You know we’ve come a long way, baby, when septuagenarian journalist Barbara Walters dishes on her vibrator named “Selfie” (ha!), and the world essentially says, meh, whatever.
It’s easy to forget that not so long ago, vibrators were considered freaky-deaky, taboo, or um, a straight-up medical device. So how did we learn to stop worrying and love the good vibes? Here’s a history, in brief:
54 BC: Rumor has it Cleopatra used a hollow gourd filled with pissed-off bees (those Egyptians are genius, man!) to pleasure herself—proving that even then, women will do anything for a face-melting orgasm.
200 AD: A physician and philosopher documented the first known case of using “genital massage” to treat “hysteria” in women. This practice would go on for centuries before men caught on to the fact that women actually enjoy sexual intercourse (?!) and that “hysteria” was, in fact, rabid horniness. (Other early treatments for “hysteria” included a “pelvic douche device” hose and doctor-recommended horseback riding to stimulate the clit.)
1880: In response to more and more doctors getting hand cramps from all the “hysteria treatments,” Dr. Mortimer Granville (finally!) invents an early prototype of the modern electric vibrator. Let us all take a moment of thankful silence.
1920s: Vibrators and other sex toys make their auspicious porno debuts.
1960: Masters and Johnson (now documented in the Showtime show Masters of Sex) begin studying vibrators as part of their groundbreaking sex research.
1998: Sex and the City becomes the first prominent TV show to directly talk vibrators, including a classic intervention for Rabbit junkie Charlotte.
2008: Alabama Attorney General Troy King announces he wants to arrest every woman using an “immoral” sex toy (kinky!). In response, former gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nall launches Toys for Troy, a campaign encouraging women to mail King their naughty playthings. Loretta Nall is clearly the best.
2012: Hysteria, a period piece about female sexual frustration, makes its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival.
2014: Barbara Walters discusses “Selfie”; no one blinks.