It seems as though humanity has been interested in sex since the beginning of time. And that’s no surprise with the continuation of the species being out main biological objective and all that jazz. Sexual pleasure, though, is a whole other game. Sexual aids, whether you’re a silent supporter or an outspoken aficionado, have a long and rich history; in this article, we’re going to dig a little to find out just how fascinated mankind has been with sex toys throughout the years.
The first depiction of a phallic instrument dates back to the Paleolithic era (some 30,000 years before the present –BP–); made of stone and polished to a high gloss, the oldest dildo we know of was recovered from some caves in Germany and is believed to be from the Ice Age (28,000 BP). Though some paleontologists are uncertain whether these tools where used as sexual enhancements or for religious purposes, the fact is that there have been many such articles found all over the world among other common household objects such as combs and sewing needles. The evidence is clear: sex toys and other tools of the like are common to virtually every culture on the planet.
It was the ancient Greeks and Romans (two of the oldest civilizations known to man) that took things to a whole other level. Bear in mind that these civilizations were polytheists, meaning that they worshipped more than one god, and among those gods was Dionysus (to the Greeks, the Romans called him Bacchus), god of wine and fertility. This god was honored with some kick-ass parties, parades and great penises erected (pardon the pun) in stone and crowned with wreaths of flowers.
Within the thousands of vases found among Greek ruins, there were plenty of them showing women making use of olisbos (meaning “to glide or slip”) for both vaginal and anal penetration. It was a phallus-shaped object commonly gifted to women whose husbands were going to war or had died to prevent them from getting hysteria, which was thought to be caused by lack of sperm. Around 2300 BP, ancient writings from the Middle East began to speak about olive oil being used as a sex lubricant (which was probably more than welcome since olisbos were made of everything they could get their hands on, from wood, to stone, animal horns and leather. Some years later, penis extender sleeves became popular in Asia. In the Kama Sutra, these objects were described to be used by men needing a longer penis or to those who were impotent, so that they could sexually please their wives. These extenders were employed much like modern-day strap-ons. The Japanese were also quite creative in making sex toys, they were the ones who invented the Ben-Wa balls. These are a pair of balls that are inserted inside a woman’s vagina, meant to be worn throughout the day for sustained sexual pleasure as the balls bumped together and against the vaginal walls while the woman moved around.
During the Jin and Song Dynasties of China (800 BP), the cock ring came into being. The first ones were described to be made from goat eyelids (with eyelashes and all). These were tied around a man’s erection and the lashes provided clitoral stimulation for the woman during intercourse. Over the next few centuries, cock rings were being made from ivory and were mainly used to help men maintain an erection longer. During 400 BP (the 1400s), in Renaissance Italy, the term dildo became popular, referring to phalluses, exaggerated in size and including testicles, featured in brothels all across Europe. The rumor is that the word dildo may have come from diletto, an Italian word for “a woman’s delight”, doesn’t that sound nice? There are other theories involving the etymology of the word out there, however it matters little since, clearly, dildo is here to stay. In 1869, an American physician called George Taylor developed the first vaginal vibrator. This large machine was steam-powered and prescribed for women with “female hysteria” (there’s that word again). The symptoms included anxiety, irritability and excessive vaginal wetness, meaning that these ladies were horny as hell. Originally, doctors of the time manually relieved these unfortunate women, basically masturbating them to orgasm, but that proved to be troublesome since hysteria was believed to be a recurring illness. Thus, the simulated intercourse device was seen as a far more efficient method of treating the condition because “proper” ladies of the era did not masturbate themselves.
With the technological advances of the 20th century, new and exciting material were being used to manufacture sex toys, such as dildos and butt plugs made of rubber. Then electricity happened, and General Electrics contributed with the very first electric vibrator to deal with those pesky “woman troubles” mentioned above. The introduction of silicone also made great leaps into more life-like sexual aids. This hypoallergenic, non-porous material is long-lasting and easy to clean. This way, we finally arrive to the modern sexual tools we are used to seeing nowadays; available in every variation imaginable for every taste and experience level. So, there you have it, the history of sex toys. It’s clear that humanity’s preoccupation with sex enhancing tools goes back a long time and will probably continue for years to come.