Sex is an important part of our life. However, sexual pleasure remains a taboo topic in society. This starts with sex education curriculums that often ignore explaining sex beyond safety measures and the reproductive system. But sex is about so much more than that. Sex is also about pleasure, intimacy, and connection - with yourself and others.
There is evidence that our ancestors were not shy about exploring their sexuality using DIY sex toys. Sex toys play a great role in getting to know your body as a source of pleasure. They can help you figure out what feels good to you as well as spice things up with your partner(s). And sex toys have a long history dating as far as 28,000 years back. This history goes to show that sex in a natural human desire.
That’s why we have created this short version of a long history of humanity’s quest for pleasure and connection: the history of sex toys and vibrators.
Sex toys since the B.C. era
The world’s oldest dildo
was discovered in Hohle Fels Cave in Swabia, Germany. This 28,000 years old phallus is 20 cm (7.8 inch) long and 3 cm (1.1 inch) wide, highly polished, and made from siltstone. While the scientist cannot say for sure that this artifact was used for sexual purposes, other phalluses made from stone, leather, wood, and even camel dung have been found in archaeological sites throughout history.
Ancient Egyptian paintings dating back to 3,000 B.C. depict women wearing phallic objects to pay tribute to gods. And in ancient Greece, people used olisbokollikes
, which were essentially dildos made of polished leather or covered in animal intestines.
The creation of the first vibrator is allegedly attributed to Queen Cleopatra. The legend has it that in 50 B.C. Cleopatra used to fill out a gourd with bees and used the vibrations as a source of pleasure. Even though there is not much evidence to support this particular claim, the truth is that many ancient civilizations around the world mention using penis-shaped objects for sexual stimulation.
Furthermore, in 500 A.D. in Japan the ben-wa (Kegel) balls were invented. While in 1,200 A.D. China penis rings made out of goat eyelids were used during sex with the belief that it would increase the chances of producing an heir. That marks the first recorded use of penis rings.
The invention and rise in popularity of vibrators
Jumping ahead to the 1,800s: the electric vibrators were invented by the English physician Joseph Mortimer Granville
. There is a widespread and incorrect belief that vibrators were first used to treat hysteria in women. However, there is no evidence to show that doctors ever used vibrators to give clitoral massages to their patients. Instead, this invention was used as a medical device to help men mainly with treating body pain.
The true rise in popularity of vibrators came in the 1900s, when they were marketed to the general public as domestic appliances. Ads running at the time touted vibrators as a cure for everything, from wrinkles to tuberculosis, weight loss, pain relief, and malaria. They may have been effective for some of these things, but they were also being used for other reasons. Advertisers and brands were aware of their “other” uses, however masturbation at the time was viewed as something shameful. This meant that vibrators were not openly marketed as sexual products.
The sexual revolution and sex toys
The feminist movement in the 1960s brought with it a sexual revolution. People began to speak more openly about masturbation and sex toys took a new meaning as a tool for women’s empowerment and sexual liberation.
Sex educators and pioneers Betty Dodson
and Dell Williams
popularized the use of vibrators as a sexual pleasure tool. Betty Dodson was quoted
in the Ms. Magazine saying: “I have found that the vibrator gives me the strongest and most consistent form of stimulation and is especially good for women who have never experienced orgasm.”
During World War II, the so-called Borghild Project in Germany was allegedly aiming to create the world’s first sex doll. While in 1995, another type of sex toy was invented: the fleshlight.
Sex toys today
Today we live in the Golden Age of sex toys. The global sex toy market in 2019 accounted to approximately 28.64 billion U.S. dollars and is forecasted to grow. The internet has facilitated this growth by making it easier for people to purchase sex toys from the anonymity of their homes. Moreover, technological advancements and a better understanding of sexual pleasure have brought about many inventions in this area: from eco-friendly vibrators, to sophisticated models offering a variety of speeds and motions.
As the sex-positive movement continues to unfold, it’s important we open up discussions around sexual pleasure and the use of sex toys. And here at Frenchie we love creating products that celebrate the joy of sex and self-love.. So, keep an eye out for our upcoming device that aims to get you screaming Oh la la! #goodvibesonly