Free Women - Customs
These are relevant references from the Books where Customs are mentioned as they pertain to Free Women.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
I realized that she had spoken to me as a free woman, using my name.
Free women on Gor do not travel attended by only a single warrior, not of their own free will.
I rejoiced that in at least one city on Gor the free women were not expected to wear the Robes of Concealment, confine their activities largely to their own quarters, and speak only to their blood relatives and, eventually, the Free Companion.
I thought that much of the barbarity of Gor might perhaps be traced to this foolish suppression of the fair sex, whose gentleness and intelligence might have made such a contribution in softening her harsh ways. To be sure, in certain cities, as had been the case in Ko-ro-ba, women were permitted status within the caste system and had a relatively unrestricted existence.
Indeed, in Ko-ro-ba, a woman might even leave her quarters without first obtaining the permission of a male relative or the Free Companion, a freedom which was unusual on Gor. The women of Ko-ro-ba might even be found sitting unattended in the theater or at the reading of epics.
Why was the girl alone?
Had her protectors been killed? Was she perhaps an escaped slave, fleeing from a hated master? Could she be, like myself, an exile from Ko-ro-ba? Its peoples have been scattered, I said to myself, and no two stones and no two men of Ko-ro-ba may stand again side by side. I gritted my teeth. The thought ran through my head, no stone may stand upon another stone.
If she were of Ko-ro-ba, I knew that I could not, for her own welfare, stay with her or help her. It would be to invite the Flame Death of the Priest-Kings for one or the other, perhaps both of us. I had seen a man die the Flame Death, the High Initiate of Ar on the summit of Ar's Cylinder of Justice, consumed in the sudden burst of blue fire that bespoke the displeasure of the Priest-Kings. Slim though her chances might be to escape wild beasts or slavers, they would be greater than the chance of escaping the wrath of the Priest-Kings.
If she were a free woman and not unfortunate, to be alone in this place was unwise and foolish.
Perhaps I was most startled on the silent streets of Tharna by the free women. They walked in this city unattended, with an imperious step, the men of Tharna moving to let them pass in such a way that they never touched. Each of these women wore resplendent Robes of Concealment, rich in color and workmanship, standing out among the drab garments of the men, but instead of the veil common with such robes the features of each were hidden behind a mask of silver. The masks were of identical design, each formed in the semblance of a beautiful, but cold face.
The Gorean male, at ease, usually sits cross-legged and the female kneels, resting back on her heels. 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. A free woman's wrists are never so placed. The Older Tarl, who had been my mentor in arms years ago in Ko-ro-ba, had once told me the story of a free woman, desperately in love with a warrior, who, in the presence of her family was entertaining him, and whose wrists, unconsciously, had assumed the position of a slave. It was only with difficulty that she had been restrained from hurling herself in mortification from one of the high bridges. The Older Tarl had guffawed in recounting this anecdote and was scarcely less pleased by its sequel. It seems she thereafter, because of her embarrassment, would never see the warrior and he, at last, impatient and desiring her, carried her off as a slave girl, and returned to the city months later with her as his Free Companion. At the time that I had been in Ko-ro-ba the couple had still been living in the city. I wondered what had become of them. 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.
Aphris of Turia, pleased with herself, assumed her place between the merchant and Kamchak, kneeling back on her heels in the position of the Gorean free woman.
Her back was very straight and her head high, in the Gorean fashion.
"I have never been in one of these places before," she said. "I now understand why it is that free women never enter Paga taverns."
Free women, here and there, were delicately putting tidbits beneath their veils. Some even lifted their veils somewhat to drink of the flavored ices. Some low-caste free women drank through their veils and there were yellow and purple stains on the rep-cloth.
"The slave Phais," I said, "and the girls of the Street of Pots, were of your party."
"Yes," said Hup, "and most useful. Slave girls, as is not the case with free women, may go almost anywhere in the city, gathering information, carrying messages.
The women of rence growers, when in their own marshes, do not veil themselves, as is common among Gorean women, particularly of the cities. Moreover, they 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 which 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.
"Who are these women?" I asked. "Where do they come from?"
"Some were doubtless once slaves," said Ute. "Others were once free women. Perhaps they did not care for matches arranged by their parents. Perhaps they did not care for the ways of their cities with respect to women. Who knows? In many cities a free woman may not even leave her dwelling without the permission of a male guardian or member of her family." Ute smiled up at me. "In many cities a slave girl is more free to come and go, and be happy, than a free woman."
It could perhaps be mentioned that such work, cooking, cleaning and laundering, and such, is commonly regarded as being beneath even free women, particularly those of high caste. In the high cylinders, in Gorean cities, there are often public slaves who tend the central kitchens in cylinders, care for the children, but may not instruct them, and, for a tiny fee to the city, clean compartments and do laundering. Thus even families who cannot afford to own and feed a slave often have the use of several such unfortunate girls, commonly captured from hostile cities. Free women often treat such girls with great cruelty, and the mere word of a free woman, that she is displeased with the girl's work, is enough to have the girl beaten. The girls strive zealously in their work to please the free women. Such girls, also, have a low use-rent, payable to the city, should young males wish to partake of their pleasures. Here again, the mere word of the free person, that he is not completely pleased, is enough to earn the miserable girl a severe beating. Accordingly, she struggles to please him with all her might. It is not pleasant, I fear, to be a public slave. The Gorean free woman, often, does only what work she chooses. If she does not wish to prepare a meal, she and her companion may go to the public tables, or, should they wish, order a girl to bring them food from the central kitchens.
Similarly the Gorean free woman does not seem appropriately suited to menial tasks. She is too free, too proud. It is difficult for a collared slave girl even to look into the eyes of such a person. Thus, who is to do such work? The answer seems obvious, that it will be done by the slaves. The small, light, unpleasant work will be done by the female slave; the large, heavy, unpleasant work by the draft animal, or the male slave. Why should free persons do such tasks? They have slaves for such work.
There is a Gorean saying that free women, raised gently in the high cylinders, in their robes of concealment, unarmed, untrained in weapons, may, by the slaver, be plucked like flowers.
There is no such saying pertaining to panther girls.
Goreans, in their simplistic fashion, often contend, categorically, that man is naturally free and woman is naturally slave. But even for them the issues are more complex than these simple formulations would suggest. For example, there is no higher person, nor one more respected, than the Gorean free woman. Even a slaver who has captured a free woman often treats her with great solicitude until she is branded.
The free woman was a tall woman, large. She wore a great cape of fur, of white sea-sleen, thrown back to reveal the whiteness of her arms. Her kirtle was of the finest wool of Ar, dyed scarlet, with black trimmings. She wore two broaches, both carved of the horn of a kailiauk, mounted in gold. At her waist she wore a jeweled scabbard, protruding from which I saw the ornamented, twisted blade of a Turian dagger; free women of Torvaldsland commonly carry a knife; at her belt too, hung her scissors, and a ring of many keys, indicating that her hall contained many chests or doors; her hair was worn high, wrapped about a comb, matching the broaches, of the horn of kailiauk ; the fact that her hair was worn dressed indicated that she stood in companionship; the number of her keys, together with the scissors, indicated that she was mistress of a great house. She had gray eyes; her hair was dark; her face was cold and harsh.
"Come tonight to our hall, Champion," said she.
The Blue Tooth did not gainsay her. The woman of the Jarl had spoken. Free women in the north have much power. The Jarl's Woman, in the Kaissa of the north, is a more powerful piece than the Ubara in the Kaissa of the south. This is not to deny that the Ubara in the south, in fact, exercises as much or more power than her northern counterpart. It is only to recognize that her power in the south is less explicitly acknowledged.
Free women, in the Tahari, incidentally, usually, when out of their houses, also measure their stride. Some fasten their own ankles together with silken thongs. Some dare even the chain, though they retain its key.
"Let me sell myself!" she wept.
As a free woman she could do this, but, of course, she could not revoke the transaction for, after its completion, she would be only a slave.
When free women and slave girls are chained together, it is common to respect the distinction between them by chaining them somewhat differently; in this case the free girl's hands were slave's were fastened below her right leg; it is common for the slave to be placed under greater restraint, and more discomfort, than her free sister; this acknowledges the greater nobility of the free woman, and is a courtesy often extended to her, until she, too, is only a slave.
Beautiful slave girls, barefoot, bangled, in scandalously brief slave livery, well displaying their considerable charms, collared, hair free, flowing in the wind, vital, walking exhileratedly, were common on the high bridges of the city, extending between the numerous cylinder towers, whereas free women, sedate, dignified, restricted, in their confining robes of concealment, were discouraged from the use of such bridges.
I suspected, had to do with the attempt of cities to protect their free women who, in numbers, seldom fall to the enemy, unless the city itself should fall, and then, of course, they would find themselves, like slaves, under the victory torches, their clothing removed, completely, strapped on the pleasure racks of the conquerors, thereafter, in the morning following the victory feast, to be chained and branded. Men respected free women; they desired, fought for, sought and relished their female slaves.
It was not as though she were a free woman whose anger might have significance, might even issue in actions or words, free from the reprisals of discipline.
"You cannot treat me badly," I said. "You must treat me well." I looked at him, boldly. "I have rights," I said. "I am a free woman."
Gorean free women, of course, may do what they wish. The slave girl, on the other hand, does not compete with the master, but serves him.
Only slave girls, on Gor, reveal their navels.
"Have her put her arms over her head, wrists back to back," said Ayari.
No free woman, for example, would dare to place herself in such a position before Gorean free men, unless perhaps, weary of her misery and frustration, she was begging them, almost explicitly, to put her in a collar. There are many stories of Gorean free women, sometimes of high caste, who, as a lark or in a spirit of bold play, dared to dance in a paga tavern. Often, perhaps to their horror, they found themselves that very night hooded and gagged, locked in close chains, lying on their back, their legs drawn up, fastened in a wagon, chained by the neck and ankles, their small bodies bruised on its rough boards as they, helpless beneath a rough tarn blanket, are carried through the gates of their city.
"It is a common property of human beings," I said, "that they, for better or for worse, do not pay much attention to the thoughts and feelings of others. Thus, it would not be surprising if most men did not pay much attention to the thoughts and feelings of women. If it is any consolation, they do not pay much attention to the thoughts and feelings of other men either. Similar remarks, of course, hold for women. Many women, for example, are excellent in not listening to others. No one sex has a monopoly on dogmatism." I looked at her. "If you are interested in this sort of thing from the Gorean viewpoint," I said, "free men and women are usually attentive to the thoughts and feelings of one another. Not only are they free, but they may even share a Home Stone. Free women, in being free, command attention when they speak. It is their due.
"Yes, Master," she said. A free woman's name, of course, tends to remain constant. A Gorean free woman does not change her name in the ceremony of the Free Companionship. She remains who she was. In such a ceremony two free individuals have elected to become companions. The Earth woman, as a consequence of certain mating ceremonials, may change her last name. The first and other names, however, tend to remain constant. From the Gorean point of view the wife of Earth occupies a status which is higher than that of the slave but lower than that of the Free Companion.
Free Gorean women, incidentally, enjoy a prestige and status which, it seems to me, is higher than that of the normal Earth woman.
"I do not need permission to speak," she cried. "I am a free woman! I am not a slave!"
