Jenny Rae Rappaport
Ok, I will be absolutely honest and say that I have never read this particular series of fantasy novels, largely because they just never happened to cross my path. Yet, as someone who considers herself a feminist (and I am not an angry kind of feminist, thank you, although I went to college with some), I find the entire idea of the books appalling.

I learned about them, this morning, by reading Tamora Pierce's blog post about them. I was clueless about the series before, but I'm not quite as clueless now. I fully intend to avoid reading them because they honestly sound like something I'd abhor on general principle. Yet, I think there were some interesting comments raised about how these are perceived as horrible to women (and they seem to be), but similar books that treat men this way, don't actually receive the same share of outrage.

The author of the comments seemed to think that many of the romance novels published nowadays are horrible to men; that they take delight in enslaving men and making them perform subservient acts to their women masters. Personally, I don't know of many romance novels that do this, as I primarily read historical romances (are there any actual romances out there like this?), but I can think of two fantasy series' that could fall under the author's claim that they're horrible to men. So let's address them, shall we.

The first is the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop. I personally love these books because of their lush attention to detail and world-building and their compelling characters. At the same time, a large perecentage of the female characters in the books are terrible to men. They enslave them, they force them to wear controlling penile rings (yes, magically-controlled, if you wanted to know), and they use them, against their will, to satisfy all of their sexual desires. The key difference here, as compared to what knowledge of the Gor books that I have, is that the men in the Black Jewels series DON'T LIKE WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THEM. They are very clearly unhappy with their situations, they don't feel that it's fun being male sex slaves, and a nice amount of the plot resolution in the series deals with how some of the main characters stop this from happening.

That doesn't make it right, of course, but if we only wrote books about what was right, then we'd live in an uninteresting world. What redeems that series for me is that the men do end up turning out alright, most of the sexual slavery does end up stopping, and we are always aware that the characters aren't necessarily pleased about their lives. Plus, it's an engrossing fantasy series. And, if you're looking for a litmus test, Chris has read all of the Anne Bishop books that I own, and has not only managed to not be turned off by the mistreatment of the male race, but actually likes the books themselves.

The second fantasy series that comes to mind is Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. I've only read the first two books, so far, but I'll comment on it based on my knowledge of them. By its very nature and definition of the characters, there's a good deal of kinky sex in them. The main female character, Phedre, is trained as a courtesan who likes pain. Obviously, she's going to be put into a lot of BDSM situations; this is what she does as a living, people.

Yet, the books are equal opportunity ones, when it comes to sexual slavery. Both men and women desire Phedre's services; both men and women abuse her (at least, to me, but then, this isn't my preferred sexual style--no hatred towards anyone whose preference it is); and both men and women are trained and used as courtesans. In addition, Phedre's courtesan aspect is only one facet of her role as a a character. She's also very suitably trained as a spy, and manages to get embroiled in large-ranging political plots, which are really the impetus for the forward motion of the books.

Does this mean all the kinky stuff in the Kushiel books, towards both men and women, is bad? Not necessarily. It just means its an acquired taste, and that at times, it obscures the main story and at other times, it doesn't. Personally, I like the books; they make for good reading.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Discuss, my wonderful blog readers. =)
31 Responses
  1. B. R. Stateham Says:

    Actually the first five volumes of the Gor series were interesting, and not very cruel to women-- But I would say around volume 8 things started to get nasty and that's when I stopped reading'em.

    This sexual bondage/hate syndrom found in the series is remarkable in that John Norman has a PhD. in Literature (I think) and teaches at a major university.

    The first volume in the series reminded me very much of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'A Princess of Mars.'

    Within the last year he published his newest Gor novel. Haven't heard how well it is doing.


  2. Angelle Says:

    Yeah, the Gor books were a big part of my early sci-fi feminist awakening -- I came across them when I was 11 and they utterly disgusted me. The mention of Norman's name still makes me want to hit something.

    I think the difference between Gor and some of the other BDSM titles is that in Gor, women are enslaved as an entire class, and as an entire class enjoy/benefit from their subjugation.

    This is what makes it so reprehensible and ridiculous at the same time. I think most BDSM lifestylers would agree that part of the whole point, the whole transgressiveness, is that it's not for everyone.

    And from an artistic POV, there's not much plot/narrative tension to be gained by enslaving people who enjoy their servitude, now is there?


  3. Never heard of the Gor Books, but I wanted to go on record saying that what bothered me about the Kushiel series wasn't the sex so much as the way the narrator kept rehashing the same points over and over. By midway of book three, I was screaming in frustration. Move ON already.

