Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A History of Sex Toys

Sex toys have had a surprisingly long history, and it’s only recently that they’ve become less of a taboo subject and entered our mainstream culture. However, women and men haven’t always had a bright neon piece of plastic in their bedside table – sex toys have taken many forms over the years.

Early sex toys
The oldest sex toy ever discovered was a large siltstone phallic object which was discovered in north Germany and is over 30,000 years old. It wasn’t until the Ancient Greeks however that we have a fuller picture of how sex toys fitted into early humans’ culture.

Lots of Ancient Greek vase art features women using phallic shaped objects, and it was commonplace for women to give their friends these objects when their husbands died or were sent off to war. Whilst the word “dildo” didn’t actually come into common usage until much later, its etymology is still unclear. Some say that it’s a corruption of the Italian word for delight, whereas others believe that it derives from the name of the phallus shaped peg on a sailboat to keep the oar in place; whatever the case, by the 17th century it was in common usage.

The cure for hysteria
By the 19th century, a diagnosis of female hysteria became commonplace in women who were experiencing restless symptoms, and a common “cure” for this would be a “pelvic massage” performed by a doctor who would bring the woman to climax. However this was time-consuming, tiring, and ineffective and a steam-powered vibrator was invented for use by doctors.

In the late 1880s Dr. Joseph Granville invented an electromechanical vibrator, and by 1902 the US home appliance company Hamilton Beach had patented the first electric vibrator. Female hysteria had long been debunked; however these devices remained popular amongst women for obvious reasons!

The rise of the rabbit
Throughout the early 20th century, vibrators remained largely hidden in the pages of department stores’ catalogues and in classified adverts, marketed as “relaxation devices.” It wasn’t until the 1960s with the advent of the women’s liberation movement that sex toys became less of a taboo subject.

The invention of the rabbit vibrator changed millions of women’s lives in the late 1990s when it was featured on an episode of Sex and the City. Intrigued by the thrilling nature of the toy, sales rose and the rabbit remains one of the most popular styles of vibrator to this day.
Nowadays, there’s so much to choose from when purchasing sex toys. You’re bound to find something to suit your needs from mini vibrating bullets, large vibrators, butt plugs, vibrating eggs and cock rings, to name a few!

Louise Jenkins writes about sex toys. For more information please visit

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