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The Kooky, Bizarre, and Sometimes Inaccurate History of the Vibrator

The modest vibrator, ahh. It’s challenging to track how far the invention has come because they come in so many different shapes, sizes, and vibration strengths, from microscopic bullets to blatant beast-mode zappers. It’s one of those fantastic engineering advancements that has been there for so long that it’s challenging to comprehend what life would have been without them.

 

So, how were vibrators created? Who is the genius we should thank?

Now, it's time to embark on a historical journey.

First, let’s dispel some misconceptions about the development of the vibrator.

Did Cleopatra create the vibrator?

Well, wouldn't that be wonderful? Sadly, no, that is not the case. But it's simple to understand why this rumour spread given the fabled allure of ol' Cleo. According to Brenda Love, who wrote the 1992 book Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Cleopatra used a gourd (yes, the meaty fruit) loaded with BEES to produce the vibrational sensation required for masturbation. Say what? Although it is a very imaginative theory, neither Love's book has any actual citations of sources nor any proof in the form of archaeological discoveries that this indeed occurred. The Egyptian Queen theory gained popularity and was repeated in numerous books, articles, and publications for years despite the lack of evidence. Cleo, go!

Doctors created vibrators in the 19th century to treat "hysteria" in women.

You read correctly. Before continuing, be aware that no concrete evidence exists that any doctor ever vibrated a female patient. But why on earth is this one of THE most well-known and commonly held rumours about the genesis of vibrators? Let's investigate this nonsense, shall we?

The Hysteria Debaucle:

“hysteria” originally referred to a broad range of “dysfunctions” or unexplained illnesses, primarily affecting women. The ancient Greek term “Hysterika,” which means uterus, is the source of the word “hysteria.” Do you understand where this is going? In the sixth century BC, a Greek doctor proposed that the womb might travel freely inside a woman’s body (FUN.) The doctor claimed that women’s physical and mental health suffered due to their constant movement. He is only partially correct; a moving womb would result in mayhem. Arataeus is unchallengeable on that point. Since he coined the term “Hysteria,” it has come to be used to describe a wide range of ailments, most of which affect women, including farting, fainting, pent-up fury, and uncontrollable lust.

(I feel attacked, but it’s probably just my hysteria acting up.)

The True Stuff:

Around 1880, a man named Joseph Mortimer Granville made the most famous electromechanical vibrator. He called it a “percuteur.” Although there were already comparable devices in use in France, he became the most well-known person associated with the creation. He was an English doctor who thought that vibrations could have therapeutic effects by triggering the nerve system. He created his device to help men experiencing discomfort, irritation, headaches, indigestion, and constipation. Granville certainly understood the sexual potential of his invention for females, and it is even known that he used the “percuteur” to treat male sexual dysfunction. Yet, he never applied it to women.

The Grey Area:

Granville did, in fact, design this incredible tool to treat illnesses, but once Rachel Maine published a book about it, the reality started to look shady. She distorted the empirical truth by fusing Granville’s innovation with medical hysteria. The result is an awkwardly sexual 2011 film about a doctor who creates a vibrator to treat female hysteria through medical masturbation.

The 1930s Appliance Vibrator:

At this point, vibrators were still seen as crazy medical devices, and they could be easily connected to the same interchangeable motors that drove vacuum cleaners and hair dryers in addition to being regular household appliances. Nonetheless, we have little doubt that the women of the time realised how beneficial domestic vibrators were.

So, when did vibrators start to be advertised and sold for masturbation?

The sleeker vibrators we are familiar with today first appeared in the 1950s, replacing the hand-cranked, big, unwieldy objects that looked like medical gadgets because that is what they were used for. While controversy remained, the emergence of the female orgasm was officially underway!

There you have it—a strange, brief look at the background of our favourite vibrator. Next time you succeed in removing her, express your gratitude to Cleo, Granville, or modern medicine itself! Since there are so many rumours about her, she must be good, so if you want to find out what the commotion is about, it’s time to get one yourself.

Keep in mind: use a vibrator to control your hysteria before it gets out of control.

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