The narrator states that in medieval times, before the invention of hysteria, the uterus was adored – not neglected because it was thought that women needed to orgasm to conceive. Women would actually seek treatment from ‘doctors’ to stimulate their orgasms. And of course, a medical condition was coined: “Hysterical Paroxysm.” This, as the film states was the beginning of the ‘returning’ patient.
However, once that fallacy was discovered, orgasms disappeared by the 18th century and by the 19th century women were no longer having orgasms since they were considered a ‘sexual dysfunction’. And the term ‘hysteria’ which means ‘womb disease’ became prominent.
The film actually lists symptoms of hysteria as: yawning, itching, stomach upsets, insomnia, reading French novels while wearing tight corsets, arguing with husbands, too much bicycling, anxiety, drinking alcohol, coffee or tea, and excessive childbearing. I think the latter is the most apt symptom of hysteria – don’t you? (Remember this was is in a time before birth control.)
Vibrators went from being advertised in magazine and virtually disappeared for 40 years. Until the 1960’s and 70’s when women like feminist Dell Williams who recently passed, believed in women’s right to sexual expression. “We are the women our parents warned us about and we are proud…” fabulous quote that came out of this era.
Eve Ensler has finally redefined ‘hysteria’ – and I hope it becomes everyone’s mantra: “Hysteria is a word used to make women feel insane for knowing what they know.” And now we finally know it is women after all… and all the restrictions and abuse were meant to suppress our natural superiority.