Like many Gorean women, she did not use cosmetics. Free women in Ar commonly use cosmetics, but, outside of Ar, usually it is only the bolder women who resort to them. My Mistress, for example, did not use cosmetics either. Many free women regard cosmetics as only for slave girls.
All then drank, save the Lady Florence, who, smiling, did not lift her cup. Free women, drinking, commonly lift their veil, or veils, with the left hand. Low-caste free women, if veiled, usually do the same. Sometimes, however, particularly if in public, they will drink through their veil, or veils. Sometimes, of course, free women will drink unveiled, even with guests. Much depends on how well the individuals are known, and who is present. In their homes, of course, with only members of their families present, or servants and slaves, most free women do not veil themselves, even those of high caste.
The two ladies, both of Vonda, were Leta and Perimene, both friends of the Ladies Florence and Melpomene. As free citizens of Vonda they could witness legal transactions.
"Your duties in this house, Lola," I told her, "will be numerous and complex. In particular, you will be a house slave. You will dust and clean the house, and keep it neat. You will mend and sew. You will wash and iron clothing. You will shop, and cook and serve. All manners of domestic tasks, trivial and servile, unfit for free women, will be yours."
The unauthorized rape of slave girls, without the permission of their masters, is officially frowned on in most cities, but, too, it is as often winked at.
There are thought to be two major advantages to the custom of permitting, and, sometimes, of even encouraging, the practice. First, it provides a way of satisfying the sexual needs of young men who may not yet own their own girls, and, secondly, it is thought to provide a useful protection for free women. Free women, incidentally, are almost never raped on Gor, unless it be perhaps a preparatory lesson proceeding their total enslavement.
There seem to be two major reasons why free women are seldom raped on Gor. First, it is thought that they, being free, are to be accorded the highest respect, and, secondly, slave females are regarded as being much more desirable.
Two children, however, one boy and one girl, did run and strike the slave. She started, and squirmed, on my shoulder under the blows.
I did not admonish the children. First, it was nothing to me that they had struck her, for she was a slave. Secondly, they were free persons, and free persons on Gor may do much what they please. It is slaves who must be careful of their behavior, lest free persons find it displeasing. The boy who had struck her, I believe, had been in a fit of ill temper. I think he had just lost at stone toss.
The girl, on the other hand, I think, had had far different motivations. She had not been involved in the game, but had only been watching it. Yet she had struck the slave by far the cruelest blow. Already she had learned, as a free woman, that female slaves are to be despised and beaten. The hatred of the free woman on Gor for the female slave is an interesting phenomenon. There are probably many reasons for this.
Among them, however, would seem to be a jealousy of the female slave's desirability and beauty, a resentment of the interest of free men in imbonded women, and an envy of the slave girl's psychological and biological fulfillments, and emotional freedom and joy. Something of the same hatred and contempt tends to be felt by masculine women on Earth towards feminine women. Perhaps they hate what they are not, and perhaps cannot be. The Gorean slave girl, incidentally, can be terrorized by the mere thought that she might be sold to a free woman. I glanced at the girl who had struck the slave. She was comely. I wondered if she might one day fall slave. If so, she, too, in her turn, would surely learn to fear free women.
"A free woman!" suddenly exclaimed Glyco, startled.
From the kitchen there had emerged, in the robes of concealment, the figure of a woman.
The men, save I, rose as one to their feet, for Gorean men commonly stand when a free woman enters a room.
The voluptuous slave of Aemilianus swiftly knelt, making herself as small as possible, putting her head to the floor. The little dark-haired slave, too, swiftly knelt, also putting her head to the floor. Too, she shuddered, trying to cover her nakedness with her hands. Peggy and Florence, too, now had their heads to the floor. Slave girls, as I may have mentioned, fear free women, terribly.
In most Gorean cities it is illegal to offer an unbranded woman in a public sale. This is presumably in deference to the delicacy and sensibilities of free women. The brand draws a cataclysmic gulf between the Gorean free woman, secure in her arrogance, beauty and caste rights, and the stripped, nameless, rightless slaves; suitably vended as the mere lovely beasts they are in the flesh markets of this primitive, gorgeous world.
I did not know if Bloketu would be permitted into the council or not. Normally women are not permitted in such places. The red savages, though often listening with great attention to their free women, and according them great honor and respect, do not choose to relinquish the least bit of their sovereignty to them. They will make the decisions. They are the men. The women will obey.
Whereas a free woman may often make a man angry with impunity, she being lofty and free, this latitude is seldom extended to the slave.
Mira had fallen upon the porridge with gusto. She now, with her fingers and tongue, was wiping the bowl clean. She did not eat now as might a rich, free woman, from a golden service with Turian prongs, sumptuously, in some fine house. She ate now as a slave, and was grateful for her feeding.
"But remember," he said, smiling, "it is slaves who are assessed and have prices. Free women are priceless."
"Should I wish to enter a paga tavern, for example," I said, "you will accompany me."
"In most paga taverns," he said, "free women are not permitted. In some they are."
"I see," I said. To force an entry to such a place, I then understood, might necessitate an altercation, one perhaps ensuing in the exposure of my identity as the Tatrix. A common free woman, for example, might simply be forbidden to cross certain thresholds.
Hermidorus, on the other hand, did not seem to notice. My exclamation, perhaps, had seemed sufficiently inadvertent, involuntary and irrepressible, to be ignored; or perhaps it was to be ignored because I was not a slave, but a free woman. I did not meet Drusus Rencius's eyes. It was not like I had just decided to speak and had spoken. In a place like this I did not know if I was subject to discipline or not. I did not think so, for I was a free woman. On the other hand I knew I was here on the sufferance of the house of Kliomenes. Indeed, on these premises, I knew that Drusus Rencius even held a license on me.
A male slave can be slain for touching a free woman.
He then jerked away the veil of state from my features. I, though a free woman, had been face-stripped before free men. My face was as bare to them as though I might be a slave. Face-stripping a free woman, against her will, can be a serious crime on Gor.
"You are certain that you are a free woman?" asked the man.
"Yes," I said.
"Where is your escort, your guards?" he asked.
"I was traveling alone," I said.
"That is unusual for a free woman," he said.
I was silent.
A consequence of this ordinance from the point of view of a female slave is that she cannot now even permit herself to be taken for a free woman by accident; her bondage is always manifest; it is helpful from the man's point of view, too; he always knows the status of the woman to whom he is relating; one relates to free women and slaves quite differently, or course; one treats a free woman with honor and respect; one treats a slave, commonly, with condescension and authority.
"This," she said, moving to the next girl, "is an upswept fashion. It appears sophisticated. It is a hairdo favored by some free women, but it is not outlawed for slaves.
Few free women, I suspect, would dare to dance the dances of Gor before strong men. If they did so, how long could they expect to remain free? Any woman who dares to appear so before men, and dance, it is said, is in her heart a slave.
I inclined my head, "Lady," said I, acknowledging the introduction. To a free woman considerable deference is due, particularly to one such as the Lady Rowena, one obviously, at least hitherto, of high station.
She inclined her head to me, and then lifted it, acknowledging my greeting.
She belonged to Samos, of course. It had been within the context of his capture rights that she had, as a free woman, of her own free will, pronounced upon herself a formula of enslavement. Automatically then, in virtue of the context, she became his. The law is clear on this. The matter is more subtle when the woman is not within a context of capture rights. Here the matter differs from city to city. In some cities, a woman may not, with legal recognition, submit herself to a specific man as a slave, for in those cities that is interpreted as placing at least a temporary qualification on the condition of slavery which condition, once entered into, all cities agree, is absolute. In such cities, then, the woman makes herself a slave, unconditionally. It is then up to the man in question whether or not he will accept her as his slave. In this matter he will do as he pleases. In any event, she is by then a slave, and only that.
In other cities, and in most cities, on the other hand, a free woman may, with legal tolerance, submit herself as a slave to a specific man. If he refuses her, she is then still free. If he accepts her, she is then, categorically, a slave, and he may do with her as he pleases, even selling her or giving her away, or slaying her, if he wishes. Here we might note a distinction between laws and codes. In the codes of the warriors, if a warrior accepts a woman as a slave, it is prescribed that, at least for a time, an amount of time up to his discretion, she be spared. If she should be the least bit displeasing, of course, or should prove recalcitrant in even a tiny way, she may be immediately disposed of.
It should be noted that this does not place a legal obligation on the warrior. It has to do, rather, with the proprieties of the codes. If a woman not within a clear context of rights, such as capture rights, house rights, or camp rights, should pronounce herself slave, simpliciter, then she is subject to claim. These claims may be explicit, as in branding, binding and collaring, or as in the uttering of a claimancy formula, such as "I own you," "You are mine," or "You are my slave," or implicit, as in, for example, permitting the slave to feed from your hand or follow you.
It must be understood, of course, to fully appreciate what was going on, that the public exposure of the features of a free woman, particularly one of high caste, or with some pretense to position or status, is a socially serious matter in many Gorean localities. Indeed, in some cities an unveiled free woman is susceptible to being taken into custody by guardsmen, then to be veiled, by force if necessary, and publicly conducted back to her home. Indeed, in some cities she is marched back to her home stripped, except for the face veil which has been put on her. In these cases a crowd usually follows, to see to what home it is that she is to be returned. Repeated offenses in such a city usually result in the enslavement of the female. Such serious measures, of course, are seldom required to protect such familiar Gorean proprieties. Custom, by itself, normally suffices.
Social pressures, too, in various ways, contribute to the same end. An unveiled woman, for example, may find other women turning away from her in a market, perhaps with expressions of disgust. Indeed, she may not even be waited upon, or dealt with, in a market by a free woman unless she first kneels. It would not be unusual for her, in a crowded place, to overhear remarks, perhaps whispers or sneers, of which she is the obvious object, such as "Shameless slut," "Brazen baggage," "As immodest as a slave," "I wonder who her master is," and "Put a collar on her!" And if she should attempt to confront or challenge her assailants, she will merely find such remarks repeated articulately and clearly to her face.
"As you are perfect gentlemen, you will free me," she said. "I can count on that as a free woman!"
I smiled. Goreans tend to be less gentlemen, than owners and masters of females. In the order of nature they tend to acquire and dominate them, making them uncompromisingly their own.
Bina's hands were thonged tightly together before her body. A ring, on a rope, one of several, was lowered from the ceiling. These rings, when lowered, hung a few feet above the floor, some six or seven feet above it, in the open space between the tables. These rings may serve various purposes, such as the display of disgraced females destined for slavery, most likely debtors, or the public punishment of errant slaves, but their number is largely dictated by the occasional use of displaying captured, stripped free women of enemy cities. These women, during the course of a victory feast, are caressed by whips, or beaten by them, until they beg, though free, to serve the tables as slaves. After they have so served, Ahn later, they are taken below. There they will be properly branded and collared, and will begin to be taught the lessons, intimate and otherwise, appropriate to their new condition in life.
"Beware your words," I cautioned her.
"I am a free woman," she said. "I can speak as I please."
I could not gainsay her in this. She was free. She could, accordingly, say what she wished, and without requiring permission.
On Gor it is commonly only slaves, incidentally, who bare their legs . . .
