“Now Théoden son of Thengel, will you hearken to me?” said Gandalf. “Do you ask for help?” He lifted his staff and pointed to a high window. There the darkness seemed to clear, and through the opening could be seen, high and far, a patch of shining sky. “Not all is dark. Take courage, Lord of the Mark; for better help you will not find. No counsel have I to give to those who despair. Yet counsel I could give, and words I could speak to you. Will you not hear them? They are not for all ears. I bid you come out before your doors and look abroad. Too long have you sat in shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings.” – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Chapter Six: The King of the Golden Hall by J. R. R. Tolkien
Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all those who follow Thoughts on the Edge of Forever!! Here are some clips and photos to make the day a little more romantic…. 😉
First up, the theme music from one of the best romance films ever…!!!
Wedge and Iella Antilles
Jagged Fel and his wife, Jaina Solo Fel
Marriage of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade
Jessica and Luke Cage – plus their daughter, Danielle
And now, the piece de resistance….
HAPPY ST. VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!
I have been meaning to write a post about this subject for a while. For those of you who have no idea what in the world I am talking about, no worries. This blogger does not expect everyone to know everything about the things I enjoy, just as I hope no one expects me to know a thing about rocket science or the life span of a great white shark. So hold on tight as I try to explain the subject of today’s post. It might take a while.
Thundercats was a cartoon series which debuted back in the 1980s. It focused on a species of humanoid cats. The nobility among this race were called Thundercats, while the common folk were known as Thunderians.
I have always been a sucker for cats. So when the series reran at odd hours during my childhood, I would scramble to watch the episodes. To recap the general plot: Thundera, the home of Thundercats and Thunderians alike, was a planet which somehow died. Think Superman and Krypton; the core was unstable or something like that, and the planet went ka-blooey as a result.
A number of Thundercats and Thunderians escaped the planet’s destruction. One such group of Thundercats included Cheetara, a character based on the cheetah; she could run 120 mph on a morning jog – and faster in combat. There was also Tygra, based on the tiger, whose bolo whip could make him invisible to the naked eye. He and Cheetara were hinted to be a couple.
Then there was Panthro, the strongest cat of the group; he was based on the panther. There were the Thunderkittens, Wilykit and Wilykat, fraternal twins, sister and brother. They were based on wildcats, but you could not be sure which kind from the look of them.
Jaga was the wise, Obi-Wan Kenobi magician/mentor in the group. No one has any idea what kind of cat inspired his appearance. And, last but most important, there was the young heir to the royal throne of Thundera – Lion-O, the future Lord of the Thundercats. Yes, he was based on the lion.
Oh, yeah, and then there was Lion-O’s nanny, Snarf. No idea what Snarf was based on; he was the only cat who walked on all fours most of the time. The Thundercats walked like humans do, unless they had to climb or run up a steep mountain as fast as they possibly could.
Anyway, Lion-O and his escort, along with the convoy of ships following them, ended up under attack from a group called the Mutants. The Mutants were humanoid animals, mainly resembling Lizards, Jackals, Vultures, and apes (these were known as Monkians).
The entire convoy except for Lion-O’s ship was destroyed. The Mutants boarded their ship in the hope of recovering an ancient Thunderian weapon and the heirloom of Lion-O’s house: the magic Sword of Omens.
Naturally enough, the Mutants were repelled. But the ship was heavily damaged in the battle and would never make it to the Thundercats’ planned new world. The best it could do was the third planet in a small solar system in a dinky galaxy. (There was, apparently, intergalactic travel in the original Thundercats series.)
The trip was too long for the group to survive outside of suspension capsules. Because he was the oldest, Jaga did not enter a suspension capsule, which could retard but not stop the aging process. He piloted the ship to the Cats’ new home but died before the ship crash landed on Third Earth, a wild world with ancient secrets.
Lion-O was the second Thundercat to awaken from suspension, the first being Snarf. Once he was awake, Lion-O realized he had grown to a full adult during his years of suspension. The pod seemingly malfunctioned and did not slow his aging as much as it should have, since the Thunderkittens remained the same age as when they entered the pods – they were older than Lion-O. He looks to be about thirty, if not slightly younger…
But his mind is all twelve year old boy. Add a big dash of leonine pride to that, and you get the general recipe for the Thundercats series.
