"Kassandra! Where are those friggin' foreskins?!"
(a bad guy, Foreskin Man #5)

No, really. This is a thing.

Foreskin Man is a superhero comic book created by "Intactivist" Matthew Hess in 2010 to battle circumcision. The character has appeared in a handful of issues, fighing the practice by America doctors, and in the Jewish, Muslim, and African tribal worlds. His most recent adventure sets him against a cosmetic company that uses foreskins in their products. The comics feature professional-quality comic art. The writing recalls more than a little Jack Chick, if Chick were obsessed with male genital mutilation instead of radical Christian fundamentalism, fused with the hoariest of superhero conventions.

The comics provide no origin story. Miles Hastwick curates the Museum of Genital Integrity, funded in a large part by a wealthy woman named Aurora (the comics are filled with attractively-drawn women). Beneath the museum he has a batcave sort of a deal where he keeps his blue-and-yellow costume. He wears neither mask nor the expected cowl, but instead conceals his identity by removing the fake beard that he wears in his civilian life. He also has sympathetic associates. In the first issue, an anti-circumcision nurse contacts him with a device concealed in her compact. The issue also establishes her as one of the hero's love interests.

The images in some of his issues have stirred controversy. The second issue involves a pair of Jewish mohels who would have been at home in Nazi propaganda. Add that to Foreskin Man's blond, blue-eyed appearance and many readers had reactions ranging from discomfort to bloody outrage. The third comic features a fairly stereotypical view of tribal Africans. The issue concerning the Muslim practice has been set in Turkey, but it looks very like an old Hollywood B movie's idea of the exotic East. In all fairness, the Caucasian-American villain of the first issue leads a double life as "Doctor Mutilator," a monstrous Jekyll-Hyde creature who takes pleasure in injuring children, and who circumcises boys, even against parental consent.

Both Foreskin Man and his associate, Vulva Girl (who joins him in the third issue) have fairly stereotypical costumes and powers. Foreskin Man is an above average fighter who flies (and occasionally blasts) with the aid of "thruster boots." Vulva Girl's flying and force-bolty powers seem to come from a mystic piece of jewelry.

Vulva Girl, an African superwoman fights female genital mutilation. Hastwick has said that issue exists to expose the hypocrisy of people who oppose female genital mutilation but accept male circumcision. It's a problematic comparison, to be certain. Whatever negative effects removing a foreskin may cause, the practice does not leave the typical male traumatized, open to severe infection, and unable to respond sexually. And while some cultures advocate mutilating female private parts, often in the name of religion, no major religion actually advocates the practice.

Vulva Girl also receives credit for singing Foreskin Man's sexy theme song over at Youtube. Hess wrote the song, which has a seventies kind of vibe... It's a weirdly catchy little number.

Hess, like Chick, is entirely serious, and has lobbied successfully to put anti-circumcision on the San Francisco ballot. He has founded MGMbill, which wants the practice outlawed on anyone under the age of 18. This may or may not be a worthwhile cause. If I had a son, I wouldn't have him circumcised. But Hess's means of publicising the cause may have more than a few people dismissing him as bit of a whack job.

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