My Ignite talk got published today!
As I said in my reflective blog about it, the time went much faster than I expected and one thing I wasn’t able to mention was the inventor of the vibrator, so I thought I’d mention it now!
During the Victorian times, doctors believed they could cure ‘hysteria’ by bringing women to an ‘hysterical paroxysm’ (orgasm) So doctors would physically do this, with their fingers! Back then, masturbation was discouraged, especially with women, so there was the common belief that women couldn’t orgasm and had no sexual desire.
Dr Joseph Mortimer Granville is famed for inventing the first electrical vibrator. According to www.nndb.com it wasn’t invented to induce orgasms, but rather to help relieve muscle aches that a lot of physicians spent a lot of time ‘wrist deep’ in women’s vaginas trying to bring them to ‘hysterical paroxysm’ and this caused some aches for the poor men.
The general understanding is that this machine was used by the doctors on the female patients so prevent these aches and pains in the doctors. It was quicker and efficient in bringing women to the paroxysm needed too! This was purely for medical use though, never pleasure.
According to the Guardian Dr Mortimer patented this invention in 1880 – a decade before the electric iron and vacuum cleaner!
A lot of other vibrator ‘attempts’ did exist before this though –
The ‘Tremoussoir’ was invented in France in 1734!
In 1869 American Physician called George Taylor invented the first steam powered vibrator with the same agenda that Dr Mortimer had, but all of these attempts didn’t last long because they were big machines, cumbersome, and often didn’t have enough juice in them to always get the job done. A French pelvic douche appeared in the 1860s, which fired a jet of water at the clitoris and was claimed to induce paroxysm within four minutes.
It was in 1880 that it became electric and much more efficient! There were only 5 electrical devices in existence at this point, including the sewing machine, the fan, the kettle and the toaster!
Between 1902 and the late 1920’s, these devices were sold by all types of retailers in many different guises and everyone played the same game – it was never a pleasure toy, it was a ‘massager’ aimed at relieving stress only. It was featured in the Woman’s Home Companion, Needlecraft, and the Sears, Roebuck catalogue amongst others. Towards the end of the 20’s, when TV started being made, which brought porn to the screens too – and these ‘massagers’ were being used in them…this completely took away all pretences and vibrators disappeared from the limelight!
Advertisements disappeared until the 70’s and vibrators were really hard to find (I almost wrote ‘hard to come by’ but couldn’t bring myself to!) It was in 1968 that the first cordless vibrator was patented and along with the sexual revolution, started to come back into the public eye. This slowly grew and then ‘that’ episode of Sex in The City happened and since then, they have become much more mainstream!
If you would like to read more, this article is a good one – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-sex/201303/hysteria-and-the-strange-history-vibrators
in 2011 a film called ‘Hysteria’ was released, focussed on Dr Joseph Granville Mortimer – it’s a good watch, I would recommend it!