Third Earth at first seems hospitable enough. But on an adventure out of camp, Lion-O runs into an ancient evil that has slept on Third Earth undisturbed for centuries: Mumm-Ra, the ever-living mummy and self-proclaimed ruler of Third Earth.
Yes, this is kind of corny. But there is a bonus point about this villain which I always liked. Mumm-Ra could never stand the sight of his own reflection. If soundly beaten in a fair fight by the Thundercats, he would retreat with dire warnings about how bad their next encounter would be. If the Cats were hard-pressed, they would use any reflective surface that they could find to show him his own face. The sight of how ugly he was would drive Mumm-Ra back to his black pyramid and into his sarcophagus, so he could regenerate and keep being “ever-living” – especially after the fright of seeing the evil etched into his own skeletal face.
Three new Thundercats were later added to the roster. Lynx-O, a blind Thunderian based on the lynx, became the team’s living voice of wisdom; Ben-Gali, based on the Bengal tiger, became the team’s new weapons expert. Lastly we had Pumyra, based on the North American puma or cougar. She and Ben-Gali looked to be about as perfect a couple as Cheetara and Tygra.
To a child, the world of the Thundercats, even if it is odd, is wonderful. I never needed any explanation for anything when I watched the series re-air as a small viewer. When I was older and looked up the series, I left the incongruities of the stories alone. What mattered to me were the characters and the morals they imparted during every episode – because in the eighties, every cartoon series had a moral in each episode. Or very nearly every series had a moral in every show. Such contemporaries of the Thundercats as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or Transformers, for instance, had a moral to each story.
Characters in He-Man would lecture the audience directly at the end of every show, whilst Transformers let the moral lie in the story. Thundercats followed Transformers in that regard, being only a bit preachier in the way the characters spoke to each other. ‘Course, they were trying to teach a twelve year old future king who had grown to adulthood in his sleep how to be mature. They had a pretty good excuse.
Even after Thundercats was canceled, there was still a fan base to appease. I have no idea how many older children watched and enjoyed the series when it came out first, but there must have been enough. After a while comic books were made to show the ongoing adventures of the Thundercats.
And, as the saying goes, it all went downhill from there.
I looked up the comics when I was trying to find out more about my favorite childhood series. What I discovered in this search was utterly appalling. Thundercats had begun life as an innocent children’s show, and I was not the only one naïve enough to have expected the comics to maintain that tone. What I and other fans of the show found was that the innocence of the series had been ravaged and destroyed by the comic book writers.
After a few glances through the descriptions, I stopped reading, since I wanted to be able to sleep at night. So I only know of a few things which I can say against the comics. But it is enough. If you are a child or have a child with you, stop reading here and/or send the child away NOW.
The writers for the comics had Cheetara captured at some point in their stories and raped by Mutants. This was bad enough for me; Cheetara had been my favorite Thundercat growing up. It got worse, I quickly found: somehow, the two Thunderkittens had also been captured by Mumm-Ra in the comics. The Ever-living Mummy then decided to use them as sex slaves – both sister and brother – for his personal amusement.
Reading this the first time, I nearly threw up on the keyboard. Thanks to the reviewers on Amazon who had not been so fortunate, I knew that I never wanted to pick up a Thundercats comic book in my life. But the knowledge has never really changed my opinion of these “stories” and the writers who created them.
And the thing is, these awful incidents in the comics were not only disgusting, they were illogical. Throughout the TV series the Thundercats always made sure to keep tabs on each other. They always came to the rescue if one of them ended up in trouble. The idea that Cheetara could be captured, let alone raped, without the Thundercats making sure that the perpetrators suffered the consequences is more than slightly unbelievable.
This also makes the capture and corruption of the Thunderkittens impossible to consider. The Cats made sure to take care of the Kittens; if ever they went missing, the adults would tear off after them. That they somehow allowed the Kittens to be captured by Mumm-Ra and never tore the planet apart in at least an attempt to find them is totally out of character.
This was one of the reasons why I became worried about the new series which aired in 2011. The new Thundercats TV show drew a great deal from the comics. It added species which had never been in the original series, gladiatorial combat, and made the entire storyline far less sunny and happy-go-lucky. It also subtracted Mumm-Ra’s vulnerability to his own reflection, replacing it with the vampiric weakness to sunlight. Previously, Mumm-Ra had never had a problem moving around in the day time. He is, after all, an ancient mummy, not a vampire!
