Whether you just bought your first vibrator or you’re excited that most of the news now come with a USB charger, vibrators aren’t something our generation invented. The history of vibrators is older than modern technology and, believe it or not, rooted in our medical health.

 

 

Before Vibrators, There was Genital Massage
 

A vibrator does one basic thing - vibrates our genitals. They come in a variety of styles from vibrating cock rings to bullets and from the Original Magic Wand to anything by Lelo. Before we mechanised the genital massage, there was only one way to do it - the old-fashioned way - hands on. Believe it or not, hundreds (and thousands) of years ago, genital massage wasn’t performed strictly for pleasure.

As far back as 200 A.D., genital massage was prescribed by Galen of Pergamon for the treatment of 'hysterical' women. Although it's (thankfully) no longer recognised as an actual health problem, at the time 'hysteria' was most often characterised as symptoms of anxiety, irritability, and bloating. Uh, that sounds like PMS to me. When a woman couldn’t be controlled, refused to act 'appropriately' for her station in life, or pissed people off, she was said to be 'hysterical.'

Genital massage to the point of orgasm (known as paroxysm back in the day) became a widespread cure in the 1600s when Petrus Forestus added essential oils to his fingers. So for 1400 years, women were given dry genital massages? No wonder orgasms didn’t become part of the process until then, and no wonder oils made genital, or pelvic massage, as it would later be known as, so popular.


couple date (1).jpg
 

Boredom Sets In...and Hands Begin to Ache


Once orgasms became part of the genital massage, hysterical women everywhere were lining up for treatment. Okay, maybe not. In the process, though, doctors' hands were getting tired, and everyone was bored. Think about that - it took 1400 years for anyone to use lube for a genital massage but only 200 years to decide they were tired of giving women orgasms. The mechanized vibrator was born.

1869: American physician George Thomas develops the steam-powered, coal-fired 'manipulator.'
1880s: Joseph Mortimer Granville develops the first electric vibrator.
1899: Magazines were advertising The Vibratile with the ability to cure just about everything.
The 1920s: Vibrators become a part of porn and very quickly disappeared from advertisements to the masses.
The 1930s and 1940s: 'Personal massagers' were mainly for at-home use.

By the 1970s, the Magic Wand came on the market and the rest, as they say, is history. Still considered one of the most popular vibrators of all time, it’s advertised as a 'personal massager' - and imagine my surprise when I saw one in a store that also sells mattresses and pillows. I picked it up, winked at my partner, and then asked (yes, out loud), “Do they realise what they’re selling?”



Vibrators Have Come Along Way


While the Magic Wand is still my personal go-to, vibrators have come a long way from the days of steam-powered massagers and even plugging a cord into a wall. Today, your vibrator may use batteries (rechargeable or not) or recharge through a USB cable. Sex technology, including vibrators that can be linked to an app on your phone, is a thing. Proving, once again, that those of us who love sex can pervert almost anything.

There are plenty of vibrators that are long and cylindrical in nature, but we’ve also got rabbits, bullets, rings, and nearly every shape imaginable. The modern vibrator is brightly coloured (purple is my personal favourite), likely made of silicone or other pliant material, and barely makes a noise. Best of all, there’s no need to make an appointment with your doctor to get the one thing that will almost always make you feel better - an orgasm.

Next time you pull your vibrator off your nightstand, imagine all of the women who tried the clunky prototypes (and may have even experienced injury) all in the name of the relief only an orgasm can bring.

 

Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.

 

Sources:
1800s: A stimulating history of vibrators, Mashable
Fucking Hysterical: A Timeline of Vintage Vibrators, Vice
The Buzz on Vibrators: History and Timeline, High Heels and Hot Flashes


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