Does Gender Matter?: 9. Conclusion

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9. Conclusion

    “Now, in *all* the fandoms I mentioned, I’d say the writers are about 97% female. It really doesn’t matter whether there are female characters or not […] My theory is that bookish girls grew up reading so many stories with boy protagonists that we have developed an ability to imagine and identify cross-gender. My _imagination_ doesn’t feel gendered at all, if that makes any sense; when I am reading or writing, I am not very conscious of *my* gender, or in fact of myself at all; that’s the beauty of it! […] Even women who would never dream of writing fanfiction are pretty familiar with the experience of having a crush on a fictional character - and of course with women’s attractions, physical attributes are only a small part of the story. We need to _know things_ about that person. Make them up, if necessary.” Vulgarweed

The writers in the Tolkien online fanfiction community, as in other online fanfiction communities, appear to be mostly women. This was a surprise to me initially due to the predominance of male characters in Tolkien’s works, especially in The Lord of the Rings, the time period in which much of the current fanfiction is being written. After consulting some of the canon works on the history of fanfiction as those by Jenkins and Cicioni, I discovered that this was the rule, not the exception. I sent out a survey to the current women writers of Tolkien fanfiction to see whether or not their writings were affected by the number of women characters in Tolkien’s world, and the results I received were very mixed. Overwhelmingly, they write because they are inspired by the world that Tolkien created, and neither the gender of the characters nor of the authors is of primary concern. However, many authors acknowledge the paucity of well-developed women characters in Tolkien’s writings, especially within LotR. Some have chosen to add new characters when writing their own fanfiction, others have filled in background stories to both the primary and secondary women characters. Several writers pointed out that the themes present in Tolkien’s work transcend gender, and their gender as writers should also be irrelevant, that their stories should be judged by quality of writing alone. Is gender relevant to the authors of the tens of thousands of stories present in the online Tolkien community? The answer appears to be both yes and no. Some of the women authors within this fanfiction community write with their gender in mind, and are acutely aware of relating to Tolkien’s few, yet integral, women characters. Other writers, however, distinguish their gender as irrelevant to the creative process, and pursue their stories with the characters present in Middle-earth, regardless of their gender. The one conclusion that can be drawn from this survey is that the writers in this fandom are not easily categorized, as their responses are as different from each other as are their stories in style and content, even though all are connected and inspired by Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Thevina Finduilas

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/04/04

Original Post: 03/19/03

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