An Honorable Charge

 

In one of my favorite films, “The Two Towers”, we’re introduced to a brave maiden warrior from the kingdom of Rohan, Eowyn. Her striking beauty and fierce determination is compared to the cold of “a morning in pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood”. Eowyn wants much more than her provincial life and is convinced that saddling a horse and drawing a sword will provide that.

Sadly, she lives in a time and age where the men were sent to fight (and die) and women were left to mind the house – cue sad faces.

Her angst peaks when her countrymen (and boys and elderly) are preparing for a very uneven battle against 10,000 chemically engineered Urk-hai, whose sole purpose is “to destroy the world of men.” (Uuuum, could they be any more misogynistic?)

She rushes to the future king and first love of my life – Lord Aragorn.

“Aragorn! I’m to be sent with the women into the caves!”

He tenderly responds,

“That is an honorable charge.”

Mmmm…not so much.

“To mind the children?!” she claps back, “to find food and bedding when the men return. What renown is there in that?”

After a bit more dialogue the scene ends with her storming off in an adolescent-fashioned fit, partially because of her feelings for Sir Sexy Hair.

Don’t get me wrong, her character was fantastic to the story. Her arc of sneaking into battle with her compatriots and new little best friend climaxed with an exhilarating fight against the most impossible of foes, a Witch-King of Angmarnazgul. When Eowyn injures him, the Witch-King arrogantly declares, “No man can defeat me.”

She throws her helmet to the ground and delivers the fantastic rebuttal, “I am no man!”

WOOOOOO!!! Love it!

This is immediately followed by the sob filled goodbye scene with her uncle; one my family has vowed to recreate for my father on his deathbed, we even have the fake horse. (You think I’m kidding.)

Now, 19-year-old AJ loved this character; I related to her grit, passion, and aversion to all things girly. But 30-year-old AJ found her to be…irritating. Why, you ask. What is wrong with her following the desires of her heart? Why can’t she serve and fight alongside men doing what she is good at?

The issue I have is twofold:

1) There is honor in those things, the very things she had such disdain for. King Dimple Chin was spot on when he said, “That is an honorable charge”. Keep in mind following this scene she was tasked to lead the weakest and most vulnerable into the caves, as an enormous, bloodthirsty army was marching their way to destroy them. That cave needed strong leaders; strong women to organize, comfort, calm and direct during horrific times. This is an honorable charge.

And staying “with the women” is important; women need each other. Science is discovering that women reap the health benefits from friendships with other women; lower blood pressure, lower rates of heart disease and longer life expectancies than men, to name a few.

Women are much more social in the way they cope with stress”, says social neuroscientist and author, Shelley E. Taylor. Taylor conducted a study at UCLA and found that women have a more tend and befriend psychological response than the well-known fight or flight. We naturally look “to protect the self and offspring [to] promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process.”

Simply put; women are wired to care for and support one another, it’s what we do and we’re great at it.

If staying with the women is important, then “mind[ing] the children” is vital. New research from Washington University School of Medicine found that when preschool-age children have loving and supportive mothers, they experience greater growth in the hippocampus (the part of the brain central to learning, memory and emotional regulation) than those without.

Eowyn seems to think her talents, strength, and courage are wasted if she is not allowed to fight. I disagree. I see these as traits in the most formidable protector of children and the home; the place where the most important work takes place. Imagine the amazing mother Eowyn would make!? Now just imagine if every child was raised by a mother like this, what a world we would have!

“To find food and bedding when the men return.” Now surely that is the kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck life that typifies patriarchal servitude…or is it?

Modern society tends to view stay-at-home moms as poor unfortunate souls whose life lacks fulfillment and happiness, but studies are finding otherwise. Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that between 1970 and 2005 (when the number of working moms nearly doubled) female happiness had declined. They “discovered that American women rated their overall life satisfaction higher than men in the 1970s. Thereafter, women’s happiness scores decreased while men’s scores stayed roughly stable. By the 1990s, women were less happy than men.”

