Maglor making up nursery rhymes and nonsense songs to amuse his baby brothers
Maglor improvising drinking songs when he gets drunk with Celegorm and Maedhros and their cousins
Maglor taking dreary hymns to the Valar and giving them rude lyrics
(and then they’re much better than the original version and before long everyone in Tirion is singing it)
Friends, minions, I’ve heard this too many times. Too many people squawk it as an excuse to enjoy his works, as if his fans would have to flay themselves if it weren’t true. It’s especially special when self-described feminists rush to defend him, scrabbling for proof until they collapse into drivel. I have friends so desperate never to enjoy books with the slightest whiff of misogyny that they’ll hold Tolkien up as a champion of equal rights. He wasn’t.
He was sexist.
Before you tell me how wrong I am, take a look at his Letter #43.
Too lazy to wade through it all? Fine. Here’s an excerpt:
The sexual impulse makes women (naturally when unspoiled more unselfish) very sympathetic and understanding, or specially desirous of being so (or seeming so), and very ready to enter into all the interests, as far as they can, from ties to religion, of the young man they are attracted to. No intent necessarily to deceive: sheer instinct: the servient, helpmeet instinct, generously warmed by desire and young blood. Under this impulse they can in fact often achieve very remarkable insight and understanding, even of things otherwise outside their natural range: for it is their gift to be receptive, stimulated, fertilized (in many other matters than the physical) by the male. Every teacher knows that. How quickly an intelligent woman can be taught, grasp his ideas, see his point – and how (with rare exceptions) they can go no further, when they leave his hand, or when they cease to take a personal interest in him. But this is their natural avenue to love. Before the young woman knows where she is (and while the romantic young man, when he exists, is still sighing) she may actually ‘fall in love’. Which for her, an unspoiled natural young woman, means that she wants to become the mother of the young man’s children, even if that desire is by no means clear to her or explicit. And then things are going to happen: and they may be very painful and harmful, if things go wrong. Particularly if the young man only wanted a temporary guiding star and divinity (until he hitches his waggon to a brighter one), and was merely enjoying the flattery of sympathy nicely seasoned with a titillation of sex – all quite innocent, of course, and worlds away from ‘seduction’.
You may meet in life (as in literature) women who are flighty, or even plain wanton — I don’t refer to mere flirtatiousness, the sparring practice for the real combat, but to women who are too silly to take even love seriously, or are actually so depraved as to enjoy ‘conquests’, or even enjoy the giving of pain – but these are abnormalities, even though false teaching, bad upbringing, and corrupt fashions may encourage them. Much though modern conditions have changed feminine circumstances, and the detail of what is considered propriety, they have not changed natural instinct. A man has a life-work, a career, (and male friends), all of which could (and do where he has any guts) survive the shipwreck of ‘love’. A young woman, even one ‘economically independent’, as they say now (it usually really means economic subservience to male commercial employers instead of to a father or a family), begins to think of the ‘bottom drawer’ and dream of a home, almost at once. If she really falls in love, the shipwreck may really end on the rocks.
That’s just a sample of his talk. I don’t suppose you want any more. It’s already enough to explain why he treated Galadriel’s deeply held ambitions as unfeminine. Why he considered Lúthien ”a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty” and a less important figure than Beren (never mind how often she saved his life). Why Aredhel’s quest for autonomy is portrayed as tragic and deadly, implying that a woman should obey her male relations. Why Faramir becomes, in Eowyn’s own words, “a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North!”
We’re dealing with a bloke who wrote that matriarchal societies were unnatural and could never exist in Middle Earth except with Sauron’s influence. And his “false teaching” and “corrupt fashions,” no doubt. Tolkien created a fictional history for the real world we live in, explaining all evil as the legacy of Morgoth. His works frame “unnatural” women — real, living independent women — as part of that evil.
Yes, Tolkien concocted some intriguing female characters. But that’s not the same as granting them equality. All too often we see them only in glimpses and are left to guess at their motivations. Most get less attention for a whole life lived bravely than Fëanor gets for a single tirade. It’s the men who express their emotions and explain their logic, usually as if they’ve got a soapbox and a megaphone, while women hover behind them in soft focus.
This may be a shock to some, but Tolkien wasn’t perfect. We’re allowed to disagree with him. We are not bad people for liking his books while aware of their flaws, and bemoaning them, and imagining what Arda would be without them.
Denying Tolkien’s sexism won’t make it go away. What it will do is make insidious attitudes harder to recognize, all the better to infect the minds of unwary readers.
And it will get you FRIED TO A CRISP.
Because NO ONE BADMOUTHS SAURON’S ELITE KICKASS UBER-EVIL SOCIETY-WRECKING SUBVERSIVE PUSSY RIOT OF DOOM!*
If I hear this one more time, I will UNLEASH THE DRAGONS.
*Totally fictional. There ain’t no such thing.
does the caranthir-being-into-textile-crafts/dressmaking fanon include knitting? because I can totally picture him doing things like this. Just like, “hey macalaure, have you seen moryo lately?” - “yeah he’s lying on the floor in the sitting room. he got angry and started knitting himself into a cocoon again”
and everyone passing through the room trying to sidestep knitted-caterpillar!caranthir who does nothing for two hours except occassionally making angry hissing noises from inside his passive aggressive knit-tube. is it art? is it cathartic? no one knows.
[on a related note I totally see miriel doing subversive cross-stitch when she’s upset. (like this one she gave to finwe once after they had a fight. or this one for bb!feanor XD) also when she’s weaving the tapestries w vaire she sometimes subtly puts in barely noticable, snarky commentary (that looks like ornaments).]
I’m having a lot of maglor feelings right now
also silmarillion modern aus
and so many other au ideas I am absolutely incapable of writing….
i want to study at a British university
i will spell color as colour and use degrees celcius. i would watch Sherlock on BBC all night while drinking a cuppa tea with my flatmates. i’ll have fish and chips every day that’s worth 5 quid. i would go to gaff parties every night. i am also more likely to meet chavs, One Direction, Ed Sheeran and the Queen.
i wish i was british :(
fuck off, we dont want u here
why is meeting chavs a good thing?