fidesquaerens (marta_bee) wrote,
fidesquaerens
marta_bee

Boromir Essay Post #2: Let's Talk About Sex

Thursday is apparently the new Friday. I'm in the middle of summer school, which means three hours on my feet and, often as not, another 2-3 in my office working with students, on three consecutive days, and then another 4-5 after that getting the next day's lectures in order. The weekends also involve doing the readings (so I only have to outline the  lectures not read new material) and of course the never-ending cycle of paper grading, but at least there's less structure so I can relax more.

I wasn't kidding when I said a while back that time was tight for me right now. But I have survived through week three of lectures, and while that means the oh-so-readable Herr Kant is next up on the menu, it means I also feel like I can breathe again. And think about fandom a bit.

Anyway, as I explained in my last post, I'm working on an essay about Boromir and the complete lack of canon on his love life. My ultimate goal is to show how the different ways people approach canon will approach how they write canon.I'm still interested in reading what people think of when it comes to Boromir, so feel free to comment there if you haven't already. But since I have to time to think about something other than teaching just now, I thought I'd move on.

I know in my corner of fandom (mostly writing about Gondorians and the Northern Dunedain) people tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to sexuality. I don't mean there are no stories that push the envelope, but when it comes to what JRRT himself meant, most people think he imagined Gondorians + the Northern Dunedain were fairly straight-laced. Characters are thought of as not only heterosexual but either happily married (and faithful) or else as celibate. Moreover, the fairy-tale wedding and the happily-ever-after that follows are the natural goal of all good folk, and if a character either doesn't have that or had it and lost it, that's an incomplete kind of life.

Fanfic is another thing entirely, of course. There the relationships get messier and more interesting, with prostitution and chambermaids and adultery and illegitimate children and even *gasp* homosexuality. But I think that for a lot of people, there's this idea that these stories are somehow subversive. (Gloriously so, sometimes, as in the case of so much B/T fic.) 

There are really two issues here: on the one hand what does Tolkien say (or what would he want), and on the other hand what you feel comfortable writing in your own fic. I'll come back to that second question in a later post. But for now, I'm interested: how do you think Tolkien viewed sex? Or gender roles, for that matter - do you think he was a kind of complementarian, or something else? Would he be comfortable with things like homosexuality and children born out of wedlock in his Middle-earth? And why do you think that? Are there specific passages (or comments in the Letters) that lead you to that conclusion, or is it more the absence of quotes (the fact that every time you read about romance it seems to be a male and a female who are either moving toward marriage or wish they could)? Or is it more about Tolkien's biography? Is there something about his place in history that makes you think he'd view his characters a specific way?

And with Boromir in particular: what's your view? Was he the original forty-year-old virgin? Have a wife Tolkien never mentioned (why)? Or something else?

Btw, I view sexuality as a much broader topic than actual sex. I understand some people don't want to write Tolkien's characters as sexual beings, or simply aren't interested in that issue. But the larger question of sexuality - gender roles, the role of marriage in society, adultery and divorce and so on - can play into a thoroughly PG-rated story. So give me your theories here.

As with last time, I may not have time to comment, but I definitely have time to read. I really enjoyed everyone's theories about Boromir's character, and hope other people enjoyed the conversation, too.

And remember: I may include ideas you mention in my essay (with credit, of course). If you don't want me to include your idea, I'd still love to hear it; just make it clear in your comment that you don't want me to mention your idea.  
Tags: fandom - tolkien, gfic essay, sexuality
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