Contrariwise, almost no free woman would bare her legs. They would not dare to do so. They would be horrified even to think of it. The scandal of such an act could ruin a reputation. It is said on Gor that any woman who bares her legs is a slave. Indeed, in some cities a free woman who might be found with bared legs is taken in hand by magistrates, tried and sentenced to bondage. After the judge's decision has been enacted, its effect carried out upon her, reducing her to the status of goods, sometimes publicly, that she may be suitably disgraced, sometimes privately, by a contract slaver, that the sensitivities of free women in the city not be offended, she is hooded and transported, stripped and chained, freshly branded and collared, a property female, slave cargo, to a distant market where, once sold, she will begin her life anew, fearfully, as a purchased girl, tremulously as the helpless and lowly slave she now is.
"I am sure you find free women of some interest," she said.
"Certainly I find them of interest," I said. The most interesting thing about them, of course, was that they could be seized and enslaved. After that they might become of real interest to a man.
The female slave, of course, yours in her servitude, is ten thousand times more interesting than a free woman could ever dream of being. In any contest of desirability the free woman must always lose out to the slave, and if she does not seem to do so, then let her be enslaved, and see how she then, suddenly, in a moment, competing then with her former self, becomes ten thousand times more desirable than she ever was as a mere free female.
A free woman is entitled to try to escape a captor as best she can, and without penalty, even after her first night in his bonds, if she still chooses to do so. If she is enslaved, of course, then she is subject to, and covered by, the same customs, practices and laws as any other slave.
Upswept hairdos are usually reserved for free women, or high slaves. They are a mark of status.
Free women, incidentally, seldom, if ever, bare their shoulders. Doing so is almost like offering themselves for the collar. "If you would be stripped as a slave, then be a slave," it is said. Similarly free women on Gor seldom, if ever, wear earrings, either of the natural or of any other variety, such as the clip variety. Earrings are regarded as being fit, rather, for slaves, and usually the lowest of slaves. Nose rings, interestingly, are not regarded in the same light. They are worn even by some free women, I understand, in the far south, the women of the Wagon Peoples there, as well as, generally, by the female slaves of such peoples.
On Gor, dance of the sort in which I was expected to perform, is called, simply, "slave dance." That is presumably because it is, a form of dance which, for the most part, is thought to be fit only for slaves, and would be performed only by slaves. The thought crossed my mind that the lovely woman who had been my teacher on Earth had once remarked to me, "We are all slaves." I think that is true. Certainly, however, not all women are legal slaves. Many women are free, legally, whether it is in their best interest or not. Such dances, then, "slave dances," at least on Gor, are not for such women. If a "free woman," that is, one legally free, were to publicly perform such a dance on Gor she would probably find herself in a master's chains by morning. Her "legal freedom," we may speculate, would prove quite fleeting.
We were still to be hot, and ready, paga slaves, eager to serve, and fully, the silk no more than an invitation to its removal. This was not much different, incidentally, than what was the case in even the most prestigious paga taverns. In such places free women were generally not permitted. In them, usually, the only women to be found would be collared slaves, generally belonging either to the tavern keeper or the guests, who may have brought them in, to avail themselves of the facilities of the alcoves.
To be sure, almost all female slaves on Gor must expect to be put to domestic labors, cooking, sewing, cleaning, washing, ironing, and such. We were women. Even free women, in households without slaves, perform such labors.
"A slave may not lie," I said. "She is not a free woman." Interestingly, on Gor, as on Earth, morality, for the most part, was not required of free women. They might do much what they pleased.
As I have indicated, the lips and mouth of a female are commonly regarded as extremely sensuous features to a Gorean, hence the concern of many free women, particularly of high caste, in the high cities, to conceal them.
"In Ar's Station," he said, "as in Ar, robes of concealment, precisely, are not legally obligatory for free women, no more than the veil. Such things are more a matter of custom. On the other hand, as you know, there are statutes prescribing certain standards of decorum for free women. For example, they may not appear naked in the streets, as may slaves. Indeed, a free woman who appears in public in violation of these standards of decorum, for example, with her arms or legs too much bared, may be made a slave."
The principle he had alluded to pertains to conduct in a free woman which is taken as sufficient to warrant her reduction to slavery. The most common application of this principle occurs in areas such as fraud and theft. Other applications may occur, for example, in cases of indigency and vagrancy. Prostitution, rare on Gor because of female slaves, is another case. The women are taken, enslaved, cleaned up and controlled. Indulgence in sensuous dance is another case. Sensuous dance is almost always performed by slaves on Gor. A free woman who performs such dancing publicly is almost begging for the collar. In some cities the sentence of bondage is mandatory for such a woman.
Slave girls, of course, as goods, as exchangeable properties, and so on, are likely to see a great deal more of their world than the average free woman. Many free persons on Gor seldom travel more than a few pasangs from their village or the walls of their city. An important exception to this is the pilgrimage to the Sardar, which every Gorean, male and female, is expected to undertake at least once in his life. The journey, of course, from many points on Gor to the Sardar is, at least in certain parts, dangerous. It is not unknown for a young woman who sets out in the pilgrim's white to arrive as a chained slave, who will be sold at one of the fairs. Her glimpse of the Sardar is likely to be obtained from the height of a sales platform.
The reference to "block melodies" had to do with certain melodies which are commonly used in slave markets, in the display of the merchandise. Some were apparently developed for the purpose, and others simply utilized for it. Such melodies tend to be sexually stimulating, and powerfully so, both for the merchandise being vended, who must dance to them, and for the buyers. It is a joke of young Goreans to sometimes whistle, or hum, such melodies, apparently innocently, in the presence of free women who, of course, are not familiar with them, and do not understand their origins or significance, and then to watch them become restless, and, usually, after a time, disturbed and apprehensive, hurry away. Such women, of course, will doubtless recall such melodies, and at last understand the joke, if they find themselves naked on the sales block, in house collars, dancing to them. Some women, free women, interestingly, even when they do not fully understand such melodies, are fascinated with them and try to learn them. Such melodies, in a sense, call out to them. They hum them to themselves. They sing them in private, and so on. Too, not unoften, on one level or another, they begin to grow careless of their security and safety; they begin, in one way or another, to court the collar.
It was the sort of melody of which free women often claim to be completely ignorant but, when pressed, prove to be familiar, surprisingly perhaps, with its every note.
I nodded. A man such as Saphronicus could have his pick of slaves, of course. With such an abundance of riches at his disposal he would not be likely to concern himself with a free female. To be sure, they are sometimes of economic, political or social interest to ambitious men, men interested in using them to improve their fortunes, further their careers, and so on. To satisfy their deeper needs, those of pleasure and the mastery, for example, slaves may be kept on the side. The slave, of course, like the sleen or verr, a mere domestic animal, like them, is seldom in a position to improve, say, a fellow's social connections. An occasional exception is the secret slave whom most believe to be still free, her true relationship being concealed, at least for a time, by her master's will, from the public. This deception is difficult to maintain, of course, for as the woman grows in her slavery, it becomes more and more evident in her, in her behavior, her movements, her voice, and such. Also she soon longs for the openness of bondage, that her inward truth may now be publicly proclaimed, that she may now appear before the world, and be shown before the world, as what she is, a slave. Sometimes this is done in a plaza, or other public place, with a public stripping by her master. It is dangerous, sometimes, to be a secret slave, then revealed, for Goreans do not like to be duped. Sometimes they vent their anger on the slave, with blows and lashings, though it seems to me the blame, if any, in such cases, is perhaps less with the slave than the master. To be sure, she probably suggested her secret enslavement to begin with, perhaps even begging it. In any event, she is normally joyful to at last, publicly, be permitted to kneel before her master. By the time it is done, of course, many, from behavioral cues, will have already detected, or suspected, the truth. Such inferences, of course, can be mistaken, for many free women, in effect, exhibit similar behaviors, and such. That is because they, though legally free, within the strict technicalities of the law, are yet slaves. It is only that they have not yet been put in the collar. And the sooner it is done to them the better for them, and the community as a whole.
I regarded her. Her small feet were on the lower, rounded crosspiece. Her toenails were not painted, of course. Such is almost unheard of among Gorean free women and is rare even among slaves. The usual Gorean position on the matter is that toenails and fingernails are not, say, red by nature and thus should not be made to appear as if they were. They also tend to frown on the dyeing of hair. On the other hand, the ornamentation, and adornment, of slaves by means such as jewelry, cosmetics, for example, lipstick and eye shadow, perfume, and such, is common, particularly in the evening. Also, to be sure, her fingernails and toenails might be painted. As she is a domestic animal, she may be adorned in any way one pleases.
A free woman may bargain with her own beauty, of course, and it is often done. This is quite different from the case of the female slave. Her beauty, like herself, is owned by the master.
Free women, on Gor, are seldom seen on the stage. Almost all female roles, accordingly, are played either by men, sometimes boys, or female slaves. To be sure, there are many exceptions to this, as theater on Gor is a very diversified institution, with many forms, with varying levels of prestige. There is a great deal of difference, for example, between a grand historical drama recounting the saga of a city, staged in a tiered amphitheater, and a comedy set up on an improvised stage at a crossroads. On the whole free women do not attend most forms of theater on Gor, unless incognito, in heavy veiling or even masked.
We were now inside the back door of the tavern, in a small, dimly lit corridor. The tavern was the Jeweled Whip, one of a large number of such taverns on Dock Street in Brundisium.
"Thigh," said the fellow who had admitted us, looking at Ina. He wished, of course, to ascertain that she was a slave.
"She is a free woman," I said.
"We do not want her kind here," he said.
"Where am I?" asked Ina, from within the hood.
"It is against the law," said the fellow. "We do not need more trouble with the authorities. And such, too, inhibit the girls."
"Any free woman who couches with another's slave, or readies herself to couch with another's slave, becomes herself a slave, and the slave of the slave's master. It is a clear law."
A free woman drew back her robes, hastily, frightened, lest they touch an Initiate. It is forbidden for Initiates to touch women, and, of course, for women to touch them.
We then returned our attention to the dancing circle. New women entered it upon occasion, as others were withdrawn. There were now some ten to fifteen slaves in the circle. How beautiful are women!
The free woman gasped, and hurried away. Peasants are not always tolerant of gentlewomen.
I noted that the free female had gone a bit about the outside of the circle, and now stood there, back a bit from the circle, where there was a space between some men. From that position of vantage she continued to watch the dancers. This puzzled me. If she found such beauty, such sensuous liberation, such fulfilling joy, such reality, such honesty, the marvelousness of owned women before their masters, offensive or deplorable, why did she watch? What did she see there in the circle, I wondered.
What so drew her there, what so fascinated her there? Like most free women she was perhaps inhibited, frustrated and unhappy. She continued to gaze into the circle. Perhaps she saw herself there, clad in a rag and collar, if that, moving, turning with the others, like them so beautiful, so much alive, so vulnerable, so helpless, so owned. Does her master lift his whip? She must then redouble her efforts to please, lest she be lashed. I supposed that she, even there, standing so seemingly still, pretending to be a mere observer, could feel the dance in her body, in its myriad incipient movements, tiny movements in her legs, in her belly, in her body, in herself, in the wholeness of her womanhood. Perhaps she wished for her robes to be torn off and to be collared, and to be thrust, in her turn, into the circle. I did not doubt but what she would be zealous to please. Indeed, she had best be! But how strange that she, a free woman, would even linger in this place. Perhaps free women are incomprehensible. A Gorean saying came to mind, that the free woman is a riddle, the answer to which is the collar.
