BY JULIA GRACEN (05/18/00)
This is not the first I have heard of John Norman's books and the
Gorean slave idea. However, I am appalled that seemingly intelligent
people would voluntarily engage in such a misogynistic pastime. In many
parts of the world, women have no legal rights and are treated as chattel.
In the free world, we should be striving to end the oppression of women,
not engaging in sex play that demeans and degrades them. If we are
complacent about a practice that allows men to grind women under their heel
in "fun," we are saying as a society that the age-old idea that women are
inferior is true. Perhaps Norman's books are best taken as a cautionary
-- Laura McMasters
Ten years ago, while browsing a dusty, cobwebbed and now-defunct
used book store in San Francisco, I literally stumbled over a box
containing an almost complete set of John Norman's Gor series. Being an
avid sci-fi reader, I took "Tarnsman of Gor" home with me. I found the
story of an Earthman's adventures in Counter-Earth enjoyable enough, and I
accepted the status of women in the story as simply part of the story. But
by the fifth or sixth book, I was simply too freaked out to continue. What
had started off as a mediocre but somewhat entertaining story had now
turned into a relentless, implacable, misogynistic rant. In page after
page, men demeaned, humiliated, struck and tortured women. In page after
page, women fell to their knees, begging to be hurt more.
I have read the aimless, rambling sputtering of Luddites, conspiracy
theorists, race supremacists and other nut cases, but I have never read
something so overflowing with anger, so thoroughly soaked in hatred.
Shuddering, I put the last book down half-read, and tried to put John
Norman's sick fantasies out of my mind. In time, I did, and 10 years went
Today, 10 years older, I revisit the issue through your article, and
intellectually realize what back then I only understood instinctively.
Notwithstanding all the ignorant, self-serving Gorean chatter about human
evolution, and how things should be, it remains that truly strong people do
not need to hurt or be hurt to feel self-realized. Only the weak and the
sick have those needs.
-- Walt Roberts
No one has an instinct to be a slave. Instinct is used for
survival in animals and humans. This is lifestyle choice, not an instinct,
for women and men. That is why "ugly" and "weak" people survive, because
human brain function is complex. As a person of African descent whose
ancestors were once "bent to some man's will," I think the idea of women
wanting to be slaves is a bunch of hooey. These people have made a choice,
albeit in my opinion a weird one. If one day they got a clue and chose not
to do this, no instinct they have would stop them. People have evolved and
if you can't handle women that are not submissive then your kind will die
-- Jeannie Mitchell-Duguay
Though the Gorean Master/slave relationship is part of what many
of us consider to be the Gorean experience, it is not the total Gorean
experience. The honor and spirit of men is also part of the Gorean
experience. As with any grouping of individuals, you will find that you
cannot characterize the whole group by just speaking to a few.
Your writer wanted to know why the weak have survived when John Norman has
said that they should have perished. Perhaps it was the strong and
honorable who have volunteered, fought and died for the weak over the years
that made it so, leaving the weaker to survive.
As to the men of Gor seeming to be wild men who just go around beating on
people and taking what they want, in the codes of the warriors, there is a
saying: "Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you
your limits." (Marauders of Gor, p. 10)
Norman, in his work titled "Time Slave," states that one needs to define a
morality for oneself that fits one's own time, and I agree. I really see no
problem with placing the Gorean way of thinking into my daily life. I have
no problem working with women and taking direction from them. If a woman
is more capable of doing something than I am, then so be it. Today's woman
is quite capable of surviving on her own in today's society, not needing a
man as her "hunter" any longer.
My wife is a career woman who has done quite well for herself, and I
respect her for all she has done. She has no desire to read the Books of
Gor. Since I have begun reading the Books of Gor, though, my wife's
attitude towards me has changed slightly. Occasionally, I see in her eyes
something different. I see a glimmer of respect -- the respect and trust
that only a woman can feel for a man, in my opinion. Norman says that a
woman will only feel like a real woman when she is at the feet of a real
man. In today's terms, that does not necessarily mean a woman is physically
on her knees; nor, perhaps, should she be.
Norman also says that when some cannot climb the mountain, they usually
deny that the mountain even exists. Just because I seek and desire to hear
the ancient drums that others cannot or will not hear, does not mean the
drums do not beat in my heart.
-- Name withheld at writer's request