Friday, August 2, 2013

elders, comstock and the movies

So, picking up where I left off yesterday, the social purity/pure food movement[s] may seem completely off track today but they had a lasting effect on society. Long after these movements were over stigmas about sex, sexuality and masturbation lingered on well into the 20th century. Remember Bill Clinton's Firing of Surgeon general Joycelyn Elders for merely suggesting that masturbation was perfectly normal and natural in 1994? But social purity philosophy went back to the puritans. The turn of the century social purist, like the puritans, believed that sex was for reproduction only and that any non-reproductive sex, even heterosexual oral and anal sex was sinful.
    As more of these groups formed, like The Union for Concerted Moral Effort[founded in 1891] and The American Purity Alliance[founded in 1895], they're influence in government grew. In 1874 Anthony Comstock, who founded The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in in 1873, successfully lobbied congress to illegalize the sending of obscene, lewd or lascivious materials through the mail. This was the infamous ''Comstock Act'' that would collide with the fledgling American LGBT rights movement some eighty-eight years later. Not only did this mean pornography but also birth control, sex education materials and even books on human anatomy! The social purity movement also moved to censor the arts, especially the burgeoning motion picture industry.

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