Today I’m going to give you a little history lesson, not like the lessons you got in school about past presidents or famous explorers. This is something you may actually enjoy learning and hopefully will stay awake for. Don’t make me break out the ruler! Today you will be learning about the history of sex toys and sexual aids. If you thought that sex toys magically appeared less than 100 years ago you are totally naive, our ancestor have been getting it on (or getting off) with the help of inanimate objects for a very long time! We, as human beings, have always been fascinated with enhancing our sexual experience and we are certainly not the only animals that love an erotic experience. Many different species of monkeys can be caught participating in some autoerotic fun; some even have their own forms of sex toys! The Bonobo, a species of chimpanzee, actually use sex to solve conflict and are the least violent society in the animal kingdom (maybe we should take a page from their book)! But back to the reason I’m writing this post (I promise I will write a whole post on kinky animals real soon), like I said before, humans have been using sex toys for a really long time. The oldest reported sex toy has been dated back to the Ice Age! The earliest phallic-like object (what we call a dildo today) was discovered in Germany and dates back to 26,000 BC! There is an abundance of research suggesting that every culture throughout history produced, utilized, and traded sexual aids. Talk about an old industry!
From Oblisbos to Dildos
The ancient Greeks are known for their sex-positive culture so it’s no wonder that the oldest sex shop was discovered in Athens. A 2,000 year old brothel that offered it’s patrons a variety of lubes, anal and vaginal probes, and different sized oblisbos (or stone dildos). Oblisbos, which date back to 500 BC, were actually given as gifts to women when their husbands went off to war or they became a widow. It is said that they could be found in any Greek market square and purchased along with your groceries. If only it was that easy today! It wasn’t until the Renaissance period (1400s) that dildos got their modern name. It is thought to derive from the Latin term “diletto”, which means to delight. These dildos were a little different then the Obilsbos the Greeks used, they were made out of wood with leather stretched over them and required a lot of olive oil (you’ll understand in a second).
A few hundred years after the oblisbos, in 350 BC, people began writing about the different uses of olive oil, one being a personal lubricant. They first thought that the oils would help deter pregnancy, but soon discovered that was not the case, although couples and individuals have used vegetable oils ever since! It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that companies started producing lubricants specifically for bodily use. Marketed to doctors, beginning in 1927, to make pelvic exams more comfortable, KY was the first lube on the market. But it wasn’t sold over the counter for sex purposes, until the 1980s!
Between 200-400 AD the ancient sex manual Kama Sutra was written. The scriptures, which depict how to have a virtuous life full of nature, love, and pleasure, are the first texts to describe the use of penis extenders in history. Made out of hollowed wood, buffalo horn, leather, or gold these extenders fit over a man’s penis and allowed him to add extra length and girth. These were often used by men who were older and could not stay erect long enough to pleasure their partner, or by younger individuals dealing with erectile dysfunction. Over a thousand years later, in 1907, the penis stiffener won a US patent, and began being marketed to American men with erectile issues. The materials changed a bit, this one was made out of metal, but the purpose was the same (check out the video I just shot, which includes the Fetish Fantasy Elite hollow strap on for more details and a look at the updated design).
Ben Wa Balls
In 500 AD the Ben Wa Balls were invented to help increase sexual pleasure by stimulating and working a female’s pelvic muscles (before they even knew about kegel exercises!). They weren’t always used in pairs though; originally a single ball was inserted into a women’s vagina prior to penetration to help stimulate the penis. But it was discovered later that if paired these balls helped to stimulate the pelvic muscles and provide pleasure. Today ben wa balls are still one of the most widely used sex aids on the market, check these ones out they even vibrate!
Put a Ring On It
In 1200 the first cock ring was invented. Made out of a hollowed out goat eye-lid, these cock rings were tied around a man’s erection. Even creepier is that the eyelashes were left intact to increase both partners pleasure. It wasn’t until 1600 that a more modern design of the cock ring was invented in China. These modern cock rings were made out of ivory and helped to maintain erections and extend play. Soon after people started to carve and design their cock rings, many added extra texture on the outside of the ring for clitoral stimulation.
In 1750 BDSM hit the history books when brothels began hiring dominatrix’s to punish willing submissives. By 1791 BDSM went mainstream when Marquis de Sade published the book, Justine. This book popularized BDSM, as well as sex toys used in power play like whips, clips, and restraints. The book follows a young maiden, Justine, as she tries to find virtue and salvation in a world full of pain and punishment. The word Sadism was actually coined after the author, who developed the philosophy of pain for pleasure.
Got a Good vibe?
