"What is Gor?"
"What is Gor" by Silk is reprinted with the permission of Tribal News, all rights reserved. Featured Article from the Tribal News Volume 1, Issue 5, © copyright 1999.
About the Author:
Since bursting out in leather in September of 1994 Silk has been actively involved in the Texas BDSM community . She is an active member of NLA Dallas and International, The Bound Rose Society, Different Strokes, Inquisition Dallas, Knot Just Leather, TSM, is a charter member of the Texas Leatherwomen's Association and COrDs, as well as a knighted member of the Leather Knights. She has an insatiable curiosity regarding the facets of the lifestyle of the leather community & considers herself a student of kink. Over the years Silk has developed a broad range of experience in roleplaying, submission, and the receiving of both sensual torment and corporal punishment.
As well as being the Joint Publisher of "Tribal News", a pansexual Texas BDSM publication, Silk is a published author who has seen several spiritual, educational and fictional pieces on the subject of safe, sane and consensual sadomasochism to fruition. She has recently completed her first short story book entitled, "Tales From the Emerald Collar, a Pillow Book for princesses and Warriors" which is pending publication. Her most recent personal project is the completion of the SM science-fiction novel "Of Demons and Things" which she expects to have completed by January 2000.
She can be reached at .
Having lunch with a dear friend last month, the subject of "Gor" came up. He looked at me in complete bafflement and said, "I don't get it. I see the chat rooms on AOL, hear about the lifestyle´ but try as I might, I just don't understand what the fascination with it is." Speaking with an open minded and wonderful femme friend on the phone a few weeks ago, she brought up the subject and asked to borrow a couple of books. My friend said that she wanted to better understand what it was people were really trying to say when they expressed their interest in bringing "Gor" into their lifestyles, or play. Of course, that´s just the insightful kind of Top she is.
While I´m decidedly not an expert on Gor or the Gorean philosophy, I´ve been interested in the Gor fantasy for a long time. When I was twelve my father, evidently something of a John Norman fan, left "Slave Girl of Gor" lying on the coffee table. The cover caught my attention and being an avid reader I picked it up. The first stirring of sexual curiosities having just recently emerged within me, I became immediately engrossed. Three hours later and halfway through the book my mother made an appearance. She passed through the living room and did a double take from the kitchen. It seems she was not nearly the avid fan of Mr. Norman my father was. The ensuing lecture I got for reading that type of "trash" left me throughly confused about my sexual tendencies. Tendencies that for the very first time I was just beginning to put a finger on and dare I say, become comfortable with.
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I´ve been involved in Gorean roleplay for about two years now. My interpretation of the Gorean philosophy, the Gorean Master, and their slaves, the kajira, are merely my opinions. They are my conclusions taken from studying not only the philosophy of the books, but individuals who practice it within the context of cyber role play, including my evaluation of myself.
Ok..... so what´s Gor and what´s the big deal?
Gor is a fantasy world that was created by John Norman sometime in the sixties. He called it "counter earth", a place in perfect opposition from Earth. Upon Gor, a more advanced race called the Priest Kings controls the populace and the world from a distance, a lot like puppet Masters. To keep Goreans from destroying their own world as Earthlings presumably are, the Priest Kings forbid the use of technology. Don´t misunderstand though, Goreans are extremely advanced. Additionally, the Priest Kings gave the Gorean´s the knowledge to cure old age, i.e. "the wrinkling and crippling disease". This contributes to the cultural practicality of a warlike society.
Well, that´s all well and good you say, but what´s that got to do with this hunger crazed quest for Gor in the D/s society on Earth?
The Gorean philosophy is simple. The male gender, being stronger, larger and generally quicker is dominant. They rule their world like alpha males of a pack. Goreans live in cities, in tribes, upon the plains, in the northern reaches of the planet, but all cities or tribes, without exception, are male dominated and warlike. Because Gor is such a harsh world and its lifestyle is a "true" representation of the"natural selection and order" of things, the men are bigger, stronger, quicker, etc. than the average Earthling male.
There are three kinds of women upon Gor.
Freewomen, who remain free because they mind their place as second class citizens. These women are a sad representation of the female gender, in my opinion. They live their lives under the rules that the men have established for them as little more than the Victorian Bride taught that she should never yield to the slightest indelicate suggestion of submitting to unbridled desire. Like the Victorian female, for a Gorean freewoman to enjoy sex with a man would be to yield to her sworn foe.
Then there´s the Panther or "Taluna" Girls. They are Freewomen who have left their veils and robes of concealment to go live in the Northern Forests or are escaped slaves. These women hide within the forests, hunting and living in packs, in complete defiance of the male dominated society.
Gor, or the "kajira". Kajira are the pleasure slaves of men. They are Freewomen who mouthed off one too many times and had their veils ripped from them, captured Panther Girls on occasion, Gorean females bred and raised to be "passion slaves", or delicious little "natural borne slaves" brought from planet Earth by cargo ships.
