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Tolkien and women

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  • wendell_wagner
    On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims: ****************************************************************************
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 6, 2013
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      On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims:
       
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      Back in my undergrad days (Those particular days being the semester leading up to the first LotR moving coming out, so... fall 2002?), I took a course about Tolkien (a 300 level Honors elective). One of the books we read was a compilation of Tolkien's letters. One of the things I, as a budding young feminist, had a hard time getting over was just how WEIRD Tolkien was about gender relations. He refused to visit C.S. Lewis' house if Lewis' wife was home (because being in such a private setting with another woman might incite lustful thoughts). He was positively baffled at any woman who wanted to continue her education, and vehemently opposed to women at Oxford... not so much because he didn't think they were capable, but being around women might create lustful thoughts in the men and because... well, why are they even there? Why could they possibly want anything other than a home and a million babies? Isn't going to school just a waste of time for everyone involved, since once she meets the right man, she'll just want to go make babies?
       
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      Here's the URL for that thread:
       
       
      This sounds hopelessly wrong to me as a summary of Tolkien's opinions.  Would anyone like to give some specific citations to show that it's wrong?
       
      Wendell Wagner
       
       
    • Jeanette Rost
      The Fellowship of the Ring came out on December 19, 2001. (My computer s wallpaper is the Council of Elrond, with the date in the bottom right corner!)
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 6, 2013
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        The Fellowship of the Ring came out on December 19, 2001.  (My computer's wallpaper is the Council of Elrond, with the date in the bottom right corner!)

        Jeanette


        On 6/6/2013 7:58 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:
         

        On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims:
         
        *****************************************************************************************************************************
         
        Back in my undergrad days (Those particular days being the semester leading up to the first LotR moving coming out, so... fall 2002?), I took a course about Tolkien (a 300 level Honors elective). One of the books we read was a compilation of Tolkien's letters. One of the things I, as a budding young feminist, had a hard time getting over was just how WEIRD Tolkien was about gender relations. He refused to visit C.S. Lewis' house if Lewis' wife was home (because being in such a private setting with another woman might incite lustful thoughts). He was positively baffled at any woman who wanted to continue her education, and vehemently opposed to women at Oxford... not so much because he didn't think they were capable, but being around women might create lustful thoughts in the men and because... well, why are they even there? Why could they possibly want anything other than a home and a million babies? Isn't going to school just a waste of time for everyone involved, since once she meets the right man, she'll just want to go make babies?
         
        *****************************************************************************************************************************
        Here's the URL for that thread:
         
         
        This sounds hopelessly wrong to me as a summary of Tolkien's opinions.  Would anyone like to give some specific citations to show that it's wrong?
         
        Wendell Wagner
         
         

      • John Rateliff
        HOPELESSLY, HOPELESSLY WRONG. 1. Tolkien was well known for his support of women at Oxford, and in higher education in general. See the comments to this effect
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 6, 2013
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          HOPELESSLY, HOPELESSLY WRONG.

          1. Tolkien was well known for his support of women at Oxford, and in higher education in general. See the comments to this effect by Priscilla Tolkien, quoted in Christina & Wayne's READER'S GUIDE, p. 1111.  

          2. Lewis discouraged friends from visiting the Kilns because of his unorthodox family arrangements, though he made exceptions. By the time Lewis married, he and Tolkien were no longer close and didn't see much of each other. 

          3. The 'lustful thoughts' and "mak[ing] babies" passages are sheer phantasia, unsupported by anything Tolkien ever wrote or said. Whoever posted this, they're projecting their own issues upon JRRT.  He or she may be confusing a letter by C. S. Lewis to E. R. Eddison for something Tolkien wrote, but even that's a stretch. 

          Conclusion: not worth taking seriously.

          --JDR



          On Jun 6, 2013, at 5:58 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:

          On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims:
           
          *****************************************************************************************************************************
           
          Back in my undergrad days (Those particular days being the semester leading up to the first LotR moving coming out, so... fall 2002?), I took a course about Tolkien (a 300 level Honors elective). One of the books we read was a compilation of Tolkien's letters. One of the things I, as a budding young feminist, had a hard time getting over was just how WEIRD Tolkien was about gender relations. He refused to visit C.S. Lewis' house if Lewis' wife was home (because being in such a private setting with another woman might incite lustful thoughts). He was positively baffled at any woman who wanted to continue her education, and vehemently opposed to women at Oxford... not so much because he didn't think they were capable, but being around women might create lustful thoughts in the men and because... well, why are they even there? Why could they possibly want anything other than a home and a million babies? Isn't going to school just a waste of time for everyone involved, since once she meets the right man, she'll just want to go make babies?
           
          *****************************************************************************************************************************
          Here's the URL for that thread:
           
           
          This sounds hopelessly wrong to me as a summary of Tolkien's opinions.  Would anyone like to give some specific citations to show that it's wrong?
           
          Wendell Wagner
        • David Bratman
          This is not 100% wrong, just about 90%. Tolkien did say some things about women we find weird today. He did say that women, on the whole, can only learn
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 6, 2013
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            This is not 100% wrong, just about 90%.  Tolkien did say some things about women we find weird today.  He did say that women, on the whole, can only learn intellectually when they have a crush on their teachers (Letters p. 49-50), a puzzling, even more than it's offensive, remark from a man who actively supported and participated in women's education, and some of whose female students, like Simonne d'Ardenne, went on to great things without him, which is exactly what he here says that women don't do.  He believed in the tired old generalization that women are naturally monogamous and men aren't (p. 51), and, considering that, it's odd and inconsistent that he also believed it was improper for women to conduct even civil weddings (p. 62).

            But he did not say that women _shouldn't_ be educated, or that he was baffled that they would want to, still less that it was because they'll only want to make babies.  That's somebody else's stereotype, not Tolkien's.

