The Sex Toy That Awakened The Female Orgasm In The Victorian Era

martes, 2 de mayo de 2017 12:14

|alejandro lopez






We remember the Victorian era for its many scientific breakthroughs, but also for its obsession with everything that was prim and proper. So how on earth did one of the most rigid  of societies come up with a sex toy? At that time, anything related to sex was deemed impure and improper wouldn't be mentioned under no circumstances. There was a smokescreen when it came to sex, so it doesn't come as a surprise that female masturbation was out of bounds for any respectable young Victorian lady. 

The profound silence that surrounded sex makes the creation of this erotic object an even greater mystery. There were widespread myths that made people afraid of sex and also intensely curious of the pleasure it brought about. Historian Therese O'Neill released a Victorian lady's guide where all the peccadillos and unmentionable sexual myths were revealed. The fear that permeated this staid and proper society wasn't based on STIs or unwanted pregnancies, but rather, all the wild sexual positions that could kill a delicate lady or even handicap an unborn child. For example, to have sex while standing up or with the knees drawn up was a contemptible act, and could even cause death. Also, if a man and a woman engaged in sex after drinking, the child would be afflicted with "idiocy" and "numerous maladies." 

vibrator victorian age sepia


For the Victorians, sex wasn't related to pleasure; its sole purpose was reproduction. Even the idea of a woman cleaning her own nether region was considered impure, and "over-excitement" was strongly discouraged. Meanwhile, the term "hysteria" became common among physicians and its mysterious symptoms ranged from epilepsy attacks to diabetic shocks and neural disorders. Baffled by this condition,  electric vibrators began to be used to relieve women of this terrible “hysteria.” These vibrators were used on all areas of the body and everybody knew of "its wonderful results."


The speculations about this new disorder grew more and more until it became a sort of "fashionable" disorder. The most common cause of "Female Hysteria" was the pace of modern lifestyle. Oh, by the way, this malady only affected women because they were much weaker and susceptible beings. As physicians looked for more ways way to "cure" hysterical women, they discovered that pelvic massages could "relax" them. Physician J. Mortimer Granville was the first to come up with an electromechanical toy whose function was to shorten the massage process and make the patient reach "hysterical paroxysm" (an orgasm) faster, and voila, she would be restored to full health. 


As these kinds of therapies became increasingly popular, more and more women would go to see their most dependable physician to be cured of their hysteria. During the early twentieth century, a household massage toy was invented so that women wouldn't have to go to a medical office. The massage vibrator was advertised as a relaxation instrument, so the woman featured on the advertisement would pose massaging her neck.

Nowadays, it is easy to laugh at this pseudo-scientific theories about hysteria, but the fact is that the American Psychiatric Association didn't drop the term until the early 1950s, when it was known as "hysterical neurosis." It is very likely that the creation of this massaging toy had been a reaction to the overwhelming sexual repression to which nineteenth-century society was subjected.

As sex was a taboo, "hysteria" was a way to explain the repression of female sexual desire. However, by "curing" this condition, the structured and reasoned Victorian mindset unwittingly liberated the female orgasm. 

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Sources:
The Guardian
Mashable



Translated by Andrea Valle Gracia

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