This article was originally published in The Good Men Project here.
Why would the American Academy Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decline several thousand dollars for an ad for a film featuring several of members of their organization? Earlier this month, I contacted the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the largest circumcising physician’s professional organization in the country, to place an advertisement at their upcoming convention for my documentary “American Circumcision“.
The ad would have been an info card for our film which read “Featuring Multiple Members Of The American Academy of Pediatrics” at the top. I was told getting an info card in each person’s bag costs $5,500 for one day of the conference, and $10,000 for both days—an amount which I would have happily paid. However, I received a message back from the person handling advertising which read “The AAP has declined your ad.” No reason was given, and I was not given the name of a person to contact. At the time I am writing this, I also have not received comment from the media contact listed on their website.
Why would the AAP reject an ad for a film featuring their members? The documentary, which explores the modern circumcision debate, features top members of the AAP, including the chair of their 1989 task force on circumcision and a member of their most recent 2012 policy statement on circumcision.
Could it be because we also cover critics of circumcision and the AAP? Could it be because we discuss their retracted policy statement in which they advocated for female circumcision? Could it be because they don’t want to share a film where a member of their organization acknowledges the anti-circumcision Intactivist movement as the “more interesting controversy or topic for discussion?”
Whatever the reason, it must have been worth refusing several thousand dollars of advertising revenue for the AAP to make sure each of their members didn’t receive an insert with info about our film.
Our film is an objective look at the modern circumcision debate which features perspectives from all sides of the issue. We put the scientific studies we are discussing onscreen and even go through the research on HIV and circumcision with the authors of those studies. If the AAP is indeed an evidence-based organization, simply interested in what is in the best interest of children, then they would benefit from a film like ours. They should be promoting this film to their members as an educational tool. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has yet to issue a statement on the film “American Circumcision”.
The only reason I can see that the AAP would not engage with a major documentary featuring multiple members of their organization is that they afraid of having a public debate on circumcision. By now the AAP should be aware of our film. When we screened at the Social Justice Film Festival in Seattle (where won a Silver Jury Prize award), I invited Douglas Diekema, bioethicist for the AAP’s task force on circumcision to come see the film. (To my knowledge, he didn’t come.) Every pro-circumcision expert I interviewed was well-aware of the Intactivist movement, including those from the AAP.
The AAP has a history of avoiding this issue. Intactivist groups used to be able to have a booth inside the AAP convention. Now, they have to protest in the streets. Every year, those protests grow bigger, with this year set to be one of the biggest yet.
This issue is not going away, nor is our film. Circumcision rates are falling in American. Multiple European countries, including Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark are currently discussing circumcision bans. Our film just got on international platforms, meaning that the world can now see what America does to its children. As circumcision rates declines and the public has greater access to information, the AAP will eventually have to engage our film and the others speaking on this issue. If the evidence is on their side, then they should embrace this opportunity for dialogue with the public. If the evidence is not on their side, then they might want to hide and avoid public debate as long as possible. It seems the second is the strategy they’ve chosen.