Stone Dildos, Rectal Dilators and Olive Oil Lube: The Long History of Sex Toys
The thing about working at a sex toy company is that conversations about inflatable butt plugs and vibrating cock rings become everyday occurrences, and even products as innovative as the Sqweel Go (left) become nothing out of the ordinary.
Earlier this week, however, I took a moment to marvel at the sheer range and variety of products Lovehoney stocks - thousands upon thousands of dildos, butt plugs and cock rings - and it got me thinking about the human urge to seek sexual pleasure. The amount of technical expertise and hours of planning that go into developing each bullet vibrator begs the question - do orgasms, rather than money, make the world go round?
Think about it. We can trace porn back 35,000 years, while the wheel made its first appearance about 6,000 years ago, and money didn’t come into common use until about 2,500 years ago. Clearly, our ancestors had similarly one-track minds.
With the advances in sex toy technology (the Violet Wand comes to mind), it’s easy to forget that our generation aren’t the first to use sex toys - not by a long shot!
Believe it or not, scientists believe that sex toys have existed since the Ice Ages! Eight inch long stone objects found in Germany are believed to have been used as long as 28,000 years ago to stimulate our ice age ancestors. That’s right - a dildo made of stone.
The oldest sculpted phallus is the considered to be the four inch dildo found in Sweden in 2011. Carved from stag antler, this mesolithic relic is thought be the oldest purposefully made dildo in the world.
Dildos made of stone and antler, what were our predecessors thinking? Well, it gets worse, as there is evidence that the ancient Greeks used dildos made of wood (bear in mind that this was before the days of sandpaper) and even leather. Unsurprisingly, it was around this time that lubricant was first used - but without the luxury of Liquid Silk or KY Jelly, they had to improvise, using olive oil instead.
Almost 2,000 years later, men caught up and began to use cock rings. The early Chinese penis rings were made of goat eyelids, but soon progressed to using other materials including jade, leather and beads. It would appear that these early examples were worn for decoration as much as the erection-hardening properties.
The earliest vibrator was built in 1869 as a cure for women’s hysteria - the steam powered “Manipulator” was welcomed by doctors of the day, who had been “relieving” patients daily by stimulating the clitoris with their fingers. Tiring work, indeed!
Clitoral vibrators soon became smaller and more effective, and by 1905 hand-held vibrators could be purchased for the home. By 1918, vibrators were widely available as a “home appliance” to cure headaches, asthma and even “fading beauty”.
Such was their popularity, electric vibrators appeared in the Sears Catalogue long before other household items - 10 years before the electric iron and 9 years before the electric vacuum cleaner.
It’s good to know householders had their priorities straight! Almost a century on, vibrators have gotten smaller, quieter and more powerful. Let’s thank our lucky stars we don’t have to visit the doctor every time we want an orgasm.
While things have been inserted into the anus for hundreds of years, it’s only in the past century that butt plugs emerged in their current form. They were originally marketed as “Rectal Dilators” to help with digestive issues. Only available for purchase on prescription, they were used to cure hemorrhoids and other rectal issues. It is clear, however, that they were also used for pleasure - at least you don’t need a prescription to buy anal sex toys now!
Thankfully, since the early days of sex toys, our attitudes towards sex and masturbation have changed dramatically. The 1960s saw a revival in sex for pleasure and sex toys became widely available for the first time. We no longer need to kill a goat to procure a cock ring or get the permission from a doctor to engage in some self-love. The materials and techniques used to make toys have become safer and easier - no more antler dildos or olive oil lube, then.
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