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'Sinful things' event includes 1930s vibrator

A 1930s vibrator designed to "cure" women of their sexuality is part of a new Science Museum event.

The Sinful Things show lifts the lid on old-fashioned attitudes and medical practices regarding sex and bodily functions.

The objects - from the London museum's archive - form the centrepiece of an adult-themed discussion and quiz show to be held at its Dana Centre.

It reveals how the vibrator was invented by male doctors to combat what they perceived as "hysteria" in women.

The electric device superseded the previous practice of doctors giving genital massage to female patients. It dramatically reduced the time needed for each treatment and could be operated by the relatively unskilled.

Domestic versions were soon being marketed in women's magazines such as Good Housekeeping, masquerading as muscle relaxant therapy.

The vibrator on show at the Science Museum was one of the later devices used by doctors just before they began to be marketed for home use.

Curator David Rooney said: "It looks more like a hairdryer. At the time this was state-of-the-art. This is what people were using.

"It wasn't shameful at all. Everyone pretty much knew what was going on but because of the way they talked about it, it was all right."

 
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