Vibrator (sex toy)
Two vibrators in a novelty store
Vibrators are devices intended to vibrate against the body and skin, to stimulate the nerves for a relaxing and pleasurable feeling. Some vibrators are designed to be inserted into body cavities for erotic stimulation.
For centuries, doctors had been treating women for a wide variety of illnesses by performing what we would now recognize as masturbation. The "pelvic massage" was especially common in the treatment of female hysteria during the Victorian Era, as the point of such manipulation was to cause "hysterical paroxysm" (orgasm) in the patient. However, not only did they regard the "vulvular stimulation" required as having nothing to do with sex, but reportedly found it time-consuming and hard work.
One of the first vibrators was a steam-powered device called the "Manipulator", which was created by American physician George Taylor, M.D. This machine was a rather awkward device, but was still heralded as some relief for the doctors who found themselves suffering from fatigued wrists and hands. Circa 1880, Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville patented the first electromechanical vibrator, then, in 1902, the American company Hamilton Beach patented the first electric vibrator available for retail sale, making the vibrator the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified, after the sewing machine, fan, tea kettle, and toaster, and about a decade before the vacuum cleaner and electric iron.
The home versions soon became extremely popular, with advertisements in periodicals such as Needlecraft, Woman's Home Companion, Modern Priscilla, and the Sears, Roebuck catalog. These disappeared in the 1920s, apparently because their appearance in pornography made it no longer tenable for polite society to avoid the sexual connotations of the devices.
Since the 1980s, vibrators and sex toys have become more visible in mainstream public culture, with the opening of new “sex stores” such as Condom Nation in New York City and Good Vibrations in San Francisco, as well as a landmark “vibrator” discussion on the HBO show Sex and the City.
 Contemporary vibrators
Vibrators often allow people to achieve orgasm rapidly and with relative ease as compared to other methods. In addition, vibrators are reported to provide stronger orgasms than those produced by manual stimulation alone. They are often recommended by sex therapists for women who have difficulty reaching orgasm by other means. Couples also use them sometimes as an enhancement to the pleasure of one or both partners.
Some vibrators are marketed as "body massagers" — although they still may be used, like the ones sold as adult sex toys, for autoeroticism. Some vibrators run on batteries while others have a power cord that plugs in to a wall socket. There is also a vibrator that uses the flow of air from a vacuum cleaner to stimulate the clitoris.
Modern versions of old musical vibrators synchronize the vibrations to music from a music player or a cellphone.
 Types of erotic vibrators
There is an enormous range of vibrators but most of them fall into several broad categories:
- Clitoral—Often sold as "back massagers", these are powerful vibrators such as the Hitachi Magic Wand or the Acuvibe.The clitoral vibrator is a sex toy used to provide sexual pleasure and to enhance orgasm by stimulating the clitoris. Although most of the vibrators available can be used as clitoral vibrators, they may have special designs and models that would not resemble a vibrator. They commonly come in small sizes and in a variety of colors, textures and shapes. There is also a dual type of vibrator which provides stimulation to both clitoris and G spot. They are normally driven by batteries and some of them are specially designed for underwater use.The most common type of clitoral vibrator is small, egg-shaped and attached to a multi-speed battery pack by a long cord. Variations on the basic design include narrower, bullet-shaped vibes, and vibrators shaped like cats, bunnies, bears, dewdrops, miniature rocket vibrators and large human tongues. Regardless the design one chooses, the main function of the clitoral vibrator is mainly the same, meaning offering vibrations at varying speeds and intensities. Some of the clitoral vibrators may be inserted into the vagina. They often have a small animal, such as a rabbit, bear, dolphin or beaver, perched near the base of the vibrator and facing forward which provides clitoral stimulation at the same time with vaginal stimulation.
- Dildo-shaped—Approximately penis-shaped, can be made of plastic, silicone, rubber, vinyl, or latex. Dildo is the common name used to define a phallus-like sex toy which does not however provide any type of vibrations. But as vibrators have commonly the shape of a penis, there are many models and designs of vibrating dildos available. Vibrating dildos are designed for both individual usage and with a partner. They may be used for vaginal and anal penetration as well as for oral penetration. They come in different sizes, colors and textures and they may be double-ended so both anal and vaginal stimulation is achieved at the same time.
