Gor vs. BDSM

This is just one man's opinion about the differences between Gor and BDSM. It was written in response to a question a slave asked me and replied by e-mail. She wanted to know the difference between the two as she came from BDSM areas. That is not a place I have ever been a part of. Others will tell you similar things and different ones, including that there is no difference. I say to the last group, you just don't understand what Gor really is.
It is correct to say that some things are the same between BDSM and Gor, whereas many are diametrically opposed to each other. The biggest differences are in the control of the Master over the slave and the point of what we do. Please understand that while I have read some about BDSM, I have never participated beyond reading a couple of Usenet groups on occasion and wandering into a very few IRC BDSM channels. What I say here is based on what I have read, what I have seen, and the people I know who are into that scene.
Safe, sane and consensual. I am sure you have heard those words before. They are the watchwords of BDSM. Gor doesn't follow those rules. Yes, we do want to be physically and mentally safe...being sane is probably a good thing...[grins]...and the slavery we practice is consensual, up to a point. There are no safe words, there are no days we do this and days we don't. It may not be something we do in front of children, but some do. Gor operates on Honor and Trust. I like to add Honesty and Responsibility to them. The slave must trust her Master enough to give herself into his hands. Trust that he will care for her life and well being as long as she is pleasing to him. A Gorean Master takes the responsibility for his slave in what she does, how she acts, what she wears, what she learns; responsibility for all parts of her as well as her well being and health. A true man does not willingly damage something valuable to him. Like anywhere else, there are pretenders, abusers, and people trying to do something they really are unfit to do. Goreans would say that a man must master himself before he can master a slave. The good Masters do not need to prove themselves to anyone because they have already proved what they are to themselves.
The other big difference is that BDSM seems to be about sex. That is the main point of BDSM as far as I can see. Gorean slavery is about service of a slave to her Master and the pleasing of him. Sex is there but it is not the most important thing. A Gorean slave is not only free to explore and reveal her sexuality, she is required to do so. She is not allowed to withhold any part of her from her Master. Most Goreans do not seem to do much BDSM play. There may be a bit of bondage or things (besides collars) which could be called fetish wear, but they are not central to being Gorean. A Gorean Master does not whip a slave for her erotic enjoyment, or his, but to punish her. To make her understand that she was displeasing in her actions or attitudes and that she needs to change what he found displeasing.
It is hard, though not impossible to do BDSM by yourself. A man or a woman can be Gorean without owning a slave. Being Gorean is an attitude and a way of life, not something you do in the bedroom or when you put on special clothes and go to a play party somewhere. It does not turn on or turn off when convenient, Gor is.
Understand that I am talking in generalities here, and perhaps the idealized Gorean Master, but from what I have seen and read, these are the main differences between the two. Some people involved in BDSM use Gor to spice up their play at times, sometimes Gorean use BDSM to spice up their sex. However, if I bind a slave's hands behind her back, for example, it is because I do not wish her to use them while I am doing something with her, to her or while she is doing something. Or it could be as punishment for doing something with them that I did not want her to do. It could also be for training purposes. Many different reasons, but her sexual enjoyment of being bound is likely to be very low on or totally off of the list of reasons.
I have said that we can not do everything as the books do it. We live on Earth, not Gor. We live within the confines and legalities of our society. We do what we can to recreate parts of the Gorean philosophies and Master/slave system, but more importantly for men; we look to the books as a guide to our behavior and existence as men. It has been said, and I believe it to be true, that a man can be Gorean and never own a slave. A free woman can be Gorean and never be a slave. A slave can be Gorean only while she is a slave to a Gorean Master.
Telling the difference between those who might properly be called Gorean and those who only play or pretend to be Gorean can be hard at times. I do not claim to be able to tell in all cases. I look to see if they walk the talk. If they do, and what they speak is what I consider Gorean, then I call them Gorean. There are those whose words and knowledge I respect as they say they respect mine. Some of those people I count as being Gorean. As it pleases them to consider me Gorean, I have come to accept it.

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Revised 13/10/01