I did enjoy some of the additions to the new series, readers. But always in the back of my mind was the worry of just what the writers might pull from the comics for the series. The darker tone of the show did not ease my fears.
The last straw came at the end of the first and only season of the new series. This episode saw Pumyra turn on the Thundercats and join with Mumm-Ra, who apparently had taken her as his paramour in the bargain. The fact that the writers would turn the originally sweet, innocent Pumyra into this was absolutely infuriating. I was more than glad that the series died quietly after this episode.
Nevertheless, that does not mean that the writers are off the hook for what they did to this character – and that goes double for the comic book authors! The original Thundercats series, the writers for the new TV show reportedly said, was “too much like a Sunday morning cartoon,” to be appealing to modern day audiences.
Well, duh! That was the point!!! That was what it was!!!! No one in the 1980s had a problem with Sunday morning cartoons. They especially did not mind if they had kids!!!!!
As for no modern audience being interested in the original series or “Sunday morning cartoons,” what are I and other fans like me – cat food? We enjoyed the original series just fine the way it was!
And that is just the point. These new writers did not want to reboot the series from its original foundation. They wanted to change the premise of the story entirely. Doubtless, the comic book authors felt the same way when they began crafting the comics for the Thundercats.
This really stuck in my craw, for one reason and one reason only: the new writers felt the original show was too guileless – too innocent – to attract audiences today. And I believe they are flat-out wrong in this indictment of the earlier TV series and others like it. If you follow the in-crowd, you never try anything new. So how will you know whether audiences today do or do not like and want “Sunday morning cartoons”?
But it is what this attitude highlights that I find most upsetting. What is it with the urge in our “modern” age to destroy innocence? From abortion to kindergarten programs which teach children about sex, it is horrifying to see just how far we have fallen in so short a span of time. The world will rip apart the innocence of childhood and children as they grow up. Why do we have to help it with comics like the ones about the Thundercats? Why do we have to have television shows which do the same thing?
The answer is: we do not need these things. We really, truly, do not. The fact that too many of us want to make them in order to be “hip,” “cool,” and to impress the people in the “right circles” is not a need. It is following the crowd and supporting, ironically enough, the status quo which these mainstream moguls claim they want destroyed.
Marvel, DC, and most other “children’s entertainment” venues are doing this as we speak. Even Disney is engaged in this disgusting game. Disney has more than a few live action television shows which degrade boys and girls, making caricatures of the players in the stories and thereby the actors who portray the characters. They are supposed to be funny, but I can tell you that I have never found even one thing comedic in the advertisements for these shows, let alone the actual episodes.
I do not know about anybody else, but I am absolutely fed up with all of this. I am tired of the implication that I am backward, out of touch, and a rube because I like innocent pleasures and naïve kids’ shows. As if any of the writers who have turned the art of professions meant to entertain children into lewd pap has the moral authority to tell me or anyone else that!
This has to end. It has to stop. Too many children have already been hurt by this. They have grown into hurting adults who hurt their own children, either on purpose or in a search to find what they have been told is “ultimate freedom.” These writers and others like them have sold children into slavery to ideas and misconceptions which have landed them in prison, in poverty, in disease, or in addiction. And they have sold those children’s children into the same situations. It has to stop!
How do we stop it?
How was Sauron defeated in The Lord of the Rings? Aragorn’s army did not stop him. Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring, which betrayed itself when Gollum bit off his finger, did the trick. This demonstrates that, eventually, every tempest of horrors imaginable will end in its own defeat.
And just like Frodo, we can help it along. We can show our children what innocent shows like the original Thundercats look like. We can make sure they read good books, see good movies, and hear good music. We can keep them innocent for as long as possible by making damn sure they are exposed to as little of that other stuff as possible. The battle started when the Enemy went after our children, readers…
It is past time we fought back the same way.
The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The Silmarillion….
These are the titles most of us think of when we hear the name J. R. R. Tolkien. And rightly so. Tolkien wrote these stories and more set within Middle-earth. He also wrote Mr. Bliss and Farmer Giles of Ham. And he wrote a great many essays, as well as at least two translations of the epic of Beowulf. (They were very good translations.)
