When the first wand vibrator was released, it was called a massage device for sore muscles. Fifty years later, it's known and loved as a sex toy, and for many it is also a symbol of sexual liberation. Read more about the iconic wand here
A massage device
In 1968, the Japanese company Hitachi patented the Magic Wand, which was marketed as a device for personal massage and rehabilitation after sports injuries. The early versions had a black, grooved head and mostly looked like a rather un-sexy kitchen appliance.The same year the Hitachi Magic Wand was released on the US market, artist Betty Dodson held her first exhibition featuring nude paintings in New York. For Dodson, it marked the beginning of her work in sexual education, and four years later she held the first Bodysex Workshop.
At the Bodysex Workshops, Dodson taught people with vulvas to take control of their sexual pleasure and how to use "personal massagers," as they were called, to have orgasms. Here, the "Hitachi Magic Wand" was her vibrator of choice, and all participants were given a wand for the two-hour workshop. Because of her use of the vibrator, many also believe that Dodson was the reason the vibrator became so widespread and popular.
An early version of the Hitachi Magic Wand. Picture from Ebay
Another reason why the Magic Wand became so popular was precisely because it was marketed as a massager and did not look like a typical vibrator. People who wanted to try masturbation with sex toys could buy the Wand without it being looked down upon or condemned. Sex and pleasure were also (unfortunately) taboo at the time, so "sore muscles" or "sports injuries" was a great explanation for why people bought the Magic Wand. In this way, the Wand became a symbol of sexual liberation, and the possibility of sexual pleasure without a partner.
But the powerful and effective vibrator couldn't stay under the radar for long. In 1976, it appeared on the cover of the book "Good Vibrations: The New Complete Guide to Vibrators" written by Joani Blank. In 1984, it appeared in the movie "Bachelor Party", and perhaps most popularly, it was featured in an episode of "Sex and the City" in 2001.
The Good Vibrations book, with a preface by Betty Dodson herself. Picture from AmazonThe "Hitachi Magic Wand" had thus become so popular that it appeared in mainstream media. Many pointed to Dodson as the cause, and although she heavily promoted the "Hitachi Magic Wand", she received no compensation from Hitachi. This may be related to the fact that Hitachi refused (and still refuses) to recognize the Magic Wand as a sex toy.
The company was even so opposed to the use of their massager as a sex toy, that in 2012 they wanted to remove the product from the market altogether. But because their US distributor Vibratex didn't want to lose their biggest source of revenue, they persuaded the company to remove "Hitachi" from the name. After a year of upgrades and rebranding, the "Hitachi Magic Wand" became the "Magic Wand Original", as it is still called today.The Magic Wand as it is known today. Picture from Magic Wand Original
Feeling inspired to try a wand yourself? Then read our guide on how to choose the right one for you.
Read also: How to choose a dildo
Read also: Our little guide to sex toys