3 Unintentionally Painful Inventions
The creative abilities of man are unique but his powers of foresight are less developed. The side effects of these ingenious inventions more than adequately illustrate the consequences of this fact.
1. The Victorian Corset
A super-fly Victorian honey, notice the tiny waist.
The Corset emerged as wear for the sophisticated lady during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. As is the case with all fashion it pandered to the lecherous male, the perversion of the hour being the rounded top of the breast.
This look was relatively simple to achieve. The Elizabethan corset had a rigid front plate; creating a deliciously flat abdomen with two perfectly rounded and squished up breasts at the top. The corset survived in this form for around 250 years, it was relatively comfortable, only mildly constrictive and required no ‘tight-lacing’. By the time the 1860’s rolled around people had tired of the upper breast as an object of worship and it was the turn of a different part of the feminine anatomy to be fetishised: the waist.
This new female aesthetic required a new kind of corset, one that could be laced up tight. An hourglass design, reinforced with steel, replaced the old funnel shape. This corset was truly a child of the new industrial society. Like many other innovations of that age (coal, asbestos, cordite), its benefits brought unforeseen problems. Here is an anatomical diagram from the 1890’s (when these corsets were starting to go out of fashion) showing its effects upon the female anatomy.
Clearly the Victorian corset has a less than healthy impact on the female body. Here is a short list of the detrimental effects that the ‘tight-laced’ Victorian Corset can inflict upon the female anatomy.
Heart palpitations; lung constriction; poor circulation; nipple shrinkage; abbesses in the mammary glands; chronic indigestion; fissuring, enlargement and displacement of the liver; severe constipation; lapsing and displacement of the uterus; bladder stones; weakening of the abdominal muscles; and phantom pregnancies.
2. Lotus Shoes
Silk lotus shoes embroidered with a dragon motif.
These small beautiful shoes are one of the greatest inflictors of pain ever conceived. Over a thousand year period they condemned an estimated two billion women to a lifetime of horrific pain. The lotus shoes above are only 7.5 cm in length (3inches), considered to be the ideal size for a female foot. For the foot to fit into such tiny shoes it had to undergo a very painful process.
“To bind feet, feet were first soaked in a warm bowl of herbs and animal blood, which caused the dead flesh to fall off. Toe nails were cut back as far as possible to prevent ingrown toenails and infection. Silk and cotton bandages were dipped in the solution and were wrapped tightly around the feet after the toes were broken. Four toes on each foot were broken and folded under. The big toe was left intact…”
After a foot had been subjected to this is would be transformed into something that looked like this…
As you can see the toes are now underneath the foot and the arch has been pushed up. The x-ray below of shows the effects of this process upon the bones of the feet.
The images on the far left in x-ray below show the changes to the bones in the feet after this process has been carried out.
The fashion for tiny feet emerged during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906) and was, at first, only practiced by the upper echelons of society. Over the next few centuries it peculated down the social rungs until it became the norm for all except the very lowest classes of women.
A high class woman showing her unbound feet.
The last recorded cases of foot binding occurred during the early 20th century. It was banned by both Sat Yat-sen’s Republican government and the Peoples Republic of China. Although foot binding is now thankfully extinct, it’s interesting to note that the style of female footwear currently in fashion is only slightly kinder to the female foot.
The Foot of a model after New York fashion week
3. The Chainsaw
If you see this you’re going to have a bad day.
Unquestionably one of the coolest inventions of all time. The chainsaw was originally invented by two Scottish doctors for use in the operating theatre, this 18th century medical chainsaw was hand cranked. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that Andreas Stihl, inspired by the sprit of awesome itself, mashed up an internal combustion engine and a chain link blade and produced the modern chainsaw.
The first chainsaws were two man monsters.
Prior to the invention of the chainsaw all logging had to be done using manual tools such as axes, awls and two man saws. These were operated with muscle power alone; the chain saw unlocked the power of gasoline and was an instant success amongst loggers and today it is one of the most iconic pieces of lumberjack equipment (bar red check flannel).
Logging is North America’s second most dangerous occupation, only deep sea fishermen have a greater chance of dying in the workplace, heavy falling trees, giant metal machines and dangerous heights make for an exciting workplace.
Adding to this excitement is the chainsaw. Chainsaws suffer from an ‘interesting’ property called kickback. Kickback occurs when the front quarter of the chainsaw comes into contact with a tougher-than-average log producing an upward reaction force, it results in the situation illustrated below. You can see how this might be slightly dangerous.
The shock on his face is priceless
Kickback is one of the factors that make chainsaws responsible for a large number of logging related injuries and deaths. The chart below shows American chainsaw injuries for 1999.
Chainsaw wounds are particularly horrific; unlike a blade the chain rips and tears the flesh rather than slicing it resulting in particularly bloody wounds:
When the light of inspiration struck Andrehas Stihl and he gifted the chainsaw to the world we doubt he foresaw, or intended, the amount of bone-shattering, flesh-ripping terror it went on to inflict. We have, however, discovered one individual who seems intent on using the woodcutter’s friend for the sole purpose of inflicting pain and suffering on his fellow man…
Private Baker displaying his ‘Gear’.
Private Baker we salute you!