Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Introduction to the 'Tolkien and Gender' Series

The idea for this series came to me when I was writing the end of my Éowyn essay. Tolkien faces a lot of criticism from people for supposedly being 'sexist' in his works. Overall, Tolkien's works are not sexist. I agree it is very problematic that only 18% of the characters are female

However, Tolkien's works take a very refreshing and nuanced look at sexism, and this has been largely overlooked or dismissed.

In fact, his works systematically oppose a large part of sexism that is still prominent today.

The damnation of femininity.

Tolkien's works show how traditional masculine and worldly power of force is weaker than spiritual strength and love. Kindness, mercy, humility, love – these are the powers that succeed.

A must-read for this series is my “Feminism Basics” essay. That essay shows the bedrocks of my feminist belief. It also includes terms and concepts that I'll be mentioning over and over. If you do not want to read the entire thing, you can just scroll down to the “Femininity and Masculinity” section. I will be referring to it as F&M. That section is the backbone of this series. It is essential for you to read it.

Another thing that I see happening over and over, is a fundamental misunderstanding of the language. Tolkien uses a very archaic style of writing; many of the words are used in different contexts than we would use them today. Readers need to understand that, and take it into consideration, before judging and interpreting the text.

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