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Consent In Gorean Culture

August 5th, 2016

Because of who I used to be, I feel like I should start by saying this is not an attack or me calling anyone out. I’m not mad at MrBLK. I don’t feel like MrBLK was attacking my lifestyle or me personally, and I’m not interested in attacking MrBLK. I’m just not that girl anymore.

I am pretty upset about the misconceptions (and sometimes, outright lies, but I feel like MrBLK told the truth as MrBLK sees it, and who could ask for anything more?) surrounding my lifestyle. I’m pretty upset with the entitled, misogynistic man-children (one of whom MrBLK is NOT) who have spread these misconceptions through their actions and words, both online and in real life Gorean circles. I’m here only to try to clear up the misconception that is most damning to the real life Gorean community: the issue of consent. /disclaimer


In the post, The curious case of Gor and BDSM, MrBLK gives a cursory explanation of Gor and Gorean culture. It’s pretty close to the reality of the fictional series, but MrBLK’s post confirmed something for me that I already knew. So many non-Gorean people walk away from Gorean communities with the impression that because consent is not discussed in the books, consent is not an issue in real life Gorean circles. This is simply not true.

As MrBLK pointed out, there are all sorts of concerning things about fictional life on Gor, not the least of which being the fact that Gorean society is patriarchal in every way, shape, and form.

Free men are in total control of the surface of Gor. They make the rules. They choose how the rules are enforced. Women, free or not, have no choice but to bow to the will of men. The patriarchy is reinforced by insectoid extraterrestrials, known as Priestkings, who, though they’ve been enslaving humans for centuries, have no real understanding of human behavior. Nor do they care to.

There’s no mention of basic BDSM tenets. Consent is not a thing on the fictional planet Gor. Men do whatever they want with slaves, and are rarely rebuked when they take free women as slaves, though it is generally frowned upon within your own city or caste. Better to enslave the women of another world (or an enemy city, or a low caste) than your own people.

How very Earth-like Goreans are. Probably because the original Gorean humans were abducted from Earth to be slaves to the Priestkings.

Some analysts feel the storyline follows Earth’s history almost exactly, including the way women have been treated in Earth’s past, and, in some cases, how women are still treated today. John Norman even wrote about a group of women who rebelled against Gor’s patriarchal subculture, banding together and becoming violent bandits, though in actuality, they were vicious because their very survival required it. Sound familiar?

However, despite how closely the series follows Earth’s history, Norman never meant for it to be a BDSM guide. In fact, as MrBLK mentioned, Norman takes issue with BDSM, rejecting it as a mental health issue, particularly on the part of the masochist. The books are in the sci-fi section because they are decidedly fiction. Gor is a world that reflects Earth in as much as a funhouse mirror reflects a person’s actual appearance. The image is warped and wrong. Mostly. There are still quite a few parallels, like delineated gender roles, the idea that homosexuality is unnatural, and the extreme objectification of women which leads to violence against women without their consent.

But honestly? Sane practicing Goreans aren’t stupid, or psychotic, or entitled (except when it comes to their property). We know the difference between a fictional series about asshole space aliens and real life. We know it’s illegal and morally reprehensible to grab some woman on the street and force her to be our slave. We certainly know there’s no planet Gor to escape to, on which we will be masters of the universe, or helpless and ravished slave girls.

In truth, most of us slaves aren’t even interested in the reality of the fictional Gorean society. It’s the fantasy that makes our heart skip a beat. The fire that burns in our bellies when we think about being snatched up by a strong alpha male, thrown to his feet, and made to do his bidding.

And I imagine it’s similar for the free people.

“But Rayne! I run into psycho Goreans ALL THE TIME!”

Yep. I bet you do.

Most of us sane Goreans don’t openly discuss the fact that our relationship dynamics are based on Gorean slavery because we know what the general kinky population thinks about that. We know that most people hear “Gorean slave” and think “domestic abuse victim.” They hear “free man” and think “psychotic sadistic rapist.”

