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Your Grandmother's Vibrator.
October 11, 2007 12:54 PM   Subscribe


 
This post, it vibrates?
posted by dersins at 12:57 PM on October 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


1905: Convenient portable models become available, permitting house calls.

Cum again?
posted by phaedon at 12:59 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry but I live in Alabama and I am not allowed to read/comprehend anything about this sort of thing.
posted by jca at 1:06 PM on October 11, 2007


I saw "Hysterical" in New York and it made some potentially interesting subject matter deathly dull.

Fortunately, this FPP redeems the subject matter.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:07 PM on October 11, 2007


I was looking at this last week with a friend, we actually checked on eBay and found one of those old vibrators for sale for like $20. We were going to buy it but quickly realized that would be, in fact, simply buying someone's used vibrator.

Interesting stuff though.
posted by patr1ck at 1:20 PM on October 11, 2007






I thought the look on Don Draper's wife Betty's face when she leaned against an unbalanced washer in spin cycle during the last episode of Mad Men was better than all the vibrator histories in the world.
posted by srboisvert at 1:35 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was just talking about nineteenth-century 'treatments' the other day. How funny, and yet, how sad.
posted by Miko at 1:37 PM on October 11, 2007


Er, I thought these were called "back massagers".
posted by rolypolyman at 1:44 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was just talking about nineteenth-century 'treatments' the other day. How funny, and yet, how sad.

I don't know. At least half of me thinks we should bring back these 'treatments' for the health and well-being of our society. For men, too, not just women. It would probably eliminate huge amounts of stress and crime from our culture, not to mention binge drinking and worse.

Granted, the "sad" part is not the masturbation or clinical stimulation itself - it's the classification of "desire to obtain orgasm" as a disease that's the sad part. It's not like they were particularly open or honest about what they were doing.

But, hey, you could legally ring up your doctor for a rub and tug.

A lot of the times these days it seems like we're going backwards through the sexual revolution and growing more repressed.
posted by loquacious at 1:48 PM on October 11, 2007


Gershon Legman is credited with the invention of the vibrating dildo. He did some other stuff, too. (paperfolding, cataloging erotic folklore, etc.)
posted by clockwork at 1:48 PM on October 11, 2007


Your Grandmother's Vibrator.

There's an image I could have done without.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:50 PM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


we should bring back these 'treatments' for the health and well-being of our society.

Why? I see it as a lonely transaction, not even superior to what you can do for yourself.

it's the classification of desire to obtain orgasm" as a disease


That, and the total denial that it was an orgasm, that it was a healthy sexual function. Instead it was thought of as a relief valve for female mental illness.

I think the reason I find it sad is the knowledge that many of the women who went for this treatment probably had no idea what it was like to have an orgasm with a partner, ever, in their lives.
posted by Miko at 1:52 PM on October 11, 2007


If the exam room is humming,
Somebody's cumming.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:58 PM on October 11, 2007


I think it would be interesting to try to recover the experiences of those administering the procedures. The story is that doctors were clinically detached as they masturbated these women, but did they in fact experience sexual pleasure? And in the timeline, there's a quote from 1653 about midwives being asked to assist women in masturbation, particularly widows and women in religious orders, as a specific remedy for ailments brought on by chastity. Was there a sense that this was associated with female same-sex sexual acts? Curious.
posted by papakwanz at 2:00 PM on October 11, 2007


Can I just say that I am tired of people thinking rabbit pearl style vibrators are the penultimate invention in female pleasure? Also, when I roll my eyes at you for thinking this is the case, please know that it is not because I don't get it. I have a low opinion of them. They're cheap, impractical, overcooked, gauche and usually weak.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:00 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the exam room is humming,
Somebody's cumming.


Scratch that. Pulled the trigger too soon. Should have read:

If the exam room is humming,
Grandmother's cumming.

There, now. I know I feel better.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:02 PM on October 11, 2007


Your Grandmother's Vibrator.
Who doesn't want to know about objects your grandparents have had in their guts?
posted by nola at 2:08 PM on October 11, 2007


Informative and entertaining, thanks for posting this.

I liked the Slate slideshow, although I was a bit surprised at the omission of Rabbit-style models (or otherwise the Hitachi Magic Wand), instead opting for a relative leap from stone age news clippings (and Maines' writings) to space-age teledildonics.

