Thursday, January 10, 2013

Constipation = Masturbation?

I’d read before that in the late 1800s there was a lot of hysteria about sexuality, masturbation in particular being considered a dangerous scourge (because everybody secretly knew they were doing it?), and that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was originally invented in order to (somehow) prevent masturbation. Why Kellogg thought cereals might be helpful in the anti-masturbation fight I don’t recall. I mean, who can remember all the dubious notions that underpin modern life? So when I came across this explanation, that constipation could be a sexual thrill, I had to blink:
Constipation was judged to excite the nerves of the pelvis and encourage insalubrious behavior; both Sylvester Graham’s eponymous cracker and John Kellogg’s breakfast cereals were part of the effort to ensure regular, healthy bowel movements that would not cause undue stimulation to sensitive bits of the anatomy.

Puts a different light on those nice ladies pushing Ex-Lax on TV.

source: Straight: the surprisingly short history of heterosexuality by Hanne Blank


David Lee Ingersoll said...

I liked the title of the book that you're quoting from so much that I've reserved it from the library. Too bad I probably don't have time to read it.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

The title caught my eye. And it's a fairly short book, with only a little jargon in it, lucidly written.

The title is a little misleading - it's not so much the history of heterosexual behavior but how back in the late 19th C. scientists/researchers/theorists decided there was a need for a word (two, actually - heterosexual and homosexual) in order to talk about behavior they were studying. The author then explores how the labels influenced cultural understanding and expectations.