Women's Sexual Satisfaction Through History
More fascinating stuff on the history of the vibrator, this time from Rachel Maines, a visiting scholar in the department of science, technology and society at Cornell University. Her book Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction is all about how vibrators came into being and women getting their rightful oats:
Here's an excerpt from an interview at The Ithacan:
Rachel Maines: The book is about how physicians used to massage women to orgasm to treat them for hysteria, starting, at least as far as I can tell, in the time of Hippocrates, which is 450 B.C. up to the time of Freud, the 1930s. The vibrator was invented in the 1880s in the context of that treatment. It was devised, as far as we can tell, in part because it was used for that purpose.
LT: Was it medicinal then?
RM: Well, if you consider producing an orgasm medicinal, then yeah, I guess you can say it was medicinal. (Laughs.)
LT: How did you get the idea for this?
RM: Well, I was working on, of all subjects, needlework history and I was very surprised to discover ads for vibrators in needlework magazines from the 19-teens — from the 1906 “Women’s Home Companion” and the 1908 “Modern Priscilla,” 1910, things like that. And I thought, boy, that’s really early for an electrical appliance, considering that most people didn’t have electricity in their houses at that point. And it turns out that the vibrator is one of the very first electrical appliances to be introduced into the home.
LT: Would you label this feminist literature? Do you consider yourself a feminist author?
RM: Oh, absolutely. I’m definitely a feminist author, and this is a feminist book, trust me. It’s all about how we wouldn’t have needed this supposed treatment for this supposed hysteria if we didn’t have an androcentric definition for sexuality, in which penetration is considered to be the most important thing, right? That’s what real sex is supposed to be — except that only a minority of women reach orgasm that way. So the rest of them, the other 70 percent, the majority, were very frustrated.
See also: A Brief History Of The Female Orgasm,History of the Hello Kitty Vibrator; Put What Where? 2000 Years Of Bizarre Sex Advice