History of Vibrator: Did You Know It Was Started by Doctors?

Find out how a doctor's tool becomes the most popular sex tool

By Aey
History of Vibrator: Did You Know It Was Started by Doctors?

What might not be a known fact to most is that vibrators are used by almost 52% of women in the United States alone and what might come as an even bigger surprise is that some men use it too. Many people might not know the history behind this invention and if we’re being quite honest, lots of myths surround this creation; no, it was not created to treat ‘hysteria’. Let us try and figure out how this tool used so commonly now developed over time.

1. Cleopatra and her bee gourd

A very common misconception came from the writings of Brenda Love which she published back in 1992 in her Encyclopedia for Unusual Sex and Practices. She contended that Cleopatra back in 69-30BC had a practice of filling a gourd with bees and then using that as a stimulator, much like a vibrator and the common world. However, this contention put forward by Love was debunked Historian Helen King who stated that there is no evidence of the same and neither does Ms. Love provide any evidence to prove her claim of a gourd.

2. A solution for hysteria?

The 1800s: Another major misconception about the vibrator is that it was created to cure hysteria. This misconception stems from the fact that the Greek term for ‘uterus’ is ‘hysteria’. Back in the 6th century, a Greek physician by the name of Aretaeus came up with a theory that the womb can move all around the female body which can lead to physical and mental illnesses. Thus, in the 19th century, many came to believe that vibrators were used to masturbate women with hysteria. However, again; no evidence is available to prove this. It has been a hypothesis and nothing more.

3. Hiding the sexual aspect

The 1900s: When the use of vibrators to cure diseases failed and doctors started to denounce their uses for treatment, the companies to boost their sales started selling them on the pretense of them being home appliances. Fit for use for both men and women, vibrators were then being sold to cure issues like wrinkles and deal with treatments of malaria. With detailed reviews of being tried and tested, this product started doing rounds in newspapers and magazines in the 1900s. However, the ‘suggestive’ language stayed intact. For instance, one advertisement said ‘invented by a woman who knows a woman’s needs’.

4. The skin benefits

1920-1950s: The sexuality of women was always kept behind the curtains and not talked about openly like that of males. However, around 1954 Alfred Kinsey revealed through his research that around 52% of women admit to masturbating, but no mention was made of vibrators. To boost advertising, vibrator companies started linking their use to benefits in skin, weight loss, etc. Arnold vibrators through their ad promised to their customers that by using this product their skins would be youthful, faultless and finely proportionate. This is the era when the Food and Development Authority started their crackdowns on these companies for false advertising that all cures are found through the use of this product.

5. The era of being open to women sexuality

The 1960s-1970s: In the 1960s, attitude towards premarital sex and masturbation by women became more talk-able. For instance, in the 1960s, New York City had its first ‘women only, masturbation workshop’ by Betty Dodson. She used an Ostor and a Panasonic Panabarator and then moved towards the Hitachi Magic Wand in the mid-70s. However, the stigma attached to women masturbation did not completely vanish and a part of it still ensued. 1971 research in the United States did show 61% women to masturbate but 25% felt guilty or perverted after. In 1973 the stigma was further seen to strengthen when the Texas state prohibited any devices prepared to stimulate the human genitals. So, companies then started to advertise these as ‘personal massagers’.

6. The animal-shaped machines to get around the law

The 1980s-1990s: This era introduced these machines in rather odd shapes and colors; bright colors, shaped like different animals. 1983 is the year when such vibrators were used and mainly to get around the obscenity laws in Japan. Shaped like turtles, kangaroos and beavers the company Vertex knew how exactly to make the perfect tools to offer internal and external stimulator components. A 1998 episode of the show ‘sex and the city’ really caught the eyes of the public and that is when the rabbit vibrator rose to fame.

7. The new world

2018 and beyond: Moving away from stigmas and into the new world, in the new era we find not just the acceptance and common use of vibrators but the selling of these at mainstream stores like Target, etc. From rechargeable eco-friendly vibrators to medical silicone ones, the common usage has developed. Talk show hosts like Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Laura Berman encouraged mothers to introduce their daughters to vibrators so that they could feel the sexual stimulation at a young age. However, culturally this product is still met with slight back, slowly and steadily it's moving forward as use for massaging if not masturbating (which still meets stigma). 

5 Interesting Facts about Vibrators you need to know

1. The tip of the nose test

While this might sound weird at first but experts say that to perfectly assess the feel you will get from the use of a vibrator; use it against the tip of your nose-first. Yes, you read that right. This advice comes from Claire Cavanah who is the co-founder of the sex toy store. Claire states that the logic behind this rather silly notion comes from the fact that the tip of our nose is almost as sensitive as the lady parts downstairs. Thus, to understand the level of stimulation you’ll receive, just press the start button when near your nose.

2. The oral sex vibrator

If a regular vibrator wasn’t enough, the vibrator companies went on to introduce what they call an oral sex vibrator. Yes, something to use before your regular use vibrator to get the feel going. There are several of these available online, manufactured and sold by different companies not just online but in your mainstream stores around. So, if you want to get the full experience, this oral sex vibrator should be your next purchase or dual purchase with the regular one. Scan your options, read reviews and make sure to choose the most talked-about one.

3. The vibrator market

This might come as an odd fact but the market for vibrators is deemed to be much bigger than that of the condom market. Whilst this might have something to do with the fact that most men don’t feel threatened by the use of a vibrator by their female counterparts (around 70% men they don’t feel threatened by the use of this product) but the product market is at a whopping $1 billion. So, regardless of threats or no threats, it is safe to assume that the market is flourishing and more and more men and women are following suit to the use of this product.

4. Zero safety regulations

Whilst this product might give you a good time, the risks need to be kept in mind too. The United States, for instance, has no safety regulations set aside for vibrators. Thus, whilst you might be having a great time, you might as well have a harsh rash too. A study by the Kinsey institute showed that your dear vibrators carry a chemical composition as such which could easily go towards a rash. Moreover, it can further carry carcinogens which we all know are not something we should be risking exposing ourselves to.

5. ER could where you end up

Whilst fifty shades of grey appealed to most audiences, it might have not gotten the proper message across. By all means, people should have a great time, however, go easy! Know your product before you use it like you would with another purchase. To prove our point, it is seen that sex-related injuries have doubled since 2007 and almost always have ended up with the removal of foreign objects. To be more specific, back in 2014, a woman had to go to the hospital as she got her vibrator stuck in her urethra and a man live-tweeted from the hospital with a vibrator stuck in his behind. Be careful!

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From being Cleopatra’s bee gourd to a cure to hysteria, from being a doctor's tool to a skin flourisher, the vibrator is now used more as a stimulator (what we believe it was designed to be from the beginning). With the world being more accepting and vibrators being available at Target, the use of these machines has indeed involved. So, disregard the myths, remember the facts and proceed to view this product as what it truly intends to provide; an experience.