The Silk & Steel formally rejects the concept of Slave Failure. The cultural background, a description of the concept, the reasons for its development, how it fails as a concept, and why we reject it is explained below:


        Gorean society, as depicted in Norman's Gor books, recognizes and supports the institution of slavery. Slaves on the planet Gor truly have no choice regarding their condition of slavery. This totality compels the slaves to embrace their status, enabling them to thrive in their slavery. Gorean theory holds that a female cannot experience the fullest depths of her inner submission unless she feels, somehow, that she is truly restrained from abandoning her social role as a "slave" at will. Any psychological or social mechanism that can be emplaced to support and heighten her position as a "slave," therefore, should be employed to reinforce her slavery and help keep her in her place.

        When online Gorean interaction became popular during the 1990's, some attempted to mimic the absolute and involuntary nature of Gorean slavery in their own master/slave relationships by basing it as closely as possible on the model demonstrated in the books. Some Earthbound Goreans instituted a method of encouraging slaves to be just as obedient as their fictional counterparts on the planet Gor. This method came to be known as "Slave Failure."


        Slave Failure is a doctrine of communal shunning designed to maintain the female slave in her place under a threat of social castigation. The concept works like this:

        A slave, once she has made the self-enslavement decision, should have only one subsequent choice. That is the choice either to remain within the social paradigm of her own Gorean slavery, or to willingly deny the right of her owner to treat her as if she is owned, casting off the rules and protocol of Gorean slavery, in effect "freeing" herself.

        The slave who so "frees" herself-- no matter the reason or the length of her refusal-- has "failed" as a Gorean slave. She has therefore failed the Gorean community, essentially by denying the reality of the institution of consensual-yet-involuntary slavery as practiced within that community. Through her actions, she has taken the stand that Gorean slavery as practiced within the offline Gorean community is neither valid, nor truly binding.

        Such a "failed slave" should therefore be considered an eternal failure who has placed herself forever outside the Gorean community by her denial of its power over her, and should accordingly be permanently shunned out of the Gorean community.

        That is the doctrine of Slave Failure.


        The doctrine was invented to provide some measure of social pressure in support of the practice of Gorean slavery, in emulation of the actual culture-wide social support of the institution of Gorean slavery enjoyed by slave-owners upon the planet Gor. So it does have a Gorean precedent-- the whole of Norman's Gorean society. This concept came into being to prevent self-proclaimed slaves from declaring themselves Gorean kajirae in a relationship by submitting themselves to ownership, then, once in the relationship, turning their slavery on and off at will by rejecting the authority of their owner to command them.

        It was also aimed at policing and punishing a specific type of manipulative fraud who often appeared in our community, who would publicly kowtow to the concept of slavery while slipping her collar every chance she got. Often these horrid creatures would trump up some lame charge against her supposed "owner" as an excuse for her own errant misbehavior and would jump to another chain, or would switch from slave to Free at will, in gross defiance of Gorean social custom.

        There needed to be some mechanism of marking such creatures, and of permanently dividing them from those self-proclaimed slaves who seriously and earnestly accepted the duties and restrictions of the slave status. Slave Failure, and its implicit shunning, was such a mechanism.

        It was often applied against some of the very worst examples of selfish, manipulative frauds with whom we interacted. In many cases, it helped the bad eggs float and so served to separate them from the good ones. And it was those prominent failures who shrieked the loudest, who were first to cry "foul!" and who complained most vehemently about the gross unfairness of the practice.

        "Slave Failure" was essentially an escape valve for people in Gorean relationships, to be used in extremis, when things didn't work out because the female insisted that her Master go farther to Master her than the law allows.


        In order for it to function, there can be no exceptions to it. A "slave" cannot be allowed to "fail" temporarily and then return to the fold. Such exceptions devaluate the doctrine and ultimately contradict the whole concept.

        Slave Failure was designed to enforce the concept that Gorean slavery is absolute. It can therefore NOT be suspended, or else it invalidates its very function. It must, in order to maintain its authority, be absolute. There can be no exceptions. A girl who leaves her collar for a night of fancy fun posing as a Free Woman is no more, or no less, a failure than a girl who crawls, beaten and bloody, to the phone and dials 911.

        That very rigidity makes it an unreasonable doctrine. It's simply not flexible enough to work correctly in all situations.

        Besides which it's just not true. When a girl slips her collar, she doesn't cease to exist-- no matter how completely she is shunned by other Goreans. She can always find someone else who will accept her as a slave, Gorean or not, no matter how far she has to go to do it.

        Too, there are many extenuating circumstances that may ameliorate (either partially or completely) her reasons for doing so, in the eyes of the greater Gorean community. Self-defense in the face of physically damaging and life-threatening abuse is one such.

        Similarly, a free person can fail to properly master a slave. The man who actually tries to grievously harm his slave has certainly failed. The man who simply can't control his slave has probably failed. It is a matter of degrees.

        A woman who professes herself to be a slave might, upon occasion, refuse to obey the commands of her master. It might be said, then, that she has failed as a slave. However, that does not necessarily mean that she can never again attempt to succeed as a slave. Her decision to disobey must be placed in the context of her individual circumstances. In the case of either master or slave, there is a spectrum of actions which might constitute failure. But as in all aspects of human endeavors, failures can be significant or meaningless. Once a failure has occurred, either by a slave or by a free person, it is up to that person to decide whether this failure is an indication that this lifestyle is simply not appropriate for them and they should quit the whole thing and go find something else to do. Or whether to get up, dust off, and try again.


        There isn't really a need for any "special term" to describe the factors in question. If the slave quits, she quits. If she misbehaves, she misbehaves. If she walks out, she walks out. And if she flees for her life, she flees for her life. If a Master gets duped, is abusive, is impossibly demanding, is weak, is stupid, is foolish... he just is. If it results in the loss of his slave, then it simply does.

        Why try to lump it all into one category under some short, pithy, inadequate term?

        The ultimate denominator is perhaps this: everyone is responsible, to some extent, for their own behavior, their own personal interaction, and their own happiness. No matter their status or relationships.

        Personal responsibility is also one of the main themes of Gorean Philosophy. External influences and circumstances always have much to do with it. People do not exist in a vacuum; neither do they succeed in a vacuum; nor do they fail in one.

        We at the S&S understand that it is a fundamental fact of human existence that we all must occasionally fail at our endeavors. This applies as much to those living the Gorean philosophy as to anybody else. What we make of that failure, and the result of that failure in the community, depends entirely on the situation in which the failure occurred.

        Everyone fails at different things, at different times, for different reasons. Individual fault, if any, should be directly assessed, and blame assigned, based upon the circumstances of what actually occurred. No intelligent person should believe otherwise.

        It is Gorean neither in theory nor in practice to unilaterally blame someone for the shortcomings of others.

        Therefore the Silk & Steel formally rejects the concept of Slave Failure.

Return to Silk & Steel Welcome Page