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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Behind the Veil: GOR Pen Dragon Reporting...

GOR. It’s a word you’ve probably seen in many profiles in Second Life, but what is it really? Some are probably familiar with the sexual nature of the popular role play genre, but how much more do you truly know? In this article I will take a deeper look at the counterculture phenomenon.

GOR has its beginnings as a series of novels, written by John Norman in 1967, set on an alternate earth. The alternate earth in the stories has the same orbit as our earth, but is linearly opposed to earth and is unviewable from earth because it is hidden by the sun. Norman was a professor of psychology and injected his own beliefs into the novels, particularly male dominance and the theory that that all societies are based on dominance and hierarchy.

The inhabitants of this planet are transplanted from earth by space ships by the rulers of GOR who works behind the scenes. These rulers are an insect like species called Priest-Kings. The Priest-Kings controlled every aspect of life on GOR, limiting some forms of technology such as transportation and weaponry, but granted technological advances in fields such as medicine and architecture.

The book series is known primarily for its depiction of sexual fantasies involving men abducting and then sexually and physically abusing women into submission. In the world of GOR these brutalized women grow to enjoy their submissive state. Most of the stories in the series of 34 books are narrated by Tarl Cabot, a master swordsman and British professor transported to the planet GOR, some are narrated by slave women and others by tradesmen. The loose, overarching plot is the struggle for dominance between two major cities and on a higher level the conflict between two alien races to control the solar system.

These are the fantasy/science fiction roots of the GOR counter-culture, including the role players in second life. The subculture itself is based more on the philosophies expounded by author John Norman in his books. The people who populate this movement are usually divided into two groups: Literalists and roleplayers. Literalists incorporate the gorean philosophy, gender roles and culture into their daily lives, whereas the roleplayers, most of whom are in second life, are not committed to the philosophy and ideals.

The online gorean movement began in the 1990’s with a group of male teenagers in internet chat rooms. The ability to hide their inexperience and age allowed them to garner a following of middle aged housewives who served as their kajira, or sex slave.
This movement gained notoriety and, because of the beliefs and practices of the GOR philosophy, drew a great deal of attention and ire from both feminist groups and the BDSM community at large according to author Michael Makai in his book ‘Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook.’

But how does all that translate to second life? I spoke with some GOR roleplayers to find out. I interviewed Mustafaaab Connoisseur and his kajira Amara to get their perspective on GOR, the roleplay and the issues facing their community. Mustafaab is a harbour master at Schendi, one of close to 300 sims dedicated to GOR.

According to Mustafaaab there are two different factions to the GOR RP. One group, identified as BTB or by the book, follow the original source material as written by John Norman. This includes the limited technology, Priest-King overlords and the male dominated society.

“.To me gor is what earth was 150 years ago to 1 million years ago. In the recreation of gor you have Historic earth, male dominated, a fictional recreation of Planet Earth.” Mustafaaab said.

As for what attracts someone to GOR, it would seem that those reasons are as varied as any other roleplay, for both male and female players.

“There are many attractions. Me, as a striving dominate male, I like the concept that earth failed and gor was pure and clean like a replacement earth on the other side of the sun, and Dom sub relationships between men who want women and women who want men, as is the constant theme in the books. For some it is the fighting, the trade the clothes and  the medieval environment the story.” Mustafaaab explained.

There are those who don’t follow the John Norman novels however. Inside the community they are called GOR Evolved, or GE. The major difference between the two is that GE allows more modern weaponry, but more divisive is the fact that they allow women warriors and same sex relationships. Many, if not all of the BTB roleplay areas will not allow anyone who is a part of the GE movement to be a part of the sims storylines.

If, as many say, GOR is misogynistic, then why would a woman want to be involved? I asked Mustafaaab’s kajira Amara and here’s what she had to say.

“I came for a variety of reasons. I was curious. I came to hide from my brother slowly dying of cancer.  but some of the things that are written in the book actually make a lot of sense and are kind of logical. Like a woman, when she gets married, she wears a ring and that serves a similar purpose as a collar in gor. It shows you are claimed. Over the years I have been involved in some of the most incredible storylines, better than the best novels.There are some great writers are in gor.”

With the rise of militant feminism, you would expect someone like Amara to be the focus of contempt, but she says that most people she encounters respect her decision to live her second life the way she wants. And with claims of brutality, rape and misogyny how does the GOR community thrive and continue to expand? From what I learned talking with Mustafaab and Amara, it’s because sex isn’t the main focus of the community. The roleplay, stories and world building that truly define GOR.  

In my quest to learn more about the GOR community I was surprised to find a rich, deeply detailed and thriving world filled with friendly people who enjoy the depth of the roleplay. It is certainly more than meets the eye, or more than the rumors. If you would like to learn more about GOR, or even become involved in the immersive roleplay, you should visit one of the many schools that teach the world of GOR.

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