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The Week in Woke: “Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien” Edition

Sometimes it’s hard to stay woke

When they’re not trying to catch Critical Race Theory and tackle it to the ground, reactionaries today like nothing more than attacking things as “woke.” What’s woke? The list changes every day, and so I’ve decided I need to track the new additions as they emerge in right-wing media and social media. I’ll be putting out these Week in Woke updates every, well, week, for at least as long as the right-wingers remain obsessed with the word.

So lets see what things are woke this week:

Children’s Television

The suppsedly evil forces ofLGBTQ are making steady inroads into television programming for young children, antiwoke agents insist. According to Andrea Widburg at The American Thinker,

Of late … Nickelodeon has been bringing [its] edginess to the preschool set, culminating, this year, in the station’s going all out to ensure that the pre-kindergarten crowd learned about pansexuals and the magical LGBT rainbow.  It must have come as a surprise to the woke college graduates staffing Nickelodeon that parents dislike the new pedophile-esque edge to the programming, because the cable channel, a Viacom flagship, has seen a 70% drop in its audience in just four years. …

Nickelodeon used Blue’s Clues & You, a program aimed at preschoolers, as the basis for a video in which … a singularly untalented man who prances about in a crude, mocking stereotype of femininity named “Nina West, sings a graceless song about a cutesy gay pride parade.  Those little ones who watched the video got to learn about lesbians, gay men, asexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals, and transsexuals.

Hey, we wrote about that here. I guess we’re on top of the whole woke thing.

Meanwhile, Christian Toto of American Greatness complains that the “wokification” of TV for slightly older children is also getting LGBTQ-ized out the wazoo.

today’s kid-friendly shows routinely address sex, gender fluidity, race, and other complex topics that some parents think their youngsters aren’t ready to absorb. They are part of a broader cultural shift, often called the Great Awokening, that includes the advancement of social justice themes in many television shows and other media aimed at older teens and adults. ….

These shows include:

Netflix’s animated series “She-Ra and the Power of Princess” featuring gay, transgender, and nonbinary characters. …

DreamWorks Animation’s “Madagascar: A Little Wild,” a series on both Peacock and Hulu, featuring an LGBTQ pride-themed episode along with a new, nonbinary character, Odee Elliot, voiced by nonbinary actor Ezra Menas. …

Netflix is preparing an animated version of “Antiracist Baby,” a book by Ibram X. Kendi based on his adult work, which teaches toddlers to confess their racism. Nickelodeon recently announced that its reboot of “Rugrats,” a popular 1990s series, will feature a single lesbian mom.

It’s almost as if LGBTQ people are … people, deserving space in the vast arena of television.

Victoria’s Secret:

The iconic female lingerie company has gone “woke,” accuses Occidental Dissent, and is taking aim at “sizeism, lookism, racism, sexism and transphobia” by replacing its famous “Angels” with a radically more diverse selection of models who aren’t necessarily even models, including athletes Megan Rapinoe and Eileen Gu, actor and tech investor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, plus size model Paloma Essler, Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio, and South Sudanese refugee/model Adut Akech. Some of these so-called models are even (brace yourself) in their thirties. Sounds utterly boner-crushing.

“The brand is pivoting to fat, ugly and “trans” models because it was using too many attractive models to sell lingerie,” Occidental Dissent’s Hunter Wallace complains, joking that “Victoria’s Secret in our new progressive era is that she has a dick.”

Wokeness Warriors Take Over the Pentagon

According to lawyer and former Marine officer Mike Berry, writing in the Washington Examiner, the aforementioned Wokeness Warriors are deliberately distracting the US military from its mission to protect the country, attempting to turn it into “a testing ground for social policy experimentation.”

Berry continues:

Instead of monitoring external threats, the Pentagon is on a mission to identify and remove whomever it labels as extremists from America’s armed forces. Ironically, the CEWG has yet to define what it means by “extremism.” Extremism is usually defined as the threat or use of violence to achieve an ideological agenda. But the Pentagon is now poised to expand upon that definition to include constitutionally protected speech. In other words, sticks and stones may break our bones, but words are the biggest threat.