Coincidence?

When I was expecting my first child the question was always, “When will you be returning to work?” Not once was it assumed that I would leave my job to stay home with my baby. I wasn’t offended. Once a co-worker (who was prone to unpleasantness) learned about my plans to be a stay-at-home-mom and sneered, “What are you gonna do, make your husband’s lunch?” I laughed and changed the subject, but if I could go back I would respond with a simple answer; yes. Yes, I will make my husband’s lunch, and breakfast, and dinner. His job was extremely stressful and time-consuming, and if I could create a home where he could lay aside his burdens and relax with his family, that was important to me, because he is important to me. And in creating such a home through selfless service, I found joy.

2) My second issue comes with Eowyn’s next line, where she sums up exactly why she is so upset about the aforementioned tasks;

“What renown is there in that?”

Meaning, where is the fame, the glory, the confetti-filled balloons complete with medals of honor? Why do we do – what we do? For recognition, renown…

Mmmaybe. Or is it simply to make the world a better place. One motive is self-serving and juvenile, the other truly honorable.

After her sincere plea, Scruffy-Face Strider offers some words of wisdom;

My lady, a time will come for valor without renown.”

Motherhood is the definition of “valor without renown”, but you know what else is? Almost every situation, of practically every human being, who has ever walked this earth. Most everything we do in life happens without acknowledgment, and that is ok. I’ve noticed when people seek renown and are so eager to prove themselves to others, no matter how dignified the task, they are masking insecurity, for he who knows his true worth has nothing to prove.

And finally, the Rustic Ranger from the North poses this question;

“Who then will your people look to in the last defense?”

Meaning, when the men have fought and died, the king is gone, you, the heir to the throne, is where your people will turn for rescue.

Mothers, we are the last defense. Our families, communities, and society are struggling. The bedrock of our civilization is collapsing and we have a divine charge to protect it; protect our families and our homes in a way that only women can. Indeed mothers are the last defense because we are the first defense.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

-Register to vote now and pay attention to local elections.

-Vote for candidates and propositions that reflect what is best for families.

-Run in your local election–don’t be intimidated! You have something to offer.

Focus on the Family has a wealth of information on families and women.

American Family Association also has great information, including a voting guide.

-The Relief Society is an educational and philanthropic organization for women in conjunction with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Moms for America is a movement created by, and benefiting mothers, including a voting guide.

-Pray for our country, especially the women of this country.

CROSSPOST HERE. https://goanddo1.wixsite.com/mysite/post/an-honorable-charge

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    There’s a place for the headstrong and impetuous outlier, the Kate who never finds her Petruchio and so becomes an heroic, even tragic figure. The bell curve has those long tails, after all.

    But I think your description of the inherent nobility of traditional roles is accurate and fine.

    Terrific post! Thank you.

    • #1
  2. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Watch out. You might be accused of being a complementarian.

    • #2
  3. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    valor without renown”

    Selwyn Jepson was an British officer who interviewed candidate Special Operations Executive agents, including women, for extremely dangerous underground work in occupied Europe.  His comment on the sexes in relation to this role:

    I was responsible for recruiting women for the work, in the face of a good deal of opposition, I may say, from the powers that be. In my view, women were very much better than men for the work. Women, as you must know, have a far greater capacity for cool and lonely courage than men. Men usually want a mate with them. Men don’t work alone, their lives tend to be always in company with other men. There was opposition from most quarters until it went up to Churchill, whom I had met before the war. He growled at me, “What are you doing?” I told him and he said, “I see you are using women to do this,” and I said, “Yes, don’t you think it is a very sensible thing to do?” and he said, “Yes, good luck to you.” That was my authority!”

    • #3
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    The offspring of the Feminists whose slogan was “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” are now in college and entry-level jobs.  Snowflakes, wimps, and cry-bullies all.  Raising the next generation of men and women is probably a woman’s highest calling, and I admire women who raise their own children, and I admire even more those who home-school them.