A kajira is taught at the hands of dominant men to serve and to do so with perfection. Not too far into her training a kajira recognizes that serving in any capacity is a privilege, be it fetching his drink or remaining quiet as he attends his business. Service is a privilege, not a right. A kajira has no rights, least of all the right to receive the gift of service.
In Gor, men are Masters of their own fate. Slaves are not. A kajira is property. Property that is cherished and cared for, but a creature that is allowed the luxury of breathing for one reason and one reason only. A kajira will fetch, serve, go, stay, follow, lead as she is instructed. She will obey with absolute, unquestioned and instantaneous obedience. When she does not, she will feel the lash of the punishment whip or the pain in her belly from not being fed. Very much like slaves of Old Guard Leather, a kajira understands that her position is one of servitude. She lacks the liberty to determine her course of actions and is *happy* to relinquish this control to the men of Gor.
A kajira has no honor for a kajira can own nothing. What she *does* have is a *sense* of honor and in every way serves to uphold and further the honor of he who chooses to own her.
A mastered slave has no ego. A kajira learns to embrace her own feminine nature. Under the hands and boot of a dominant Gorean Master she comes to understand and cherish the fact that she is a sexual creature. She is open and unrestrained in all things as it pleases Masters. She is not shy or bashful unless allowed to be so. There is no emotion or thought, or piece of her soul that she should *ever* be so arrogant as to believe she may withhold from him.
Every breath a kajira draws is one of submission. She is by her nature, when mastered, compliant and yielding, a pleasing thing to own.
This does not mean she is a mindless thing. A true kajira has fire and spirit and is all things that are feminine and beautiful. It is her duty to create for her Master, when he needs her to create. One of the tools given a kajira to be creative and emotionally expressive is the art of dance. She uses this to tell stories, to express her defiance, her emotions, even to plea for his attention.
It is also her responsibility to think when he needs her to be a thinking creature. But even in this she is in service to him and must never put her ideas above his or deem that she is worthy of knowing better than he or any other free person.
So, how does one get to be a kajira? Well, in Gor, unless a girl was born into it, this magical transformation takes place after being rudely removed from one way of life and dropped headfirst into slavery. All rights and even self identity are stripped away by fiercely dominant men who then teach, nurture, control and otherwise indoctrinate the "girl" to her new society.
These men push a kajira emotionally when needed, challenging them with Dominance to be as pleasing as possible. They coax them to harness their own natural beauty and to embrace the fire of slave- or slut- or servant or whatever it is that burns in their belly.
They use a consistent system of reward and punishment. Reading the "Art of War" with an eye toward Mastery/slavery revealed some startling things to me that the Gorean philosophy seems to have a clear grasp on.
"When people deserve reward, this should be duly noted even if you personally detest them. When people deserve punishment, this should not be forgone even if they are close to you." ~Mei Yaochen.
The Gorean Master rules with a firm hand, giving a steady and consistent diet of Domination as well as reward and punishment. He does not tolerate the slightest of errors and punishes in a manner befitting the crime. Too, he lets his girls know when they have been pleasing by rewarding them with equal balance.
Further, two things apply in which I have substituted the word Master for the word Leader, and the word Mastery for the word Leadership.
"Mastery is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage and sternness." ~Master Sun, 'The Art of War'.
"Reliance on intelligence alone results in rebelliousness.
Exercise of humaneness alone results in weakness.
Fixation on trust results in folly.
Dependence on the strength of courage results in violence.
Excessive sternness of command results in cruelty.
When one has all five virtues together, each appropriate to its function, then one can be a Master."
The best of the Gorean Masters are an exemplary example of this balance of character. Additionally, the Gorean male is extremely cognizant of his place in the society. He is in control of himself, confident and arrogant. As a dominant man he is interested in not only owning the physical forms of his property but also of owning the girl herself. He seeks to own the whole woman, her body, mind and spirit in all of her depth, complexity and individualism.
These are the obvious reasons "Gor" has its own subcultures here in the United States, both on the Internet and in "real time". The dominant male who this philosophy speaks to finds the submissive female who craves this type of life and their ensuing co-existence, when done with proper care - as with all things, becomes one of nurturing fulfillment.
Now, what is Gor really?
Gor as originally created was I´m sure many things to John Norman, the author and creator. Of key interest to me, Gor seems to have been a way for Mr. Norman to express his social commentary, specifically commentary about the American society.
John Norman was a philosopher by profession and he teaches, somewhat convincingly, in the philosophy of Gor, a great many things about the Dominant and submissive order of nature as it applies, in his mind, to the human race.