This should be alarming to everyone, no matter their political persuasion. If the Constitution no longer presents an impediment to appeasing the woke commissars on the far Left, it won’t be long before speech that has always been protected by the First Amendment suddenly becomes criminal.

Pretty sure they’re looking for white supremacists trying to use the armed forces as a fertile ground for recruitment; these guys are generally fairly easy to identify.

Meanwhile, American Renaissance warns that the increasingly “woke” Pentagon is handing out “reading lists of critical race theory books as part of the Pentagon’s new anti-extremism and diversity training within the ranks.

No, not THE READING LISTS. We’d better ban these books before they ban us!

The Tolkien Society Goes Woke

Speaking of reading: the very serious and reverent Tolkien Society is losing the plot, John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist laments. Its upcoming summer seminar is set to feature a whole bunch of papers that, Davidson insists, would be an “affront” to the old man himself, were he here to hear them.

[T[his year, seminar attendees will be subjected to something different. Papers to be presented include, “Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings,” “The Lossoth: Indigeneity, Identity, and Antiracism,” and “‘Something Mighty Queer’: Destabilizing Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien.” Pretty much the entire program is like this.

The best thing we can say about a Tolkien conference that presents papers on, say, “Pardoning Saruman?: The Queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings,” or “The Invisible Other: Tolkien’s Dwarf-Women and the ‘Feminine Lack,’” is that the scholars in question do not know the first thing about Tolkien or the meaning of his work.

The worst we can say is that they hate Tolkien and his work, and would like very much to destroy it.

Indeed, how else can we account for such a conference? “The Lord of the Rings,” like “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion” and Tolkien’s entire corpus of writings on Middle Earth, has almost nothing to say about the concerns expressed in these papers or the worldview from which they spring. There are no “transgender realities” in the Lord of the Rings.

Ah, go orc yourself.

More The Week in Woke in a week. Stay tuned.

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Ohlmann
Ohlmann
1 month ago

OT but was particulary funny :comment image

The corporation I work at apparently is trying to use a bullshit excuse to not pay severance due to one of the other worker. I think I will quit over that, to signify to my corporate overlord that trying to cheat out of your obligation isn’t a good way to keep people working for you. Not sure if it’s posturing or the good thing to do.

Hammerofglass
Hammerofglass
1 month ago

Going after Tolkein opinions specifically is so weird, because he embraced Death of the Author more thoroughly than any author I’ve ever heard of. To the point that when people asked him questions about things like what happened to the Entwives he made a point of presenting his answer as a speculative fan opinion that might be wrong.

.45
.45
1 month ago

Some Random Thoughts:

I for one welcome the idea of more diverse Victoria’s Secret models. As a straight cis dude I’ve never really been much impressed with the ones they have been using. Just very skinny women with out of proportion big boobies walking around in outlandish bikinis, not particularly flirty or sexual really. They’ve managed to take the sexuality out of it for me somehow.

This discussion also reminds me of the casting for the eventual Wheel of Time series. I looked at it some time ago and noticed they went for a rather diverse cast. I suspect most of the book characters tended to be some flavor of white or off white, but only one of the castings I’ve seen bothers me: Padan Fain. The dude is basically the one character outright described as a scuzzy lookin’ white guy, and they chose a fairly attractive black dude as I recall. For shame. ;D

banned@4chan.org
banned@4chan.org
1 month ago

But they had planned one of the princesses as trans (Perfuma, in case people were wondering)

Wait, are you sure this was an actual quote from one of the show creators? Because I remember a lot of people on a certain website complaining that Perfuma “looks like a t****y.”

Dalillama
1 month ago

@Banned
The official She-Ra wiki cites character designer Rae Geiger as the source.

Dormousing_it
Dormousing_it
1 month ago

I read somewhere that young women in the US today just aren’t interested in the pushup, padded bras that Victoria’s Secret is known for. Young women today apparently wear bralettes (unstructured bras) much more often than they wear underwire bras. Good for them.

