They certainly look scary! It's funny how it all came about really.
Like Surreptitious said, it was originally used to treat hysteria in women. It was known to be more common in virgins and widows than in married women. That should have been the first clue right there. Vibrators and pelvic massages weren't a cure, they would only hold the women off temporarily. Again, another clue perhaps? I think the real problem was just too much sexual tension built up!