Hysteria: a “Feel Good” Movie. Literally.

Hysteria is just your average romantic comedy about a man, his vibrator and several hundred women.

Loosely based on real events, Hysteria is a film that tells the story of the invention of the first vibrator for women amidst the height of Victorian prudishness. I’ve been wanting to see the movie ever since it headlined at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and I finally got to watch it a few nights ago.

Hysteria  follows Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), a young doctor who gets a job working with Dr. Dalrymple, an established physician who specializes in the treatment of “Female Hysteria” – an umbrella term that seems to cover a ridiculous plethora of ailments affecting women of the time. Symptoms include nervousness, moodiness, insomnia, exhaustion, depression, cramps, sexual desire, lack of sexual desire, irritability, and a “tendency to cause trouble”. Like other medical practitioners of the time, Dr Dalrymple’s treats Hysteria through “genital massage”  to create “paroxysmal convulsions” – in other words, orgasms. Dashingly handsome Mortimer becomes quite the skilled “masseuse” and soon develops an extensive female following. Unfortunately though, getting women off for the sake of medical science also comes with a price: a nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome. To give his aching fingers a break, Mortimer devises an electric-mechanical vibrator  (think the original ancestor of The Hitachi Magic Wand) to do the job for him. The first sex toys for women are born & hilarity ensues!

Although this film is a comedy, you learn some very disturbing facts about medical science, the treatment of “Hysteria” and the position of women within Victorian society. The film discusses how “Female Hysteria” was thought to be caused by having an enlarged uterus and in extreme cases when other treatments had failed, women were subjected to Hysterectomies. You quickly figure out that “Hysteria” was merely a catch-all term used to describe any woman who wasn’t happy with the rigid confines of Victorian society. Can you imagine being forced to get a Hysterectomy just because your behavior, emotions and thoughts didn’t fit within the box that society had built for you? That’s some scary shit. What’s even more scary is that “Female Hysteria” was still used as a medical diagnosis until 1952.

A feather duster, the prototype for the "Jolly Molly" vibrator and a very pleased customer.

Shudder inducing historical facts aside, Hysteria is a comedy that is full of witty puns, double entendres and Victorian manners. Maggie Gyllenhaal is delightful as Charlotte, the daughter of Dr. Dalrymple, a premodern feminist who catches Dr. Mortimer’s attention when she calls out his treatment for what it really is: glorified finger banging. Charlotte is smart, outspoken, independent and full of sass – all characteristics that make her an outcast amongst her uptight, upper crust peers and the best part of the movie.

A cute guy, a sassy girl, sex toys, witty jokes and a little bit of feminism thrown in for good measure – what’s not to like?!  Although I really wanted to love this movie, there was something about it that just rubbed me the wrong way (pardon the pun.) Last night it finally dawned on me what bothered me about Hysteria. This is film directed by a woman, about the birth of an adult toy designed for specifically for a woman’s pleasure, yet it’s told completely from a man’s perspective. Dr. Granville is cute, but who cares? Charlotte is by far the most interesting part of the film and I would have enjoyed the story more if it had been told through her eyes. What was it like to be a feminist in the 1890’s? What made her break away from her peers? Heck, I would have liked to have learned more about any of the female characters in the movie. What were the circumstances in their lives that drove them to “Hysteria”? We only see them getting off, but did their lives change after they got their hands on their first vibrator? I was disappointed when none of these issues were addressed in the film. I wanted to see the women armed with their new sense of empowerment, walk off into the sunset and never look back. Instead, the film ended the way most Hollywood movies do: with a happy union between a man and a woman.

Another reason to love Charlotte: she knows how to rock a sassy black ball-gown.

Although Hysteria wasn’t the movie I expected, or was hoping for, I still enjoyed watching it. They managed to blend two genres that I don’t usually enjoy – rom-coms and period pieces – and turn it into a movie that was witty and entertaining – a perfect movie to watch if you want to see a rom-com that doesn’t suck.

Most of all, the movie left me with a feeling of gratitude. Although society still has a long way to go, I am grateful that I live in a time and place where I can openly express my sexuality, where I’m not at risk of being diagnosed with an arbitrary medical condition just because I am different, and where I can buy gorgeous, body safe sex toys like the Lelo Insignia Soraya, The Jopen Vanity 3 or the We-Vibe 3 that don’t look like alien probes ready to electrocute my lady parts….and that right there, is something to celebrate.

Has anyone else seen this movie? What did you think?

