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Life of a Gorean Free Women

"The women of a given caste, it should be noted, often do not engage in caste work. For example, a woman in the Metalworkers does not, commonly, work at the forge, nor is a woman of the Builders likely to be found supervising the construction of fortifications. Caste membership, for Goreans, is generally a simple matter of birth; it is not connected necessarily with the performance of certain skills, nor the attainment of a given level of proficiency in such skills. To be sure, certain skills tend to be associated traditionally with certain castes, a fact which is clearly indicated in caste titles, such as the Leatherworkers, the Metalworkers, the Singers, and the Peasants. A notable exception to the generalization that women of a given caste normally do not engage in caste work is the caste of Physicians, whose women are commonly trained, as are the boys, in the practice of medicine. Even the physicians, however, normally do not admit their women to full practice until they have borne two children. The purpose of this is to retain a high level of intelligence in the caste. Professional women, it is well understood, tend not to reproduce themselves, a situation which, over time, would be likely to produce a diminution in the quality of the caste. Concern for the future of the caste is thus evinced in this limitation by the physicians on the rights of their women to participate without delay in the caste craft. The welfare of the caste, typically, takes priority in the Gorean mind over the ambitions of specific individuals. The welfare of a larger number of individuals, as the Goreans reason, correctly or incorrectly, is more important than the welfare of a smaller number of individuals." (Fighting Slave of Gor)

"Tharna is one of the few Gorean cities in which the great majority of its women are enslaved. Normally only about one in forty or so Gorean women in the cities is enslaved. Free Gorean women, incidentally, enjoy a prestige and status which, it seems to me, is higher than that of the normal Earth woman." (Explorers of Gor)

Attire

There is some basic uniformity of refined dress among free women in all cities. While women of the various nomadic peoples are less layered in attire, they are most certainly the exception rather than the rule... the reasons for their differing attire is keenly tied to the difficulty this would cause them in tasks paramount to an unrefined lifestyle. "The women of rence growers, when in their own marshes, do not veil themselves, as is common among Gorean women, particularly of the cities." (Raiders of Gor, page 18)

Even within one's own compartments, rarely is a free woman underdressed, yet occasionally for comfort she might roam her rooms in her undertunic "peeling off layers of Robes of Concealment until, in a heavy pile of silk, brocade, satin and starched muslin the girl stood in a sleeveless, rather brief orange tunic, attractive, of a sort sometimes worn by free women in the privacy of their own quarters" (Assassin of Gor, 75).

Robes of Concealment

The Robes of Concealment which free women upon Gor wear while subject to fashion dictates are always made from thick, opague cloth. In high cities the robe often starts with a brocade gown that reaches ankle-length from a high collar. Another, looser robe is worn over it. A quilted or brocade headpiece in the style of the Arab kajiyeh is pinned or buttoned in place to cover her head, draping over her shoulders. Veils are then attached with pins and ties.

The reason for such concealment of form & features is described in "Tarnsman of Gor" where John Norman writes, "In the barbaric world of Gor, the Robes of Concealment are deemed necessary to protect the women from the binding fibres of roving tarnsmen. Few warriors will risk their lives to capture a woman who may be as ugly as a tharlarion. Better to steal slaves, where the guilt is less and the charms of the captive are more readily ascertainable in advance."

Veils

There are five veils for different levels of intimacy in settings. They donned one over another to a certain level. The veils are known as the Modesty Veil (also known as Privacy Veil or Last Veil), Veil of Citizeness, Pride Veil, House Veil, and Street Veil. These veils are part of common Gorean attire everywhere except in the northern city of Torvaldsland, and by the Wagon Peoples who wear their hair bound in braids instead.

