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The History of Sex Toys

November 07, 2022 4 min read

Today’s blog post seeks to address and take a look at the history of sex toys.

Nowadays, many of us are familiar with sex toys and have a general idea of what they are. Sex toys are so accessible online and in physical stores. It’s undeniable that the sex toy market is ever-increasing. A report suggests that the global sex toy industry could be worth up to approximately $32 billion!

We’re aware of sex toys mostly within the modern context and perhaps not in regards to its rich historical background. So let’s dive in…

A Look At the History of Sex Toys

Dildos are arguably one of the oldest and most ancient forms of sex toys to have been created and used. The oldest dildo that has been discovered dates back to around 28,000 years ago! That dildo was discovered at a cave in Germany. It’s made out of stone with its length and width measuring up to 20 and 3 centimetres, respectively.

Other than that, dildos could also be traced back to as early as the Han Dynasty. Where various forms of dildos have been created, ranging from butt plugs to strap-ons. These dildos weren’t used solely for sexual purposes; they were also used in order to preserve the chi of the body. This is known as the “essence of life” according to traditional Chinese culture. Furthermore, these dildos were often custom-made for specific customers.

Dildos were also made from different materials, such as wood, stone, metal, bread, and even bones! Fast-forward to today, dildos have evolved to be made out of silicone, plastic, and rubber.

Development of Sex Toys

In South America, people developed their own version of a sex toy which involved tying numerous bundles of horsehair together. This was used to stimulate the female genitalia either during foreplay or intercourse. 

In Borneo, the Dayak natives would often pierce themselves with different materials such as bamboo or ivory in order to further increase pleasure.

Further down the timeline and about 1,000 years later, a new kind of sex toy has been developed. They are a pair of tiny metal balls which were meant to be inserted through the men’s penis (or the urethra) to gain pleasure. This sex toy was later known as “Burmese Balls” and/or “Chinese Ben Wa Balls”.

The Burmese Balls were also later modified for females’ usage. Although the method of using it was similar, the size was made larger in order to better cater to the females’ genitalia. So, when the metal balls are inserted into the female’s vagina, they would move towards each other and promptly click together, creating a wave of pleasure for the user.

On the other side of the world, sailors around the 1700s began experimenting with the idea of sex dolls. During long journeys, they would bundle up straw in the shape of a woman in order to keep themselves company. This particular type of sex toy was later named la dames de voyage.

Modern Sex Toys: The Era of Vibrators

By the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Industrial Revolution came about and the vibrator emerged as an invention. The Victorians were one of the first ones to come up with the idea of a vibrator.

One of the first-ever mainstream models of the vibrator was named the Manipulator. Unlike the modern versions, the Manipulator was powered by steam instead of electricity. This steam-powered vibrator was patented around the 1860s by an American. Interestingly, the description of the patent categorized the Manipulator as a medical tool.

Around the 1860s, it was a fact that the Manipulator wasn’t marketed and sold as a sex toy. Rather it was made known that it was a remedy for neck pains and to help with weight loss. But before the inventors themselves knew it, the Manipulator along with other vibrators of the same era quickly became one of the most famed and celebrated sex toys of all time.

This fake marketing of the vibrators continued up to the 20th century. The Hitachi Magic Wand was originally sold as a back massager. It later became one of the most well-known vibrators in the entire industry around the 1970s (and to this day!).

Into A New World Without Sexual Taboos – The 21st Century

It was around this time that the infamous Sexual Revolution was brought about, in which the attitudes and perception of the society regarding sexual-related matters were shifted. Amongst many other things, one of the most important events that occurred in the Sexual Revolution would be that many sex toys were suddenly sold as what they were instead of being marketed as a massager or medical tool.

In addition, many different sex stores also began opening their doors up to women who wanted sex toys but do not want to have to go through the unbearable experience of asking a shopping complex’s attendant for directions to the vibrators section. What’s more, the broadcasting industry also embraced this new culture with the airing of the show “Sex and the City”, where vibrators such as the Hitachi and the Rabbit were shown on-screen.

Fast-forward to today, sex toys such as butt plugs, strap-ons, and even vibrators are widely used and considered some of the most popular sex toys of this generation. However, it would be inaccurate to say that the current sex toy industry has not welcomed any innovations. 

Some of the most exciting concepts of sex toys can be seen in the application of VR technology which is used as a stimulant to pleasure individuals.

Conclusion

Needless to say, the sex toy industry has come so far from ancient dildos crafted out of stones to the current silicone, body-safe, and battery-powered vibrators. It’s likely that sex toys will always be developed, improved, and aimed at catering to society’s wants and needs sexually.