Published March 21, 2022
Updated August 17, 2022
Last week Brendon Marotta published "A Jewish Guide To Talking To Circumcision Survivors," a blog post in which he explained to the Jewish community how to talk to angry intactivists. Apparently the Gentile producer of an anti-circumcision documentary thinks that he’s in a position to lecture Jews. The entire post is so absurd, it's almost comical. Marotta provides a textbook example of projection, in which he projected the sins that intactivists routinely commit onto one of their primary targets.
Marotta co-opted the language of social justice in an attempt to shield himself from criticism. He preemptively accused people who might criticize him of "Jewish fragility," an appropriation of the term white fragility popularized by author and lecturer Robin DiAngelo. Unlike DiAngelo, Brendon Marotta isn't a member of the demographic group that he's disparaging. And unlike White people, Jews aren't a dominant class. On the contrary, Jews have been victims of persecution throughout history, including American history. Even today Jews are targeted for murder because they’re Jewish. A Jew is 2.2 times more likely than a Muslim and 2.6 times more likely than a Black to be a victim of a hate crime. (His tone and his appropriation of social justice terms are expressions of Marotta's evolving belief that intactivism should transition from a human rights prism to a social justice prism.)
Marotta lectured Jews on behaviors to avoid. Note that intactivists are guilty of every behavior Marotta accused the Jewish community of committing. Here are a few examples.
Avoid inciting violence.
Marotta claimed that calling intactivists "Nazis" or "antisemites" is a call for violence against "survivors of sexual assault." This is, of course, absurd. Intactivists constantly speak derogatorily about Jews - individually and collectively - and about the Jewish religion. This hatred of Jews isn't limited to just rank-and-file intactivists, but also includes anti-circumcision leaders and scholars. For example, Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, has blamed "the Jewish lobby" for intactivists' failure to enact laws to criminalize circumcision. She has compared Jewish ritual circumcisers to Nazi doctors who tortured concentration camp victims, and she has labeled the Jewish religion an "enemy" of intactivists. Kenneth Hopkins, the leader of the Blood Stained Men who calls himself "Brother K," has repeatedly declared that Jews should not be allowed on the AAP circumcision task force. Morten Frisch, author of the 2013 European response to the AAP, dismissed the Holocaust as "a ploy," and he blamed the Jews for antisemitism. Intactivists are to blame for their antisemitism, not people who call them out.
On the contrary, it is intactivists who incite violence against Jews and others who disagree with them. Intactivists call doctors and mohels "mutilators" and portray them as monsters. Intactivists post memes that portray people who disagree with them as monsters or deserving of torture. This vitriolic language forments anger and rage among intactivists, many of whom have expressed a desire to harm medical professionals. Kenneth Hopkins once drove 800 miles/1,300 km to confront a nurse because he was offended by a Facebook post. More recently he assaulted a female doctor and tried to force his way into her medical office. In the coming years, it's far more likely that inflammatory rhetoric will lead to an intactivist attacking a circumcision practitioner than an intactivist being attacked.
I cannot recall one instance in which Brendon Marotta advised intactivists that they should stop inciting or threatening violence against their (real or perceived) adversaries. On the contrary, Marotta himself uses incendiary terms - calling Jews "perpetrators" and "abusers," and he makes excuses for incitement made by others. Responding to a journalist's question about intactivist death threats against doctors and nurses, he said, "When people feel wronged they often respond to that with anger." Thus he is a liar and a hypocrite.
Marotta falsely claimed that after he interviewed "a Jewish U.S. State Senate Candidate," [sic] she sent him harassing messages suggesting that he commit suicide. In 2020 Dr. Cathleen London was a candidate for a seat in the United States Senate, not the state legislature. London posted on her Twitter account a link to a New York Times op-ed, "The Special Misogyny Reserved for Mothers." She hoped to discuss the topic of the op-ed - why female sexual dysfunction is a taboo subject. But intactivists quickly hijacked her tweet to promote their pet cause, then barraged her social media accounts with death threats and other hateful messages.
