How the Vibrator Came to Be

 

SEX TOYS HAVE LONG CEASED TO BE CONSIDERED SOMETHING "STRANGE" and "shameful" - today they are a familiar part of life. But they have come a long way to their modern appearance - they have existed for more than the first millennium. We understand how sex toys appeared and what important milestones were in their history.

 

From Greece to Japan

 

If you believe the excavations, sex toys have existed for about always: on the account of archaeologists there are many discovered phalluses , created in different periods - the oldest appeared in about 28 thousand years BC. Of course, not all scientists are sure that they were used exactly as a dildo: some believe that, for example, it could also be hammers, tools for straightening arrows and spears, or ritual items. Others advise not to discount this version - after all, you didn't have to use a stone penis to carve something out of stone or trim an arrowhead. “Judging by the size, shape, and in some cases the obvious symbolism of these ice age wands, it seems strange to avoid the most obvious and simple interpretation. But she was avoided, ”says archaeologist Timothy Taylor.

 

Penises and penis-shaped objects are often found in ancient art - for example, among the Egyptians (although, of course, their very appearance in the picture does not say anything about the purpose of the object). Scientists quite confidently say that prototypes of dildos existed in ancient Greece - most often they were made from softened leather, which was polished for smoothness and stuffed with wool; olive oil was used as a lubricant. True, how often they were used specifically for masturbation is not known for sure - there are, for example, images where women simply carry a dildo with them in a basket for the holidays. In the comedy of Aristophanes "Lysistratus" women refuse men to have sex until they stop a senseless war - it mentions dildos as a substitute for men.

 

According to legend , the first prototype of the vibrator could have been with Cleopatra, who allegedly filled a hollow pumpkin bottle with bees - but there is no confirmation of this beautiful (and clearly dangerous) story. Dildos have met in China and India; at the same time, it is not worth associating them exclusively with masturbation - for example, the Romans used them for ritual ceremonies of "defloration".

 

In the Middle Ages, prototypes of sex toys spread throughout Europe and Asia. Although widespread does not mean that they were treated calmly: for example, researcher Halle Lieberman in the book "Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy" mentions situations when whole shipments that were transported from Italy to England, confiscated at customs. On the other hand, it is also not worth saying that this was the case everywhere - the same Hallie Lieberman notes that in Japan of the Edo period, dildos were treated positively . One of the most famous sex toys for women of that time - two silver or copper balls that had to be inserted into the vagina, when moving, they began to move and vibrate inside.

 

Mechanics

 

The first mechanical sex toys appeared much later. One of the most popular versions was put forward by the scientist Rachel Maines, who wrote the book The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction. She says that vibrators appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century. For a long time, ideas about women's health were built around the concept of "hysteria" or "uterine rabies" - it was customary to attribute any strange ailments to them (needless to say, the American Psychiatric Association abandoned this concept only in 1952). For the treatment of these "ailments", says Maines, doctors recommended a "massage of the pelvic floor", which was supposed to end with "hysterical convulsions" (in other words, orgasm) and improve the woman's well-being.

 

The idea that devices could exist in the Victorian era to help women achieve orgasm seems strange to many - not surprising given how repressed women's sexuality was. But Maines says it's important to consider the context of the era and how long ideas about sexuality have been inextricably linked with penetration - in her opinion, doctors did not consider vulvar massage a sexual practice and calmly did it to patients. The first vibrators, according to her, appeared as a replacement for “manual labor” - a quick way to massage a client allowed to receive more patients and, accordingly, earn more.

 

For almost twenty years, Rachel Maines' book has remained one of the main sources of knowledge about the history of mechanical sex toys, but today more and more researchers are expressing their claims. Last year, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology published an article criticizing it . In their opinion, Maines interprets the sources very freely: in the literature to which she refers, the medical massage of the clitoris and anything that can be interpreted as a description of orgasm is never directly mentioned. There is anecdotal evidence that doctors practiced genital massage, the researchers said , but it cannot be said that it was a routine and widespread procedure. So while the idea of ​​treating "hysteria" with a vibrator remains a myth, albeit a favorite of pop culture.

 

However, the researchers do not deny that the massagers could be used as sex toys. The first such devices appeared at the end of the nineteenth century in different countries: France, England, Germany, China, Japan, USA. These were very different designs - huge, heavy and not the most comfortable: some worked on steam, others had to be controlled manually by turning a special knob. Of course, there is no direct evidence that they were used for masturbation in advertising - one can only guess about this by indirect indications. “Comparing these ads to other ads from the early twentieth century, we can conclude that [sex toy ads] are much sexier,” saysHalle Lieberman. “If you look at the other flyers in the newspapers, women don't have such deep cutouts on them. Sellers clearly put sexual connotations in them. They realized that they had constructed phallus-like objects that could be inserted into the vagina. I think they suspected this was possible. "

 

Since the eighties of the nineteenth century, massagers have been widely advertised for use in the home, including by men . Often, the devices were advertised as beauty devices - they were supposed to smooth out wrinkles and skin irregularities, and at the same time "calm the nervous system." Medical devices were thought to help treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions, from colds to headaches and stomach problems. True, the inventor of one of them, Dr. Gerald Makar, was sentenced to three years in prison in 1914 : his device, which was supposed to "promote better blood circulation," was declared useless.