    I think it's a personality thing, frankly.

    And the same holds true with all of these books you bring up, even the romances (not sure which fall into that category, either, but I don't read a huge number of romances). It's a personality thing.

    Yes, people will be mean to each other, in these series and others. But books are a way in which we can safely explore new ideas. Thus, I don't see any harm in READING about women who abuse men, men who abuse women. In fact, I think it's healthy to do.

    So long as the behaviors remain in the pages of the books.

    Life is for being our best. You can't be your best when you are holding someone down; it's just that simple.

    If one person sees themselves in a fictional character's bad behavior and is strong and motivated enough to make changes for the better, that book has more than served its purpose.

    If one person reads a book about abused women and goes on to get involved and help stop the problem, that book has more than served its purpose.

    If one person reads a book and has their mind opened... yeah, you know what I'm going to say. That's what books are for.


  4. Nonny Says:

    I've been a BDSM practitioner for several years at this point. Most responsible people in the scene disapprove of the Gor novels because of the negative and unrealistic portrayal of D/s.

    As for Anne Bishop and Jacqueline Carey being "horrible to men" ... they are much more realistic in their portrayals than most novels where women are the ones subjugated. The assumption is not "They want it anyway, so there," it's "This is not right. They want out."

    To be honest, Anne Bishop's Black Jewels books are my favorites ever. She handles the themes and issues brought up beautifully, and the resolutions are believable. (Not the case with many books like that.)

    I liked Carey's work a lot, though, because she is fairly realistic in her portrayal of BDSM. I'm a physical masochist myself, and Phedre is the most accurate portrayal I've seen to date.


  5. Aliette Says:

    I liked the Black Jewels trilogy--and, as you said, the men being enslaved hated it.
    I didn't like the Kushiel books--but that was because I'm not in for kinky sex. I didn't think they were derogatory for women or anything. Just--not my type of book.


  6. Jill Myles Says:

    I wasn't a big fan of the Black Jewels books - I'm not sure why.

    I do know I recently finished reading THE VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT and this is exactly the kind of book you're talking about -a female dominant and a male alpha forced to be submissive. He alternately hates it and likes it. Someone said that this book was clearly dom/dom but I don't think that's the case. The guy is submissive to the mc, which is the queen.

    That being said, I don't run into this a lot in romance. But this one was classified as erotica, and I know Joey Hill (the author in question) has written a lot of books for Ellora's Cave. Maybe that's what they're referring to?


  7. Honestly, I think the books as a whole are basically the polar opposite of the "Taming of the Alpha Male" style romances.

    In those you take an Alpha male, and your female heroine convinces him he really wants to belong to her.

    In the Gor novels, you take a rebellious (or otherwise unsubmissive female) and your hero convinces her she's a closet submissive who wants to be a slave.

    Is it really all that different? Either way, we're talking about stereotyping people.

    I suppose the books appeal to closet submissives. I don't really know. There are tons of bodice-ripper "forced seduction" romance novels out there, written by women for women about men who take their woman, and basically "tame them" against their will. (And at the end, these women swoon and realize they were in love the entire time.) I think they get less flack only because they're written by women instead of men, personally.


  8. I'm always torn on issues like this. Part of me agrees such viewpoints should be forgotten. Another part reminds me that those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.

    The Gor books were highly successful, and reflected a popular mindset of their time. So did "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," a book that promotes slavery and encourages the idea of African-Americans as second class citizens. Several years back, one enterprising fellow produced a "sivilized" version of the book that removed all uses of the N-word, all references to slavery, and all dialogue that referred to Tom and Huck's perceptions of such. Understandably, the version was mocked and derided and (to the best of my knowledge) was never even published.

    I guess the real question is (as someone who never read the books myself), is there anything to the Gor novels besides the views on women? And if so, is it worth condemning the books over one aspect that we've all grown past today?


  9. kathie Says:

    My oh my, I'm sheltered in my world of women's and general fiction! It's comforting to me that if I ever tire of my "kind" of story there's a whole other world existing out there that I can enter at will. I LOVE the world of books. Thanks to all of you writers of "otherworldly stuff" as I like knowing there are so many options out there even if I don't partake. As far as the treatment of men and women in different books, it's a tough call. Nice analysis, Jenny.


