A Glimpse Over the 30,000 Year History of the Dildo.

Nov 2, 2021

The dildo has been a clandestine staple in many world cultures throughout history and has sustained its shape, look, and length all that time. While some archaeologists believe they may have had non-sexual uses, scientists are largely embracing the idea that people used these objects for sexual pleasure. The highly detailed nature of the objects serves as the basis for this changing opinion. They are smooth, polished, and of realistic size. This has led experts to establish that they were used as dildos.

Here’s a summary of the dildo’s interesting history.

The Elaborate ‘Tools’ of the Han Dynasty

In the opulent tombs of the wealthy Western Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), a variety of elaborate and exquisite items have been discovered, including ancient sex toys. As the Hans believed the tombs would house their spirits after they died, they took their most prized possessions with them, which included bronze dildos. The elites of the dynasty used these quite often and they were of very high quality.

The Hans aimed to achieve a balance between the female and male principles of yin and yang during sex. They felt sex had a real spiritual dimension and should be lasting and pleasurable for everyone. Placing bronze dildos in their tombs was meant to ensure they would enjoy love and peace in the afterlife.

The Bread Dildos of Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks didn’t look far for sexual inspiration for their dildos – not farther than their kitchen at least. They used dildos made of bread. Images of these baguette phalluses have been recorded in a variety of sources. The range of purposes they were used for is not completely clear. They may have been used in rituals as well as for sexual pleasure.

In Lysistrata, a famous play by Aristophanes, women go on a sex strike and talk about using dildos during it.  

Dildos in Europe in the Renaissance Era

A number of essentials were invented during the Renaissance, including glasses and the printing press. While not exactly essential, it’s worth pointing out that the term “dildo” was coined during this period. It may have come from “diletto” (Italian for delight) or “dilatare” (Latin for ‘to open wide’). Dildos became more widespread during the Renaissance. According to Italian writer Pietro Aretino, even nuns were using dildos (to “quell the gnawing of the flesh”) in the 16th century.

While dildos became more readily available across Europe, especially to the elites, not everyone embraced them. In 1670 John Wilmot imported these products into England for his sex club. Authorities found out and destroyed them at once. Wilmot’s poem, aptly titled Seigneur Dildo, hinted that dildos might replace men. This gauged the pervasive fear of men at the time that these never-flaccid members would make them redundant.

The government passed a few laws banning women from making dildos for their own use and for other people. Still, many people kept trying to obtain them.

Dildos in the East

During the same period of history, Japan had a markedly different attitude to dildos. The literature of the time did not portray them as threatening to men in any way. Quite the opposite – shunga authors (erotic novels) depicted them playfully, as an accessory to be enjoyed. Shunga depicted dildos as part of women’s everyday life. This erotic literature portrayed fair sex as real-life sexual beings, who often took the initiative in sexual matters. In 1722, the government prohibited shunga, but people kept distributing the literature illegally, and it continued to flourish.  

Modern History of the Dildo

Perhaps the biggest milestone in the modern history of the dildo has been the silicone dildo, created by Gosnell Duncan in the 1970s. At that time, most dildos were still being made out of rubber. Rubber can’t stand heating or washing without deteriorating and it was quite unsafe as dildo material. Dildos were not widely available either. They were only sold to straight couples who had sex problems and marketed as medical aids.

Duncan had been in a severe accident, which left him paralyzed below the waist. He created the silicone dildo as a medical aid for disabled people and became an advocate for safe, high quality penis substitutes. Eventually, it took off as a product for anyone who wanted to augment or improve his or her sex life.

The 60s and 70s: Sexual Liberation

The sexual revolution gave dildos new meaning. The idea of female masturbation toys became more acceptable. In fact, the dildo became a symbol of sexual liberation in some circles. In the 1970s, the idea emerged that dildos didn’t necessarily have to look like penises. That was the beginning of experiments with shapes, color, and size. This aesthetic remains popular today.  

The 80s: A Risk-free way of Enjoying Penetration

The 80s were marked by the AIDS crisis and with that, the dildo became more popular. It was a risk-free way of having penetrative sex. A minority remained reserved, associating dildo use with HIV infection and stigmatizing the products.   

A Toy Loved by All

Dildos have and continue to play a key role in sexual exploration and gender play. Strap-on dildos make it possible for anyone to have a penis and to be penetrated with one. They challenge the notion that you must be born male to have a penis. An extra-large dildo can be very satisfying and help one overcome any securities they may have about their own size.

Final Thoughts

Today, the selection of dildos is practically endless, with all kinds of shapes, materials, sizes, and vibrations to choose from. Online and physical stores have a large variety of toys and a lot of useful information about how to use them. Dildos have continued to evolve, so details like how they’re powered or what kinds of lube to use with them can be worth exploring. The dildos of today and tomorrow will add to the rich and diverse history of sex toys as they go mainstream.

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