Sexual Bondage: Arrow vs. Youtube
youtube clothed bondage 1Kim Kardashian half naked in a slave leia outfit
Which one of these images is an innocent Youtube video and which one is commercial bondage porn?

The image on the left is a Youtube video that's currently available, here's the link. (Warning: link may be invalid if bluenoses discover it, if Youtube policy changes, or other things occur which I have little or no control of, such as Youtube becoming a premium service now that a judge has ruled agaisnt net neutraliy. Just sayin!). The image on the right is from a commercial bondage videotape titled "The Best of Arrow" aka AH1-51 (Arrow videos are still available from Close-Up Concepts, you can get them here).. It's essentially a catalog of the first 50 Arrow commercial bondage videos made in the waybackwhen. (Oh, let's call it the 1980s, they have a very retro look to them, although the dates on the Close-Up Concepts pages indicates their Arrow videos are from the late 1990 or early 2000s, which I really don't buy, as the dates on the Close-Up Concepts pages may refer to their repackaged Arrow video, rather than the date of origin).

Arrow Harmony fully clothed bondageyoutube bondage image
At left: Arrow-Harmony bondage video. At right, Youtube video for bondage gear.

Back in the 1980s or 1990s, the Arrow bondage videos were serious commercial bondage videos, even though a lot of them looked like fully clothed wives and girlfriends rolling around in bondage in someone's basement playroom, trying not to knock over the "set" which often consisted almost entirely of curtains. You would not see these videos, or any reference to or ad for them, in any of the mainstream media. You'd only find them by going into the adult section of a video rental shop. Or maybe by buying an adult magazine that carried their ads, which again were typically only available in porn shops. (Frequently, adult magazines were published by the same firms that did the bondage videos, so there would be a LOT of ads for the videos).

Or maybe you'd order a kinky video from a big sex toy/video/etc. catalog like Adam & Eve, and they'd sell your name to the video distributors as part of a mailing list, and you'd receive tons of mail from them advertising this and that kind of bondage video, as well as a lot of other videos, some of them frightening in their implications. (Such as, if gays never trolled straights for sex, why did gay publishers send ads for their products to people ordering straight videos? It's exactly the same thing, isn't it?)

nude lesbian bondage from arrow harmonyYoutube video featuring Emma Marx
Don't get me wrong, the Arrow catalog DOES contain a fair amount of nudity, though I'd say offhand the clothed bondage is about three fourths of the content. Here we have a nude lesbian bondage with fondling scene from AH-19, probably one of the best nude bondage scenes in the catalog. And on the right we have a nude bondage scene from Youtube from a very short film called The Submission of Emma Marx. Note video smearing concealing Emma's breasts.

These images of women in bondage from the Arrow-Harmony catalog, mild and innofensive as they are by today's standards, were HARD PORE CORN .. I mean, HARD CORE PORN, back in the 80s, that could only be accessed through porn outlets. There was no mainstream way of finding out about them. The closest thing to media exposure they could get might be a mention in a rare article in a men's magazine (Playboy, et. al.), wihch were of course PORN themselves!

fully clothe bondage from AH-49Irving Klaw bondage ad on Youtube
There is a mild general trend for the amount of nudity to increase through the AH series, but the clothed bondage remains plentiful as in the image on the left, from AH-49, the next-to-penultimate video in the catalog. On the right we have a sly one, a Youtube video advertising the bondage films of Irving Klaw, who of course preceded Arrow Harmony videos by a decade or two. You can find all sorts of Klaw and Betty Page films on Youtube now, just do a search for them and you'll have dozens to look at. 

 So the question is, if the stuff from the 1980s porn was hard core porn, why is stuff that's raunchier than it ever was widely available on Youtube, which generally does not "do" porn?

Well, I'd have to say that the reason is that the Youtube censors (because that's what they are) confine themselves to censoring out nudity, which nowadays is confined to the display of female nipples, or male and female genitalia and anuses. Not asses, mind you, plenty of those on Youtube, and I don't just mean in the Comments section.  Porny Youtube uploaders realized that approach by Youtube censors left a lot of territory for people who did not NEED nudity in their porn, and that includes all those clothed bondage scenes from Arrow-Harmony.

Alissa Green in clothed bondage on Youtubemore arrow harmony nudity
Left, a Youtube video showing Alissa Green in clothed bondage, right, an early Arrow Harmony video (AH-10)  featuring nudity.

But questions remain. If Arrow-Harmony clothed bondage scenes WERE hardcore porn in the 80s, how did they STOP being hardcore porn some time prior to 2014? If they would melt the brain of any teen that saw them back then, did teen's brains change? Or did ours?

If the same image can be hard core porn in one time period and weak sauce a decade or three later, can there be any meaningful definition of what is and what is not porn outside very narrow cultural contexts? And if porn is this ever-shifting target, why are we even bothering to shoot at it?

Well I don't have any hard evidence to provide answers to these questions, but I do have a theory. Porn is not a particular thing -- an image, an area of the human body, or an act that can be done by humans. It's a shifting target depending on the culture that finds some things taboo. The more backward and ignorant a culture is about sex, the more sexual things will be taboo (or maybe it's the other way around). Something will almost always be taboo in most cultures, because some elements of the culture fear sex and sexuality, and some elements find it useful to control others by controlling their sexuality. Porn is whatever the designated target is. Entirely artificial, in short.

Hence, what was HARD CORE PORN yesterday is today's mildly sexy fun. The Arrow-Harmony tapes never were porn, they were just one of the temporarly foci of the fear about sex that creates porn. That focus has moved on, and hopefully someday may be so tiny that it can safely be ignored by all.

also not porn
This is what is currently considered HARD CORE PORN, but like the Arrow-Harmony tapes, it's just a current focus for fear. It's no more dangerous than the Arrow-Harmony tapes or the Youtube videos ever were. Image source: Sex and Submission.



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