The one nearest the skin is the Modesty Veil and is worn everywhere outside the FreeWoman's private chambers and is often very sheer. The Veil of Citizeness is obtained upon reaching the age of majority and pledging Citizenship, it is worn whenever She leaves Her Chambers. Basic Gorean law forbids ever stripping this veil from a citizen of One's own HomeStone. The Pride Veil is worn even within Her house, and is the first that truly conceals Her features as it is opague. The House Veil is worn if in the company of men not of her own family or when guests are within the walls of Her house. The Street Veil is typically thick brocaded or quilted cloth attached with numerous pins and fasteners.

There is also an Intimacy Veil which is used by a free woman in the seduction of a companion. Eve by eve, layer by layer, her face becomes more discernable through fewer and fewer layers of this thin silk that may initially be wrapped about her face numerous times. (Beasts of Gor)

While men often wear tunics proudly displaying their caste colors, the women commonly present their caste in the colors of their veil (Assassin of Gor, page 156) and may wear any number of colors of robes to suit their taste and display their lavish means.

Chapter 5 of Slave Girl of Gor shares:

"Eta, from behind me, pinned the first of five veils about my face. It was light, and shimmering, of white silk, almost transparent. Then, one after the other, she added the freedom veil, or veil of the citizenship, the pride veil, the house veil, and street veil. Each of these is heavier and more opaque than the one which lies within. The street veil, worn publicly, is extremely bulky, quite heavy and completely opaque; not even the lineaments of the nose and cheeks are discernible when it is worn; the house veil is worn indoors when there are those present who are not of the household, as in conversing with or entertaining associates of oneís companion. Veils are worn in various numbers and combinations by Gorean free women, this tending to vary by preference and caste. Many low-class Gorean women own only a single veil which must do for all purposes. Not all high-caste women wear a large number of veils. A free woman, publicly, will commonly wear one or two veils; a frequent combination is the light veil, or last veil, and the house or street veil. Rich, vain women of high caste may wear ostentatiously as many as nine or ten veils. In certain cities, in connection with the free companionship, the betrothed or pledged beauty may wear eight veils, several of which are ritualistically removed during various phases of the ceremony of companionship; the final veils, and robes, of course, are removed in private by the male who, following their removal, arms interlocked with the girl, drinks with her the wine of the companionship, after which he completes the ceremony. This sort of thing, however, varies considerably from city to city. In some cities the girl is unveiled, though not disrobed, of course, during the public ceremony. The friends of the male may then express their pleasure and joy in her beauty, and their celebration of the good fortune of their friend. The veil, it might be noted, is not legally imperative for a free woman; it is rather a matter of modesty and custom. Some low-class, uncompanioned, free girls do not wear veils. Similarly certain bold free women neglect the veil. Neglect of the veil is not a crime in Gorean cities, though in some it is deemed a brazen and scandalous omission. Slave girls may or may not be veiled, this depending on the will of their master. Most slave girls are not permitted to veil themselves. Indeed, not only are they refused the dignity of the veil, but commonly they are placed in brief, exciting slave livery and may not even bind their hair. Such girls, healthy and vital, their hair unbound, their considerable charms well revealed by the brevity of their costume, are thought by men to constitute one of the more pleasurable aspects of the scenery of a city. Are the slaves of Ar, for example, more beautiful than those of, say, Ko-ro-ba, or Tharna? Men, the beasts, heatedly discuss such questions. In some cities, and among some groups and tribes, it might be mentioned, though this is not common, veils may be for most practical purposes unknown, even among free women. The cities of Gor are numerous and pluralistic. Each has its own history, customs and traditions. On the whole, however, Gorean culture prescribes the veil for free women."

Accessories

Slippers or close-fitting boots may be prefered by some free women, but others seek the up to ten inches of additional height in platform shoes. However, the platform shoes are extremely difficult to walk over uneven surfaces in so are often worn only in the indoors.

While brooches, medallions, rings, and armlets are popular with wealthy free women, they are very careful of wearing wristlets and bangles of precious metals or even decorative chokers that might be interpretted as a ko-lar or slave bracelets. The left ankle of a free woman, being considered the "slave ankle" is completely avoided with adornment of any kind. Among the Wagon Peoples, small gold nose rings are common even among the free.

