When Sky told me she was going to role play a Panther in Gor I decided to open my mind up and see if my initial thoughts held true. To be honest, they didn't. I was quite surprised to find myself in a very complex storyline. But at the same time, that complexity has it's drawbacks. Read on to see what I'm talking about here. But first lets look at my initial impressions. Sky had joined a tribe of Panthers so the panther life was for me too. Here is my impression of Gor roleplay from a Panther's perspective.
First thing, Panthers are outlaws in Gor. Nobody likes Panthers except other Panthers. Oh sure there are a few exceptions to any rule and this is true in Gor too. But, for the most part, if I step into a Gor role play sim looking the way I do, I will get shot at by somebody. Does this bother me? Not really. If I don't wish to get shot at, then I'll not visit the many sims that call themselves Gor roleplay sims. So what's a Panther to do? Well the first thing I realized is that members within a tribe are incredibly passionate about each others well being and happiness. Loyalty between Panthers in a tribe is very strong. We call each other sisters and to be honest I find the relationship to be very much a sorority of sorts. I was actually touched that this group of women allowed me to be brought into their small inner circle of friendship and trust. They made time to teach me what a Panther tribe is and what it isn't and had the patience to let me absorb it in my own way. I was given a mentor whose name is Leia and she and I, along with many of my sisters of the tribe have become good friends. To just have these close ties with my sisters is in itself a rewarding experience and I find that if I did nothing else but role play with my sisters I would a happy camper.
But, that will never happen in Gor. You see, many times I will sit in our forest on a hill. The sim owner has done a wonderful job in creating a lovely forest and the visual representation on the screen is very relaxing. I may be reading a book in real life or just staring off into space allowing my thoughts to drift. However, if I sit to long eventually my peace is interrupted by somebody who has come to my forest with the intent of hunting me down and shooting me, tying me up and taking me away. Now, is this something that bothers me? Not really, it's part of the role play and I understand it's the reality of the situation. I guess my one question is, were there really all kinds of folks stomping through the forests and jungles hunting Panther women in the books? Well I'm reading the books to find out the answer myself.
The irony is that these hunters, men usually, come to the forest to seek us out. I assume it's to role play with us to get us to submit to them or be sold to somebody, who wishes to get us to submit to them. But ironically I find most of these hunters, outlaws mostly themselves, to be incredibly arrogant and overly rude. While the Gor books depict this as a common personality for men of Gor, it's one issue I find that in my case would probably not go over well. I would definitely be much like the woman Elizabeth in the books, hijacked from Earth, to be enslaved in Gor. I would be astounded that women allow themselves to be treated like this, scared out of my wits about becoming a slave and eventually have to deal with my situation and live with it. Even Elizabeth had a master that treated her differently and in the end she ended up being free and only a slave when she wished it. So it has been with my role play of Gor. I guess my real life cultural issues I grew up with are getting in the way. But I'm trying! Sadly though, I find this type of arrogance and rudeness boring and to be quite honest, not very interesting from a role play perspective.
That being said, let me give you my thoughts on what a Panther is and is not. Again, just my opinion and nothing more;
What Panthers are:
- Women who believe that the concept of women being servants to men is preposterous. The entire Gor culture is based around this. Now with that being said, it does not mean that Panthers are adverse to slavery. No, Panthers do enslave, it's just that they enslave everyone for their own reasons. There are many other cases in Gor where men are slaves so this is not a big leap of faith and is actually depicted in the books. It's the concept of the Kajira that Panthers object to. Women bred for the sole purpose of serving and pleasuring men.
- Panthers are hunters. Or to be exact huntresses. This mean they need weapons to hunt and they have them. Bows, spears and daggers are the common weapons carried by a Panther. While there are many tribes that actively seek out fights with outlaw bands and cities, in most cases it's to rescue a captured sister or to scout and become familiar with the sim so that plans can be made if a rescue there is necessary.
- Panthers are incredibly loyal to their tribe-mates. They consider themselves to be a family and in many cases act much like a sorority of women (not like college sorority's, look up the word if you don't know the difference). Panthers in my tribe have sworn thier lives in defense of their sisters.
- Panthers are extremely territorial. They consider their part of the woods or jungle theirs and don't like others stomping around scaring away all of their food. So they patrol it to hunt game and to keep noisy trespassers out. I've actually had role players question this. "why do you think these woods are yours?". I ask them the same question about the meadow they laid their city or fort down in. I don't believe the notion of Manifest Destiny found its way into the Gorean culture since there is plenty of open land to go around and that open land is a VERY dangerous place to be.
What Panthers are not:
- They are not Amazons! Panther woman are not over sized female warriors having the intent of enslaving the entire male population. While there are MANY role players that wish this, they shouldn't expect it. Warriors of Gor belong to a specific caste in the culture. They consist of MEN ONLY! Thus women, even Panthers cannot think of themselves as a warrior. The cultural idea of what a warrior is in Gor would not allow that kind of thought. Does that mean Panthers don't fight? Of course they do. They need to learn to fight so that they can learn to hunt for food to survive. Of course that doesn't mean there aren't any large amazonian women running around in the trees. There are. It's just that there are averaged sized and small woman running around with them.
- They are not dirty slimy tree sluts. I find it interesting that men role playing Gor seem to use this term quite often. And to be honest, I have yet to find this term used in the books. But I'm looking. Based on the writings in the books I have found that many elements of Gorean culture is really very similar to many elements of our own past cultures here on Earth. I would suspect that bathing, except for possibly the highest levels of society was something done infrequently. So to be called a stinking tree slut by a stinking outlaw or common warrior seems rather hypocritical at best. Also, as most ladies know, a whore is a girl that puts out for money, a slut is a girl that puts out for free; and why are these people coming to forests to capture and take away Panthers again? It would seem to me that Panthers are anti-sluts and that the pleasure slaves running around in the cities are in fact, the sluts. I'm sure I'll burn in Gor hell for that statement!
- Panthers are not man-hating revolutionaries intent on changing Gor culture. In fact many Panther women enjoy the company of men if for anything else to release sexual tension. Are Panthers liberated feminists. Yeah, I tend to think given the era the books were written in that the author had that concept in his head when he wrote about Panthers.
- Not all Panthers are lesbians. Based on what I stated above that seems obvious. While my relationships in Second Life are of the lesbian nature and they are in Gor with Sky, not all of my tribal sisters are running around looking for a good time within the tribe. Now I've been told that there is no homosexuality in Gor. Trust me, if Goreans are human, and if they are allowed to live outside of the cultural norms of Gor like Panthers do, then their will be cases of homosexuality. It's only human, deal with it.
With all of this being said, it would seem that there should be little reason to come and hunt down Panther women. But they are hunted down. By men in hopes of selling them off to eventually submit to their rule. Which I find preposterous. For a Panther to submit would be like telling a warrior to be a pacifist, or a doctor to stop treating patients. If a woman truly believes in her reasons for becoming a Panther then to submit to a man is to give up on those reasons and no longer be a Panther. However, based on what a Panther is, and how tribes are played, submission is not an option. Most Panthers would rather role play their death before role playing submission. So, why are Panthers hunted and bought? That's a question I still have no answer for but I have to admit, being chased around isn't half bad!