1) It is a very Male Top/female bottom centered lifestyle. Though there are exceptions, for the most part, women are expected to be slaves and men are expected to be Masters. For those who enjoy female dominance and male submission, this seems to be exclusionary and discriminitory. And since there is such a pride in the "code" and the lifestyle, this can come off as insulting to those who appreciate a bit more tolerance in gender roles.
This is true to a certain degree. The philosophies are more oriented towards females have the potential to be slaves, rather than are guaranteed to be, though. One problem with going by the books is that they are focused on one particular set of characters, and the status of Free Women is rarely mentioned, and then only in passing, for the most part. Free Women on Gor are given a great deal of respect, and in real life that is also true, primarily because (I think) the standards that Gorean Men hold to, such as honour and integrity, require it.
The philosophies, having so much emphasis on individuality and people reaching the place they are best suited for as individuals, is very flexible in allowing for women to take their place, but because they are based not only on phychological but physiological matters, they do tend to favour men.
One of the reasons why few male submissives enter the lifestyle I think (though) is that the position of a kajirus, a male slave, is not very appealing to most male subs. Based around service, and exploiting the physical traits of the sub, is more the lot they face than the activities many male subs I've seen are seeking. For male subs, Gorean is not a welcoming lifestyle, but those kajiru I've encountered are as happy with their place as I am with mine, so it's not unheard of.
2) It seems a bit simplistic in its approach to BDSM. Slave submits once and to any and all desires of the Master. For many, this lack of negotiation, limits, standards and safewords can seem a bit insane. Yet, what I think they miss, is that the very nature of Gor (with its code and protocol, its ingrained philosophy that slaves are not just property, but valuable property that should be cared for, nurtured, and prized) sets up a protection for the slave that mitigates the need for the saftey measures used by other BDSM practitioners.
It's definately less complicated, although the formality may appear otherwise to some. I would have to agree with Your observation about why though. I think perhaps the reason why it's not seen the way You describe is because people focus solely on the keeping of slaves aspect of the philosophies. The philosophies aren't solely related to the slave aspect, they form a core set of ideals and standards for how to live. It's said that one does not need to own a slave to be a Gorean man, and I think that's very true. You don't need to have a slave to believe in honour, integrity, self knowledge, self-identify, sense of community, and a host of other traits the philosophies include as being the "proper behaviour" for a Gorean.
Those traits are a kajira's "safety net", in a way. As a kajira, I feel safe and secure, I know what is expected of me, I know what happens if I do as I should, I know what happens if I don't. I know my Master values me and He has said outright He will not harm me. Just as there are standards for Gorean Men that act as a "net" for kajirae, one of the requirements for kajirae compliments it - the demand to be open and honest at all times, "naked even when clothed". kajirae are required to not hold anything back from their Masters, and in doing so I think that fulfils the communication that is necessary.
Likewise, we don't really need safewords, because we don't "play" (in general). For Gorean slaves, the fulfilment comes from service, and being pleasing. That's not to say Sadists and Masochists can't be Gorean, just that those things which most of the community fixate on, physical play, aren't part of what we do or what we seek.
These are things that are part and parcel of the whole definition, removing the need for them to be discussed or presented beforehand. It's not something that needs to be said, it just "is".
3) Goreans (mostly) couldn't care less what others think of them. The kind of personality that is drawn to the Gorean lifestyle is typically the kind of person who isn't bothered by being misunderstood by the masses. There is such a gut-level reaction to the lifestyle, that it seems most Goreans believe that either you "get it", or you don't. And if you don't "get it", that really don't care to explain it to you... This attitude can be a little off-putting to those who are based in a community that values (over values?) out-reach and education.
Well, on this I have to agree, at least from my standpoint. I only have to worry about what one person thinks of me. But You're right in more ways I think because of the individuality that the philosophies stress, the self reliance. Gorean Men are very self-assured, that's part of what makes them what they are, but this comes about through self realization. Goreans are very self-aware and comfortable in their own skins, and they got there themselves. I think perhaps that's part of what's needed to come to it.
A lot of the philosophies are very hard to explain for a lot of us. I know I try hard, but sometimes words can't suffice. It's very much like trying to describe colour to a blind man in many respects, there's a lack of frame of reference there. This gets frustrating at times :) But most of the Goreans I know are more than happy to explain things to those that ask, they just tend to like the questions not to start out "So, you're a bunch of misogynistic bastards then?" :) One of the reasons #gorean is on the IRC server is so that people -can- come ask questions and explore. Yes, we get our share of smegheads in there, but so does all the other channels :)
For Goreans, community is very important. But Goreans won't spend time talking to someone whose mind is closed. For us, they have made their decision, that's their choice. Why should we waste time trying to explain things if it won't be heard? Practicality is also very Gorean :)
4) Some people really have a problem with the concept of "ownership of humans." For some, that kink is not like other kinks. Not sure why this is, but I have faced it in my non-Gorean practice of owner/property relationships.
Gorean slaves are seen as chattel property.
Of course, this is hideously illegal in most "civilized" cultures, but it still seems to be there, with us at least, somehow. The reason is simple - we choose to honour our choices and accept the consequences of those choices. We don't pick and choose from the philosophies the bits we like and toss away the rest. We stay true to our word and the choice we made to beg the collar of Goreans. We are happy to be in the place we have chosen to be, to be seen as we have chosen to be seen. So we stay there, voluntary chattel I guess. There are mechanisms to allow kajirae to get out of abusive situations, that safety net is present as well.
Being a Gorean slave, chattel property, does not mean "doormat". Anyone who's met me on IRC knows I am definately not a doormat, nor is edana or lil or several other kajirae that use CollarMe for now. We have pride, self respect, self-esteem - we know that we are worth something to the one whose steel is against our flesh. That gives us a sense of security that we build on and grow from as individuals. Our strength within ourselves is augmented and boosted and added to by our Master. We take our knowledge of our value, our confidence, from Him.
Yes, there are some who will say they're Goreans but really they're just abusive smegheads looking to beat up some woman. There's the same will take advantage and claim to be BDSM Masters or Owners too. We spot them just as quickly as the rest of the community does, and they don't stay around us for much longer after we do.
How is it any different for us that for other lifestyle slaves? I don't think it is. So I'm not sure that this point could really explain in part why people are so quick to condemn us.
Thank You for Your reply, I hope that my response has been able to let others understand us a bit better. At the very least, it's refreshing to be able to answer questions without having 4,000 lines of text go past in 30 seconds :)
proud collared and marked property