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(#10, Version 5.0)
The proper role of free women in Gorean society is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Gor. This misunderstanding is perpetuated by several factors. First, the rhetoric in much of the books states that all women should be slaves. Second, a cursory reading of the novels shows that basically all of the major free women characters, who are often haughty, end up as slaves. Third, there is a popular myth that male dominance is absolute on Gor. These three matters combine to skew one's view of free women on Gor. It is only through a deeper study of the novels do you better understand the actual complexity of the role of free women on Gor. They are far more than just potential slaves.
The vast majority of the women on Gor are free women. Only 2 to 3% of all the women on Gor are actually slaves. That statistic alone speaks volumes about the place of free women in Gorean society. Despite all the rhetoric, Goreans do not follow through on those platitudes and enslave most of their women. They do not even enslave a significant portion of their women. There must be some compelling reasons to support this stance. Free women must be able to fulfill important roles that slaves cannot. The need for those roles must supersede the need for slaves. This scroll will address the many different facets of free women on Gor, helping people to better comprehend their proper place on Gor.
Personal Appearance
The norm for the free women of the cities of Gor is for them to wear Robes of Concealment and veils. Women of High Caste are much more likely to wear Robes of Concealment and veils though many Low Caste women do as well. The general idea of this garb is to conceal a woman from head to toe, allowing only her eyes to be revealed, and even if that. This garb is reminiscent of the clothing worn by Muslim women on Earth though the Gorean garb may be even more intricate and bulky. Basically, the higher your Caste or station, the more complex your clothing will be.
A Low Caste woman may only own a single or a couple Robes while a High Caste women might own dozens of different ones. The robes are worn in layers, each outer layer being stiffer and bulkier than the one below it. Only a couple of robes were specifically named in the books though undoubtedly other robes are named as well. The street robe is a very stiff robe and it goes over the house robe, which is more flexible. The robes are kept secure by a series of eyes and hooks and it can take some time for a High Caste women to dress in her multiple layers. She will likely need help dressing properly. Gloves are also commonly worn. The robes may be of any colors though one's Caste colors will often be the predominant color. Beneath these robes, a woman may wear a sliplike undergarment, its fabric dependent upon the wealth of the woman. High Caste women are more likely to own an undergarment of silk or a similar material. A Low Caste woman is more likely to wear an undergarment of rep cloth. Bras, panties and hosiery are not worn on Gor.
Like robes, veils are worn in various numbers and combinations dependent upon one's Caste and station. Many Low Caste women possess only a single veil which must suffice for all occasions. High Caste women often own many veils and will wear a number commensurate with the occasion. Some wealthy women may wear up to ten veils on a formal occasion. But in general, most women will wear only one or two veils, such as the last veil and the street veil. Each veil is heavier and more opaque than the veil beneath it. A veil is commonly a long length of fabric that is wound around a woman's head and secured by veil pins. A narrow gap is left for one's eyes. There are a number of veils named in the books and others may exist as well.
The last veil, also known as the light veil, is often worn next to one's face. It is similar in some ways to the intimacy veil. The intimacy veil is also worn next to the face but it is diaphanous. This veil is long though and can be wound several times around one's face, thus making it more opaque with each revolution. T he freedom veil, also known as the citizeness veil, is worn above the last veil. The pride veil is then worn above the freedom veil. The house veil is worn over the pride veil. The house veil is often worn indoors when the household is having guests, especially guests unfamiliar to the woman. The street veil is commonly the topmost veil worn in public. This veil is very heavy and absolutely opaque. There are also veils that signify one's position, such as the veil of state, an item worn by a Tatrix or Ubara. This will be an intricately embroidered item, fancy but still opaque.
In many Gorean cities, such as Ar and Ar's Station, it is not legally mandatory for free women to wear Robes of Concealment and veils. It is more a matter of custom, tradition and modesty. But, there are some cities that make it mandatory and repeated violations can lead to enslavement. Part of the justification for this garb is to protect free women from being kidnapped by raiders. Most men will not risk their life to try to abduct a woman who might turn out to be ugly. It is much more profitable to steal a slave who they can easily see is attractive. Gorean men are aware that many free women do not take care of their figures. There are Slavers though who specialize in the abduction of free women. "There is a Gorean saying that free women, raised gently in the high cylinders, in their robes of concealment, unarmed, untrained in weapons, may, by the slaver, be plucked like flowers." (Hunters of Gor, p.118)
In the Robes and veils, it is easy for a free woman to disguise her identity while she travels around the city. Another justification is that free women are supposed to be modest and not act like a slave in any way. Wearing clothes that are too revealing would be a social faux pas. Even in cities where such garb is not mandatory, there will still be laws that prevent free women from baring too much flesh in public. Violations of such laws can lead to enslavement. In addition, some High Caste women do not want the Low Castes to see their faces. They feel they are above the Low Castes who are not worthy to look upon their faces.
