Hysteria and the Vibrator

The reason for this two-part episode series is because I had originally published the full audio-file in it’s own episode, however I didn’t realize that I had exceeded the data limit with the software I was using, hence splitting the original audio file into two episodes.  Enjoy!


Hysteria and the Vibrator” is the second of a two-part episode on awesomekulky’s mtbr podcast where you can catch me gearing up before my first Nerd Nite performance.  Follow along with the powerpoint at the end of this blog post, trust me, it’s a visual you don’t wanna miss!

Also please consider checking out the first episode of this two-part series, “Limelight,” to hear more about my journey with theater and radio and learn more about the evolution of my relationship with my human body, femininity, and queerness.

Here’s a brief synopsis of my Nerd Nite performance on “The History of Hysteria and the Vibrator”:

When people think of the word “vibrator” they think of women masturbating. Well, this is a relatively new concept considering women were forbidden to touch themselves down there until nearly a quarter into the 20th century, leaving generations of women before them all hot and bothered. Religious officials and medical doctors (all men btw) called this phenomenon “hysteria,” and they believed that prescribing sex through marriage was the cure all. But when the husbands didn’t know much about pleasuring their wives, women then lined up at doctor’s offices for the next best (and lucrative) cure: medical procedures involving hand massages of their lady parts. The goal? To reach a “hysterical paroxysm,” or a good old-fashioned orgasm to bring her some sweet, sweet relief. Since doctors and handmaidens were growing tired of manually stimulating their repeat customers, the medical vibrator was soon invented for convenience, and suddenly cases of hysteria dropped dramatically (surprise, surprise). Vibrators eventually became the fifth home appliance to be electrified in the late 19th century, thereby changing women’s lives (and their orgasms) ever since.

Links to Resources:

Check out Good Vibrations “Antique Vibrator Museum” to see some history of curing hysteria for yourself.

 

 

Rachel Maines book titled “Technology of the Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction” to read about the history of how the vibrator came to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Joani Blank’s book titled “Good Vibrations: A Complete Guide to the Vibrator,” a sex-positive book about how to pick the perfect vibrator for yourself or someone you love and wanna help them receive some sweet pleasure.

 

 

 

 

The 2007 documentary, “Passion and Power: The Technology of the Orgasm,” features interviews with historians, sexperts, and pioneering feminists about the history of the vibrator and the mystery of the female orgasm.  This documentary is way less inflammatory than my Nerd Nite performance, so if you’re looking for information on this topic with a non-offensive delivery then this documentary is just right for you.

“This tremendously important and provocative film uses humor and great insight to illuminate our dark past…I loved it almost as much as I love my vibrator!”
– Actress/Comedienne Margaret Cho

The 2011 movie, “A Dangerous Method,” takes a look at early psychoanalysis in the late 1800s starring Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, and Viggo Mortensen.

 

 

The 2012 movie, “Hysteria,” illustrates the emergence and rise of the electro-mechanical vibrator during the Victorian era and stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy.

 

 

 

And the 2013 French movie, “Augustine,” takes a look at the life of a 19th century French hypnotist and neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, and his relationship with a teenage kitchen maid named Augustine.


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