Doing battle with daily dragons

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Short History of Getting Off

As someone who’s often made jokes about the feasibility of certain sex toys, I was rendered completely speechless by a link that I discovered this morning pertaining to a 24” dildo called Thor. It’s always been my opinion that a good many “toys” sold in sex shops would be more handy for shattering heavy masonry than getting off, but Thor really takes the metaphorical biscuit.

The mighty Thor however, got me thinking that this kind of thing doesn’t just happen overnight, (Although I have to admit to that not being my VERY first thought.) so I’ll give you a brief timeline encapsulating the evolution of instuments of self-gratification that I have put together following literally 20 minutes of ceaseless searching on the Internet.

500 B.C.- We’ll go flying straight past the Egyptians as we all know they were very clever and probably managed to invent all kinds of stimulatory devices that are now lost to antiquity. For heaven’s sake, one of their primary gods, Amun, was only appeased by copious displays of male masturbation, so one can only expect they were fairly liberated. (“Ramses, you’ve been in the bathroom for an HOUR! What are you doing, worshiping Amun in there or something?") Around 500 B.C, however, the Greek port city of Miletus, on the west coast of present-day Turkey, is credited with popularizing the modern day dildo. Called olisbos, they were sold widely as sexual refuges for lonely women. Knowing ancient Greeks, however, women were probably not the only customers of olisbo merchants.

“Can I borrow your olisbo, Kopria, my dear?”

“I’m sorry, Leaina, I just lent it to Diogenes.”

“Oh, bum.”

Personal lubricants were pretty much restricted to whatever you could find, which, in ancient Greece, happened to be olive oil. All the better to enjoy your olisbo and nice on your salads too.

(It also occurred to me that the phrase “son of an olisbo merchant” might have been the cause of many brawls in Greek taverns on Saturday nights.)

300 A.D- Thrusting forward in history 800 years to the Kama Sutra, we come to the first mention of penis extenders, which, at the time, were made from wood, leather, buffalo horn, copper, silver, ivory or gold. You can still buy them today in all shapes, sizes or colors. I might be imagining things, but I can’t imagine that a penis extender is all that much fun for he who is extending his penis, but rather for she that is reaping the benefit of the penis extension. This is just my perception, however, not owning a phallus myownself. Plus, who wants one in neon pink? Penises, I imagine, do not like to be thought of as neon pink kind of creatures.

1200 A.D- Just a brief stop off here for the invention of the ever popular cock-ring. Men of China used the eyelids of goats with the lashes still attached to encircle their manhoods for greater stamina. The lashes were left on for her, presumably. I can only imagine there were a lot of pissed off, blind goats in China in the 13th century.

1400 A.D- Leave it to the Italians to revolutionize an idea from the past that allows them to pleasure themselves in new and interesting ways. The old olisbo makes a comeback (forgive the heinous pun) in 15th century Italy as the diletto, from the verb “to delight”. Dilettos were handmade by master craftsman and exquisitely made ones went for huge sums of money. Your basic diletto, however, was made of wood or leather and you had to raid the pantry for some olive oil to avoid chaffing, and let’s be honest, splinters.

1791 A.D- Our dear friend, Mr. Nipple Clamp himself, The Marquis De Sade makes his literary debut and gives a voice (and not a few ideas for new toys) to the nacient BDSM scene. Of course, here we add the word “sadism” to our dictionary, as well as “masochism” which comes from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote a novel about male sexual submission.

1844 A.D- The first successful vulcanisation of rubber. Need I say more?

1869 A.D- The invention of the first vibrator. Originally developed as a device for treating “female hysteria”. Hysteria comes from the Greek for "suffering uterus," involved anxiety, irritability, sexual fantasies, "pelvic heaviness" and "excessive" vaginal lubrication -- in other words, not getting any and being incredibly frustrated. As you can see, the original model wasn’t exactly discreet. For one thing, it was steam powered and probably sounded like The Flying Scotsman when fired up. It’s not like you could go for a sneaky “workout at the Y” (one of my favorite euphemisms) in the upstairs loo without everyone on your block knowing about it.

It should be no surprise that the Victorians brought sex toys along in leaps and bounds: Who else but the extremely repressed would dream up the butt plug?

1890’s A.D- The invention of the motion picture. It should be a shock to no one that literally, seconds after the damn things were invented, there were movies of women going at it with strap-ons.

Today A.D- Thor. Thousands of years in the making, all leading up to your right to buy something that you can use to beat intruders in your home to death with or possibly use for some sort of sexual gratification that I can’t get my head around.