One week after launching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, American Secret, an anti-circumcision documentary that “pushes back against this rarely questioned cultural norm, which, though ingrained domestically has long since fallen out of favor abroad,” has raised more than $32,000 of its $55,000 funding goal with the help of 305 backers.
With 19 days to go, it seems the odds are stacked in project creator Francelle Wax’s favor and just may be a sign that the zeitgeist is ripe for cultural change. Here’s the provocative trailer on Kickstarter:
As a vocal child rights and human rights activist, I’m inspired to see a film of this sort getting such traction. I had a chance to talk with Francelle and get caught up with her project.
Anthony David Adams: What is your film about?
Francelle Wax: On the face of it, circumcision in the USA, both how it became a staple of mainstream medicine, and why the practice persists today. More broadly, it’s about cultural blind spots, cultural inertia, institutionalized ignorance, and the difficulty of admitting to having made a mistake and how there are some serious repercussions for that.
Why did circumcision become widespread in the United States?
As an open and unapologetic effort to curb lust and masturbation, because both were seen as vices in their own right, but also because physicians believed that masturbation would result in all variety of health maladies.
Why is this project important?
There can be quite a cost, a danger, to being unaware of your cultural blind spots. This film will make people aware that most of us, most of the time, are making decisions on auto-pilot. The ability to carefully think through a decision is a skill that gets strengthened the more that you flex it.
People don’t often find or create occasions to “train” in this manner. Selfishly, I’d prefer a nation, a world, a government, where people are more “cognitively fit.” Because most people in this country become parents, and many of them to sons, thinking through circumcision gives a large number of people an opportunity to practice stretching this muscle.
What is the biggest criticism of your work so far?
That it “only presents one side.” There is a preponderance of evidence that keeping children intact is absolutely safe, healthy, and beneficial both in infancy and adulthood. It does not make sense to give equal time to weak or unsubstantiated counter claims. If someone were to stand before a classroom of children and present all countering theories around relativity or other scientific law, as being equally likely, we would call that fraud. Unfortunately, in Documentary people refer to that practice as “balanced.” I think that my industry should be held to the same rigorous standards applied to that of the hard sciences, especially given that, in this day and age, the reach of anything digital carries farther than that of an un-recorded classroom exchange. A doc on YouTube is going to be seen by more people than a single teacher will ever address over the course of a career.
What’s your goal for the campaign, and what is your overall goal for the film?
We’re doing so well and I hope that we continue to attract pledges as well as contributions from outside of the kickstarter. The film has Fiscal Sponsorship through 501c3, Fractured Atlas. Of course I’d love for the film to receive wide scale distribution. It’s still in production, but all options will be explored, including the festival circuit and hosting my own screenings.
How can people support this cause and project?
Pledge to our Kickstarter campaign. You can pledge even a dollar. Post the Kickstarter link to your Facebook or Google + page. Tweet about it. You can use shortened versions of the link: bit.ly/AmericanSecret and kck.st/1aRQilN
*Kickstarter is an online platform used to raise money for creative projects via crowdfunding.
Author disclosures: I’m a longtime supporter of the pro-intact movement, of Francelle Wax, and of this project. My (clothed) crotch appears in B-roll footage in the film; I’ve consulted for the doc’s crowdfunding process; and one of my companies, CreditCovers.com: skins for credit cards, has donated product to be given away to project backers.