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The most conspicuous Gorean departure from mainstream modern norms is that Goreans promote sexual master-slave relationships. Some of this philosophy is concerned with "order of nature" and the relations between men and women, which may or may not take the form of a master-and-slave dynamic.
Relation to BDSM
The majority of Goreans who pursue a "lifestyle" approach often do not consider what they do to be BDSM. However, they are generally considered part of the "kinky" subculture. In that context, they reject the idea of isolated "scenes". Instead, their practices may be described as 24/7, dominance & submission, and/or Total Power Exchange relationships. BDSM concepts of servitude and slavery typically play a key role in Gorean dynamics.
Norman's non-fictional sex manual Imaginative Sex presents a series of elaborate fantasy scenarios to be acted out in isolated scenes. He also recommends the use of symbolic substitutes, such as the sound of claps as a substitute for whippings and other physical punishments. Pat Califia asserts that Norman was critical of the psychological and physical harm that non-stop BDSM slavery and corporal punishment might inflict.
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 "Order of Nature". Many who study and follow the Gorean morality do not own slaves. Slavery is not required to be Gorean.
A Home Stone is a rock, which can be plain and simple or even a large precious stone, such as a topaz. It is about the size of a person's fist. It is carved with a letter, usually the sign of the family, village, town or city. A Home Stone represents sovereignty, and marks territory. Even peasants were considered a sovereign in their hut, such is the strength of the ideal of the Home Stone. Villages, towns and cities also had Home Stones. Most Goreans would never stand in the way of a Man who carried a Home Stone, out of respect for the ideal of Home Stone, and the fierceness by which it would be defended.
Home Stones were displayed in the center of a hut, village or city. 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.
The home is of prime importance to the Gorean, and this applies as much to the city-state of origin, as to the current residence or camp. "A man's home is his castle" can be translated in Gor as, "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 who is tantamount to tyrant until the crisis is resolved.).
Living Goreans, those who follow Gorean Morality here on Earth, hold the ideal of Home Stone very high. Home Stone as embodied on Earth, is considered to be sovereignty over oneself, as well as good citizenship: the two must be well-balanced, so that neither the individual nor the community suffers.
In many areas of Gor, occupations are often hereditary, so that there is a system of so-called "castes" (though such castes are not strictly hereditary). The five "high castes" are the Initiates (priests), Builders (architects), Physicians, Scribes, and Warriors. Those of the "high" castes represent the local city or town council, and their leaders form the basis for the local government. However, the merchants often claim their caste to be a high one, and rich merchants can be politically influential in some areas. The "low" castes typically are the tradesmen, artisans, craftsmen, and other members of the local labor force in that city or town. Each caste is associated with a particular color (e.g. black for the Assassins, white for the Initiates) or set of colors (e.g. White and Gold for the Merchants, Yellow and Blue for the Slavers).
Order of nature
Part of what Norman claims to be the "order of nature" or 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, human instincts have become confused and suppressed.
Typically the Gorean principle of male dominance is this: Males tend to be dominant and females tend to be submissive. Male dominance is seen as part of the natural order, a biological truth. As partial support, the Gor books stated that most mammals and all primates are male dominated.
On Gor, male dominance is a generality, not an absolute. Women on Gor can attain the highest ranks of power on Gor, becoming the absolute rulers of Gorean cities. It is noted that in the Gor novels Norman wrote of at least four Gorean cities that were ruled by women. Gorean women can own property, operate a business, and control family life in a Gorean household. Norman states that in this "natural order" men and women are neither superior or inferior, simply different. In Gorean society it is not believed that males are more intelligent or have more wisdom than females, but are considered physically stronger.
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.
One version of the Kef, the most common kajira brand on Gor
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 and are difficult to reconcile with references in the novels to the cheapness and abundance of female slaves). Male slaves are less common than female, and are usually criminals, debtors or prisoners of war, and are mainly used for manual labor. Female slaves are called kajirae (singular: kajira) and male slaves are called kajiri (singular: kajirus) in the Gorean tongue. Slave ownership in Gor is not restricted by gender, i.e., a kajira can be owned by a free man or a free woman (or a family, or even a city, then being referred to as a "state slave"). Similarly, free men or free women can own male slaves.
- "Officers discover sex-slave cult". BBC News. 19 May 2006. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Lewis, Paul (19 May 2006). "Gor blimey! Subservient cult is unleashed on Darlington". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- "No Fantasy, Please, We're Americans: A Foreword by a Feminist", introduction by Pat Califia to 1997 edition of Imaginative Sex
- http://www.worldofgor.com/reference.aspx?rpID=38 World of Gor
- http://www.worldofgor.com/reference.aspx?rpID=8 World of Gor - References - Caste.
- kajira hill (March 26, 1999). "Re: Well heres a question...Gor here and now". Newsgroup: alt.books.gor. Usenet: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- "Kajira Hill"'s account of living a Gorean lifestyle
- For further links, see the "External links" section of the Gor article.