“How very sad!” said Pippin. “How was it then that they all died?”
“They did not die!” said Treabeard. “We lost them, I said. We lost them and cannot find them.”
“It is rather a strange and sad story,” he went on after a pause, “When the world was young, and the woods were wide and wild, the Ents and the Entwives — They were Entmaidens then; Ah! The loveliness of Fimbrethil, of Wandlimb the lightfooted, in the days of our youth! The walked together and they housed together. But our hearts did not go on growing in the same way; the Ents gave their love to things that they met in the world, and the Entwives gave their thoughts to other things, for the Ents loved the great trees, and the wild woods, and the slopes of the high hills; and they drank of the mountain-streams, and ate only such fruit as the trees let fall in their path; and they learned of the Elves and spoke with the trees. But the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and they saw the sloe in the thicket, and the wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seeding grasses in the autumn fields. They did not desire to speak with these things; but they wished them to hear and obey what was said to them. The Entwives ordered them to grow according to their wishes, and bear leaf and fruit to their liking; for the entwives desired order, and plenty, and peace. So the Entwives made gardens to life in But we Ents went on wanderings, and we only came to the gardens now and again. Then when the Darkness came into the North, the Entwives crossed the great river, and made new gardens, and tilled the fields, and we saw them more seldom. After the Darkness was overthrown the land of the Entwives blossomed richly, and their fields were full of corn. Many men learned the crafts of the Entwives and honored them greatly; but we were only legend to them, a secret in the heart of the forest. Yet here we still are, while all the gardens of the Entwives are wasted. Men call them the brown lands now.”
There were waves of feminism that surged from the Grey Havens out of the Western Sea in those days; first and second and third waves, and the Entwives were not spared. “Political lesbianism,” they named it. “Female separatism” they crowned it in song, and they separated themselves from the abodes of all men, Ent and Elf alike.
They formed first one radical separatist group (Entwives Against Compulsory Heterosexuality), then another (The Crone Collective). They cut their ties to male Ent privilege. They withdrew from the patriarchy of Middle-Earth and had long, involved disagreements about the nature of female nationalism. And their arguments were fearsome on the face of the earth.
And one day Fimbrethil the Lovely rebuked Wandlimb the Rowan for clinging exclusively to Greybirch, telling her Monogamy was a tool of the Ents used to keep us oppressed; you cannot replicate such hierarchies here. That is not the way of our new society.
And Wandlimb said This smacks of biological determinism, and the others said What of it?
And Wandlimb said: As, you know, an actual honest-to-God Entlesbian I find it a little patronizing that you think you can assume my sexual orientation as a political stance rather than out of a desire to, you know, love other Entwives —
Entwomyn, Feanderil said. We are no longer Entwives, we are not derivative of Ents. Decolonize your mind, Wandlimb.
“What about our Ent allies?” one of the younger Entwives asked, and no one could meet her eyes because they were so embarrassed for her, having asked such a stupid question.
“THE ONLY GOOD ENT IS A DEAD ENT,” Deathwillow reminded her gently.
“But what if they come looking for us? What will we tell them?”
“They can read our manifesto just like anybody else. And they won’t come looking for us; their intellect is sub-huorn. Ents aren’t people. Only we are people.”
“Look, is this an IDEOLOGICAL position or a TACTICAL position, sister Feanderil? Is this separation permanent, or a first step towards eventually rejoining and remaking Ent society?”
“We are Ent society.”
“There is no reason to rejoin the male Ents, in their male folly they have joined an international war over a piece of jewelry and will surely be destroyed.”
And all the Entwives did agree that this was a ridiculous reason for a war, and reinforced their deeply-held views that men were unfit to hold positions of authority in a truly advanced society.
“I hear that the Ents are marching on Isengard,” Goldenbark volunteered, and the others listened with mild interest, “because Saruman has been chopping down Fangorn Forest.”
“Chickens coming home to roost,” Feanderil said. “I hope he chops down every sapling from Fangorn to Mirkwood. It will be easier for us to rebuild.”
And Wandlimb departed in disgust from them, and went into the east, and on the shores of the Sea of Rhûn she encountered Radagast the Brown talking to a bird, and together they founded the first anarcho-queer animal-rights collective east of the Misty Mountains.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.