Dildos, unexpectedly, have been around this planet for longer than we would have thought. As humans are sexual beings by nature, the need of pleasure and satisfying needs resulted in some pretty interesting tools to achieve these desires. From ancient times to current days, let’s take a dive into the history of dildos.
Dildos and sex toys are known as one of many ways to take self pleasure in one’s own hands. We also have to acknowledge that it is more than this. Sexual toys have different purposes:
Bringing diversity into monogamous relationships
Increasing sexual arousal, pleasure and sexual drive
Providing assistance for older patients or patients in chronic pain
Battling sexual aversion disorder (mental disorder that is defined as the aversion or the avoidance of having intercourse with a partner, resulting in distress and interpersonal difficulty)
People who experienced sexual abuse and would like to get used to the feeling of penetration again
A little bit of history
The term “Dildo” comes from the Italian word “diletto” which means “to delight”. So we have to thank the Italians for the amusing wordplay.
Researcher claim that the oldest “sex toy” discovered, dates back 28’000 years. This phallus shaped object was found in Germany. During the excavation, many phalluses of different materials and shapes were found. The oldest ones were made from stone, wood or leather. Historical reports claim that Egyptians and Greeks were using unripe bananas and camel feces coated in resin as sexual tools.
In Greece, these ancient sex toys appeared around the third century. There, merchants were seling “olisbos” (phallus shaped objects), that would keep women company while their husbands were away. A similar approach was used by Chinese sailors. As they were often at sea to hunt whales, they would give dildos to their wives in order to keep them satisfied and avoid infidelity.
Fast forward to the 17th century, when the use of dildos was considered medical. In the beginning it was used as a medical treatment for women suffering from hysteria. The term “hysteria” comes from the Greek term “hysterika”, meaning uterus. The symptoms associated with this “condition” were irritability, excessive vaginal secretion, fantasies and “heavy uterus”. In the 17th century, hysteria was considered to be the second most common diagnosis in women after fever. The doctor would massage the patient's clitoris with a penis shaped device, until orgasm (known before as “paroxysm”) was reached.
In this period, dildos started to be openly seen as viable sex tools. Made out of rubber, the trust into them increased.
In the early 1900s vibrators were invented: they claimed to cure every disease and were applied to both women and men. Dildos and vibrators have been advertised in magazines for women as a tool to gain relaxation and content; the toys would be described as an aid and were called “he’s-at-home” tools. The ads did not write anything about masturbation when using vibrators but they were using suggestive language. As masturbation was considered to be something shameful, vibrators could not be advertised publicly as sexual products. On the contrary, non-sexual characteristics such as weight loss device and beauty aids were advertised.
In the 1960s, culture was changing and so did the views on using birth control pill, having sex before marriage and masturbation.
In 1970s, the Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator became the most popular sex toy. Sex educator Betty Dodson used it in her workshops on masturbation. She encouraged women to masturbate in order to regain their own sexual self-knowledge, which was oppressed by society.