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Women and Swords



Point One:
The Gorean woman can wield a sword to at least protect herself, if not even win a sword fight.

or

Point Two:

No woman can even pick up a sword let alone wield one.


Well, the fact is, neither statement is completely true.
As with many topics pertaining to Gor, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

And also, as with many of the philosophies of Gor, it is necessary to look at the overall theme of the books rather than focus on one or two passages. In this case, it becomes more of a matter of what is not told to us rather than what is actually written.


First we'll establish that, undoubtedly, there are women of the Warrior Caste.

Normally mating takes place among caste members, but if the mating is of mixed caste, the woman may elect to retain caste, which is commonly done, or be received into the caste of the male companion. Caste membership of the children born of such a union is a function of the caste of the father.
Slave Girl of Gor     Book 11     Page 212

At the age of twelve, Ute had been purchased by a leather worker, who dwelt on the exchange island, administered by the Merchants, of Teletus. He, and his companion, had cared for her, and had freed her. They had adopted her as their daughter, and had seen that she was trained well in the work of the leather workers, that caste which, under any circumstances, had been hers by right of birth.
Captive of Gor     Book 7     Page 233

Therefore, women can be of the Caste of Warriors through either marriage or birth.
So I just said that there are women Warriors? . . . Right? . . . No.

The women of a given caste, it should be noted, often do not engage in caste work. For example, a woman in the Metalworkers does not, commonly, work at the forge, nor is a woman of the Builders likely to be found supervising the construction of fortifications.
Fighting Slave of Gor     Book 14     Page 209

Wait . . . is says "often do not engage is caste work . . ." so . . . maybe some do.
Yes, but the notable exception to this is, no not the Warrior Caste, but the Caste of Physicians.

A notable exception to the generalization that women of a given caste normally do not engage in caste work is the caste of Physicians, whose women are commonly trained, as are the boys, in the practice of medicine.
Fighting Slave of Gor     Book 14     Page 210

No mention is ever made that women participated in the craft of the Warriors. If there were ever an exception to this, it would surely have been noted at least once.


But what of the Panther Girls or the Talunas?
Certainly these are the best example of women warriors, women fighters, women conquers, right?
No.

Panther Girls are simply runaway slaves and free women who live in the Northern Forests.
They use, as weapons, light spears, small bows and knives. They do not use swords.

Talunas are white girls that live in the jungle near Schendi.
They too use light spears, small bows and knives. And, they too, do not use swords.

It's not that these two groups didn't have access to swords.
Not only is it never shown that Panther Girls or Talunas did not use swords in their encounters with men, they did not even use them among themselves.


There is Boabissia, taken in and raised from childhood by the Alars. In this illustration she trying to prove her worth as a member of the Alar wagons. In fact, she attempting to take on the facial scar of the Alar man.

"No!" said the girl. "I am truly of the wagons! I have lived among them all my life!"

"She is not of the wagons, by blood," said a man.

She looked at him angrily. "Slash my face!" she cried.

"We do not slash the faces of our females," said a man.

"Slash mine!" she said.

"No," said Genserix.

"Then I shall do it myself!" she said.

"Do not," said Genserix, sternly.

"Very well," she said. "I shall not. I shall do as my chieftain asks."

I saw that she did not wish, truly, to disfigure herself in the mode of the Alar warriors. I found that of interest. From the point of view of the men, too, of course, they did not desire this. For one thing she was not of the warriors and was thus not entitled to this badge of station; indeed, her wearing it, as she was a mere female, would be a joke to outsiders and an embarrassment to the men; it would belittle its significance for them, making it shameful and meaningless. The insignia of men, like male garments, become empty mockeries when permitted to women. This type of thing leads eventually both to the demasculinization of men and the defeminization of females, a perversion of nature disapproved of generally, correctly or incorrectly, by Goreans.
Mercenaries of Gor     Book 21     Page 56

Notice that not only was this not going to be allowed, it would in fact become empty mockery. In other words, even the portrayal of a woman as a warrior is shameful and meaningless.

As Wasnapohdi said, "Men are the warriors and women, she knew in her heart, were among the fitting spoils of their victories."
Blood Brothers of Gor     Book 18     Page 213


Analysis of Point One: While there are women of the Scarlet Caste, there are no women warriors.



Now, on the other hand, is it fair to say, perhaps based on this quote . . .

The strength of a full-grown woman is equivalent to that of a twelve-year-old boy.
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Page 223

that a woman cannot even wield a sword?


No, this statement would be as untrue as the first extreme.

First, to simply disprove that a woman is incapable of even lifting a sword, we have this example:

She went to a table. I saw belongings of mine upon the table, doubtless fetched from Lydius.

