I saw the most hysterical movie at the cinema the other day, appropriately entitled ‘Hysteria’. I heartily recommend you go and see it. Set in Victorian England, it charts the invention of the first vibrator by a physician treating women diagnosed with ‘hysteria’. The doctor, played by the rather handsome Hugh Dancy, becomes an expert in the clinical treatment of women through masturbation, helping them to relive the boredom, frustration and repression they feel, trapped in their lives in a man’s world.
Played as a comedy of errors, this is a time when the telephone has just been invented, the suffragette movement is building steam and ‘hysteria’ is the female plague of the moment. The term covered symptoms as diverse as nymphomania, melancholia and all kinds of erratic behaviour, and while it’s a serious subject, it’s handled with much humour.
This is a fascinating look at the birth of the world’d most popular sex toy, adapted, as it was from a motor powered feather duster (really!). There are some hilarious scenes, such as when the prototype is first trialled on Molly the Lolly, the household’s ex-hooker turned maid. And as for the opera singer who’s ‘too sad to sing’, well you can just imagine the results when the earth finally moves for her in the doctor’s treatment room!
Its charm lies in the way it gently ridicules the repression and double standards of the Victorian era, and the prudishness and small-mindedness of the judicial and medical systems around at the time. It’s also a great lesson in showing how far women have come (no pun intended!) since the days of gender inequality, when so little was understood about female sexuality.
I was also reminded of the healing power of the work I do, being involved this very area myself. It’s never been more clear to me how touch, pleasure and bliss can allow us to transcend the everyday, release pain and frustration and heal ourselves on every level. Go and see this fabulous romp and enjoy an eye-opening exploration of our most powerful means of transformation!