JF Ptak Science Books Post 1492
This is the 10th in a new series of posts on interesting, early applications of electricity, most of which are taken from the archives of the U.S. Patent Office.
As usual there is no explanation for the intended function or outcome was for these belts, although I think that they occupied two ends of a spectrum. It seems as though the women's belt apparatus was meant to address "female hysteria", which for many centuries was seen as the dementia a woman suffers when she felt the need to fill up her womb with a baby; Plato (in his Timaeus) reckoned that the uterus actually detaches and wanders through the body, causing all manner of havoc, including "hysteria".
Plato, who lived ca. from the mid 4th to mid 3rd century of the common era, commented so:
“The animal within them is desirous of procreating children, and when remaining unfruitful long beyond its proper time, gets discontented and angry, and wandering in every direction through the body, closes up the passages of the breath, and, by obstructing respiration, drives them to extremity, causing all varieties of disease.” --Plato, Timaeus, 91c
(It is odd that Plato starts this book out with Socrates counting to three, but that's another story I guess.)
The issue of the physiology of the uterus received modern treatment in modern times, though the philosophical aspects of this and other similar issues managed to rip themselves free of biology and culturally implant themselves without the benefit of factual support, lending their entirely questionable weight to the continued issue of the subjugation of women. The idea of woman's "hysteria" as a very wide term into which all classes of medical concern was dumped seeped into the 20th century, and was answered with devices such as this electro-onanistic medical quackery.
For the men it seemed that the issue of "seminal seepage" and erection control was answered with devices such as this thing, below, a slightly shocking reminder to keep thinking the pure thought:
And of course a belt like this would not be complete without "complete" treatment, and so is included the following "attachments", Fig 7 being the one of some considerable interest to the wearer:
Here's an interesting book: Maines, Rachel P. (1998). The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria", the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press