Normally only one's family may look upon a free women without her veil. Within their homes, some women may not wear a veil in the presence of certain special guests. Free women, when drinking in public, commonly lift their veils with their left hands to drink. Others will drink right through their veils. In public, some Low Caste women don't wear veils and a few bold High Caste women may also not wear them. This is more likely to lead to negative ramifications for the High Caste woman. Peer pressure helps to contribute to women wearing veils. If a High Caste woman does not wear veils in public, she may find herself shunned by other women or even publicly insulted. Women of the barbaric lands often do not wear veils, and even women of some of the northern cities do not commonly wear veils. In the cities, it is often a serious crime for someone to face strip a free women, to remove her veils against her will. It can be dangerous for other reasons as well. "It is not wise to try to tear away the garments of a free woman with one's bare hands. They may contain poisoned needles." (Beasts of Gor, p.402)
Footwear for free women is commonly either sandals or slippers, dependent on Caste. Boots may also be worn, dependent on the situation. Some women wear platform shoes, especially those of High Caste or station. For example, Talena once wore platform shoes that were about ten inches high so she could look down upon the citizens of Ar.
Certain women may wear garb other than robes, dependent on the situation. For example, wealthy free women who own orchards, fields, ranches, vineyards or such may wear different clothes when they are supervising or inspecting their properties. One type of such outfit includes a full skirt, its hem about six inches off the ground, a blouse, a belted jacket that falls to the thighs, a hood attached to the jacket by hooks, leather boots, and an opaque veil. The height of the skirt hem is to protect it from dirt, water or mud. Interestingly enough, it also functions as a slave control device for kajiri. The sight of a Mistress' ankle, even booted, is very alluring to a kajirus. He will want to stare at it but understands he can be punished for doing so. This will make him a bit tense and wary around his Mistress and this can be used to control the kajirus. Women who go hunting may also wear different garb such as hunting leathers or a tunic, long hose, a cape and boots.
Most free women rarely wear cosmetics or perfume, believing they are only for slaves. But in certain cities, such as Ar, many free women do commonly use them. There are even stores that cater specifically to free women. Those stores do not commonly stock products for slaves, only free women. It is interesting though that many perfumers, hairdressers and cosmeticians treat their free women clients almost like slaves. This does not stop the free women from patronizing their establishments. Free women may wear upswept hairdos, something generally not permitted to slaves who must often wear their hair long. Some free women even may purchase wigs or falls though they only want items made from the hair of free women. Women's hair is a common trade item and is especially prized for catapult ropes. During times of war, some free women will give their hair to the city to use for catapults.
Treatment of Free Women
Free women are commonly treated with respect, courtesy and honor, especially free women of high station or Caste. Free women on Gor would be considered to possess a greater status than a typical Earth women. Free women, especially those of high station, are often referred to as "Lady." On the other hand, men are not referred to as "Lord" in the books. Free women may often say what they wish, without anyone's permission, and many men will listen to what they have to say. Part of the key is that those free men and women who share a Home Stone have much in common. Thus, they are more apt to listen to the thoughts and feelings of one another. Free women may often be bold, within certain limits. "A free woman is inordinately precious. She is a thousand times, and more, above a mere slave." (Players of Gor, p.92) "For example, there is no higher person, nor one more respected, than the Gorean free woman." (Hunters of Gor, p.311) Free women are rarely raped unless it is leading to their direct enslavement. Even a Slaver who enslaves a free woman will treat her with courtesy until she has been branded.
But, many men find free women boring, preferring the company of slave girls. Free women are seen to be ignorant, arrogant and frigid. Yet, free man often will take no action against a free woman who annoys them. "A free woman may often make a man angry with impunity, she being lofty and free, this latitude is seldom extended to the slave." (Blood Brothers of Gor, p.221) A male relative or a Free Companion of a free woman does have some options to discipline her. The punishment will fit the woman's status and dignity. The books do contradict themselves as to whether free woman may be whipped or not. If so, they are whipped differently from a slave, much easier. A Free Companion might chain his woman to his couch, like a slave. This may occur even though a free woman is muchly loved. Some men do take risks to get back at a free women who they feel requires punishment. This is a risk because their actions are generally illegal. One extreme example is that sometimes free women are captured, bound and gagged and then made to work in a brothel for a night.