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Watch out. You might be accused of being a complementarian.

    I believe Tolkien was a complementarian.  And I believe his portrayal of Éowyn shows that.

    I was introduced to Éowyn in the books, rather than the films.  And although Peter Jackson’s version, and Miranda Otto’s portrayal of her, are beautiful to look at, and her cinematic battle with the Witch King of Angmar, in which she stands alone between her mortally injured father uncle  (h/t @arizonapatriot)and a seemingly invincible evil, is spectacular, as well as mythological in its overtones, I think her portrayal in the movie doesn’t do justice to her story as Tolkien relates it.

    Although that story isn’t an extensive part of the book in terms of pages, there’s a lovely scene in Return of the King (the book), in which Éowyn, still recovering from her battle injuries, puts away childish things  (to coin a phrase), gives up her unattainable dream of life with her storybook hero, looks reality in the eye, and settles for second-best and a life with Faramir, the man who truly loves her but who she’s largely overlooked because of her obsession to either win the heart of another, or die trying.

    ‘I wished to be loved by another,’ she answered. ‘But I desire no man’s pity.’

    ‘That I know,’ he said. ‘You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle. Look at me, Éowyn!’

    And Éowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: ‘Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Éowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the elven-tongue to tell. And I love you. Once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you. Éowyn, do you not love me?’

    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.’

    And again she looked at Faramir. ‘No longer do I desire to be a queen,’ she said.

    Then Faramir laughed merrily. ‘That is well,’ he said; ‘for I am not a king. Yet I will wed with the White Lady of Rohan, if it be her will. And if she will, then let us cross the River and in happier days let us dwell in fair Ithilien and there make a garden. All things will grow with joy there, if the White Lady comes.’

    ‘Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?’ she said. ‘And would you have your proud folk say of you: “There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Númenor to choose?” ’

    ‘I would,’ said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many. And many indeed saw them and the light that shone about them as they came down from the walls and went hand in hand to the Houses of Healing.

    She makes her decision and “her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.”  And she was healed.

    This part of Éowyn ‘s story and her growth and acceptance of her role as “woman” and “partner” is completely overlooked in the movie.  But I think her struggle and her decision, as well as her healing are recognizable and relatable to many of my sex.  At least, a friend told me they might be.

    I highly recommend reading the books.

    • #5
  6. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    I must have been around eleven when I picked up a volume of some encyclopedia. There was a section on quotations, one of which was said to be an old Spanish proverb. I followed it and I think it’s good advice for everyone: Live your own life, for you will die your own death. 

    • #6
  7. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A very nice post. Probably a little more socially conservative than I usually respond to, but the author did a wonderful job and I yield to her natural authority over half the universe. But only half!

    That’s the thing about old guys: we know how much we owe to you dames. 

    • #7
  8. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    What a fun, fun read. Heartening as well.

    After ‘giving it all up” (it wasn’t all that much to be frank) having giving birth to son #1, there’s a rule of life I have shared far and wide.

    There’s nothing more important than family. It is the cornerstone of society. Literally. As a woman, as a wife, as a mother, it’s on you. Is it fair? Who cares. It is thus. How blessed are we to have such power.

    Menfolk? Hats off to all y’all for keeping roofs over head and food on table. I flip a light switch and I have light. My house is warm. We couldn’t do it without you. Literally. How blessed are we to have you in our lives.

     

    • #8
  9. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    What wonderful female people we have on this thread–in its comments so far, RushBabe, She, and Annefy. With the spirit of women like these, I have a feeling that humanity is going to survive after all. 

    • #9
  10. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Oh, and Henry, Joel, David and Django: sure does sound like we are at least slightly more needed by our ladies than bicycles are to fish. 

    Younger Ricochet readers should be reassured that the bicycles and fish line is no mere sexist puzzle, but a reference to a specific anti-male cultural cliche of the early Seventies, a time before internet memes. 

