I’ve always thought of San Francisco as the very paragon of a live-and-let-live city. But it turns out if has a curious attachment to the male foreskin. This November, believe it or not, a measure will be on the ballot to ban circumcision for all males under the sage of 18, making it an offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. Talk about putting skin in the game.
When I lived in Western Europe for 11 years it was common to hear attacks on circumcision, which for a great many was an effective substitute for direct attacks on Jews. Whenever you want to demean an ethnic group you first infer that there is something not-quite-right about their sexuality as a form of humiliation. So it’s to be expected that those who have a problem with Jews make a habit of criticizing circumcision. But I have always wondered why, when it comes to sexual ethnic stereotypes designed to categorize groups, we Jews, as opposed to say, African-Americans, always get the short end of the stick.
Efforts to delegitimize circumcision as a barbaric act and make it illegal are de rigueur on the other side of the Atlantic. In August, 2006 a Finnish court ruled that a Muslim mother who had circumcised her four-year-old boy was guilty of an illegal assault, and in 2010 a Jewish couple in Finland were fined for causing bodily harm to their son when he was circumcised by a mohel from the UK. Leave it to the Finns to further their claims as catalysts for Middle-East peace by bringing together Muslims and Jews as common brothers in circumcision persecution.
Sweden has a reputation of being a pretty laid-back nation but it stiffens in the face of circumcision. In 2001 when it enacted a draconian law requiring a medical doctor or an anesthesia nurse to accompany a registered circumciser and for an anesthetic to be applied to a baby beforehand. Swedish Jews and Muslim banded together to object and the World Jewish Congress condemned the law as “the first legal restriction on Jewish religious practice in Europe since the Nazi era.”
But all these attempts to ban circumcision belie the medical facts. Circumcision has now been proven as the most effective means by which to stop the transmission of HIV-AIDS, with the British Medical Journal reporting that circumcised men are 8 times less likely to contract the infection. Circumcision removes what are called Langerhans cells that exist in the foreskin and which are susceptible to HIV. Langerhans cells have special receptors that may grant the virus access into the body.
Circumcision also significantly reduces the transmission of other STD’s like genital herpes and syphilis and also reduces the risk of urinary-tract infection. Men who are circumcised have 100 percent immunity from contracting penile cancer which, though rare, is best probably best avoided completely.
Male circumcision is also much healthier for women and significantly reduces the risk of cervical cancer by at least twenty percent, according to according to an article in the British Medical Journal of April 2002. Cancer of the cervix in women is due to the Human Papilloma Virus. It thrives under and on the foreskin from where it can be transmitted during intercourse.
So if the medical benefits of circumcision are so clear, why the effort to ban it? Simple. This is part of an ongoing fanatical secular assault that seeks to portray religion as a giant party-pooper, hell-bent on crushing any pleasure in sex and reducing copulation to nothing more a cold and sterile act of baby-making.
Hence, opponents of male circumcision are in the habit of comparing it to the horrors of female circumcision or clitoridectomy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The latter involves the removal of the clitoris so as to deny a woman any form of sexual pleasure and is expressly condemned as an abomination by every major world religion. But the removal of the foreskin actually increases sexual sensitivity in the penis, or so I am told, as I have no actual experience with a foreskin.
The lie that religion frowns on sexual pleasure is widespread. In fact, deeply fulfilling, ecstatic, and orgasmic sex is a must in Jewish law which makes it a sin for a man to have sex with his wife without ensuring she climaxes first. Judaism insists that sex be accompanied by exhilaration and pleasure as a bonding experience that leads to emotional connection and intimacy.
Indeed, we Jews could teach even the highly sexually adventurous people of the Golden Gate City a thing or two about great sex, the proof of which is that we alone, among all the nations of the world, are still here after thousands of years, due to the fact that our circumcised ancestors have never stopped doing it.
Yes, when it comes to shout-out-loud, amazing, electrifying, unforgettable, take-me-to-the-moon-and-back sex, circumcised men are quite simply a cut above.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is author of the international best-sellers “Kosher Sex,” “Kosher Adultery,” and “The Kosher Sutra,” and will soon publish the series climax, “Kosher Ecstasy.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.