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Free Women of Gor
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Free Women Laws & Behaviour Free Women Laws Within the books, there are basically two types of laws that deal with Free Women. There are laws that protect Free Women and there are laws that state when a Free Woman may be legally enslaved. In addition, there are certain universal conventions that exist dealing with the enslavement of Free Women. Though these do not have the power of law, honor often dictates that the conventions will be followed if appropriate. An important point to consider is that it is generally illegal to collar a Free Woman, within the city of her Home Stone, on your own.  Even if a Free Woman violates one of the city laws where the punishment is slavery, the legal process must still be followed.  Either magistrates or a court will decide if the woman's actions warrant her judicial enslavement.  Men will act to protect women of their Home Stone from being illegally enslaved.  Also remember that the following list of laws may not apply in all Gorean cities. This is simply a list derived from the books.  Each city will have their own laws and may or may not follow one of the laws listed here.  Other laws, that are not listed here, will also exist. Laws It is illegal to touch pleasure silk to the skin of a Free Woman. It is considered too sensuous a material for them. Face stripping, removing the veils of a Free Woman against her will, is considered a serious crime. A Free Woman may engage in a form of limited self-contracting where she legally becomes a slave for a specific time period, commonly ranging from one night to one year. She cannot end this contract earlier than the specified time period. Once the contract takes effect, she becomes a slave with no legal powers at all. This curious contractual arrangement is not described in great detail. It raises numerous legal dilemmas that can only be speculated about. The books do not state that the contract does or does not cover any contingencies or limits the slavery in any way. The woman does becomes an actual slave. That would seem to mean she could be freely killed. What would happen if she was sold? Does the contract prevent that? Would the time period still apply if she was sold? What would happen if she was stolen? This passage seems to raise far more questions than it answers. The Couching Law states: "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." (Magicians of Gor, p. 7) This basically means that a Free Woman cannot have sex with a male slave she does not own. It does not prevent her from having sex with a slave she does own. It also means that she only has to prepare to have sex with someone else's slave to be in violation. Actual sex is not a requirement. Special seduction slaves are used by some owners to trap Free Women. Milo, from Magicians of Gor, is a prime example of a seduction slave. Tarl Cabot uses him to entrap Talena and enslave her by this law. The Couching Law exists in Ar and may have been adopted by other cities. There are other cities, like Vonda, that clearly do not have such a law because Free Women there may freely give their male slaves to a female guest. Debt can lead to a Free Woman's enslavement in either of two ways. First, if a father cannot pay his own debts, then his daughter may become the property of the state. She would then be publicly auctioned and her sale price would be used equitably to pay off her father's debts. The books do not state that sons are also susceptible to this law though it would seem unlikely that would be the case. Second, a Free Woman who cannot pay her own debts may be enslaved. There are redemption laws whereby another person can pay off the woman's debt and thus gain ownership of that woman. If no one chooses to pay off her debts within a specified time period then she will be sold to a slaver, the proceeds used to pay off her debt. The books do not specify the exact length of time before she would be sold to a slaver. This law is sometimes used by unscrupulous people to entrap Free Women. They may purchase a woman's debt from another and then request that the woman make good on the debt immediately. If the woman cannot do so, she will be enslaved. A Free Woman can sell herself into slavery but once the transaction is completed, it is too late for her to revoke it. If a Free Woman willingly submits to be a slave to a specific man, the city laws vary on what can happen. Some cities state that the woman becomes a slave automatically even if that particular man does not accept her submission. It seems probable she would thus become a state slave at that point. Other cities state that the woman remains free if that particular man does not accept her submission. If a Free Woman kneels before a man or addresses him as Master, this is sufficient to make her a slave. Her actions are interpreted as a gesture of submission. There is no law in the books that states a Free Woman may be legally enslaved for being insolent, insulting, ridiculing or demeaning a man. Some city laws require women to wear robes of concealment and veils. Repeated offenses of failure to wear them can lead to enslavement. Even in cities where the robes and veils are not mandatory, a Free Woman can still be enslaved for baring too much skin, especially her legs. There is an important legal principle concerning Free Women and "conduct indicating suitability for the collar." It deals with overt conduct that shows a predisposition to slavery, behavior that is considered sufficient grounds to legally enslave a woman. It will be judges or magistrates who