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Guide to Sex Toys: History

Sexuality has always been a part of human nature. That is probably why sex toys have been around a lot longer than you might think! Some information about sexual aids dates back to Asia over 1,000 years ago, but what are the roots of some of the most popular toys enjoyed today such as dildos and vibrators?

Dildos that closely resemble the array of dildos that are available to choose from today did not occur until around the mid-19th century. Before that, it is believed that the popularity of dildos began in ancient Greece, specifically in the port city of Miletus where traders sold what was referred to as "olisbos," dildo shaped objects that were made of wood or leather and required liberal amounts of olive oil as lubrication. It was in Renaissance Italy that people believe the term "dildo" began to be used, potentially for its similarity to the Italian word "diletto" which was defined as "to delight."

As for vibrators, they came on the scene much later and where not overtly acknowledged or recognized as sexual toys. They were first believed to have been developed over 130 years ago to treat "female hysteria," an illness that was defined as involving excessive vaginal lubrication, sexual fantasies, "pelvic heaviness," anxiety and irritability: basically the "symptoms" that today we would simply attribute sexual arousal or sexual frustration. But this was during the Victorian era when women's sexuality and the free expression of it was a far cry from what it is today.

In the late 19th century, the first electric vibrators appeared on the scene still under the guise of treatment for hysteria and sold only by doctors! In time, they were available for self-treatment of hysteria and in 1918, Sears is said to have advertised one vibrator as "very satisfactory - an aid every woman appreciates." In 1921, another amusing ad that was said to have run in Heart's magazine advised men to buy such items for their wives to keep them "young and pretty" and "free of hysteria!"

In the 1920's, early versions of pornography exposed the use of vibrators for sexual stimulation and by the 30's vibrators were no longer advertised for sale openly.

Luckily, today we have the freedom to shop for an array of sexual toys, and even the luxury of doing so over the internet, in the privacy of our own homes. Sex toys have been around a long time and in today's society, our awareness and options regarding sexual toys seems ever increasing. Even HBO's Sex and the City® was bold enough to feature the rabbit vibrator in an episode where prim and proper Charlotte became so sexually satisfied she stopped leaving the house!

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