Monday, October 11, 2010

Gor & The Educators: Our Best Reason To Leave Second Life

image courtesy of Nightflower's New World Notes Post

Location: Letting Door Slam Behind Me, Washing Hands, Burning Bridges, Etc.

Nightflower wrote an interesting post on why real-life women chose to roleplay Gorean Kajirae (slave girls). Her blog contains a full interview with three Gorean women.

Disclaimer: I've long felt that adults can do what they please online as long as the acts are consensual and others do not have to watch. I've long been ambivlaent to Gor; John Norman's prose is terrible and clearly a reaction to the rise of Feminism in the 1960s. He's certainly never made full professor because of his Gorean fiction, though I suppose it made him a lot of money in the 70s, when the lurid covers attracted an army of teenage boys. I stumbled through Tarnsman and Slave Girl back then. That was enough. Even for a horny teen, the prose was dreadful when Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft awaited.

That said, no academic administrator who barely knows SL would fail to be outraged that this content is on the same grid as a campus. One counterargument deployed holds that campuses rarely censor internet use (totalitarian schools like Regents and Liberty don't count for me).

Yet the argument ignores a basic fact: SL's adult content is different from educational sites being on the Inernet alongside sites with X-rated content (or that promote Gorean lifestyles). Unlike other vendors we use, LL hosts both. If Blackboard hosted both RP slavery and campuses, we'd leave that software provider fast.

Here's another chat about Second World...I mean Life, with an administrator:

Department Chair: Joe, come on in. I was reading "Iggy's" blog for your annual review. Sorry to hear our campus is leaving Second Life so suddenly, because you'd planned to use it next term, true?

Iggy: Yes.

Chair: That's bad, but part of me is glad.

Iggy: Why's that?

Chair: You know I've spent my entire career writing about women's issues in literature, and so much of modern feminist theory is about the backlash to what we painfully accomplished, especially since the start of the women's movement in the 1960s.

Iggy: Oh no. You found the Goreans.

Chair: Yes! I learned about Norman's books when I first was in grad school in the 70s. We laughed because it was such a pitiful attempt to subvert our progress. Norman was such a cheap hack, too, that he didn't pose much of a threat.

Iggy: Yes, his writing is horrible.

Chair: His academic writing must not have been much better. He never rose above Associate Professor. But then you have people roleplaying these relationships in a virtual world. It's disgusting that real women would do that.

Iggy: Some are fake women.

Chair (laughing): I hope their "Masters" don't find out. Well, this new virtual world we are going to use...does it have Goreans?

Iggy: No adult content at all.

Chair: Great. If the right-wing morons at our local paper got wind that we share space online with such content, the editorial pages would be a nightmare. Let me know when you have The House of Usher moved to this new provider. And I want to see that article you've drafted on immersive literature.

A few years ago, as advisor to out campus literary magazine, I and the student editor got "called on the carpet" by the folks who fund it. The current issue opened at the midpoint to a poem with X-rated language. I defended the work, but the campus official said "this was on tables at parents' weekend. If the students want to print and distribute it, okay. But if they continue to print this sort of content, they should not expect any funding from us next year. Maybe they can sell cookies to cover their costs."

Thus, readers, I bid the Goreans, their home stones, their slaves, and their "natural order of things" a fond farewell.


Lalo Telling said...

Backlash against feminism? Hmmm... never considered that. Back when the Gor series was new, and I was haunting the SF paperback racks, I figured Norman for nothing more than a hack trying to cash in on the latest wave of Burroughs and Howard reprints. Conan was a hit then, and so were the cover illos by Frank Frazetta and his best known imitator, Boris Vallejo.

The effect of "judging a book by its cover" -- which is to say, the blurbs and synopses on the back -- was that I've never read a single word penned about Gor. Three decades later, I was stunned to learn of the RP community in SL; not (at first) about its content, but that it existed at all.

I suppose we should be thankful that the fans of Norman's talentless drivel never went any farther, and that they didn't turn it into a "religion" like the followers of another sci-fi hack you may have heard of.

Iggy O said...

Conan had at least one woman, Belit, who was his match, and he also got enslaved by an Amazon Queen (how convenient).

Burroughs' Thuvia and Deeja Thoris were strong women (if in second place to the men).

Yeah, Norman had some rage that would make even R.E. Howard raise his macho eyebrows.

aideen Tsu said...

Gor has a female Tatrix, as well. In fact, Tharna begins as a female dominated city.

aideen Tsu said...

Tarl is also enslaved by females a few times during the books. And there is another male character named Jason, who is brought to Gor from Earth, as a slave.