"Away!" called a fellow, who had turned about and seen the free woman. He waved his arm, angrily. "Away!" he said. The free woman then turned about and left the vicinity of the circle, hurriedly. I felt rather sorry for her, but then, I thought, surely the fellow was right, that the circle, or its vicinity, was no place for a free female. It was a place, rather, for the joy of masters and their slaves. Similarly, the vicinity of such places, though I did not think it would be so in this camp, at this particular time, can be dangerous for free women. For example, sometimes free women attempt, sometimes even disguising themselves, to spy on the doings of masters and slaves. For example, they might attempt, perhaps disguised as lads, to gain entrance to paga taverns. And often such entrance is granted them but later, to their horror, they may find themselves thrown naked to the dancing sand and forced to perform under whips. Similarly if they attempt to enter such establishments as pretended slaves they may find themselves leaving them by the back entrance, soon to become true slaves. In many cities, such actions, attempting to spy on masters and slaves, disguising oneself as a slave, garbing oneself as a slave, even in the supposed secrecy of one's own compartments, lingering about slave shelves and markets, even exhibiting an interest in, or fascination with, bondage, can result in a reduction to bondage. The theory is apparently that such actions and interests are those of a slave, and that the female who exhibits them should, accordingly, be imbonded.
I have, more than once, I believe, alluded to the hatred of free women for their imbonded sisters, and to how they profess to despise them and hold them in contempt. Indeed, they commonly treat such slaves with what seems to be irrational and unwonted cruelty. This is particularly the case if the slave is beautiful, and of great interest to men. I have also suggested that this attitude of the free female toward the slave seems to be motivated, paradoxically enough, by envy and jealousy. In any event, slave girls fear free women greatly, as they, being mere slaves, are much at their mercy. Once in Ar, several years ago, several free women, in their anger at slaves, and perhaps jealous of the pleasures of masters and slaves, entered a paga tavern with clubs and axes, seeking to destroy it. This is, I believe, and example, though a rather extreme one, of a not unprecedented sort of psychological reaction, the attempt, by disparagement or action, motivated by envy, jealousy, resentment, or such, to keep from others pleasures which one oneself is unable, or unwilling, to enjoy. In any event, as a historical note, the men in the tavern, being Gorean, and thus not being inhibited or confused by negativistic, antibiological traditions, quickly disarmed the women. They then stripped them, bound their hands behind their back, put them of a neck rope, and, by means of switches, conducted them swiftly outside the tavern. The women were then, outside the tavern, on the bridge of twenty lanterns, forced to witness the burning of their garments. They were then permitted to leave, though still bound and in coffle. Gorean men do not surrender their birthright as males, their rightful dominance, their appropriate mastery. They do not choose to be dictated to by females. The most interesting portion of this story is its epilogue. In two or three days the women returned, mostly now barefoot, and many clad now humbly in low-caste garments. Some had even wrapped necklaces or beads about their left ankle. They begged permission to serve in the tavern in servile capacities, such as sweeping and cleaning. This was granted to them. At first the slaves were terrified of them but then, when it became clear that the women were not only truly serving humbly, as serving females, but that they now looked timidly up to the slaves, and desired to learn from them how to be women, and scarcely dared to aspire to their status, the fears of the slaves subsided, at least to a degree. Indeed, it was almost as though each of them, though perhaps a low girl in the tavern rosters, and much subject to the whip, had become "first girl" to some free woman or other, a rare turnabout in the lives of such collared wenches. Needless to say, in time, the free women, learning the suitable roles and lessons of womanhood, for which they had genetic predispositions, and aided by their lovely tutors, were permitted to petition for the collar. It was granted to them. It seems that this was what they had wanted all the time, though on a level not fully comprehensible to them at the beginning. One does not know what has become of them for, in time, as one might expect, they being of Ar, they were shipped out of the city, to be disposed of in various remote markets.
One may usually hire a lad from the district to direct one to particular points. Similarly, of course, one may make inquiries of fellows in the area. 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 slaver's man, interested in seeing if she has 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.
"You are not kneeling," I said to the girl in the center.
"I am a woman," she said, "why should I kneel?"
This seemed to me a strange response. I would have supposed it in excellent reason to kneel, being in the presence of men, if one were a woman. If she were a free woman, of course, fitting or not, there would be no legal proprieties involved. A free woman, as long as she remains free, can stand to the fullness of her short, graceful height before men.
The bangles on my left ankle made a tiny sound, and I stopped, looking about. I was frightened. But no one saw. How pleased I was that I had not been belled! Normally it is a new girl, or even a free woman, who is belled.
One of the reasons, too, why new girls, and sometimes free women, may be belled is that they may begin to understand what they are, or are likely to become.
These comprehensions, in turn, enhance sexual responsiveness. The garmenture of the slave, then, has its effect not only on those who see her, but on the slave herself. With respect to the first reason, that of protecting free women, I think there may be something to it. For example, if stalking, or careful hunting is involved, or if an escape must be made quickly, then the robes of concealment, as they are often called, might give some pause to a hunter. Who would wish to risk his life for a woman only to discover later in his camp, after her unveiling, that better than she might have been purchased for a few coppers from an itinerant peddler? Would he not feel much a fool? To be sure, he might be lucky. He might have his rope on a prize. But, even so, would that not be mere luck, and, in a sense, would he not then be merely a lucky fool? Certainly professional slavers on this world would customarily exercise great care in such matters, perhaps even having recourse to elaborate techniques of inquiry and espionage. It is rumored they sometimes work in conjunction with free women who manage baths, and such, patronized by free women.
"Do you like the choke collar?" he asked.
I whimpered twice.
"They are commonly used for dangerous male slaves," he said, "sometimes for new girls, sometimes for arrogant free women, that they may immediately cease to be arrogant, sometimes for ignorant girls, sometimes for stupid girls. Sometimes women use them for controlling other women, for they have less strength."
They preferred, it seemed, to take their women, perhaps to stalk them with stealth, as game, then to spring the nets or snares at some time of their choosing, some moment of unsuspected ripeness, or to seize them in capture strike, or to take them by theft, perhaps roping and gagging them in their own beds, there to enjoy them, and then to hood them and carry them off, bound hand and foot, to this aerie, or at sword point, in open challenge, or even to obtain them in raids and war, perhaps as incidental loot or perhaps, even, as the principal object of such endeavors, for women on this world, you see, even free women, not just women such as I, count as an accustomed and legitimate form of loot of booty, as much, or more, than gold and silver, and fine cloth, and such things.
Why should she feel herself entitled to raise caste? What was special about her? Why should a Merchant's daughter aspire to a higher caste? With what justification? Why should she be permitted to raise caste? Why should she not look for love in her own caste, or in a lower caste? Why should she not look for love wherever she found it, regardless of caste? But then, I was not Gorean. She was a free woman, of course, she could bargain, plan and plot to improve her position in society.
"So," she said, "that is not how you kneel before men, is it?"
"No," I said. "I am a pleasure slave. It is expected, accordingly, that I will kneel before men with my legs spread, unless, perhaps, free women are present."
I wore now a skirt of filmy silk, which would swirl as I moved. It was open to my left. My midriff was muchly bared. My breasts were haltered high. Tiny straps came over my shoulders. In such garments one might serve at more decorous banquets, though, to be sure, most likely not if free women were present. When free women are present, one usually serves gowned, or tunicked.
A terrible insult, on this world, to a free woman, is to tell her she is not worth a collar.
She did not know this at the time but many Goreans can tell the difference between free women and female slaves, even when the latter are clothed in the garments of the former, so internalized, so ingredient, so manifest is femininity in the female slave. Sometimes fleeing female slaves, runaways, attempting to escape hated masters in the clothing of free women are simply stopped, unceremoniously, and stripped, their brands and collars then revealed. They are then returned to the dreaded mercies of their masters. The garmenture of free women and slaves, of course, differs considerably, that of the slave tending to be far briefer and more revealing. Incidentally, a slave can be slain for putting on the garment of a free woman. It is permissible, though frowned upon, for a free woman to put on the garb of a slave. Also, it is quite dangerous to do so. Many free women, so garmenting themselves, as an adventure, thinking to have the run of the city, to go into areas forbidden to free women, to see the insides of paga taverns, and such, have, to their horror, found themselves, gagged and blindfolded, struggling futilely in the tight ropes of slavers.
Commonly the slave will ask permission to speak, but not always; she may behave in one way before her master if a free woman is present, in another way if only another man is present, and in yet another way if she and the master are alone;
She lifted the garment she was washing, dripping and hot, from the suds. It was a garment doubtless of a free woman. The material was of high quality, and so the woman must be of reasonable station, if not of high caste. She herself did not even know how to put on such a garment, how to drape it, and such. Such women, she supposed, were above menial chores. They would not, for example, do their own laundry. High-caste women, in general, or those of the Merchants, she supposed, would not do their own laundry either, but they might have a slave, or slaves, in their own domiciles to attend to such work. Perhaps this woman had fallen on hard times and had had to sell a slave, and must now send her robes and veils to a commercial laundry. But perhaps she lived alone and thus chose to have the work sent out.
"It is a pleasure for a tarnsman to have his tarn seize in its talons a woman and carry her off, or he may prefer the use of a slave net or a capture loop. She later then, in a safe place, may be suitably secured, say, stripped and roped, and put across his saddle, or simply chained naked to a saddle ring. The ideal, of course, is to catch a free woman, for such is the most prestigious game. Surely that would be more prestigious than picking up someone like you or me, who are merely domestic animals, livestock. Some claim that that is the reason that free women are so cumbersomely and concealingly garbed, and that slaves are so lightly and revealingly clad. Supposedly the tarnsman might thus be lured to the pursuit of an identifiably delightful quarry, something obviously worth owning, as opposed to a free woman who might, when stripped, prove to be as ugly as a tharlarion."
The expression the instructrix had used, if it were to be translated literally into English, was 'white-silk'. The complementary expression is 'red-silk'. These are expressions used, incidentally, only of slaves, not of free women. It would be a great insult to refer to a free woman as either "white-silk" or "red-silk." That would be terribly vulgar. Duels might be fought about such things. Expressions more suitable to free women, in Gorean, are 'glana' and 'metaglana', or 'profalarina' and 'falarina'. But even these latter expressions have Gorean connotations, reflecting the views of a natural world. In the first case, the condition of virginity is regarded as one to be superseded; and, in the second case, it is regarded merely as something which comes before something else, something of greater importance, as an antecedent phase or prologue, so to speak.
She saw, occasionally, among the crowds, a free woman, robed and veiled. How proudly, how serenely, they moved. How she envied them their freedom! They were free! They could come and go as they pleased.
Lastly it might be mentioned that it is traumatic for a Gorean woman, when captured, to be unveiled. "Remove her veil" is a command she dreads to hear, one which strikes with fear and misery to the heart of her being. The vulgar expression for this is "face-stripping."
