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Five surprising facts about the vibrator

Posted at 3:30 pm, November 22, 2013 in Fun London

Vibrator © Rob Greig

As her play about the vibrator opens in London, Sarah Ruhl picks five facts you (probably) didn’t know about the sex toy.

1. Before vibrators were invented in 1880 by British physician Joseph Mortimer Granville to treat women with hysteria, doctors used the manual method, which could sometimes take them hours.

2. These orgasms weren’t thought of  as sexual but rather as paroxysms that would clear the womb of excess fluid, which was said to make women hysterical.

3. When it was discovered in the 1920s that women actually derived sexual pleasure, rather than medical benefit, from vibrators, they were made illegal in the United States.

4. According to a recent academic study of vibrator use in America, one in two women use a vibrator. Despite this, it is still illegal to buy or sell sex toys in the great state of Alabama.

5. The notorious Rabbit vibrator (which ‘Sex and the City’s Charlotte got addicted to) is shaped like an animal for legal reasons. It originated in Japan, where it was against the law to create a sex toy that resembled a penis.

In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play’ by Sarah Ruhl is at St James Theatre until Jan 4 2014.

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