Finally, I'll address the point that such actions make a slave unpopular among the other girls. My response is the classical elementary (school) logical refutation: "So what?" Hey, slavery isn't just furs and cheap candies and the occasional hard-but-heated whipping. Who's important to you, other slaves or masters? If every slave girl in the place hates you, because the eyes of every man are on you and not them, you are a success as a slave girl. If you can make every slave girl in the place ENVY you, and emulate you, and beg for your teaching, you are a STUPENDOUS success as a slave girl and a credit to your master.
Observing an alleged real-life slave who nevertheless displayed a very displeasing demeanor has made me think about why slaves act they way they act in "Gor," online and off. Specifically, why they are expected to act in certain ways, some of which have roots in the books, some of which don't. Let's review a few of them, shall we?
1) The use of third person speech.
Slaves occasionally speak in the third person in the Gor books. They do this to emphasize that they are not "persons:" they do not own themselves. They are property. They are, philosophically as well as literally, "things." I have observed slaves in real life who, when forced to speak in the third person, have a visible reaction to this forceful reminder of their status. I am all for its use in that regard in "real life." I find it cumbersome as a full-time thing, and I am secure enough in who is who that I do not insist on its use at all times. Girls who have to interact with the "vanillas" are at a decided disadvantage switching back and forth and I do not wish to screw up their speech patterns. Its use when I decree it, or when they wish to demonstrate especially their slavery, is sufficient. There is more to showing need than bellying and lifting one's hindquarters, and subtle signs are no less valid than overt ones.
Online, where one can and should think about everything one says, as most people don't type anything like as fast as they can talk, it is less stilting to the girl's speech, it slows her down less, and it serves as a visual reminder of her slavery when she is denied the thousand physical demonstrations (movement, tone of voice, expression) that a real-life slave girl may manifest. As it is harmless, and serves a worthwhile purpose, it is to be encouraged, although IMO it should not be mandatory, as it requires a certain degree of literary ability to use it non-monotonously. While I do insist that slave girls use their gifts to the fullest, I do not hold them responsible for gifts they do not have.
2) The use of non-capitalized nicks/handles/etc.
This, plain and simple, is an indicator. I've gotten into trouble over this one. For two decades, I've been using all lower-case words to indicate myself, for one very simple reason. Consistency. If I always use all lower-case, I don't have to remember how I spelled something. Add to that the tradition of using lower-case for filenames, directories, email addresses, etc, and I think I had a pretty good reason for my ubiquitous habit of using all lower case.
However, as the poet said, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. When I encountered an environment where my heretofore good habit suddenly became inappropriate, I did not wish to change my thinking and, therefore, instead of simply admitting that I had made a mistake, I tried to justify my behavior. Eventually, I admitted to myself that I was wrong. Once that was done, it was easy to admit it to everybody else. (I don't care what everybody else thinks of me: I do care what I think of me. I hate being wrong, which I why I try to admit it when I am, because not admitting it when you're wrong is also wrong.)
You can't see people here. You can't listen to their tones. You don't know if they're wearing a collar, silks, the tunic of a Rarius, you don't know anything of the thousand and one visual and audio cues that people normally give off which tell you about them. Now while it is true that men at times dressed slaves in the Robes to take them to song-dramas and such, by and large it was both customary and required by law that slaves be clearly visible as such. How can we do that here? By requiring slaves, and no one else, to lower-case references to themselves. Think of it as a "virtual" brand and/or collar, or bondage strings, or whatever is appropriate to the cultural milieu. The visible manifestation of slavery on Gor could be something as subtle as how a woman wore her hair, or something as overt as a black iron collar hammered onto her throat. Here, it is the lower-case reference. (And to some extent the use of third-person speech. See above.)
If you have some valid reason for concealing your slavery, then fine. Upper-case your references. Speak exclusively in the first-person. Fine and dandy. But if you are going to come here and act as a slave, then you will act as is held appropriate in this cultural milieu, which is that you will lower-case references to yourself and you will probably speak in the third person. Period. If you don't like the rules, find somewhere where they are not enforced.
3) The addressing of free men as "Master."
