Note – since writing this article I have done a huge amount of reading up on the history of sex toys – partly for my Historical Sex series for MetroUK – and am now all but convinced that doctor’s didn’t do this at all. Sorry about that. This article by historian Fern Riddell explains some of the reasons why it’s unlikely – and I agree with her. Fun as it sounds, I honestly can’t imagine a doctor getting a patient off in the surgery, especially not back in those more sexually restrictive days. And even the most cursory glance at the ‘massage’ tools of the time, however labour-saving, do not look as though they’d treat you tender parts very kindly at all.
Anyone who reads this blog on even an occasional basis can’t help but notice that I have a passion for sex toys. What’s not to like about adding extra fun to your life?
Thing is, our lovely vibes actually originated from medical ‘necessity’.
The vibrator was the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified (following the sewing machine, fan, kettle and toaster); ‘personal appliances’ really meaning something in those days. But as with a lot of things, it was actually intended to help men rather than women. Back in the day, it didn’t occur to anyone that women might have a libido – how terribly unseemly. Ladies were expected to lie back and think of the Empire whilst their gentleman had his wicked way, and if they could manage to not complain too much about their onerous task then all the better.
Unsurprisingly, this sent a lot of women completely batshit. With hindsight, we could all offer sensible advice to these unfulfilled ladies, mostly along the lines of “go have a wank, love, it makes everything better.*” But such views were nonexistent back then and a steady stream of female patients rocked up to their doctor complaining of irritability and ‘wetness between the legs’. And a moist gusset was simply Not On, so those poor beleaguered docs rolled their sleeves up and got to work.
Seriously – wanking off women was a Thing back then. And doctors hated it – mostly because their poor little wristies often couldn’t cope with the strain of endless lady-fiddling and they risked being unable to reach the goal (as it were). And as there was a lot of money to be had in wanking – why can’t this be true nowadays as well, whyyyyyyy – something had to be done.
Mechanising the procedure was the obvious answer. It took a while – and some rather dubious inventions involving steam power – but eventually the precursor to what we know as a vibrator arrived on the scene. This helped the medical profession no end, but it wasn’t long before women took matters into their own hands (fnar) and began buying the gadgets for themselves. Despite this, it is only very recently that marketing has been honest about what they’re selling – many of us can still remember coy adverts for ‘personal massagers’:
And then the industry got wise, and we got wiser (and pickier about what we’d use to fiddle our fanjitas) and here we are today in a society where we can buy vibrators with our groceries.
Modern commercial society – so bad, yet so very, very good…
*this is a basic Rule For Life and works for pretty much everything.