But Mr. Tolkien also wrote another story which was not published until 1998. This is the story of Roverandom.
Roverandom started life as a tale for Michael Tolkien, the second son of the Tolkien family. Michael had a little lead toy dog he never went without. When the Tolkiens were on vacation near the beach, Michael brought the toy with him. But when he and his brother went out to play in the sand, he lost the little toy. J.R.R. Tolkien, John Tolkien, and Michael Tolkien went looking for it, of course, but they could not find it.
Anyone who has had a favorite toy and misplaced it permanently knows how damaging a loss this is. Michael was apparently inconsolable. To take his mind off of the loss, J. R. R. Tolkien told the story of how Michael’s toy was actually a real dog enchanted to be a toy. The little dog, he explained, had been enchanted by a wizard he had upset and was now off on an adventure to return to normal size.
Roverandom went through several revisions over the following years. After the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien gave his publishers the manuscript for Roverandom. But they did not want this story. Because The Hobbit had been such a big hit, they wanted a sequel. The rest, as they say, is history; The Lord of the Rings was the sequel that the publishers knew they wanted, and Roverandom was left in the family archives.
That is where it remained until 1998, when the Tolkien Trust published the manuscript for the first time. Michael Tolkien apparently lost interest in the story after the first few retellings. His older brother John, however, did not lose interest. He was the driving force behind the story being written down and revised at least three times.
The story of Roverandom begins when Rover, playing with his mistress’ yellow ball, sees an old man pick it up. Now the old man is Artaxerxes, and he is a wizard. Thinking he will make the ball a more interesting trinket for the dog, he picks it up without asking if he can have it.
Rover is not happy about this at all. He barks at the wizard, telling him (without the proper polite niceties), to put down the ball. The offended Artaxerxes replies that he will not, instead putting the ball in his pocket.
This is too much for Rover, who reacts very foolishly. He bites the wizard’s trousers and tears a piece off – possibly taking some of Artaxerxes with it!
Well, now the wizard is in high dudgeon. Whirling around, he tells Rover to “go and be a toy!” And, before you can say Jack Robinson, Rover is stuck in a begging position in a box of toys. He is also far smaller than he should be, unable to move much (especially while people are watching), and his barks are too quiet for anyone but the other toys to hear.
Then Rover is taken out of the box and bought by a lady for six pence. She takes him home and gives him to Little Boy Two (Michael Tolkien), and the boy loves him to pieces. Rover, however, is more interested in being returned to his proper size and going home. He ignores Little Boy Two until he falls out of the child’s pocket while the lad is running about on the beach with his older brother.
The rest of the story you will have to read for yourselves. I have spoiled too much as things stand now, and I have no desire to be turned into a toy for telling more! 😉 If you can buy Roverandom, readers, it will be a good investment. If your local library has it, well, then you really have no excuse to avoid borrowing it to experience the adventure yourselves!
Until next time –
The Mithril Guardian
At your service!
We had met as equals, rarely a good thing in such matters, for the woman who wishes to be the equal of a man usually turns out to be less than a man and less than a woman. A woman is herself, which is something altogether different than a man. – (Emphasis added.)
This quote is from The Walking Drum, written by Louis L’Amour. While Mr. L’Amour is best known for his Western fiction, the truth is that he wrote a great many other stories as well. He served in World War II and “yondered” much of his early life. He was many things and he saw many things. The Walking Drum is a novel he wrote – and it is set in the twelfth century.
Why start a post off with this quote? Because it is a timely admonition. A woman ends up being less than herself when she is trying to be something she is not. And yet we have no end of “experts” proclaiming that women are equal to men. It makes the observant wonder just what they are selling.
The research I did for the post “Offended, Insulted, and Not Shutting Up” is what got this article rolling. And before anyone asks, no, I have not shifted my position on Marvel’s decision to make Jane Foster the latest version of “Thor.” It is a stupid decision which they will soon learn is not helping them.
My research into the opinions of others regarding “Thorette” allowed me to find comments and articles that expressed what I have thought for some years. They were not all as delicate in their statements as I would have been but, to borrow a line from Mr. Spock and the Vulcans, that is part of the wonder of living in a world of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.” With this research tumbling around in my head, I began to think not only about “Thorette” but about what the intelligentsia says we are to praise in the female characters being created these days.