This post was sponsored by EdenFantasys who provided me with a gift certificate to fund my on-going addiction to luxury sex toys and sexy lingerie in exchange for my post. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll. 

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

Am I a Woman…Or Am I a Muppet?

If I’m a Woman, I’m a Muppet of a Woman. 

You’ll only get the musical reference above if you’ve seen the new Muppet Movie, which is exactly what my best friend and I did on Tuesday night.

I’ve written before about my undying love for the Muppets. I grew up with the Muppets and they were such a huge part of my childhood. I know the idea of a 30-something woman being into a bunch of puppets probably sounds pretty lame to some people (and I’ve learned to never , ever bring it up on a first date) but I’m OK with that. The Muppets captured my heart as a kid and just never let go. I’ve always associated the Muppets with everything that is magical and innocent. Watching the Muppets as an adult reminds me that there is still good in this world.

{If you want a better understanding of why I love the Muppets I would suggest reading this post by Hipstercrite that she’s written about the new movie. I kind of have a huge blog crush on her right now.}

A car full of Muppets driven by a 1980's robot = awesome.

I’m also a huge Jason Segal and How I Met Your Mother fan. Just like I know all the Muppet songs by heart, I can relate almost any life experience back to an episode of How I Met Your Mother (High Five!) which I do often (this has already happened once today) So, when I found out Jason Segal (HIMYM) was co-writing the new Muppet movie I was so excited that two of my favorite things would be coming together.

To say I was excited about the movie would be the understatement of the century. However, I also wasn’t sure what to expect. Although I loved all the Muppet movies from the 70’s and 80’s that I grew up with, some of the more recent ones left a lot to be desired (Muppet Treasure Island anyone? *shudder*). What if I didn’t like this movie? Would that mean that I had somehow grown up and lost the ability to appreciate Muppet humor? Is this even possible?!

Just like I believe you read certain books at the perfect time in your life, I also believe the same is true of movies. An example of this would be when I saw Lost In Translation in the theatre. The movie echoed so perfectly the slightly lost, drifting feeling of being a 23 year old about to graduate university. It was what I needed to see at that time to make me feel better.

Now enter The Muppets.  The movie turned out to be everything I had hoped for and then some. They managed to capture the whimsy, magic and humor that I loved about the original Muppet movies while giving it a grown-up twist with some of my favorite actors (Jason Segal, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones) and lots of cameos from other cool people I adore (Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Neil Patrick Harris, Kristen Shaal). I spent the whole 98 minutes of the movie with a huge smile on my face, in complete awe: “The Muppets are back!”  I laughed. I teared up in parts. I fell back in love with my fuzzy friends. Given everything that has happened over the past few months, it was what I so desperately needed to see right at that moment. I needed to be swept away in song & whimsy & magic & a sea of brightly colored huggable felt bodies. I needed to laugh.

Brothers Walter & Gary {Proper dental care: It's important - even if your teeth are made of felt.}

My smile spread extra wide as soon as this song came on. My best friend leaned over and said: “I think this one is just for you. I can totally picture you dancing around to this at home!” She knows me well. Unfortunately, the actual scene from the movie  ( which features a killer disco dance routine) wasn’t available on Youtube, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

 

We all need a “Me Party” every now and then.

There were so many things I loved about the movie.

Another great moment was a piece of dialogue that occurs near the end of the movie between Gary (Segal) and his Muppet brother Walter. Gary and Walter do everything together. They travel to LA, meet the Muppets and after many plot twists, the Muppets ask Walter to join them. Walter, who has always felt out of place as a Muppet living amongst humans, has finally found his tribe but he’s scared. Gary reassures him that’s it’s OK to go and says something to the effect of:

“Growing up is about becoming who you were always meant to be” 

It’s so true. You sometimes have to take those scary risks to get to where you need to go…and it’s OK to be a bit scared.

Walter & Kermit

So, when I read an article on Wednesday morning that said FOX news is now accusing the Muppets of being Communists intent on “brain washing children” and inciting class warfare, I thought “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read!” The Muppets are all about friendship, love and togetherness and what they can teach us is simple: That it’s OK to be different or a misfit – there’s a place for you in the world, anything is possible if you believe in yourself and go after your dreams & that you can make this world a better place through song & dance. I’m really grateful the movie reminded me of this.

If their movie does have a secret anti-corporate agenda, GOOD! Bring it on. In case you were wondering, the way I feel about FOX news is pretty much the complete opposite of how I feel about the Muppets.

I'm a 31 year old Muppet of a Woman and I'm Ok with that.

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