UK Government OKs Sex Ed. Guide Based on Gor Book

From the department of “you couldn’t make it up”…

In theory the UK has an Equality Act that bans discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality. In practice, of course, homophobic organizations (mostly religious) will do anything they can to get around this, and some Tory ministers are only to happy to help them.

As The Guardian reports today, Catholic faith schools in Lancashire have been handing out copies of a booklet called “Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be”, written by an American fundamentalist preacher. The booklet includes statements like this: “the homosexual act is disordered, much like contraceptive sex between heterosexuals. Both acts are directed against God’s natural purpose for sex – babies and bonding.” It also insists that, “scientifically speaking, safe sex is a joke”.

Trade unionists have complained to the Education Minister, Michael Gove, that the booklet is homophobic and should be banned, but Gove insists that school curriculums are exempt from the Equality Act, and that consequently schools are free to teach any sort of bigoted nonsense they want.

Weird ideas about sex, however, are not the only strange things in the booklet. All sorts of aspects of macho-ness are explored, including the need for real men to kill animals to prove their virility. There is a particularly bizarre passage about how to kill a wolf by sacrificing a goat. I won’t go into the gory details. The important point is that, as this blog post reveals, that piece of text was lifted from the book Beasts of Gor by John Norman.

So, I ask you, would you want your children taught about sex from a booklet written by someone who gets his ideas from Gor novels? Apparently Mr. Gove thinks that’s OK.

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18 Responses to UK Government OKs Sex Ed. Guide Based on Gor Book

  1. I sincerely hope this triggers parental protests wherever any school tries to introduce it. It sounds like it probably contravenes British law on discrimination, too.

    • Cheryl says:

      Well it is only being introduced in Catholic faith schools, so the parents may have expectations of an anti-gay education.

      And you would think that it contravenes British law, wouldn’t you. But the Education Secretary insists that it doesn’t.

  2. Not quite as Onionish as the headline led me to imagine. I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

  3. Anne K Gray says:

    Aside from the disrimination, and ridiculous/destructive gender norms. it is flat out lying about safe sex (I mean, there’s no such thing as safe sex, but safer sex is well-established, scientifically).

    I find myself completely baffled people overseeing education would not be more troubled by that.

  4. Martha says:

    HOWEVER! What will probably get the Brits up and raving is the possibility of cruelty to animals. I wish this whole thing were just a sick joke. What terrifies me is that it isn’t.

  5. George Berger says:

    The author of the Gor books was my teacher in ethics around 1964, at Queens College, NYC. He was a fine if somewhat cynical teacher. The course was devoted to a learned book about the emotive theory of ethics, pioneered by A.J. Ayer and Axel Hägerström (the latter here in Uppsala). He was the epitome of the meek, self-effacing, professor. A very friendly person, he invited us to his home at least once. Although I do not remember how I found out that he wrote the Gor books, I was surely one of the first (outside of publishing) to know this. I have two speculations for the disparity of author and creation, but they are too personal to write about here.

  6. Foster says:

    George, that is fascinating. Without divulging personal information, would you be able to answer whether you think that the Gor books were intended as a satire or deconstruction of attitudes he observed and rejected, or instead as a way to work out in fiction what your professor might have enjoyed in fantasy but thought ought not to be done? Or do you think he just saw an opportunity to make some money writing pulp fiction? If you want to leave this conversation alone, of course, you know better than I how to respect your professor; I’d like to state, though, that I think there’s nothing wrong (and perhaps everything right) with enjoying fantasies through fiction when one doesn’t feel it would be right to realize them. Those books seem to scream for explanation, though.

    Whatever the case, it’s horrifying to imagine Gorean concepts of violently sexual masculinity coming anywhere near a classroom. On the other hand, maybe these kids will be so shocked and amused by the wolf-slaying sequence that they’ll write off the whole “Pure Manhood” booklet as a joke. The man God wants you to be … because we all remember that story where Jesus proved himself by wandering in the desert for forty days surviving on nothing but raw wolf meat, right? But no matter one’s values, it’s untenable to keep young people from accurate, detailed information about how safe safer sex actually is. The pamphlet can be discredited on those grounds without ever approaching the question of religious or cultural values, and I hope that’s what will happen. Best of luck, Brits.