"It was clear quite early," she said, "that you were no common ruffian from the docks of Lydius." She sifted golden tarn disks through her fingers. She drew forth the blade from the sheath. "I am told," said she, "this is a finely tempered blade, keen, subtly balanced, the weapon of one who is of the warriors."

"Perhaps," I said.
Beasts of Gor     Book 12     Page 143

It is clear that the woman did not struggle with the blade. In fact she was able to tell that it was finely balanced.


We have here another example of a woman not just holding a sword but actually swinging it:

His hand drew Talena's dagger from his belt, and, manacled as I was, I could not have prevented the blow.

Suddenly his eyes emitted a wordless scream, and I saw a bloody stump at the end of his arm. Talena had picked up his sword and struck off the hand that held the dagger. I released my grip. The officer shuddered convulsively on the grass and was dead. Talena, naked, still held the bloody sword, her eyes glassy with the horror of what she had done.

"Drop the sword," I commanded harshly, fearing it would occur to her to strike me with it. The girl dropped the weapon, sinking to her knees and covering her face with her hands.
Tarnsman of Gor     Book 1     Page 104

As a side point, notice that Talena was glassy-eyed with horror after her strike. Not exactly the response of someone used to wielding swords. And, by the way, Talena was of the Caste of Warriors.


One more occurrence of a woman wielding a sword, more or less in the spur of the moment:

Telima, wildly, her two hands on the sword, struck a man from behind in the neck and he fell away from the blade. Then she had lost the blade, as an invader struck it from her hand.
Raiders of Gor     Book 6     Page 297

The woman striking the blow actually killed the man. But if you go read the whole context, you will see that it was not a 'stand up sword fight'. And then, in the next instant, another man strikes the blade from her hand. Obviously she was no match for him.


Finally, we have the one example of a sword fight between a woman and man.

"You have come to take me!" she cried. She carried a scimitar.

"Your war is lost," I told her. "It is done."

She looked upon me in fury. For an instant there were tears in her eyes, bright and hot. I saw that she was a woman. Then again she was Tarna.

"Never!" she cried.

"It is true," I told her.

"No!" she cried.

We could hear men fighting in the distance, somewhere in the corridors beyond.

"The kasbah has fallen," I told her. "Ibn Saran is dead. Haroun, high Pasha of the Kavars and Suleiman, high Pasha of the Aretai, are already within the walls."

"I know," she said, miserably. "I know."

"You were relieved of your command," I told her. "You were no longer of use. Even those men who once served you fight now, decimated, for their lives." I regarded her. "The kasbah has fallen," I said.

She looked at me.

"You are alone," I said. "It is over."

"I know," she said. Then she lifted her head, angrily, proudly. "How did you know where to find me?" she asked.

"I am not unfamiliar with the quarters of Tarna," I said.

"Of course," she said. She smiled. "And now you have come to take me," she laughed.

"Yes," I told her.

"Doubtless for he who brings me in, his rope on my neck, before the noble Pashas Haroun and Suleiman, there will be a high reward," she said.

"I would suppose that would be the case," I said.

"Fool!" she said. "Sleen! I am Tarna!" She lifted the scimitar. "I am more than a match for any man!" she cried.

I met her charge. She was not unskillful. I fended her blows. I did not lay the weight of my own steel on hers, that I not tire her arm. I let her strike, and slash, and feint and thrust. Twice she drew back suddenly in fear, almost a wince, or reflex, realizing she had exposed herself to my blade, but I had not struck her.

"You are not a match for a warrior," I told her. It was true. I had crossed steel with hundreds of men, in practice and in the fierce games of war, who could have finished her, swiftly and with ease, had they chosen to do so.

In fury, again, she attacked.

Again I met her attack, toying with the beauty.

She wept, striking wildly. I was within her guard, the blade at her belly.

She stepped back. Again she fought. This time I moved toward her, letting her feel the weight of the steel, the weight of a man's arm. Suddenly she found herself backed against a pillar. Her guard was down. She could scarcely lift her arm. My blade was at her breast. I stepped back. She stumbled from the pillar, wild. Again she lifted the scimitar; again she tried to attack. I met her blade, high, forcing it down; she slipped to one knee, looking up, trying to keep the blade away; she wept; she had no leverage, her strength was gone; I thrust her back, and she fell on her back before me on the tiles; my left boot, heavy, was on her right wrist; the small hand opened and the scimitar slipped to the tiles; the point of the blade was at her throat.

"Stand up," I told her.

I broke her scimitar at the hilt and flung it to a corner of the room.

