did victorian women have sex toys
It has been a part of my recent research and I’ve been wondering: Did Victorian women have sex toys? My curiosity was aroused after coming across an old newspaper article in a library archive describing the scandal of a woman being arrested for possessing a “lewd device”. Further reading showed that she had been caught with an artificial penis she had purchased from a curiosity shop in London. At the time, this was considered a naughty-but-nice kind of amusement, and even Queen Victoria herself was acquainted with the mysterious devices.
I was totally amazed and couldn’t help but wonder: why weren’t sex toys and other sexual gadgets more widely used by Victorian women? Back then, women were expected to remain in an obedient and subservient role to their husbands, so surely such a risky pleasure would not have been tolerated by a large number of people.
Conducting more research on the topic, I realised that sex toys were actually fairly widely available during the Victorian era. They were sold in various shop fronts and, although regarded as slightly scandalous, they were not seen as a “sinful” activity. Interestingly, the artificial penises were especially popular among married couples as a way of increasing sexual pleasure.
Of course, not every Victorian woman had the means to purchase a sex toy, nor the access to purchase one without attracting too much attention or suspicion. But for the women who did have access, the opportunity to experiment with and bring some pleasure into their sex life was probably very much welcomed.
Although the sale and use of sex toys was a fairly common practice during the Victorian era, sex dolls its use and sale were not exactly well-advertised. This meant there was a certain level of discretion surrounding their purchase and use. Apparently, some women resorted to using fruit, vegetables and even wooden dildos in place of the now-popular sex toys. These off-the-shelf objects were obviously a more discreet option and were easier to acquire.
I think it’s really interesting that even though Victorian society considered sex and intimacy to be something private, women still found a way to explore new forms of pleasure and satisfaction. This goes to show that despite restrictive gender roles, women were still able to take charge of and enjoy their own sexual lives. I personally feel empowered and inspired by the knowledge that there were women back then that were not afraid to take enjoyment from their own bodies. What a fantastic way to honor their legacy and celebrate sex!
When exploring further, I also learned that the use of the artificial penises was particularly popular among prostitutes, single women and widows who wanted to experience sexual pleasure without exposing themselves to the risk of pregnancy. It is thought that these devices would have been used to masturbate with, or to bring stimulation to the vagina.
Although the artificial penis was a popular choice of sex toy during the Victorian era, there were also other sexual gadgets such as artificial vaginas that were available to purchase. This type of device was more commonly used by men, and would have been used to masturbate with.
This is a subject area that I’m still curious about and am still researching. Is it your opinion that the use and sale of sex toys was a more commonly accepted practice in Victorian society than we think? Or was it still, at its heart, something that was discussed and practiced behind closed doors? Please share your own opinion and I would love to chat about this some more.