Review by Tim Arkell

Brendan Marotta is an American film-maker best known for the award-winning documentary American Circumcision, which can be viewed on Netflix.

Marotta’s recent book, The Intactivist Guidebook, is a beginner’s guide to turning activism into organised advocacy. The book is, as the title conveys, marketed to intactivists (a portmeanteau of ‘intact’ and ‘activists’) who comprise the global genital autonomy movement. However, while Marotta draws on examples from the intactivist movement, the lessons contained within The Intactivist Guidebook can be broadly applied, and the book is a useful resource to activists and advocates agitating for change in any movement.

One of the issues facing intactivists is that of messaging, namely how to reach the right target audiences with the right messages. As Marotta explains, there is a spectrum of allies and messaging should be tailored to different audiences depending where they sit on the spectrum.

Marotta details how the intactivist movement and organisations that comprise it can become more effective through: 

  • improved recruiting methods; 
  • building lateral allies; 
  • collaboration with other organisations globally, sharing each other’s resources, skills and lessons learned; 
  • up-skilling people in the movement; and 
  • identifying and avoiding hidden pitfalls that might derail individuals and the movement from their shared goal. 

Marotta also highlights a common difficulty many in the intactivist movement have experienced – the ineffectiveness of the lone voice. It is much easier for organisations charged with the welfare and protection of children to dismiss matters brought to their attention by individuals than by organisations with the people, money and skills to effect change. The book’s cover, a circle of hands joined around a broken scalpel, says it all: We will only end circumcision by working together.

Overall, The Intactivist Guidebook is an easy and worthwhile read for anyone wishing to become a more pro-active and effective member of a better-coordinated and organised intactivist movement. 

The Intactivist Guidebook is available on Amazon and through all good book retailers.