In its way, the collar has some of the symbolic aspects of the marriage ring, except, of course, that that ring is a symbol worn by a free woman who is the putative equal of a man, whereas the collar is worn by a slave, and, aside from such things as its identificatory purposes, important in Merchant Law, is a symbol of the natural woman, the woman who is categorically owned by a man, her master.
She paused for a moment to look back once more at the free woman. The woman had lifted her veil with her left hand, just a little, to drink from the goblet. Ellen could see the impression of the upper rim of the goblet through the veil. Lower-class women sometimes drink through the veil, and their veils, subsequently, may be severally stained. Ellen saw that the woman's body was very straight as she drank. As the veil was lifted somewhat, as she drank, one could see a bit of her throat, white and lovely, where a collar might be nicely locked. Her ankles could be seen, above her slippered feet, as the robes were lifted a bit, seemingly having been inadvertently disarranged as she sat. Her legs were turned to one side, and placed side by side, apparently demurely closed beneath her robes. Slave girls, when permitted tunics and permitted to sit, as on a log, a rock, a shelf, commonly sit thusly. This is not only congenial to a certain modesty, but men find it provocative. Ellen wondered if the woman had seen slaves sit in that fashion. She had now lowered the veil, and was chatting with some of the men sitting about cross-legged, near the fire. Watching her, some yards from the firelight, were two tall, darkly robed men. Their robes were cut in the pattern of Cos. Ellen doubted that the woman was aware of them. At the sash of one of them there was a narrow, coiled rope of black braided leather.
A free woman walks proudly beside a free man or, if the press does not permit this, is often accorded the privilege of preceding him. One of the most humiliating things for a Gorean free woman, after she has been enslaved, other than the loss of her name, is that she must now follow, and neither walk beside nor lead.
It seemed then she had undergone one of the most dreaded fates of a high-caste Gorean free woman. Her face was publicly bared! She was face-stripped! Her face was naked! Her face, with all its beauty, with all its readable, betraying, exquisite and subtle expressiveness, with all it would tell about her inner life, about her emotions, her feelings, her interests, fears, hopes, pleasures and concerns, had been publicly revealed; it had been bared; it was naked, stark naked; it was now as that of a slave.
"The wrists of a free woman, as I understand it," said Ellen, "as generally the rest of her body, are not to be publicly exposed, to prevent that being the function of gloves and sleeves."
Gorean free women, particularly of high caste, have a status which is far higher than that of the average free woman on Earth. Indeed, the average free woman of Earth would have very little understanding, at least initially, culturally, of the social station of a Gorean free woman. Her culture would not have prepared her for it. She will, of course, become aware of this almost immediately on Gor, when she will be so unfortunate to find herself, a slave, before such a woman. In any event, aware of her status and station the Gorean free woman, particularly if of high caste, commonly regards herself, and is culturally justified in doing so, as a very special and superior creature, one generally aloof and unapproachable, one commonly lofty and exalted. She has, after all, a Home Stone. Accordingly, as might be expected, she is often vain, petty, selfish, supercilious, and arrogant
Gorean free women, incidentally, will seldom encircle their throats with jewelry of any sort, even in the privacy of their quarters, I suspect, as such things in their culture, speak to them of bondage.
Earrings, on Gor, interestingly, are placed on only the lowest of slaves. Nose rings, incidentally, for whatever reason, do not carry the same connotation of degradation, and such. Indeed, Ellen has been informed that in the southern hemisphere such rings are worn by even free women amongst certain nomadic tribes. Complex veiling and the Robes of Concealment are most common, of course, in urban areas, and particularly so amongst women of the higher castes. To be sure, even peasant women may veil themselves before strangers, and, one supposes, wisely.
Ellen adjusted slightly the brief yellow tunic, slit at the sides, so that she might kneel with a bit more modesty, even in the brazen position required of her, that of the pleasure slave. Sometimes, interestingly, in such servings, as when the master entertains guests, a pleasure slave is allowed to kneel in the position of a serving slave, or tower slave, the knees closely together. That is regarded, by some, as being more discreet, less distractive.
It is particularly the case when a free woman is present, that she not be disturbed by, or offended by, the obvious availability and sensuality of the slave. Too, it is widely thought judicious to conceal from free women the deep, thrilling, exciting and profound sexuality of the female slave, how vulnerable, helpless, needful and passionate she is. Can they understand our feelings at the slave ring? Yet I think the masters are naive if they truly believe, which I suspect they do not, that the free women do not understand, or at least suspect, the nature of such facts. They, too, free women, after all, are intelligent, and are women. I think it is no secret that the free women, who so despise us, who hold us in such contempt, who hate us so, who are often so cruel to us, envy us our masters and our collars. Why should we be happy and they be miserable? Is it not because we have found our way home, and they are still lost in the deserts of artifice?
The cosmetics of slaves are not that different, interestingly, from those of free women on Earth. Gorean free women do not use cosmetics, or supposedly do not use them, though ankle bells, concealed by their robes, and perfumes are permitted to them.
Cosmetics, on Gor, are regarded as salacious, improper, offensive and scandalous in the case of a free woman; such things are associated with slaves.
I wonder, she thought, if, in the privacy of their compartments, even free women, with their companions, might resort to cosmetics, perhaps even serving their companions as though they might be no more than slaves, but they would not be, of course, true slaves. Ellen wondered if free women might do such, to keep their companions out of the markets, where they might buy an actual slave, a woman over whom they would genuinely have absolute power, as her master had over her.
Interestingly, Gorean free women are commonly proud, haughty, insolent, arrogant and outspoken. They often treat males with contempt and ridicule. One supposes then that they are relying on the assumed protection of a common Home Stone. Or perhaps it is their way of, as it is said, "courting the collar." In any event there are considerable differences between the Gorean free woman and the Gorean slave girl, for example, in attitude, speech, garmenture, and behavior.
Gorean women are always at risk of the collar. It is strange that more Gorean free women do not seem to understand this. Doubtless it becomes clearer to them when they are stripped and chained.
They are relatively safe, usually, only within the walls of their city, and amongst those with whom they share a Home Stone, but not always, as suggested, even then.
To make this matter more clear, and to be fairer to the customs of Gor, it should be noted that any woman, any woman whatsoever with whom one does not share a Home Stone, is understood to be fair game for the capture loop.
Goreans, as Kurii, have their senses of propriety, and what is to be permitted and what is not to be permitted. For example, it is understood that free women are not permitted in paga taverns. Some, however, curious, or bold, or such, disguise themselves as boys, or even as slaves, and dare to enter such forbidden precincts. If they are discovered, they are not unoften enslaved. If they would be in such a tavern, let them be so appropriately, bringing paga to the tables and serving in the alcoves, in their own collars, locked on their necks, slaves. Similarly, should a free woman impersonate a slave, which is frowned upon, it is thought suitable that she be made a slave. If she would appear a slave, let her be a slave. It is, in most cities, incidentally, a capital offense for a slave to impersonate a free woman. It is understood that there is a vast and unbridgeable chasm between the priceless free woman and the worthless slave. To be sure, some slaves are quite expensive, and some free women, displayed, would not be likely to receive a bid.
"But one can rape a free woman?"
"Surely," he said, "and the penalties for that can be grievous, particularly if a Home Stone is shared."
"What is a Home Stone, Master?" she asked.
"You are a slave and may not have one," he said. "Do not concern yourself with the matter."
"Free women may be raped, of course," he said, "by raiders, by warriors of foreign cities, by slavers, and such, for women are generally recognized on Gor as loot. But the rape of such women is usually no more than a prelude to their collaring."
"How humiliated they must be, and how shamed they must be, to be subjected to such a use when free."
"But after such a use," he said, "they are commonly desperate to be collared."
The girl said nothing.
"Perhaps," he said, "that is because afterwards they regard themselves, so reduced, and so stained, as never again being worthy of assuming the dignities and glories of the free woman."
"Oh, not at all, Master," she said.
"Oh?" he said.
"No," she said, "it is because they have been, doubtless for the first time, rather as a slave, in a man's arms."
"Interesting," said Cabot.
"And they sense not only the labors and terrors of bondage, but its meaningfulness, its stark significance, and its secret fulfillments, of which one scarcely dares speak to a man, and its joys, its indescribable joys."
"So I have gathered, here and there," he said.
"It is true, Master," she said.
"Surely their feelings toward their bondage, at least at first, must be ambivalent."
"Doubtless," she said, "but only at first, for later, as they learn what it is to be a female and a slave, they would not exchange their collars for all the dignities, glories, and freedoms of the world."
"I see," he said.
"They find their meaning, and joy, at the feet of a master."
"As a slave, as you are."
"Yes, Master," she said.
"Even a free woman," said Cabot, "may be subjected to controls of various sorts, a limitation to specified locales, imprisonment, leashings, the restrictions of light chains, and such, if the interests of states are at stake. There is much precedent for that sort of thing."
The Gorean free woman may sit upon a chair or bench, or recline on a supper couch. If she kneels, she kneels demurely, with her knees closed.
"Your knees!" said the Lady Bina.
"Mistress?" said the slave.
"Should they not be spread?"
"She is in the presence of a free woman," said Cabot. "It is thus appropriate that she kneels in the Tower position."
It is not unusual, incidentally, to put a slave in the background, so to speak, in a place from whence she may be easily brought to serve, but, too, where her presence will not intrude on the attention of free persons. Free women often insist on this. Indeed, when free women are present, at a supper, or such, the slave is likely to be demurely, modestly, clothed, even in an ankle-length gown. To be sure, she is denied gloves, her arms are commonly bare, and the collar must be clearly visible. Free women insist on that.
Lita was kneeling, as is common with slaves in the presence of free persons. She did have her knees together, doubtless because of the presence of a free woman, Lady Bina.
"I am a free woman," she said. "Why should I work?"
"Many free women work," said Cabot. "Even free women of the upper castes often work. Not all have slaves or servants. Too, work is quite common with free women of the lower castes."
A free woman may be guarded with respect to her body. She may even be embarrassed by it, or ashamed of it. She may fear to show it. Certainly she may conceal it. How frightful if she were to be thought of in terms of it, her body, that embarrassing, troubling thing so appropriately concealed, rather than, say, in terms of her mind and personhood, or, perhaps, her clear, fine features, if her veil were to become disarranged, inadvertently. But beneath those robes and veils her body is there, embarrassing and troubling or not, in all its loveliness, as though waiting for its exposure or disrobing. And surely she knows it is she, ready to flame alive in its exposure, as much as any other aspect of her, her mind, her features, her emotions, the needs of her belly, all such things which constitute the wholeness of her. Does she, enclosed in those ornate blockades, wonder from time to time what it might be to feel a man's hands upon those stiff enwrapments, and wonder what it might be to feel them ripped from her, abruptly, imperiously, and feel the sudden flash of air upon lovely, startled skin?
To be sure, the forests are dangerous, and what free woman would care to frequent them?
Almost all Gorean slaves are captures, having once been free women. The bred slave, other than in the sense that all women are bred slaves, is rare.
The free woman is to be sought and wooed; the slave is to be summoned, and instructed.
Clumsiness is not acceptable in a slave; she is not a free woman.
"Do not!" she said. "You are of the warriors. You have codes. I am free, a free woman! I am not to be touched! I am to be treated with respect and dignity! I am not a slave! I am a free woman!"