There're a couple of long essays on the interaction of slaves and masters on my website at:
Writings on Slavery
For purposes of this essay, I'll just talk about the modality of a slave's address to free men.
Let's take a logical approach. What else could a slave address a man by? "Sir?" Sir is used in the Gor books exclusively by free women to free men. Sir is right out. It's a BDSM convention, not a Gorean one. Likewise any other titles like "Lord," etc. If you want to be an 'elpless Victorian servin' girl, go do it somewhere else. On Gor all slaves address all free men as "Master." Period. End of Sentence. Any slave who does not is subject to immediate and severe discipline. End of discussion.
By his name? Let's not be silly. Not only does the preceding paragraph apply in spades, but the name is the most intimate and valuable possession a person possesses. That a slave, an animal, would be allowed to use it as pleased her is ridiculous, intolerable! If the free person in question does not mind, all is well. She is using their possessions just as she might use her master's plates to serve dinner on. If she misuses the plates, she will be punished - and if she misuses a person's name, likewise, squared and cubed. But unless and until the slave is told by a free person, "You may use my name," she should assume that they would consider this unacceptable. Using the name to indicate is perfectly acceptable:
"I belong to Dreamer." or in an online chatroom "(to Dreamer) Greetings, Master."
- but NOT -
"Greetings, Dreamer" or even "Greetings, Master Dreamer."
A comment from a member of the Chicago Gor list:
I think it is quite common in Silk & Steel to see "Greetings Master A. Greetings Master B. Greetings Master C." The alternative is (to A) greetings Master (to B) greetings Master (to C). I find this completely graceless and I think you should reconsider. The reasons you give for not doing so are sound but I think the practice of the thing is a big mess.
This is how slaves are required to act in my presence in the Tavern of the Blades (or any other Gorean venue I might be in in AOL Gor) and while it sounds like it would be messy it actually works quite well. It encourages inventiveness, too, as the girls usually find different ways to indicate to whom they are speaking.
Often - not always, but often - when someone says "It would be too hard/impractical/unreasonable to require the slaves to do "x," what they mean is "I'd feel unreasonable and silly asking a slave to behave that way, and besides, then I'd have to follow through on making her do it and I'd feel like a bad person." There ain't no sich critter. If it pleases me to have a slave speak in Pig Latin, enthay eshay illway eakspay inyay IgPay Atinlay. If she doesn't know I want her to speak in Pig Latin, or what Pig Latin is, it would be unreasonable of me to punish her for failing to do so. But once my requirements are clear, that's the end of the discussion. She will do it, or she will be punished, and then she will still do it.
On a side note, it's interesting that I sometimes see slaves being given an implied "choice:" "Do (x) or I will punish you." The slave can "choose" the punishment - by refusing to obey - and avoid obedience. This is intolerable. Punishments are not either/or. Punishments are to demonstrate that when a slave is displeasing, Bad Things happen. And then, the slave will be pleasing, or she will be punished again, and so on.
So not sir, not lord, not by name. That leaves master. There are three (related) arguments which are advanced as to why a slave would not address a free man not her owner as "master:"
A) "This is not Gor."
I admit it freely. (I'm not ashamed to admit that were I placed on Gor in my current state I'd probably die very quickly. A Gorean man placed on Earth would either die quickly, be imprisoned, or die of a broken heart. We are what we are.) Even in circumstances where a certain amount of difference from society's norms (e.g. BDSM clubs) are to be expected, I do not require submissives/slaves to address me as "master" simply because I am a dominant male. Not because I do not "deserve" it, but because it is unreasonable to expect others in a neutral setting to conform to my conventions. If I find their behavior intolerable, I do not tolerate it. I leave. My right and my privilege.
Now, the catch. The above argument, while correct, is irrelevant - becuase this is Gor. As close as it can be. The Silk and Steel is on Gor. The Tavern of the Blades is on Gor. The Gorean Forum is on Gor. And the Gorean Public Boards are on Gor. Online Gor. They are populated and/or patronized by those who wish to enter into a particular sort of consensual hallucination - that of a world called Gor. Coming into them and pointing out the fact that it is, in fact, a consensual hallucination is spiteful, rude, and pointless. If you don't like our dream, find another. The world is full of people and most of them, quite frankly, disagree with us, so it shouldn't be hard to find an environment which you like better. Don't bother trying to change ours, because we're happy with it.
