Trimble: Give women’s orgasms the respect they deserve

By Leah Trimble

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I think it’s extremely important to celebrate …… As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I think it’s extremely important to celebrate … well, women. Sorry guys, we’re in the limelight this time.

In honor of this month-long hurrah, I was kindly invited to Pittsburgh Filmmakers for a screening of “Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm,” a hilarious documentary based on an academic book by Rachel Maines, a feminist historian and visiting scientist at Cornell University.

The documentary explores the history of vibrators and the issues surrounding the outward sexuality of women in this country. For the few hours that remain in Women’s History Month, I think that it’s my duty to inform everyone, boys included, of some very interesting details I learned from this experience.

The well-researched production alerted me of the anti-vibrator laws have actually existed in this country — the strongest of them continues to offend in Alabama. According to Maines’ research, in medieval times, the uterus was put on a pedestal. And it was thought that women needed to achieve orgasm to conceive. Now that’s the right idea!

This was all fine and dandy until 16th century-astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus promoted a social revolution with his scientific discoveries, which created a social movement that gave men the ideal body and women, well, the opposite. This continued into the Victorian era, and finally women started to get irritated, leading to the popularization of the fanciful condition of female “hysteria.” Some of the symptoms included, for example, “reading French novels while wearing tight corsets, disagreeing with husbands, sexual fantasy and vaginal lubrication.”

This is serious, believe it or not. According to the documentary, in order to reverse the symptoms, one must give the applicable area some much-needed attention.

Fast forward to the 17th century, when Lazare Riviere, a French doctor, described hysteria as a condition that “mainly affects virgins and young widows. It may also affect married women that have impotent husbands. If marriage fails as a remedy, some advise that the genital parts should be, by a cunning midwife, so handled and rubbed, so as to cause an evacuation of the over-abounding fluids.”

Can you believe this? In the 1600s, doctors were prescribing fingering sessions to women who were basically fiending for sex.

Finally, the first vibrator arrived only to substitute the labor of these poor people that were making a living off of fingering horny women. Hey, their hands were over-worked and tired. And we think our part-time jobs suck?

Picture an old egg beater attached to a knob that kind of shook as you turned the handle. After we have everything from the steam-powered version in 1869, which didn’t work out because it required too much coal, the electromechanical vibrator almost 20 years later and some other large models, all more than 50 pounds and about the size of a dining room table! One woman in the documentary says “Great. Let’s bring them back. It combines my two favorite things — eating and cumming.”

That sounds about right.

Lastly, technology granted women with the at-home appliance versions that you could almost use for anything. They came with attachments, so you could beat a cake batter, churn butter and then pick up the vibrator attachment, head to your room and make use of your kitchen appliance in a whole new way.

Regarding vibrator types, obviously a lot has changed since then. However, even though we’ve progressed past the interchangeable device and the fight for women’s suffrage, it seems we still have a long way to fight for our orgasms.

Take Alabama, for example. Alabama’s Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act says that it is illegal to sell vibrators. In many states, any products that have a pleasurable intent must be marked “novelty” or “gag gift.” This is absolutely ridiculous. In a period of time when we are worried about radiation, natural disaster and of course wars and terrorism, isn’t it time to stop worrying about such harmless topics as sex toys? Is it really such a big deal to buy a vibrator to use as an actual vibrator?

Dear Southern political figures and everyone else who automatically choose to close themselves to the idea of sex toys: You know what we’re doing, so please just let it go. Let everyone, both men and women, have their toys, their dirty fantasies and their orgasms. What is so wrong with that? Honestly, please explain to me the big freakin’ deal. Why are you even interested in the sex that I have?

So as this historical month dedicated to women comes to a hault, I beg to all of you men and all the women holding back to take this little bit of history and learn from it. Let it go. Let us be sexual. And most importantly, make our orgasms important again.

Write Leah at [email protected]