Posted on: May 6, 2005 12:59 PM
I was in Bon Giorno one evening, the restaurant where I used to work, when I overheard a customer talking enthusiastically to his date. He had the look of the masturbator about him, and his words served only to confirm my initial suspicions.
"So, like I patented this design for virtual sex, it's fucking amazing, you have this computer animated suction device for the penis which is directly stimulated by the onscreen images..."
His date looked slightly less enthusiastic, and her longing for the privacy of her own bedroom, Mr Buzzy and a little bit of self-loving was painfully palpable. It got me thinking. What's happened to the good old-fashioned fuck? It seems technology is always hauling out the latest battery-operated device for solo pleasures. I constantly hear my female friends extolling the virtues of 'The Rabbit', or 'The Dolphin' and its infinite superiority to Dave the Guy who works on Wall Street and has absolutely no idea what to do with his tongue. Thank god for the man who invented the vibrator. But what happened before the vibrator? Were women just getting more sex? Has the advent of sexual liberation in a lubed-up rubber Ever-ready cock merely halted the evolution of mankind in their ability to pleasure women?
It seems that women's sexual frustration has been a concern for centuries - yet it was seen as a 'mental' sickness which could be cured by 'physical', and specifically not sexual means. In 1653, doctors concerned over 'female hysteria' were recommending midwives to:
"...massage the genitalia with one finger inside using oil of lilies, musk root, crocus or [something] similar. And in this way the afflicted woman can be aroused to paroxysm... most especially for widows, those who live chaste lives, and female religious...it is less often recommended for very young women, or married women, for whom it is a better remedy to engage in intercourse with their spouses."
Other remedies suggested were rocking chairs, bouncing women rhythmically up and down on their pelvis and using swings. It sounds exhausting. Fortunately an American physician in 1872 came up with the first steam powered massage and vibratory apparatus, which came with a clear warning: 'Patients should be watched to avoid over manipulation of apparatus'. Those hysterical females couldn't get enough of it. And neither could the doctors, who with the new vibrators flooding into the medical market, could complete in minutes what had taken them up to an hour by manual means. In 1903, Dr Samuel Howard Mondell wrote that "pelvic massage (in gynecology) has its brilliant advocates and they report wonderful results." But he noted that many doctors had difficulty treating patients "with their own fingers," (No kidding) and hailed the vibrator as a godsend: "Special applicators (motor driven) give practical value and office convenience to what otherwise is impractical."
The vibrator became the fifth household device to be electrified, after the sewing machine, fan, electric kettle and toaster - and before the vacuum cleaner and the iron.
The Vibrator was a socially acceptable medical device - until the 1920's when its appearance in porn films started the rumor-monging. In short, by the 1960's, the orgasm was not seen as 'medically' necessary for women, but as something shameful that one's husband certainly didn't ask the doctor to do. It became the device Mommy didn't want little Teddy to see her playing with - particularly not if they lived in Alabama.
In 1999, the obscenity statute of Alabama (Ala. Code. § 13A-12-200.1) made it "unlawful to produce, distribute or otherwise sell sexual devices that are marketed primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." Alabama put forth that these products were obscene, and also stated that there was "no fundamental right to purchase a product to use in pursuit of having an orgasm."
It was constitutional to own firearms, but not to bond with Mr Buzzy when Bubba was down the the pool hall knockin' back beers with the boys. The ACLU challenged the statute, and a company called Good Vibrations distributed free vibrators to the poor, orgasm-deprived women of Alabama. The statute was eventually overturned in 2002.
It seems as technology advances, as you can buy every and any kind of fake cock, butt plug, orgiastic DVD and kinky crotchless panty you could possibly desire, in certain sections of the States sex, even sex with oneself, is considered a dirty secret that noone wants to admit to. There is a vast difference between a healthy and pleasurable sex life, an interest and appreciation of the female and male form, and perverted sexual deviance, but some don't seem to recognise the distinction. As recently as April 18th 2005 there was a ruling in New York which stated that sex shops and strip joints could only operate in certain zoning areas such as the far West Side of Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg, hailed the court's decision as a victory for families who don't want porn peddlers next to churches and day care centers.
"New Yorkers won't have to push their strollers past porn shops, have topless bars for neighbors or have to worry about peep booths in the back of their corner magazine store."
Hmm, point taken, but somehow it seems pushing smut together just makes it seem more socially unacceptable - when the reality is that everyone is feeding into the soft-core sex industry, whether it's through their choice of vibrator, watching porn films, drinking in strip joints, buying 'Playboy' magazine, or breaking out and going for the ribbed ultra-horny condoms instead of the regular kind. Everyone is doing it, but noone wants to admit to it, and perhaps this is because there is very little distinction in the eyes of many between a good, healthy sexual appetite, and shameful perversion. The New York ruling means that one strip joint, Scores, may be forced out of its premises on the East Side where it's been operating for over thirty years, well away from day care centers and Churches. You have to actually go into these places to see anything remotely titillating, but it seems the very presence of such a place is anathema to Mayor Bloomberg. At the same time as we congratulate ourselves on protecting our children from the evils of sex, this country allows the State of Texas to forbid the promotion of any kind of sex education, barring that of abstinence. My guess is those sixteen year old girls are sending some pleading letters out to the kind folks at Good Vibrations, in between churning out illegitimate children and wondering how the hell that happened.
I find it hard to comprehend how a country so far advanced economically and technologically, can be, in many ways, incredibly backward. All the money poured into a ridiculous case in Alabama banning vibrators could well have been spent investigating and preventing the 50,000 children brought into this country every year by sex-traffickers. But no. Margery might start preferring a little bit of Duracell-loving rather than Hank's clumsy advances in the sack and we couldn't have that. Priorities, priorities.
Hey guys! Listen up! It was you who first came up with the steam-powered vibrator! Well done you! Now let's move on and catch up with rest of the sexually liberated world! Perhaps the Masturbator from Bon Giorno should get that computer-animated suction device out there alongside the Rabbits, Dolphins and Black Mambas which have come so far from the pedal-powered, steam driven vibrators of the past. And I for one, would be sending it out to every goddamned, sexually repressed Right-Winger in this country.