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It's a global industry worth PS5.5bn a year and since its invention in 1995 more Rampant Rabbits have been sold than washing machines and tumble dryers put together.

And yet the vibrator still remains a taboo subject. While millions of British women own one - 4.2 million sex toys were sold in the UK alone last year - this erotic toy is still something rarely discussed, even among close friends.

But change is coming. We've already witnessed the explosion of so-called mummy porn with saucy novels like Fifty Shades of Grey selling in their millions. Now a new ground-breaking film due out this Friday could edge us closer to a less embarrassed sexual society.

Hysteria is a new British comedy, which explores and applauds the invention of the vibrator.

Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett and Sheridan Smith, the rom-com is named after an ailment considered common and chronic in women since the 1600s.

Basically, any malady that couldn't be explained by anything else, was diagnosed as 'hysteria' or the equally appealing term 'womb disease'.

While hysteria was dismissed by the American Psychiatric Association in 1952, some medical experts from the time of Hippocrates believed it was the result of the womb being deprived or even diseased.

And the cure was genital massage by your GP. Yup, you heard right.

Back in those days, your local doctor would masturbate you with the objective of inducting 'hysterical paroxysm' - otherwise known as an orgasm (though physicians of the period were either unwilling or unaware this is what it was.) Predictably, word spread and doctors couldn't keep up with the demand of women wanting to be 'cured'. They needed away to get the job done fast and, like with most things, the solution was to invent a machine. get th to Massage devices - aka the vibrator was born - and 'treatment' was shortened from hours to minutes thanks to the first electromechanical vibrator created by Joseph Mortimer Granville, a highly-regarded English physician, who in the 1880s designed and patented the battery-operated vibrator, which became known as "Granville's Hammer." he nt' o st r r d e d And boy did it catch on fast. By the turn of the century, home electricity meant vibrators could be used at home, which was far cheaper and less effort than trotting down to the doctor for a daily dose.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the vibrator was one of the most popular first home appliances. It was on the market nine years before vacuum cleaners and a decade before the iron, though its purpose was disguised as something that 'reduced tension' for hard-working housewives, solving everything from headaches to aching shoulders.

We were bashful couldn't about vibrators back then - and we still are. Sadly, having hosted lots of sexuality workshops over the years and produced my own range of sex toys for online retailer Lovehoney, only a few brave souls are actually willing to stand up and be counted as the proud owner of one.

Which is a shame because a world without vibrators would be a sad place. So sad, in fact, I think if I got to the gates of heaven and didn't see any, I'd be hot-footing it downstairs.

Vibrators aren't just for 'fun'. They're how most women have their first, most, and most dependable orgasms. Not only are they nothing to be ashamed of, we should be shouting our appreciation from the rooftops!

So why don't we? There are two reasons for this - the first is that masturbation largely remains taboo, for both men and women, despite a good proportion of the UK doing it regularly.

The second is that admitting to owning a vibrator acknowledges a fact both women and men prefer to shy away from: that most women have orgasms from clitoral stimulation rather than intercourse.

But whether it's to protect the male ego or to detract from women having faked it in the past, as a society we're not keen to draw attention to this.

Which is why so many vibrators stay in the bedside drawer.

And yet Boots and Superdrug stock them, so do most major department stores. They're often listed as 'massagers' or 'back massagers' (the Hitachi Magic Wand being the most famous) and while some do buy them to massage their backs, most use them for stimulation.

Globally, more than one in five adults, according to a Durex sex survey, have used a vibrator. Millions are sold per year in most Western countries and the choice is mind-boggling. Today's vibrators can rotate, penetrate, swirl, lick and seek out parts our parents didn't know about.

p blas They come disguised as bedside lamps, flashlights, lipsticks, mobile phones, iPods and rubber ducks. Some are so small you can lose them in your handbag and so big, they look like a rolling pin.

ylo They are thoroughly mainstream and cl Sex toys are no longer seen as the pathetic plaything of the 'nymphomaniac' (read 'a woman who wants sex more than he does'), desperately dateless or 'perverted'.

as th wo th da recommended by sex therapists as they remain the easiest, most effective way to give an orgasm.

Why? For most women, nothing can work better than a vibrator.

And since the road to orgasm for women is sometimes so long we feel like donning pilgrim sandals and a robe for the journey, anything that speeds up the process isn't just appreciated, it's worshipped. In private, if not publically.

If you've never had an orgasm, your best chance is with a vibrator, not just alone but with your partner.

Not convinced he could handle it? I'm with the world famous sexologist Betty Dodson who said if a man can't handle seeing you use a vibrator, keep it and ditch the man!

Happily, most modern men aren't as threatened by them as women think, in fact, 76% of sex toy buyers at Lovehoney are in a relationship. But if you're still nervous about introducing your partner to one, take him to see this film.

Hysteria isn't just funny, it's a non-offensive way to liberate the vibrator from the bedside table and back into the open, where it belongs.



GPs couldn't keep up with the women wanting a cureSex toys are not just the plaything of the dateless a


FILTH: Hysteria star Sheridan Smith dusts a prototype vibrator

THRILLS: An early electric vibrator

INVENTORS: Hugh Dancy and Rupert Everett
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 19, 2012
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