'Hysteria': Be Glad You're Not A Woman In The Victorian Era

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Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy in "Hysteria."
In the new movie 'Hysteria,' regular orgasms are what the doctor ordered.

Emily's hot and amiable and everything, but Mortimer has more in common with Charlotte. The two bond over their shared knowledge of germs. They banter. When a settlement house patron breaks her ankle, Mortimer treats her on the sly. The film has some nice historical touches. The scene in which the two of them make a plaster cast is one of them. The next day, Dr. Dalrymple tells his apprentice to stop assisting Charlotte's crusade. 

As Mortimer's feelings for Charlotte start to change, his carpal tunnel syndrome — which I imagine they'd have called "hand-steria" back in the day — gets worse. When Mortimer fails to treat a patient successfully, Dr. Dalrymple fires him. If only there were an easier way for the young doctor to get women off... Mortimer crashes with his good friend Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett), a wealthy ne'er-do-well who loves inventing strange gadgets, including a feather duster that can spin and vibrate for easier cleaning.

Guess what they end up inventing together.

Hysteria is a delightful comedy about the strangely prudish history of the vibrator. It's also about how people can't fulfill their desires, sexual and otherwise, until they have the right tools. Much like a sex shop, it's got something for everyone: eye candy, sexual innuendo, period costumes, proto-feminism and romance. It's a shame the film is rated R, as it doesn't show any nudity or have any dirty words. But even in the NYC theater where I saw the movie, some women behind me seemed a bit uncomfortable at first. Let's stop making the female orgasm taboo once and for all.

Would you see Hysteria?

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