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Foreskin Man, meet Vulva Girl

by Jonah Lowenfeld

June 29, 2011 | 1:24 pm

Vulva Girl partners with Foreskin Man in a new issue of the controversial "intactivist" comic book. (Image courtesy www.foreskinman.com)

A new issue of “Foreskin Man,” the anti-circumcision comic book whose treatment of a Jewish ritual circumciser was widely critiqued as anti-Semitic, hit the web on June 29. It introduces Vulva Girl, a female counterpart to the comic book’s blonde, buff, eponymous hero.

Like the first two issues, Foreskin Man No. 3 was written and edited by Matthew Hess, the president of MGMBill.org, a San Diego-based group. Hess wrote the San Francisco ballot proposition which seeks to ban circumcision of boys under 18 in any situation other than a medical emergency. He also drafted a similar proposition that was advanced and later rescinded in Santa Monica.

Foreskin Man No.2 featured an evil Jewish ritual circumciser as its villain—Monster Mohel—and provoked strong condemnations from Jewish organizations, who saw its imagery as anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League called the comic’s depiction of Jewish ritual circumcision, a central rite of Jewish practice that can be traced back to the first book of the Hebrew Bible, “disrespectful and deeply offensive.”

In the latest installment, Foreskin Man heads off to Kenya to battle Githinji, a “ruthless circumciser” of boys, and his wife, Ghinjo, who “has mutilated thousands of girls.” Foreskin Man is saved by Vulva Girl, another flying superhero dedicated to stopping the cutting of genitalia. The two team up to defeat the African circumcising couple.

Equating the surgeries performed on boys and girls is the comic book’s goal, Hess said in a statement released today announcing the publication of Foreskin Man No. 3.

“I think everyone has met at least one person who believes that circumcising girls should be a crime, but circumcising boys is okay,” Hess said in the statement. “The idea behind Foreskin Man #3 is to expose that double standard and help persuade readers that male and female circumcision are really two sides of the same coin.”

Female genital cutting has been illegal in the United States since 1996.

Even among intactivists, as the opponents of circumcision are called, Foreskin Man No. 2 ruffled a number of feathers. Many intactivists—particularly Jewish ones—attempted to distance themselves from the comic’s perceived anti-Semitic imagery.

Hess isn’t backing down, though. “They hate us because we’re blond,” read the trailer for Foreskin Man No. 3, which was released on June 25.“But there’s one thing they can’t stop,” the trailer’s text concluded, before announcing the imminent return of Foreskin Man.

“His new comic does nothing to address the bigotry that’s rife in his previous efforts,” Nancy Appel, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s central Pacific region, said of Hess’s latest.

“In addition,” Appel continued, “it’s of course factually inaccurate to compare male circumcision to female genital mutilation, and Hess’s equation of the two is deeply offensive to all Jews, Muslims and other parents who choose to circumcise their male children.”

Hess’s initiative qualified for inclusion on the San Francisco ballot last month, but opponents of the ballot initiative—lawyers and legislators, not caped crusaders—are fighting to prevent it from being put to a vote this November.

On June 15, a group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming that the ballot proposition seeking to ban circumcision in San Francisco goes against California State Law. And on June 24, Rep. Brad Sherman filed a bill in the House of Representatives that would prevent any state or local government from enacting or enforcing any law prohibiting or regulating circumcision of a minor whose parent or guardian has consented to the procedure. Sherman’s bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Keith Ellison, Henry Waxman, Jerrold Nadler, Howard Berman, Eliot Engel, Sander Levin, Andre Carson, Steve Israel, and Gary Ackerman.

Check out the press release here and the comic itself at foreskinman.com.

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