One key to the treatment of free women is their station and Caste. The higher a woman's station or Caste, then the more likely she will be treated with courtesy and deference. Her wealth and position are powerful factors that must be considered. A man ignores these factors at his peril. A second key is whether or not one shares a Home Stone with a woman. Those who share Home Stones generally respect and protect each other. Men do not willingly let men of other Home Stones enslave their women. They do not let their women come to harm if they can intervene and protect them. A third key is simply tolerance for the actions of free women. I think Tarl Cabot said it best, "It is not difficult, of course, to take insolence from a woman." (Mercenaries of Gor, p.7) Many Gorean men will just laugh off a woman's insults.
Free Women Roles
Free women on Gor fulfill a number of different roles, roles that essentially cannot be filled by kajirae. These are important roles, ones that contribute significantly to the effective functioning of Gorean society. These roles include positions of power, Caste membership, Free Companions and mothers. These roles are far more important than the role of a slave. Slaves, in general, contribute little to the operation of Gorean society. Though there are work slaves, the primary purpose of the majority of slaves is for the pleasure of men, a type of luxury. A city could exist without slaves but not without free women.
Positions of Power
In general, Gorean do not prefer to place women in positions of power. "Women, …, seldom release the following instinct in men. Men, accordingly, do not on the whole, care to follow them. In doing so they generally feel uncomfortable. It makes them uneasy. They sense the absurdity, the unnaturalness, of the relationship. It is thus that normal men commonly follow women only unwillingly, and only with reservations, usually also only within an artificial context or within the confines of a misguided, choiceless or naïve institution, where their discipline may be relied upon. Their compliance with orders in such a situation cannot help but be more critical, more skeptical. Their activities tend then to be performed with less confidence, and more hesitantly. This often produces serious consequences to the efficiency of their actions. It is interesting to note that even women seldom care to follow women, particularly in critical situations. The male, biologically, for better or for worse, appears to be the natural leader. In the perversion of nature, of course, anything may occur." (Players of Gor, p.288) But, this is a generality for which there are a number of exceptions. A free woman of superior ability can achieve much, including ruling a city. That is fully supported by the philosophies of Gor.
Women have ruled on Gor as Ubara and Tatrix. Tharna was led by a female Tatrix until she chose to step down. A Ubara is a female ruler of the Warrior Caste. She may rule as the Free Companion of a Ubar or on her own. As the Free Companion of a Ubar, a Ubara possesses great power, second only to the Ubar. There is nearly nothing she cannot accomplish with her power. A Ubara, with no Ubar, can rule on her own if the city supports her. Talena was made the sole Ubara of Ar when Marlenus was thought dead and the Regent had been deposed. She would thus possess ultimate power within Ar. A Tatrix is similar to a civil Ubara. It is a female dictator who does not belong to the Warrior Caste. She remains in power only through the support of the people though she was not elected into her position. Tharna, Port Olni and Corcyrus were all ruled at one time by a Tatrix.
If a woman can attain the highest position in a city, its ruler, then there is no logical reason why a woman could not fill other positions of leadership within a city such as a member of the High Council of Castes or Caste Leader. There are no specific prohibitions in the books that prevent free women from attaining such positions. It simply takes a woman of superior ability to be found worthy of such a position. On Gor, it may be rare but it is definitely within the realm of possibility.
Women may also possess power in other ways. They may own and operate their own Houses, often Merchant Houses. Their business skills and wealth allow them to possess various degrees of power. There are a number of examples in the books of women who own Houses by themselves and wield power through their wealth and status. There are no laws prohibiting their ownership of property or real estate. It is often said that Merchants are power brokers within many cities. Female merchants enter into that equation as well as men.
Free women belong to almost all of the Castes on Gor except the Initiates, Players and Assassins. The books specifically state that women may not belong to the Initiate Caste. Though there is no specific prohibition in the books against women belonging to the Players and Assassins Castes, the evidence supports their exclusion. Both are Castes you must actively petition to join. Mere birth does not grant one membership in those Castes. The books state that generally women do not or may not play Kaissa. The books also state that the Assassin Caste seeks men of a particular caliber. There is no indication that either Caste permits women or has female members.
Free women are either born into their caste, assume the Caste of their Free Companion, or petition to join a Caste. Children take on the Caste of their father. This permits a woman to become a member of the Warrior Caste if her father is a member. Normally, Free Companions share the same caste though it is permitted for people to Free Companion people outside of their Caste. When a woman joins in Free Companionship, she has the option to assume the Caste of her mate. She can choose to retain her Caste. It is unknown if the woman retains the option to change Caste throughout the length of the Free Companionship or if there is a time limit on her choice. Even if she retains her Caste, her children will still assume the Caste of their father. Women can petition to join a Caste and they follow the same rules as a man would in such a petition. The High Council of the city would need to approve of the change as well as the intended new Caste.