When I was 13 years old, I made it halfway through the 2nd book in the LOTR trilogy. I gave up reading it, then and there. Any work of fiction that includes an index to keep track of all of the characters, just wasn’t worth my time. I can’t help but think that the trilogy was an elaborate joke of Tolkien’s.

I did notice that all the characters seemed to be male, but as this was 40 years ago, I really didn’t give it any thought. It most definitely wasn’t the first book I’d read with all or mostly male characters.

Anon Get-it-on
Anon Get-it-on
1 month ago

https://eradica.wordpress.com

Looks like this horrid MRA/Nazi site is finally gone!

For anyone who reported it to the wordpress team, a big hug!

epitome of incomrepehensibility

@Dormousing_it – Mostly male, yes, though not all. Eowyn has a pretty kickass part – she was my favourite for a long time!

Makes me think about what it means to “relate” to a character in fiction. I was 13-15 when I read the books and when the movies came out, so a bit more of a risk-taker than I am now*, but I’ve never slain an evil witch-king :). It did feel cool to read about a woman doing adventurous things, though.

*To my own detriment, as I sprained my shoulder jumping into a hammock from a tree branch several feet above. In retrospect, this was not smart 😛

The Hobbit, though – hardly any female characters at all.

@Alan – Oh yes, I remember that!! My brother told me it was the non-snarky response that got sent to the publisher. I haven’t checked, though.

It must have been weird for Tolkien as a linguist seeing the Nazis’ version of “Aryan.” To him it wouldn’t have meant any ethnic group, but rather the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. (Whose average speaker wouldn’t look very western European…though oddly enough I know a Persian guy named Arian with bluish-green eyes. Dark hair, though.)

epitome of incomrepehensibility

Why do I keep writing “though”? I need to sleep and not ramble on about Tolkien and/or linguistics.

Oh yeah, but about sexy underwear models! 😀 I remember being 14 and walking past a lingerie store with my mom. It happened to be just after I told my parents about being attracted to girls as well as boys (all angsty because I thought it was something “wrong” with me). I was telling myself “do not stare at pictures of boobs, do not stare at pictures of boobs” as if my life depended on it.

Funny in retrospect, but at the time very stressful!

As an adult, though, I don’t really pay attention to pictures of underwear models – I’m usually just focused on wondering if something fits and if I can afford it.

clingfoil
clingfoil
1 month ago

I have read possibly all of WHTM, mostly including the comments. Started lurking some time GG was going on, read through the archives during a year of illness. Occasionally I’ve been itching to post, but finally delurked to say this:

Perfuma is clearly a post-transition Dean Venture.

(obviously wouldn’t deadname if they were real ;p ) …edited for unicode emoji turning into a big SVG. I should’ve edited a pic of them side-by-side and tried to post, really.

Last edited 1 month ago by clingfoil
Ohlmann
Ohlmann
1 month ago

@epitome : IIRC there’s various subpopulations in Asia who date back from Alexandre the Great and look more western than average, including blue eye quite often. It’s the reverse of how there’s blacks people in England since at least the Roman Empire.

As to women, I would tend to classify LotR as a book that depict a sexist society in a not-too-sexist way. Men run almost everything, and nobody openly question this fact, but the few women are just as skilled as the men, and good old Galadriel is a strong reminder that female leaders are not to be trifled with.

galanx
galanx
1 month ago

epitome, I love what Eowyn says to Aragorn (alas, cut from the movie) when he tells her to be a good girl and stay behind:

“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.

OTOH, when I first read it at age 13, when the big wedding between Arwen and Aragorn came at the end, I thought “Who the hell is she?” and had to flip back to the beginning to find the couple of scenes where she is mentioned.

Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

@Ohlmann:

IIRC there’s various subpopulations in Asia who date back from Alexandre the Great and look more western than average, including blue eye quite often. It’s the reverse of how there’s blacks people in England since at least the Roman Empire.

In short: both wanderlust and plain old lust are widespread and ancient human behavior patterns; deal. (And it’s a bit late to start gatekeeping Pure Nordic Genes, given that the Vikings were happily squirting them all over the place—often even with the recipients’ permission.)

