several areas of my foreskin that I can achieve orgasm with independently of the rest of my penis.
That’s not part of my Foreskin Awareness Booth show. I don’t masturbate, or get an erection, or ejaculate in the show. My show in the Foreskin Awareness Booth isn’t a lewd show or a sex show. It’s an educational show.
Do you find that this is a message men want to hear? How is the mix of people that come to this booth?
Overall, the response to the show is amazing. Toronto will be the eighth city that I’ve done the show in. I’ve done [it] in Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, Edmonton, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and now Toronto. And everywhere I’ve gone the response has been just phenomenal; it’s been amazing. People really like the show; they learn things they didn’t know about penises before.
And believe me, at Pride, men who are, you know, dedicated to penises, do appreciate learning new things about the penis that they didn’t know.
Is that why you choose Pride celebrations as a venue? Because there are so many penis-positive people around?
Well, it helps. I am a queer performance artist myself. I’m bisexual. So I enjoy being part of Pride just as a queer myself. Certainly, the community there is more sex-positive, so it’s easy to do my show at Pride without any complaints or any difficulties. But I have done the show at regular street fairs.
What about circumcision for religious purposes? Is that a different story?
It’s exactly the same thing. The idea that a child has to lose part of his body to satisfy the religious agenda of its parents has no place in the modern world. And I know many Jews who are angry about their circumcisions, because they’re not religious, they’re secular.
That winds up all my questions, but was there anything else you wanted to add?
I’ll just say that if people come see my show, they’ll see foreskin like they’ve never seen it beforeskin.
Oh yeah, one more question. Exactly how many red seedless grapes can you fit in there?
Well, you know, I can’t reveal that. You have to come to the show to find out how many red seedless grapes I can fit in my foreskin.
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the Torontoist website.
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Xtra Toronto, June 22 2012
You know what’s weird? I got an email tip in my inbox today about Foreskin Awareness, and it’s still probably the least crazy tip I’ve received from my blog readers.
Anyway, true story about foreskin: my penis (Did I mention I’m a professional blogger? BECAUSE I AM) is cut. So sadly, no foreskin. But growing up, I had a friend who showed me his foreskin, to which my immediate response was “Huh . . . well that’s weird. Wanna play Super Smash Bros?” And then we did because that game was the shit. And then I didn’t see foreskin up close and personal again until I was an adult and was capable of doing adult things with uncut penises.
Anyway, there’s good news if you’re a fan of foreskin and want to know how best to have fun with it: the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (Or Can-FAP for sho— Oh, hey, I just got that!) is coming to Toronto for Pride and will be featured in a booth during the street festival! Here’s the press release:
Canada’s foreskins are as mad as hell, and they’re not going to take this anymore.
That’s the message of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, Canada’s feistiest pro-foreskin advocacy group. CAN-FAP promotes foreskin education, appreciation and stimulation, and advocates for the human right of all children — male, female, and intersex — to grow up with intact genitals. “32 years after the Canadian Paediatric Society confirmed that infant circumcision is medically unnecessary, parents continue to violate the bodies and rights of their sons with circumcision,” states CAN-FAP founder Glen Callender. “And most do it because they believe the foreskin is ‘dirty’ and ‘abnormal’. It’s pure ignorance, and clearly, something drastic needs to be done.”
So Callender created Foreskin Awareness Booth, a guerrilla tent show in which he demonstrates his foreskin to the public. In a short educational-comedy anatomy lesson he describes as “like Puppetry of the Penis, but political,“ Callender answers such common questions as “What is foreskin?” “Is foreskin difficult to clean?” and “What shocking and hilarious things can you do with a foreskin and a handful of red seedless grapes?” It’s an unforgettable show that never fails to get people talking about the value of foreskin, the harm of circumcision, and the human rights of baby boys.
Foreskin Awareness Booth will appear at the Pride Toronto Street Fair from June 29 - July 1.... Be there, or be foreskin-unaware!
I, too, would like to know how a human can combine foreskin and grapes to create fun and whimsy. Unless it involves turning those grapes into raisins, because ew. FUCKING EW. Seriously, raisins are the worst and they are weird and unnatural.
Read this article at the Xtra website.
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Times Colonist, April 14 2012
A small group of protesters spent Friday demonstrating against circumcision.
About 10 people, some with placards, showed up outside a Fort Street clinic where circumcisions are performed. They stayed from 1:30 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., when they headed to the legislature.
Protesters argued that circumcision should not be done to infants but delayed until an individual can make his own decision.
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Foreskin rally calls for ban on infant circumcision
Monday Magazine, April 12 2012
Verbal battle erupts over specialized private clinic
Have you hugged your foreskin today? A passionate rally this week is calling on the government and Victoria residents to show the normally shy body part a little bold love — or at least protection.