"Yes," I said, "you are a free woman, but one of Earth. You do not have the status of a Gorean free woman. Compared to a Gorean free woman, sheltered by her Home Stone, secure within her walls, complacent in the unquestioned arrogance of her station, the women of Earth do not even understand what it is to be free. The Gorean free woman is glorious in her freedom. The free women of Earth are no more than the sort of women that Gorean slavers think nothing of enslaving. They see the women of Earth not as free women, but only as slaves who have not yet been put in their collars."
"As you are a free woman," I said, "even though one of Earth, I have treated you with some circumspection. In the codes such matters are gray, for it is commonly supposed that a Home Stone would be shared. If you were a slave, of course, whether of Earth or not, the matter would not even come up. Too, as you may not understand, even a Gorean free woman is expected to show a fellow respect, as another free person. If she insults him, belittles him, ridicules him, or treats him in any way which he deems improper or unbecoming, sometimes even to the glance, depending on the fellow, she is considered as having put away the armor of her status, and may be dealt with as the male sees fit. This is particularly the case if there is no shared Home Stone. Other situations are also regarded as ones in which the woman has voluntarily, or inadvertently, divested herself of the social and cultural mantles usually sufficient to protect her freedom and honor, such as walking the high bridges at night, undertaking dangerous expeditions or voyages, traversing lonely areas of a city, entering into a paga tavern, and so on.
On the other hand, Gorean free women often have quite long hair, in which they take great pride. It is not unusual that it might reach to the back of their knees.
Many free women, incidentally, have never seen a slave in "position," though they may, to their disgust, or delight and envy, have heard the attitude described. This is not as surprising as it sounds for free women are not allowed in paga taverns, and such places, and would seldom have an opportunity to observe what takes place between a female slave, particularly a pleasure slave, and her master. The female slave, before a free woman, kneels, certainly, but commonly demurely, not as she would, and must, if she is a pleasure slave, before a male.
By their own hand they had face-stripped themselves," said one of the fellows.
At this moment three or four of the girls on the chain burst into tears.
This is perhaps difficult for those unfamiliar with Gor to understand, one supposes, but the matter is cultural, certainly in the high cities. The face of a free woman, particularly one of high caste, of station, and such, is secret to herself, and to those to whom she might choose to bare it.
Clumsiness, awkwardness, stiffness, and such, are not permitted to slaves; they are not free women.
The free woman is to be carried, if carried at all, gently, respectfully, nestled in one's arms. For example, one may not wish her to risk soiling the hem of her rich robes, or the brocade of her slippers. Sometimes a free woman will wait, before, say, a rivulet or puddle, even a small one, to be carried to safety by some lucky fellow.
And it is not unusual, in these small fordings, and such, of which we spoke, for the free woman to put her slave into the mire, and use her body as a bridge, in this way protecting her garments and the daintiness of her feet and ankles.
I glanced at her legs, and then I asked her, "Have you had slave wine?"
"What is slave wine?" she asked.
"It prevents conception," I said. "Slaves are not to breed randomly. Their crossings are to be decided by masters."
"I have not had slave wine!" she said.
"A pity," I said.
"But I have had what I was told," she said, "was the wine of 'the noble free woman'."
"Strange," I said, "as you are a slave."
"You know I am not a slave!" she whispered.
"Ah, yes," I said, "sometimes, when I look at your legs, I forget."
"Beast!" she hissed."As you have had 'the wine of the noble free woman,'" I said, "it does not much matter. The substances, save in the pleasantness of their imbibings, are equivalent. Indeed, both have as their active ingredient sip root."
I then left her, as she had requested. A Gorean male, commonly, complies with the wishes of a free woman.
They are, after all, free.
The movements of free women on Gor tend to be restricted, and monitored. One is always aware when they are about. They are precious. One pays attention to them.
She knelt in the position of the tower slave, not that of the pleasure slave, as there was a free woman present.
Sometimes the binding fiber, in its double loop, is looser, that it may ride low on the hips. The point of this is to exhibit the navel of the slave, which, in Gorean, is known as "the slave belly." The Gorean free woman, as I understand it, who often mates while gowned, commonly refuses to reveal her "slave belly" to her companion, because of the shame of it. What if he should become excited, tear off her gown, and put her to use with the same audacity, aggression, exhilaration, and exultation with which he might use a vulnerable, meaningless animal, say, a chain-slut or paga girl?
Free women take part in the commercial life of Gorean polities as men do, owning and managing businesses, lending coin, negotiating loans, organizing caravans, investing capital, conservatively, or risking it variously, in real estate, voyages, commodities, and such, in translating goods about to find the most favorable markets at a given time, and so on. To be sure, much of this is done through male agents, as, in theory, such concerns are regarded as beneath the dignity and attention of a free woman. She is supposedly, in her dignity and nobility, above such crass concerns. That she exists, in the glory of her freedom, that she is so different from the shameful female slave, that she adds luster to the city and its Home Stone, is enough; that she be dedicated to refined and tasteful pursuits, such as attendance at the theater, at song dramas, poetry readings, and such, is deemed sufficient. In essence, the free woman, aside from being regarded as a priceless treasure, so different from the slave who, as a beast, may be purchased for a given amount of coin, is considered an ornament to the city, an adornment to her polity. But many grow wealthy and powerful, and others fail, and so on.
Goreans, incidentally, accept nose rings without any particular ado. Indeed, amongst the Wagon Peoples, where veiling is unknown, such rings are common even with free women.
The human body, on Gor, is not regarded as shameful. Even Gorean women of high caste, who are commonly robed and veiled in public, do not regard bodies as shameful. That would be absurd for a Gorean. They do, however, usually, regard their bodies as special and provocative, and exquisitely private, and certainly not for public viewing. The Gorean free woman then does not think of her body as something to be hidden for reasons of shame but as something to be hidden for reasons of propriety. As is well known the usual Gorean free woman is more concerned with the concealment of her facial features than her body. Her face is much more revealing of herself than her body.
Sometimes overconfident forces do bring free women with them, camp followers, courtesans, and such, and, even, not unoften, highly placed free women, to companion high officers, preside over victory feasts, have the first chance to bid amongst the women of the enemy for serving slaves, and such. Indeed, some accompany such campaigns as an escape from boredom, if nothing else, apparently in search of thrills and adventures.
Too, whereas a free woman may lie as profoundly and frequently as she wishes, a slave girl is forbidden to lie. A free woman may lie with impunity; a slave girl does not have this privilege. The slave girl fears to lie. Lying is not acceptable in a kajira. Punishments are terrible. She is not a free woman.
A free woman, of course, either walks next to a free male, or, in some cities, precedes him, as a mark of her status. This practice also, of course, tends to distinguish her from the slave, a distinction which is of enormous importance in Gorean society.
The former Ubara had been embonded in accord with the couching law of Marlenus of Ar, any free woman who couches with, or prepares to couch with, a male slave, becomes herself a slave, and the property of the male slave's master.
On savage, untamed, perilous Gor, you see, women are vulnerable, and in need of the protection of men. Even free women, whatever their denials or resentments may be, are well aware of this. It is only within the walls formed by the blades of men that their nobilities and privileges, their precious vanities and pretensions, can exist.
Too, she is to speak clearly and with excellent diction. She is not a free woman. Therefore, there must be no slurring of speech, or mumbling.
Too, such as she could be punished severely for lying. They are not free women, who may lie with impunity.
One of the highest compliments one can pay a free woman, though perhaps not to her face, is that she is "slave beautiful."
There is only one free woman in Tharna, Lara, her Tatrix. All others are held in the most severe of bondages. No free woman may even enter the gates of Tharna without being temporarily licensed and placed in the custody of a male. Those of Tharna wear in their belt the two yellow cords, each eighteen inches in length, suitable for binding females, hand and foot."
I knew little of Tharna, but I did know it was a city muchly feared by free women. And yet, interestingly, free women not unoften underwent considerable hardship and peril to enter her gates.
"'You may speak,' he said, as though I, a free woman, required such permission. 'I wish passage to Brundisium,' I said, 'and I am prepared to pay for it, as might a Ubara herself. I have riches.' 'You speak as a free woman,' he said. 'I am a free woman,' I said. 'That is fortunate,' he said, 'for were you a slave, and spoke as you do, you would be muchly lashed. The lesson of suitable speech, of deference, and such, for a slave is quickly learned.'
It is not unknown for even free women to kneel before a man, press their lips to his boots, and beg him for his collar, that they may belong to him, as his slave.
Free women, on the other hand, unless passengers on particular ships plying established routes, are seldom aboard Gorean vessels. Many Gorean mariners fear to travel with a free woman on board, regarding such as harbingers of ill fortune.
What wise woman would let the door of a paga tavern close behind her, unless she wished to find herself within?
A free woman may lie, but not the female slave.
The rape of a free woman with whom one shares a Home Stone, on the other hand, is a very serious offense. Fellows have been tortured, and publicly impaled, for that sort of thing.
The free woman has much to bargain with, her wealth, her position, her caste, her possessions, but once enslaved what has she but her beauty, and that does not even belong to her.
It is a common belief amongst Goreans, though seldom voiced in the presence of free women, that men are masters and women slaves. As it is said, all women are slaves, only some are in collars, and some are not.
Were it not for the security of their Home Stones, one supposes there would be few free women in a Gorean city. One wonders sometimes if they understand that the freedom which, in their arrogance, they take so much for granted is tenuous and fragile, a revocable gift of men.
If a slave speaks, she is expected to speak as a slave, not a free woman. It is, after all, a privilege for a slave to be allowed to speak in the presence of a free man. They are not free women. Free woman may do much what they please.
Free women often fear to be in a man's arms, fearing what will become of them. Perhaps few understand the meaning of their restlessness, their irritations, their distractions, their turnings and thrashings in the night, or perhaps, somehow, they understand them only too well.
Many pillows have been dampened with the tears of free women.
Do they know the source of their tears?
Many are the cultural expectations imposed upon the free woman. Is she not more of a slave than a slave? Abundant are her limitations; narrow are the corridors permitted for her movements; stout are the bonds of convention wherein she is bound. Can she fail to sense the invisible ties which bind her? How natural, then, imbued by unquestioned prescription and expectation, for her to justify the walls within which she is imprisoned. How natural then her pride, her aloofness, her struggle to maintain the pretenses demanded of her. What is her will compared to the weight of society? Too, is it not easy to make a virtue of necessity, that ice should commend cold, and the stone its lack of feeling? How natural then that she should, with all innocence and conviction, often with a raging earnestness, praise the treachery which has been done to her, and struggle to betray herself, to deny herself to herself. How natural then that she should compete with her sisters in her imperviousness to desire, in her frigidity and inertness, in her estrangement from herself. How glorious is the free woman! She possesses a Home Stone, as a slave may not. But she is a woman, still, and that, however denied, is adamant. It continues to exist. Its hereditary coils reign in each living particle of her body. Truth, primitive and antique, remains true. Her nature is with her, for it is herself. Does she suspect at times that there is a slave masquerading within her robes? Does she not, at times, hear the whimpers, the cries, of the slave within her? Does she not long, at times, for the collar of a master, for the weight of his chains? Does she not know in her heart that she is his rightful slave?
