Written by: Verona Lorgsval
Images by: Lita Menges
A while back I offered to teach my classes on Robes of Concealment and Vile and Vicious Free Women of Gor at a school in Second Life (SL). I was concerned that not only were free women of Gor not really understanding the role of a free woman as described in John Norman’s books but also that they did not understand how to role-play a free woman with wisdom and sensitivity. By not being allowed or taught how to embrace the dark side of the free woman, we are cutting ourselves off from a very fundamental part of the books that can contribute to the most interesting and deep role-play, especially where it concerns interaction between slaves and free women. I was told, at that time, by the dean of Free Women’s Studies that “vile and vicious” free women are not Gorean, to which my response was: “What books have you been reading?!” I have since realized, that though we owe a lot to Gorean life-stylers as far as keeping Gor alive for the past 40 years, when it comes to role-play that they can be dangerous indeed.
Some Life-stylers, both men and women, tend to accept only certain aspects of the books and ignore the rest, such as the wholesale slaughter of women and children and the fact that Gorean slaves are all suffering from Stockholm Syndrome (the mental state brought on by severe captivity and the compulsive need to please your captors). These Life-stylers take pride in calling themselves something that, if they actually tried to practice it as written in the books, they would find themselves in a deep dark prison. There is no country in this world that officially endorses the kidnapping of a rich woman, taking her thousands of miles away and raping her, torturing her and abusing her so much that she is mentally addled and falls in love with her captors. The Marquis de Sade, before the French Revolution, once perpetrated only a small amount of the abuses described in the Gorean books to two lowly maids, and the government threw him in the Bastille as punishment. It is impossible to truly be Gorean in real life.
The basic concept of a society where the men are in charge is not Gorean by definition, but instead a patriarchal model. In that model women are not only submissive to men, but must conform their behavior to a standard that men alone determine. In the Gorean books, John Norman is clear that women are to be women with everything that entails, whether they are in the happy bondage of slavery or the tormented societal bondage of free womanhood. Gorean men do not tolerate anything less than total and complete femininity on the part of women. While by their own admission, free men know that a woman is happier in bondage and that a free woman can never have her biological imperative fulfilled, but they do not expect free women to be meek, submissive and nice – in fact, they’ll often actively support the negative impulses of being a free woman who is desperately unhappy and self delusional. On Gor, a man would no sooner punish a woman for being a woman than a bosk for being a bosk. While the similarities between the patriarchal and Gorean models exist, as with everything, the devil is in the detail, and when carefully contrasted they are very different animals indeed.
Consider this passage from Kajira of Gor to further enhance the insight of a free woman to a slave:
“Yet I had seen her look at him. She had hardly been able to keep her eyes from him. I suppose it was difficult for mere female slaves, in their scanty garments, and in their lowly station, not to be excited by rich, powerful, handsome, resplendent free men, so far above themselves. It was much easier for one like myself, a free woman and richly robed, to control resist and fight femininity. In the case of a slave, on the other hand, femininity is actually required of her. Indeed, if she is insufficiently feminine, she will be beaten. It is no wonder female slaves are so helpless with men. I noted the eyes of Miles of Argentum on Susan. She trembled at being appraised. I felt sudden anger and jealousy. He had not looked at me like that! To be sure she was a slave and I was free. It would certainly be improper for anyone to look upon me a free woman in that candid basic way! Too, Susan had me at a disadvantage. Would not any woman look more attractive half naked and put on a chain? How could I compete with that? Let us both be stripped and chained, I thought, and then let me decide, examining us, which was most beautiful!”
Within this short passage, the free woman character Shiela runs though a gambit of emotions: jealousy, anger, despair and frustration. This speaks to the heart of the emotions you’ll see exhibited by free women in the Gorean Saga, and is in fact the key to the hatred that exists between free women and slave girls. Further backing this assertion are the dozens of passages describing slave girls as being terrified of free women and doing everything in their power to avoid a free woman’s attention.
Now consider this second passage from Kajira of Gor: “In the open air markets, or on outside displays, the girls, seeing me viewing them, usually knelt, putting their heads down, exhibiting total deference and respect for a free woman. Some, seeing me look at them had actually thrown themselves trembling to their bellies. ‘They are afraid of you,’ Drusus Rencius explained.”
Here we see the terror of slave girls toward a free woman that has not offered them any threatening words or fearful actions. Compounded by other statements, such as “slave girls are terrified of free women,” throughout the books, it’s evident this is a universal fear, not an isolated reaction by a few random slaves toward free women. In fact, it is made quite clear in the books that the slaves are much more scared of free women than they are of men. Why?
Consider the basic concept of jealousy and the gilded bonds that a free woman has shackled upon her. Though a free woman is only free because men deem that she be free, that freedom is much more complex than the unfortunate “you have not misbehaved so we won’t collar you yet” attitude seen all-too-often. The key to understanding a free woman’s freedom lies in the deeper connection of family. A free woman is someone’s daughter or sister, and the bond between a free woman and their male relatives is so strong that the men of their Home Stone would not easily allow them to be enslaved and degraded. In essence, the value of an Ubara does not come from her training but because of her relationship with a powerful man.
No man can bear to see his daughter as a paga slut spread eagle on a table and raped by every man in the city. When faced with the possibility of his daughter being enslaved, a Gorean man will do whatever he can to stop that degradation of his blood. This is a matter of personal and family honor. Free women must remain free because they are the blood-kin of a free man; not because they are happy being free. Free women are indeed trapped by their freedom more certainly than any slave, and they resent it.
To role-play a woman who passionately resents and hates a kajira slave in character (IC), you need to be very open with the slave while out of character (OOC). Reassure her that this is not personal and engage her to play along with the role-play. These free woman/slave relationships can be the most interesting relationships within Gorean RP.
Slave girls have frequently stated, in the role-play forums, that the meaner a free woman is in-game, the more easy going she is out of game. This is due, in part, to the fact the vile and vicious free women have very little concern about their own deaths or torture. They have put in place certain conditions within the role-play that keep them free so they may continue enjoying the embrace of their dark natures. In fact, they’ll challenge men who want to collar them for being too uppity and taunt them by informing them that they are free to contact the magistrate to demand a trial if they want them collared.
The free woman is a very complex character with many frailties and uncertainties. She can be one of the most complex and fearsome of characters. She is femininity that is turned inward, the glorious dark shades of a tormented woman’s psyche that leads to complex and deep actions of intrigue and murder. She is unpredictable, vain, arrogant and struggles constantly within herself, yet she is comfortable defying, and even being insolent, towards men because she is being true to her feminine nature including its unsavory traits. If you intend to RP the free woman, explore being female in all of her depth, and let your free women character have the one thing that is demanded of them by men: to be a woman in her darker aspects.