Also, never underestimate the might of the Braun Oral-B.

(Just get two and make sure not to use one for the other's purpose.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:08 PM on October 11, 2007


"The legendary naturalist John Muir patented his own vibrator for men in 1899."

Interesting. Well, he did spend a lot of time alone in the wilderness.
posted by Manjusri at 2:10 PM on October 11, 2007


the Hitachi Magic Wand

Absolutely, the omission of this is an egregious oversight. The 'Hitachi Hammer of God' has been around since the 70s and always had enough veneer of legitimacy to make it quite widely adopted - you can easily purchase one in a Wal Mart or drug store.
posted by Miko at 2:12 PM on October 11, 2007


The Hitachi Magic Wand is featured on slide 8 of the slideshow. Not sure what it is about the image that made you miss its mention in both the image and the text...
posted by merocet at 2:19 PM on October 11, 2007


Passion & Power: The Technology of Orgasm (documentary trailer, YT)
posted by desjardins at 2:19 PM on October 11, 2007


I can't look at the slideshow (I'm at work) so I was reacting to someone else suggesting it was missing...sorry.
posted by Miko at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2007


Not sure what it is about the image that made you miss its mention in both the image and the text...

Slideshow's a little wonky? I didn't see it my first time through either, but I did see the male restraint pic twice. Second time through worked for me.

Gggggggrrrrrreeeeaaaaattttttt ppppppooooooossssssstttttt.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2007


Would you like to make your own?
posted by rollbiz at 2:31 PM on October 11, 2007


No F**kzilla?? (NSFW- as is the review)
(Not mentioned in Monday's Arse Electronika post)
posted by MtDewd at 2:38 PM on October 11, 2007


merocet: "The Hitachi Magic Wand is featured on slide 8 of the slideshow. Not sure what it is about the image that made you miss its mention in both the image and the text..."

D'oh. My bad. I was distracted by the vintage boobage I guess.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2007


If the exam room luggage is humming,

Nine time out of ten, it's an electric razor. But every once in a while... It's a dildo. It's company policy not to imply ownership in the event of a dildo. We use the indefinite article: "A dildo". Never "Your dildo".
posted by quin at 3:11 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


In Soviet Russia, Dil does you!
posted by rob511 at 3:33 PM on October 11, 2007


merocet: "Not sure what it is about the image that made you miss its mention in both the image and the text..."

And now I get your joke.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:49 PM on October 11, 2007


Based on the glowing reviews from ladyfriends about the Hitachi magic wand, I've often wished I could be a woman for just one day.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:26 PM on October 11, 2007


um, billy, vibrators have quite the effect on men too. trust me.
posted by desjardins at 4:51 PM on October 11, 2007


There is an island in the Forida keys named Dildo Key, It got it's name from the large number of dildo cactus on the island.
But they do not vibrate noticeably.
posted by Iron Rat at 4:51 PM on October 11, 2007


um, billy, vibrators have quite the effect on men too.

Apparently.
posted by humannaire at 5:22 PM on October 11, 2007


What, no Sybian?
posted by majick at 5:40 PM on October 11, 2007


Instead it was thought of as a relief valve for female mental illness.

pun intended?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:44 PM on October 11, 2007


Tangentially, I've heard that the popularity of spa resorts in the 19th century apparently involved the use of water jets as a similar sort of 'treatment' to the early use of vibrators as 'cures' for hysteria.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 PM on October 11, 2007


Can I just say that I am tired of people thinking rabbit pearl style vibrators are the penultimate invention in female pleasure?

pet peeve mode ON
I don't think anyone has suggested they are the next-to-last invention in female pleasure.
pet peeve mode OFF
posted by The Deej at 7:49 PM on October 11, 2007


I think there will only ever be one more invention in female pleasure.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2007


Not any more. I've been invented.
posted by dersins at 9:13 PM on October 11, 2007


Yeah seriously, you think I forgot cunnilingus?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:34 PM on October 11, 2007


Actually from what I heard...

The Deej = Female Vibrator.

