The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction
PRAISE FOR THE TECHNOLOGY OF ORGASM
    “As historian Rachel Maines describes in her exhaustively researched if decidedly offbeat work, the vibrator was developed to perfect and automate a function that doctors had long performed for their female patients: the relief of physical, emotional and sexual tension through external pelvic massage, culminating in orgasm.”—Natalie Angier, New York Times
    “Wryly chronicles the attitude toward women’s sexuality in the medical and psychological professions and shows, with searing insight, how some ancient biases are still prevalent in our society … A pioneering and important book, this window into social and technological history also provides a marvelously clear view of contemporary ideas about women’s sexuality.”— Publishers Weekly
    “In her exemplary historical analysis of the machines that go bump and grind in the night, Rachel Maines uncovers more than a mundane evolution of technology. After explaining how she came to take the vibrator seriously, she makes an excellent case why everyone else should, too.”—Elizabeth Millard, In These Times
    “An astonishing, amusing, and at times painful history of orgasm in women … One doctor accused [Maines] of writing ‘more to titillate than to enlighten.’ However, in her painstakingly researched and thoroughly engaging book, Maines provesthat both effects are possible.”—Anna Watson, Natural Health
    “An enormously entertaining and valuable contribution to the study of this country’s sexual heritage.”—Marianna Beck, Libido
    “ The Technology of Orgasm is a stunning book, not just for its depth of research and command of its subject but also for its humor and irony and pointed conjectures about gaps in medical knowledge.”—Lindsay Lane, Austin Chronicle
    “With lively writing and solid research, an independent scholar provides an engaging case study of vibrators.”— Choice
    “Maines’s genuine enthusiasm for research and social inquiry make this book enjoyable and informative; at the same time it is rife with paradigm-shifting revelations.”—Carolyn Kuebler, Rain Taxi Review of Books
    “Meticulously documents what amounts to a secret history of female sexual arousal … I don’t believe it would be an exaggeration to say that Maines’s argument contributes to the great tradition of brilliant, scientifically-based debunking begun by the likes of Galileo.”—Annalee Newitz, New York Press
    “This book is a masterpiece of material culture history, an important and original work of scholarship. Maines takes an apparently trivial artifact and demonstrates that it is, in fact, of enormous cultural significance.”—Ruth Schwartz Cowan, author of A Social History of American Technology
    “Refreshing … By applying a gendered analysis to the material culture of vibrators, Maines extends the history of technology to embrace cultural history, the history of medicine, and the history of sexuality. Her engaging style, peppered throughout with dry wit, makes this short book a delightful read for historians (and nonhistorians) of all stripes.”—Elizabeth Siegel Watkins, Journal of American History

THE

TECHNOLOGY

OF

ORGASM

J OHNS
H OPKINS
S TUDIES
IN THE
H ISTORY OF
T ECHNOLOGY
    Merritt Roe Smith
Series Editor

T HE
T ECHNOLOGY
OF
O RGASM
    “Hysteria,”
the Vibrator,
and Women’s
Sexual
Satisfaction
    RACHEL P. MAINES

For my
mother,
who
taught me
that
intellectual
freedom
is worth
fighting for

 
    © 1999 The Johns Hopkins University Press
    All rights reserved. Published 1999
    Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
    Johns Hopkins Paperbacks edition, 2001
    2  4  6  8  9  7  5  3
    The Johns Hopkins University Press
    2715 North Charles Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21218-4363
    www.press.jhu.edu
    A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library.
    The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition of this book as

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