JANUARY 2014: Over the last year, much attention has been paid—and rightly so—to the men in the intactivist movement who’ve found the courage to speak publicly about the negative impact circumcision has had on their lives. But that is only part of the story. Gaye Blake-Roberts, a member of NORM-UK (Britain’s leading anti-circumcision organization) for several years, has long been committed to intactivism, particularly from the perspective of women—the mothers, partners, and friends of men who have been involuntary victims of genital cutting.
In her professional life, Gaye serves as Director of the Wedgwood Museum in Staffordshire, England. She’s also Deputy Chairman of the Trustees of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, trustee of several other organizations, and president of the College of Fellows of Keele University, Staffordshire. (You can watch a fascinating video of her introduction to the Wedgwood Museum here.)
But protecting boys’ rights is her true passion. In a lecture she gave at an annual NORM-UK general meeting, Gaye made the point that male genital mutilation would never be properly and openly discussed until the men who were affected were willing to speak openly and without embarrassment about their damage—a concept which led to her proposal of a conference to help partners understand the impact of circumcision and issues experienced by their loved ones. Much to Gaye’s surprise and frustration, the idea was met with ridicule by some of the very men in the movement she was looking to support.
Gaye persevered, approaching the issue from a different angle by offering to guest-edit a special edition of NORM NEWS, the house magazine of NORM-UK, presented from an entirely feminine perspective. This groundbreaking collection of essays, written by women from all around the globe, has just been published, and you can download a PDF of it here.
“The instant and enthusiastic response from everybody I approached was inspirational,” Gaye says. “Those who provided perspective from North America included Marilyn Milos of NOCIRC, and Georganne Chapin, whose work with Intact America truly has changed attitudes throughout the United States. Together with contributors from the U.K., Finland, Germany and other nations, the all-female edition of the magazine presents a truly international and cohesive band of women. My hope is that this will inspire others and help men realize that mothers, girlfriends, wives and partners can be sympathetic, supportive and, more important, influential in developing a greater understanding of the range of problems created by male circumcision carried out on babies and boys who have not consented.”