Today, we are going to talk about sex. And, no, you have not been magically transported over to T.Wanker's Mormon Erotica blog, though he probably knows more about this stuff than my professor does. :)
Last Tuesday's topic in my women history class was Victorian Sexuality: Hysteria, Surgery, and the Vibrator. I felt this information was important for the eternities, so I must be a member missionary and teach those who may not know.
Female hysteria was the diagnosis for 25% of women during the 1800s when they had an ailment with no explainable cause. It had 75 possible symptoms and was found mostly in middle class white women (lower class women suffering the same symptoms were told it was caused by fatigue or sensuality). Some of the early treatments for hysteria were: injections of chemicals, milk, water or tea into the uterus; cauterizing the uterine cavity; leeching (one had to be very careful to ensure none of the leeches made their way too far north); and, eventually surgery, such as clitoridectomy (removal of the skin hood above the clitoris) and ovaritomy (removal of ovaries).
I was angry at the doctors at first, and am still upset at the cultural norms which created this sort of thinking. But, my professor pointed out that many of these doctors were trying new desperate measures to help desperate women, so I can't hate them completely.
Ok, let's move on to more pleasurable treatments for hysteria, the "hysterical paroxysm." It was found that if women had a paroxysm (clinical word for orgasm), that they felt better, so doctors would manually massage the vulvar area of their hysteria patients. Doctors found it often took awhile to, um, complete treatment and that they had a lot of patients to help. They were relieved when the vibrator was created by a British doctor in the 1880s in response to the overwhelming number of women receiving "manual hysterical paroxysms."
Soon, these large machines were downsized and sold in reputable women's magazines, like Sears and Roebuck. One of the ads my professor read in class goes something like this: "Aids that every women appreciates. It will make youth throb within you."
They continued to be advertised in such magazines until they started being used in erotic films in the 1920s, and then they were seen as dirty, sensual, and bad. They have been playing peek-a-boo in our culture ever since. They are actually illegal in some states, such as Alabama. Men can use viagra, but women can't buy a vibrator? Sure, that makes perfect sense.
JOOM, do I get Brimstone points for teaching others about sinful devices?