||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Where all da orc women at
This exists an ongoing critique of Tolkien, that his low-grade orcs are all doodz. It's been brought up again in the runup to "Shadow of Mordor". The authors, I think, have punted.
I do not blame The Lord of the Rings for avoiding all this. I've said for some time: that story revolves about Saruman. This one is a Maia sorceror who lacks Sauron's power - even without the Ring. The white wizard's Uruk-Hai, accordingly, aren't orcs. They are genetically-created mutants. The Uruk-Hai very probably cannot breed true; and anyway Saruman wouldn't trust one to do so if it could, so if one with female characteristics did emerge from the pits of Isengard, it/she would be put down straightaway. Given that, Return of the King is just Part Three of a two-part series. It doesn't matter what Sauron throws at the good-guys; the part that mattered is done.
However: the fact of Uruk-Hai existing does not exclude the continuing existence of the common orc, whose DNA formed the mutants' base stock. How do orcs breed? Since "Shadow of Mordor" really is about this breed of orcs, the question actually matters here.
Here, we get into Saruman's forebears: Sauron (with Ring), and Morgoth. Morgoth had first created orcs from a tribe of Elves waylaid from their odyssey West: the so-called "dark elves" (whom we never meet, and are presumed extinct). Morgoth was powerful enough that he had no concern about limiting and controlling the orkish ranks; Morgoth wasn't the servant of evil, he was Evil. Sauron his successor worked with the tools he'd inherited. During the career of the latter, the cycle alludes to an offstage event where orcs capture Elrond's wife Celebrian and "torment" her, so she leaves Middle Earth and her husband. A torment which estranges woman and man means -
So, now we know that "male" has a meaning with the orc species. Also we can suspect that these orcs breed true with elves. Lastly, we know that even if the latter happens, it doesn't happen with elves' consent and it is in any case far too rare to account for the swarms we read about.
All this tl;dr means that orc women exist. What can we say about them?
An orc woman would have to be such as to spawn large amounts of orc men. She would also be such a one as to help raise orc boys to be like orc men. In deriving the character of orkish manhood, Tolkien drew upon his experiences in combat during the first World War; the "Shadow of Mordor" guys have further delved into Western prison societies.
It's an open question how Tolkien would see his orkish females; Spartan women is a thought... but. The common orc didn't have anything like that degree of discipline. One might make that case for Uruk-Hai were they not mutants.
For "Shadow of Mordor" orc women, one should look into the underclass which creates men who enter those prisons. We would be dealing with Alpha Game society writ large: women who mate with the strongest. There would be no such thing as an orkish marriage; just an informal notion that this guy's harem wasn't to be tampered with.
As for sexual dimorphism: One constraint on dimorphism would be that some women could also fight, mainly to protect her own children against half-brothers and step-fathers. Another one would be that orkish violence and crime would keep female-to-male ratios high. So I expect dimorphism to be higher than it is among Men, but not by much. It would however be notably higher than that among Elves.
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