When I first realized I was heading to San Francisco for a combination conference and anniversary getaway in June, I knew I wanted to check out the Good Vibrations stores. I follow them on social media, and love that their passions lie far beyond just selling adult toys, but also providing education and social awareness to the community around them. As I explored the website, I discovered something I hadn’t realized existed: The Antique Vibrator Museum. It immediately went on to my must-see list, next to the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street. Located in the back of one of the bigger Good Vibrations locations, the Antique Vibrator Museum not only displays a variety of vibrators (of all sorts – including neck and foot massagers), but also the history of vibrators used as a cure for female health issues.
A timeline across the wall displays the misinformation that has abounded over the years: the idea of the “wandering womb,” masturbatory massage to cure “hysterical” women, and vibrators being re-marketed as complexion-improving home devices (although still phallus-shaped, oddly enough...). Until sometime around the 1920s, hysteria was a common female diagnosis with the prescribed cure being genital “massage” by the doctors. Female pleasure was not valued, or even considered, so the invention of massaging devices was simply to speed up the process and help physicians see more patients in a day.
The Antique Vibrator Museum is equal parts fascinating, empowering, and infuriating. The oft-displayed, inspiring Rosie the Riveter poster is displayed next to its era’s counterpart, “We didn’t think a woman could do a man’s job!” The timeline shows significant moments when the use of vibrators was reclaimed as a method of seeking pleasure.
It makes sense that the museum is housed inside the Good Vibrations store. They are the natural progression, the next step in the timeline: look where we were, see where we are now. Reclaim your body, reclaim your pleasure, and we’ll support you however we can.
Although I hadn't intentionally planned this, I was amused by the fact that I was wearing my Crave Vesper necklace, while at the museum. ;-)