steam-driven-vibrator

Short History of the Vibrator…

From the 1st century AD to the early 20C, doctors prescribed medical massage to relieve a condition they believed was caused by a build up of unreleased fluids in the wombs of sexually-active, sexually frustrated women or sexually-blossoming (it seems a bit hazy, quite which…)

'female hysteria'Women were not considered sexual beings, so their ‘symptoms of ‘anxiety, irritability, sexual fantasies, excessive vaginal lubrication and pelvic heaviness ‘ were diagnosed as a vague medical condition called Female Hysteria (Greek for suffering Uterus)

The treatment involved inserting ‘one or more fingers of one hand into the vagina and the application of friction to the external genitalia with the other’. (17C textbooks)

Hysterical Paroxym - AKA OrgasmIn other words, doctors masturbated their female patients with the aim of inducing ‘hysterical paroxysm’ (orgasm)

Thus, women were temporarily cured of their symptoms by a medical muff-shuffle

Needless to say, hysterical ladies found they needed regular treatment.

So in 1869 George Taylor, M.D. developed the world’s first vibrator.  It was steam-driven, large and cumbersome, but it speeded up the treatment and reduced doctors’ finger-fatigue.

Problem was, medical orgasms were expensive.

So, as domestic electricity became more commonplace, home plug-in vibrators were soon developed.

Marketed as ‘health & relaxation aids, and advertised promising ‘all the pleasure of youth … will throb within you’, they quickly became popular.

Vibrators were among the earliest electrical home-appliances.

It would be 10+ years before the vacuum cleaner and iron got the same treatment.

But when early vibrators began to appear in 1920’s  ‘stag’ films, their true role could no longer be hidden. Adverts in ‘respectable’ magazines vanished and ‘the aid every woman appreciates’ fell from grace and disappeared.

When in the 1950’s the medical establishment finally declared that Female Hysteria” was not a bone fida ailment, vibrators shuffled off their cloak and dagger disguise.

From the 1960’s onwards, the vibrator re-emerged with an honest role; to deliver sexual pleasure.

But it wasn’t until women-focused shops like Sh! (Est 1992 and first of its kind in the UK) that female desire and sensibilities began to influence the male-dominated sex industry of the time.

Before this, vibrators came in 2 options; ‘flesh-coloured’ pretend willys or (with a nod to their history) medical-looking massagers.

With women finally taking control in the market, as designers and business-owners, as well as consumers, the humble vibrator, with its tried and trusted orgasm-inducing power, could finally blossom into beautiful, innovative vibrating pleasure objects  they are today.

Like to read more? Take a browse through our vibrator history timeline

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