Saturday, November 28, 2015

Potatoes Stuck in Vaginas

The potato is a versatile tuber, used as a pessary, contraceptive, and masturbatory aid by women, although somehow it always manages to get stuck – at least according to contemporary legend.

Sabine Frühstück, Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 72.

Many middle- and upper-class educators, physicians, and social reformers suspected female factory workers to be promiscuous and “undutiful.” Physicians who examined female factory workers believed that many of them masturbated regularly. In light of the lack of education among workers in general, they assumed that there were more women in factories than among the upper and middle classes who were prone to sexual indecencies. […]

In 1925, Hosoi Wakizō, the author of The Sad History of Factory Women (Jokō aishi), reported on women who had secretly taken short pieces of pipe home from the factories and inserted them into their vaginas. Others used potatoes for the same purpose and eventually had to see a doctor because the potatoes could no longer be removed. Tall girls pressed their bodies against the machines, thus sexually arousing themselves while working (Hosoi 1996 [1925]: 317). […]

Hosoi Wakizō had been working in a factory since the age of thirteen and remained a worker and socialist activist at a cotton spinning factory until his death at the age of twenty-nine. In his book he wrote that female workers and a factory physician with whom he was acquainted had told him these stories.

Hosoi Wakizō. 1996 (1925). Jokō aishi (The sad history of factory women). Tokyo: Iwanami shoten.

Cf. Elissa Henken, "Escalating Danger in Contemporary Legends." Western Folklore 61: 3&4 (Fall 2002): 271; Mariamne Whatley & Elissa Henken, Did You Hear About the Girl Who...? (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 137.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stolen Wheelbarrows

The Age [Melbourne]
18 November 2015

[…] "I am reminded of the apocryphal story, usually attributed to a worker at Garden Island," writes Peter Noone, of Lane Cove North, "who used to exit regularly at the end of each shift with a wheelbarrow full of straw. The guards were always suspicious that he was hiding something under the straw, so used to carry out a thorough, but fruitless, search. At the end of the year Garden Island supplies were short 200 wheelbarrows." […]

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Child Abductions at Spur Restaurants (South Africa)

IOL News [South Africa]
18 March 2014

By Sapa

Johannesburg - Restaurant group Spur has denied allegations relating to a text message doing the rounds that a suspicious woman allegedly preying on young children on the West Rand asked a worker to throw a child over a wall for R2 000. […]

IOL News [South Africa]
18 March 2014


Johannesburg - West Rand residents have been sending out warning messages on social media to alert each other of a possible kidnapper in their midst.

An incident last Thursday sparked numerous allegations about a woman who might be preying on young children.

According to online posts by concerned residents, the woman is believed to have been spotted at two schools and two restaurants on the West Rand. […]

The Citizen [Johannesburg, South Africa]
14 November 2015

Gopolang Chawane

A persisting urban legend about children being abducted from Spu [sic] playing areas has the restaurant chain at its wits end.

Chief operating officer Mark Farrelly said these stories were untrue, groundless and mischievous.

“We have heard this rumour before. But just as it surfaced years ago without grounds, it remains groundless.”

Reports about several apparent abduction attempts in and around Pretoria the past few weeks appear to have sparked a repeat of the rumour about the so-called Spur abductions.

Some users of social media have gone as far as suggesting that waiters at the Spur are actually being paid to distract patrons while their children are being abducted. […]