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“Purifying” Public Space: Moral Panics and Mental Hygiene.

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Presentation on theme: "“Purifying” Public Space: Moral Panics and Mental Hygiene."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Purifying” Public Space: Moral Panics and Mental Hygiene

2 “Hearts Uplifted and Minds Refreshed,” Alison Parker Women’s Christian Temperance Union, 1880 - 1930 Cultural work of censorship and production

3 Victorian Influences

4 “We Other Victorians” History of Sexuality, Volume I, Michel Foucault Wrote books on social and cultural institutions, the intersections between knowledge and power, the ways that knowledges “make up” and sort people.

5 Sites of analysis: The prison The school The barracks The factory The clinic/hospital Discourse (human sciences, sexuality)

6 Panopticism The model of discipline and self- discipline the Panopticon represents for prisons is seen by Foucault to permeate the social field and may be seen, not only in methods of surveillance for purposes of "security", but also in schools, factories, military barracks, hospitals and other institutions. It is a model in which government by external forces -- the police, the teacher, and so forth -- is replaced by modes of self-government.

7 Mother Nature Casting Evils Out of Her Children, 1871 In the Victorian Age, so the story goes, we were or had become sexually repressed. Sex was, this story asserts, something to be hidden, not something to be brought out in the open.

8 And yet, Foucault discovers in his genealogy of sexuality, while we tell ourselves this story, this is not the case.

9 In fact, there were whole systems for inducing people to speak about sex (ex. confession), bodies of knowledge constructed around sexuality (ex. sexology), was discussion of how best to contain it, and also how to normalize it (ie. medicalization of sexuality).

10 In short, instead of being something that wasn't spoken about, it became something to be talked about -- almost obsessively.

11 The Victorian era of the nineteenth century, like no other period preceding it, became dominated by the belief that an individual's sex and sexuality form the most basic core of their identity, potentiality, social/political standing and freedom.

12 But sexuality needed to be disciplined, or regulated and directed in "socially useful" ways. Victorian Era anti-masturbation devices.

13 Sciencia Sexualis Four main strategies used to regulate sexuality in the Victorian Age Demonstrate the link between the production of knowledges and power, especially the power to regulate and control ideas about sexuality, gender, identity.


15 I. Hystericization of women’s bodies Invention of the hysteric as a character in the history of gender and sexuality.

16 Disciplining the “irrational” body

17 The Hysteric Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the 19th century. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms like faintness, muscle spasms, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, and “a tendency to cause trouble.”

18 The Medical Cure "Vibration is life" advertisement, 1910 "The secret of the ages has been discovered in Vibration. Great scientists tell us that we owe not only our health but even our life strength to this wonderful force. Vibration promotes life and vigour, strength and beauty.... Vibrate Your Body and Make It Well. YOU Have No Right to Be Sick."

19 Hysteria, 2011

20 II. Pedagogization of Children’s Sex

21 III. Socialization of Procreative Behaviour

22 IV. “Psychiatrization of Perverse Pleasure”

23 Women’s Christian Temperance Union Victorian era values in action

24 Controlling Culture Relationship of WCTU as both producer and censor of culture Debates about “pure” culture Dept. for the Promotion of Purity in Literature and Art Notion that culture had the power to corrupt hearts and minds

25 Regulating Culture Reforming society through “wholesome” culture with “upstanding moral values” for youth “family values,” anti- alcohol and tobacco, etc.

26 If Hollywood Won’t Make It… WTCU production of culture for youth consumption Magazines Films Given to schools, shown in schools, libraries, and churches Showing the consequences of “impure living”

27 WCTU at the Movies Any Boy USA (1953)

28 Mental Hygiene Films, 1940s-60s Governing youth through the movies Problematization of youth behaviours through moral and moralizing discourses Gender a problem in need of policing

29 “Are You Popular?” (1947) http://www.yo tch?v=Eqpe7Y _6rmQ http://www.yo tch?v=Eqpe7Y _6rmQ

30 Shy Guy, 1947 m/watch?v=- wU0Kiu2VGY m/watch?v=- wU0Kiu2VGY

31 Influences Hays, Motion Picture Production Code, 1930 tsreformation. com/a001/hay s-code.html tsreformation. com/a001/hay s-code.html

32 Moral Panics Moral Panic, defined: “A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”

33 Actors in the Moral Drama Experts, sometimes called “moral entrepreneurs,” both inform and are informed by media Politicians and policy makers Law enforcement Action groups Agents of formal social control atch?v=YM8t29gD8J8 atch?v=YM8t29gD8J8

34 Seven “Stations” of Moral Panic: Chas Critcher AIDS Child Abuse Drug Use Immigration Violence in the media Street Crime Youth “deviance”

35 Goode and Ben Yehuda (1994) Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance 1. Concern 2. Hostility 3. Consensus 4. Disproportionality 5. Volatility

36 Concern Concern mobilized Becomes a subject for news media focus Can generate anxiety, but not always accompanied by fear atch?v=Azf320JDdqU atch?v=Azf320JDdqU atch?v=AvIyypo9VQk&featu re=fvst atch?v=AvIyypo9VQk&featu re=fvst

37 Hostility Us versus Them Good versus Evil Morality play Folk devils (villains) and folk heroes Hostility to others expressed in stereotypes

38 Consensus Fairly widespread recognition that a social problem exists It need not include everyone, but enough to convey a general sense of concern Consensus can be built. /watch?v=OiYqFXmVAFg /watch?v=OiYqFXmVAFg

39 Disproportion Miscalculation or overestimation of the size of the problem, including the number of people involved Fabrication of figures Rumours or urban legends /watch?v=UTdmr5_tbfY

40 Volatility Moral panics appear suddenly and can disappear just as quickly CBC report on Dungeons & Dragons, 1980s festyle/leisure/clips/172 84/ festyle/leisure/clips/172 84/

41 Overlapping domains Deviance (to which we can add constructions of norms and normalization) Social problems Collective behaviours Social movements

42 Case Study: Comic Books Frederic Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954 Call for a Comic Code Authority http://www.comicartville. com/comicscode.htm http://www.comicartville. com/comicscode.htm /watch?v=xr62iKBwQTM /watch?v=xr62iKBwQTM

43 Moral Panics and White Slavery, 1900 White slavery as urban vice, prostitution Indirect and oblique articulation of anxiety, a projection Anxiety over perceived social and moral change and the attempt to control it Racial, sexual, class, and gender tensions

44 Regulating Anxiety The Mann Act and moral regulation White-Slave Traffic Act, 1910 Objective to clamp down on organized prostitution Prohibition of movement of unmarried women

45 Two Famous (Ab)uses of the Act Jack Johnson In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first black man to win the world heavyweight title. He defeated James Jeffries, who was called the “Great White Hope.” Following his win, there were riots. Arrested in 1912 for crossing state line with his girlfriend, who happened to be white.

46 Charlie Chaplin Sued by a former lover who claimed, incorrectly, that he was the father of her child in 1942. He was prosecuted under the Mann Act. He was also pulled in front of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. He was British, politically to the left.

47 Moral Regulation

48 Moral Panics and Regulation of Norms

49 Moral Panics and Sexual Anxiety

50 Moral Panics and Masculinity

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