Gorean roleplay is one of the largest genres in Second Life, with 50,000+ estimated players. But because of the strong emphasis on female slavery and male domination, the women of Gor are frequently dismissed as damaged goods without self-esteem.
I tracked down three real-life Gorean women who paint a very different picture, defending Gor as a safe platform to satisfy many valid and healthy desires.
Marryanne Avro: To Fulfill a Need That's Missing From First Life
Marryanne has no trouble pinpointing the appeal Gor has for her: "For me personally, I'm just submissive in nature. I come from a very strict family in real life, and how you care was always shown by how well you followed the rules." In the slave-masters of Gor, she finds a kind of security that makes sense to her — relationships with strong figures who have clear and compelling expectations. "For the most part, if you take the time to feel them out, they are actually very kind and caring individuals — they are just strong willed and have high expectations."
But Gor now provides her with a context for RL relationships: "Maybe I would have found out about my submissive nature some other way... But [without Gor] I would be missing the sense of fulfillment I get from this. My life is great, I have good friends, a caring family, but it always felt like before there was a little something missing. Gor has helped me recognize this desire... to please a strong-willed partner." But with a chuckle, she adds that she lets her RL partners know of her submissive tendencies early, before she gets emotionally attached, "...so I can get a good read on them and kick them to the curb if they have the wrong idea."
I ask whether her desire to please others through submission is coming from a low view of herself, and therefore, is ultimately unhealthy. She answers quickly: "Oh I know I am very loved, it's just a different way of showing it."
Cortez Brandriss: For Sexually-Charged Creative Expression
For Cortez, the primary appeal is artistic: "I am a writer. I love writing, and I wanted the chance to write out my fantasy stories with other people whose writing really got to me... It's like watching a movie, and getting to play the character you want, without having to create the whole thing yourself. You get to feed off someone." But she's also quick to admit the sexual appeal. "I think the idea of being dominated was my initial draw.... I always knew that I thought D/S was hot. I've known it since I started reading and would find scenes in books where one person dominated the other — be it mentally, physically, sexually, etc... So what better way to get my D/S fix than through writing it through a character that wasn't me?"
Cortez lets her passion for artistic expression drive her roleplay. "I was one of the first people publicly, at least in the Gorean community I existed in, that alted — that had two slave characters going at the same time, on different sims, belonging to different men. At the time, it was unheard of. People refused to write with me because of it, they didn't understand how I could belong to two people. But my point was that 'I' didn't belong to anyone, my characters did. Now, you see people writing multiple characters all the time like that." And Cortez took the exploration even further, playing a male character who became the captain of the navy on one sim and the leader of another.
As a leader and rebel in the roleplay community, Cortez feels that it's the charged mix of creativity and sexuality that draws most women to Gor. "I think most women will tell you they come to Gor because they like the fantasy of it, and they want a chance to explore that fantasy. I think most women stay because they either find what they are looking for, or refuse to give up looking for it — which is usually a role play partner whose writing excites them."
A veteran Gor roleplayer of almost a decade, Sasi believes that Gor represents what all women truly want. "I find in vanilla relationships, the majority of the reason why women cheat on their men is because they feel their men are too weak and they can manipulate them. They look for stronger men, instinctively. That's just human nature and natural instinct. Innately, women will always look for the stronger man to breed with."
I counter that surely that kind of genuine strength wouldn't demand submission. But Sasi explains, "People are like kids. If you let them push at your walls and get away with things, eventually you lose their respect and they feel unprotected and unloved. When a man is the wall you hit, and he is paying attention and doesn't let you begin to become lazy or sway in your efforts to nurture the relationship or yourself, you feel safe, like someone is paying attention and looking out for you even when you don't realize you are slipping."
Sasi relentlessly emphasizes that while people get hung up on the role of women in Gor, its actually the men who have the greatest challenge. "First a Master must master themselves, and be all they need to be, in order for a woman to be all he needs her to be. Then she will fall naturally upon her knees in surrender... she couldn't help not to. If she sees in him the strength, morality, and honesty that comes with mastering himself, there is an inner calm and peace. And it calls to you."
* * *
As I stare now at the gorgeous and willing warrior who posed with me for a quick picture, I feel my foundation shake under the force of a paradigm shift. No, I'm not ready to slap a collar around my neck and spend my Second Life kneeling at the feet of a Sasquatch-sized studmuffin...but I know now that its not as simple as that. Would I enjoy a chance to write a new identity for Night, while crafting an elaborate world of adventure and romance with talented collaborators? I think I probably would. Would I be willing to put myself in a situation that would profoundly challenge my concept of relationship? I think I probably should. And most importantly, would I want to know a man who has truly mastered himself, and let him master me?
Hmmm...what was that the name of that guy in the picture?
/me runs off to find her chat log.
If you'd like to hear more from these remarkable women of Gor, you can find their full interviews on Nightflower's blog. Nightflower is currently dividing her time between writing, raising virtual reptiles, and enjoying the new expansion just released for Lord of the Rings Online. You can read more at her blog, NightLight. Contact her on Twitter @nightflowerSL, and via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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