Structure of the Firsts In Bondage Chart

If this chart were a serious academic attempt to quantify and date bondage imagery in mainstream visual media, it would have included both male and female bondage imagery. But as this chart was composed because it was fun to do as well as informative to create, it's not going to include men in bondage, as thinking about and studying images of men in bondage is not fun as far as I'm concerned. I understand that others find that it IS fun, and they are welcome to compile a similar chart, though I don't know of any database of men in bondage.

The chart is divided into four sections -- one that deals with gags, one that deals with bondage imagery generally, one that deals with bondage imagery that involves nudity and one that involves bondage imagery that involves sexual activity.

Bondage Scenes Defined

For the purposes of this chart, and pretty much in keeping with the standards of Brian's database, we are defining a bondage scene as any scene in mainstream movies on on TV that involves a woman tied up or bound. Many of these scenes have no explicit sexual content whatsoever, and you'd be hard put to find any implicitly sexual content as well. They are strictly a matter of the bad guy capturing the good guy's girl and tying her up so the good guy will have a rationale for rescuing her.

Still, just as gays react strongly to scenes between members of the same sex who share what appears to be a lot of love and friendship even if for a straight person there's no obvious homosexual feeling to the scene, so bondage fans react strongly to images of women bound and/or gagged, even if she's purely a damsel in distress. (Especially during puberty, when access to porn/members of the opposite sex is limited.) We also include scenes where the sexual intent is explicit, of course.

There is one area shere this chart splits off from Brian's database, and that's in the area of handgags. Handgags are when the captor places his hands over his victims mouth to stifle any cries for help, etc. There are a lot of fans of handgags, and they are included in the database. I don't consider them proper bondage, any more than I consider a captor holding his victim's arms behind her back to be "handcuffs." However, this is not a very strongly felt opinion on my part but more a matter of logic (and handgags DURING sex strike me as having a strong bondage-y feel to them) so it may yet change.

Gags

Gags are dealt with separately because they are very important to bondage fans (see the "Gag Snobbery" section of Caveats, though by themselves they do not actually RESTRAIN a person in bondage in any way, and in fact some form of bondage must be included with a gag to keep the gaggee from simply removing it (except for the case of those which include a locking mechanism, such as a brank, rarely seen in mainstream bondage imagery -- examples would include the locking electronic branks in "Sleeping Dogs" and the nag's bridle seen in "The Avengers"). Considering their general uselessness in any kind of damsel in distress situation, there are still a suprising number of scenes which include women who are gagged but not bound. But such scenes are a drop in the bucket compared with scenes in which women are bound but not gagged (which are in fact the norm for mainstream bondage scenes).

General Bondage Firsts

The section that deals with bondage firsts generally does not take clothing or sexual activity into account at all. But for all practical purposes, it is a listing of clothed bondage scenes, because nudity in mainstream media is rare in relation to scenes involving clothing. As a general rule, the first image of any kind of bondage will involve clothing, except for those kinds of bondage that that pretty much demand nudity, such as scenes involving nipple clamps, vibrators or butt plugs.

Nudity

Historically, filmmakers have used a variety of techniques to deal with nudity onscreen, and the amount of nudity allowed onscreen has varied greatly from time to time and from locale to locale. When Edison invented movie film, he enforced his patents vigorously, and there were only two companies making movies in the U.S., Edison and Biograph. Edison did sell filmstock overseas, to people like Georges Melies in France, best known in the U.S. for his pioneering special effects, in films such as "From the Earth to the Moon." Melies also did some shorts involving nude women -- tame stuff by today's standards, but porn by the standards of the time.

In 1902, a court found that Edison couldn't really patent a particular size of film stock, so his control over 35mm film was done (and 35mm was the only film size), and the number of US firms making films, and the number of films they made, expanded greatly. Some of them made nudies.

Prior to the institution of the notorious Hayes Code in the U.S. in1934, nudity that did not involve exposing naughty bits was a growing phenomenon in mainstream films, especially historical and fantasy epics. Tarzan and His Mate, Ben Hur, Sign of the Cross and others all featured nude images, though none revealed nipples or genitals, obscuring them with garlands as in Sign of the Cross or clever placement of the camera and the actress, as in Tarzan and His Mate and Roman Scandals of 1933.

