Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction

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9780801859410: Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction

From the time of Hippocrates until the 1920s, massaging "hysterical" female patients to orgasm was a staple of medical practice among Western physicians. Hysteria, an ailment considered common and chronic in women, was thought to be the consequence of sexual deprivation. Doctors performed the "routine chore" of relieving hysterical patient's symptoms with manual genital massage until the women reached orgasm, or, as it was known under clinical conditions, the "hysterical paroxysm". The vibrator first emerges as an electromechanical medical instrument in direct reponse to demand from physicians who, far from enjoying the implementation of pelvic massage, sought every opportunity to substitute the services of midwives and, later, the efficiency of mechanical devices. In this volume, the author offers a candid account of why such treatments were socially and ethically permissible for doctors and why women were believed to require them. She explores the diagnosis of hysteria in Western medicine thorughout the ages and examines the characterization of female sexuality as a disease requiring treatment. Medical authorities, she writes, were able to defend and justify the clinical production of orgasm in women as necessary to maintain the dominant view of sexuality, which defined sex as penetration to male orgasm - a practice that consistently fails to produce orgasm in a majority of the female population. This male-centred definition of satisfying and healthy coitus shaped not only the development of concepts of female sexual pathology but also the instrumentation designed to cope with them. Invented in the late 1880s by a British physician, the vibrator was popular with turn-of-the-century doctors as a quick, efficient cure for hysteria that neither fatigued the therapist nor demanded skills which were difficult to acquire. Some entrepreneurs even opened vibratory "operating theatres". Maines describes in detail the wide range of vibratory apparatus available to physicians by 1900, from low-priced foot-powered models to the Chattanooga, which cost $200 plus freight in 1904. She shows how hysterical women presented a large and lucrative clientele for doctors, and vibrators reduced, from about one hour to ten minutes, the time required for a physician to produce results, significantly increasing the number of patients he could treat in the course of a working day. These women were ideal patients in that they neither recovered nor died from their condition but continued to require regular medical "treatment". Maine traces the vibrator from its beginning as a sanctioned therapeutic instrument to its fall from respectability and disappearance from medical offices - after appearing in stage films in the 1920s - to its re-emergence in the 1960s as a sex aid.

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Recensione:

"Thorough, original, and surprising." -- Sarah Boxer, New York Times Book Review



"Full of wonderful descriptions of the 'job nobody wanted,' including photographs of early vibrators and vaginal electrodes." -- Jeanette Winterson, Times (London)



"Feminist scholarship exactly as it should be: a work that not only illuminates an astonishing bit of herstory, but does so with a neat balance of anger, wit and humor... A wonderful book." -- Carol Lynn Mithers, L.A. Weekly



"Exhaustively researched... decidedly offbeat." -- Natalie Angier, New York Times



"Here's a provocative history with a chip on its shoulder and a buzz under its skirt... Exhumes startling facts from the underground sexual history of the early twentieth century." -- Will Blythe, Mirabella



"Maines has produced an exhaustive and deliciously savage history of the vibrator-as-sex-aid... This fascinating and exquisitely referenced true story reads like twisted science fiction." -- Library Journal



"A titillating and often hilarious account of the rise and fall (as it were) of the vibrator as a medical tool for the treatment of hysteria... A book that can delight as well as enlighten." -- Journal of the American Medical Association

L'autore:

Rachel P. Maines is an independent scholar and a technical processing assistant at Cornell University's Hotel School Library. She is also the author of numerous articles in scholarly and popular publications.

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Rachel P. Maines
Editore: The Johns Hopkins University Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 0801859417 ISBN 13: 9780801859410
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Descrizione libro The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 0801859417

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Descrizione libro The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. New item. Codice libro della libreria QX-162-71-8069808

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