    Taken from an unwritten Ricochet series: “Woke Before Dawn: Insane PC Excesses of the Nixon Era”. 

    • #10
  11. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Oh, and Henry, Joel, David and Django: sure does sound like we are at least slightly more needed by our ladies than bicycles are to fish.

    Younger Ricochet readers should be reassured that the bicycles and fish line is no mere sexist puzzle, but a reference to a specific anti-male cultural cliche of the early Seventies, a time before internet memes.

    Taken from an unwritten Ricochet series: “Woke Before Dawn: Insane PC Excesses of the Nixon Era”.

    Indeed. Much more than “slightly”.

    I have only one daughter; as mentioned she’s a stay at home mom (of 2). No choice; her husband works ridiculous and irregular hours. Also, she’s got the best dad in the world.

    One of my sisters stormed away in a huff when I told my college-aged nieces to keep their options open. Yes, go to college. But if you meet Mr Right when you’re 20, don’t dump him because you want to “have a career” before you settle down and have a family. For one thing, careers aren’t all that great. For another, there aren’t that many Mr Rights, and it’s guaranteed he won’t be available when you’re 30 and “ready”.

     

    • #11
  12. ShieldMaidenOfRohan Member
    ShieldMaidenOfRohan
    @ShieldMaidenOfRohan

    My goodness gracious!

    A very interesting post, and great comments.

    • #12
  13. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Annefy (View Comment):
    But if you meet Mr Right when you’re 20, don’t dump him because you want to “have a career” before you settle down and have a family. For one thing, careers aren’t all that great. For another, there aren’t that many Mr Rights, and it’s guaranteed he won’t be available when you’re 30 and “ready”.

    This idea which seems to be so prevalent among so many young people, of being “30” or “35” or whatever, and “ready,” puzzles me.  Used to be that people made a commitment to each other before everything was sorted (the house, the cars, the jobs, the careers …), and then they muddled through life together, often making it up as they went along.  At least, that was the idea.  And I think that, by and large, it made for more commitment, less transaction, and more of an “us” rather than a “me” centered” approach.   

    • #13
  14. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Watch out. You might be accused of being a complementarian.

    You will be accused by the accusers. Pay them no heed, carry on.

    • #14
  15. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    Annefy (View Comment):

    What a fun, fun read. Heartening as well.

    After ‘giving it all up” (it wasn’t all that much to be frank) having giving birth to son #1, there’s a rule of life I have shared far and wide.

    There’s nothing more important than family. It is the cornerstone of society. Literally. As a woman, as a wife, as a mother, it’s on you. Is it fair? Who cares. It is thus. How blessed are we to have such power.

    Menfolk? Hats off to all y’all for keeping roofs over head and food on table. I flip a light switch and I have light. My house is warm. We couldn’t do it without you. Literally. How blessed are we to have you in our lives.

     

    And we wouldn‘t do it without you!

    • #15
  16. Belt Member
    Belt
    @Belt

    Well said.  The wooing of Eowyn is one of my favorite parts of the books.

    Basically, Eowyn’s story can be seen as a repudiation of a pagan understanding of the world, and an embrace of a Christian life.  Eowyn did earn renown; killing the witch king is certainly no small thing.  But because she could not achieve the heights of her desire, it could never be enough.  She was entirely focused on deeds of valor that resulted in destruction, and even self-destruction.  It was only once Faramir gave her a more worthy goal that she was healed of this, and turned towards a life that would nurture and grow, and love.

    • #16
  17. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Although that story isn’t an extensive part of the book in terms of pages, there’s a lovely scene in Return of the King (the book), in which Éowyn, still recovering from her battle injuries, puts away childish things

    It has been too long since I have read the books @she  I had completely forgotten this passage.

    Thank  you for bringing this to our attention.

