Project: OUCH! is the creation of men’s movement leader and children’s rights activist Dan Bollinger. Here is what he says his motivation was for making this unusual venue available to so many people.
“I have taught personal growth weekend workshops to men as well as mixed-gender groups. During these workshops many of the participants worked on early childhood traumas that continued to trouble them. I saw how early sexual assaults and childhood trauma had a devastatingly negative effect on the participant’s adult lives. What helped them was telling their story, often for the first time, to others who had similar experiences.
Later, as a result of dealing with the emotional residue of my own forced genital cutting–at age three days–I became involved with the genital integrity movement. I noticed my colleagues often shied away from dealing with the emotional aspects of this trauma. If they were doing that, so were people not involved with the issue. I wondered how I could change that unfortunate behavior.
Originally, I wanted to create a space for men to talk about their circumcisions. While working on this idea, I asked others for input and found that mothers wanted to write their stories of regret at having circumcised their sons. And women said they wanted to write about how they had been cut. Family members wanted to write about the child they saved, or didn’t save, from genital harm. I realized that many people wanted to tell their own stories, but also stories about someone else’s forced genital cutting.
Once I realized that there are no limits to the number of stories that could be told and saved using the internet, I expanded the project to everyone who had been effected by a forced genital cutting. Having one place for all people to tell their stories is doubly valuable since it also illustrates the similarities that men and women have with their feelings of anger, shame, and violation.
Alive on our planet are 650 million males, 140 million females, and an untold number of intersex children that have been forcibly deprived of nature’s birthright. I hope this project will get survivors talking and the rest listening.”
Dan’s forced genital cutting story, including his recurring nightmare originating with his circumcision at age 3 days, is the first story in blOUCH!