This brings us back to the question I asked in the previous “Strong Women” post. Just what makes a strong woman? Looking at “Thorette,” it seems safe to say that many writers and artists think a woman is only strong when she has an above-normal muscle structure. This sort of physique also happens to look good in some form of armor-plated swimsuit or underwear, which conveniently guarantees a male audience of some size. (These are probably not the guys a girl should accept the offer of a date from, by the way.)
Being a curious observer, I have a question to ask the writers and artists at Marvel and elsewhere. Do they know how many female fans Carol Danvers has? Do they know how many women are in Thundra and “Thorette’s” fan clubs? Has anyone taken a poll of female Marvel fans to ask them what they think of these characters – not to mention what they think of all the other heroines on Marvel’s roster?
If Marvel were to poll its female fans, I believe that they may get answers like mine. For instance: I have never liked or admired Carol Danvers. And I cannot seriously contemplate Thundra, a character from an alternate dimension where women are the dominant sex, without stifling the reflexive urge to throw up. She has to be one of the few characters Marvel has created which I find utterly repulsive. I know and prefer her only as a convenient villainess.
My opinion of Jane Foster/“Thorette” is well documented. Jane Foster has been warped and nearly destroyed as Marvel’s writers, editors, managers, et al attempt to gain fashion and political points from her “new look.” But what they fail to comprehend – or perhaps to admit – is that she looks horrible!
Now, does everyone feel this way about these characters? Hardly. But in my humble view, these female characters do not appeal enough to be worth any kind of money. Judging by “Thorette’s” anemic reception and the letters Marvel received about Carol Danvers years ago, I do not think I am that alone in disliking them.
What kind of female characters, then, impress me? Allow me to pull out another quote from Mr. L’Amour to illustrate my answer:
A man you can figure on; a woman you can’t. They’re likely either to faint, or grab for a gun, regardless of consequences. – from Chancy
These are the kind of women who fascinate me, and whom I wish to emulate. Remember, fainting can easily be faked. How is a man to know a real faint from a false one without putting himself in danger? Louis L’Amour’s female characters are like this. They are iron-willed women who have bones of steel. They can handle a pistol, a rifle, or they can use some other object as a weapon.
You will not find any of L’Amour’s female characters holding up stages, taming broncos, or riding the range as cowgirls, it is true. But you will find women in his stories that are leading cattle drives, managing ranches, and defending their homes from Indians or bandits. And plenty of his women are quite happy to back up their men in a fight by holding a shotgun on the group of ruffians looking to make trouble. The women in L’Amour’s novels of seafaring and in his football stories are no different. Admittedly they do not carry guns in the vicinity of a football game, but they are just as determined and forceful as the frontier women who were their ancestors, in spirit if not in fact.
What does all of this have to do with Marvel? The comic book company already has a Rolodex of formidable heroines. To name a few, there is the Wasp, the Black Widow, Mockingbird, Wanda Maximoff, Silverclaw, Jean Grey, Rogue, Storm, the Invisible Woman…. The post “Offended, Insulted, and Not Shutting Up” has a more comprehensive list, if you would like to learn of more heroines in Marvel’s Universe(s).
The fact is these women can all hold their own in a fight. Yes, these characters have an extra asset of some kind during combat. Mockingbird and Black Widow have extensive hand-to-hand combat training, while Storm, Rogue, and Jean Grey have mutant powers. Many other female characters within the Marvel brand also have superpowers. But a pistol or a rifle is an asset, too, and no frontier woman who wanted to survive would shun either weapon because it was not natural to her. It was often the only thing standing between her and harm – or death. You respect that kind of tool; you do not toss it aside.
So do any of these Marvelous assets cheapen who these women are as characters? No, they do not. Nor do they enhance their characters; they are simply stand-ins for the rifles, pistols, or the various weapons women have used throughout the centuries. Sometimes they are even extensions of the abilities women have always had: intelligence, mental agility, and outright strength of will.
As a result one never knows just what any of these heroines are going to do in a given crisis. One can never know just how they are going to play the game, how they are going to react to the villain’s bait. They may play on his arrogance or they may pretend to be simpering, frightened damsels. Whatever they do it is bound to be interesting and exciting, for the simple reason that it has the potential to be totally unexpected.