When you become a member of a Caste, you will receive all of the normal benefits of that Caste such as Caste Sanctuary and charity. But, you generally cannot work in your Caste until you complete an apprenticeship or accepted training program. You may be permitted to engage in some limited Caste activities without such training but your role would always remain limited. Many women choose not to perform the work of their Caste but there are numerous exceptions. In general, women do not engage in work requiring a lot of physical strength such as working at a forge, woodcutting and such. Woman often work as Scribes and Merchants. There are even female Slavers, some who engage in field captures though the majority just manage Slave Houses within the cities.
Women also engage in work in the Physician's Caste. But, there is a common limitation on such women. They cannot engage in the full practice of medicine until they have first given birth to two children. It is likely their function before birthing the requisite children might be akin to being a nurse. In many cities, at age fifteen, a woman of the Physician's Caste will be given two bracelets to wear. She can remove one bracelet each time she has a child. When she has removed both bracelets, she may then practice medicine as a full Physician. The rationale behind this prerequisite is that professional women tend not to have children. If this were allowed to occur, it would serve over time to diminish the quality and size of the Caste. Thus, the rule helps to preserve the future of the Caste. The welfare of the Caste takes priority over the ambitions and desires of specific individuals. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Caste is vitally important to Goreans so this logic is accepted as valid and is not questioned.
Women may become members of the Warrior's Caste by birth or Free Companionship. Yet, women are never trained by the Caste to become warriors. There is no instance in any of the novels where a woman was ever trained as a warrior in the Warrior's Caste. The books do not explicitly state that women are never trained as Warriors but the evidence supporting that conclusion is very compelling. A deeper analysis of this issue is the topic of Education Scroll #15, Female Warriors. Probably the most compelling argument is the same logic used by the Physician's Caste. Female Warriors would be less likely to reproduce and their deaths in combat would also serve to decrease the birth rate. Combined, these would tend to destroy the Warrior Caste over time. And this would never be permitted to occur.
Free Companionship
Free Companionship is the Gorean equivalent of marriage and it is common to most of the cities of Gor except for Port Kar. Free Companionship lasts for a single year at a time when it either must be renewed with the wines of love or it will dissolve. The renewal must be performed by the twentieth Ahn, midnight, of the anniversary date. If either party dies or is enslaved, the Free Companionship will also dissolve. It is unknown whether the parties can voluntarily choose to dissolve, like a divorce, the Free Companionship prior to the year's end. As it is a contractual matter, the possibility exists, but the books do not speak on this matter. But, Free Companionship is a very serious matter to Goreans. It is not entered into lightly and seems unlikely that Goreans would see a need to end it earlier than the year's end. There are others who feel differently about Free Companionship. "Some Goreans think of the Free Companionship as being a form of contract slavery." (Blood Brothers of Gor, p.246)
Free Companionships may either be arranged or entered into voluntarily by both parties. If it is an arrangement, there is often a Companionship Price also known as a bride-price. This is the amount of money or goods that the prospective man must pay to the father of the woman he desires to be his Free Companion. The bride-prices of High Caste women are often in gold or tarns. A beautiful women might cost as much as forty tarns while the daughter of an Administrator could go as high as one hundred tarns. The daughter of a Ubar might even cost one thousand tarns. Low Castes also arrange Free Companionships though the bride-price would be much lower. The woman is often not consulted concerning the matter. She must accept what her father arranges for her. Some women might not even see the face of their intended until the Free Companionship ceremony. Many Low Caste women will though know their intended Companion though they will pretend otherwise. It will often be someone of their Caste, someone they might see in the market or on the city streets. The woman might be "…the same girl who slapped him with a fish yesterday and hurled such a stream of invective at him that his ears still smart,…" (Outlaw of Gor, p.68)
The books do not contain a complete Free Companionship ceremony, only small bits of information about its contents. In addition, it is clear that the ceremonies vary city to city. The only common denominator is that the ceremony include the drinking of special wine, the wine of love. In some ceremonies, the couple will interlock their arms as they drink the wine. The wine must often be drunk to conclude the ceremony. In some ceremonies, the woman will wear eight veils, several which will be removed during certain phases of the ceremony. Some cities then have the final veils removed in private by the man while in other cities the final veils are removed in public during the ceremony.