Another thought from a member of Chicago Gor:
Regarding your assertion that alt.books.gor is a piece of Gor in the sense that the Silk & Steel is a part of Gor. I tend to treat it as an extension of rec.arts.sf.written. I see no reason why a woman shouldn't be able to comment on the books using 1st person & caps even if she is known to be sub or slave or makes a remark in passing about her master.
Your opinion, you're entitled to it, and I won't even say you're wrong. My personal feeling is that this "well, a comment is okay" thing tends to encourage the "speaking as a slave" versus "speaking as a person" dichotomy. I don't like that at all because what that really means, nine times in ten, is "I want to say something that a slave shouldn't say so I'm going to say it in the guise of 'speaking my mind' or 'speaking OOC' or some such." In a broader sense, this is literary laziness. I have seen slaves tell masters they were wrong in a pleasing and respectful way. I've had a slave tell me to my face I was acting like an idiot (yes, it does happen *gasp*) in a pleasing and respectful manner. The thing can be done and it's not even that hard.
B) "I only call men master who've earned my respect."
An argument not without its merits in the BDSM world - which this ain't. This is Gor. Respect is irrelevant. Again, a couple of longer essays:
Slaves and Respect
Gor and BDSM
The short version? I have to call judges "Your Honor" even when it is painfully obvious they have none. That is how that game is played. Slaves have to address free men as master. That is how this "game" is played. Don't like our rules? For you, the only winning move is not to play.
C) "I only call my owner 'master.'"
See A, B, and #7 below. Short version: Irrelevant. Address him as "my" master or come up with some other convention if you like - that's reasonable and I wouldn't dream of arguing with you. But if you are a slave in a sense all free persons are your masters and mistresses, and you must show respect and obedience to them all, or you are in for a world of hurt.
4) The addressing of free women as "Mistress."
Everything said above about the use of the name of a free person by a slave applies. Furthermore, free women have an even more dangerous attitude to slaves than dominance: hatred and jealousy. It is my considered opinion that even a woman free in her heart would simply have bad feelings towards most slaves. If she is not free, she envies them, terribly, and fears the visible reminder they present that she is like them, and someday might end up kneeling beside them. The conflict this creates inside her expresses itself, most often, as dislike.
If the woman is truly free, why would she have anything but disdain for women who were so weak as to not be able to overcome their baser natures? And the lusts they incite in men, the beasts, endanger her as well, as she might be mistaken for one of them.
A really, really mature free woman might be able to adopt a more charitable approach towards slaves. But that's a pretty thin reed to pin one's hopes on. If one pins wrong, the wrath unleashed might be truly breathtaking in its ferocity. The slave would be wise to avoid such a risk, and use "Mistress" to free women, bidden or not.
5) The addressing of other slaves as "sister."
This is found in the books a few times. It probably originates from the term "chain sisters." As slaves are "daughters of the chain," and two girls with the same mother are sisters, they can be considered "chain sisters." My first response to hearing that girls are "chain sisters" is that they have the same owner, but that's not necessarily true. In any event, it's a harmless convention and, if not carried to the truly sickening nicey-nicey booboo level one occasionally sees, there's nothing wrong with it.
There's a longer essay on the behavior of slaves with other slaves on my website at:
On the Relation of Slaves to other Slaves
6) The adoption of pleasing and respectful forms of speech.
A simple one. It is the right, and the duty, of every free person to correct displeasing slaves. Slaves are property, animals. They have no right to get away with being displeasing and they are not owed any latitude, tact, or other social "grease" to lubricate them through rough spots. A slave who is not pleasing can, will, and should be disciplined by any and all free person who note the displeasing behavior.
It should be noted that while a certain insouciance or impertinence on the part of a slave, judiciously applied, can be allowed, and honest disagreement is never out of place, a slave may never be rude to a free person. Ever. For any reason. Even if the free person started it. This is a fundamental consequence of the fundamental difference between slaves and free persons. It's not all furs and cheap candies and painful but heated whippings. Slaves are to be pleasing. Period.
