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This Day in My History

2001:  If I Had a Cause
2002:  The Torch is Passed

2003:  Greasing My Palm
2004:  I'm Not Ready for Technology
2005:  From the Nursery

2006:  Off to the Spa


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(Updated 1/15
"Snow in April")

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"The Cat Who Could Read Backwards"
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I THINK I'LL SKIP THE CORN FLAKES

21 January 2007

I am constantly amazed at the very strange places Internet research takes you.

Dr. G has re-entered my life.  He is preparing a midlife women's seminar, to be presented in March, and has asked me to design a web site for him.

This will be the second web site that I will have designed for him.  He has a high-priced web site for the office, but when he decided to advertise his ...uh... plastic surgical procedures (knowing that Dr. G is a gynecologist, feel free to let your imagination run wild), he asked if I would design a web site specifically for that business.

I'm not sure if it was because he felt I would charge him less than the astronomical prices he was being charged for the office web site, or if it was because he felt more comfortable sharing the photos he wanted posted on the site with me, since I'd been at the business end of the exam table.  I tend to think it was the money aspect, tho.  I doubt that Dr. G is uncomfortable about anything that has to do with the human body.

Anyway, I took the day off from driving down to be with my mother and spent the day working on the web site.  The seminar is going to be a collaboration among several women's health practitioners and I already don't like one of them, sight unseen.

All the others have submitted bios and photos for the web site; this particular person has submitted what looks like a copy of a degree, a tiny personal statement and a photo which I am to download from a web site (which is half the size of the other photos).  From this I am to write the bio myself and try to make the biography page consistent with the other bio pages.

In doing research on this person for the bio, I came across a publication which dealt with all areas of women's health. I was intrigued because at least part of the study seems to have been done among American Catholic nuns.

There was an absolutely fascinating chapter on the history of masturbation ("Self pleasure or sin?") in which I learned the following:

It was thought that certain food products could help quell the urge to masturbate. J.H. Kellogg produced corn flakes for that reason. Sylvester Graham created the Graham cracker with a similar purpose in mind. Both these men became popular sexual advisers. Graham prescribed that males eat grains and wheat rather than meat. Further, he advised sleeping on hard wooden beds and taking strenuous exercise to ward off the dire results of masturbation.

Now tell me, would you turn to the guy who created graham crackers for advice on your sex life? 

(This does, however, explain a line in Oliver!, where Mr. Bumble, who has been called to the funeral parlor to which he delivered Oliver because the boy was running rampant.  Bumble discovers that Oliver had been given a speck of meat the night before and explains the erratic behavior by scolding "MEAT, Madam! MEAT!")

In reading through this chapter the thing that leaps out over and over again is the ridiculous obsession human beings have on sex, sexuality, and its various manifestations. In American society today we are appalled at the barbaric practice of removal of the clitoris by some African societies and yet this very thing was advised in this country in the mid 1880s to cure the "disease" of masturbation, which was believed to cause "vexing mental disorders" in women, a procedure recommended up through the middle 1930s.

Between 1897 and 1940, eleven editions of Holt's "Disease and Infancy in Childhood" were published, all of which condemned masturbation as harmful and advised things like mechanical restraints and corporal punishment for young children caught touching themselves.

All of this made me think of the kind of conflicting sexual attitudes in my own family.  My father made everything about sex seem like the dirtiest thing in the world.  I remember the day I was home sick and he sat on my bed and decided to explain the birds and bees to me, reminding me over and over again that touching myself in any way was "self abuse" and was a terrible sin.

Contrast that with an absolutely delightful conversation I once taped among 3 of my aunts and my mother (a tape which my mother has lost....or destroyed!) and their laughter about sex, how useful one aunt found a clothes dryer, and other household appliances.

My father's repressive attitude about sex (though he had no reluctance to share with me photos of nude women sunbathing by his pool, after my parents' divorce) and my determination that he was not going to imprint those feelings on my kids that he did on me was actually the thing that was at the root of our last argument, following which he attempted to disown me, but died before he was able to get the paperwork filed.

Our culture is so screwed up about sex (pun intended).  With all the taboos and the amount of Kellogg's cereal on the grocery shelves, it's amazing that overpopulation is such a problem.

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

 

                                               

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