We’ve come a long way since the sexual liberation of the 1970s, a decade that brought us renewed acceptance of the contraceptive pill, premarital sex, and a little film called Deep Throat starring Linda Lovelace.
But whilst the 70s can definitely stake claim to the climax of the sexual revolution, it would be unfair to disregard the 60s and the part it played in changing cultural perceptions.
The arrival of a small band from Liverpool (the Beatles I think they were called) provided an outlet for the sexual repressions of teenage girls everywhere, and novels such as Margaret Attwood’s protofeminist The Edible Woman gave voice to the languor of middle-class housewives whilst kick-starting the second-wave of feminism in the process.
These days having premarital sex is no longer taboo. Most certainly, our grandparents’ generation would consider the mere mention of it immoral, and there may be a few prudish individuals who have a contrarian view on modern day sex, but the sexual revolution portrayed sex as no longer a source of consternation but rather a cause for celebration.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that everyone’s favourite Strand Street cut-price thrift shop, Dealz, is selling an economy range of sex toys…
There on the shelves – between the cheap reading glasses and the bumper packs of Jammy Dodgers – sits a range of Nooky toys to satiate even the greediest of enthusiasts; bullets, bunnies and rings (oh my!).
When Gef disappeared from the office yesterday to go buy himself a few new toys, I didn’t bat an eyelid until he returned twenty minutes later with a carrier bag laden with naughties.
Surely, the fact that Dealz is now stocking a budget range of sex toys is indicative of our changing times. Whilst sex toys have been sold on the UK’s High Streets for years, and the internet has been awash with muff merch since its inception, the display and sale of sex aids in a high-street, Manx discount store is surely a reassurance that we’re entering a golden age of sexual honesty.
In the late 1990s, an episode of Sex And The City caused a media meltdown with its inclusion of a vibrator, and such was the reaction that you’d think it had been newly invented: little did they know that in the depths of underwear drawers the world over, Mr. Specialfuzzytingletime was the go-to aid for most sexually active women.
But vibrators date back to the Victorian era, and were invented by respectable Victorian doctors who grew tired of bringing female patients to orgasm with their fingers alone. There was nothing sordid about the Victorian-era dildo; on the contrary, it was revered with similar brilliance to that of the stethoscope. Following this, the vibrator became popular amongst Victorian women, and it was nothing to be embarrassed out.
The invention of the vibrator was to remedy hysteria, a condition which ran riot throughout 19th century Britain with symptoms including chronic anxiety, abdominal bloating and irritability, and early medical explanations pointed the finger of blame at the humble uterus. In retrospect, sexual frustration had been misconstrued as hysteria, and the mid-19th century saw an epidemic of hysteria-related cases, said to afflict up to 75% of the female population.
Female sexual arousal was outlawed in Victorian times, so the invention of the dildo was regarded as a medical breakthrough, and not typically sexual.
Vibrators came about inception following the laborious hysteria-calming “pelvic massage”, in which the patient reached a “hysterical paroxysm” following which, her symptoms would have abated. This became the go-to remedy, but by all accounts, it gave very little sexual gratification to the doctor; according to medical journals it was a tedious and physically tiring procedure.
Experiments were conducted with wind-up vibrators, but these often ran out of power halfway through the procedure and didn’t quite get the job done. You know the feeling.
Clitoris-aimed water jets and a steam-powered ‘Manipulator’ quickly followed, but were eschewed when some wondrous human called Dr J Mortimer Granville invented the first electromechanical vibrator. Granted it had a power source the size of fridge, it was patented in the early 1880s and predated the invention of the electric iron and the vacuum cleaner by a good decade.
So there you have it. A brief and compact history of the vibrator. So next time you’re down Strand Street, nip into Dealz and see what all the fuss is about. Anonymous product reviews are welcomed, and encouraged.