The Enigmatic Story Of The Victorian Sex Toy That Traveled The World

jueves, 18 de mayo de 2017 6:59

|Maria Suarez




Early this year, a Victorian artifact made waves when it was brought out for an auction in the town of Oldcastle in County Meath, Ireland. It was the gift of a nineteenth century gentleman to his wife as a way for her to not feel so lonely while he was away. It’s made out of ivory, from an elephant he hunted and killed while he was in India (so romantic). Art and historians also think the tusk was then carved in China before it became the precious gift that now lies in a beautiful leather and glass box. Was it exactly? Well, those who have reported on the story are calling it a ladies’ companion, keepsake, or even an ivory penis. But, in short, it’s a dildo. I actually found this quite sweet and considerate.

dildo history sex toy ireland-w696-h687

Yes, in case you didn’t know, sex toys have been out on the market for a while now. This particular one from circa 1840 might be a classy and pretty expensive one. However, it’s not the only one. Because, as long as people have existed, these have a household staple. Even if we don’t want to admit or believe it. So if you’re interested in getting the quick-fire version of the history of dildos, keep reading.

The oldest phallic-shaped token in the world was found in 2006 at a cave in Gemany. It’s 7.8 inches long and 1.20 inches wide and made out of rock, siltstone to be exact. Archaeologists have approximated its age to be 28 thousand years old.  They believe it was used during sexual activity, as well as some sort of fertility adoration symbol, not unlike the Venus of Willendorf. This just proves that when anyone gets on their high horse about how we’re more sexually liberated now than ever before, they’re disregarding history. Despite having several indications that ancient civilizations had a more carefree attitude towards sex, we keep saying how it’s until now that we’re no longer suppressing our desire. In truth we’re just trying to outdo our ancestors instead of celebrating the different ways we’ve all liked the same things.


history dildo sex toy

As if not to be outshone, ancient Greece had its own curious contraption called the olisbos, which judging by the description given by Jonathan Margolis in his book, O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm, was a couture item.

Dildo-making became a specialized commercial cottage industry around 500 BC in one particular city, Miletus, in Ionia. Miletus olisboi, which where exported across the Greek world, were manufactured by shoemakers from wood and padded leather, and were designed to be used with olive oil for lubrication. The shoemakers’ skill was to sew the kid leather carefully so the stitches would not hurt women users.” 

Obviously this was a luxurious toy, and not everyone had the cash to acquire it. Until one baker decided to knead her dough in a particular shape. The breadstick dildo was a disposable, cheap, and discreet way for women in ancient times to get their pleasure on without breaking the bank. It was biodegradable, so high points to our Greek inventor for that. And if they needed to get rid of the evidence, they’d just throw it away. Hopefully far, far away from anyone who’d see it as a random piece of bread.

Now making a quick stop in the Middle Ages, a moment of darkness and plague, there’s not much information about sex toys. However, there’s a recurring reference about a particular plant called the Cantonese Groin (trust me I was terrified of Googling that term), which women would soak in water, so it would expand and harden before using it as their dirty little secret. I’m still unsure whether this was the precursor of the blender makeup sponges but it sounds a little similar.

dildo history sex toy

When the Renaissance was in full bloom, the leather dildo from ancient times came right back in style. Like any rehashing of a golden oldie, Italian women renamed it as a diletto. Maybe I’m just easily swayed by marketing, but I think that if we still called it by this name, there wouldn’t be one woman embarrassed of asking for one in neon pink at her local adult shop.

The next big moment in this phallic shaped toy’s history would be in the nineteenth century, when Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville created a machine to cure female hysteria. This was because doctors would be spending a little too much time trying to cure women through bringing on an orgasm through their touch. While there’s some controversy regarding whether Granville’s Hammer was made with women’s pleasure in mind, nobody can deny that it resulted in the creation of the vibrator, which is basically the child of the dildo and this Victorian contraption.

vibrator-victorian-age-sepia


The rest, as they say, is history. The twentieth century came roaring in with new and exhilarating inventions to improve this trusty sidekick. Now when we go to our local provider of all things sizzle, we’re bombarded with choices. There’s a million colors, shapes, sizes, lengths, even flavors. And yet we can’t forget where it all began: thousands of years ago in a cave somewhere.




Sources:

Jonathan Margolis, O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm

Vicky León , The Joy of Sexus: Lust, Love, and Longing in the Ancient World

The Guardian 

Westmeath Examiner

BBC

Thrillist

The Peak

Antiquatem

The Guardian

Huffington Post

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Maria Suarez


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