Please Release Me


That’s what they called it in the Victorian Era. It was the made-up term by male physicians of the time to describe the symptoms of anxiety, “faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and ‘a tendency to cause trouble’,” among others. (Wikipedia) Pretty much anything afflicting a female patient could fall under the heading of “Hysteria” if needed.

And this “affliction” was relieved by “pelvic massage” until the patient experienced “hysterical paroxysm,” better known today as an orgasm. Sometimes this “pelvic massage” was manual stimulation with a doctors hands, via water massage, or with the help of some new technology. My short story “Zeppelin Dreams” is about the latter.

The first steam-powered vibrator to aid in Hysteria relief was made in 1869 by George Taylor, M. D. which was basically a table with a hole in the appropriate place. Fun moving parts came out of the hole and stimulated the patient in the most delightful way.

There is some controversy as to whether the image pictured left is a hoax created by Playboy Magazine in the 70’s or an actual early vibrator. Supposedly, this is also a design of George Taylor’s first clitoris clouter.

With all those moving parts, I’d be a bit nervous about getting too intimate with that thing.

Read more at Her Private Pleasures, quite an interesting site to say the least.

Although “Hysteria” is dripping with misogynistic overtones, the need for sexual release is real. It’s biological, as I’ve discussed in previous posts.

This article says that the physical need for release is much stronger in men because of sperm buildup, but since I’m not a man, I can’t speak to that. As a woman, I do know that we also have a biological need for release. Perhaps it’s a hormonal need, but I know that when I have regular sexual activity, my mood tends to be more balanced overall. I remember back in my late 20s, after I had become comfortable in my sexuality, I told my BF at the time that I needed sex at least 3x a week. If I didn’t get it, my mood definitely suffered. Now each wo/man is an individual and their needs differ in this, and all, matters.

Masturbation, whereas considered “evil” or at best “wrong” in some circles, is in fact quite healthy and often necessary. Unfortunately for my sexuality, I was raised Catholic. It took me the better part of my twenties to get over the dogma surrounding sexuality, especially female sexuality. But I did, and am I everso glad I did! Although masturbation can provide a needed release, it most certainly doesn’t replace human touch and intimacy, both emotional and sexual, with another person. But, in the times you don’t have a lover or perhaps your sex drive is higher than that of your lover’s, masturbation is a wonderful way to get the release you need. It also helps one develop their sexuality by allowing them to learn to let go and just feel, experience, enjoy the sensations of sexual pleasure.

Although I write steamy Steampunk and love the Victorian era as well as the aesthetic and possibilities of Steampunk, I am really glad to live in the 21st century where women’s sexuality is more open and societally accepted than at probably any other time in history. I love sex. Really, really love sex. And I’m thrilled that I can be open about my sexuality and express myself accordingly.

A delightful new movie called “Hysteria” premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this year, and I cannot wait until it is released in the States. Watch the trailer below and squeal for joy.


Read more on the History of the Vibrator.

~ by omgrey on September 28, 2011.

4 Responses to “Please Release Me”

  1. The thing about men needing to masturbate because sperm builds up is untrue. In the female body, I would say that calling a climax a release is inaccurate unless you’re talking about the body releasing the hormone oxytocin into the blood stream. Oxytocin is released during arousal and especially during the sexual climax of a woman. It is also released during labor and is the primary hormone that causes contractions. If you have labor artificially induced through pitocin, the positive effects of oxytocin are actually lost and the artificial contractions caused by the labor are much more difficult to bear. Meanwhile, it is possible for women to actually spontaneously climax during labor. It does not make the pain go away, but it dulls the pain. Even without the climax, it helps to form an intense bond between mother and child. It has something to do with our maternal instincts that draw us to care for our children. Proponants of natural childbirth often criticize the artificial ways we give birth because the natural hormonal process is interferred with. Giving birth is like sex in that it involves surrendering. Adrenalin experienced with fear inhibits the birthing process just as it inhibits a woman’s ability to become aroused, engage in sexual activity and climax. They are actually very similiar processes, so the argument is that our anxiety about the pain of labor causes complications in our labor. We then resort to medical procedures to try to get the baby out and each procedure has a tendency to cause complications of its own.

    Anyway, got stuck in a tangent. Oxytocin is also found to be released in women in stronger amounts than men when they socialize. It is said to be the possible cause why women tend to engage in gossip more than men do. When women are stressed, we often feel the “need” to vent to other people about how we’ve been wrong. We ruin people’s reputations and pit people against each other because we find releif from the stress due to oxytocin being released in our system.

    I think it is very well possible that when we suffer from psychological disturbances, we can try to indulge in oxytocin through gossiping or through insisting upon “sexual release” in the same manner that we may indulge ourselves in comfort eating.

    I think it could be argued that people with psychological and emotional problems can become addicted to masturbation the same way they can be suspectible to alcoholism. It can turn into a method of self medicating.

    I would say oxytocin is important for us. Feelings of even platonic affection are associated with it. I think a more healthy approach to anxiety issues and what not is to look at how healthy our relationships are. Are we feeling isolated? Do we have happy and healthy relationships with people or are we emotionally distant with people or finding we have trouble getting along with people. Perhaps couples often find the urge to engage in make up sex after a large fight because in a fight they often feel distant and separated from each other and sex is a quick way to experience bonding. We know that couples who do not get along, though, can overly rely on sex till their entire relationship falls apart.

    I would be willing to guess that our first thought about what to do about our emotional distresses would be to look at our relationships first before we try to indulge in what can merely become a temporary hormonal high for us.

    • Very interesting comments! Thank you for taking the time to do that. I did talk a bit about Oxytocin in my Human Touch post. Isn’t that also what chocolate induces? 😀 Oxytocin is very important for us, indeed. And I’m right there with you about examining our current relationships and seeking (and working for) a deeper connection rather than a temporary hormonal high. But frequent touching and affection, sexual or nonsexual in nature, helps build intimacy between a couple, perhaps because of the release of Oxytocin. Keeps our brain healthy and happy.

  2. Good piece! I was totally unfamiliar with “hysteria” as a diagnosis. Funny stuff.

Please Share Your Thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: