Women and Swords
The Gorean woman can wield a sword to at least protect herself, if not even win a sword fight.
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.
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.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.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.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?
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!"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.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 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.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.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.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,
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 three examples, two 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,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."This large and formidable girl was no match for man.
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.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.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.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."Here we see a large and powerful woman easily subdued by a man who was not even a large fellow.
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."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,