  10. Karen Duvall Says:

    Never even heard of the Gor books, and it doesn't sound like a series I'd want to read. But as for the Black Jewels trilogy, I loved, loved, LOVED those books! It wasn't because of the male submissive theme (at least I don't think so, but a therapist might conclude otherwise), it was for the same reason I fall in love with any book, and that's due to the characters. Bishop is a lovely author who speaks to my heart, so therefore her books reside there as well.

    I started reading Kushiel's Dart, and really got into it at first, then I think its denseness put me off. My attention span is limited, as is my reading time, and I didn't feel like investing as much as was required to get through the first "volume."


  11. Tally Says:

    "There are tons of bodice-ripper 'forced seduction' romance novels out there, written by women for women about men who take their woman, and basically "tame them" against their will."

    Bodice-ripper/forced seduction romances have been out-of-style for nearly thirty years now. And yes, they HAVE received tons of flack. There was a recent firestorm when Avon released a romance that contained what some people perceived as rape. What you're saying is pretty inaccurate.

    In any case, in the Black Jewels books, the poor treatment of men isn't idealized--it's not portrayed as something that is good, beneficial. That's the huge difference. It isn't saying "those uppity men deserve to be dominated and treated like shit," which is what the Gor books say about women.


  12. I find the problem with romances isn't the abuse of men as much as the unrealiztic representation of them. I'm not a romance reader, but from what little I've seen it appears they portray men as subserviant and willing to cater to a woman's desires regardless of how self-centred the woman is.

    Men are not workhorses.

    Any guy who looks like the men on romance novels isn't as interested in women as he is in himself. (It takes many hours in the gym to look like that.)
    A guy who looks that buff isn't going to be looking for romance; he's too busy with one-night stands. And if a guy is going to dare walk around with hair that long he needs the muscles.


  13. Dave Says:

    I read a number of the Gor books about 30 years ago when I was about 13. I remember that at the time I thought the first few were ok, and that it went very far downhill afterwards.

    I took a look at the first one again not too long ago and man was it badly written.

    I do agree there's something sick about those books. BDSM is one thing, but blanket degradation of people based on gender (or race, religion, what have you). They're not getting any of my money.


  14. Jim Zoetewey Says:

    I remember noticing the Gor books in bookstores when I was a teenager. I never picked one up.

    This is primarily because I'd noticed that it seemed to be a series of books with no on-going plot that continually rehashed the same stuff that was in previous books.

    Mind you, I came to this conclusion from looking at the covers and reading the blurbs, something that doesn't always give an accurate impression of the books' contents.

    When one of my friends did decide to randomly flip through a few, he reported to me that they seemed to open to bondage scenes or be 3 or 4 pages from a bondage scene.

    Thereafter, our exposure to the books came only in the form of making up fake titles for Gor books.

    This is fairly easy in that all you have to do is name an occupation and put the words "of Gor" after it.

    Thus:
    Pizza Deliverers of Gor
    Piss Poor Novelists of Gor
    Lame Ass Publishers of Gor

    And so on...

    I found it pretty good for a cheap jokc, but on the other hand I was a teenager at the time.


  15. JDuncan Says:

    I've not read the Gor novels and never intend to on principle mostly. Being of a feminist bent, I don't like the premise in those books so I know I'd not like them. I LOVE Carey's books though. It's one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. What folks who quibble about the sex in the books seem to keep forgetting, at least it seems so to me, is that Phedre's desire as a masochist is something of a power given to her by one of the gods as part of a greater story line within the series. There's a reason for her to be that way beyond just being able to have kinky sex in the story, and in the end, I found it compelling. It irks me that so many readers have reduced the masochism down to the point of just being a degrading portrayal of women. Maybe that's just me though. The books are dense reading. Her writing just suits the way my brain likes to read, and I thought the story was a fantastic epic journey.

    JDuncan
    www.jimnduncan.com


  16. Karen Says:

    I read the Gor novels a good (cough, cough) years ago. I don't remember them well except for the squeamish feeling they induced. I agree with the comment that as ideas changed, literature was perceived differently. Think about the scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlet says no and Rhett forcibly carries her upstairs. That would never see the light of day in today's mainstream novels and movies. But at the time, most women just sighed longingly at Rhett's machismo (although Mitchell stacked the deck in Rhett's favor by making Scarlet so vain. She didn't want more kids because her corset didn't fit the way it used to!). I DISAGREE with the person who said Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn promoted racism and slavery. The scene where Huck decides to help Jim escape even if it means he (Huck) will go to hell is a brilliant portrayal of the human ability to behave in a moral way in spite of the programming we call social mores. Of course the 19th century characters use the N-word. That was how those people spoke.

