History

The Story Of The Sexist Attempts At “Curing” Female Hysteria

History The Story Of The Sexist Attempts At “Curing” Female Hysteria

Over a century ago women living in patriarchal societies were told to use a vibrator in case of irritability. This was an actual medical advice provided in the nineteenth century. Female hysteria was an alleged ailment that originated from the uterus. So, of course, a couple men came up with the brilliant idea that the cure would be found in pelvic massage.

In ancient times, it was believed that the uterus traveled inside the woman’s body. The Greeks called this Hystera and claimed it made women anxious, prickly, and bad tempered.  Characters such as Plato and Hippocrates mentioned this condition.

Galen was the first to claim hysteria was related to a lack of sex in women who had a lustful appetite. So his suggestion was for these females to get married in order to be able to get the stimuli they required. One of the beliefs that came with this was the thought that single women and nuns were more likely to experience hysteria, considering their celibate status.

Vibrator Female Hysteria

As human knowledge advanced, their ideas on women remained the same. Any sign of a nineteenth century lady suffering from stress, anger, or sensitivity was taken as a confirmation of hysteria. Physicians would be quick to suggest the woman to have a relaxing massage in the pelvic region. It would take hours for the hysterical climax, also known as orgasm, to occur.

Can you imagine those Victorian ladies in the waiting room, sitting next to their husbands, waiting for their healing massage? We can giggle now, but back then this was serious business. It was also the least extreme method, considering how another cure suggestion was for the patient’s uterus and ovaries to be removed.

Historical Vibrator Female Hysteria-w636-h600

One doctor who was tired of having to manually massage his patient’s pelvic area was the inventor of the first vibrator in 1880, British physician Joseph Mortimer Granville. This phallic shaped device was powered by batteries and did in minutes what usually took hours.

It wasn’t long before this invention started to appear advertised in magazines described as a household appliance which provided therapeutic results. The marketing of this product did not raise any eyebrows as it became a massive hit. However, in 1920 vibrators made their silver screen debut and lost all their medical connotation in favor of their current erotic implication.

Vibrator Female Hysteria Advertisement-w636-h600


In the decade of the fifties, hysteria was no longer considered a disease, and the vibrator became an article full of taboos. While in recent years sex toys have started to be more mainstream, they’re still seen as articles for “a certain kind of woman.”

If you stop by your local adult shop, you’ll see the million different versions of Mortimer Granville’s creation. They come in every size, shape, and color, and are sure to help any woman find the climax she deserves.

Despite it's taboo nature, sex has been a part of history, whether in an obvious or hidden manner. One case of this can be the Medieval cult that horrified the Church with its sexual practices. The British Museum also has a wide range of phalluses and chastity belts in its collection. Have you seen them?





Translated by María Suárez









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