by Hallie Lieberman


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In the vein of Mary Roach's Bonk, a brilliant microhistory of the sex toy that ultimately tells the story of our changing sexual mores and evolving cultural values.

Once only whispered about in clandestine corners, vibrators have become just another accessory for the suburban soccer mom. But how did these once-taboo toys become so socially acceptable? The journey of the devices to the cultural mainstream is a surprisingly stimulating one.

In Buzz, Hallie Lieberman traces the tale from lubricant in Ancient Greece to the very first condom in 1560 to advertisements touting devices as medical equipment in 19th-century magazines. She looks in particular from the period of major change from the 1950s through the present, when sex toys evolved from symbols of female emancipation to tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS to consumerist marital aids to today's mainstays of pop culture. The story is populated with a cast of vivid and fascinating characters including Dell Williams, founder of the first feminist sex toy store; Betty Dodson, whose workshops helped 1960s women discover vibrators; and Gosnell Duncan, a paraplegic engineer who invented the silicone dildo. And these personal dramas are all set against a backdrop of changing American attitudes toward sexuality, feminism, LGBTQ issues, and more.

Both educational and titillating, Buzz will make readers think quite differently about those secret items hiding in bedside drawers across the nation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681775432
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Hallie Lieberman obtained her PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2014, with a dissertation on Sex Toy History. Her writing has been published in Bitch, Bust, Eater, The Forward, and Inside Higher Ed, among others. She has given talks at many university events and conferences. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Selling Sex Toys 1

2 From Cavemen to Kinsey 17

3 The Ventriloquist and His Rival 39

4 Fake Vaginas, Female Masturbation, and Porno Empires 61

5 NOW, Sex, and Women's Liberation 77

6 Duncan's Dildos 91

7 Inflatables 109

8 Female Masturbation 129

9 A Garden of Sex Toys, Condoms for All, and Sturman's War 149

10 Doc Johnson and Sisterhood 173

11 Dildo Debates 197

12 Grids and Good Vibes 215

13 Meese and Masturbation 239

14 The Government vs. Everyone 261

15 21st-century Toys 279

Bibliography 293

Endnotes 315

Acknowledgments 355

About the Author 359

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