Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
My last story was about my first visit to Gor in Second Life (SL). A freewoman of Gor, Lady Wiebeline HoorenbeekGenesian Port
Gor is a fictional universe based on the novels of John Norman. They are fairly controversial given their treatment of women. But, SL being the place that it is, whole communities have been built around this theme. Gorean communities are purportedly among some of the largest and best organized inworld. I’ve been meaning to visit them and see for myself what’s going on. I’m finally able to visit and see for myself what’s going on.
My story received more than the usual number of replies. (OK, most of my stories don’t get any at all but this one was still significant.) The general tone was thanking me for writing the story and being balanced.
One reply came from Lady Sophiaa Farella, a resident of Genesian Port and the editor-in-chief of the Genesian Gazette, the town newspaper. In addition to thinking me, she pointed out to me by mistakes in Gorean marriage customs. (Quite nicely, I must say. Not like a Real Life (RL) editor would have done.)
Suffice to say, I quickly took advantage of this opportunity to continue my travels across Gor and arranged an interview. (I was rather pleased with myself. Significant Other said desperate was more like it.)
I TP to Genesian Port at the appointed time and walk to Lady Sophia’s offices which are a short distance from the actual port area. Along the way, I spot kiosks which offer the Genesian Gazette for free to passersby. (I’d read past editions before visiting. Strongly recommend reading this paper to get a feel for what’s happening locally.)
Lady Sophiaa comes out to greet me at the heavy metal gate outside of her building (I’m beginning to suspect that I’m in a high crime area.) and takes me inside to her offices. She is tall, dressed in white traditional attire for a free woman, and wears a veil even though not obligatory in this city (More on this later.) Her hair is auburn and eyes are blue. Lady Sophia exudes the confidence of one used to command. Which contrasts to her background as I know she began as slave in Gor.
We sit in two chairs in front of her desk. Safi, Lady Sophiaa’s slave, comes in and kneels on the floor in front of us.
I begin by asking Lady Sophiaa what brought her to SL originally. She replies that years ago she heard about it on NPR (One of my favorites too.) while driving in her car and decided to give it a shot. She did and was hooked.
In 2007, she was approached by a woman inworld asking if she would like to be a model. She modeled the clothes of many SL dress designers in fashion shows and was in the February 2007 edition of SL Vogue.
After this, Lady Sophiaa describes meeting a strange man as she made the social circles inworld (sounds like Real Life (RL) here) whom she founds intriguing and who enticed her into becoming his slave in Gor inworld. From here she passed through a series of masters until her final master became Urbar(a position comparable to king) of Treve and she became his Urbara (or queen) for by this time they had become Free Companions.
During these years in servitude, Lady Sophiaa worked in taverns, a teahouse, and was a sexual slave. Bought and sold as a slave back when it could be done with real Linden dollars. (This practice is apparently no longer permitted.) But, she loved it. She, at one time, begged for the collar of master to become his kajira (or slave). This was all voluntary. No one made her do anything against her will. Lady Sophia could have walked away at any time. Yet, she didn’t.
This is where I’m perplexed. Maybe because I reflect twenty-first century norms of Western belief. Why does a woman do this to herself?
Lady Sophiaa explains it to me as the Gorean rejection of the notion of women having responsibilities in the world outside of the home. The Gorean, that is the men view who dominate everything, view is that women are freed in Gor to become sexual objects for everyone’s mutual pleasure and merely take care of the household and children in their spare time. Each sex fulfilling their role in the natural order as predefined by the Creator.
OK, this is definitely not RL, and, as Lady Bel keeps reminding me that this is only a RP game played by fully consenting adults.
I do not mean to judge and I do not. I only wish to report back what I observe. Gor is a large and significant part of SL and probably the most highly developed community in terms of roles and responsibilities for its members. Based on the canon of the Norman books they have a head start on virtually all others in SL.
Lady Sophiaa shares with me that she has a rich and full life with Gor in SL. She hates her RL and wishes she could be inworld 24 X 7. Where as she puts it, “I am loved and beautiful and have all the money I need and beautiful clothes and great excitement.”
The intensity of her emotion crosses into RL as she tells how she cried when her Free Companion, the Urbar died. (RL called him away and he decided to have his avatar die inworld. A large funeral was held.)
When I ask her about being a woman in a male dominated society, Lady Sophiaa replies that she feels protected, treasured, respected and taken care of. Although, she doesn’t want to be collared again. She believes she has far more to offer as a Free Woman than as a slave. Slaves are not treated with respect, they are property and no one takes them seriously. Lady Sophiaa states that she has to be free to contribute to society as she does.
Even Lady Sophiaa’s slave, Safi, expresses her feelings for her mistress with passion as she describes her as a “grand and wonderful Free Woman”. I see no sign of coercion. (How would one even begin to coerce an avatar?)
During our interview, Lady Sophiaa talks of being a Free Woman in Gor. She is at risk for infractions of rules such as sex with men other than her Free Companion or a contractual dispute. Which is why she continues to wear a veil even though not obligated to do so because if she’s brought to court without a veil men may construe her as acting slavishly and collar her and then it’s off to the slave markets. (Safi assures me a beauty like her mistress would fetch a high price there. Something tells me that Lady Sophiaa is not reassured by this. Maybe this is why she intends to sell her off.)
We also have a glimpse of Gorean RP when visitors pass through while we meet. The quality of the dialogue and its intensity are of the highest level I’ve yet encountered inworld.
I come to the end of my interview which has run over by twice as much as I’d planned because of visitors and all that Lady Sophiaa shared with me. (Not to mention Safi’s asides.)
I’m impressed by this woman. She runs a newspaper which does a very good job of staying on top of what’s going on in Genesian Port. She has risen to a high position in Gorean society where women are not traditionally in important roles based on her wits and hard work. Gor is not like Dungeons & Dragons where a roll of the dice can change everything. Gor RP is all about skill and perseverance.
Lady Sophiaa is passionate about her life in Gor. She’s shared her writings with me and trust me this woman feels Gor in every fiber of her body both SL and RL. She recognizes the contradictions of Gorean life with RL and doesn’t seem fazed by them. She has her life and is happy with it. Anyone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.
I take my leave of Lady Sophiaa thanking her for her time and hospitality. She instructs Safi to escort me to the docks. (Or, Lord knows where I might end up.)
Below please find links to several pictures that I took during my visit with Lady Sophiaa. As always, don’t rely on my crude efforts with photography. But, please when you go, respect the rules around costume and behavior. The last thing Gor needs is busloads of tourists gawking. (Remember must people go about in Gorean sims carrying sharp instruments, even the slaves.)
I’d like to thank Lady Sophiaa for taking the time to meet with me, answer my questions, and share her life in Gor. I hope to return to meet her again and share her life with my readers. Trust me, this one story does not do it justice!
Gor inworld is a very interesting place. I have many more questions and I want to get answers. I hope to blog more frequently about the world of Gor in SL. Watch this space for more to come!
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life please click here.
Photo No. 1 Lady Sophiaa Farella
Photo No. 2 webspelunker and Lady Sophiaa
Photo No. 3 Lady Sophiaa and Safi
Photo No. 4 Genesian Port Trade Docks I
Photo No. 5 Genesian Port Trade Docks II
Photo No. 6 Safi at Sunset
Photo No. 7 Gorean Busker
Photo No. 8 Genesian Gazette Kiosk
Photo No. 9 Genesian Gazette Offices
Photo No. 10 Genesian Street Scene