THE RISE OF THE VIBRATOR

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Every adult knows what a vibrator is, even though they may never have tried it, or even actually seen one. But how many of you actually know how this sex toy came to be?

Dildos were always common within civilised society, as can be seen from historical remains found in various excavations in different countries, like Egypt and Greece. In Germany, a pre-historic stone phallus-shaped representation was found which experts have dated to be 28,000 years old. 28,000 – meaning that it was created during what is known as the Ice Age!

The actual dildo revolution, so to speak, took place when, after the onset of electricity, Dr Joseph Mortimer Granville, a British physician, invented the electro-mechanical vibrator (c.1880). This tool however, was not patented and sold as a means of physical pleasure back in the Victorian era. It was, in fact, primarily considered part of the treatment for a female health condition, which at the time was called female hysteria. Hysteria, which is today no longer recognised by the medical authorities as an actual disorder, was at the time a popular problem. Doctors would treat female patients after these started feelings symptoms which included insomnia, bouts of depression and anger, fainting fits, irritability, loss of appetite, or as it was viewed then, a tendency to be difficult. In other words, if a woman did not want to conform to the strictured idea of hearth and home without any legal claims or rights whatsoever, which prevailed in Victorian England, she was deemed to be hysterical, and if the condition persisted, usually often confined to an asylum.

One of the most common treatments for female hysteria included a pelvic massage, that is, masturbation. Doctors found that this kind of stimulation assuaged women’s irritation and stress, rendering them calmer, especially after they had experienced the hysterical spasms which this massage produced. And no wonder, since what were considered spasms were actually orgasms!

The movie Hysteria (2011), based in part on the life of Dr Mortimer Granville, shows how the treatment of this ambiguous condition not only wasted a lot of many a physician’s time, to the detriment of other more serious cases, but would also frequently result in the doctors’ hands and fingers becoming numb or causing pain, due to the exertions suffered while delivering so many ‘massages’ to so many women.

It’s kind of ironic what such a condition, originally invented by men to keep their women in line, resulted in. Talk about karma!

In a bid to combat hysteria, and perhaps to assuage his aching fingers, Dr Granville not only invented the first electric vibrator for medical use, but he also patented it, that is, he marketed and made it available for sale to medical establishments. In 1902, an American company also started to sell the product to individual distributors and customers. And so, history was made!

Needless to say, female hysteria as a condition soon fizzled out, since practitioners in the medical field realised that this term was not only a mask for society’s own gender suppression, but also a blanket statement which led to erroneous diagnosis. This is because other ailments like epilepsy or asthma were often confused with hysteria, and so not treated properly.

Electric vibrators however, soared in popularity. Marketed as body massagers, magic wands and female toys, they continue to de-stress and help women reach a calmer and more harmonious level of consciousness to this day.

 

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