“Watching Jonathon Conte’s (1981-2016) speech to the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012 changed my life. Unfortunately, I will never have the privilege of meeting Jonathon in person. I have never heard someone articulate so calmly and devastatingly the trauma of discovering that one is a survivor of genital mutilation. Jonathon’s work inspires me to face my shame as a survivor of sexual assault and to advocate tenaciously for the fundamental and essential human right to own and enjoy my whole body.”
– Luke Artanis, co-founder of Rose City Intactivists
Please meet us at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 9:00 am. We are providing intactivist signs to carry and wristbands to wear. The Walk Out of the Darkness begins at 10:00 am and follows a scenic, stroller-friendly route across two bridges and spans 2.5 miles.
Here is an excellent tribute for Jonathon:
And here is the video and transcript of his AAP speech:
“As a child, I grew up believing that my body was whole. I grew up assuming that my penis looked and worked the same as any other. I grew up thinking that the scar on my genitals was just a natural part of my body and that all men had it. I grew up figuring that the soreness brought on by clothing and masturbation were normal aspects of being a guy. I never questioned why so many types of underwear were painful, I only found it strange that anyone could manage to wear them.
I was about 14 years old when I learned that part of my penis had been cut off. It seems like this is something that one might realize earlier in life and yet I never did. I was never taught about normal male anatomy and no one ever explained to me that I had undergone genital surgery as an infant. When I learned the devastating truth, my stomach sank and my throat closed up. It wasn’t easy for me to accept reality. Even though I understood that part of my body had been removed, I was in denial about the implications of this fact.
I battled with depression, particularly whenever I had to see my penis. Each time that I got undressed to take a shower, I would see the scar and I would be reminded of what was stolen from me. Each time that I urinated, I would be reminded that I would never know how my body was meant to look and how my body was meant to feel. I felt violated and helpless. I felt embarrassed and angry. I felt robbed and betrayed. I felt incomplete and damaged. And yet, I was incapable of verbalizing any of this. I was paralyzed by embarrassment of my condition and by fear that others would neither understand nor sympathize.
It took over a decade of trying to cope with my emotions before I gained the strength to take a closer look at the issue. I read about the functions of the intact penis. I studied the numerous physical, physiological and psychological problems that result from male circumcision and I began to recognize many of them in my own life. I learned of the way that babies are restrained during the surgery and the various techniques that are used to rip, clamp, crush, and cut their tiny bodies. I came to understand the greed, arrogance, and ignorance that perpetuates the genital mutilation of children…
So now I speak out. Because I don’t want any other child to have to make the same painful discovery that I did: That they were denied their human right to keep the whole body with which they were born.”
– Jonathon Conte, AAP Conference, New Orleans, 2012