Sometimes an unpopular, haughty free woman is surprised and hooded, and put by several young men to slave use, after which she is returned to her robes and freedom. Thereafter, she may speculate, encountering one young fellow or another, here or there, at one time or another, whether he is one, or not, who has enjoyed her. Can she live with this? Is that fellow smiling? What is the meaning of that look, by another, or does it have a meaning? When any fellow's eyes are upon her she seizes her veils and holds them more closely about her face. Do other free women suspect how she is now different from them? Could they possibly know? That she, though a free woman, has been subjected to slave use? How they would shun and scorn her, if they knew. Whose pleasure has she served? That of several, as might have a slave, but she knows not one of them. Can she endure this shame, this humiliation, this uncertainty, being the one who does not know, while others look upon her, and perhaps remember, and know? Is not a paga girl, in an alcove, serving her master of the Ahn, more fortunate? She is likely to be well aware of who it is who is putting her to use. Too, the fellow is likely to want the slave to be well aware of who it is who is seeing to it that she endures the lengthy and unspeakable raptures of her bondage. It is he whom she, helpless, clutching him, must beg for more. And, too, the free woman, to her chagrin, can recall the incipient feelings in her body, and her gasping, and how her small arms touched, and then held, and then clutched, gratefully, the body in whose power she lay. How they had laughed, when a spasm, to her shame, had rocked her. Then, having been given a taste, however brief, of what it might be to be subject to the mastery, she was returned to freedom, to live as she could, the life of a free woman. Such a woman, commonly, in her misery and loneliness, in her shame and humiliation, in her uncertainty and confusion, begins to roam the high bridges, frequent lonely streets, and wander unescorted outside the city gates. She courts the collar. She seeks it. She beseeches it. She weeps with rapture as she is stripped and bound.
Some free women think that they can never be taught the collar, but, when it is on them, they learn differently, and swiftly.
It is very pleasant, of course, for a free woman to come into the ownership of a former enemy, or rival, and have her serve her guests naked, as the lowest of serving slaves.
The face of the slave, by law, must be naked. Free women insist on that. They are not to be confused with animals, with collared beasts. The features of free women, presumably so exquisite, precious, and marvelous, are not to be exhibited to common view. Accordingly, given the depth of their veiling, and the opacity of the common street veil, they cannot well prevail upon, or influence, the peddler or merchant, the fellow sitting behind his goods, spread upon a rug or cloth, or the stallsman, behind his counter, with the loveliness of a woman's smile. To be sure, they do their best to smile with their voices, banter pleasantly, and hint with a deft word or two how astute is the tradesman, and how attractive he is, and how grateful they would be, mere weak, defenseless women, and possible beauties, should he unbend a bit and relax his adamancy by a tarsk-bit or so.
"To all fours," he said to her.
"Yes, Master," she said.
This position can be igniting to a female slave, being so positioned by a master. At the least, they are well reminded, so positioned beside a man, that they are slaves.
No free woman, of course, would be so positioned.
The common submission of a free woman, usually rendered in terror of her life, as amidst the flames of a burning city, is to kneel before the male, and lift her crossed wrists to him, her head bowed between her arms. In this way her submission is clear, and she is hoping to buy her life with her beauty, the crossed wrists, ready for binding, indicating that she is pleading to be accepted as a slave.
"As I understand it," I said, "kajirae are commonly clothed sedately, in long gowns, if with bared arms, at such feasts, that is, if free women should be present?"
One scarcely dared conjecture how they might serve, if free women were not present.
"Not always," said Mrs. Rawlinson, "particularly if the kajirae would be recent captures from an enemy city, or, say, enslaved rivals of the free women attending the feast, or such."
The collar may be viewed as a simple contrivance, a device prescribed by Merchant Law, identifying a slave and, if the collar is engraved, often her master. Free women may view it as a badge of inferiority and degradation, and perhaps appropriately, from the social point of view. But the collar, too, as I have suggested, may be seen as a badge of quality, a token that the woman has been found desirable enough, and beautiful enough, of sufficient interest to men, to be put in a collar. It is no wonder the free women, encumbered in their robes, uneasy within them, perhaps, for all I know, seething with need, suspecting the joys of the collar, hate us so.
Do we not, sedately tunicked, as serving slaves, assist free women with their complex ornaments, their perfumes, robes, and veils?
"Free women," he said, "regard themselves as priceless.
How vulnerable we were, as slaves!
But, had we been free women I did not doubt but what we would have been abandoned, left in the house, to perish in the flames.
The marks on our thighs, our collars, had saved us. We had been saved, but only as animals.
I knew little of how free women were handled. Perhaps much depends on the caste, or city. I had never encountered a Gorean free woman in any meaningful way, though, from time to time, one had visited the house. At such a time, if one were near, we must kneel in first obeisance position, head to the floor. I had been aware of little more than the almost inaudible sound of a soft slipper on the tiles, a rustle of silks passing me. My knowledge of free women was limited almost entirely to the hints, and gossip of instructresses, which I had overheard. I gathered that there was little love lost between the slave and the free woman.
It was hard for me to imagine such women as slaves, from what I had heard of them, but I knew, too, that there were few bred slaves, at least in the sense of being the products of the slave farms. The overwhelming majority of female slaves on Gor would have once been Gorean free women, of one caste or another. Too, Gorean free women, whatever might be the expectations of their society concerning them, were surely women, with all the instincts, needs, desires, and drives of the human female all the complex genetic codings of such latent in each cell of their bodies. And I had heard guards exchanging remarks, after the passage of one free woman or another in the house, perhaps shopping for a serving slave, or a silk slave, speculating on her possible value on the block. It was just as well our exalted visitors had remained oblivious of such conversations. Within the robes of concealment, it seems, following the views of the guards, there was always a slave, lacking only the collar.
Still, I have heard rumors that some free women dye their hair. They may do as they wish, of course, for they are free.
As is well known, free women are not permitted in the paga taverns or brothels, and it is dangerous for them to enter them, even for those bold enough to disguise themselves as slaves, but similar restrictions do not apply to the public eating houses. Even so, free women of high caste seldom patronize them, not because of any explicit impropriety in doing so, but, rather, because of the narrowness and plainness of the offerings, the rudeness of the appointments, and the general vulgarity of the diners. Such reservations, however, are seldom entertained by men of high caste, who welcome an opportunity to obtain a cheap convenient meal, particularly during the workday. Paga may not be served in the eating houses, but a variety of cheap ka-la-nas is usually available.
Normally, when there is doubt as to the status or condition of a woman she is given to free women, who may then, with respect to her modesty should she be free, examine her body, for a possible collar, or brand. This one, however, was simply disrobed, bound hand and foot, and put in a wagon, for delivery to a market praetor, who would see to her return to her master, or, that failing, to her lashing, fugitive branding, and resale.
A Gorean saying, seldom heard in the presence of free women, has it that beneath the robes of every free woman there is a naked slave.
One may not, of course, strike a free woman. They are not to be struck. They are to be held immune from such corporeal indignities. They are free. Indeed, there are penalties for such things. On the other hand, I then learned, and later confirmed, that a slave may stand proxy for a Mistress's punishment.
Supposedly this is disconcerting to the free woman, and she much suffers, being outraged, scandalized, and humiliated at her subjection to this vicarious chastisement.
One of the most disconcerting and shocking things that can happen to a free woman is to have her veil taken from her, bearing her features to a public gaze. Slavers, and conquerors, will often tie a free woman's hands behind her before removing her veil. How helpless she is then, unable to prevent her face-stripping. Sometimes raiders are displeased with what they behold when the veil is torn away. Then it is not unknown for some to leave the woman's hands tied behind her and to strip her, and tie a sign about her neck at for example, "Poor stuff," "Rejected for bondage" "Not to be collared:' "I am unworthy of being a slave," or such. When she is again returned to her robes, and status, rejected and humiliated, woe to any girls whom she might own.
To be sure, the free woman is priceless, and the slave does have a value, as she may be sold.
One might risk one's life or die for a free woman because she is free, or because a Home Stone is shared, or because it is expected, or because it is thought to be a duty, or a matter of honor, but why might one risk one's life for, or die for, a slave?
The free woman is a person, a citizen, and may possess a Home Stone; we are animals and properties, marked and collared as such, and we lack Home Stones, for such are denied to beasts. And surely our clothing, when we are permitted clothing, contrasts with that of free women, as a revealing tunic, or camisk, differs from colorful swirls of fine robes and veils. It is sometimes said that the free woman dresses to please herself, whereas the slave is dressed to please her master, and this is true, but, I think, overly simple. For example, if the free woman were to dress as a slave, she might soon be collared, and if the master were to dress his slave as a free woman, he would be jeopardizing her life. Custom and tradition, and sometimes law, are involved in these matters. The free woman may dress to please herself, but too, it seems she is well advised to please herself by conforming, and strictly, to a variety of canons, canons of taste, custom, convention, and sometimes of law. In some respects, societally, she is less free than the slave. The culture does deem it important, and free women insist upon this, that a clear distinction be drawn between the free woman and the slave.
A radical distinction is drawn between the Gorean free woman, with caste and Home Stone, and the slave. The free woman is lofty and noble; she is esteemed, exalted, and honored; she is respected and shown great deference.
"You do not know what it is to be free," she said, "for you were never a Gorean free woman. You cannot know the freedom we have, the pride the nobility, the splendor, the power, the raiment, the veiling, the dignity! Men defer to us. They step aside. They make way for us. They will not sit in our presence without permission. We have Home Stones!
A Gorean free woman is likely to fear the stripping of her face more than the stripping of her body.
Indeed, there are Gorean sayings pertinent to this sort of thing. "With the collar comes beauty," "Put her in a collar and see her become beautiful," and so on. I suspect such sayings are not popular with free women.
There are some free women of the upper castes, wealthy women, who from childhood have never dressed themselves, who do not even know the intricate clasps and closures of the robes of concealment they wear, let alone their blendings and drapings, the best colors for the time of day and the season, the arrangements ideally in order for receivings, visitings, promenades, attendance at the readings, the theater, the song drama and so on.
Perhaps a free woman flings herself to her knees, before the reddened sword of a helmeted enemy, ready to strike, drunk with the lust of killing and looting. The blade is poised. She throws back her hood and tears away her veils, and her mouth is exposed to the conqueror. "La kajira!" she cries. "I am a slave girl!" This formula, once spoken, is irrevocable. She is then a self-pronounced slave. A quick, abrupt gesture of the sword and she must disrobe, immediately, completely. Her hands are then tied behind her, and she must hurry behind her captor, struggling to keep up, later to be penned with other slaves amongst whom, as she lacks the brand and collar, she is unlikely to be well treated.
How different we are, I thought, from those precious, glorious free women, at least of the high castes, in the cities, of whom I had often heard, who might faint with mortification should a sudden breeze disarrange a veil, or attack a fellow suspected of considering an ankle, or hire public avengers to respond to an inadvertent jostling in a public place.
I had gathered that free women, at least of the upper castes, were commonly useless in the domiciles.
A free woman, of course, may speak when, and how, she wishes, as she is not a slave.
It is difficult to convey to one unfamiliar with the cultural pertinences the social status of the Gorean free woman.