            And there is nothing, either in Tolkien's Letters or anywhere else reliable, saying he refused to visit Lewis's home, still less that he took a Taliban-like view that women's mere presence incites lust in men.  It was the society of the time that ordered that unmarried men and women not be allowed to be alone together.  In fact, as a young instructor, Tolkien was in demand at the women's colleges because, as a married man where most of his colleagues were not, the women students could be sent to his home (the usual place of teaching for instructors who weren't college fellows) without a chaperone!  (see Carpenter's biography, p. 102)



            -----Original Message-----
            From: WendellWag@...
            Sent: Jun 6, 2013 5:58 AM
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [mythsoc] Tolkien and women



            On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims:
             
            *****************************************************************************************************************************
             
            Back in my undergrad days (Those particular days being the semester leading up to the first LotR moving coming out, so... fall 2002?), I took a course about Tolkien (a 300 level Honors elective). One of the books we read was a compilation of Tolkien's letters. One of the things I, as a budding young feminist, had a hard time getting over was just how WEIRD Tolkien was about gender relations. He refused to visit C.S. Lewis' house if Lewis' wife was home (because being in such a private setting with another woman might incite lustful thoughts). He was positively baffled at any woman who wanted to continue her education, and vehemently opposed to women at Oxford... not so much because he didn't think they were capable, but being around women might create lustful thoughts in the men and because... well, why are they even there? Why could they possibly want anything other than a home and a million babies? Isn't going to school just a waste of time for everyone involved, since once she meets the right man, she'll just want to go make babies?
             
            *****************************************************************************************************************************
            Here's the URL for that thread:
             
             
            This sounds hopelessly wrong to me as a summary of Tolkien's opinions.  Would anyone like to give some specific citations to show that it's wrong?
             
            Wendell Wagner
             
             


          • wendell_wagner
            Jeanette, John, David, Several people on the message board have asked me to convey their thanks to you for your answers. Wendell Wagner In a message dated
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 8, 2013
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              Jeanette, John, David,
               
              Several people on the message board have asked me to convey their thanks to you for your answers.
               
              Wendell Wagner
               
              In a message dated 6/6/2013 8:58:14 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, WendellWag@... writes:
               

              On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims:
               
              *****************************************************************************************************************************
               
              Back in my undergrad days (Those particular days being the semester leading up to the first LotR moving coming out, so... fall 2002?), I took a course about Tolkien (a 300 level Honors elective). One of the books we read was a compilation of Tolkien's letters. One of the things I, as a budding young feminist, had a hard time getting over was just how WEIRD Tolkien was about gender relations. He refused to visit C.S. Lewis' house if Lewis' wife was home (because being in such a private setting with another woman might incite lustful thoughts). He was positively baffled at any woman who wanted to continue her education, and vehemently opposed to women at Oxford... not so much because he didn't think they were capable, but being around women might create lustful thoughts in the men and because... well, why are they even there? Why could they possibly want anything other than a home and a million babies? Isn't going to school just a waste of time for everyone involved, since once she meets the right man, she'll just want to go make babies?
               
              *****************************************************************************************************************************
              Here's the URL for that thread:
               
               
              This sounds hopelessly wrong to me as a summary of Tolkien's opinions.  Would anyone like to give some specific citations to show that it's wrong?
               
              Wendell Wagner
               
               

            • David Bratman
              You re welcome. I ve been to the message board and seen the original poster s acknowledgment that she probably misremembered. My guess is that what happened
              Message 6 of 6 , Jun 10, 2013
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                You're welcome. I've been to the message board and seen the original
                poster's acknowledgment that she probably misremembered. My guess is that
                what happened is that she took what Tolkien actually said about women's
                education in his letter to Michael, and unconsciously combined it in her
                mind with other stereotypical male chauvinist views of a quite different
                nature, and assumed that Tolkien accepted the whole package. Having read
                Letters only, which doesn't emphasize the other aspects of Tolkien's work
                with women's education, could reinforce this misapprehension.

                And who knows what such an otherwise-uninformed reader would make of the
                comment on Lewis's "very strange marriage" ...

                DB



                ----- Original Message -----
                From: <WendellWag@...>
                To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Saturday, June 08, 2013 11:38 AM
                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien and women


                Jeanette, John, David,

                Several people on the message board have asked me to convey their thanks to
                you for your answers.

                Wendell Wagner


                In a message dated 6/6/2013 8:58:14 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                WendellWag@... writes:




                On a message board I post to, someone has made the following claims:

                ****************************************************************************
                *************************************************

                Back in my undergrad days (Those particular days being the semester
                leading up to the first LotR moving coming out, so... fall 2002?), I took a
                course about Tolkien (a 300 level Honors elective). One of the books we read
                was
                a compilation of Tolkien's letters. One of the things I, as a budding
                young feminist, had a hard time getting over was just how WEIRD Tolkien was
                about gender relations. He refused to visit C.S. Lewis' house if Lewis' wife
                was home (because being in such a private setting with another woman might
                incite lustful thoughts). He was positively baffled at any woman who wanted
                to continue her education, and vehemently opposed to women at Oxford... not
                so much because he didn't think they were capable, but being around women
                might create lustful thoughts in the men and because... well, why are they
                even there? Why could they possibly want anything other than a home and a
                million babies? Isn't going to school just a waste of time for everyone
                involved, since once she meets the right man, she'll just want to go make
                babies?

                ****************************************************************************
                *************************************************

                Here's the URL for that thread:

                http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=693003

                This sounds hopelessly wrong to me as a summary of Tolkien's opinions.
                Would anyone like to give some specific citations to show that it's wrong?

                Wendell Wagner
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