A Short But Unhinged Rant About Powerful Women

Ok, so I saw the full Rings of Power trailer the other day. And, er…

Welp.

That’s all I can say, it looks—if I can be frank—absolutely horrific. I will not be seeing it for a number of reasons, which I’ll list below:

A). I don’t have an Amazon Prime Subscription

B). Amazon is corrupt and I do not like supporting them if I can help it, so I won’t be signing up for Prime either.

C). I don’t want this rip-off to ruin my love of the books and the movies.

ANYWAY, now that we have that out of the way, let’s examine what actually sparked this terrible rage inside of me. Now, let it be known that I’m not a “fan fan”, I don’t care that they cast black actors, or that there’s hobbits in this (for literally no reason?), or that the girl dwarves don’t have beards, or that the elves have short hair (though, why??). Sure, they’re all weird artistic choices that I don’t really understand, but I don’t mind. In fact, I’d love to see a spin on the Peter Jackson aesthetic that has dominated for the last two decades.

So yes, these are all a touch bizarre, but none of them are rant worthy. What definitely is rant worthy is the depiction of Galadriel.

HOO BOY. What a can of worms!

My girl Galadriel, arguably the most powerful being left alive in Middle-Earth, counsellor and friend to Gandalf, ruler of Lothlorien, bearer of Nenya, the Ring Of Power. And they turned her into that? And by that, I mean a teenaged warrior princess that looks like she’d fit perfectly into a cheap young adult fantasy novel. They put her in armour, for goodness sake! She comes riding into battle like she’s blooming Joan of Arc!

Wise, powerful, beautiful beyond compare Galadriel reduced to a GirlBoss(TM) armour bearing teen with a Katniss Everdeen braid.

Who, exactly, do these people think they are? Cate Blanchett would be turning in her grave if she was dead.

And look, I might be completely wrong. RoP might blow it out of the water and Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel might be wise and strong to rival Cate’s. But seeing as armour-wearing, sword-wielding Galadriel (who probably goes by the name Gal or Dri), is so prominent in the trailer, I’m honestly not hopeful.

But Chelsea, you might be saying, why are you so incredibly upset about this? Female empowerment, remember! You’re a feminist, you love strong female characters! Warrior Queens are your favourite trope! Stop whinging!

Yeah, you’d be right. I love Warrior Queens, Strong Female (TM) characters, I’ve always been obsessed with real life women who fought for their beliefs and their countries, despite gender inequality. I love fierce characters with brutal physical prowess and a sword in their hand.

But Galadriel isn’t one of those characters. She’s a powerful character, but she’s a Queen, and not a warrior. In fact, she doesn’t need to be one of those characters, because the LOTR books already have one (Eowyn, the OG Warrior Princess and awesome character) and the movies have two (Arwen, also a kickbutt Warrior Princess, the scene where she turns her horse to face the Black Riders at the ford is just perfect). We didn’t need to arm Galadriel for battle, because that’s not her role in the story, and its not in her character.

It just seems incredibly sad to me that in 2022, we still equate physical prowess with female empowerment. A woman can’t be powerful unless she’s also masculine.

Honestly, I thought we were past that. I thought the hundreds of Strong Female Character critiques that have been written over the last decade or so had finally put this to rest. Female characters have come so far in the last few years, particularly in fantasy. Just look at the character of Addie LaRue, in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, or Tiffany Aching in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, or the heroines of Spinning Silver. These are all amazing women and girls who have well-rounded, brilliant personalities without needing to be physically strong, or emotionally icy. I’ve seen so many people protesting the emotionally dead female cliche, and praising the well-rounded female character, so I wonder why it’s still popping up in big budget projects like RoP?

It’s a damaging trope, which constantly pressures young girls into believing that they have to be strong in order to be valuable. There’s no room for power of any other kind. Physical power is only one type of power.

But no one could argue that Galadriel is not powerful. There are many powerful characters in LOTR, such as Gandalf, Elrond, and Aragorn, and seeing these powerful, noble men defer to Galadriel, often literally bow to her, to seek out her wisdom, protection and aid, is very telling. It shows her wisdom and power. The narrative doesn’t need to convince us that Galadriel is an awesome powerful queen, it simply shows us, but showing the mortal kings, the wizards, and the elves all deferring to her power.

Because let’s face it, Galadriel is not Boudicca. Eowyn is Boudicca, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Tolkien had purposefully modelled the Princess of the Rohirrim off the Celtic Queen of the Iceni. Galadriel is more like some of the queens of old. She reminds me of Eleanor of Aquitaine (but nicer and less ruthless), a powerful and ambitious Plantagenet queen and the wife of King Henry II and the mother of historical icons like Richard the Lionheart and the infamous King John. She was a political heavyweight and she held power over the men around her, despite her apparent powerlessness. She orchestrated rebellions, treason and coups, manipulating some of the greatest political chess pieces in the world. And admittedly, she and her ladies in waiting did participate in the Second Crusade, while she was Queen of France, and there’s an unsubstantiated rumour that they were dressed as Amazons while they did so, but she still was not really a warrior.

And Galadriel is the same, she’s powerful, in her younger days she was ambitious and somewhat arrogant. As she grows and matures, she becomes wise, beautiful, revered and respected. We have our Warrior Princess in Eowyn, and in Arwen in the movie version as well. We don’t need another one.

Anyway, this is a completely unedited brain dump and it’s not meant to be anything particularly deep or meaningful, I just felt like shouting into the void. I’m also passionate about the presentation of women in fiction and media, so I needed to make my feelings known on Warrior Princess Armour Wearing Galadriel.

Also, I really hope I’m wrong. I hope Amazon surprises us all and Galadriel is a great character etc etc. That would be absolutely amazing and I would actually consider watching it. But, unfortunately, I do not trust Amazon and in my opinion they are guilty until proven innocent.

5 thoughts on “A Short But Unhinged Rant About Powerful Women

  1. I totally agree with everything you said! I’m not really a LOTR fan, but it always irks me when there’s a lack of diversity in the female characters, especially when they’re all made to fill masculine roles. (Don’t get me wrong, ‘Awesome Female Characters with Swords’ is one of the best things in existence, I just like other kinds too) It’s just a waste of opportunity, there are so many other cool ways! Galadriel sounds like she was already an epic character, and it’s sad they wasted that just for adding another Strong Female Character. Also, this was a really entertaining read, it definitely made me smile 😀 Rose

    Liked by 1 person

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