Historical story

They lied to you. The first vibrators didn't do what you think ...

"Hysteria was treated with massages [of the clitoris]. And the vibrator was invented for the same purpose. This is what Rachel P. Maines, practically the only specialist in the history of vibrators in the world, states. Historians, journalists and even filmmakers repeat the same thing. But the truth was completely different ...

As is often the case in history, it is difficult to determine who and when actually constructed the first modern vibrator. Some point to the "Tremaussoir", built at the beginning of the 18th century in France, about which, unfortunately, it is difficult to say anything certain. Others would see the American vibrator father George Taylor, the creator of the steam-powered Manipulator.

One thing is certain: the first electric vibrator it was developed by Joseph Mortimer Granville, who patented his device called "Percateur" in the early 1880s.

Vibrator as a tool for treating hysteria?

Rachel P. Maines, mentioned earlier, in describing in her work entitled "Orgasm technology. "Hysteria", the vibrator and sexual gratification of women of "Granville's invention," she stated in a tone that resisted:

Massage patients to orgasm was a key part of medical practice certainly not for everyone, but for some doctors in the Western world. It was like this from the time of Hippocrates until the 1920s. The mechanization of this activity significantly increased the number of patients that the doctor was able to see in one day. (…)

The increase in efficiency in the medical production of orgasms for money led to an increase in revenue. Physicians were provided with tools to mechanize this practice. But they also felt motivated to do so .

The famous "Percateur" by Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville. On the left a vibrator, on the right a battery. Drawing from 1883 (source:public domain).

This thesis was happily picked up by the screenwriters of the film "Hysteria - Romantic History of the Vibrator", which appeared in cinemas in 2012. The whole problem is that in light of what we can read in the latest book by Kamil Janicki, entitled "The Age of Hypocrisy. Sex and eroticism in pre-war Poland ”, it has nothing to do with reality.

The historian from Krakow established that initially the vibrator was really used for the most ordinary - and completely non-erotic - massage. On the pages of his publications, we can find, among others information that Joseph Mortimer Granville himself clearly stated that nor did not invent the "Percateur" with the intention of massaging the clitoris, nor had he ever treated any woman with vibration.

Pre-war vibrator brand "Vibrofix" from the collection of Kamil Janicki. Photo from the book “Epoch hypocrisy. Sex and eroticism in pre-war Poland.

Okay, but maybe that's just an excuse? So let's look at our home yard, where doctors were very eager to use vibrators at the end of the 19th century. And it had nothing to do with treating hysteria with orgasms. The popularity of these devices was simply due to the belief in the supposedly beneficial effects of massages. As Kamil Janicki writes in his book:

"Muscle" became a separate medical specialty for several decades. True professionals, who have devoted their whole lives to the study of massages, sincerely believed that if the body is properly teleported away, the cells will come alive on their own.

It is strictly forbidden to go "beyond the center line" of the thighs

And it was precisely for this "sticking out" that a vibrator was perfectly suited. It was not sexually explicit. On the Vistula River, doctors even warned that using a vibrator on inappropriate parts of the body may lead to unacceptable excitement of the patient.

Joseph Mortimer Granville. Constructor of the first electric vibrator (source:public domain).

For example - as we read in "The Age of Hypocrisy" - the Galician doctor Zygmunt Ashkenazy:

He strongly advised that even when massaging your thighs with a vibrator, you should always avoid touching their inner side. Going "beyond the midline" was forbidden "in order to avoid too much irritation of the reproductive parts"

Anyway, Rachel P. Maines herself finally admitted in one of the interviews, with disarming frankness:

People liked what I wrote enormously, but this is just a hypothesis, nothing else . (...) Eventually, someone will sit down and say, “Ok, maybe you need to look at this data differently”. But in the meantime, I'm just having fun getting so much attention.

Vibrator crank "Vibrator" and forehead massage technique with its use. The illustration and the caption come from the book by Kamil Janicki entitled "The Age of Hypocrisy. Sex and eroticism in pre-war Poland.

In fact, it is no wonder what to finally expect from an "freelance researcher" and "technical process assistant" in the Cornell University Hospitality Library. Because that's what the publisher introduced to the author of "The Technology of Orgasm" in the first edition of the book.

So maybe it's time to stop repeating thoughtlessly that the vibrator was designed to treat women with clitoral massage? The movie "Hysteria" is simply a Hollywood invention based on the ideas of a "researcher" who herself admitted to confabulating. And the fact that over time vibrators have become sex toys is a completely different matter ...

The source of the above news is:

Kamil Janicki, The Age of Hypocrisy. Sex and erotica in pre-war Poland , Ciekawostkihistoryczne.pl 2015.