7) The owner's preferences and their relation to public behavior.
This, to my mind, is quite largely irrelevant. I cannot get away with being what other people consider excessively obnoxious because I am a free man (dominant male). I will quickly be ostracized (or worse) if I try. Why then should my slaves be allowed to be what other people consider obnoxious because I told them to be? In essence, it's the same argument. The fact that I am a free man (dominant male) does not excuse antisocial behavior on my part nor does it excuse antisocial behavior on the part of someone I force to manifest it. Gorean slaves address Gorean free men as master. Period, end of sentence, end of discussion. If a man does not want his slave to address any other man as master, he should keep her away from Gorean free men. Or, at the very least, away from men who do not understand his preference and who are not willing to honor it.
To form a crude analogy, my parents have a small dog who, according to my mother, has a "nervous stomach." In other words, it constantly excretes on the floor because my sister never bothered to properly housebreak it. If I am in their house, the most that is appropriate is for me to tell them, once, that the dog has made a mess. If they respond that they do not discipline the dog for such, it's their dog and their house and my only correct response is to smile and keep my yap shut. (It's absolutely amazing how often this is the only correct response to a situation and how often people fail to realize this.)
The trappings and rituals of slavery are very important, perhaps more important in this society, where the slavery itself must be an intimate secret, to the feeling of ownership and domination to the slave. In John Norman's Gor books, one of the most important trappings of slavery is the collar. Collars serve three purposes. First, to identify the collared as a slave. Second, to provide a convenient method of affixing bonds to a slave or of securing them. Third, and most important, they impress upon the slave her slavery. The weight of an honest steel collar is lighter far than the million social chains and bonds of an unhealthy society, but its realness, its weight, and the sense that it will not come off save at the whim of the owner, are terrifying and precious to the slave girl.
My slave girl has a collar, handmade by me. She wears it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The whip is the symbol of the master's authority. Of course, it need not be an actual whip. It could be a cane, a paddle, or the master's own hands. This is entirely different from the intense stimulations given to submissives or "bottoms." When one is "playing" with a person, whipwise, what is actually going on is that a sort of "filter" in the brain turns what would ordinarily be painful into pleasure, by rerouting the sensation to the pleasure center. (That's a gross oversimplification.) I have seen slaves literally whipped to orgasm with this kind of sensation, an absolutely astonishing display of skill on the part of the whip-handler. However, when punishing a slave, this rerouting does not occur, or should not. The purpose of punishment is twofold:
1) To show the slave that she has been displeasing, and the consequences of such, and;
2) To demonstrate to the slave that she is at the master's mercy, fully.
Pain is Nature's way of telling an organism that something is wrong, or that a behavior is contrasurvival. On Gor, this is literally true, as a slave may be killed simply for being displeasing. (Although there is not ONE NARRATIVE INCIDENT of this in the books.) On Earth, good slaves are a lot harder to find, plus there's some kind of legal problem with killing them. However, short of that, the whip is one of the master's tools in enforcing his will.
The Difference Between Submissives and Slaves
This is some material which originally was printed in the newsgroup alt.lifestyle.master-slave regarding the difference between a submissive and a slave, the oldest argument in the contemporary BDSM scene. It is interesting to note that not only is the original poster new to the scene, but English is not her first language. (She's French.)
Like the rest of the site, this is a work in progress and will change over time. Here's how to figure out the development:
Words in italics are the words of the original poster.
Words in bold are my original responses.
Words in plain text are expansions on the original text.
More seriously, I feel split. I always thought that if I allow a man to treat me like a submissive slut sexually, it would mean, that deep down it's the way he thinks of me all the time. I can't see how I could call someone master (or something equivalent) when sexually involved and treat him as an equal in any other situations ?
This is the fundamental difference between being a "submissive" and being a "slave." Submissives submit when it pleases them, for reasons that please them, for as long as it pleases them. Usually, this is only during sexual situations. (Although what is a "sexual situation" is of course almost infinitely variable.)