A person is only permitted to have a single Free Companion at a time. There is no limit to the number of subsequent Free Companions you may have. Free women do not change their names in a Free Companionship like Earth women do in a marriage. A Free Companionship generally is supported by a Companion Contract outlining the conditions of the Companionship. The books again do not contain the details of such Contracts. There may be a feast celebration of the Free Companionship. At this event, it is common for the woman to wear a garland of talendars. If the prospective Free Companions are of different cities, the ceremony may be preceded by a Companion or Betrothal Journey, where the woman journey's to the man's city. The wealthier the couple, the more involved this journey will be. Tarnsmen have a custom where the warrior playfully captures his intended woman and binds her across the saddle of his tarn. He then flies away with her, tossing her clothes to the ground below. Some men will even free a slave to make her his Free Companion.
A female Free Companion, especially one of High Caste, will often perform only the type of work they choose to do. They do not commonly work as a domestic servant in their home. There are public slaves who tend to chores such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. Such work is considered beneath most free women, especially those of High Caste or station. This does give free women a lot of free time, especially if they do not work in their Caste and do not have children.
But a vital function of the free women of Gor is to reproduce, to provide children to give longevity to their family and Caste. The child of a slave is most often legally considered a slave. Few free men will thus have children with their slaves. That is considered a privilege of free women. In general, it is free women who care for and teach the children in their crucial beginning years of development. Slaves are not permitted to teach free people so they could not teach even children. Slaves are limited to lesser roles with children, more a playmate than much else. Children will thus learn a lot from their free mothers so it is the obligation of their mothers to ensure they learn the proper information. It is likely they are the ones that begin to teach children about the Caste Codes, their proper modes of behavior.
Goreans are fond of children and rarely would cause them harm or suffering. Even slave children are seldom abused. Slave children may not even realize they are slaves until they are in their teenage years. Despite this general love of children, there is also a dichotomy involved as well. Some free women sell their infant children into slavery, mostly their daughters. Some women even do this on a regular basis. The standard price for an infant girl is about two tarsk bits, a very low value. Some infants, if they appear sickly or too weak, may be left out to die, exposed to the elements. Some children are left in the Voltai Mountains, a wooden skewer through their heels. Goreans do not consider this to be cruelty.
Female children learn many ways to please men, including such matters as the preparation of exotic dishes, the arts of walking, standing and being beautiful, the care of a man's equipment, and certain dances. These dances may include the love dances of their city and the stately dances of free maidens. These stately ones might be performed to honor and welcome visiting dignitaries. It is a slow and graceful dance, very modest. Female children must also learn how to submit to a man as they never know when that might save their life one day. The threat of enslavement is a very real danger for all women. Thus, they want to be prepared as most women would prefer slavery to death.
Laws Concerning Free Women
Within the books, there are basically two types of laws that deal with free women. There are laws that protect free women and there are laws that state when a free woman may be legally enslaved. In addition, there are certain universal conventions that exist dealing with the enslavement of free women. Though these do not have the power of law, honor often dictates that the conventions will be followed if appropriate. An important point to consider is that it is generally illegal to collar a free woman, within the city of her Home Stone, on your own. Even if a free woman violates one of the city laws where the punishment is slavery, the legal process must still be followed. Either magistrates or a court will decide if the woman's actions warrant her judicial enslavement. Men will act to protect women of their Home Stone from being illegally enslaved.
Please also remember that the following list of laws may not apply in all Gorean cities. This is simply a list derived from the books. Each city will have their own laws and may or may not follow one of the laws listed here. Other laws, that are not listed here, will also exist.
It is illegal to touch pleasure silk to the skin of a free woman. It is considered too sensuous a material for them.
Face stripping, removing the veils of a free woman against her will, is considered a serious crime.
A free woman may engage in a form of limited self-contracting where she legally becomes a slave for a specific time period, commonly ranging from one night to one year. She cannot end this contract earlier than the specified time period. Once the contract takes effect, she becomes a slave with no legal powers at all. This curious contractual arrangement is not described in great detail. It raises numerous legal dilemmas that can only be speculated about. The books do not state that the contract does or does not cover any contingencies or limits the slavery in any way. The woman does becomes an actual slave. That would seem to mean she could be freely killed. What would happen if she was sold? Does the contract prevent that? Would the time period still apply if she was sold? What would happen if she was stolen? This passage seems to raise far more questions than it answers.
