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Discussing: M-E attitudes toward females

M-E attitudes toward females

Were there ever any female Elven warriors? To be specific, would Mirkwood employ female soldiers?


Tolkien stated that dwarven women are rarely seen, since they aren't common and don't go exploring. Would dwarves be sexist towards women as warriors?

Thanks for any help.



Re: M-E attitudes toward females

Just IMHO, Tolkien's attitude towards women was pretty "old fashioned". There seems to be a clear division of roles in what I've read of his.

This does not imply that he saw women as any way inferior... just different.

Of course, I haven't read everything, so there may very well be surprises. Looking forward to hearing other comments.



Re: M-E attitudes toward females

From 'Laws and Customs Among the Eldar':

There are indeed some differences between the natural inclinations of neri and nissi, and other differences that have been established by custom (varying in place and in time, and in the several races of the Eldar). For instance, the arts of healing, and all that touches on the care of the body, are among all the Eldar most practised by the nissi; whereas it was the elven-men who bore arms at need. And the Eldar deemed that the dealing of death, even when lawful or under necessity, diminished the power of healing, and that the virtue of the nissi in this matter was due rather to their abstaining from hunting or war than to any special power that went with their womanhood. Indeed in dire straits or desperate defence, the nissi fought valiantly, and there was less difference in strength and speed between elven-men and elven-women that had not borne child than is seen among mortals.

Which may not sufficiently answer the question, but is all I have found.




Re: M-E attitudes toward females

I thought about this with Thranduil's woodland realm and in the end did have female warriors in two stories. I had them as a minority group, though. Other writers have used only males. I think the intent would be that the men would fight - but just as throughout history women have done whatever needed to be done - including fighting, if necessary, you could interpret this to suggest that female elves fought if there was need.

At Dagorlad the Woodland Realm lost 2/3 of their warriors. I had female elves pick up some of the 'home defense' responsibilities while the males were away - and then had some retain their roles as the returning warriors were so depleted in numbers. Of course, once some women serve, others that follow may choose to also- and perhaps these female elves would continue to serve unless they became mothers.

LACE also refers primarily to the Noldor elves. Christopher Tolkien's notes indicate that some of LACE seemed to refer to elves in ME in general, and other parts say the Noldor in particular. The elves that Oropher and then Thranduil ruled were Silvan, and I would think it reasonable that long years living under Shadow in Mirkwood probably could mean that every adult could fight and defend themselves, if need be.

Of course, if you go reread The Hobbit you find that the wood elves didn't seem to do much of anything but party and feast - no farming, no mining and since the dwarves were not stopped by any border guards - no defense! I somehow doubt that to be true, however.




Re: M-E attitudes toward females

Tolkien stated that dwarven women are rarely seen, since they aren't common and don't go exploring. Would dwarves be sexist towards women as warriors?

I doubt it--in fact, given the struggles against the Orcs & other races, they probably made sure the women could fight as well as the men.

But it also seems likely that dwarven women were discouraged from putting themselves in harm's way, because of the simple fact of their rarity. When a race has so few childbearers, you don't want any of them dying unnecessarily.




Re: M-E attitudes toward females

I've also been speculating - since I needed it for the latest chapter of a beta fic - whether, because Dwarf women were rarely seen out and about (according to Appendix A of LoTR) Dwarves would find the public presence of females of other races disconcerting, or might even feel it was somehow rather improper, since for their race the women's proper sphere appears to be the domestic...



Re: M-E attitudes toward females

One thing seems clear; Dwarf women did as they pleased. They are clearly stated to have chosen their own husbands, or even remained single if they prefered, and if they were given their own way in so vital a matter it is reasonable to assume that they were equally free in lesser ones.

Dwarf women probably seldom ventured abroad because Dwarves are by nature homebodies - the men left their home cities only because of the necessities of trade and warfare, not apparently out of any desire to 'see the world'. If a Dwarf woman did elect to go abroad she deliberately disguised herself as a man. Concealing both themselves and their children from the eyes of outsiders seems to have been a point of pride with Dwarf women. Probably also reflecting a rather extreme protectiveness on the part of their menfolk, possibly rooted in the hazards the original Fathers and Mothers of the Dwarves faced in a Dark Middle Earth dominated by Morgoth's power.

The women of all the Free Peoples seem to have had key rights, such as chosing their own mates, owning property and acting on their own behalf rather than defering to a guardian. While they do not, as a rule, seem to have taken up arms as a profession both Elf women and those of some Mortal cultures are on record as fighting, in the last need, in defense of home and family.

Eowyn was certainly not the only 'shieldmaiden' in the history of the Rohirrim, and their Northmen ancestors. The Haladin are recorded as having 'Amazons' among their warriors, and Women of the Wainriders are said to have successfully put down a rebellion by their Northmen serfs while the Men were away at war.



Re: M-E attitudes toward females

I was reading the Fall of Gondolin in the Book of Lost Tales - it says that Idril carried a sword during the fall, and she - and several warriors that Tuor left to guard her - formed a rescue party. They freed captured elves and sent them down the tunnel. Apparently, Idril already knew how to use a sword.
IMHO, I think that Elven women were welcome to learn swordplay if they wanted to, but they rarely fought except in self-defense. They did seem to be capable fighters when it was nessecary. I have no idea if they ever became regular soldiers or not, and I think there's room for debate on that, but I wouldn't mind seeing female elven fighters in a fanfic as long as they're few and far between, and not Mary-Sues.
~Rian Silverleaf
P.S. I'm not sure if archery was the same way or not - I wouldn't be suprised if all elves learned archery along with their tengwar.



Re: M-E attitudes toward females

Slightly OT.
I'm trying to write something about Aredhel. would it have been likely that she would carry and know how to use a sword? (Especially after she left Gondolin and wandered alone, and into Nan Elmoth.)



Re: M-E attitudes toward females

Personally I think it would be very likely. She apparently managed to get safely through the various hazards of the Dungortheb all by herself which would be unlikely without a weapon and some skill in using it.

Besides Tolkien describes both Aredhel and her cousin Galadriel as athletic tomboy types - quite natural considering they were the only girls in large families of boys.



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