Just sayin. That's what I heard.
posted by humannaire at 1:13 AM on October 12, 2007


Well... yes... I guess it is true. I sure try my best anyway.
posted by The Deej at 5:15 AM on October 12, 2007


isn't it tiring, picking them up & shaking them about like that?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the 4th photo it says,

entrepreneurs began to recognize the huge potential market for hand-held vibrators for home use. Vibrator innovation was in fact a driving force behind the creation of the small electric motor. Hamilton Beach of Racine, Wis., patented its first take-home vibrator in 1902, making the vibrator the fifth electrical appliance to be introduced into the home, after the sewing machine and long before the electric iron.

"a driving force behind the creation of the small electric motor". huh. Interesting. " fifth electrical appliance to be introduced into the home, after the sewing machine and long before the electric iron", wow. Some satisfaction knowing it was before the electric iron.

Looking at those pics and reading the article it made me angry that so little has been understood about female sexuality for so long. In the 1980's I read in the Merck's Manual that 50% of women didn't reach orgasm having sex with men. That statistic seem astonishing to me but googling the topic it says "it is known that up to 50% of women do not reach orgasm through penetrative sex alone". Apparently 10% to 15% of women never have an orgasm.

So YAYYYY vvvvvvibrators!
posted by nickyskye at 7:03 AM on October 12, 2007


up to 50% of women do not reach orgasm through penetrative sex alone

That's true, but that's different from not reaching orgasm having sex with men at all (which I agree is depressing if the Merck statistics from the '80s are true, and based on my conversations with women of various ages, I have no reason to doubt them) . A lot of women aren't able to reach orgasm through penetrative sex along, so they augment penetration with more direct stimulation. But to know how to do that and invite your partner to help takes a degree of information, comfort, and positive response to female sexuality that for so long were missing ingredients in so many women's lives.
posted by Miko at 7:09 AM on October 12, 2007


Well said, Miko.

Uncommon, in my experience, that a man is comfortable regularly using a vibrator for the woman's benefit. It's still a topic people are shy discussing but fortunately less so as the years go by.

When I googled videos on "how to have good sex" the top of the heap was this hilarious neutered males dog-cat clip. A search for videos on how to have satisfying sex has clips for women, sadly, not men.

I was thinking the other day about the differences between males and females in what generates and sustains sexual interest.

It seems likely there was a genetic reason for the shinking of the human clitoris, as compared with bonobo apes having clitorises long as penises. Maybe it was that women who were less likely to stray for sexual gratification were best protected during pregnancy and more likely to pay attention to the newborn? Bonobos are almost extinct in spite of their extraordinarily happy sex lives.

But to know how to do that and invite your partner to help takes a degree of information, comfort, and positive response to female sexuality that for so long were missing ingredients in so many women's lives.

Agreed. For so long were, and for many (probably still the majority around the world) are still missing.
posted by nickyskye at 11:39 AM on October 12, 2007


It's an aside, but there was a recent New Yorker piece suggesting that bonobos may not be as happy as all that, and that the research has been somewhat skewed by primatologist politics.

I wouldn't go so far as to speculate about the clitoris 'shrinking' without knowing a lot more primate and prehistoric human physiology and also sociology. I do know that the clitoris is actually enormous - I'd look for a link, but I'm at work -- much bigger than the tiny bit that's outside the body. The nerves and vascular tissue of the organ actually cover a lot of area under the skin. There's really no problem if you make a point of finding the thing - it works.

Personally, I'm glad natural history tucked most of it away safely - it would be a hell of a distractable life if it were more susceptible to bumping into things, touching fabrics, etc. It's too sensitive for all that clamor.
posted by Miko at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2007


This diagram might be illustrative.

As for sensitivity, parallels could perhaps be drawn to the glans penis: circumsized men will, I would argue, become accustomed to having such a sensitive area permanently exposed. Bump into or inadvertently rub against something with an exposed uncircumsized penis' glans and it's a lot more ouch.

They come in all shapes and sizes, as they say, and women do exist with an anatomy that prevents the glans clitoridis from fully detracting under the hood. I'd venture to say that they will be accordingly less sensitive to the kind of stimuli that would be uncomfortable to a woman whose clitoral glans is usually covered fully by the hood.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:30 PM on October 12, 2007


Great info/education Miko and goodnewsfortheinsane. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 12:35 PM on October 12, 2007


Other orgasm related structures in women include the Skene's glands and G-Spot. The interrelatedness of these to one another and to the clitoris is variable, indeterminate, and best explored by individual experimentation. ;)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:48 PM on October 12, 2007


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