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a brief history of the vibrator. | maude - sex made simple.

a brief history of the vibrator.

credit: femalista

It’s taken society a long way to get to the discreet, aesthetically pleasing vibrators of today, but it’s been in part thanks to thousands of years of misinformed men. Let us explain.

The wandering womb

Though it’s most frequently associated with Victorian England in the late 1800s, the concept of hysteria actually dates back to Ancient Greece, stemming from the Greek word for uterus, hysteros. Turns out that Plato and Hippocrates had theorized that when women experienced the combined symptoms of depression, fatigue and nervousness, they were suffering from an ailment known as the “wandering womb.” Treatments for the affliction included being pregnant as often as possible to keep the womb from getting “bored” and luring it back to its rightful location with pleasant smells.

When the 1800s rolled around, doctors had long since debunked that particular Greek myth, and instead were laboring under another misapprehension: that hysteria was something that could be cured by things such as hypnosis, inundating the abdomen with jets of water, and through the use of vibrating devices.

The evolution of the vibrator

Long story short, they suspected that a woman’s reproductive tract was the source of hysteria and was best treated by inducing them to experience “hysterical paroxysm” (i.e. an orgasm) via masturbation. But the doctors got tired of the tedium of doing such work by hand, so they created elaborate contraptions for the purpose of pelvic massage (which, incidentally, could also be used for treating wrinkles, rheumatism and head colds, among many other things).

Unsurprisingly, women began to enjoy such treatments and sought to have the devices installed in their own homes for, you know, health purposes. And so began the evolution of the modern vibrator.

Read the in-depth history of the vibrator, from the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, here.

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