As Rubin points out in Thinking Sex, there have been periods in our nation’s history that have been defined by the current sex/moral panics. These moral issues are deep rooted into families but reach into politics and have even become legal issues.  “Moral crusaders” are people that “when we live with the possibility of unthinkinable destruction,  are likely to become dangerously crazy about sexuality”(Rubin, 143).

This piece was really eye opening for me, because I hadn’t thought out how much of my life has been shaped and policied by the gorvnerment and other positions of power. In my anthropology of food class, we have read a lot by Michael Pollan. And after reading Rubin, I noticed that even our foods have been policied in many ways. Michael Pollan pointed this out on a list of “10 Crazy Science Experiments That End Up In Your Kitchen“.

And this is where I get to the breakfast cereal. Kellogg’s is a brand famous internationally, and I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a good bowl of fruit loops or frosted flakes. But our cereal has indeed been policied. Or at least that was Mr. Kellogg’s original intention. He ran  health spa and his patients ate only bland foods as part of a special treatment. According to Kellogg, their diet needed to be plain and simple, to resist tempations. It was a belief that spicy and rich foods would lead to dangerous behavoir, like masturbation. And everyone knows, masturbation leads to even worse things for humanity! Kellogg believed that masturbation was the stem of other evils.

So, by accident, when his wheat and grain diet for his patients baked too long, he ran it through a machine and it became flakes that were “palatable” with milk. This new food ended up on our shelves, influenced entirely by the fact that the blandness promoted a healthier sexual lifestyle as well as a life with less evil. His influence in his brand obviously reached into the homes of people without many of them knowing the original intention of the product. (Note: I’m not hating on Kellogg’s brand at all, and I am sure they no longer operate under the same belief system!)

Sex negativity comes from a religious background suggesting that sexual acts are sinful and the only exception to many objections to sex is conventional marriage. In this viewpoint, sex is “dangerous, destructive (and a) negative force”(Rubin,150). Religious institutions have reached into our politics and into our pantries, often unbeknownst to us, and have worked to shape our nation historically.


-Parisa Mansoori