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Gorean BDSM

What is Gorean BDSM?

Gorean BDSM is a philosophy and lifestyle that came about in the 70’s and 80’s in response to a book series; starting in 1965 John Norman wrote 33 books all based in the same fictional world and philosophical base, following the adventures of a series of macho alpha males and sexually submissive females transplanted to a “Counter Earth” by advanced aliens. The details of the plot line are largely irrelevant because what struck a chord in many people was the descriptions of the social dynamics and cultural roles of these transplanted humans. In the world of Gor, all males are dominant alpha males, and all females are sexually submissive slaves. For people who’d never run across the idea of sexual slavery, the Gor series was deeply transformational.

How do people practice Gorean BDSM?

gorean bdsm (800)356-6169The rise of Gorean BDSM coincided, perhaps not coincidentally, with the invention and expansion of the internet. Just as 50 Shades of Grey introduced bored housewives to the idea of a big handsome man to answer their sexual fantasies in the teens of this century, the Gor books awoke housewives and pubescent males to the possibilities in erotic roleplay starting in the 60’s and continuing even to this day. Most Gorean practitioners meet online, through chat rooms and even on Second Life. They lead a double life, roleplaying as either the macho male or the submissive female. Some Gorean folks take their games to the real world and have brought a lot of the philosophy and ritual of Gor to modern BDSM.

What effect has Gorean BDSM had on mainstream BDSM?

In short, Gorean BDSM has deeply influenced modern mainstream BDSM, in ways that are difficult to enumerate and a bit embarrassing to realize. Slave collars are just the most common of the Gorean influences in modern BDSM. Tattoos, branding, and otherwise marking a slave or submissive are common themes and come straight from the Gor books. If you’ve ever seen one of the gorgeous Boris Vallejo paintings featuring a scantily clad female in chains, kneeling at the feet of a muscle-bound macho man, you’ve probably seen one of the many covers he painted for the Gor books. The images are iconic and have influenced BDSM porn. In fact, in the books, there is a focus on properly training a sex slave, including required positions to show deference and exhibit the level of control one has over a slave. Sound familiar? It should.

Gorean BDSM may be rooted in cheesy pulp fiction from the ’60’s…

But just because the fantasy world and roleplay is based on some questionable fiction, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop and acknowledge that a lot of Gorean BDSM has seeped into modern BDSM. It’s ok to enjoy questionable things, so long as we acknowledge the bits that are questionable. The Gor books have a, shall we say, loose understanding of consent at best, and the lifestyle that is espoused by Gorean practitioners falls apart in the face of actual reality. One cannot, after all, actually own another human. The book’s insistence on rigid gender roles for males and females completely ignores the beautiful diversity of human sexuality, as does the total absence of any form of gay, bisexual, non-binary, trans, or gender fluid people at all. There are no queer sexualities in the world of Gor, no dominant women, no eager submissive men, and all people are reduced to only two rather static caricatures of aspects of human behavior. Still, it has deeply influenced BDSM practices and knowing one’s history is important.

Remember the next time you kneel for your Mistress, that you’re following in the footsteps of Gorean BDSM.

Kneel, with your knees apart, hands palm up on your thighs, and wait to be collared. It can be thoroughly modern, so long as you ask for it clearly and have negotiated for a fun roleplay; and it can be rooted in Gorean BDSM, the world of Gor, and all these kinky bastards who paved the way for us today.

Listen to Whore School’s hour-long episode on Gorean BDSM!

2 comments to Gorean BDSM

  • I think men that feel women should be on their knees bowing to them are way too stereotypical of most Texan men. However, a man that bows down to me has my total respect. Men were born to bow down to a Goddess. I think it’s just a sign of the society back then that it was the other way around. So happy, things have changed. This was an awesome post. Now, I’m off to listen to your whore school episode!! XOXOX

    • Harper

      I went into my research into Gorean BDSM expecting the misogyny and poor consent, but I honestly didn’t realize how formative it was to modern BDSM practices. It’s interesting.

      And, yeah, as an enlightened feminist badass dominant woman, the idea of kneeling for a man makes my skin crawl, but the reversal, of a man kneeling for me? Oh yes please do. 😉

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