The Couching Law states: "Any free woman who couches with another's slave, or readies herself to couch with another's slave, becomes herself a slave, and the slave of the slave's master." (Magicians of Gor, p.7) This basically means that a free woman cannot have sex with a male slave she does not own. It does not prevent her from having sex with a slave she does own. It also means that she only has to prepare to have sex with someone else's slave to be in violation. Actual sex is not a requirement. Special seduction slaves are used by some owners to trap free women. Milo, from Magicians of Gor, is a prime example of a seduction slave. Tarl Cabot uses him to entrap Talena and enslave her by this law. The Couching Law exists in Ar and may have been adopted by other cities. There are other cities though like Vonda that clearly do not have such a law because free women there may freely give their male slaves to a female guest.
Debt can lead to a free woman's enslavement in either of two ways. First, if a father cannot pay his own debts, then his daughter may become the property of the state. She would then be publicly auctioned and her sale price would be used equitably to pay off her father's debts. The books do not state that sons are also susceptible to this law though it would seem unlikely that would be the case. Second, a free woman who cannot pay her own debts may be enslaved. There are redemption laws whereby another person can pay off the woman's debt and thus gain ownership of that woman. If no one chooses to pay off her debts within a specified time period then she will be sold to a Slaver, the proceeds used to pay off her debt. The books do not specify the exact length of time before she would be sold to a Slaver. This law is sometimes used by unscrupulous people to entrap free women. They may purchase a woman's debt from another and then request that the woman make good on the debt immediately. If the woman cannot do so, she will be enslaved.
A free woman can sell herself into slavery but once the transaction is completed, it is too late for her to revoke it.
If a free woman willingly submits to be a slave to a specific man, the city laws vary on what can happen. Some cities state that the woman becomes a slave automatically even if that particular man does not accept her submission. It seems probable she would thus become a state slave at that point. Other cities state that the woman remains free if that particular man does not accept her submission.
If a free woman kneels before a man or addresses him as Master, this is sufficient to make her a slave. Her actions are interpreted as a gesture of submission.
There is no law in the books that states a free woman may be legally enslaved for being insolent, insulting, ridiculing or demeaning a man.
Some city laws require women to wear Robes of Concealment and veils. Repeated offenses of failure to wear them can lead to enslavement. Even in cities where the Robes and veils are not mandatory, a free woman can still be enslaved for baring too much skin, especially her legs.
There is an important legal principle concerning free women and "conduct indicating suitability for the collar." It deals with overt conduct that shows a predisposition to slavery, behavior that is considered sufficient grounds to legally enslave a woman. It will be judges or magistrates who make the decision on whether a particular woman's behavior warrants such a penalty. There would sometimes be a hearing with a presentation of evidence. Some of the behaviors known to warrant such a sanction include fraud, theft, indigency, vagrancy, prostitution, and performing sensuous dance. In addition, free woman who show an inordinate amount of interest in slavery may also be found to suitable for this sanction. If a woman tries to spy on men and their slaves, if they disguise themselves as a slave, or linger around slave markets, then they might find themselves being judicially enslaved. These cases will not always be clear cut and could entail a lengthy hearing.
Here are two important conventions dealing with enslavement and free women. They do not have the effect of law but honor often dictates these conventions will be followed. These conventions are part of the Gorean tradition and thus are accorded much respect.
The institution of capture is practiced by nearly every, if not every, city on Gor. If you capture women from another city, your own city will recognize the legality of that capture and your rightful possession of the new slave. Remember that those women must belong to another city. You cannot legally raid your own city to obtain women to be your slaves. The city you are raiding will defend its woman but they also understand that captures are a part of life.
If a man saves the life of a woman, convention states that he has the option to enslave her. In essence, the man has won the right to the woman's life by saving it. Though this is not a law, few people would refuse a man this right. Even a woman's own family would be likely to honor this convention. It would be considered to be the honorable course of action.
Free woman have a number of freedoms and restrictions within different cities, not all that reach the level of an actual law. They are much more based on tradition and Goreans are very supportive of tradition. The general freedom of a free woman is closely tied to each particular city. Ko-ro-ba may be the Gorean city that accords the most personal freedom to free women and Tharna, after its revolution, may be the most repressive. For example, in Tharna, free women who visit must temporarily wear a collar, slave tunic and leash. The other cities of Gor fall somewhere in between this spectrum.
In some cities, free women are not permitted to leave their homes without the permission of a male relative or their Free Companion. In addition, some cities permit their women only to speak to blood relatives.
Women commonly travel outside the cities only accompanied by a sufficient group of armed guards. They do not commonly travel with only a single guard. It can be very dangerous for women outside the cities. Even within the cities, some women will travel with guards though they are more apt to only travel with a single guard. This would apply more for women of High Caste or high station who can afford such protection. The average Peasant women would not walk around Ar protected by an armed rarius.