    I'm not familiar with Carey's work, but I will mention Catherine Asaro's series (Ruby Empire or something) where men are kept in purdah by dominant women. There is a double standard for virtue and it runs the other way. It does a good job of pointing out how silly that is by turning the tables (although it bothers me that she never explains WHY the roles are reversed).


  17. --E Says:

    I, personally, find the Gor books hilarious. They're great fun to do as dramatic readings at parties. How long can you read before you crack up laughing? Scenery-chewing renditions are required.

    Calls for protests and boycotts? Okay, that's cool. That's how the free market works. But as a means to let these books fall into obscurity? Er, no. Controversy gets attention. I think these particular little gems wouldn't cause any trouble if people didn't keep pointing 'em out.


  18. BernardL Says:

    I read the Gor series long ago. The battle scenes were reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars series. The women in slavery aspect, which the Cabot character resisted at first, gradually became a mainstay. It was hilarious reading your condemnation of the Gor series, but embracing a series with men in magic penile rings. Yea, the fact men enslaved in the books didn't like it made all the difference. :)

    While I read the Gor series as Fantasy sword and sorcery, I don't believe Norman ever meant for them to be attractive to women. Your penile ring books don't appeal to me either, but I wouldn't lead a boycott against them. Let the market decide.

    It's too bad the outrage toward the Gor books treatment of women doesn't carry over to female subjugation in the Middle East in reality. Norman never had his characters doing Female Genital Mutilations.


  19. kiwi Says:

    "It's too bad the outrage toward the Gor books treatment of women doesn't carry over to female subjugation in the Middle East in reality. Norman never had his characters doing Female Genital Mutilations."

    What? I thought we were letting the market decide, bernardl? Oh, I see, Arabs, conservative America, George Bush on the way out, Hillary or Obama on the way in, ... bitterness ... anger ... right, understood.

    Word of advice. Lose the ethnocentric glasses when talking about relations of domination and exploitation and you'll see a hell of a lot clearer.


  20. BernardL Says:

    I see pretty clearly kiwi. Outrage against fantasy takes a front seat to outrage against travesty in reality. If women are content to let the market decide about real subjugation and mutilation, you should herald fantasy slavery. Take another look at your comment, kiwi. I don't believe you mean to spin this into turning a blind eye to reality. I certainly didn't. I don't confuse fantasy with reality. I would suggest you don't either, especially when you decide to add paragraphs of your own fantasy onto what I wrote in reality.


  21. kiwi Says:

    Bernardl, I was just ‘joshing’ about the cultural logic that informs your view of ‘reality’. The way someone frames a negative discourse says a great deal about their world view.


  22. kis Says:

    Actually, as a Canadian, I think bernardl has a point. Right now, a growing majority of our liberal-thinking, mostly feminist citizens are calling for pulling our troops from Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that women and girls were treated as less than human under the Taliban, which would likely rise to power again the moment we leave.

    The sad fact is, these are the same people who would be most vocal in their decrying of the Gor books. It does seem that fictional atrocities garner more outrage in our society than the real ones do.


  23. Heather Says:

    I've never read nor heard of the Gor books.

    I am, however, intimately familiar with Carey's books, and I'm currently sitting on the edge of my seat wishing my daughter would hurry up and get up from her nap so I can go get the fifth from the library. (I reserved it.)

    Her books are vivid, and while they do have a lot of kinky sex, that isn't the point. The sex is actually a little incidental to the story... the main character just so happens to be a prostitute, and a very good one!

    It's more about political machinations, might-doesn't-make-right, and that forcing one lifestyle on all isn't a wise idea. It also goes much deeper than that, but it gives an idea. To quote the book "That which yields is not always weak."

    I adore her vivid portrayals, rich characterization, and incredibly creative worldbuilding. Her worlds seem to be so familiar, and yet so foreign, all at the same time.

    Now, I just heard my daughter talking in the bedroom, so I'm off!


  24. kiwi Says:

    “The sad fact is, these are the same people who would be most vocal in their decrying of the Gor books.”

    Not sure that they would be any more vocal than bible-belt America or the religious right in any western democracy. Interesting that you and Bernardt associate the worst face of patriarchy with Arabs, yet happily ignore the plight of many women in your respective countries, or exploitation generally.

