Children's Justice Is Not Intactivism
Shared issue, different ideas.
Intactivism is a human rights movement that believes that all human beings have the right to their own body, and no one has the right to remove a part of your body without your consent. Intactivists oppose all forms of non-consensual genital cutting, including intersex, female, and male genital cutting, better known as circumcision. Intactivism is also referred to as the genital autonomy movement. If you want to understand Intactivism, watch my documentary American Circumcision, which followed the movement over six years.
Children's Justice is the idea that the treatment of children is a social justice issue. My book Children's Justice, which introduced the concept, focuses heavily on the issue of circumcision as an example of injustice perpetrated against children. Though it draws on what I learned making American Circumcision, Children’s Justice is not Intactivism.
While both oppose genital cutting, there are two key differences between Intactivism and Children's Justice:
Intactivism is based in human rights.
Children's Justice is based in critical social justice.
Intactivism uses the concept of human rights to assert that everyone has a right to their own body. Children's Justice uses critical theory to look at the social systems that hold power over children. Critical theory is a completely different intellectual foundation than human rights. While Children's Justice reaches the same conclusion that children should be protected from harm, it reaches that conclusion using a completely different method that has implications for social change that go beyond Intactivism.
Intactivism is focused solely on genital autonomy.
Children's Justice includes all children's issues.
Intactivism is only concerned with genital autonomy and ending the genital cutting of children. Children's Justice is concerned with further issues, like hospital birth, compulsory schooling, and even the language and beliefs the society holds about children. Children's Justice is much broader in scope.
From these two differences, a lot changes. These changes would take a book to fully explore. Fortunately, I wrote one: Children's Justice.
While Children's Justice builds on certain Intactivist ideas the same way that critical race theory built on the Civil Rights movement, modern gender theory built on the early feminist movement, or the queer theory built on the gay rights movement, many of the ideas in Children’s Justice are new and not previously found in Intactivism.
If you’re a critic, worried my writing will reflect anything other than positive on Intactivism, you should know: It’s not Intactivism at all. Children’s Justice is a new approach. While anyone is welcome to share my ideas, nothing I say or write should be taken as representative of anyone other than myself.
If you’re an ally, wanting to know if I still support protecting children: Yes, always. I’m just exploring new ideas. I consider our shared intention to protect children more important than any intellectual differences. If you have a different idea about why or how we should do that, I’ll still stand with you in doing what is right.
To learn more, read Children's Justice.