The “Whole World/Whole Children” rally is set to gather outside one of the newest private health-care offices to start offering circumcision, Diversified Health Clinic at 1063 Fort, on Friday, April 13, at 11:30 a.m. The group will then march to the legislature lawns and finish with a protest and speeches. But while foreskins may not be an issue paramount in the minds of many (save expectant parents), rally organizers say this affects all of us more than we think.
“What this really comes down to is a human rights issue,” says Glen Callender, speaker at the event and founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project. “When you consider that infant female circumcision was banned in Canada in 1997 and is now considered a criminal offence, why is the genital mutilation of an infant male any different?”
Kira Antinuk, a local mother and nursing student who organized the rally, says that the impetus for the protest came when her organization, Victoria Circumcision Resources, heard about Dr. Neil Pollock, a Vancouver-based physician who is known for being outspoken on the issue of circumcision, bringing his practice to the Island.
“We were really concerned to hear that Dr. Pollock . . . was planning on opening up a genital-cutting clinic in Victoria,” says Antinuk. “This is not acceptable on the Island, and it shouldn’t be acceptable in B.C. at all. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of this yet.“
Pollock says he has performed over 35,000 circumcisions — 10 to 15 a month in the Victoria clinic — and has taught his “virtually painless, 30-second technique” to doctors all over the world.
“Circumcision saves lives, and if you don’t tell people that, they don’t know,” says Pollock. “My position is the same as that of the Canadian Pediatric Society, which recognizes the multiple medical and disease preventing benefits of circumcision and states that parents should be given unbiased information about the benefits and risks, so they can make an informed decision.”
B.C. was the first province to pull Medicare funding from circumcision back in 1984, with all other provinces following suit after research showed it was no longer a necessary medical procedure. In 2009, the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons stated the procedure should be delayed until the child can make his own decision, and the Canadian Pediatric Society now states on its website the relative risks of the foreskin being left intact alongside the proven risks of removing it.
Since circumcisions are no longer covered provincially or performed in hospitals, private health clinics are left to pick up the slack from parents and some adults still wanting to perform the procedure. That privatized bias is exactly what concerns Callender, who says clinics are now preying on misinformed parents to push the invasive procedure onto children who cannot give their consent.
“Criminal law protects the foreskin of a girl, the hood of her clitoris, but not of a boy — yet it’s the same translated body part,” says Callender. “So much of what we hear about why circumcision is ‘good’ is misinformation from years ago, or even old wives tales, but the tales stick. We have to recognize the severe and detrimental impacts not only of making a decision for an individual who cannot consent, but that this is a form of assault, and we need the government to say ‘No more.’”
Pollock, however, says when it comes to the difference between male and female circumcision, “You can’t even compare them. One is an illegal mutilation of women with no medical or disease-prevention benefits, the other is a legal procedure with multiple medical and disease-prevention benefits.”
Wading through the facts on both sides of the argument can be a tedious affair, with statistics ranging from circumcision impacting the function, pleasure and nerve system of the penis, to the procedure preventing penile cancers and reducing the transmission of HIV in some instances.
Callender emphasizes that the rally is not an effort to prevent circumcision on the whole — it’s a plea to halt the procedures on infants, and get everyone thinking about the rights of those who don’t yet have a voice.
“Either you have had a circumcision, or you know someone who has, and this literally impacts everyone — it’s something we need to start talking about,” says Callender. “I feel like I won the luckiest lottery because I was born in the ’70s in Port Alberni and I still have my foreskin. It’s my favourite body part. I actually have a T-shirt that says ‘I love my foreskin.’”
For more information on the rally or resources, visit victoriacircumcision.org. Dr. Pollock’s circumcision website is pollockclinics.com.
CAN-FAP founder Glen Callender left this comment after the article: I'm Glen Callender, founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project and one of the speakers at Friday's event. It is a scientific fact that circumcision permanently amputates the most sensitive parts of the penis. When the harm of this unnecessary and unethical procedure becomes common knowledge, Canadians will demand an end to the forced genital cutting of underage boys, just like they have already demanded an end to the forced genital cutting of girls. Under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law. Therefore, if a girl has a right to keep her foreskin, a boy has the right to keep his. That's basic equality, and basic human rights.
Pollock is being very disingenuous indeed when he claims his position is the same as that of the Canadian Paediatric Society. The position of the CPS on infant circumcision could not be clearer: "Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed." (See it for yourself on the CPS website: http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/fn/fn96-01.htm) In spite of this, Pollock continues to circumcise healthy baby boys, using arguments that his own professional governing bodies have examined and rejected. Reminds me of a line in 'An Inconvenient Truth': "It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
No national medical association on Earth recommends routine infant circumcision, and for good reason. Foreskin is a natural, normal, functional, and very enjoyable part of the penis, and it is harmful and unethical to subject perfectly healthy children to the unnecessary amputation of their most sensitive sex organs. If you agree that boys and girls should have an equal right to decide for themselves if they want unnecessary surgery done on their genitals, join us tomorrow and send a message that it’s time to end forced genital cutting in Canada!
Read this article (plus reader comments) at the Monday Magazine web site.