Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and John Norman's Gor Series - Gender equality


What is the Gor series and who wrote it? I suppose we should start there.


"John Norman" is the pen name of John Frederick Lange, Jr., a philosophy professor and noted author. The Gor series is made up of 33 books, noted for their sci-fi world setting in which men are the masters and women are for the most part slaves. There are free women, of course, in the setting of this book. Most of these however, in the end, seek to be enslaved by men and secretly wish to be dominated.


The author is quoted as saying "I think, pretty clearly, the three major influences on my work are HomerFreud, and Nietzsche. Interestingly, however obvious this influence might be, few, if any, critics, commentators, or such, have called attention to it."

This series of books and the author are notably among my favorites and as such, I wondered what Nietzsche might have to say about this world.

On The Genealogy Of Morality, written by Nietzsche, outlines his philosophy often referred to as a "master/slave philosophy".


In this book, Nietzsche makes mention of how the old philosophers, as different as they might have been, all shared in common an agreement that compassion was worthless. By his time, philosophers were beginning to value compassion, which disturbed him. The value placed upon morality and compassion was in his opinion, too high and therefore a problem, and he wrote this book in answer to it. Nietzsche looks at the issue of good and bad or good and evil and presents us with his thoughts on the matter.

On page 26, Nietzsche writes "It is just as absurd to ask strength not to express itself as strength, not to be a desire to overthrow, crush, become master, to be a thirst for enemies, resistance and triumphs, as it is to ask weakness to express itself as strength." He speaks of how, given the example of lambs vs. birds of prey, good and bad are seen from completely different sides. The lamb says that the birds are bad as they eat lambs and as lambs are good, the birds must be bad. The birds of course bear the lambs no grudge, they are good and tasty. It would be silly for us to call the birds bad, but to the lambs, they are evil. He goes on to explain, "When the oppressed, the downtrodden, the violated say to each other with the vindictive cunning of powerlessness: ‘Let us be different from evil people, let us be good! And a good person is anyone who does not rape, does not harm anyone, who does not attack, does not retaliate, who leaves the taking of revenge to God, who keeps hidden as we do, avoids all evil and asks little from life in general, like us who are patient, humble and upright’ – this means, if heard coolly and impartially, nothing more than: ‘We weak people are just weak; it is good to do nothing for which we are not strong enough’."

In the Gor series, strength is valued and men often fight to the death over prizes, like female slaves. They fight for honor, for passion, for love and sometimes, money. On Gor, good is determined by might, by a sense of honor different from ours and by the strength and defense of one's own character and values. Each character has their own sense of morality, each city has their own sense of what is right and wrong, it varies across the world as a whole.

The third essay in this book by Nietzsche opens with the quote"Carefree, mocking, violent – this is how wisdom wants us: she is a woman, all she ever loves is a warrior. Thus spoke Zarathustra".

In Explorers Of Gor, John writes "In denying it we deny our nature. In betraying it we betray no one but ourselves. The master will never be happy until he is a master. The slave will never be happy until she is a slave. It is what we are." 


On page 82, Nietzsche writes, "Marriage, for example, was for a long time viewed as a crime against the rights of the community; people used to have to pay a fine for being so presumptuous as to claim one particular woman for themselves (there we include, for example, jus primae noctis, 83 still, in Cambodia, the prerogative of priests, those custodians of ‘good old customs’). The gentle, benevolent, yielding, sympathetic feelings – so highly valued by now that they are almost ‘values as such’ – were undermined by self-contempt for most of the time: people were as ashamed of mildness as people are now ashamed of hardness"

In Outlaw Of Gor, John writes, "There is no marriage, as we know it, on Gor, but there is the institute of the Free Companionship, which is its nearest correspondent. Surprisingly enough, a woman who is bought from her parents, for tarns or gold, is regarded as a Free Companion, even though she may not have been consulted in the transaction. More commendably, a free woman may herself, of her own free will, agree to be such a companion.". It should be noted that Free Companionship on Gor lasts only one year, after which time it must be renewed or is no longer legally binding.


It is clear that Nietzsche would be in many ways fond of this series, which is not surprising as the author clearly states that he was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche. Nietzsche would find comfort in the fact that men do not allow themselves to be controlled, influenced or otherwise held back by women or the beauty that they might display. Though, Nietzsche himself would state that they are certainly affected by desire and beauty, John does a great job of showing that they are often at least momentarily swayed by desire or love, yet always triumph over it by retaining mastery of the relationship and the situation.

As for myself, I must agree with Nietzsche in some respects. The nature of most women is to seek out strength and for men, to be that strength. It is biologically adhered to our very core, though we seek to breed it out of ourselves in a quest for equality. I, for one, demand a strong man. I am capable of doing anything a man can do, but I cannot respect a man without great strength of will, character and body. It is not in my nature.

I leave you with this quote...

A real man wants two things: danger and play. Therefore he wants woman as the most dangerous plaything. Man shall be educated for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly. - Friedrich Nietzsche



  1. The women I've admired most have been strong, and no less "feminine" for it. I don't know "Norman"/Lange, or how ironically he means to be read. But I do know that women are people too, who exist for themselves and their own achievement and fulfillment no less than men do. Poor lonely misogynistic Nietzsche, holed up in his garret, dreaming of conquest and submissive women! Some "warrior"! At his worst, he may have indulged in fantasies of "Gor" and contempt for weakness and vulnerability...

    But at his best, Nietzsche indicated in his writings that the way the strong express their strength is not by dominating other people, but by controlling their own "will to power" and exercising appropriate restraint.

    A real man wants woman as an equal partner.

    1. Now that I have had some sleep, I should add a few key points to clarify.

      In many ways, we see equal as being the same, in being equal we often aim to be "like" or the "same" as something. I do not believe that men and women are the same, none of us are the same. It is our differences, our uniqueness, that lends to our complementing one another.
      While many seek "sameness", I do not. I believe that in striving to be the same, we lose something very important, ourselves. I rejoice in being different, in being unique, in being unequal to others around me. I do not wish to be equal to a man, for I am a woman.
      When people read something like the Gor series, they often get a bitter face, outraged by the surface and never look any deeper into the "pool" of thought. It is so deeply ingrained in us to want to be the same that we look at those who do not share this feeling and say, whatever could be wrong with you? Truly, you must be oppressed! But, I say...it is those who seek sameness who are oppressed. I am free to be myself, to strive to be only myself and to reach the great heights of happiness that only I can attain for myself. I am not caught up in striving to be equal to something or someone that I am not made to be equal to.
      Should I have the same rights? Of course, for I am as strong, as intelligent and certainly as capable as those others around me, of my species. But, are we equal? Are we the same? No. We are all greater in some fashion and lesser in another. In our time, in our world, it is offensive to suggest such things as inequality being a natural and in fact wonderful idea but that makes it no less true.
      You cannot be me and I cannot be you and for that, I am grateful. For in our uniqueness and inequality, we have the opportunity to work in harmony. Each of us has the opportunity to bring something to the table in working towards a common goal, if only we are not distracted by the foolish need to be the same.

  2. I suppose I do not see it as being "less", merely different and revelling in that difference between the sexes. Is it odd that I'm not offended by not being thought of as equal to a man? I don't think it is. I believe that perception is everything, how we look defines what we see.