    And the idea that the war on terror has improved the plight of these ‘other’ women, or was ever meant too, is a slap in the face of every Iraqi who now says that they are worse off today than they were under a vicious, sadistic dictator. I expect Afghans will find themselves in the same predicament soon enough. The truly tragic thing here, in my view, is that the very thing the present wave of western imperialism promised the tyrannised (and it’s citizenry), is now less likely to be realised than it was a decade ago. Thus any steps that reverse this evil, is a step back from the abyss. So I beg to differ, Kis.


  25. Erin Says:

    Not to nit-pick on what is certainly a peripheral topic here, but I thought it only fair to point out that the vast majority of FGM occurs in Africa, not the Middle East, and has nothing whatever to do with Islam.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/


  26. BernardL Says:

    I return to the two points I made originally on the subject brought up here: the Gor series. It is laughable to talk of boycotting a fantasy series, where subjugation of women is a background element, while embracing a fantasy series with subjugation of men by magic penile rings. They are indeed both fantasy worlds, and can be avoided easily.

    My second point dealt with the visceral outrage I read expressed about the Gor fantasy series as professed by women who also claim to be feminists. Yet in the real world of the Middle East, women are indeed enslaved, and mutilated with very little outrage expressed from self proclaimed feminists. Those are facts. The author of the Gor series and his books can be avoided completely. Subjugation and Female Genital Mutilation of women in the Middle East in reality cannot be avoided so easily. I would personally pick the latter as a subject to be outraged about.

    As to your nonsensical ramblings about Bush and Western Civilization, they reveal more about you than the subject at hand, kiwi.


  27. kis Says:

    Kiwi,

    I don’t recall making any assertions about Iraq, Muslims, or even Arabs, most of whom, I have to assume, are decent, peace-loving people who just want to live their lives. My point was about Afghanistan and the Taliban, and many Canadians’ seeming lack of compassion for their real, actual victims. Equating the exploitation of women and girls under the Taliban to what goes on in North America is pointless and obtuse. Certainly, exploitation exists everywhere in the world. The difference lies in the fact that, under the Taliban, that exploitation and abuse was entrenched in law and encouraged—even enforced—by the government (much like on Gor, actually). However unsuccessful America’s (or Canada’s) government is at preventing and rectifying such abuses here at home, there is at least a legal framework aimed at doing so. Victims failed by the system are said to have “fallen through the cracks.” Under the Taliban, a woman beaten to death for wearing lipstick was said to have “gotten what she deserved under God and the law.”

    Interesting that you and Bernardt associate the worst face of patriarchy with Arabs, yet happily ignore the plight of many women in your respective countries, or exploitation generally.


    I can see your point, Kiwi. Allow me to extrapolate:

    A man stands and listens and does nothing while his neighbor is beaten to death by her husband. In the morning, when the police come to take her body away, they ask the man if he saw or heard anything.

    “I heard it all,” he says. “He beat her for two hours. She begged for mercy. She screamed for someone to come help her. Then, after a long time, she stopped screaming.”

    They stare at the man, shocked and appalled. “But why didn’t you do anything to stop him?” they ask. “Why didn’t you help her?!”

    The man is genuinely perplexed that everyone seems so angry with him. He tells them, “But I am an imperfect husband, too. I yell at my own wife, sometimes I call her horrible names, and once I even hit her and shoved her against the wall. Who am I to tell my neighbor how he should treat his own wife?”

    I have heard people in Canada ask, “what right do we have to tell the Afghanis how to live, or what kind of society to have?” I would defy them to ask this question of an Afghan girl denied the right to go to school, or a woman dying from childbed complications because female doctors are forbidden to work, and male doctors are forbidden to lay hands on a female patient. I would defy them to ask this question of any woman who has undergone unaneasthetized, unsterile genital mutilation at the hands of her own family. And the fact that a Canadian might ask such a question simply because as many Canadian soldiers have died since the start of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan as died on any given day during World War II, makes me hang my head in shame. I am forced to ask myself why we were willing to put our sons lives on the line to stop the Holocaust when those dying were pink-skinned Europeans, but not now, when the victims are mostly brown-skinned, Muslim women and girls.

    One person might say that U.N. forces are still needed in Afghanistan because a 10-year-old Afghani boy was recently beheaded by a Taliban fighter for being seen giving food to a policeman trained and backed up by Canadian soldiers. Another person might say that, had those Canadian soldiers not been there to offend the Taliban, the boy would not have been beheaded, and that the Taliban would be nice if only we would just go home. Which person is being reasonable, and which is being obtuse?

