Bloodstained Men volunteers protest male circumcision on main campus

Their stop at CSU was part of a state-wide tour to spread awareness on the harms of a cultural norm

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers in all-white outfits stained with bloody, red crotches protested on and near the main campus. Today was the eighth day of Bloodstained Men’s nine-day tour, which followed after three days of protesting outside the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. Before their stop in Columbus, the group also protested in Roswell, Athens, Augusta, Statesboro, Brunswick, Valdosta, and Albany. Tomorrow, they are scheduled to protest in Macon.

Volunteers for Bloodstained Men are from all over the U.S.. “There’s a group of us right now at the intersection near the mall, over there,” said David Atkinson, a volunteer from Boston, Massachusetts. Atkinson said that he first saw a picture of an intact penis when he was 19, which led him to research what foreskins do for the body. He explained, “People who trivialize the issue of male genital mutilation do not understand the value of the foreskin, and they do not understand how destructive it is to amputate that part of the penis.”  

“I was very for it at one point,” said James Rigdon, a volunteer from southern Illinois, “and then I actually did the research, myself and actually transitioned from being very for circumcision to anti-circumcision, because it is very destructive. It is very damaging to oneself.” Rigdon mentioned that he was getting his foreskin restored and that he was satisfied so far with the results. Atkinson explained that foreskin restoration works by gradually stretching the skin, which brings back some of the protective effects of the foreskin but not the potential pleasure lost when the nerve endings of the original foreskin were severed. Circumcised penises, as a result of how they’re shaped, remove lubrication from the vagina, whereas the shape of an uncircumcised penis helps prevent it from doing that. Atkinson explained that the way it would naturally work was that the foreskin “would retract on the way in, and it would cover the head of the penis on the way out.” He added that “most American men have no idea” how badly circumcision affects sexual function. Rigdon added that even women suffer negative consequences from male circumcision. He explained, “If you’re a woman, you’re still being affected by the chafing and the soreness of sex, whereas with an intact male, you’re not going to have that chafing or soreness.”

More than anything, the two volunteers said that their cause was about bodily autonomy.

Atkinson stated that infants often don’t receive any anesthesia for their circumcisions. But regardless, he explained, “I would say that whether or not a child feels pain, it is still a totally unacceptable human rights violation to amputate, permanently, part of his penis. And so, even if you couldn’t do this to a child totally pain free, it still would not be acceptable.” Atkinson added that in addition to male infants being circumcised, intersex children often have their genitals reconstructed without their consent.  

“Our biggest thing, though,” said Rigdon, “is that who is the owner of that body part? You know, is it the child, or is it the parents?” He argued that it isn’t normal to amputate ears to treat an ear infection or to amputate other body parts without compelling medical reasons. “It’s that person’s body part,” he continued. “As soon as there is a heartbeat, that child has rights. And that’s what it should be. I mean, that person, that baby or whatever…whenever they’re born, they automatically have human rights to life, liberty, and autonomy.”

Atkinson believes that the internet is probably to thank for male circumcision becoming less common in the U.S.. As for why male circumcision persists, Rigdon stated that Americans are blinded by their culture. Atkinson also cited body shame, stating, “There’s a lot of body shame in American culture. There are a lot of people who are very uncomfortable about issues of sexuality. And so, that does make our work more difficult.”

Volunteers were handing out information cards that included Bloodstained Men’s website,