Marotta interviewed London without identifying himself as an intactivist sympathizer. After he published his blog post, she was subjected to further harassment. Based on Marotta's screenshots, two weeks later he initiated a conversation with London, demanding to know why she deleted her social media accounts. Now the wiser, the doctor told him among other things to "find a short pier and walk off,” a common expression that means "go away and stop bothering me." Marotta disingenuously claimed she was telling him to kill himself.
It takes some gall to stoke your fans into a frenzy of hatred and death threats and then turn around, profess innocence and ignorance, and falsely accuse your victim of telling you to kill yourself. Even intactivist scholar Brian Earp admitted that "it is wrong [and] inappropriate, plus just obnoxious, to 'barge into' a thread about women's issues [and] say 'But what about this thing that affects little boys?'"
* * * * * UPDATE - APRIL 27, 2022 * * * * * Sometime between March 21 and April 27, Brendon Marotta edited his blog post, removing the word "State" from his description of London's candidacy. The sentence in question now identifies her as "a Jewish US Senate Candidate." [sic] Although it's common practice for print and social media writers to identify errors and updates, Marotta made no admission of error or update. I strongly suspect that this post caused him to made the correction.
The sentence continues, "I received harassing messages from her suggesting that I kill myself, which included references to my genitals and my relationship with my family." It isn't clear whether the highlighted text appeared in the original post, or whether Marotta added the text after I exposed the absurdity of his initial suicide claim. If I had read the highlighted text, I would have investigated the claim at the time I wrote this post. At any rate, the references appear to be based on the statements in London's email, "Get over your mommy and daddy issues. Life is way more than your penis." Tellingly, Marotta didn't quote the statements he considered inappropriate. A reader would have to click through to his January 26, 2019 blog post, read 17 paragraphs to find the "short pier" comment, and then an additional 7 paragraphs for the "mommy and daddy issues" and "life is way more than your penis" comments. Marotta can make these hyperbolic assertions, because few readers would take the time to click the link to understand the context.
* * * * * END OF UPDATE * * * * *
Avoid racial slurs.
At this point Marotta went off the rails. He claimed without any evidence that "using racial slurs is surprisingly common in the Jewish community." (Ironically Jews have disproportionately supported racial minority causes, with high Jewish participation from the 1960s civil rights movement to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.) His "evidence" consisted of a single comment that he cryptically said "personally attacked me with a racial slur" posted on a page that he said was "run by a pro-circumcision Jewish organization." Marotta neither quoted the controversial comment nor explained its context to his readers. I will do both, and for good measure I'll provide a screenshot.
On January 3, 2020 Marotta posted on Facebook, "Jewish men have the right to share their feelings against circumcision." (Tellingly, he specified "feelings against circumcision" rather than "feelings about circumcision.") The next day the "Antisemitism in Intactivism" page shared the post with the message, "Jewish men, Brendon is giving you permission to share your feelings (if they fall in line with his cause)." Circumcision Choice wrote, "Alex, I'll take GOYSPLAINING for $400."
It should be noted that neither Antisemitism in Intactivism nor Circumcision Choice is or has been run by a Jewish organization. The group behind Circumcision Choice includes doctors, nurses, parents, and other concerned citizens of various religious (and non-religious) affiliations. We aren't pro circumcision; we are pro parents choice.
Marotta apparently believes that the word goy is a racial slur - and that as a prefix, goy- makes the term goysplaining racist. Goy is a Yiddish term for a non-Jew, similar in meaning to Gentile. Merriam-Webster clarifies that goy is "sometimes disparaging,” so the word is not always negative. Neither goy nor goysplaining has anything to do with race.