    In Canada, a large segment of those calling for a pullout are university-educated, left-leaning, upper middle class people—the same people who would chant and wave placards protesting the Gor book, and who wring their hands because their shampoo is tested on animals. Too bad they can’t give a rat’s ass about a real, living, breathing, nonfictional woman in a soccer stadium getting shot in the back of the head by her own government for the “crime” of wearing high heels, or teaching little girls to read. And people who liken such atrocities to wage disparity, teenage prostitution and sexual harassment issues in North America just make me shake my head.

    Kiwi, I'm sorry you don't understand how a person could be more outraged by real abominations than by fictional ones. I certainly reserve the right to be more offended by the Taliban than I ever will be about the Gor books.

    Getting off my soap box now.


  28. kis Says:

    Not to nit-pick on what is certainly a peripheral topic here, but I thought it only fair to point out that the vast majority of FGM occurs in Africa, not the Middle East, and has nothing whatever to do with Islam.

    True. But unfortunately I don't have several hours to go into everything that's wrong in Africa.

    Truth is, though Muslim clerics (in the Middle East and Africa) have been forced to admit that Mohammed never endorsed female circumcision, the results of clerical and scholarly debate do not usually trickle down to the uneducated masses. There are many Muslim clerics who still recommend it as a "cure" for masturbation, premarital sex and adultery. In the succinct words of Cecil Adams, it is as much a cure for these maladies as decapitation is a cure for acne, which is to say, pretty darn effective, but a little extreme.

    As for Kiwi's accusation of "western imperialism":

    Military action anywhere in the world is to be avoided where possible, but not at all costs. I do not believe the U.N. mission in Afghanistan has as much to do with the war on terror as people think. Planes flown into buildings, and the Taliban's aid of Osama bin Laden provided a necessary pretext to go in and right something horrible that was being done to women and girls. I don't think any female in Afghanistan (if interviewed outside the presence of her male relatives) would say she preferred life under the Taliban to what she has today. And with apologies to everyone offended by guns and bombs (at least in the hands of westerners) the situation in Afghanistan was not one that could be changed by holding sit-ins or letter-writing campaigns.

    People in the western world get upset when they see someone in a mall spank their kid. "What right does that woman have to smack her child's bottom?" they say. Women in America can get all affronted at the mere mention of limiting their right to abortion (a right they are entitled to, IMO).

    But they're okay with what went on under the Taliban. Trying to change women's lives there is called "western imperialism", or "forcing our way of life on other cultures and religions".

    The Taliban is such an extreme form of Islam that it can no longer really be considered to be Islam at all. It's not a religion. It's a collective mental illness. And when you ask yourself, would they agonize about whether it is right to force their view on us, what is the answer?

    Faced with a life under Taliban rule, or a life on Gor, hell I'd pick Gor any day.


  29. Erin Says:

    Sorry, here I go nit-picking again:

    "I do not believe the U.N. mission in Afghanistan has as much to do with the war on terror as people think."

    The UN Mission in Afghanistan has very little to do with the War on Terror, because the use of force in Afghanistan did not occur under a UN mandate at all. UNAMA was not created until March of 2002, well after the bombing got underway, and is strictly a political mission. The fighting began in October of 2001 when the US and Britain, along with the Northern Alliance, launched their offensive. Coalition forces were then subsequently taken over by NATO; again, not the UN.

    Believe me, people who work for the UN in Afghanistan think that's a REALLY important distinction.

    Why do I point it out here? Because I think getting the details wrong leads to great big oversimplifications, which in turn lead to great big misunderstandings.


  30. jw johnson Says:

    I read the Gor books in my early teens for the action and adventure and the fact that Norman (John Lange) was a good story teller. Unfortunately like a lot of authors he got lost in his own view points (bondage/sexuality) and lost me. Not Ron L. Hubbard weird, but close enough I didn't want anymore of it.


  31. Anonymous Says:

    I actually enjoy the Gor books, the concept is interesting. I am not a huge fan of Norman's writing style, the way he feels the need to spend five pages describing a compass for example.

    I highly doubt that it was his intention to outrage or cause offence to women. I would also just like to comment back to angelle who said

    "And from an artistic POV, there's not much plot/narrative tension to be gained by enslaving people who enjoy their servitude, now is there?"

    Not all women on Gor were enslaved, infact Norman himself writes that Free Women outnumbered kajira (Gorean for slave) by 10 - 1. And Free Women who were enslaved were outraged, they fought against it until coming to realize that their fight would no doubt lead to their demise.

    There are also male slaves in the books, although i haven't heard many compaints about them.

    I think the main point to remember here is that these books are FICTIONAL.