By: Aaron Cortinas
They dressed in white shirts, pants and cowboy hats. On the crotch of their pants, was a large red stain. It was the color of blood.
They carried large signs with slogans like “STOP CUTTING BABY PENIS” and “VOTE NO ON CIRCUMCISION.”
The Bloodstained Men nonprofit organization protested on the Troop HWY and Loop 323 intersection near UT Tyler on Oct. 14. The group protests infant circumcision among male babies.
Press spokesman Harry Guiremand says they are on an 18-day tour of southern universities, which will conclude with a protest of The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Convention in New Orleans on Oct. 27.
Currently, the AAP’s policy on circumcision says that “health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks.”
Guiremand says they don’t expect the AAP to change its mind because of their protest this year, but they want to communicate that “they’re not getting away with” endorsing circumcision.
He says circumcision is an “unnecessary amputation on a healthy boy.”
Further, he says it is like female genital mutilation (FGM), which the Western world disagrees with. He says people don’t draw the connection between male circumcision and FGM because it’s difficult to notice a problem when it’s in your culture.
He says this was their first time in Tyler, and people were generally receptive to their message.
“Most people are glad to see us,” says Guiremand with a smile, “a few people flip us off.”
Eventually, rain fell on the protestors. Despite this, they continued protesting.
The group’s founder and co-director, Brother K, says circumcision “destroys the male penis.”
He says circumcision cuts off “80% of the pleasure sensation of an adult man.”
According to a systematic review by scientists at The University of Sydney, which analyzed data from 2,675 publications and reported a total of 40,473 men, circumcision doesn’t affect the sexual function of a penis.
“Studies uniformly found that circumcision had no overall adverse effect,” reads the report.
Brett Johnson, a protestor with the group, joined the Bloodstained Men movement after his twin sister circumcised his nephew. When his sister told him she was having a boy, he wrote her a letter including research against circumcision. Despite his letter, she circumcised her son.
“If I can’t even convince my twin sister, this movement needs help,” Johnson says,
He says the anti-circumcision movement needs to happen at the college-level.
“You are the generations who are gonna be starting families next,” Johnson says.
Some UT Tyler students agree with his message.
Freshman kinesiology student Christian Bueno says people should “get it done later.”
He says children should be allowed to decide whether they want to be circumcised when they are adults. Freshman Rhett Reid echoes Bueno by saying circumcision does nothing for a child.
Sophomore Zoe Santos says she hesitantly agrees with the movement. She says there are more important things to protest.
“This is the hill you’re gonna die on?” Santos says laughing, “Baby penises?”
Despite any skepticism or criticism, Guiremand says he’s hopeful for the future of the anti-circumcision movement.
“Every year we get a better reception,” he says with a smile