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2,000 years of sex toy history in under 2 minutes

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

Sex toys have a surprisingly long and bizarre history

Believe it or not, vibrators have been around for thousands of years. This would've come as a great shock to gentlemen of the 19th century and before who honestly believed that "ladies" had no sex drive (seriously). In fact, it wasn't until the 20th century that men, including doctors, had any idea that women were capable of experiencing sexual pleasure. Of course, this might have simply been because men did not regularly attempt to sexually satisfy a woman until then, but that's a conversation for another time.

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As a result of this aforementioned notion, many women were left to stew in their sexual frustration, and thus became irritable, depressed and "heavy" in the lower abdomen. While we commonly associate these physical effects with horniness today, back then, they were considered symptoms of "hysteria." Hysteria, which is derived from the Greek word for uterus, was considered a mental disorder with which women were often diagnosed. Today, the term is literally defined as "fit of madness," because obviously anyone with a uterus is still considered insane.

Since 200 A.D., doctors would treat this "madness" with genital massage (aka hand jobs), which would eventually bring women to a "paroxysm" or orgasm and relieve them of their sexual frustration symptoms. However, it was tiring work, so in the late 1800s, a Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville invented a steam-powered vibrator to help women reach paroxysm sooner, and save doctors' precious hands.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vibrator history. Here's a short video that chronicles the vibrator highlights over more than 2,000 years.

Anyone else giving Cleopatra mad props right now for having the gumption to not only capture angry bees for her vibrator but actually put it in her most sensitive orifice? Me too.

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While it is a shame that it took until the early 20th century for vibrators to become widely available to women for personal use, it makes sense considering that's when electrics came on the scene (and flapper porn, apparently). And I just love that they had to be called "beauty aids" when they first came on the market. I suppose it was still irksome to the general population that women might need to get off without the presence of a man once in a while.

When electric-powered vibrators first came on the market, they were more frankly advertised as "personal massagers." However, when they showed up in 1920s porn, they were suddenly seen as smutty and thus their purpose needed to be hidden. This disguised advertising continued all the way up through the 1980s.

By the time Sex and the City brought the Rabbit vibrator into the foreground, vibrators were fully out and proud on the market. Today, we've got thousands of vibrators to choose from, many of which can be controlled remotely via app (oh technology, sometimes you're the best).

It's amazing to think how lucky we are compared to women only 150 years ago who had to go to their doctor to get off (shutters).

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