14 Jan Peculiar History Lessons: The Evolution of Sex Toys
Sex toys were bringing fun and excitement into our lives far longer than most of us could imagine. Before the dawn of first civilizations, people were extremely curious about sexual pleasures and everything related to it. Even though the instinctive interest itself never faded away, the attitude toward sex experienced many social revolutions throughout history. Some were good, some were bad – but they all contributed to the evolution of sex toys.
To explore the roots of humanity vs human nature, we’ll need a time capsule to the past to get off to a good start. And the closest thing we’ve got in that department is – archeology.
The ever-curious nature of sex
The first siltstone sample of something that fairly resembles dildo sex toys carbon dates back to 28.000 years ago! Archaeologists have found various items from the Paleolithic era that look like phalluses shaped for explicit purposes. Needless to say, biology dictates we are all sexual creatures and sexual “deviance” is psychologically linked to intelligence. Go figure, right?
We can, of course, debate the use of those objects – but a penis-shape was, is, and always will be a deeply rooted symbol of fertility (just as Venus shaped figurines are the other side of the same coin). Additionally, sex toys are not only related to stimulation and depictions of fertility but the fruitfulness of the land as well.
Our ancestors used to perform vivid ceremonies that were meant to appease the gods and thus bring a bountiful harvest. This ritual activity was common in all pantheon cultures, mythologized and embedded in our collective unconsciousness. Some might say these are humble beginnings but it didn’t take us long to get out of our shell.
When sex toys became a classic
The Romans in their Decadence by Thomas Couture created 1847.
More modern concepts of sex toys emerged in Ancient Greece and later the Roman Empire. Realistic art, nudity, leisure, public baths, the golden ratio – these are all merits brought to us from the classical antiquity. And these folks sure liked them orgies – they invented them. It was a revolution to be able to do it so casually in a society of rigorous civil laws and, to quote drag superstar RuPaul: ”Opulence!”
While artificial penises had their role in rituals, women used them to fulfill their private needs when their men had gone to war. It became normal practice, no one seemed to hide the fact of masturbation. In Ancient China, for instance, women were even encouraged to use dildos. Since men were allowed to have several wives as a status symbol, they had to keep them content and loyal. One man can take only so much of sex so wives had sex toys to please themselves from time to time. Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum.
At some point, society has killed all the fun
The Triumphal Procession of Bacchus by Maarten van Heemskerck created 1536–1537.
In the 15th century, the French invaded Naples and won the battle. Locals decided to hold a party for the conquerors. The French were no doubt pleased with a generous amount of food and drinks and, of course, beautiful women who were wearing sheer light dresses that revealed their bodies. No surprise, this party turned into a massive orgy.
After a short period of time when French got home from their campaign, the symptoms of some unknown disease started to show. As it turned out, it was syphilis. The disease spread over Europe rapidly and later went on to infect the rest of the world. People were terrified, and the church decided to take control over things. What was once a sexually open and advanced humanist society began a modest and God-obeying life.
Things went condescendingly medical
Relatively conservative sexual values remained a part of European society up to the Victorian era. And during the prominent Queen’s reign, things turned for the worse. With the rise of psychiatry – led mostly by men – women started getting a lot of attention from specialists, both good and bad.
Since female psychology was always a mystery for men, they approached it from a medical point of view. And, of course, one of the things they could not connect was the “changes in the mood” in the absence of sex. Doctors decided that “hysteria” was a perfect diagnosis for the female psyche lacking sexual activity. Surprisingly, there is a silver lining to this.
Sex toys became a medical tool was used to treat “hysteria”. And somewhere around this time, the very first vibrator was invented. Therefore, we can somewhat thank this weird time for one of the most favorite sex toys to date. Ironic, isn’t it?
The rebirth of sexuality
Hugh Hefner surrounded by Playboy Bunnies in the 60s.
With the end of the Victorian era, people got tired of all the uptight modesty. World Wars additionally reinforced the people’s need for freedom and leisure. But it was the upcoming generations after the WWII which brought a true sexual revolution.
It was a total rebellion against previous social values their parents upheld. The youth jumped on the train of sexual freedom and fun. Woodstock alone has thousands of conceptions without definite fathers. Still, sex toys were still something kept private. In the 50s, vibrators were sold as “personal massagers”. Interestingly enough, a Hitachi Wand is still marketed as one, even though we all know what’s this toy for.
But the 80s brought the most beloved toy for women – the rabbit vibrator. It was a pure technological revolution in the world of sex toys since it could stimulate several erogenous points at the same time. This invention shed light on the immense potentials of the sex toy industry and made them a regular part of our lives again.
Today we walk into a sex shop as we would walk into a grocery supermarket. Buying sex toys became a normal activity both for single people and for couples. And the market is expanding all the time as new designs arrive from all corners of the world.
Dildos, vibrators, beads, lubes, and other sex gadgets are a normal and desirable part of modern-day intercourse. We can only guess what inventions will this industry bring us in the future. Some say it’s going VR, we already have cinemas in 4 and 5D, and there even are technologies that put ‘touch’ back into long distance relationships. Who knows? We can only be sure this journey is going to be fun!