Most of us pay little attention to the past, but many of our current day sexual practices came from a long history of trial and error. Each generation passes along little tips, tricks and tidbits of information that make sex that much better for the next batch of horny humans. For example, did you ever wonder where the vibrator came from? What about a ribbed condom or a cock ring?
Lots of things we take for granted, and use to excess, have their origins in the past. This article will examine some of the more popular items we have grown to love, use, and use again.
The vibrator has a long, sordid history that leads us to where it is today. It was originally invented as a tool to help doctors combat a problem know as ‘female hysteria’. Female hysteria was a condition that was applied to a lot of female ailments. Due to a number of factors – inability to divorce, more men than women, spinsterhood, etc. – a lot of women suffered from malaise and frustration. The treatment of Female hysteria took many forms. The most common being pelvic massage by a physician or mid-wife.
“…massage the genitalia using lubricants…in this way the afflicted woman can be aroused to paroxysm…most especially recommended for widows, those who live chaste lives, and female religious…less recommended for very young women, public women, or married women, for whom it is a better remedy to engage in intercourse with their spouses.” (1653, Pieter Van Foreest in Maines)
The problem is that physicians rapidly became swamped with hysteria patients, and soon were devoting 75% of their time to treat this ‘problem’. The doctors were essentially massaging the women until they climaxed, and their patients loved it. So the doctors needed to come up with new ways to treat the ‘pandemic’ of hysteria cases. Treatment was often cruel, with various injections or amputations being seen as a cure.
Eventually, this “pandemic” was taking up so much of the doctor’s time that companies began to introduce products to speed up the massage process. The average women at the time required about one hour of vigorous massage before she reached orgasm.
Physicians began to experiment with a variety of mechanical devices ranging from pressurized water to steam driven vibrating massage devices. It was not until the early 1880’s that the physician Mortimer Branville patented a small, portable electromechanical vibrator.
The introduction of this device reduced the average therapy from sixty minutes, down to ten minutes. Now a physician could reduce not only the time he spent with the patient, but it also was much easier on him physically.
On an interesting note, Mortimer Branville was firmly opposed to the use of his device for treating hysterics. He advised its application only to the male skeletal muscles. Eventually the vibrator was sold in mail order catalogues, and by the early 1900’s women could treat themselves at home.
In the end, the vibrator became a common tool for all women to use, and is now sold freely everywhere. Hysteria is now an archaic term, which was dropped from most medical books in the early 1950s. Most physicians shied away from prescribing the vibrator once it began showing up in early porn movies. However, that hasn’t stopped legions of women from buying them to this day.
Since venereal disease has been around for a long, long time, many tried to come up with a way of preventing it. One such person was Gabriello Fallopio, who claimed to have invented a type of sheath for the penis in the early 1500s. However, many claim versions of it – or at least the attempt to create one – can be dated back centuries earlier.
In the 1700s, the use of animal gut was created, and this method is still around to this day. In the mid-1800s, vulcanized rubber was created and ‘rubbers’ were born. No longer only made from animal parts, the precursor to today’s modern condom was born.
As technology improved, so to did condom production. In the early 1900s, liquid latex was invented, and the thin plastic sheath we have today is our reward. Each time we improve plastic technology, condoms usually get an upgrade.
The Sexual Revolution
Lots of people point to the 60s as the decade when true sexual liberation occurred. Many point to the invention of birth control pills as the main instigator, but that isn’t the only reason.
The idea that you could only have sex if married became a thing of your parent’s generation, and college campuses everywhere began to experience and enjoy free love – and the occasional STD.
Remember, this was a time before AIDS, so the biggest fear anyone had was getting pregnant outside of marriage. The condom was always available, but we all know how much fun they are.
The pill allowed an entire generation to entertain the possibility of multiple partners without consequence. Couple that with the anti-war, anti-establishment movement and a lot of young kids hitting early adulthood, and you have a perfect sexual storm in the making.
You have to keep in mind how socially and morally devastating it was for a woman to have a child outside of marriage prior to this time period, and even up to modern times. The pill suddenly gave a lot of power to women who wanted to have sex for sex’s sake, not as an act of procreation.
It isn’t over yet!
It’s hard to predict what to expect next, but there is a lot of research going on with prolonging and sustaining the orgasm. There is a procedure now available for women suffering from chronic pain. It involves attaching an electrode to a certain point in the spine which, when activated, causes instantaneous multiple orgasms.
Although there has been interest in those who want the procedure for non-medical reasons, so far it has been limited to those who really ‘need’ it. But 20 years from now the procedure may be as common as a store that only sells vibrators, or condoms that glow in the dark.