    • #17
  18. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Although that story isn’t an extensive part of the book in terms of pages, there’s a lovely scene in Return of the King (the book), in which Éowyn, still recovering from her battle injuries, puts away childish things

    It has been too long since I have read the books @she I had completely forgotten this passage.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    Thanks.  I’m a fan of the movies, and watch them in order, every week between Christmas and New Year’s.  (I just started doing that myself because I like them, but I guess it’s a “thing.”)

    But they leave so much out.  Understandable for cinematic purposes, but I miss it.

    • #18
  19. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    ShieldMaidenOfRohan (View Comment):

    My goodness gracious!

    A very interesting post, and great comments.

    It looks like you joined Ricochet at exactly the right time!

     

    • #19
  20. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    Very intentionally my bio whenever I write anywhere is “Bethany Mandel is a stay-at-home and homeschooling mother and…” 

    It is the job that takes the vast amount of my time, the job I am most glad to have (sorry Ricochet), and I’m trying to do my part to rip away the stigma of stay-at-home motherhood. 

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    A minor correction to She’s #5 above. Theoden was Eowyn’s uncle, not her father.  He had only one child, a son, who died. Her parents also died, and Eowyn and Theoden were very close. If memory serves, he called her “dearer than daughter.”

    • #21
  22. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Very intentionally my bio whenever I write anywhere is “Bethany Mandel is a stay-at-home and homeschooling mother and…”

    It is the job that takes the vast amount of my time, the job I am most glad to have (sorry Ricochet), and I’m trying to do my part to rip away the stigma of stay-at-home motherhood.

    Until a couple of years ago, I would describe myself to people as a father and stay-at-home computer programmer. Now that the nest is empty, I usually lead with the computer programmer.  But I am under no illusions about what is the most important thing I’ve ever done.

    • #22
  23. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    A fantastic post, thank you!

    • #23
  24. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I like the OP, but I don’t think that “valor” is the right word. I think that “honor” is the right word for motherhood. There is great honor in things other than valor, and I don’t think that valor is a woman’s proper role.

    I also don’t think that valor was Eowyn’s real motivation. If I recall correctly, there was an element of nihilism in the book, as she went seeking death when she could not have Aragorn.

    It worked out well, as there was an ancient prophecy that no man could kill the Lord of the Nazgul. This is a Christian and Jewish message also, teaching that God can use our errors for the good. The story of Joseph being sold into slavery is probably the best Biblical example of this.

    Eowyn learned her lesson, and embraced her role as wife and mother. Faramir, by the way, was a fantastic man, second only to the unattainable and rather superhuman Aragorn. Aragorn is something of a Christ figure, though Frodo and Gandalf also have elements of this.

    • #24
  25. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    A minor correction to She’s #5 above. Theoden was Eowyn’s uncle, not her father. He had only one child, a son, who died. Her parents also died, and Eowyn and Theoden were very close. If memory serves, he called her “dearer than daughter.”

    Oh, of course, you’re right.  Thank you!

    • #25
  26. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Richard O'Shea (View Comment):

    ShieldMaidenOfRohan (View Comment):

    My goodness gracious!

    A very interesting post, and great comments.

    It looks like you joined Ricochet at exactly the right time!

     

    Heavens, yes!  I was here for donkey’s years before anyone wrote a post about me … lol.

    • #26
  27. SpiritO'78 Member
    SpiritO'78
    @SpiritO78

     “There is honor in those things, the very things she had such disdain for”

    Totally agree. good post.

    • #27
  28. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Amen, sister! Great post!!

    And I particularly appreciate all the titles for Aragorn, but you missed Hot Stuff and a few others.

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Ajalon J. Stapley:

    2) My second issue comes with Eowyn’s next line, where she sums up exactly why she is so upset about the aforementioned tasks;

    “What renown is there in that?”

    Proverbs 31.

    • #29
  30. Dominique Prynne Member
    Dominique Prynne
    @DominiquePrynne

    Well, you can’t blame a young shield maiden from pining away for Mr. Sexy Hair!  An honorable man of character that wasn’t hard to look at???   <sigh!>     Every woman’s dreamboat!  

    • #30

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