There are no known laws limiting the type of weapons that women may carry but practicality commonly limits their choices to daggers and/or poisoned needles. Poison is considered to be a woman's weapon, not a weapon of Warriors or Assassins. Women will carry their weapons concealed, hoping to rely on surprise if they ever need to actually defend themselves. Without the element of surprise, most men could easily disarm a woman.
Some free women engage in the sport of hunting and are skilled in the use of the crossbow or small bow. They may even dress in hunting leathers, ride a tharlarion and hunt on their own, though that is dangerous.
When sitting, free women kneel in what would be considered almost a tower slave position. Their hands though lie on their thighs, palms down. Free women maintain good posture while kneeling. Free women do not sit cross-legged as that is only for men. It is considered an insult to men for women to sit cross-legged.
Free women may enter a house first, rather than behind a man like a slave.
Free women commonly drink delicately and eat in small bites. A free woman might eat larger bites, though that is most often done to arouse a man she desires.
Free women are rarely permitted to observe slave dances that are erotic or especially sensuous. This is not because they might be offended but it is for their own protection. It is thought that such sights might inflame the slave desires within a free women.
Most free women dislike the theater, especially its more vulgar and ribald minor forms. If anything, they will attend performances incognito so others can not identify them. It is only the more serious and major forms of theater that free women feel comfortable attending.
The Twelfth Passage Hand, just before the solemn Waiting Hand, is often a time of great festivities, a Carnival. Carnival is also a time for people to don masks and bizarre costumes, allowing an opportunity for jokes and pranks. They also permit incognito assignations between free people. Some free women even go as far as to masquerade as slaves and run naked through the cities. Another common game during the Carnival is called Favors. In the basic version, free women are given ten scarves, each set unique to each woman. The free women then pass out the scarves to men and receive a kiss in return. The first woman who passes out all of her scarves and returns to the starting point wins. This gives free women a valid way to flirt during this specific time.
In general free women are seen as frigid and sexually repressed. Many know little about sex and see it more as a duty and a chore rather than as a matter of mutual pleasure. This frigidity is considered acceptable for free woman though slaves are not permitted that quality. Men are commonly disappointed by this frigidity, especially if they have experienced the wanton sexuality of a slave. It generally takes from a third to a quarter of an Ahn, 18 to 24 minutes, to arouse a free woman to orgasm. Some free women are proud of their frigidity. They consider it important to show how different they are from slaves. Other free women seek to change that aspect of themselves and learn how to be more sexually responsive. Physicians commonly tell free women who seek advice on changing their frigidity to learn slave dancing. Most consider it appropriate though that free women remain ignorant of the sexuality of the slave.
"An unowned girl, a free woman, thus, can never experience her full sexuality…Passion, it is thought, deprives the free woman to some extent of her freedom and important self-control; it is frowned upon because it makes her behave, to some extent, like a degraded female slave; free women, thus, to protect their honor and dignity, their freedom and personhood, their individuality, must fight passion;… the free woman must remain cool and in control of herself, even in the arms of her companion, to avoid being truly 'had,'…" (Tribesman of Gor, p.17)
Free women may own slaves, both male and female. There are no legal restrictions on their ownership rights concerning slaves. Silk slaves are special male slaves trained to please women. You can find more information on them in the Education Scroll #6, Kajirus Basics.
In the presence of free women, slave are commonly required to be more modest. This applies mostly in public places though it may apply elsewhere as well depending on the circumstances. On city streets though, kajirae are rarely punished for a lack of modesty. Free women must tolerate almost any type of slave behavior that occurs there. A free man can walk his kajira naked through the streets if he so desires and the free women would just avert their eyes. But, men are often solicitous of free women so they would rarely walk their slaves naked except maybe as a form of discipline. Men generally do not openly flaunt the sexuality of their slaves in front of free women. They often try to respect the sensitive feelings of the free women.
In general, free women despise kajirae, treating them with cruelty and viciousness. If a slave is especially attractive, a free woman will treat her even worse. This is motivated in part by envy and jealousy. Free women know that men often prefer the company of slave girls. This resentment is thus taken out on the slaves and not the men. Free women also envy the slave's freedom to be sexual beings, especially of those slaves that seem the happiest. Some free women also despise slaves in a denial of their own feelings and desires to be a slave. The consequence is that most kajirae fear free women. They understand the power free women have over them and they do not want to irritate free women any further. They dread the possibility of being owned by a free woman. And as most men do not interfere when a free woman punishes a slave, a slave knows she has little recourse except to be as pleasing as possible to free women.