make the decision on whether a particular woman's behavior warrants such a penalty. There would sometimes be a hearing with a presentation of evidence. Some of the behaviors known to warrant such a sanction include fraud, theft, indigency, vagrancy, prostitution, and performing sensuous dance. In addition, Free Women who show an inordinate amount of interest in slavery may also be found suitable for this sanction. If a woman tries to spy on men and their slaves, if they disguise themselves as a slave, or linger around slave markets, then they might find themselves being judicially enslaved. These cases will not always be clear cut and could entail a lengthy hearing. Conventions Here are two important conventions dealing with enslavement and Free Women. They do not have the effect of law but honor often dictates these conventions will be followed. These conventions are part of the Gorean tradition and thus are accorded much respect. The institution of capture is practiced by nearly every, if not every, city on Gor. If you capture women from another city, your own city will recognize the legality of that capture and your rightful possession of the new slave. Remember that those women must belong to another city. You cannot legally raid your own city to obtain women to be your slaves. The city you are raiding will defend its women but they also understand that captures are a part of life. If a man saves the life of a woman, convention states that he has the option to enslave her. In essence, the man has won the right to the woman's life by saving it. Though this is not a law, few people would refuse a man this right. Even a woman's own family would be likely to honor this convention. It would be considered to be the honorable course of action. Restrictions Free Women have a number of freedoms and restrictions within different cities, not all that reach the level of an actual law. They are much more based on tradition and Goreans are very supportive of tradition. The general freedom of a Free Woman is closely tied to each particular city. Ko-ro-ba may be the Gorean city that accords the most personal freedom to Free Women and Tharna, after its revolution, may be the most repressive. For example, in Tharna, Free Women who visit must temporarily wear a collar, slave tunic and leash. The other cities of Gor fall somewhere in between this spectrum. In some cities, Free Women are not permitted to leave their homes without the permission of a male relative or their free companion. In addition, some cities permit their women only to speak to blood relatives. Women commonly travel outside the cities only accompanied by a sufficient group of armed guards. They do not commonly travel with only a single guard. It can be very dangerous for women outside the cities. Even within the cities, some women will travel with guards though they are more apt to only travel with a single guard. This would apply more for women of high caste or high station who can afford such protection. The average peasant woman would not walk around Ar protected by an armed rarius. There are no known laws limiting the type of weapons that women may carry but practicality commonly limits their choices to daggers and/or poisoned needles. Poison is considered to be a woman's weapon, not a weapon of warriors or assassins. Women will carry their weapons concealed, hoping to rely on surprise if they ever need to actually defend themselves. Without the element of surprise, most men could easily disarm a woman. Some Free Women engage in the sport of hunting and are skilled in the use of the crossbow or small bow. They may even dress in hunting leathers, ride a tharlarion and hunt on their own, though that is dangerous. When sitting, Free Women kneel in what would be considered almost a tower slave position. Their hands though lie on their thighs, palms down. Free Women maintain good posture while kneeling. Free Women do not sit cross-legged as that is only for men. It is considered an insult to men for women to sit cross-legged. Free Women may enter a house first, rather than behind a man like a slave. Free Women commonly drink delicately and eat in small bites. A Free Woman might eat larger bites, though that is most often done to arouse a man she desires. Free Women are rarely permitted to observe slave dances that are erotic or especially sensuous. This is not because they might be offended but it is for their own protection. It is thought that such sights might inflame the slave desires within a Free Woman. Most Free Women dislike the theater, especially its more vulgar and ribald minor forms. If anything, they will attend performances incognito so others can not identify them. It is only the more serious and major forms of theater that Free Women feel comfortable attending. The Twelfth Passage Hand, just before the solemn Waiting Hand, is often a time of great festivities, a carnival. Carnival is also a time for people to don masks and bizarre costumes, allowing an opportunity for jokes and pranks. They also permit incognito assignations between free people. Some Free Women even go as far as to masquerade as slaves and run naked through the cities. Another common game during the Carnival is called Favors. In the basic version, Free Women are given ten scarves, each set unique to each woman. The Free Women then pass out the scarves to men and receive a kiss in return. The first woman who passes out all of her scarves and returns to the starting point wins. This gives Free Women a valid way to flirt during this specific time.
used with permission & thanks to Janus of Gor
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