One example is that the difference between the size and appearance between males and females in the human race is a result of thousands of years of natural selection. The male is selected for his ability to protect, dominate and survive. The counterpart, the smaller, lovelier female is selected for her ability to submit to him, nurture and please him. According to Mr. Norman, it would be only natural for the stronger caveman with limited resources, to protect and feed the female(s) who pleased him the most. Thus the general evolutionary trend of size difference humans seem to be representative of today.
According to Mr. Norman, Earth culture, particularly American culture, is diseased and riddled with lies and self deception. The average man desires to dominate but fears to do so, lest he have to face the society that backs the charade of feminine equality. Please note, before you become too morally outraged, I don´t think Mr. Norman has any less value for women, he just seems to have firmly believed that there is a balance that our society has ignored and blinded itself to - the one of Domination and submission. I believe Mr. Norman used the utter and ruthless domination of men over women in Gor as a radical way of making a startling point about the diseased state of our society.
As a submissive female I have been uncomfortable with the role the American culture has thrust upon me. I was raised and taught to be pretty by this society, to dance shamelessly upon the field of men´s battle at an astonishingly early age. This age old practice thrives today.
My oldest son started battling for victory against other teams of "warriors" upon the football field when he was ten years old. Every half time of every match, ten year old girls were marched onto the field where they pranced in dance, in short skirts and bright lipstick, to songs like "I´m a Barbie Girl".
My own upbringing, though somewhat more tomboyish simply because there was a 5 to 1 ratio of males to females in my neighborhood, was pretty similar. I can remember that though I could best the boys at some things, like bike races and kick-ball, ultimately I lost to one or another of them because of our difference in size and strength. Whether or not I was culturally programed to yield without a fuss or not, I spent many a happy summer day as the helpless P.O.W. to packs of young males.
All of this was fine until I turned fourteen and developed not only a gorgeous body but an inkling of sexuality. Immediately the same society that taught me, bred me, to be beautiful and feminine in all things leapt upon me with a vengeance. In one summer being a flirtatious, pretty girl went from being something everyone thought of as cute and precious to being a wanton slut. I might add that this societal perception came about not because anything about my behavior had changed but solely because my physical appearance had.
My ensuing adolescence and early twenties was a chain of disasters, but eventually I ended up meeting the man who was to become the Dominant man I´d been searching for all of my life. So, in a very real way, I can identify with John Norman´s point about the socially enforced roles our society tries to force upon both the female and the male gender. America raises its daughters to be the sluts and whores of its men, then condemns those daughters for their success.
Thanks to the ongoing women´s movements and the masculine supported Dominatrix industry the ideology of women dominating men has become socially acceptable. And, if you´re gay or lesbian, then it´s ok for you to be sexually dominant over same sex partners, because, to the simpler mind of people afraid of what they don´t understand, well, somebody´s got to be in charge. The sexually dominant heterosexual man is less likely to be accepted by our society than any other.
Sadly, even in the BDSM community, this role is frowned upon or misunderstood by some because of the social imprinting we´ve all been encoded with. American society has bred within us a philosophy that the strong male should repress his natural instinct to dominate the weak.
That was the point Mr. Norman was trying to bring home in his books filled to mind numbing capacity with social commentary. And that is the very reason the philosophy lives on in Internet chat rooms and within the bedrooms of millions of Americans. Because within the Gorean philosophy, the male who craves to do so, can dominate the female who begs to submit. The fantasy of Gor allows many to come as close as they dare to the dance of Master/slave between the Dominant male and the submissive female without being tossed out of the precarious realm of "normalcy" we all so desperately cling to. It provides acceptance of self on a powerfully spiritual level, escapism and ultimately, sexual fulfillment on a higher, more magical plain, which in the end, is exactly the same thing many who pursue sadomasochism seek.
Featured Article from Volume 1, Issue 5, © copyright Tribal News 1999, all rights reserved.
The Gor Book series:
- Tarnsman of Gor (1967)
- Outlaw of Gor (1967)
- Priest-Kings of Gor (1968)
- Nomads of Gor (1969)
- Assassin of Gor (1970)
- Raiders of Gor (1971)
- Captive of Gor (1967)
- Hunters of Gor (1974)
- Marauders of Gor (1975)
- Tribesmen of Gor (1976)
- Slave Girl of Gor (1977)
- Beasts of Gor (1978)
- Explorers of Gor (1979)
- Fighting Slave of Gor (1980)
- Rogue of Gor (1981)
- Guardsman of Gor (1981)
- Savages of Gor (1982)
- Blood Brothers of Gor (1982)
- Kajira of Gor (1983)
- Players of Gor (1984)
- Mercenaries of Gor (1985)
- Dancer of Gor (1985)
- Renegades of Gor (1986)
- Vagabonds of Gor (1987)
- Magicians of Gor (1988)
- The Chieftain (1991)
- The Captain (1992)
- The King (1993)
Other non-Gor books by Norman:
- Time Slave(1975)
- Imaginative Sex
- Ghost Dance (1979)
More on Gor