Gorean

In the most general use of the word, Gorean means anything characteristic of the Gor science fiction novels by John Norman. In these novels, the word “Gorean” is used to refer to the fictional counter-earth, to its inhabitants and social customs, and to the particular language which is the most widely-spoken lingua franca in the known inhabited regions of Gor (though other languages are also spoken on the planet).

As applied to non-fictional individuals, the word Gorean means an adherent of the philosophies espoused in Norman’s writings, especially someone who lives a lifestyle based on this philosophy. While the most conspicuous Gorean departure from mainstream modern norms is that Goreans allow and indeed promote sexual master/slave relationships, many who take the Gorean worldview seriously would insist that being Gorean is not necessarily about either sex or slavery, but about the general Gorean philosophy (so that one would not have to participate in a master/slave lifestyle or relationship in order to be Gorean). Some of this philosophy is concerned with “natural order” and the relations between men and women, which may or may not take the form of a master-and-slave dynamic. Where there is a master/slave relationship, the level at which adherents follow the books varies.

Part of what Norman indicates as natural order, is that males have a predisposition to be more dominant, and females have a predisposition to be submissive. Norman indicates that with changes in society brought on by industrialization, and feminism, that this has caused a confusion among people, especially in their inter-personal relationships.

Contents

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Relation to BDSM

There is commonality between BDSM and the Gorean lifestyle in a number of respects (see 24/7, Dominance & submission, Servitude (BDSM), Slave (BDSM), Total Power Exchange, etc.), but there are also overall differences in approach.

Some in BDSM consider the Gorean lifestyle to be a subset of BDSM practices, and find it lacking in that regard. So the mainstream of BDSM practitioners often disdain Goreans because Goreans allegedly reject the ideas of “safe, sane and consensual“/”risk-aware consensual kink“, because of the frequent lack of a safe word between Gorean master and slave, or because the almost exclusive male dominant/female submissive dynamic seems to imply that “your kink is not OK” regarding other practices.

Serious Goreans, on the other hand, generally deny that they are engaging in “games” or “role-playing”, and do not consider the extreme pain or extreme physical or sexual play sometimes practiced in BDSM as part of being Gorean, so that BDSM precautions and BDSM distinctions between “in scene” and “out of scene” are largely unnecessary and irrelevant (though there is still a need for honest communication within a Gorean relationship, as in any other sustained intimate relationship). They do not consider most of what they do to be BDSM, and do not judge themselves according to BDSM standards.

A person living the Gorean lifestyle states that “…BDSM and its practitioners do as they do in order to fulfil a sexual need or ‘kink’ in themselves. They are different from Goreans and the lifestyle in that to be Gorean does not just encompass the sexual side of a person but everything else as well. Goreans live by and enforce ‘codes of honour’ and live by these codes.

Some Goreans do practice BDSM (even though BDSM is not Gorean in itself). These Goreans may or may not use a safeword when involved in BDSM scene play; however, if they do not, then some sort of communication is usually practiced.

Note that Norman’s non-fictional sex manual Imaginative Sex presents a series of elaborate fantasy scenarios to be acted out (rather than advocating for a real-world “24/7” lifestyle), and recommends that symbolic substitutes (such as the sound of claps) should be used instead of actual physical chastisements (such as whippings).[1] Most of the scenarios are maledom / femsub, but a few portray men as the slaves of women, and anticipate the eroticised first-person male slave narratives of some of the Gorean novels.

Self-identity

The Gorean identity is founded on home, job, and social order. The ‘Three Pillars’ of Gorean society are described as “Home Stone, Caste System, and “Natural Order” Many who study and follow the Gorean morality, do not own slaves. Slavery is not required to be Gorean.

The home is prime of importance to the Gorean, and this applies as much to the city-state of origin to the current residence or camp. ‘A man’s home in his castle’ is translated in Gor to ‘Every man is an Ubar within the circle of his sword.’ (The Ubar is a war-leader, a General who takes power at a time of crisis, and whose rule is tantamount to tyrant until the crisis is resolved.) The Home Stone is held sacred by every city and settlement, and is displayed under guard. Any praise or insult to a Home Stone is taken personally by those who live in the city it symbolizes. The theft of a Home Stone is the gravest crime, and paradoxically the most honorable enterprise, that any Warrior could undertake.

Living Goreans, those that follow Gorean Morality here on Earth, hold the ideal of Home Stone very high. Home Stone as embodied on Earth, is consider to be, having personal sovereignty, and being a good citizen of your community. Being sovereign, and being a good citizen must be well balanced, so that neither the individual, nor the community suffers.

The Gorean’s occupation is formed and informed by their caste. The Caste system establishes the Gorean identity as strongly as homeland. Because of the Gorean’s work ethic and pride in caste, all castes are essentially equal. There is little social mobility because of this caste pride and identity; even the Peasant caste uphold their caste codes and firmly believe in their superiority to all other castes. But in actuality a few castes are more equal than the others. Those of High Caste, including Scribes, Warriors, Physicians, Builders and Initiates (holy men) have access to privileged education and opportunities to leadership. The social order is further consolidated by social edict: “A man who refuses to practice his livelihood or strives to alter status without consent of the Council of High Castes is by definition an outlaw.” A Gorean regards the welfare of their caste higher than their own, but in return, the caste provides welfare and charity when a caste member is in need.

How many Living Gorean reflect the Gorean Morality in their professions, is to establish a code for their profession that they follow. This combined with striving for excellence in their profession, is a small reflection of the Caste system presented in the series.

Symbols

Distinctive Gorean symbols include various artistic renditions of the “kef” symbol (Kef being the initial letter of kajira in the Gorean language), the floral “dina” mark, and to a lesser extent other brands mentioned in Norman’s Gor books.

Some Goreans also use symbols not derived from Norman’s books, most prominently the Chinese character for “slave” 奴 (Unicode U5974), which contains the character for “woman” 女 as its left half and an old character for “right hand” as its right half, and so can be given the interpretation “woman under master’s hand”.[2] (However, the main function of the “woman” character 女 here is technically as a “phonetic” element indicating pronunciation, and the composite character 奴 is not always female-referring.)

In the novels

In the original novels, Goreans are simply those humans who live on the planet Gor. The back-story of the setting holds that various humans were transported from Earth to Gor in ancient times, a process which continues at a low volume in the present mostly in the form of Earth women taken to Gor as slaves.

In the books, although most slaves on Gor are female, most females are actually free women. The ratio has been presented as approximately 40 free women to one slave girl (though the various hints about Gorean demographics given in different Gor novels are not entirely consistent). Male slaves are less common than female, and are usually criminals, debtors or prisoners of war. Female slaves are called kajirae (singular: kajira) and male slaves are called kajiri (singular: kajirus) in the Gorean tongue.

In the news

On Thursday 18 May 2006, a house in Darlington, County Durham, was raided by police in Darlington, United Kingdom. The police had received complaints that a woman was being held against her will, but a spokesman said that the woman was a willing participant, and the police found no evidence of criminal activity.[3] Lee Thompson, the leader of the “Kaotian” group, claims that Kaotians are not Gorean, but are better than Goreans.

References

  1. ^ “No Fantasy, Please, We’re Americans: A Foreword by a Feminist”, introduction by Pat Califia to 1997 edition of Imaginative Sex
  2. ^ The Gorean Voice – June 2001 – Vol III Issue 12 – #36
  3. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Officers discover sex-slave cult

See also

External links

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