 

Widespread advertising of massagers-vibrators continued until the twenties. Then they began to appear in pornographic films and began to be associated not only with a direct and "harmless" purpose, which naturally led to some informational difficulties. Years later, in 1958, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also opposed mechanical massagers-vibrators - it did not require a device to be banned in principle, but the idea of ​​talking about their miraculous properties and that, that they are able to cure all imaginable diseases, is forbidden.

 

At the same time, of course, not all sex toys remained mechanical - dildos continued to exist, they simply, unlike massagers, remained "in the shade", since they could not be sold openly.

 

Liberation

 

In the sixties, sex toys gradually began to become more mainstream. For example, in the middle of the decade, American ventriloquist Ted Marche (this is a pseudonym) made strap-ons more accessible. Of course, the devices themselves existed before that (for example, in India or in the same America at the beginning of the century), but in the USA of that time they existed semi-legally: the law on "indecent behavior" prohibited sending sex products by mail, and the only legal way to send them the sale was positioning them as medical devices that should help heterosexual couples have sex. Marchais tried to take them “out of the underground”: he advertised them as medical devices, as was customary, but distributed them not only through doctors, but also through wholesalers.

 

According to Halle Lieberman, one of the reasons for the popularity of strap-ons was that they did not threaten traditional ideas about sex and sexuality: they were considered not as a substitute, but as an “addition” to a man, for example, in situations when he could not please a woman himself - “ help to marriage. " Thus, sex toys, for all their "indecent" image, did not really break the foundations, but acted within the framework of a completely traditional patriarchal model - there was no talk of offering a woman something fundamentally new.

 

Finally, in the late sixties - early seventies, a device appeared that drastically changed the situation with sex toys - the cult Hitachi Magic Wand (now it is simply called the Magic Wand). The device has always been positioned exclusively as a massager (given the history of sex toys, frankly, not a new move), but customers used it for clitoral stimulation. Even if you've never watched Sex and the City, you probably know the famous scene where Samantha Jones indignantly says, "Do you think I will believe that women buy it to help a sore neck?"

 

The famous sex educator Betty Dodson , who wrote a book about masturbation "Sex for One" and held corresponding master classes for women, helped the device to gain fame . It was on the latter that she used the Magic Wand: according to her , after trying several sex toys, she decided that this one was the best. In addition, Magic Wands did not look anatomical at all like other sex toys.

 

Another important episode in the history of sex toys is associated with Betty Dodson's courses: one of their visitors, Dell Williams, who worked in advertising at that time, decided to buy Magic Wand on Dodson's advice. Horrified by the reaction of the salesperson, who began to hint why she needed the device, Williams opened Eve's Garden , the first major feminist sex shop for women. She wanted to create a comfortable space where clients could safely buy sex toys without being ashamed of their sexuality and their choice. The store has existed for almost half a century, since 1974.

 

Another important moment in the history of sex toys relates to the name of Gosnell Duncan, an American from Grenada who was paralyzed from the waist down in a work accident. Duncan wanted to change the sex life with his wife - and, in principle, he was interested in the topics of sexuality of people with disabilities. Despite the still in effect a ban on the shipping of "obscene" goods, he set about developing a new, improved dildo - and as a result came up withmake them out of silicone (this material was easier to clean; to create a comfortable and safe option for use, he talked with General Electric for several months, choosing the right formula), with special fasteners that helped people with disabilities to use them conveniently. Due to his Spanish origin, he made dildos in different shades, not just "flesh" color (imitating the organ of a "white" person). On the advice of Dell Williams, owner of Eve's Garden, he began to produce abstract dildos, unlike penises and unnatural colors. Now such a step seems absolutely familiar to us (a huge number of sex toys look abstract), but then it was a real feminist breakthrough - it seems that for the first time in a long time, manufacturers thought that women expect something more from sex toys than just an extension of the penis.

 

In 1983, another famous device appeared - the Rabbit Pearl rabbit , with a part that needs to be immersed in the vagina and a "shoot" to stimulate the clitoris. Its non-obvious appearance can be easily explained: the vibrator was produced in Japan, and the bright colors and the image of the animal were needed to circumvent the country's law on "indecent behavior". The company Vibratex, responsible for the appearance of the rabbit, produced other toys - beaver, turtle and kangaroo, but only the rabbit got such great fame. The design of the rabbit, slightly modified, is often used for sex toys today.

 

We are still far from complete sex freedom: manufacturers are still often guided by patriarchal ideas, and in some countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the Maldives, sex toys are still banned. But the sex toy market today is more diverse than ever - devices are made from a variety of materials, battery-powered and rechargeable, waterproof, for a variety of types of stimulation. And only the best awaits us ahead of us, which, as you know, has no boundaries.