A play on mansplaining, goysplaining is an informal, widely used, mainstream term for a situation in which someone who isn't Jewish patronizingly explains to someone who is Jewish about Judaism or Jewish traditions, or what constitutes antisemitism, or why the Jew is wrong to be offended. Goysplaining is unfavorable based on a person's actions - not just his identity. Politicians like Hillary Clinton and John Kasich have been accused of goysplaining; yet no one suggested that they were targets of a racial slur or an incitement to violence. The fact that Marotta can't cite even one bona-fide example of a Jew using a racial slur to silence an intactivist should speak volumes.
BEHAVIORS TO PRACTICE Marotta's blog post continued with "Behaviors to Practice." The terminology he used is particularly offensive. For example, he referred to unhappy circumcised men as "survivors of sexual assault." In doing so, he appropriated terminology associated with the Holocaust. For Jews, survivor brings to mind European Jews who lived through the Nazi genocide campaign. In other words, Marotta referred to circumcised men using a term that Jews typically associate with the Holocaust. By falsely and maliciously referring to circumcision as "sexual assault," he minimized the pain of actual rape victims. He claimed that Jewish groups are "abusive" toward intactivists, when nearly all of the evidence points in the opposite direction.
He repeatedly called the Jews "oppressors." He dismissed the prevalence of antisemitism by saying that Jews "view themselves as oppressed" - as if such persecution were merely a subjective opinion rather than established historical fact. He accused Jews of "bringing unrelated subjects into the discussion of circumcision.” This accusation is pretty rich, coming in the same post where he attacked Dr. Cathleen London after intactivists co-opted her tweet by bringing an unrelated subject into her discussion of women's sexual dysfunction. The final entry in our Cult article contains a few examples from the tens of thousands of times in which intactivist trolls disrupted various conversations on social media by injecting their pet obsession into the discussion.
Brendon Marotta’s post is a classic case of projection - a psychological defense mechanism that "involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings." Marotta wags a finger at victims of intactivism and declares, "WE aren't the ones threatening violence and committing harassment; YOU are."
Ironically an article linked in his post described the disturbing "barrage of abuse" by intactivists against one researcher after she published the results of a circumcision study. In other words, his own evidence documents that intactivists are the perpetrators of abuse, not the victims. Below readers can find links to our previous articles about Marotta; some of the posts document similar instances of his habit of projection.
Marotta wrote strategically - to anticipate and preemptively attack any criticism his post might receive. It seems that rather than be open to critical commentary and personal introspection, he plans to label all criticism as "abuse" that he will dismiss on the basis of "Jewish fragility" or similar nonsense.
Marotta‘s post was not a sincere attempt at Jewish outreach. He has as much chance of converting the Jewish community as if he wrote, ”A Jewish Guide To Accepting Christ As Your Lord And Savior.” Rather, he wrote deliberately to be offensive. He wants to provoke a reaction - so that he can pretend to be a victim again.
On March 26 Brendon Marotta published "The Abuse of Jewish Fragility." In the new blog post he doubled down on his deception, hyperbole, projection, and professional victimhood. A March 28 post by David Balashinsky provides an insightful analysis; "Brendon Marotta's 'The Abuse of Jewish Fragility': a Case Study in How to Undermine the Cause of Genital Autonomy through Jewish Scapegoating and the Use of Classic Antisemitic Tropes."
Ryan McAllister, who produced the anti-circumcision lecture, An Elephant in the Hospital, wrote a blog post "Refuting 'Jewish Fragility' and Why Antisemitism Harms the Genital Autonomy (GA) Movement." McAllister criticizes Marotta for putting a derogatory label to "any offense taken by Jewish people to anything he says, some of which is frank discussion about circumcision, but much of which is explicitly antisemitic... It is deeply unfair to assign the blame for medicalized circumcision to Judaism, to assert that Jewish culture or identity are pedophilic, or to call anyone fragile for speaking out against antisemitism. Every use of an antisemitic trope erodes the validity of our message, and also plays into a long history of marginalization and violence against Jewish people."
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