She stood in the center of the room. "Put your rope on my neck," she said. "You have taken me, Warrior."
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Pages 329 - 330

Notice that while "she was not unskillful", Tarl comments that she was "not a match for a warrior".
In other words, she was no warrior and anyone of hundreds of men "could have finished her, swiftly and with ease".

Tarna had boosted "I am more than a match for any man!". Tarl simply responds by "toying with the beauty".


Analysis of Point Two: Yes women in general are at least strong enough to wield the common Gorean short sword.



Is there not anything that might be used as a basis for saying a woman can overtake, outdo, conquer, defeat or otherwise overcome a man by her own right?
What about the strength of women in general as compared to men?


We'll reason further then . . .

The Books show us, over and over again, that the women of Gor are inferior to men and certainly when it comes to strength.

Do not fall into the trap of comparing Gorean women with those from Earth. The 'muscle-bound female weight lifter' or 'the wimpy guy who gets sand kicked in his face on the beach' simply do not exist on Gor.

Again, what of the Panther Girls or the Talunas?

No. Neither of these groups are 'Amazons' or even 'Amazonian'. They do not begin to fit into the category of the 'muscle-bound female weight lifter'.

And as for 'the wimpy guy who gets sand kicked in his face on the beach'?

. . . the Gorean male. He is so different from the males of Earth, so powerful, so strong, so uncompromised, so masculine. Before him it is hard for a female not to know herself as a female, and in knowing this, recognizing herself as smaller and weaker,
Captive of Gor     Book 7     Page 318

These are different men. They are not Earthlings. They are Goreans. They are strong, and they are hard, and they will conquer you. For a man of Earth, you might never be a woman. For a man of Gor, I assure you, my dear, sooner or later you will be.
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Page 12



But, for the sake of fairness, we will take a look at some examples of 'strong women' and then their comparison to men. Take note, though, that none of these examples will refer to Panther Girls or Talunas.


The Books show that even the strongest of women on Gor are still inferior to the average Gorean man. Here are six examples, five slave girls and a free woman.

The first example is Ila. As described in Doreen's own words:

She was a large girl, and formidable to us,
Dancer of Gor     Book 22     Page 107

However, as large and formidable as Ila was to Doreen, Doreen goes on to say:

"compared to the men, she was only another female, no different from us. Compared to them, her size and strength, really only that of a woman, was, like ours, when all was said and done, simply negligible. Compared to them she was, like us, simply small and weak. Before them, and to them, she could never be any more than we, only another female, small, lovely and helpless, a mere female, totally at their mercy."
Dancer of Gor     Book 22     Page 107

This large and formidable girl was no match for man.


Then there is Luta, described as "large and strong".

I was afraid of Luta. She was large and strong, and I could tell she did not like me.
Kajira of Gor     Book 19     Page 265

Tiffany is afraid of her and believes that since Luta was a large, strong woman, she could have beaten any of the smaller, weaker women.

However, next to a described 'short' man, Luta looked small, and suddenly timid.

In a few Ehn more we were approached by a short, muscular man in a half tunic.
. . .

"Step forth, and kneel," he said.

Luta obeyed. Although she was a large, strong woman and could have beaten any of us, smaller, weaker women, she looked small, and suddenly timid, kneeling before Borkon.
. . .

He then lashed her, and she, in a moment, sobbing and gasping, disbelief in her eyes, was on her belly in the yard, a whipped slave.
. . .

"You may now kiss my feet," he said.

Luta, desperately, humbly, fearfully, kissed his feet.
Kajira of Gor     Book 19     Pages 271 - 272



Next is a girl who is described by Tarl thusly:

Through a silver curtain, of silver strings, came a large, powerful slave girl. She wore a plain iron collar, with ring. She wore a halter of leather; she wore a belt of leather; two strips of leather girded her, falling to her knees; about her calves, crossing, leather straps bound heavy sandals on her feet. In her hand she carried a long supple kaiila quirt of leather, about a half inch in width and a yard long.
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Page 55

Even Tarl considers this girl to be large and powerful.

And when Tarl asks Alyena how she felt about this girl, the conversation went like this:

I glanced to the large female slave, with the quirt, standing near the silver curtain.

"Why are you not in slave silk?" I asked her.

Her eyes flashed. Her hand clenched on the quirt.

"She is useful in the pens," said the slave master. "She terrorizes feminine girls."

I turned to Alyena. "What do you think," I asked, in English, "of the female slave?"

"I fear her," whispered small, lovely Alyena.

"Why," I asked.

"She is so strong, so hard," said Alyena.

