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(#34, Version 5.0)
"Moreover, the Gorean culture tends, for better or worse, to be male oriented and male dominated, " (Assassin of Gor, p.134)
Everyone is aware that male dominance is an important aspect of Gorean philosophy. Male dominance is seen as part of the natural order, a biological truth. In nature, all primates follow a principle of male dominance and most mammals follow it as well. A cursory reading of the Gorean novels though presents a false image of the concept of male dominance. Male dominance is a pervasive principle on Gor but it is not an absolute. Numerous exceptions exist that show male dominance is only a generalization on Gor. That is a fact that many people seem to misunderstand.
We will first consider the most blatant exceptions to this principle, women who occupy positions of great power. Gorean cities can be ruled by women in such positions as a Tatrix, Ubara or Administrator. There is no law on Gor that prevents women from attaining such positions. Tharna, Corycrus, and Port Olni were all once led by a Tatrix. Ar, after the Cosian invasion, is ruled by Talena as Ubara. After the revolt in Tharna, a woman ruled the city as an Administrator. The citizens of these cities seemed to have little problem with accepting a female ruler. Even in Tharna, after the dreaded Silver Masks were ousted, the people still accepted a woman to rule them.
These women possess the same powers as a male ruler would possess. Thus, they are the most powerful individual in their city, above all others, male or female. These female rulers can make or change any law they wish. They can start wars, make treaties or alliances, collect taxes, arrest traitors and much more. These female rulers are subservient to no man. Of course such women can be enslaved and most examples of female rulers in the books were eventually collared. But, this does not diminish their power in the least. All men can be enslaved as well. It is a hazard for all Goreans, of either sex. Any ruler can also be ousted by power. Even the great Marlenus, Ubar of Ar, has been ousted from power.
If women can rule cities, then there is no reason why they cannot be Caste leaders or members of a city's High Council. There is nothing in the books to indicate women are prohibited from such positions. Though the books give no examples of women occupying such positions, they do not identify most of the people occupying those positions. At best, there are only a few Caste Leaders or High Council members specifically identified.
One's station in life is also very important on Gor. In general, the High Castes are considered superior to the Low Castes. That is the whole reason for the hierarchy of the caste structure. This is greater than any difference of the sexes. A woman of the Warrior Caste would be considered superior to a male Peasant. Men of the Low Castes will generally be deferential to women of the High Castes. High Caste women also have more legal rights than men of the Low Castes. For example, they are entitled to vote in such matters as the election of an Administrator. Women are legally entitled to own all types of property on Gor. They can be the heads of large Houses and businesses. They may own large estates, ranches or farms.
Men can be enslaved and they may be owned by women. Male slaves are slaves in all respects and are below all free women, of whatever Caste. Silk slaves are male Pleasure slaves, trained to please women. If male dominance was absolute, you would expect that no woman could ever own a man. There are even female Slavers who engage in field captures. Panther girls and talunas are also able to capture men to enslave. Such women are very dominant in their respective wilderness areas. In addition, the actual number of female slaves on Gor is very low, only about 2 to 3% of the female population. Slavery on Gor is actually uncommon when you consider the numbers involved.
Why do all these exceptions exist if male dominance is so intrinsic to Gorean philosophy? Is "male dominance" simply Gorean rhetoric, a dream of the masses? Are all these exceptions simply bizarre aberrations? What exactly is the proper role on Gor of male dominance?
The answers hinge upon the fact that male dominance, though very important, is not actually a basic precept of Gorean philosophy. It is actually a derivative of a more basic precept, one with no exceptions. This precept is the foundation of many aspects of Gorean philosophy and society. This precept is one of the clearest divisions between Earth and Gorean moralities. It is a precept that most people on Earth find repugnant. On Earth, this precept has led to genocide, war, tyranny, slavery and other horrors. The United States was founded to oppose such a precept.
This "terrible" precept is that "People are not Equal." A quote from the books helps to illustrate this point.
