"Is That Really You, Great-Grandma?"

This photo, dating from around 1920, is proof positive that some of our ancestors had their bondage act together.

Copyright 2005 by Pat Powers

Most of the time when you read the words, "This picture speaks for itself," you're reading the words of someone who's lazy, hurried, or doesn't know how to write.

We're lazy.

But since we're on the subject, this picture is powerful proof that even in the most deeply repressed of times, the bondage impulse makes itself felt, seeks expression in human beings. The main difference is that nowadays we don't enslave people for real (except in certain Third World countries, i.e., most of them, where the poverty is so brutal and the culture so fascist that slavery is just another major career path along with starving, smuggling drugs, working for peanuts, stealing anything that isn't nailed down and kidnaping anyone who's got two nickels to rub together).

A picture like this isn't proof of atavistic impulses that stretch back to human prehistory -- most of your major history books have proof enough of that. What this picture shows is that even in the 1920s, there were people who had figured out that sexual bondage could be fun, that it could be pleasurable to play the role of beautiful captive and evil (well, semi-evil) captor. It just wasn't possible to say so, in public.