A vibrator for that sick woman, please ….

In 2011 the movie Hysteria was released, a British romantic comedy that tells the story of a doctor from Victorian England who, tired of manually stimulating the clitoris of his patients, decided to create the vibrator. Of course, the argument is brought to them, but … what if we told you that the movie is based on real events?

To understand this we have to go back to classical antiquity. Greek philosophers and scientists already told us in their writings that there was a female disease known as “burning uterus” or “vaginal fever” whose main symptom was the excitement, “hysteria”. In fact the very word hysteria comes from the Greek “hystear”, which means “uterus”. And the most experienced ones even determined that the explanation for this disease was that the uterus was an organ that was not subject, but moved inside the female body, and when it was in the chest, it produced fevers and pains.

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Actually what was happening was that society could not accept female sexual desire. The masculine desire was natural, even admirable, but the feminine one was something pathological, and it was necessary to cure it. The treatment for such a disease according to these authors was to massage the vagina. Even the doctor Galen tells us about it.

This belief continued to exist even among the doctors and scientists of the nineteenth century, when “hysteria” was spoken of as a properly feminine disease. At that time treatments such as showers with ice water were applied. But the most widespread was to stimulate the clitoris to reach the “nervous paroxysm” or cause “paroxysmal convulsions”, a term used to refer to the female orgasm.

coca pornIn that Victorian England so refined and exquisite, it was frowned upon for women to come to consultation alone, for what they used to do in the company of their husbands, fathers or mothers. There, surrounded by relatives and loved ones, they undressed from the waist down and, opening their legs, they surrendered to the doctor’s fingers until they reached that “nervous paroxysm” that left them new.

Suddenly hysteria became an evil that harassed almost the entire female population. Any symptoms, from headaches to states of anxiety (maybe even a sprain), were diagnosed as hysteria, and all were prescribed such massages. Sometimes doctors were quite clumsy to achieve the “paroxysmal convulsion”, so they referred their patients to more skilled midwives in this mission.

Tired of manually stimulating his patients in rituals that often lasted too long, causing enormous pain to those who performed the massages, one of those British doctors had the idea of ​​creating a contraption that performed the massages automatically. That doctor was Joseph Mortimer Granville, who in 1870 invented the vibrator.

The wonders of which that device was able to quickly spread throughout the country, his consultation gained popularity and was filled with women in need of healing his hysteria (and relatives who stared at the medical miracle astonished).

In 1902, the company Hamilton Beach patented the mechanism and put it on sale so that everyone could have one at home. The success was overwhelming. At the beginning of the 20th century houses were usually equipped with a refrigerator, a fan and a vibrator. Its use was more common than that of other contemporary appliances such as the electric iron, and more vibrators than vacuum cleaners were sold.

It was very common for newspapers, magazines and radios to be announced with total normality. Household appliance catalogs presented different models of vibrator between sewing machines and coffee makers. Even models with adaptable spare parts capable of turning a vibrator into a blender were presented. It was all thought.

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But then … what happened for something so normal to become a taboo that reaches even today? Since the appearance of the first pornographic films, the vibrator became a habitual resource in them. But the turning point was in 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association declared that this supposed “hysteria” was not a disease, but the natural sexual desire of women.

It turns out that for years the “nervous paroxysm” had been considered something completely alien to sexuality, that women could not have such a thing, and if now scientists said that this was not a disease but a natural sexual desire, social hypocrisy would the rest. The vibrators then disappeared from the catalogs of household appliances, magazines and newspapers. They were relegated to a dark and reprehensible corner of private life.

Until then, it had been usual to find slogans such as “Because you, woman, you have the right not to be sick”, but when it was determined that it was not a disease, the right to a satisfactory sexual life disappeared.