Hysteria, a word that means out of control, delusional and was a word that was used at a time in which it was considered a mental condition that could lead to women being incarcerated with a punitive hysterectomy performed on them. This was a woman only condition of the 1800‘s.
The MovieThe truth of how Mortimer Granville devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science.
Director: Tanya Wexler
Writers: Stephen Dyer (story), Jonah Lisa Dyer (story), and 3 more credits »
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce
Hugh Dancy ... Mortimer Granville
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Charlotte Dalrymple
Jonathan Pryce ... Dr. Robert Dalrymple
Felicity Jones ... Emily Dalrymple
Rupert Everett ... Edmund St. John-Smythe
Ashley Jensen ... Fannie
Sheridan Smith ... Molly
Gemma Jones ... Lady St. John-Smythe
Movie came out in 2011 but it is being shown in the United States in 2012.
Setting1800‘s England when men and women stayed within their prescribed roles. A period in which being proper was supreme and celebrated.
A young progressive doctor gets kicked out of several medical establishments because he questioned some of the medical practices being performed by recognized physicians. He believed that his patients recovery should be based on scientific research rather than old wive tales that had been pedaled for generations. The problem really was that in 1800‘s, science was still being looked at as devil’s brew. Beyond all that, many physicians had formed a lucrative side business from old wive tales. Many were selling their medical potions and ying yang to cure different ailments. He wasn’t having that.After being fired for the umpteenth time, he finally gets a new position with a progressive doctor who specializes in women’s conditions with particular emphasis on hysteria. This was an opportunity to learn something new and to work with a doctor who was doing something ahead of his time. He later comes to the realization that the only cure that this doctor was offering was basically tactile pleasuring of women to give them orgasm. In the process of working with this doctor, he meets his daughters, falls in love with one, nearly marries the other and discovers the vibrator. This is a comedy.
Hysteria, the story of the vibrator, beyond being a comedy highlights a time in history where the double standard was quite obviously the order of the day. Women were punished for daring to be different, in daring to think and daring to be uncomfortable with the status quo. They were presumed to be mad or hysterical. It was quite obvious that this was a period of double standards in which men and women who acted exactly the same were not punished in the same way. Men who acted like men were MEN while women who acted in supposedly male behaviors had to deal with the consequences.
Of course out of this mess of a disease, a tool was produced which led to a sexual revolution in women. In that, dare I say it, men were not really necesary in producing pleasure. Sexual independence of sorts in which women were now given the freedom to actually express opinions without fear of physical , mental or social repercussions. It is quite interesting to note that though social restraints on women aren’t as dire as they were during that period, there still exists a demarcation between socially acceptable behaviors in men and women.
My main caveat in the movie was the characterization of the progressive but wild daughter. They made it seem that acting irrationally goes hand in hand in being progressive for women. I would have preferred a progressive daughter, who was rational but who knew what she was brought into the world to achieve. By creating a character such as this, it would have made the double standards of society more visibly blatantly obvious. There were behaviors that the progressive daughter exhibited and honestly, I wondered if she had lost a few marbles. But, in essence, maybe she was reacting to the times, in which you could only stand out by being an extreme.My lesser caveat lay in the reason for creating a vibrator. Yes, women have the right to pleasure like men do. But, the story didn’t really sell me on the connection between sexual freedoms and other freedoms. How do we move from point A to point B? For example, how can we say that because women aren’t sexually free, they can’t fully articulate their needs in other arenas and go after what they want. Personally, though sex is very important, I do feel sometimes we give sex too much power. But, then that’s my thoughts.
Should you go watch it?Well, if it is showing in your part of the world - yes. It is being screened in very few places. I was fortunate enough to catch it when it screened in my hood. This is an important part of women’s history. The movie celebrates a period of time when women were finally allowed to be equal members in a sexual union, to find ways to seek their pleasures and to be sexually independent. As a side note, in the sex industry, the vibrator has been sold the most compared to any sex tool in history.
Yes, go see the movie and do let us know what you think.
Last Updated ( Monday, 11 June 2012 00:52 )