Carol Danvers or Thundra, in comparison, can always be counted on to hammer at a problem until it goes away. Why is this so? It is so because they are women who are less than women. The writers have decided to make them something they are not. As a result, they have personalities that are as stilted as a puppet’s limbs, making them very uninteresting.
The other heroines do not have this built-in handicap. They are women who are not afraid of being women. This means that they do not think like the men around them. This gives them their edge in a battle. It is not their superpowers, skills, or weapons. It is who they are as people, as women.
When these heroines are safely captured, they are often deemed by the villains as no longer a threat because they cannot use their powers, kung fu, or technology. With Danvers or Thundra this is usually a true assessment. They are not used to thinking outside the box – or thinking much at all, from what I have seen. In a pitched battle they simply react. This makes them relatively easy for their opponents to overcome or dispatch.
Many of Marvel’s other heroines, however, never stop thinking. They are always watching, listening, assessing, and working out a plan of some sort. If the only possible plan they can make is to wait for back up, then that is what they have to do. Their male counterparts have experienced similar crises, though you will not hear these mentioned by very many critics. If they could survive the wait and not be diminished by it, then why can’t their female counterparts?
From Marvel to DC, from Star Trek to Andre Norton’s Witch World series, from Star Wars to Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequels, there is no end of proof that women can be as bold and brave as the men in their lives – and they can be as bold without compromising their womanhood.
This is what modern writers, filmmakers, and artists no longer consider. In fact they are actively running away from this truth because it has become passé to portray a woman as she actually is. Instead a fictional heroine must be displayed as something other than a woman. You go to the theaters to see the latest films and most of the women in these movies have no problem cutting off men’s heads or disemboweling them. Not only do they have no physical problem doing it, which many of them should, but they also have no moral qualms about doing it.
The Wonder Woman movie out next year promises to be a case in point. I was once a big fan of Wonder Woman. This was not because of her strength or because of her Lasso of Truth. No, I liked her because of these things and the fact that she was still a woman. Throughout her adventures with the JLA, Diana learned to respect and like her male teammates, to appreciate their abilities and welcome them as friends. Later series even had her dating Batman!
But recent rewrites by DC Comics have turned Wonder Woman into a bloodthirsty man-hater. It is true that in the coming film she is going to fall in love with Steve Trevor (portrayed by Chris Pine). While she is doing that, though, she will also be happily carving men to pieces and telling women that being secretaries is the equivalent of slavery. You would think she came from an alternate universe and not an island inhabited by Greek warrior women.
All of this detracts from the real power of women. By portraying a woman as what she is not, these writers and artists are not elevating women. They are demeaning and demoting them.
The fictional heroine who easily encapsulates what a real warrior woman can and should be is Éowyn of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings. Secretly joining the Rohirrim’s army as it marches to battle in Gondor, she is the one who defeats the Witch-king, the leader of the Nine Ringwraiths or Názgul. Merry, taken into Gondor by her when she wore the guise of a male Rider, helps her with a well-placed sword-thrust. But it is Éowyn who ultimately strikes the fatal blow and wins a great victory in the glorious Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Still, many Feminists go into apoplectic fits over Éowyn’s role in The Lord of the Rings novels despite her amazing display of courage and fighting skill. Why? They do this because Éowyn leaves war behind forever when she decides to accept Faramir’s proposal of marriage after recovering from her battle with the Witch-king. That particular passage reads thus:
Then the heart of Éowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.
‘I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun,’ she said; ‘and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.’
The thing Feminists do not understand – or the thing which they absolutely refuse to accept – is that Éowyn’s triumph in battle does not define her. She did an amazing, wonderful thing, which most other people could never accomplish. Her decision to marry Faramir does not render her defeat of the Witch-king any less; rather, her decision to marry is the reward she earned in that fight.
Éowyn’s part in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields does not define her identity, and most Feminists want that stereotype to define and limit her. This is most of Éowyn’s own problem in the trilogy until she falls in love with Faramir. Up to that point, she believes that battle will give her satisfaction. Poisoned along with Théoden by Wormtongue’s whisperings, in her confusion and slow descent into despair Éowyn decides that only death in battle will give her a chance at glory and renown.
Now, readers, the fact is that death is not a fulfillment of life. It is the end of life, and if you ally yourself with death, you are allying yourself with the Enemy.