Allandrel
Allandrel
1 month ago

@Full Metal Ox

I remember reading a document where someone (a priest, maybe?) in an English port was complaining that the town’s women kept running off with the Norse traders.

Was it kidnapping? Their manly muscles?

Nope, it was their hygiene and grooming. They bathed regularly and were fastidious about their hair and beards, and the ladies found this irresistible.

(Red Pillers would be truly horrified to learn just how much time and effort Norsemen of the Viking era put into their appearances. We’re talking “carried around a kit with hand mirror and tiny scissors to make sure their facial hair was always perfectly trimmed” regimens that Red Pillers insist were somehow invented by feminism.)

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ allandrel

comment image:large

The Celts and Spartans were the same. There’s plenty of contemporary accounts of opposing armies having to wait around because they wouldn’t start the battle until they’d finished doing their hair.

Dalillama
1 month ago

@Alan
Indeed, chieftains and wealthy warriors often employed personal hairdressers who would come with them to the battle lines to ensure their look was just so.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
1 month ago

I can very much believe that warriors/wealthy men in various cultures invested seriously in their looks. However, the story about Danes being generally too sexy for their own good smells like a piece of medieval incel folklore, with an ethnic-tribalistic bent. It’s like, before “Tyrone” there was “Tyrbjörn”.

Kevin
Kevin
1 month ago

The LOTR appendices do contain notes on the Dwarves, which seem to bear (perhaps) indirectly into gender identity. Firstly, outsiders find it difficult to distinguish the sex of any particular Dwarf, partly as the men and the women dress the same way, and both sexes have beards. The relevant appendix also states that two thirds of the Dwarvish population are men. Given that the Dwarves are obsessed with their crafts and so jealous of their privacy that they do not even inscribe their Dwarvish names on their tombs, it is feasible that a significant proportion of Dwarvish women (as the cultures around them would express this) would be living as men. STP was probably well aware of this, and gradually came to use the concept to explore attitudes to gender identity.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
1 month ago

[Sir Terry Pratchett] was probably well aware of [androgyny in Tolkien’s Dwarves], and gradually came to use the concept to explore attitudes to gender identity.

Supposedly, Discworld Dwarves are extremely ambiguous and socially private about their physical sex, to the point that reproductive compatibility in marriages is left to random chance. The Dwarf culture somehow deliberately upholds this system in order to limit birth rate.

Also, supposedly all Discworld Dwarves are conventionally male-gendered (or something to that effect), but in progressive urban communities some of them start living as (openly) female. I took this to mean that traditional Dwarf society is actually genderless, but in the eyes of humans, Dwarves appear masculine and are therefore conventionally rendered as male – or at least the equivalent of “he” in human languages such as Morporkian. While integrating with humans, Dwarves increasingly adopt the human concept of male/female identity, and some eventually feel that female gender suits them better. Then they start modeling their presentation based on (some) markers of conventional femininity in the local human culture. (And, it occurs to me, no one knows or cares whether the female Dwarves also happen to be biologically female.)

As a linguist, Tolkien was undoubtedly aware that you can have languages without grammatical gendering – and indeed such language would be an obvious choice for a genderless fantasy species. I don’t know if he actually meant any species to be truly genderless or sexless. Even if he did, he might not have thought much about rendering a genderless being as a “he” in English. Also, I don’t know if Pratchett ever paid thought on gendering (or lack thereof) in the traditional Dwarf language.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
1 month ago

Regarding dwarf gender… In the world of Glorantha from the old RPG RuneQuest, I believe dwarves were actually more living stone than biological. If they wanted a new dwarf they carved one. So the concept of gender really didn’t exist for them at all.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jenora Feuer
Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
1 month ago

@Lumipuna:
I’d also note that according to the quote, a thirteenth-century chronicler was making the claim to explain/justify a slaughter that took place a couple of centuries earlier, so it’s not exactly a primary source on eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon attitudes towards Danes.