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.
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 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). 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.
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 in it, often the family sign. 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 Home Stone. Villages, towns and cities also had Home Stones. Most Goreans would never stand in the way of a Man that 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 prime of 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 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.)
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 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.
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.
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, human instincts have become confused and suppressed.
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". (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 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. 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, United Kingdom, was raided by police. 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. Lee Thompson, the ex-head slaver of the "Kaotian" group, claims that Kaotians are not Gorean, but are better than Goreans.
In December 2008 Thompson pleaded guilty to "procuring a woman to have sexual intercourse by threats or intimidation", and was sentenced to 3 years in jail. He pleaded guilty after being offered a deal by the prosecution and the phrase 'by threats' was struck from the record.
- ↑ "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
- ↑ The Gorean Voice - June 2001 - Vol III Issue 12 - #36
- ↑ "Officers discover sex-slave cult". BBC News. 19 May 2006. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- ↑ "Darlington's "sex master" jailed for abuse". The Northern Echo. 2008-12-03.