A History of Sex Toys

A History of Sex Toys
Masturbator patented by William Harvey in 1988/Sex Machines Museum Prague/Wikimedia Commons

A detailed history of human sexuality is not exactly a topic that you will be able to read up on under “S” for sex in your average community library.

Foucault's History of Sexuality makes a bold attempt, but it goes no further than the Victorian era.

Finding a detailed history of the, until the very recent taboo topic of sex toys, meanwhile, is next to impossible.

One thing is clear: sex toys have been around for thousands of years and is here to stay.

With a product variety that includes vibrators, dildos, and butt plugs to cock rings and penis pumps, erotic adult games and latex clothing to fluffy love cuffs and sex stimulants, things have definitely heated up in the bedroom with the dawn of the new millennium.

Understanding Sexuality, Heterosexuality, and Homosexuality

“Even more recent than our concept of pornography are our concepts of sexuality, heterosexuality, and homosexuality – notions that would have been just as alien to an ancient Romans as space travel or telecommunications" – wrote John R.Clarke in his recently published amply illustrated research book on sex in ancient Rome "Roman sex: 100 BC-AD 250".

“Before 1890, there was no word to describe people who preferred same-sex relationships, nor even one to describe people who preferred opposite-sex relationships.

Yet today people routinely talk about their “sexuality". Throughout the twentieth century, the study of sexual practices enlarged the public’s understanding of various heterosexual and homosexual behaviors.

And it was not only Freudian psychoanalysis that put sexuality on the map. Social movements such as feminism, the sexual revolution, and gay liberation all needed these terms to describe gender roles as well as sexual practices.

What a difference a century has made! Just as we invented “sexuality", “homosexuality", and “heterosexuality", we have invented a new set of attitudes toward sexual representation".

And with the human race getting more comfortable with their sexuality, it also meant that the sex industry became a lucrative business.