The Gorean novels are filled with much rhetoric concerning beliefs about free women. Many of these sayings allege that all women are natural slaves. Most of these sayings are not mentioned in the presence of free women though. They are what men say when they get together to discuss women.
"Every woman in her heart wants to wear the chains of a man." (Priest-Kings of Gor, p.204)
"The institution of freedom for women, I decided, as many Goreans believed, was a mistake." (Nomads of Gor, p.286)
"…the garments of a free woman are designed to conceal a woman's slavery,…" (Rogue of Gor, p.276)
"On Gor it is said that free women are slaves who have not yet been collared." (Magicians of Gor, p.22)
"A Gorean saying came to mind, that the free woman is a riddle, the answer to which is the collar." (Magicians of Gor, p.50)
Some of these sayings also allege that true love can only exist between a man and a kajira, not a free woman. The general idea is that, for women, the price of being free is that they must sacrifice love. Again, these are sayings generally not spoken of in the presence of free women.
"A woman , I had learned, must choose between freedom and love." (Slave Girl of Gor, p.412)
"A man can truly love only that woman who is truly his, who belongs to him. Otherwise he is only a party to a contract." (Slave Girl of Gor, p.444)
"…no free woman, because she is free, can truly compete for the attention and affection of a man as can a slave girl." (Fighting Slave of Gor, p.217)
"Bondage is a soil in which it is natural for love to blossom." (Blood Brothers of Gor, p.113)
Yet, despite all this rhetoric, free women remain in the overwhelming majority on Gor. If all women are natural slaves, then why haven't the majority of women been enslaved. If true love is only find with a slave, does that mean the vast majority of male Goreans live without love? It seems obvious, based on the evidence within the books, that all of this rhetoric is mostly just talk. It is manly banter that has little basis in the realities of Gorean society. Though generalizations can be made about free women, there are surely many exceptions as well. Some free women are capable of intense passion and love. Many men must find contentment with their Free Companions as Gorean men in general are said to be happy people. Do not confuse the rhetoric with the reality. Look deeper than the surface to find the true answers of Gor.
Free Women Online
There are a limited number of women in online Gor who act as free women. Most choose to be slaves. Of those who choose to be free women, many become panther girls, talunas or female Warriors. You will often hear complaints from free women that it is too difficult to be a free woman online unless you are a panther girl, taluna or female Warrior. They do not see any viability in other roles, seeing too many restrictions on those others.
Let us first consider the role of free women in Gorean role-play. Many feel that role-play opportunities for women are too dull and limited. That is why many create a female warrior though I feel this indicates that Gorean role-play is primarily combat oriented. That is not the case. Gor is a varied and vibrant world. Your Gorean role-play is limited only by your imagination. You can create any number of exciting story-lines, many of which do not involve any combat. It is easy to add some intrigue and mystery into a storyline. Free women have freedom in many areas on Gor and could be involved in a myriad of activities.
Let me give you some examples of the possibilities that exist for free women in Gorean role-play. First, you should try to elevate your role-play out of the "tavern" mode. Too many people center their role-play in cities in a tavern. They ignore the possibilities that exist outside that tiny location. Free women have better opportunities for role-play in such areas as a marketplace, public gardens or the library. Why should they sit in a tavern and watch the kajirae serve men? It gets boring quickly. Free women should get out into the city streets and seek the possibilities for adventure there.
Here are a few possible storylines for free women. A free women Physician may be researching a cure for Dar-Kosis, a disease the Initiates do not want cured. Trying to outwit the Initiates, dealing with other Physicians and working with the inflicted are a few areas to consider. A free woman Scribe may stumble upon an ancient secret in an old scroll. She must decide how best to handle it. Maybe others want the scroll and she must elude those people while best discerning what to do with the secret. A free woman Merchant gets to deal with all types of people. Maybe one of her customers orders a special item and then he mysteriously vanishes, leaving behind a cryptic note. Maybe she can you solve the mystery of the customer's fate. Mystery and intrigue storylines work well for free women.
Real time free women have numerous opportunities as well though their online opportunities do appear limited in some respects. Many online areas are geared toward Master/Slave interaction, i.e. paga taverns. There are very few places that cater specifically to real time free women. There is an additional problem of dealing with people who do not properly understand the role of free women on Gor. These people may often disrespect such free women. Such free women should find other women to interact with and find ways to get involved in the online community. It may not be easy, but there are places there for you.
Gor is a wonderful and varied place. Do not think of its limitations.
Think of all of its opportunities.