  7. Foster says:

    PS: …Or, George, just to admit the plurality of possibilities, do you think that the books are more complicated than people who haven’t read them and conceive of them exclusively in terms of their portrayal of gender-essentialist, sex-as-violence cultures generally believe them to be?

  8. Cam says:

    What is a Gor book? It’s a bit of critical info to the original piece but an assumption that the readers will understand the information is…well…assumptive and presumptious.

    • The Gor novels, as the Wikipedia entry says, “the alternate-world setting for a series of 30 novels by John Norman that combine philosophy, erotica and science fiction.” That’s putting it mildly, I think. The novels are sufficiently notorious that I reckon she didn’t think it needed explaining.

    • Foster says:

      @Cam: Check the “World of Gor” website, for starters. There used to be a Geocities site about both the novels and the real-world Gorean community that would give you a better sense of what this preacher might have had in mind, but that’s long since been swept away by the winds of the Intertubes. A little time in a search engine could probably turn up today’s equivalent.

  9. George Berger says:

    @Foster, I really don’t know. Academics in NYC were paid below the national norm in those days. You were supposed to be grateful to your college for the distinction of teaching in the Big Apple. So It is possible that financial motives were involved. As for the rest, my thoughts are not only personal, they are hypothetical, so I had better not talk about them. I was appalled yesterday, when I saw how the books were being misused.
    My opinion is that one should think very carefully about possible consequences of one’s writings, before publishing them. One example (whose details and dates I might be getting wrong here; it is the principle that matters) is a book by Jerry Pournelle, whose title I forget. It is about a general named, I think, Falkenberg, and was written not long after Pinochet’s coup in Chile. The book contains a scene in which peaceful protestors in a stadium are slaughtered by Falkenberg’s men. Since something rather similar occurred in Chile, I think Pournelle approved, and constructed a compound of Pinochet and Belisarius, as a good example to follow. The text suggests this to me. Did ‘John Norman’ fictionalise his beliefs? I don’t know.

    • Foster says:

      Thanks for the reply, George. That’s a reasonable approach to a complex situation, although I would have valued your informed speculation. I’m still curious — curious enough to read the books, though? I’m not sure. In any case, thanks for complicating the situation.

  10. Jones says:

    I have read the Gor novels, and actually still own most of them as collectors items. To think that someone actually took the ideas in those books not only seriously but decided to teach them as real life attitudes to children is criminal in my opinion.

    • Cake says:

      There sure are plenty enough people who use the books as their personal manual for how life should be fashioned. In my roleplay community there is a whole subset of people who reckon themselves “lifestylers” in the ways of Gor. And I’m pretty sure several of those have children and while the more … carnal aspects of Gor practice is hopefully kept from the eyes of children, I doubt the practitioners censor themselves around their children in terms of general opinions and philosophy on the desirable power and gender structure in society. So, yeah. I’d be worried.

      It will be quite funny though, if the concept of Gor became more wide spread among the general public by way of an uproar over Catholic schools using plagiarised materials in education!

  11. Rick Moen says:

    Apparently, this is a 51 page book or pamphlet (pick your term), written by one Jason Evert, who styles himself a ‘chastity speaker’ and published it through publisher Catholic Answers in 2007. And yes, the story keeps getting better: Jason’s helpmeet Crystalina Evert paved the way for hubby’s intellectual breakthroughs with her earlier (2005) opus Pure Womanhood.

    I trust that I have absolutely thoroughly confused the marketing bots with my recent searches there on this subject.

    (I tried to include a hilarious snippet from Crystalina’s blurb, but WordPress didn’t like it.)

    Rick Moen

  12. Pingback: UK Catholic sex-ed includes materials plagiarized from John Norman’s Gor series « Quotulatiousness

  13. EdinburghEye says:

    In a JFTR spirit – the ultimate source (probably!) of the “How to kill a wolf” story has been sourced to an 1881 account of the 1878-1880 US expedition to the Arctic in search of the lost Franklin expedition. The story is in chapter XIV of Schwatka’s Search: Sledging in the Arctic in Quest of the Franklin Records by William H. Gilder (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1881), page 224. I have updated the Gor reference in the body of the post – I’d already come to the conclusion (and updated) that the wolf-story had long since become generic Christian glurge by the time Evert heard it. Regrettably it makes the pamphlet no better but the Gove-mocking less funny.

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