A group of human-rights demonstrators protested circumcision outside the University Center Tuesday by donning cowboy hats and all-white clothing, except for one area: the crotch. It was stained red to represent a bloody wound.
The group held up signs that read “foreskin is not a birth defect: stop cutting babies” and “Genitals should not have scars.” Another sign read “his body, his choice,” a play on the pro-choice slogan “her body, her choice.”
The Bloodstained Men & Their Friends travel to universities and events nationwide in protest of circumcision, a health and religious practice more common in America than other parts of the world. The activist said they consider the practice to be unnecessarily dangerous and sexually repressive, especially in the progressive context of gender identity.
The University of Memphis granted the Bloodstained Men’s (BSM) free-speech application to demonstrate on campus. However, the university stipulated that noise amplifiers and yelling were prohibited. The UofM was one of their final stops on the Southern University Circumcision Crisis Tour.
Brother K, 65, BSM Founder and Co-director, who legally changed his name to protest his circumcision at birth, appeared on Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” Sept. 24. The Comedy Central interview has 100,000 views on YouTube, and the BSM’s Facebook group has over 36,000 followers.
BSM press spokesman Harry Guiremand, 72, smiled as he spoke about the Tosh.0 interview.
“We struck gold with that one,” Guiremand said.
According to Guiremand and Brother K, inconsistencies surrounding the circumcision’s health advantages are much debated. The activists said the practice’s continuation is largely propped up by medical organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and the American Association of Pediatricians.
“Several pediatric urologists we know say they clear an extra 50 to 100,000 annually from circumcision repairs and revisions alone, which are extremely common,” Brother K said. “It’s like a second income.”
The activist’s goals include policy changes within the medical profession so that they strenuously denounce the genital mutilation of all children: male, female and intersex.
“If you’re for human rights, you’re with us—it’s that simple,” Guiremand said.
Brother K said the issue touches everyone in one way or another, from religion to parental rights.
“People once thought it was OK to own other people, and now we know that was erroneous,” Brother K said. “Is it OK for parents to sexually amputate their children? No.”
BSM said college students are interested in sex, and circumcision intimately ties into that issue. Brother K said the group handed out over a thousand flyers at the UofM protest and had to have more overnighted from their California headquarters when demand exceeded expectations.
“We brought 7,000 and ran out after Oklahoma State and LSU, so we had to order 5,000 more,” Brother K said.
BSM said they believe any press is good press, so they propel their movement by encouraging everyone they encounter to take lots of pictures and post to social media. Brother K said they are planting seeds for their “phenomena.”
“Even if we are being ridiculed for whatever reason, someone will see it and learn that we are brave guys who have a point,” Brother K said.
Actor Russell Crowe colorfully criticized the procedure in 2011 on Twitter but later apologized, and in 2015 late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel riffed on his painful bout with meatal stenosis, one of the most common complications of circumcision.
The activist’s next stop will be Ole Miss. in Oxford, Mississippi and Southern Miss. in Hattiesburg. From there, they will travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, before heading to Florida Feb. 2 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.