The Hayes Code pretty much drove all this nudity off the screen from 1933 to the 1960s. Also, most anything to do with sex except in the most innocuous of terms went out. It was a dark time indeed.

For this reason, we have a thing called "implied nudity." This is nudity in which is implied but not shown. A great example would be the scene in Casino Royale (the original version) in which a secret agent lies on a steel table, apparently naked, but with broad steel bands concealing her waist and breasts. No naughty part of her body is visible, but her nudity is clearly implied. Or there's the scene in the 1953 version of "House of Wax" which showed Phyllis Kirk in a box, secured at wrist and ankles, and apparently naked, though none of her naughty bits are shown (a matter of using closeups of wrists and ankles and heads and shoulders, and of showing her being draped with a coat as soon as she's freed, with her bare feet showing beneath it).

Implied nudity. Sigh. A sad thing, but all we had under the Hayes Code. As a general rule, implied nudity means the actress's body is visible to the characters in the story, but not to the audience. This excludes scenes like the one in the original House of Wax wherein the actress is covered with a sheet prior to being immersed in wax. The sheet obscures everyone's view of her body, so she's not naked in any sense of the word, though we figure she kinda has to be naked under the sheet. (So what ... everyone is naked under their clothes, so by that standard, all scenes are nude.) But we include the Phyllis Kirk scene cited above, because her unclad shoulders and feet coming out of the sheet clearly imply nudity.

Sex

Sex is simpler than nudity. If a DiD is doing something sexual -- or having something sexual done to them -- while bound and/or gagged, it's sexual bondage, whether the intent is sexual bondage. Thus, our first lesbian bondage scene comes from 1921 and involves Lillian Gish kissing her sister as she waits, hands bound behind her back, to be hauled off to the guillotine in "A Tale of Two Cities." While the surface intent of the scene is clearly innocent of all sexual meaning, it's still two women kissing while one of them is tied up. Lesbian bondage.

We also count sex if it's clearly implied, so that no reasonable person could come to any other conclusion about what has occurred. The best example would be the "butt plug" scene in Story of O the Series in which O is first shown a large, menacing butt plug with chains dangling from its base. Next we see Sir Stephen telling the slavegirl to "put it in her!" and we see O cry out and grimace. Next we see the chains from the base plate being attached to O's waist belt in front, and then we see the chains being attached from the rear and we see the base of the butt plug snugged up into O's butt. We never actually SEE the butt plug being inserted, but there's absolutely no doubt about what has happened.

In the same way, we name "Electra" as an example of dildo bondage even though we never see the dildo being inserted. But we do see Shannon Tweed manacled to the table with her legs spread wide, we do see the lesbian superbabes approaching with a large dildo that they lick, and we do see Shannon's reaction. Once again, no doubt what went on.

You will note a LOT of "Nones" in mainstream sex scenes. In many cases there just haven't been any of them because they're not on the radar yet. Frex, there are damn few wrist ankle ties of any description in mainstream films and TV shows, and no sex scenes with them. This may in part be a legacy of the censorship of the 80s and 90s, when sex + bondage = prosecution. I don't know that I buy that in mainstream scenes, because that rule seems to have applied only to explicit sexual imagery (i.e., clear shots of things going in and out of things) which doesn't occur in mainstream scenes.

More likely, wrist ankle ties and some other bondage techniques and paraphernalia don't show up in mainstream scenes because they're too sexually powerful. That, to cite a more commonplace and hence more telling example, is why despite the many mainstream scenes in which women are bound hands and foot to the four corners of a bed, it's extremely rare for the legs to be tied wide apart. Too evocative of sex. Most often, such bondage will leave a damsel able to touch her toes together with a little effort, not lying with her legs splayed wide apart as if ready for coitus. Wrist-ankle ties are even more evocative -- there's almost no way to pose a woman in a wrist ankle tie so that she does not appear to be sticking her butt out for sex.

These slots will undoubtedly fill in, in time. There may well be scenes which include them that I have missed, and who knows what exciting scenes lie right around the corner?

What Is A TV Series and What Is A Movie?

The chart is divided into "Movie" and "TV" firsts which is only fair since the movies had a 50-year head start on television and haven't been subject to the same strict censorship that TV has been subject to for much of their existence.