In 1861 an American doctor, George Taylor, created the first vibrator. The vibrator was originally used by doctors to cure a number of illnesses, including female hysteria. Female hysteria was a medical disorder that included symptoms similar to what we consider a sexually aroused state or someone suffering from sexual dissatisfaction, but also included irritability, nervousness, heaviness in the abdomen, and “a tendency to cause trouble.” Because women weren’t considered sexual beings (we don’t like sex really, do we ladies?) this was considered a medical disorder. The treatment for hysteria prior to the invention of the vibrator, which doctors considered tedious, was to massage the vulva of a female until they had a dramatic release (orgasm). The steam powered vibrating machine was invented to speed up this process and help combat physician fatigue. Thirteen years later the electric vibrator was invented. This was a way smaller version of the vibrator that ran off battery power. Still used only in doctors’ offices, this device, which
was invented by British doctor, Joseph Mortimer Granville, even had attachments that changed the intensity of the vibrations delivered. These old school vibrators remind me of the Eroscillator,which is still recommended by doctors…well Dr. Ruth. It wasn’t until 1899 that an at home vibrator was added to the market. The first advertisement, featured in McClure’s magazine, was for the Vibratile sold as a cure for headaches, wrinkles, and nerve pain. By 1920 individuals could purchase an at home vibrator at their local Sears store in the home goods section under health and relaxation. In 1921 the first vibrator advertisement aimed at men was released. These advertisements urged men to buy vibrators, as gifts for their wives, to help keep them looking young. By the end of the 1920’s pornography began to show women using these vibrators, and it wasn’t on their faces! By 1930 advertisments for vibrators all but disappeared.
Before the invention of the birth control contraceptive pill, condoms were the most widely used form of birth control in the Western Worlds. Condoms have been made out of several materials throughout history and in several different varieties. Prior to the 15th century there are recordings of the use of glans condoms, which cover only the head of the penis, being used in Asia. These first condoms which were found in Asian cultures were thought to be made of animal intestines, oiled silk paper, tortoise shells (don’t even ask me how that worked), and animal horns. In 1564 to help eliminate the spread of syphilis in France, Gabriele Falloppio “invented” a linen sheath that when soaked in a chemical and left out to dry was intended to protect wearers from diseases that could be transmitted during intercourse. Falloppio’s condom also only covered the head of the penis and was tied on with a ribbon (that sounds uncomfortable for the receiver). Other than linen, condoms during the 16th century were made out of cleaned and prepared animal intestines and bladders. It wasn’t until the end of the 17th century that condoms began being made to cover the entire penis. These first full-length condoms were created and sold by the Dutch.
During the 18th century in Europe the condom came under attack. Some individuals believed that condoms should be made illegal because they gave men the opportunity to sleep with “unsafe” partners without consequences. The condoms also created a loss of sensation for the wearer, which meant more often then not it was removed during intercourse making individuals susceptible disease. It was also around this time in Europe that individuals began boycotting condoms because of their “immorality”. As negative backlash against condoms came from both medical and political professionals, condoms were being used and distributed more then ever before. They were available in different sizes and materials and could be found at any bar or market place. Americans had a late start and didn’t start suiting up till after the America Revolution. At that point in history condoms were used mainly by the upper class who were more educated than the poor about safe sex practices and could afford to pay the high prices. It wasn’t until the invention of latex rubber in the 1930s that condoms became a household staple. This development revolutionized contraception allowing for better, more comfortable condoms and diaphrams to be produced.
We can thank the Nazis for the development of the sex doll. During WWII Heinrich Himmler commissioned the development of a sex doll to help ease the sexual tension of his soldiers without risk of STIs. The dolls were meant to follow the soldiers into foreign lands and were created to resemble and feel like “real women.” The doctor assigned to creating these dolls for the SS, Dr. Hannussen, wrote in his logbook, “The doll has only one purpose and she should never become a substitute for the honorable mother at home…When the soldier makes love to Borghild, it has nothing to do with love. Therefore the face of our anthropomorphic sexmachine should be exactly how Weininger described the common wanton’s face.” The original Nazi blow-up doll was named Borghild. Since then the sex doll has taken on a life of its own, literally! In 2010 the first robotic sex doll, Roxxxy, was released to the public. Roxxxy has her own personality, can hold a conversation, and can even move her vaginal muscles during intercourse.
The Modern Sex Toy
In 1994 the invention of the Fleshlight, which is a lifelike vagina (or mouth) made out of a material that mimics the feel of real flesh, created a whole new kind of male solo play. Soon after, came the Rabbit vibrator, which actually made a guest appearance on Sex and the City in 1998, dramatically boosting it’s sales.
The Internet and the invention of the Smartphone have dramatically changed the sex toy world! In 2009 Apple approved adult specific apps, the first of which, the MyVibe, allows users to control the vibration patterns of their IPhone (these phones really do have everything) making a vibrator out of your phone. In 2011 the world was introduced to the first virtual reality sex toy, it is Skype enabled, and allows the user to control their partner’s pleasure even when they’re far away. And to wrap up our history lesson, last week Planned Parenthood introduced a condom that allows users to check-in to their location using their mobile device. The barcode, which can be scanned from the back of the condom, tracks the users location and gives safe sex-ers a chance to speak about their experience in the hope of creating dialog about healthy sex practices.
What’s next?!? It’s up to you, so go out and make sex history!
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