sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

February 23, 2011

Oh, San Francisco!

Filed under: society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:10 pm

Via Political Junkie Mom, SF activists are trying to ban infant circumcision:

Self-described “civil rights advocates” say that a ballot proposition to ban circumcision is on track for gathering signatures, meaning that San Franciscans may vote on the measure this November.

The proposed law is being spearheaded by local resident Lloyd Schofield, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

She says:

Considering the studies that show circumcision reduces STD transmission, I’d think liberals were all for it. But the taint of religious practice obviously negates any connoted benefit. It’s in the Bible, so it’s obviously bad!

And asks another question:

[W]hy does one of the most homosexual cities in America want to ban the “surgical AIDS vaccine“?

Some parents chose to not circumcise their baby boys, and they are quite evangelical about it.  They do not, as far as I know, try to ban the practice.  But who is Lloyd Schofield?  The man who likes to make off color jokes

lives with his partner near Buena Vista Park, and they have no children.

So how did he adopt this issue?
Schofield became interested in the topic after seeing the Bay Area Intactivists marching in the Gay Pride Parade a few years back and has since become an “intactivist” himself.
Bay Area Intactivists have a facebook page.  So who are they and what do they do? This is their photo page:
I thought I’d see pictures of granola moms cheerfully smooching their sons, silly me!  But, I know, dressing up as a penis once a year is not sufficiently satisfying, so Bay Area Intactivists have the urge to outlaw a perfectly safe practice that’s been around for thousands of years and is a part of other people’s religious practice.
I once talked to a woman who says that she’ll raise her children without religion, but will let them choose their own once they turn 18.  “Let”?  By the time they turn 18 her children will be able to do pretty much anything without her permission.  Some teens chose their faith before reaching adulthood.  For instance, Bay Area native Johnny Walker a.k.a. Johnny Taliban converted to Islam in his teens.
Presumably the woman I mentioned wouldn’t have a problem with the ban on infant circumcision.  After all, in her view religion is somewhat of a mature practice.  Better have the state to make decisions about religious rites before parents take charge.  Actually, I should probably leave that woman alone.  When I talked to her several years ago her first son was a month or two old.  She might have different opinions now.
Perhaps Lloyd Schofield doesn’t know this, but as parents we make all sorts of decisions on behalf of our children, including decisions about their religion (or the lack of it), and decisions that has to do with their bodies.  Every time I take my child to a hospital for a routine procedure, I have to sign multiple forms.  It’s up to me to chose a conventional or “boutique” vaccination schedule for my kids.  Or chose not to vaccinate, which would mean that they can’t go to school or pre-school.  If I were to pierce my daughter’s ears, which is practically a rite of passage in some Hispanic cultures, that would be my choice too.
My children were born Jewish, and I intend to raise them within the Jewish cultural and religious tradition.  My son had a bris so he can practice properly as a Jew.  The fact that circumcision has certain medical benefits is reassuring, but that’s not why I had my son circumcised.  I did it because it’s a Jewish rite which doesn’t leave any lasting damage.  Not that my religion would permit the practice if it would put the infant in danger. My son cried briefly; he cries much more when he gets his shots.  The cut was tiny, and it healed really well.
Even the enlightened French do it: Sarkozy’s grandson was bris millah.
And you know what, there are plenty lesbians giving birth to baby boys and circumcising them.  And even raising them Jewish.  And perhaps both raising them Jewish and marching in Pride Parades with their tots, which I think is a really bad call.  But they probably don’t dress up as naked penises.
If I had to guess what possessed Lloyd Schofield to get into intactivism, I’d say it’s desire to talk about male anatomy in socially suctioned ways and fear that circumcision dampens male pleasure.  Only according to studies it doesn’t.  So why not get a life, and stop harassing people about their choices and their families.  All the while bringing shame on their city:
Those familiar with such ballot questions say the initiative stands virtually no chance of passing and is destined to become the latest measure to bring ridicule to San Francisco, like the failed 2008 proposition that would have barred the police from enforcing laws against prostitution.
UPDATE: Did I have to guess what possessed Lloyd Schofield to get into intactivism?  Circumcision Ban Seems More Focused on Penises Than Children’s Rights.


  1. Thanks for the link. Gotta love the costumes. I saw the fb page, too–I’m willing to wager a bet that all ideas born at Gay Pride parades are best left at … Gay Pride parades.

    It is comforting, nonetheless, that it’s not likely to pass. Sometimes non-SF residents like me wonder. ; )

    Comment by pjMom — February 24, 2011 @ 4:10 am

    • Yeah, the costumes… Some say that any mascot already resembles male genitalia, so why not bring the point home?

      Comment by edgeofthesandbox — February 25, 2011 @ 1:09 am

  2. Ban circumcision, but not abortions? I think the latter causes slightly more damage and leaves less “intact”. I wonder what the intactivist thinks of that?

    Comment by daniel noe — March 14, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  3. …………………..It would be nice if some of the reporting on this subject focused on the many Jews who are opposed to circumcision.
    Some Jews feel the time has come for a symbolic bris without surgery.

    Jewish Groups for Genital Integrity
    * Jews Against Circumcision
    * Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ron Goldman, Ph.D.
    * Beyond the Bris: Jewish Parenting Blog
    * A Case for Bris without Milah.

    Comment by Intactivist Jew — August 11, 2011 @ 12:46 am

    • I feel that disproportional amount of reporting is focused on these fringe characters.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — August 11, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  4. Perfectly safe practice as in may cause shock, heart attack and even death? Doesnt cause loss.of.sensitivity? 70% of nerve endings are located in the foreskin.
    Unvaccinated children CAN and DO attend school. You clearly are uninformed.
    Furthermore, circumcision is not recommended by any major health organization in the world. It removes a sensitive functioning organ agaibst a childs will. For the record female circumcision only became illegal in 1997 in US. And if you recall men and women are built of the same tissues ie testes and ovaries. Well, in this regard they are the same.
    The procedure is horrifying starting with pumping their stomachs, strapping their bodies to a circumcision table, clamping, cutting the fused skin and… Leaving a bloody nub. So disgusting.
    The foreskin has sexual function as well as cleaning bacterias, like a woman does. It protects the penis. The penis is self lubricating with secretions from these glands. When circumcised, the glans are no longer smoith but dry and bumpy.
    Get your facts straight. Circumcision causes many problems, changes baseline readings in the brain in areas the effect emotion and reasoning, is an early childhood trauma and at least 3 cases of schitzophrenia have been reported in adult circumcisions.
    This is cosmetic. There arent benefits. And babies die, or live forever alteted, damaged and nobody even does the research? Good job spreading ignorance.

    Comment by Brittany — June 25, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    • Infant circumcision is perfectly safe as reflected by thousands of years of Jewish history. Millions well-adjusted, productive adults had brits.
      My guess is that the female circumcision was not illegal in the US — if you are right — because it wasn’t practiced here.
      Unvaccinated children is school are a public safety buzzard. That’s why we have outbreaks of deadly diseases in places like LA.
      AAP goes back and forth on whether or not to recommend circumcision. WHO recommends it in Africa. I’m not aware of any major health organization *not* recommending it.
      If I am uninformed, argue with my links.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 25, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

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