- Waterproof—Can be used wet, such as in the shower. Although marketed as waterproof, most should not be submerged. The ones designed for underwater usage may be used in the swimming pool, bath or shower or any other wet place. The waterproof vibrators are recommended to be used with a water compatible lubricant, such as silicone-based lubricant. One is advised to check the battery pack to make sure it is not defective before using the vibrator underwater. These vibrators last longer if they are dried after every use and the batteries are kept outside the vibrator when it is not used.
- Rabbit, "Jackrabbit" or "Rampant Rabbit"—Two-pronged for stimulation of both the vagina and the clitoris simultaneously. It was featured on Sex and The City in the late 90's. The rabbit vibrator actually consists of two vibrators of different sizes. A phallus-like shaped vibrator is intended to be inserted into the vagina to stimulate the vagina, while a smaller clitoral stimulator is placed facing forward onto the main vibrator. The rabbit vibrator was named after the shape of the clitoral stimulator, which resembles to a pair of rabbit ears. They are normally made of rubber, jelly, silicone and latex and they come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and designs.
- G-spot—Similar to the traditional vibrator but with a curve and often a soft jelly-like coating. The curve makes it easier to use to stimulate the g-spot or prostate. The G-spot vibrators are specially designed to stimulate the G-spot in women, and the prostate in men. This type of vibrators is more curved towards the tip and it is made of materials such as silicone or acrylic. It also comes in different colors, shapes and sizes and it can be used with or without the vibrations. Many users though state that vibrations enhance the sensations during G-spot or prostate stimulation. They are recommended to be used with a significant amount of lubricant, especially when used to provoke sexual pleasure in men.
- Egg—Egg-shaped vibrator which can be used for stimulation of the clitoris or insertion into the vagina. The egg, also known as love egg, is a type of vibrator that may also have the shape of bullet which comes in very small sizes. Based on their specific shape, they are called either egg vibrators or bullet vibrators. They are considered discrete sex toys as they do not measure more than 3 inches in length and ¾ inches in width.
- Pocket rocket—Shaped like a cylinder, one of its ends has some vibrating bulges. It is meant to stimulate the clitoris or nipples, not for vaginal insertion. A pocket rocket is a mini-vibrator that is typically about five inches long and which resembles a small, travel-sized flashlight. The Pocket Rocket vibrator is a discreet sex toy that may be carried around in one's purse or briefcase. It is specially designed to provide clitoral stimulation and although it is said to be discreet is not one of the most silent vibrators. Many users claim that it is quite noisy. Due to its small dimension, it is powered by a single battery. It usually has only one speed.
- "Undercover" vibrators—Vibrators discreetly shaped as everyday objects, such as lipstick tubes, cell phones, or art pieces. Occasionally some women use actual mobile phones in this function. This type of vibrators is made of a wide range of materials, shapes and colors. The undercover vibrators are usually relatively small enough and most of the time they have only one speed and are powered by a single battery. They tend to copy an exact shape and design of the object they are intended to be mistaken as.
- Anal vibrators—Vibrators designed for anal use have either a flared base or a long handle to grip, to prevent them from slipping inside and becoming lodged in the rectum. Anal vibrators come in different shapes but they are commonly butt plugs or phallus-like vibrators. They are recommended to be used with a significant amount of lubricant and to be inserted gently and carefully to prevent any potential damage to the rectum lining.
- "Butterfly"—Vibrator strapped around legs and waist for hands-free clitoral stimulation during sexual intercourse. The butterfly vibrator was named after its shape. It comes in three variations: traditional, remote control, and with anal and/or vaginal stimulators. They are made of silicone, plastic and latex, or jelly.
- Vibrating Cockring—Vibrator (usually cordless) inserted in or attached to a cock ring, usually for stimulation of the clitoris.This is actually a part of a cock ring which is attached to the penis to enhance clitoral stimulation during sexual intercourse.
- Dual Area Vibrators—These vibrators are designed to stimulate two erogenous zones simultaneously or independently. They are usually found in the form of a clitoral stimulator and vaginal stimulator; an example is the Sybian.
- Triple Area Vibrators—These vibrators are designed to stimulate three erogenous zones simultaneously or independently. These provide stimulation to the vagina, clitoris and anal regions.
