A wonderful friend of mine posted a link to Ptak Science Books, which is a fun blog that details the history of science, something I find utterly fascinating. Their latest post, "Electro-LUXurious 15: Electroplating the Human Dead, 1891" discusses the pretty gruesome process of "metalizing" the dead with an electrical process in order to...well, they're not sure why the creator of this contraption, Dr. Varlot, did it. Maybe he wanted to create zombie statues? Or his own little army of undead children?
What is rocks my brain is the use of cadavers, particularly those of children (which must have caused quite a stir at the time, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was controversial for it's mere discussion of using human cadavers for "science") and the full-on submission to the electrical obsession of the age.(More about zombie kids in another post, I promise).
I once wrote a paper,"The Vice That Dare not Scream its Name". And, you guessed it, it was about masturbation in the Victorian Era (I was quite proud of my little play on the phrase "The Love That Dare not Speak its Name, which of course refers to homosexuality, and was penned by Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover of Oscar Wilde). Basically, my research discussed the proliferation of electrical vibrators and "stimulation devices" to deal with the effects of or even "cure" hysteria. Hysteria, of course, is the imaginary syndrome created and perpetuated by doctors (most famously, Sigmund Freud). These "professionals" posited that any woman who was emotionally excessive or prone to violent outbursts or anxious states was hysterical. Because being a woman in the extremely misogynist Victorian Era and being seen as little more than property/a baby machine wouldn't make anyone express dissatisfaction with their lot in life at the very least. (It's worth it to note that men couldn't be hysterical. Obviously, they always had their shit together.)
In any case, electronic stimulators proliferated. Vibrating chairs, stools, and other hand-held devices were prescribed in large numbers to deal with hysterical women. Hysteria could be treated, or even cured, it seems, by giving women, well...an orgasm. The interesting thing here is that these women weren't given any power over their own bodies or taught (even to teach each other) how to "treat" themselves. That the treatments and the ensuing orgasm had to be administered by a male doctor with an electrical instrument (though it was said that the doctor's hands could be used in jiffy if there were no stimulators to be found) and the idea of having an orgasm either on one's own OR during sex with one's spouse was never even thought of says a lot about the treatment of women (and I could go on here forever) as well as our new-found obsession with electricity and what it could do to the human body.
Luckily, women today have a lot more power over their own orgasms (solo sex is pretty rockin', you've got to admit) and we can be in control of our continued experiments with electricity. We can even create our own little metal zombies, damnit. Which reminds me of a story I have to write.