After all, she was not a Gorean free woman, as across the sea, veiled, hidden in the robes of concealment, a woman exalted and resplendent in status and dignity, a woman safe in her station and secure in her privileges, even one who possessed a Home Stone.
"When I commanded you from the board, over the pool," said Tajima, "I addressed you as 'slave', and under that designation you obeyed."
"That is sufficient," I said. "In that act she pronounced herself slave."
A free woman can freely pronounce herself a slave, of course, but this is her last act as a free woman. Her freedom is then gone. She is then only another slave, another vendible beast and property.
I suppose that it is difficult for one unfamiliar with Gorean culture to appreciate the social status of the Gorean free woman, at least in the high cities. It is quite different from the status, such as it is, in which the women of, say, Earth, are commonly held. In a world where, in effect, all women are free, freedom does not mean very much, but, in a culture where not all women are free, it means a great deal. Indeed, I have sometimes suspected that the low status of the "free woman" on Earth, together with her common lack of veiling, the freedom with which she reveals her wrists, hands, ankles, and such have led many Goreans to regard her as open slave stock, as opposed to, in the view of some, concealed slave stock, as in the case of the Gorean free woman. I think there is little doubt that the transition between a Gorean free woman and slavery is far more radical and cataclysmic than that between an Earth woman and slavery. On the other hand, the Gorean free woman is familiar with slaves, and may have owned some of her own, is wholly familiar with the condition, and such, whereas the Earth girl is commonly unfamiliar with such things.
"I think that what you are saying is false," he said. "One such as you is not permitted to lie. Only a free woman may lie. One such as you may be punished."
It might be of interest to note that Gorean free women, given the usual absence of chairs or benches in Gorean households, often regarded as awkward, unaesthetic clutter, will kneel.
The societal position of the Gorean free woman, incidentally, particularly in the high cities, is far higher than that of the average free woman of Earth. Accordingly her reduction to bondage is likely to be far more devastating to her than such a reduction in the case of the average woman of Earth. Many of the women of Earth, for example, think little of baring their features, and their ankles, in public, an exhibitionism which would be unthinkable for most Gorean free women, and certainly for those of the higher castes. One can well imagine the feelings of a former Gorean free woman, who might have, in daring, scandalous boldness, occasionally allowed a glove to slip a little, affording a glimpse of wrist, finding herself exposed in public, tunicked and collared, only another slave.
Despite the exalted status of free women, who are equal to men in the holding of a Home Stone, can hold money and property in their own right, may found, organize, and manage businesses, may occupy positions of importance and authority even to the occupancy of thrones, and who may enter into relationships, or discontinue them, much as they please, the Free Companionship requiring an annual renewal, Gor is essentially a man's world.
Clumsiness may be ignored or dismissed in a free woman, but it is not acceptable in a slave. An accident or mistake that will be routinely overlooked in the case of a free woman may, in the case of the slave, bring the whip.
Some free women enjoy using harnessed female slaves to draw their carriages, or, chained to their poles, to carry their palanquins.
"You are clearly a slave. Just as it is impossible for a free woman to impersonate a slave, so it is impossible for a woman, once she has learned her collar, to impersonate a free woman. Her bondage is manifest in every fiber of her body, in her every expression and movement."
Consider the tumult within her when she desires to speak, and is not permitted to do so. She is, of course, a mere slave. How different with the free woman, who may speak if, and when, and in whatever manner she might wish.
"Even free women are unlikely to strike a girl in the black tunic."
"Slaves seldom lie," said Kurik. "They are nor free women. The free woman may lie with impunity but not the slave. For the slave, the penalties are too severe."
Such fine handsome slaves, of course, are not unoften noticed by free women, who may even buy them. On the other hand, in the law of Ar, and several other cities, the free woman who pleasures herself with a male slave risks her own enslavement, and becoming the property of the slave's master.
The awe with which the free woman of one's own city is regarded, reinforced by habit, training, custom, and tradition, does not at all apply to the free women of another city, unless perhaps a close ally, nor, indeed, does it even apply to a woman of one's own city, should she have been reduced to bondage.
Free women commonly go, and do, wherever they wish, and whatever they wish.
The Lady Bina, sitting on an improvised chair, formed from a box, fastidiously licked her fingers. Most Gorean free women would kneel, their knees closely together. Both Kurik, my master, and Drusus Andronicus, sat about, cross-legged, which is common with Gorean men. In taverns, and most domiciles, at least in the "high cities," the tables are low, and men sit about them cross-legged, and free women kneel at them.
"Oh!" I cried in misery, stung by the lash of a switch. Many free women carry such an implement with them. It comports with their authority, their dignity, and status. Slave girls look upon that device with well-justified apprehension. They well know its meaning. Have they not felt it, often enough? Free women, who resent and hate, even loathe, female slaves, scantily clad and collared, often use it on them with little or no provocation. Presumably this has much to do with the pleasure males derive from female slaves. Could the free women be actually jealous of slaves, such meaningless, worthless beasts? Do they envy them their brands and collars? Do they themselves wish to feel the kiss of the searing iron and the clasp of the degrading metal collar?
"If you saw what happened," I said, "why did you not speak out, why did you not denounce the free woman, and protect me?"
Free women are not allowed in a paga tavern, which, I suppose, is just as well. Sometimes a free woman, perhaps curious, or adventurously bold, or resentful, rankling under the prohibition of such premises to her sex, will disguise herself as a slave girl, even daring to affect the degrading habiliments of the kajira, and enter. These, commonly, are soon detected, given their tone, bearing, carriage, or mien. It is difficult for the Gorean free woman, with her pride, assumptions, background, behaviors, and attitudes, to pass herself off as a slave. There are too many differences, too many difficulties. The free woman is not yet a slave; she has not yet been broken to the collar. The discovered imposters are politely back-bound and escorted from the premises. Then, their hands bound behind them, they must make their way home. How then can they return to their cached garments and dress themselves? Being so treated, of course, openly and publicly, is scandalous to the free woman, and may be ruinous to her reputation. Certainly her peers, afterwards, are likely to shun her, and look upon her as little more than the female slave she endeavored to counterfeit. If the free woman wishes to make a scene, she may be back-bound and ejected naked, with her tunic tied about her left, bound wrist. Sometimes she may be remanded to guardsmen and held for a public trial, on charges of conduct unbecoming to, and offensive to, free women. In such cases, at the mercy of a presiding female judge, she stands naked in the dock, waiting to learn her fate. Commonly her sentence is the collar.
In some cities, free women found guilty of criminal offenses are remanded to Port Kar, with the understanding that they will be branded and collared, and used as urt girls.
Gorean men were fond of slaves. They knew what to do with them. They often protected them from free women.
Veiling is common with Gorean free women in public. The removal of a veil or veils without the owner's consent is referred to as "face stripping." In some cities this is a crime punishable by death, particularly if the woman shares one's Home Stone. Bodies tend to be similar, but features tend to be individual, personal, and unique. Many Gorean free women, interestingly, if forced to choose, would prefer body stripping to face stripping. In a sense, to them, body stripping is more impersonal and less revealing than face stripping. Doubtless this is a cultural matter. One of the reasons that Gorean men tend to think of the women of my former world as at best uncollared slaves is the blatant and brazen way in which so many of them allow their features to be looked upon. Is not a face, with its delicacies and subtleties, its myriad expressions, a thousand times more revealing than a body?
It is not unusual to keep a captive slave stripped. Indeed, captive free women are likely, as well, to soon find themselves fully bared. Due to the danger of inadvertently encountering concealed poisoned pins or knives, they are usually stripped by the sword or knife, or ordered to tear away their own clothing and place themselves naked in a posture of submission before their captor.
Stupidity is acceptable in a free woman, but not in a female slave.
Quarry of Gor Book 35 Page 450
On Gor, few free women exhibit their ankles. The raider or capturing slaver, of course, always hopes for the best. In the case of many Gorean women their ankles are never really exhibited until they are sold from the block.
"As you are a barbarian," I said, "you may not understand the ways of Gor. Let me give you an illustration. If a free woman should pronounce herself a slave, she is, then, instantly, no longer a free woman but a slave. Pretending, thinking she is lying, mental reservation, and such things, do not enter into the matter. Once the words are spoken she is a slave. Even if she lacks a Master, she is a slave. Do you understand?"
There is a superstition shared by many Gorean mariners, that it is unlucky to have a free woman aboard ship, particularly if there is only one.
In the case of the free woman, mysterious, exalted, lofty, veiled, possibly beautiful, and inaccessible, particularly in a long voyage, as tensions rise, one has something analogous to fresh, raw meat cast before hungry sleen, or, say, a banquet placed before starving men. Add to this the normal penchant of a woman to affect men and the very natural, human pleasure she is likely to derive from stimulating masculine desire, even without satisfying it, one has a concoction which well may prove inflammatory. Many such women who begin a journey as a free woman complete it in the chains of a slave.
Most of the women were free, but some slaves were also in evidence, approximately one slave to every fifteen or twenty free women.
It is little wonder that Masters often strive to keep much from their slaves. A casual remark at a private supper may become common knowledge by the next day. Along these lines, the trysts, liaisons, and affairs of free women may not be secrets as well kept as the free women are likely to believe.
At gambling houses, unlike taverns, free women, if escorted, were welcome. Might not they be parted from their money as well as their male counterparts? There is little economic point in neglecting possible sources of revenue. At the opposite wall, there were some curtained thresholds behind which slaves might be kept. These were not permitted on the floor during business hours, in deference to free women.
Lais looked to me, uncertain as to how to proceed. In the tavern of The Living Island, she had never served free women.
Free women were not allowed in the tavern. In some cities a free woman foolish enough to enter the precincts of a tavern is arrested, stripped, branded, collared, and sold.
"Wait! Wait!" said Melete. "Are we worth nothing? Have we no value?"
"Free women are priceless," I said. "Thus they have no value."
"But slaves have value!" said Melete.
"Of course," I said, "a greater or lesser value. They can be bought and sold."
In the sieges of tower cities on continental Gor, it is not unknown for free women to shear their hair, offering it for use in the defense of their city.
Given the nature of this feast, and the grim prospect of the morrow, no women or children were present. The share of the feast allotted to women and children was distributed amongst some four dwellings which had been less damaged in the bombardment of the great catapults. This was not a time amongst men, the time of this banquet, for tenderness, but a time for distraction, for forgetfulness, not a time for regrets and sorrows, but a time for thrusting such things to the side, not a time for farewells and tears but a time for laughing and drinking, for the pounding of tables, the telling of stories, the singing of paga songs, boisterous songs fit for the taverns, in which no free woman may enter.
"No woman in a collar is worthless," I said. "Only free women, being priceless, are worthless. Margot, Millicent, and Courtney are all comely. Stripped and exhibited on a slave block, each would bring at least a silver tarsk."
Speaking so is permitted to free women, who may say and do much what they wish. It is not permitted to slaves.
Seremides twisted in his chair and regarded Iris, who, kneeling to the side, was mending a tunic which had been torn by a grasping mariner. As I may have mentioned, Iris was quite attractive and her neck, of course, was closely, clearly, encircled by the slave band. Had a similar liberty been taken in the case of a free woman, the mariner might have risked impalement. Free women tend to be jealous of their bodies.
On Gor, a free woman may do and say almost anything without any danger of correction, contradiction, or reprisal.