"The morality of Earth, from the Gorean point of view, is a morality which would be viewed as more appropriate to slaves than free men. It would be seen in terms of the envy and resentment of inferiors for their superiors. It lays great stress on equalities and being humble and being pleasant and avoiding friction and being ingratiating and small. It is a morality in the best interest of slaves, who would be only too eager to be regarded as the equals of others. We are all the same. That is the hope of slaves; that is what it is in their interest to convince others of. The Gorean morality on the other hand is more one of inequalities, based on the assumption that individuals are not the same, but quite different in many ways. It might be said to be, though this is oversimple, a morality of masters." (Marauders of Gor, p.8)
This precept recognizes that we are all individuals and that each individual is different from all others in a myriad of ways. Not all men are the same and not all women are the same either. People are judged on an individual basis according to their own skills, intelligence, flaws and such. Though Earth recognizes the importance of individuality, Earth still stresses the basic equality of all. Gor is more an elitist society where the most capable are considered better than those below them. Every person is still important but some are considered more important than others.
On Gor, this precept is the foundation for slavery, the caste system and caste codes, the Double Knowledge, their systems of government, Home Stones and much more. No other precept may be more basic or essential to Gorean philosophy and society. It may be though one of the hardest concepts for Earth people to accept as it is antithetical to much that we believe. Many countries on Earth embrace the proposition that all people are equal. To accept the opposite view, takes some work to counter our many years of conditioning. I have met many online Goreans unwilling to fully embrace this precept despite its importance to Gorean philosophy.
This precept offers explanations for the exceptions previously mentioned concerning male dominance. Though male dominance is a general rule, some women are considered superior to men based on several factors such as status, skill and power. Numerous men will follow a Tatrix or Ubara who proves herself to be a superior. Not all men are the same either and some are considered to deserve to be slaves. Gor thrives on hierarchies and men do not hold all of the top spots. Sex alone does not determine your status or position on Gor. This precept is behind many other aspects of Gorean life as well.
The caste system was built upon this precept. Each person in Gorean society has their place and those places are ranked in order of status. There are High and Low Castes and rankings within each division. A Peasant is normally considered the lowest ranking caste in the system. But, those outside the caste system are considered inferior to even the lowliest of Peasants. Outlaws and slaves, male or female, are lower than any within the caste system.
Within each Caste in the cities, the skill levels of its members varies widely. Some are mere apprentices while others are true masters of their craft. Warriors are often ranked according to their skill. The First Sword in a group is usually the best swordsman. A warrior like Tarl Cabot is clearly one of the finest swords on the planet. He can easily defeat most other warriors on Gor, even if outnumbered. The Caste of Players has official rankings for all its members. Goreans are proud of their abilities and very competitive by nature.
The inequalities of the caste system are perpetuated by the system of the Double Knowledge. This is where the Low Castes are taught certain untruths about the world to keep them in their place. They are taught to believe that the world is flat and that magic exists. The system though permits the superior individuals to rise above this. Gorean libraries contain the truths about these matters and such places are open to all, High or Low Caste. An intelligent and literate Low Caste member could teach himself the truth behind the lies. Thus, your place in society is based on more than simple birth. Your innate skills and knowledge can propel you to a higher status, be you male or female.
The Gorean systems of government are not democratic. The High Castes are commonly the only ones who get to vote for the High Council. The High Council then either elects or appoints, depending on the city, an Administrator to rule as the executive. The Low Castes are even taught that if a Low Caste person ever became ruler, the city would be doomed. Where Ubars rule, one individual has seized power. He is not elected to that position. He rules absolutely for as long as he can hold power. Only the best of men can hold such a position for any length of time. There is no Gorean city that does not have a ruler or is run like a democracy. A democracy would be considered a slave government on Gor, a government concerned about equality.
Even the various cultures, separate from the primary Gorean cities, such as the Wagon Peoples, the Torvaldslanders and the Red Savages are governed by the precept of inequalities. They have their own rules and stratified societal structures. Everyone has their place and some are obviously considered superior to others. Ubars, Jarls and Chiefs rule there. You must earn your place as a warrior or be considered a lesser person.
If you wish your online life to better reflect Gorean philosophy, then you should seriously consider this basic precept. Gor would be a vastly different world without this precept. It would be more like Earth.