- Multispeed Vibrators—Multispeed vibrators allow users to customize how fast the vibrator's pulsing or massaging movements occur. Depending on the specific type of vibrator, the speed change is made by simply pushing a button a certain number of times, allowing users to change speeds several times throughout the usage. In the appropriate size, the multispeed vibrators can be used for clitoral, anal or vaginal stimulation.
 Vibrators for disabled people
Disabled people can find that vibrators are an essential part of their sex life for two reasons: First, it might be the only way to get sexual satisfaction due to impaired arm and hand function. Second, for some disabled men, the use of a vibrator is their only way to provide a semen sample to become fathers.
 Legal and ethical issues
The possession and sale of vibrators is illegal in some jurisdictions, including India.
Until recently, many American Southern and some Great Plains states banned the sale of vibrators completely, either directly or through laws regulating "obscene devices." A federal appeals court upheld Alabama's law prohibiting the sale of sex toys on Valentine's Day, 2007. The law, the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1998, was also upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court on September 11, 2009.
In February 2008, an US federal appeals court overturned a Texas statute banning the sales of vibrators and other sexual toys, deeming such a statute as violating the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy. The appeals court cited Lawrence v. Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples, as unconstitutionally aiming at "enforcing a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct." Similar statutes have been struck down in Colorado, and Kansas. As of 2009, Alabama is the only state where a law prohibiting the sale of sex toys remains on the books.
Some Conservative Christians believe that the use of vibrators is immoral and prohibited by The Bible. An American Baptist preacher, Dan Ireland, has been an outspoken critic of such devices and has fought to ban them on religious and ethical grounds. According to Ireland, "Sometimes you have to protect the public against themselves....These devices should be outlawed because they are conducive to promiscuity, because they promote loose morals and because they entice improper and potentially deadly behaviors." Ireland believes that "there is no moral way to use one of these devices."
An American bioethicist and medical historian, Jacob M. Appel has argued that sex toys are actually a "social good" and that the devices, which he refers to as "marital substitutes," play "an important role in the emotional lives of millions of Americans." Appel has written:
I cannot say whether more Alabama women own vibrators than own Bibles. If I were guessing, I would suspect that a majority derive more use out of the vibrators. Certainly more pleasure. Nor does there appear to be any remotely rational basis for keeping sex toys out of the hands of married adults, or single adults, or even children. Now that we are relatively confident that masturbation does not make little girls go blind, or cause palms to sprout hair, exposure to sex toys shouldn't harm them. On the list of items that I might not want children to be exposed to in stores--guns, matches, poisons, junk food--sex toys are way down the list.
 References and further reading
- ^ Rachel P. Maines (1999). The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-6646-4.
- ^ steam-powered vibrator Everything2.com.
- ^ "Female Hysteria," Victorian Era Doctors, and the Vibrator Her Private Pleasures.
- ^ Maines
- ^ "Clitoral Stimulating Vibrators". http://www.mypleasure.com/education/sex-toy-guide/vibe_clitoral.asp. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
- ^ "Splish, Splash, Vroom...Grown Up Tub Toys". http://www.mypleasure.com/features/bulletins/5.asp. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
- ^ "The Mr Big vibrator". Marie Claire. 2008-05-13. http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/lifestyle/256806/the-mr-big-vibrator.html. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
- ^ "Five Things Every Woman Should Know About Pocket Rockets: The World's Most Popular Mini-Vibrator". http://www.mypleasure.com/features/bulletins/22.asp. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
- ^ "Mutlispeed Vibrators Complete Guide". http://www.multispeedvibrator.com/. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
- ^ a b Disabled.gr
- ^ Sethi, Atul (2008-11-26). "Palika a haven for adult toys". Times of India (Times Group). http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/576431.cms. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- ^ "Lingere Store Accused of Violating State Obscenity Laws". KBCD.com. http://www.kcbd.com/Global/story.asp?S=6554592&pass=1&nav=3w6y. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
- ^ Rawls, Phillip. Court leaves Ala. sex toy ban intact, USA Today, Oct 1, 2007
- ^ a b c d Appel, Jacob Alabama's Bad Vibrations, Sept 25, 2009
- ^ "Appeals court overturns Texas ban on sex toys". msnbc.msn.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23155562. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- ^ a b Holthouse, David. Alabama vs. Dildos Attorney General Troy King stands hard against stimulators, Dame Magazine
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