Hell, for a long time, I rejected the fact that my training is Gorean-based because people I wanted to be friends with had only been involved with the overdramatic man-children who get a kick out of being arrogant, misogynistic bastards. My friends often spoke in length about how ridiculous Goreans are, and how fucked up. And oh, remember that one Gorean master who convinced his slave that not only was he entitled to her body, but her daughter’s, as well, because the girl was born of a slave? Obviously, everyone who identifies as a Gorean kinkster is a pedophile and should die in a fire.

That’s nice, guys, thanks.

When it comes right down to it, real life Gorean culture is the quintessential consent-to-nonconsent dynamic.

While some people do enter into Gorean society without knowing what they’re getting themselves into, it is not recommended by any Gorean-identifying person (except maybe the man-children, but we all know they’re creepy douchebags). In many circles, newbie women will be tossed out on their ear until they’ve at least read the first book and/or can show that they’ve gained some understanding of a woman’s role in Gorean culture. Even on IRC, I saw countless “slave girls” booted from channels after they proved they didn’t even have a cursory knowledge of the role a slave plays in Gorean culture.

Though our channels were frequently accused of elitism by slaves who felt they were being slighted for being new, this course of action was for the woman’s own good. Before this was a thing, so many women who didn’t know what Gor was would leave in tears, traumatized, feeling brutalized by words that probably wouldn’t have affected them so severely had they known what they were getting into and actually wanted it.

Our channels had bots that automatically sent a private message to every new person who entered explaining the rules of the channel. They offered an option to opt out of the rules and merely observe. It was made clear that if you didn’t choose this option, you were consenting to the rules. One of the rules was that a free woman could not be made a slave against her will. The same was true for the Gorean worlds we encountered on other platforms, like Second Life. Because even in online role-play, Goreans understand that consent is the only thing that separates us from the criminals.

Of course, this isn’t the case for all Gorean communities.

For some, Gorean role-play is literally a game, not to be taken seriously, and the issue of consent isn’t an issue because there’s no actual sex or violence. It’s LARP, equivalent to a historical war reenactment. That’s it.

For others (mostly the aforementioned man-children), Gorean culture is a real thing and consent is not an issue because it’s not an issue in the books.

Us sane Goreans stay away from those Goreans. We warn other people away from those Goreans. But we can’t pretend those Goreans don’t exist because people who think and act like those Goreans exist in literally every other walk of life, including non-Gorean BDSM. It’s not a behavior exclusive to Goreans, and I dare say, is not the catalyst for abuse in BDSM.

And I think that’s all I have to say about that.


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  1. dweaver999
    August 6th, 2016 at 11:54 | #1

    It doesn’t help that, like most fringe groups, the man-children (as you so aptly call them) are the most vocal and visible part of Goreans. In many ways, these jerkazoids are the Westborrow basptists of Goreans.


  2. August 6th, 2016 at 12:37 | #2

    @dweaver999 It’s true. Humans are preconceived to remember negative interactions better than positive ones, and the assholes are more than happy to prove they’re assholes. Makes it harder for the non-assholes to stand out. It’s a shame.

  3. Sam
    November 4th, 2016 at 13:50 | #3

    The problem the way I see it if you aren’t actually like the book then you probably shouldn’t align yourselves with it at all. The book states that free women CAN be taken against their will. So if that’s not something that’s part of your rules and you don’t play by it then why bother calling yourselves gorean at all? Why not just come up with your own name and say inspired by, but not gorean? |

    It is kind of like how christians say they don’t believe in stoning sinners or are okay with gay people, but forget that their BOOK isn’t. No matter how hard you try to say otherwise if you align yourself with that book you are basically saying its okay and promoting it. Like it or not Gorean promotes rape and calling yourself gorean you are doing the same.

  4. November 4th, 2016 at 14:15 | #4

    @Sam And that’s what you call a logical fallacy.

    With regard to rl Gorean culture, the only way it could be considered “promoting rape” is if the people participating touted the books as historically accurate and societal law. We don’t, and they’re not. They’re fiction, plain and simple. Our relationship dynamics and rules apply only to us, and not the rest of society. Sane Goreans know that. Anyone who doesn’t is not sane, and cannot be held as an example of rl Gorean culture.

    With regard to Christianity, stoning sinners is Old Testament. Christ’s death negates Old Testament law. And as for the Bible being 100% against homosexuality, that is still up for debate.

    Good try, though. C for effort.

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