Kids Were Forbidden To Touch Themselves; Were Allowed To Pose Nude For Creepy “Uncles”
Okay, let’s wrap this up with a quick game of “Spot the Bigger Weirdo.”
John Harvey Kellogg was the man who brought the world Corn Flakes. He invented them—and the concept of breakfast cereal itself—after a failed attempt to make bread out of corn. Why try to make bread out of corn, you ask? Why, because regular bread inflamed the humours and made people masturbate, of course!
Kellogg ran a sanitarium in Michigan in the late 19th century, or several decades before medicine, let alone psychology, became scientific. Kellogg was appalled by the masturbation epidemic he saw wrecking the health of everyone around him, so he helpfully suggested a few tips for curbing “the solitary vice”:
Our second entrant occupies the far opposite edge of the childhood sexuality spectrum—Lewis Carroll.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote the Alice in Wonderland adventures under his pen name, Lewis Carroll. By all accounts, he was everything a respectable Victorian gentleman could hope to be. He was a writer, mathematician, and a member of the Anglican clergy. He wrote the Alice books for this girl, Alice Liddell:
That certainly is a picture of a little girl. Maybe the way it looks to us today is just because our modern minds are all in the gutter and pictures of six-year-old girls posing in torn gowns was totally innocent back then. What’s that? He was a painter, too?
Honestly, a lot has been read into Dodgson’s hobby of taking pictures of young girls that probably wasn’t there. Dodgson was close with the Liddell family, after all, and the girls’ parents were generally present for the photography sessions. But in a way, that makes it even stranger. It’s an odd reflection on Victorian sexual mores that this picture was taken with parental consent:
So, yeah. Victorians. Interesting people.