This is a blog about ornament. And while a slave collar is by no means an ornament in its most sinister sense, it is a form of accessory in a society that does not see a collar on its slaves. Of the many kinds of ornament the collar worn in modern metropolis has a primarily sexual facet to it, its function can be subverted by wearing it out on the street, which may or may not be activated. In a society that sees a slave collar as an edgy fashion or a penchant for bedroom role playing, collars for the bondage of humans are museum antiquities. Many would have been wrought of iron, a highly recyclable metal. Many of the slave collars of the past have become nails, pulleys, or bolts, but the fact of the collar, presented here in a string of images, remains in active use.
Having my own life encounters with people held against their will, I can only begin to imagine the misery of being enslaved in a total sense. I never thought much of restraints in the bedroom, I’m a bit of a tree hugger that way. But I’ve never quite shaken my belief in the possibility of a kind of slavery to convenience or wage slavery, that should be rebelled against, preferably irrationally.
Slavery is lousy. It stretches to before history, it continues today, all the civilizations have engaged in it, empire is arguably impossible without it, and if you consider women’s justice, in a world where most of them face the absence of life choices, and we have not moved far from the collars at all. The word serf is just another kind of slave, the distinction being they and all their children belong to the property’s balance sheet, not the landlord’s personal budget. That deal, where they are bound by shelter, food and family security needs, has been compared to a concept of debt slavery, where standards of living come with the requirement of long-term repayment. Though not touched on often in the school books of the North, most of the wars fought in the Americas during the 19th century were revolutions that centered on slave rebellions. Serfs and debt slaves may not wear collars, but the patriotic pageants of North Korea certainly have a slave feel to them – they wear far more than collars, decorated in complete costumes.
Given that we are randy primates with pronounced… habits, activated by words, images, and other gifts of intelligence, and deeply invested in social thinking mechanisms, it isn’t a surprise that dominance and submission is played out in the buff with cuffs and collars as props. While I can only imagine the psychological scars of anyone that survives being exposed to the whims of an icy hearted captor of human beings, statistics show that people who engage in any playful, consensual kink tend to be well adjusted and generally happier with their relationships. The use of a bondage collar by people who have the good fortune of not living in the dark ages (historic or its modern enclaves) remains a bedroom toy and became fashionably acceptable thanks to a generation of punks who took elements of ugliness and subverted them as self decoration and the attracting of partners, and who is to say if there isn’t a thing of beauty in turning the ugliest symbols, like the slave collar, upside down. It is admittedly strange, but then I can’t even bear to wear a wristwatch when I’m sunning the nether regions.
Information on the continued existence of slaves today: