by Wendy Strgar March 25, 2007
I have been studying the vibrator through history this weekend. A friend of a friend gave me the DVD she has been working on called “Passion and Power- The Technology of Orgasm”. A historian, Dr. Rachel Maines uncovered ads in old catalogs and magazines featuring the origins of this electrical appliance that beat out the iron and the electric skillet by ten years. Sears and Roebuck catalog featured them for some 40 years or more. Some had attachments for butter churning- talk about all-purpose. It wasn’t until the late 1920’s that the social camouflage was blown on these handy household devices when they began appearing in early pornography or blue movies as they were called.
Vibrators were actually a doctor’s best friend before they became a fixture in so many homes. Victorian era doctors were paid for regular visits by their upper class clients for treatment for “Hysteria” which was described by doctors as “the revolt of the uterus against neglect.” They weren’t getting anything at home, so they paid their doctors who “massaged” their genitalia until they achieved orgasm, although of course no one used the word at the time. No wonder they left feeling so much better. Truly I don’t understand how an entire culture of husbands would have been brainwashed into letting that responsibility slip to the doctors…
The doctors for their part, were fatigued by the hour or more they would have to spend with hand manipulations and were the first to sign up to some of the huge table models of vibrators which would cut their time down to ten minutes. Some of these early models cost half of the price of a home. And so it went for many years until it became associated again with pleasure.
The power and health of having regular orgasms is undeniable, and apparently was so, even then when it had to be cloaked in a vague illness which included just about any symptom of a cranky, frustrated woman. Why then are we still so underground about the need, yes I say need, for regular orgasms.
I think we are all still a little or, well, a lot afraid of the power that women experience in the experience of orgasm. There was a time when it was believed that the female orgasm was essential to successful procreation. Let me just say, we were all happier then, when the future depended on everyone’s satisfaction. Our discomfort with the mystery and intensity of passionate release serves no one. And to think that there are still states in this country whose legal statutes criminalize sexual toys and behaviors is beyond belief.
Imagine what the world would be like if women and men both experienced sexual freedom, and pleasure for both parties was the only mandate that had to be respected. We would be less focused on violence as a form of release. People might even find the patience to stay together.
Stay tuned on where to get a copy of that most interesting DVD- hoping to get it up on our website soon along with a feature piece on the value of vibrators.
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