In Minas Tirith – originally named Minas Anor or ‘Tower of the Sun’ – Éowyn finally comes to see that battle is not where she can be most useful when she is at last confronted by Faramir’s genuine love for her. Being a warrior is not her calling, although she can certainly wield a sword as well as any man. Her vocation in life is being a woman, a wife, and eventually a mother.
Through Éowyn the author of the trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien, demonstrates that a woman is not made by her fighting ability. She is distinguished by her will, her womanhood and – if she is lucky – by her motherhood. “For the hand that rocks the cradle is that hand that rules the world.” Mothers shape their children, daughters and sons both. These daughters and sons will grow up to change the world through the things they do, the things they create, and the children they bring into the universe.
Modern media has largely forsaken this understanding of womanhood at the behest of the Hegelian/Nietzschean complex, the modern incarnation of Sauron. There has been a war going on for the past century or three which most have not paid heed to. This has led to nothing but a lot of pain for women, who have been persuaded as a group to throw away the knowledge that they once possessed. Their honor is their womanhood and it is our societal honor to know them as such.
This is why I have taken issue with Jane Foster’s identity change, not to mention the identity change of several other formerly male characters. This is why I have written two posts on strong women. It is an attempt to remind women of what we truly are and what we can actually achieve. For when women stop valuing themselves as women, society stops valuing them as well, and then that society sooner rather than later treats them like chattel.
ISIS does this on a daily basis. Slave traders and sex traffickers rely on such attitudes to do “business.” The shout of “I am Woman, hear me roar!” has led to nothing but pain and sorrow for millions of women. They have chosen to debase themselves. This means they are no longer worthy of special respect and value to men. For if women do not value themselves as women, as potential wives and mothers, then why should men?
Does all this mean that a woman cannot fight? Pshaw. Éowyn fought, did she not? It is not possible that she forgot how to swing a sword after marrying Faramir. She simply did not make a living fighting – and for the record, neither did he! The heroines of Marvel Comics fight; the women in Star Trek and Star Wars fight. The will to fight is the influential factor. Just ask the mothers and wives who grabbed a gun to help defend against Indian raids or bandits back in the Old West! Or those that defend themselves and their families similarly today.
But if a woman wants to make a career as a warrior, she cannot try and be the equal of the men. This can never be, for the simple fact that no amount of human interference – psychological or scientific – can overwrite what she is. And if a woman decides she wishes to be a “shieldmaiden,” then she had better be prepared for what could happen to her on the field of battle. Torture, the loss of life and limb, rape – these are just some of the risks which I can see ahead of a female soldier. An enemy who does not value life – and there are many of those today – can be abominably creative in the management of prisoners. Just ask Dean Koontz.
Does all this mean that I believe a woman should not be prepared to fight? Civilization is a very, very fragile construction. One small thing goes out of whack and entire nations fall to their knees. Women definitely need to know how to defend themselves. They have always needed to know this.
But what women need to relearn is that it is not battle which will define them. Battle does not define a man, so how can it define a woman? A man or a woman is defined by who and what they are. A man is defined by his manhood, a woman by her womanhood. That is all there is to it.
This is not weakness. It is not slavery. Knowing who and what you are is not a defect; it is a strength. Being proud of being a man or a woman is what gives one the will to fight, to protect oneself from those who do not appreciate you for who and what you are. Muscles, weapons, skills – these are the tools. They are not the determining factors. We, men and women, are the weapons.
Until writers at Marvel, DC, Star Trek, and elsewhere figure that out, though, we will have to endure continuous watered-down portrayals of heroines in many stories. Until these “artists” ask themselves, “What really makes a strong woman?”, they will continue coming up with the wrong answers.
Readers, I will give Mr. L’Amour the last word on this subject:
She’ll stand to it. There’s a likely craft, lad, and one to sail any sea. You can see it in the clear eyes of her and the way she carries her head. Give me always a woman with pride, and pride of being a woman. She’s such a one. – from The Warrior’s Path
Amen, readers. Amen!
The Mithril Guardian
“The wise speak only of what they know, Gríma son of Gálmód. A witless worm have you become. Therefore be silent, and keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving man till the lightning falls.” – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Chapter Six: The King of the Golden Hall by J. R. R. Tolkien