Title: Hobbit Sex or 'The Hobbiton Garden Club'
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the spirit of irreverence not often found in the books section of the barrow-downs (in fact, we may have to move this thread), I have done a bit of research into the elusive social mores of hobbit life. That is to say, that when asked about food, drink and other good things of hobbit life, hobbits are quite forthcoming; in fact, many will talk a blue streak. But on the subject of, ahem, procreation, they suddenly become embarrassed, blush, and in general are not very informative. Yet is clear from the sheer size of hobbit families that they know a great deal about this subject.
Initially, the most I could learn was that young hobbits in their early 'tweens' are taken aside by their parents and given a talk on the 'birds and the bees.' With much hemming and hawing, and liberal use of confusing analogies, the blushing parent would attempt to explain sex without actually directly mentioning it, or implying that they themselves have ever done this. The confused lad or lass was then freed from this mutually humiliating conversation, to seek the more blunt advice of an older cousin or younger uncle or aunt. Advice one would hope is more accurate.
Beyond this, it was clear that hobbit society at large encouraged long courtships, though there are a fair number of 'hurried' marriages, the reasons for which are not explained. Divorce is unheard of, though there are a fair number of instances where an irate wife will 'go visit mother,' or a husband will 'go hunting,' a trip which could last months and involve no hunting whatsoever.
My research was most discouraged by this curious hobbitish reticence, but I was urged to continue by some very kind friends. Still, I had all but given up, when years after I had abandoned the project, I received a number of belated, heated letters from the (now infamous) Hobbiton 'Garden Club' discouraging my efforts. A very odd occurrence. I was actively interested in the subject once again.
As it worked out, the 'Garden Club' (much to its dismay) proved instrumental to a breakthrough in my research.
While my queries regarding, um, recreational unmarried 'assignations' had been rebuffed by the hobbit community, the Hobbiton Garden Club was in fact actively attempting to shut down a South Farthing 'house of ill-repute.' Which answered my questions quite nicely.
Apparently, while previous such houses had been quite discreet, this particular establishment was open about its purpose, and in the opinion of the irate ladies of the Garden Club, flagrantly immoral. It had grown so well known that the phrase 'going to South Farthing' or 'going South' developed a particular amusing connotation (one that passed into the vernacular and remained long after the actual events were forgotten).
The fact the mayor of the day winked at its activities (and was reputed to visit from time to time) infuriated the Garden Club to no end and they insisted that he retire. When he laughingly refused, they began a slanderous campaign to force him into retirement. The citizens of Hobbiton were rather distressed by this development, but they did agree that perhaps, this particular brothel was a tad more open than was strictly proper. The next mayor was largely considered to be 'in the pocket' (or pocketbook) of the Garden Club, and he swiftly shut the South Farthing brothel down on the pretext that it was 'unclean.'
Flush from their success, the Garden Club began to shut down other more discreet 'clubs' throughout the Shire, not all of which could be proven to be actually what the ladies said they were. (Annabel Heathertoes' long-standing friendship with one late Bilbo Baggins was not considered to be proof of her licentious activities, as she was also quite erudite for a hobbit.)
When the Garden Club learned that the infamous South Farthing brothel was originally a pub (with some extra services rendered upstairs), they made the connection between such activities and drink.
Thus the Garden Club pressed for prohibition of all alcoholic beverages throughout the Shire. Or at least in Hobbiton proper where decent folk lived.
At this point, the good citizens of Hobbiton had had enough. While generally considered to be 'well-meaning,' the Garden Club was also called 'a bunch of busybodies out to ruin everyone's fun.' Even the most sympathetic decided they had simply gone too far.
The previous mayor was returned to office, and greeted with cheers when he spoke out on 'no more bossing around, ganging up on folks and telling them what to do, thank you very much.' This marked the demise of Hobbiton's first and last political party, whether they realised it or not.
The alcohol prohibition was swept under the carpet (if not outright laughed at), and, although the South Farthing establishment did not reopen, other such places were studiously ignored. The fact that one of these was in the exact same location as the original South Farthing club went unremarked, if not unnoticed.
The curious side-effect of all this was that hobbits became, for a time, far more loquacious about the subject of sexuality than was their wont. It was the ideal atmosphere for a researcher such as myself, and I took full advantage, guessing (correctly) that this mood in the Shire was only temporary.
I quickly learned that the reason for those 'hasty' marriages was well-known and snickered at (the 'early' arrival of hobbit children noted with tongue in cheek), and that foot fetishes were unsurprisingly common -- so much so that they were not considered a fetish at all, but rather a proper respect for what on many hobbits was their best feature after all.
It was quite surprising to me to learn that the wearing of shoes was considered to be so risque that many hobbits denied the practice existed at all. Vehemently, in fact. Though hobbits accept the wearing of shoes as being an unfortunate need of foreigners who (sadly) have 'naked feet,' it is not at all acceptable among hobbitfolk. Shoes for hobbits are quite tight, hot and uncomfortable, and wearing them is considered... seedy. A few discreet inquiries among tanners led me to Bree, where the local cobblers (all of the race of Men) confirm a brisk business of tiny shoes for hobbits; they are most amused, though obligingly respectful, of their small customers' request for 'discretion.' They do confirm that the recreational wearing of shoes is common, and practiced even among the most respectable of hobbit families.
Hobbits were mystified by many official terms for sexual practices (they had never heard the word 'fetish' for example), but when they were explained often knew what I was talking about. Although rougher bedroom practices such as S&M were unfamiliar (hobbits are a gentle folk), 'fooling around with ropes' was largely accepted, with a 'rescue the fair hobbit lass (or lad) in distress' being a surprisingly common fantasy.
The subject of extramarital affairs left hobbits appalled, and was a good way to end an otherwise productive conversation; though they admit it did happen, from time to time.
Premarital sex was generally considered to be a one-way ticket to a 'hasty' wedding, considering the lack of birth control and hobbits' astonishing fertility. It has already been noted that such weddings weren't exactly uncommon.
Hobbits were mystified at the concept of 'homosexuality,' and were quite certain it didn't occur (once it was carefully explained what this was). When pressed, some younger more forthcoming hobbits did admit that 'helping out a friend' in this way was understandable, of course (given the one-way ticket to marriage noted above), but they couldn't imagine a lasting or even romantic attachment. They considered the whole concept laughable, and shook their heads at the perversions of 'foreigners.'
Recalling my experience with the vehement denial of 'wearing shoes,' I made similar discreet inquiries, and was led to a young Brandybuck was generally considered to be 'among the lads' more than was common. The young Brandybuck was considered a bit of a rogue and was not himself of any such persuasion, but he did introduce me to a pair of 'friends' who had discreetly lived together in the Marish for years. They agreed to meet with me on the condition of utmost respect for their anonymity and privacy. They both were respected members of the community, and preferred to keep it that way. "Hobbits don't hold with anything out of the ordinary," they explained. Although they refused to answer any personal 'intrusive' questions, they did confirm there was a scattering here and there of such 'friends,' though it was by no means common.
They wanted to make it absolutely clear that although they admitted their being together was unusual in and of itself, they were quite normal and contrary to certain ideas, couples such as theirs did not wear shoes.
Thus, my final conclusions in my research, is that hobbits are typical of most rural close-knit communities, with the exception of a rather gentle inherent nature, and certain peculiarities owing to race.
P.S. Garden Club members are requested to direct their comments to the special Hobbiton Post Office box at:
Post Office Box 13
3 West Road Lane
Hobbiton, The Shire
Which has been established expressly for their responses. Thank you.