Mikael Aktor

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Mikael Aktor

Mikael Aktor (* June 12, 1949), is a Jewish intactivist from Denmark, Associate Professor, PhD, University of Southern Denmark, Department of History, Study of Religions in Odense, and vice chairman of Intact Denmark.

He spoke at the WWDOGA 2017 and 2018 in Cologne, Germany.

One day after the WWDOGA 2017, he held a speech about "Jewish Voices in the Danish Debate on MGM and the Danish Legal Situation" on the Symposium "Jungenbeschneidung in Deutschland - Eine Bestandsaufnahme" (Circumcision on boys in Germany - an inventory) in Düsseldorf.

The head of The Jewish Society in Denmark, Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, urged Aktor to read a statement of Rosenberg Asmussen which informs the auditorium of the Scientific Symposium, that Aktor does not speak on behalf of all Danish Jews. Aktor did so but also stated that he had never claimed to speak for all Danish Jews. The host of the Symposium, German University professor Matthias Franz, later informed the auditorium, that Rosenberg Asmussen had also asked him to publish the statement which he refused to do, saying that science will never follow advices from religion.

In 2020 he spoke in a video message on WWDOGA:

Hi everybody, I'm Mikael from Intact Denmark. I am Jewish, I was circumcised as a baby and now I'm [vice] chairman of the Danish organization Intact Denmark. I wish MOGiS and the other organizations the best of luck with your online manifestation of the Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy.

Today I want to talk to you about shame. The other day I read a very interesting article about the social function of shame. The occasion was that some Danish politicians had been critized for telling people to be shameful for not keeping social distance. Shame should not be a political tool, the critics say. But the author of this article was actually much more nuanced.

There is shame for a meaning, for a collective purpose: we should be shameful of racism, we should be shameful for creating more and more inequality of society, and companies should be shameful of tax evasion, etc. But then there is the brutal shame, and the author mentioned Donald Trump as an example of that. He is shameless. His total showdown with shame tells us how important shame is: It is a precondition of civilization because - and that's the interesting thing: because in shame the norms of the community are tied directly to the body of each individual citizen. Shame is an emotion, it is a bodily reaction.

And this makes me think of the slogan of Intact Denmark which in Danish goes: "Man skærer da ikke i raske børn!" In German it would be something like: "Man schneidet doch nicht in gesunde Kinder!" And in English it's a bit more difficult to translate, but I guess something like: "Of course, no one should cut into healthy children's bodies."

Now some of our opponents have critized our slogan saying that it's a way of othering or pointing fingers at those minorities that practice circumcision. We are allegedly marginalizing these minorities from the community of good citizens by the simple truism that of course no parent deliberately want to harm their child and the accusation that that is exactly what they do.

The critique is an emotional critique. Those who defend the practice of circumcision do not want to be exposed as some who cut and harm healthy children. It's indeed shameful and they have good reasons to feel hit by our slogan. They critizise our way of speaking about circumcision in realistic terms, as a harmful amputation of healthy parts of boys' penises. They only want to talk about circumcision in positive phrases as a welcome to the world and a ritual which has great significance, etc.

But from the reactions to our slogan it's clear that the accusation of harming a child unnecessarily, is received with shame. Therefore the newspaper article made me understand that our slogan does its job. It makes defenders of circumcision feel shameful which they should.

But not only parents and circumcisers. Also countries that make circumcision of boys legal. Like for instance Denmark and Germany and the rest of the world should feel shameful. Even the United Nations must be blamed. Although UN has a document, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, whose aim clearly is to protect children from unnecessary violence and harm, UN has not been willing to accept the logic of their own convention which is that this goes for all children, not only girls. Instead UN talks evasively and don't want to address the issue directly.

This is the greatest shame - that international human rights organizations do not draw the consequences of their own resolutions and that states, that have subscribed to the convention, don't follow up by action.

So let's go on pointing out the shame of circumcision. We don't need aggressive hate speech, we don't need verbal attacks, we only need to point out that cutting into baby's healthy genitals is not the right way of treating our children.

Thank you and again best of luck with the online Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy!
Mikael Aktor (WWDOGA 2020)[1]

Publikationer

  • REFweb Aktor, Mikael (12 december 2019). Jøde, muslim eller ej – lad drengebørn have deres kønsorganer i fred, Jyllands-Posten. Hentet 13. december 2019.
  • with Lena Nyhus: "Male Genital Mutilation: Bodily Integrity, Genital Autonomy and Religious Freedom." 2016. Farum: Intact Denmark.
  • "Comments to the ‘Preliminary findings of Country Visit to Denmark’ of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.“ 2016. Copenhagen: Intact Denmark.
  • "Whose Rights? The Danish Debate on Ritual Infant Male Circumcision as a Human Rights Issue." 2015. In Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion.

Eksterne henvisninger

Referencer

  1. REFweb WWDOGA 2020 - Mikael Aktor, YouTube, MOGiS e.V.. Hentet 15. maj 2020.