"What you fear in her," I said, "is masculinity, but it is not a true masculinity; it is fraudulent." I looked down at her. "The masculinity you must learn to fear," I told her, "is the masculinity of men."

"She is a match for any man," said Alyena.
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Page 79

Tarl then stages a quick demonstration for Alyena, who has yet to fully understand Gor.

Read what happens to this "large and powerful" Gorean woman at the hands of a Gorean man:

I turned to the slave master. "Fetch a male slave," I said.

One was brought. He was not a large fellow. He was, however, an inch or so taller than the female slave.

"You certify to me," said I to the slave master, "that this man is neither clumsy nor stupid, nor drunk, nor an instructor in combat intent upon increasing the confidence of his pupils."

"It is so certified," he smiled. "He is used in cleaning the pens. He is a drover who falsified the quality-markings on spice crates."

I placed a copper tarn disk on the desk of the slave master.

"Fight," I said to the slaves.

"Fight," said the slave master.

The man looked puzzled. With a cry of rage, shrill and vicious, the female slave leapt toward him, slashing him across the face with the quirt. She struck him twice before he, angry, took the quirt from her and threw it aside.

"Do not anger me," he told her.

He turned and caught her kick on his left thigh. She leapt at him, fingers like claws, to tear out his eyes. He seized her wrists. He turned her about. She could not move. Then, with considerable force, as she cried out with misery, he flung her, the length of her body, belly front, against the stone wall. He then stepped back, jerked her ankles from under her and flung her to the stones, and knelt across her back. She wept and struck the stones with her fists. Then her halter was removed and her hands pulled behind her and bound with it.

He discarded her belt and the strips of leather. He removed her sandals. With one of the long, straplike laces, he crossed and bound her ankles. Then, angrily, he turned her collar, hurting her, with its ring, to the back. With the other strap-like lace, run through the ring and tied to the binding on her ankles, he jerked her ankles up, high, fastening them. Then he crouched over her and she lay bound at his feet. He turned her head, looking over her right shoulder, so that it faced him; he crouched so that she could not move; his right ankle was against her left cheek. He poised his thumbs, held downward, over her eyes.

"I am a woman at your mercy," she wept. "Please, Master, do not hurt me!"
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Pages 79 - 80

As the easily defeated woman is led away, she says to Alyena:

The woman, hair before her face, held upright by men, looked at Alyena. The woman trembled. "Men," she whispered. "Men are the masters."

Alyena's face turned white.
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Page 80

Here we see a large and powerful woman easily subdued by a man who was not even a large fellow.


We then have a brief example of another large slave girl of whom other girls lived in terror.

Lehna was a larger woman than I. She was strong among we girls. Slave Beads lived in terror of her. But in the arms of a male, even a lusty boy, she was slight and helpless, small, to them only another pretty slave girl in their power.
Slave Girl of Gor     Book 11     Page 165

Even in the hands of a boy, this large girl was slight and helpless.

Yet another example:

Sandal Thong stood up. She was a tall girl. She fingered the rope collar on her throat. She stood there in the brief slave tunic, of the wool of the Hurt. It was the only garment she had, as with the rest of us. She was a large girl, heavy-boned, tall, stronger than we, powerful when compared to us, but to a man she, too, would have been slight, at their mercy.
Slave Girl of Gor     Book 11     Page 197

Yes, though strong and powerful this girl was yet slight and at the mercy of men.


Finally, there is a large woman fighting with other women over pieces of bread. Read as Tarl describes the scene:

"I saw again a large straight-hipped woman seize a piece of bread fiercely from a smaller woman, one with a delicious love cradle. Then with both of her hands she thrust it in her mouth and, bending over, shouldering and thrusting, fought her way back to where, crouching down, watching for others, she could eat it alone. None could take it from her, save a man, of course, who might have done it easily."
Mercenaries of Gor     Book 21     Page 26

The other women present were no match for this large woman but a man could have taken the bread from her easily.


There are no exceptions to this. It is plainly shown, time and time again that, "It is nothing for a man to overpower a female."
Tribesmen of Gor     Book 10     Page 143


In the final analysis:

No, there are no women warriors.

Yes, women can and do wield swords.

But no woman is a match for any man.

It is not meant to be anything other than the facts of the matter.
Arrive at your own conclusions.

I wish you well,
Fogaban



















The Usurper
In The Usurper, the fourth installment of the Telnarian series, readers return to the saga of Otto, once a gladiator sentenced to die, now a ruthless warrior on his way to becoming king. This galaxy-spanning series features all of the excitement, combat, and erotic adventure John Norman is known for.
Available March 3, 2015

The Usurper
(The Telnarian Histories)
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