The Female Orc Problem

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
But Nazis were not there for several generations, had not overcome several near extintions yet and they were already their own "breeding cave" "Lebensborn" project.

True enough, people forget that it was only for about twelve years that they were in power. But as you say, they already had started to breed new human races, though with very limited success, yet the ideology was there. Lebensborn is at last in theory not that far away from the idea of creating "Uruk-Hai".

@Rob Harding

Well that would be similar to Nazi/Daesh women as i supposed.

I could see female orcs as not being total slaves but also at the same full active collaborators..
 

Odola

Active Member
I mean, with all this being speculation anyway I would like to propose an Orc Queen style system similar to an insect hive. Similar to the breeding pits idea I suppose. Maybe orcs can carrying multiple siblings easily and continue birthing all year round. One Queen is a bit unrealistic and gets into real sci-fi terms, but the idea that certain females exist solely to sire offspring and there are mass creches wherein orcs scrap and battle and learn to be hardened. And everyone else is part of the 'military'. Obviously a loose form unless ruled by a Sauron or a Sauraman, but everyone else is to some degree involved in combat. Birth is essentially to build ranks.
You mean like wasps and hornets? But workers serve the comunity, they live and die for it. They act in very coordinated ways. They defend their nests with the next generation and the queen. No real community spirit seems there in orcs imho.

Alternatively, female orcs are background tacticians (well, as far as orcs go). They make the decisions of where strikes will happen, who they want to take out, what resources are needed. They send command hordes while staying home to birth, train and equip the next wave of orc broods. All while pregnant.
Or maybe they are just really good mums
In any of those two cases we would hear of them. Even if Sauron/Sarumans had some orc queens in their dungeons, we would hear of them being refered to by the orcs when talking among themselves. Orcs do talk politics after all.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I am not convinced we would hear about them.The Orcs of Cirith Ungol only talk about their local commanders and the Nazgul, we hear nothing about any other command or administrative structure, yet there certainly was one.

The Isengard Orcs also just name their Captains plus the White Hand, we don't know any of their overseers or Taskmasters or other next in hierarchy officers, yet these almost certainly did exist.

We know little of Sauron's civil servants also, yet the orc talk seems to imply a certain amount of bureaucracy involved. So saying it is not there because we don't hear about it is not really a valid argument.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
You mean like wasps and hornets? But workers serve the comunity, they live and die for it. They act in very coordinated ways. They defend their nests with the next generation and the queen. No real community spirit seems there in orcs imho.
It's not so much community spirit as it is necessary requirement. And I wasn't necessarily proposing the entire system of a hive. Though, it does raise a good point. If you think about bees, those that do all the hive-external work (collecting pollen, defending the hive) are female bees. Only females have stingers. