Anyone who has looked at the Victorian era with anything resembling a critical eye can pretty easily agree that it was not a pretty time. Repression and oppression was tightly woven into the fabric of daily life for all peoples and genders, but women in particular endured a culture which vilified the female sex drive. Thankfully, we’ve made progress towards a more sex-positive culture (though there’s still a long way to go).
The Victorian era saw the first vestiges of the modern feminism movement. Women fought for the right to vote and to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts in the political arena. In the bedchamber, the then largely foreign notion that women could and should derive similar pleasure from sex that a man enjoyed was morally offensive to much of Victoriana’s conservatives.
Enter then, a small but significant device first know as a “Manipulator” which would later come to know as a vibrator. The recent film Hysteria is focused around the now defunct notion of female hysteria and the creation of the vibrator. Here’s the trailer:
Anyone with even a fleeting interest in gender or human sexuality will likely find this film to be both entertaining and enlightening. And Steampunks of all levels of sexual liberation yet again have reason to be thankful that we are Steampunks, rather than Neo-Victorians.