OCEAN CITY — An otherwise quiet and peaceful post-holiday afternoon was marked by a rather unusual protest even for Ocean City standards when representatives of the “Bloodstained Men” activist group set up shop at the foot of the Route 50 bridge to get their message out.
Passersby on Route 50 at N. Division Street on Tuesday afternoon witnessed three men and one woman wearing white coveralls with a red paint splotch on the crotch symbolizing generations of male children circumcised at birth and called for the abolition of the centuries-old practice. The small group in Ocean City on Tuesday was an extension of a much larger event in Washington D.C. last week marking the 20th anniversary of Genital Integrity Awareness Week. The Ocean City protest on Tuesday also coincided with the 16th anniversary of a ban on female circumcision passed in the U.S. in 1997.
“We’re protesting to end forced genital cutting of male children here in the U.S. and worldwide and bring them into equality with female children,” said Delmarva Area Intactivist Group spokesperson Shelly Wright. “We’re trying to get the word out about circumcision because it shouldn’t be forced on male children. They should have the right to decide that when they are adults and can make decisions on their own.”
Wright was one of four protestors to set up shop at the busy intersection in Ocean City on Tuesday and was joined by three other activists from New Zealand, Texas and Sacramento, Calif., ironically just about under the mileage sign for his own hometown over 3,000 miles away at the western end of Route 50. Wright said the mock blood-stained coveralls were an attempt to force people to face the fact that infant circumcision inflicts permanent physical, psychological and sexual damage on male infants paramount to mutilation.
The protestors held up signs with varied messages including “say no to penis cutting,” and “occupy foreskin,” for example. Wright’s own sign read “For Sale: $431, Infant Foreskin Sold by Hospitals.” She said it is a common practice for hospitals to sell the foreskin removed from circumcised infants, which, she said, is a major ingredient in many high-end anti-aging creams.
Generally, the protestors were met with some cheers, some jeers and more than a few honking horns. The Ocean City Police Department was hanging around close to the scene, but only interceded when one of the protestors briefly stood in the middle of N. Division Street facing oncoming traffic from the bridge.