Buzz: The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy
In the vein of Mary Roach's Bonk, a brilliant microhistory of the sex toy that ultimately tells the story of our changing sexual mores and evolving cultural values.
Once only whispered about in clandestine corners, vibrators have become just another accessory for the suburban soccer mom. But how did these once-taboo toys become so socially acceptable? The journey of the devices to the cultural mainstream is a surprisingly stimulating one.
In Buzz, Hallie Lieberman traces the tale from lubricant in Ancient Greece to the very first condom in 1560 to advertisements touting devices as medical equipment in 19th-century magazines. She looks in particular from the period of major change from the 1950s through the present, when sex toys evolved from symbols of female emancipation to tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS to consumerist marital aids to today's mainstays of pop culture. The story is populated with a cast of vivid and fascinating characters including Dell Williams, founder of the first feminist sex toy store; Betty Dodson, whose workshops helped 1960s women discover vibrators; and Gosnell Duncan, a paraplegic engineer who invented the silicone dildo. And these personal dramas are all set against a backdrop of changing American attitudes toward sexuality, feminism, LGBTQ issues, and more.
Both educational and titillating, Buzz will make readers think quite differently about those secret items hiding in bedside drawers across the nation.