Up until the 1980s, the distinction between television and movies has been easy to maintain. Movies were films intended for theatrical release. TV shows were broadcast. There was one slightly iffy area, TV movies, but they were always broadcast and almost never theatrically released, so it wasn't all that much of a problem.

In the 80s, things became a great deal more difficult, with the widespread use of VCRs (and later, CDs) to show movies at home, and the development of cable channels. Movies, most especially soft-core erotica, were made for the direct-to-video market, which meant that even though they never showed up on broadcast TV or in theaters, but did show up in video rental and retail stores, and might or might not show up on premium cable TV.

And in venues outside the U.S. where prudery does not have such a stranglehold, these erotic films did show up on non-premium cable channels.

Were such films movies -- their format? -- or TV movies, since they showed up on TV via VCR or premium cable channel?

We opted to call them TV fare, largely because that's what they are -- they almost never obtain theatrical releases, but go straight to premium channels or video sales and rentals. But we also chose the "TV" designation also because it gives us SOMETHING to put under the TV slot in the "Nudity" and "Sex" sections of the table. And I think we all agree that that's a good thing.

Mainstream or Hardcore?

My standard for what's mainstream and what's hardcore also ran into some problems, related to the matter of getting some sex and nudity in on the TV column. Since hardcore movies are now available on premium channels on many systems, what's to differentiate them from the softcore offerings on other premium channels?

Actually, having a section of firsts for hardcore movies makes a lot of sense, as it illustrates the effect of the censorship of the 80s and early 90s very clearly. But that's for another chart in the future, and another set of resources I suspect.

So how did I differentiate softcore from hardcore? As a practical matter, the decision was easy. I just went with the rule of thumb that was already in existence in the marketplace -- if it was the sort of movie that would appear in the adult section of a video rental store, or if it was the sort that would show up on a hard-core sex channel like Spice, it wasn't mainstream. If it was one of the softcore opuses or erotic thrillers that fit fairly comfortably in with HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz and Encore's offerings, it was mainstream.

This division isn't entirely perfect, there have been a couple of mainstream films, like Romance and Brown Bunny, which have included hardcore elements (an actual blowjob in the case of Brown Bunny, penetration by finger (shown) and by cock (real but not shown) in the case of Romance.) Some softcore epics are very strong -- although they don't show penetration, the action looks very real, none of that slow-mo "humping the back of her knee" stuff. And there's an entire subgenre of hardcore bondage films for people who do not care for sex and nudity in their bondage scenes which could presumably make it onto broadcast TV if they did not exist entirely of women tied up in various strict bondages and writhing and mmphing.

Still, as a rule of thumb, the present distinction works just fine. A few years down the road, that may change, as may many other considerations that have gone into the creation of this chart.

Hidden Features of This Chart

This chart alone will give you an inaccurate idea of what most bondage scenes are like, since it concentrates on firsts. The vast majority of bondage scenes consist of fully clothed women standing, sitting in chairs, or on the ground, or lying on the ground with their hands tied together in front of them. No gag, and they are not secured to anything.

(This is the most useless form of bondage, as it's perfectly possible to effecitvely do many useful things with one's hands tied together -- swing a golf club, do a two-handed tennis backhand, and most relevantly, fire a gun. (There's a scene in a Lifetime TV movie -- "Murder in Mind" -- in which the heroine shoots and kills the villain because he mistakenly believed he had her immobilized because her ankles and wrists were tied together and she was gagged.)

When mainstream women in jeopardy are secured to anything it's most often a chair or a bed. Gags are relatively rare compared to bondage scenes -- offhand, I'd say less than ten percent of bondage scenes include a gag -- might be as little as five percent.

Really "out there" scenes involving ballgags and such are extremely rare and in fact some paraphernalia like cock gags and ring gags hasn't made it to the mainstream at all, so far as I know. Head harnesses are so rare and so new to the mainstream that I was able to write an article about them and include vidcaps of practically every such mainstream head harness scene in the mainstream -- a total of 7 vidcaps.

So when you see this chart, you should understand that the wide variety of scenes on the chart arise from thousands of simple handcuff scenes, chair ties and such. Such scenes can be very dramatic and/or very sexy, but for the purposes of this chart, they don't register. The first chair tie we have on record in the movies is from 1914, the first one we have for television is from 1954, and all the thousands of scenes that have come since are not on the chart. Such is the way of charts.

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