Director’s Statement for American Circumcision:
When people hear that I’ve made a documentary on circumcision, one of the first questions they usually ask is “why did you decide to make a film about this?”
In the past, it has been a difficult question for me to answer, not because I don’t have strong reasons, but because I don’t know how anyone could know what I’ve learned and not make this film.
Imagine for a minute that there is an issue that affects every man in America, every person who loves a man, and every parent, child, and family, and that no one had ever made a major documentary about this issue. Wouldn’t you want to make a film about that?
Now imagine that this issue affects men in the most deeply personal way possible. That it causes us pain as children, permanently alters our sexuality, literally scarring us for life. People are afraid to speak about this issue publicly, but everyone knows what it is. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, we have a responsibility to talk openly and honestly about it.
When you begin discussing this issue, you’ll find that people have false beliefs about even the most basic facts. People will try to claim that circumcision does not involve cutting or removing tissue, that there isn’t a specially designed board children are strapped down to when this is done to them, or that circumcision hasn’t often been done without anesthetic. People are naturally repulsed by what this does to children and find it nearly impossible to integrate the truth about circumcision into their day to day life.
When I first began working on this film, I thought I would just share information with people, and then they would understand. What I found was that people are resistant to even learning new information. They fear what they might discover.
In our culture, men are only allowed to have one feeling about circumcision: “I’m fine with it.” But what does it mean if you aren’t fine? What happens when you allow yourself to explore the full range of emotions you feel about circumcision?
When circumcision is discussed in American media, it is typically viewed as a one time decision that parents make and never have to think about again. The truth is it’s more like dropping a stone in a pond – a decision that ripples through that man’s life – through his sexuality, his body, his self image, his relationships, his feelings, his culture, religious institutions, medical institutions, and even through the laws of his country – for the rest of his life. This film looks at these ripples echoing through time affecting our social order and our intimate relationships – the feelings we’re not allowed to explore.
What I’ve learned by working on this project for over six years is that on the other side of these questions there are answers. The challenges presented by this problematic and painful procedure have solutions, which seem simple and clear when we are present with our feelings. I invite you to explore those feelings with a variety of perspectives I’ve gathered from interview subjects all around the world. If you approach with an open mind, you might find these people have something to teach you about circumcision and yourself.
Director of American Circumcision
Full press kit available here.