Etiquette

Even the women that are free, are still Gorean; hence, they are still submissive to the men of their city if not owned as property by them. Their manner is frequently subdued and genteel, though a few cultural variations such as the self-sufficiency and directness among the rence growers, do exist. "are quite capable of cutting rence, preparing it, hunting for their own food and, on the whole, of existing, if they wish it, by themselves. There are few tasks of the rence communities wich they cannot perform as well as men. Their intelligence, and the work of their hands, is needed by the small communities. Accordingly they suffer little inhibition in the matters of speaking out and expressing themselves." (Raiders of Gor, page 19) It is even said that their mouths are as large as the Vosk delta (Raiders of Gor).

Gorean free women are expected to be witty, graceful and, of course as are all free persons, to act with Honor. This is how respect is earned within their roles. Most Gorean men will protect the free women from those seeking to turn her into a slave as long as she does not provoke or encourage such attempts with her behavior. Unless in self-defense, free women are not expected to draw a weapon, display a weapon, or  in any other way provoke combat.

"In such inquiries, the male will normally speak to a male, and the female to a female. This has to do not only with matters of propriety, enshrined in Gorean custom, but also with common-sense security measures. For example, a woman would not wish to seem forward, nor, in effect, to be calling herself to the attention of a strange male, which can be dangerous on Gor, and a woman, a free woman, might be well advised not to respond to the accostings of a strange male. He might even be a slaver, or a slaverís man, interested in seeing if she had a pleasing voice, one suitable for a slave. Similarly if she responds to a strange male this may be taken as evidence that she is eager to please a man and obey, two attributes which suggest her readiness, even immediately, for his collar." (Magician of Gor, 108)

While Free Women are permitted to own weaons, it is rare for them to carry other than a dagger or poisoned needle as concealment and surprise in the use of weapons is a virtue for women, who in open combat would likely be overpowered. Her hair comb may also be bladed, or she may use one of the sharp pins from her veil if need arrises.

And, it should be noted that on Gor, even free women normally kneel rather than sit. "The position of the tower slave, in which Vika knelt, differs from that of a free woman only in the position of the wrists which are held before her and, when not occupied, crossed as though for binding... The position of the Pleasure Slave, incidentally, differs from the position of both the free woman and the tower slave. The hands of a pleasure slave normally rest on her thighs but, in some cities, for example, Thentis, I believe, they are crossed behind her. More significantly, for the free woman's hands may also rest on her thighs, there is a difference in the placement of the knees. In all these kneeling positions, incidentally, even that of the Pleasure Slave, the Gorean woman carries herself well; her back is straight and her chin is high. She tends to be vital and beautiful to look upon." (Priest Kings of Gor, pages 46-47)

Submission

While most free women would rather die than fall into slavery, upon occassion one becomes enticed by the freedom found in submission. So while some free-women-turned-slave are captured, a few invoke the right known as "Rite of Submission." But it is never invoked lightly or in haste: the result is likely to be either enslavement or disgrace (death, if offering self to a warrior who does not accept her as slave but will act to preserve her caste family, and prior personal honor).

See more detail in the information about Gorean law.

Talunas / Panther Girls

Unlike the more common free women born to freedom and regality, panther girls are free by stealth and wits. They are far more wild, and often are escaped run-away slaves. On occasion they've even been known to capture men and force them to servitude before releasing them to face the shame of having been captured that is shown by a stripe shaved into their hair before they are released or sold into slavery in exchange for such items as spear tips, arrowheads, or candy.

The spear and the bow are the panther girl's weapons of choice, with which they are commonly quite skilled. They maintain their freedom with these weapons, their cleverness, and remaining within or near the uncharted forests far from civilization.

Compared to the regal dress of traditional free women, one can distinguish a panther girl by forest animal skins and such as opposed to gowns & robes & veils.

updated January, 2009