Thursday, August 1, 2013

social purity and corn flakes

Now it's time for me to get back to my study of A Queer History of the United States. So, I left off talking about the social purity movement.
    By the late nineteenth century society was out of control, not that it's in control today but you get my drift. With the industrial revolution people were moving into the cities, in droves, in search of work. The immigrant population swelled too, and along with all this prostitution, alcoholism, domestic violets, gambling and family abandonment increased tenfold.
    Hundreds of ''social purity'' groups sprang up to try and combat this chaos and mayhem. Groups like the Women's Christian Temperance Union formed in 1874 and the Anti Saloon League formed in 1893. They are two of the most famous of these groups. They felt that widespread male sexual desire was the basis of the countries social problems and that legislating morality was the answer. Victoria Woodhull's ''free-love'' movement and Germany's advancing Gay rights movement, influenced by Whitman and British thinkers and essayist like Oscar Wilde did not stand a chance in turn of the century America. The memberships and supporters of these social purity groups grew year after year until, by the passage of the eighteenth amendment in 1919 which illegalized alcohol, they had millions of members.
    One interesting, and little known, outgrowth of the social purity movement was the pure food movement. Some people thought that sexual desire and alcoholism stemmed from unhealthy food. So, whole lines of breads and crackers were created to control sexual desire and masturbation. The invention of the corn flake was a result of the ''pure food'' movement.

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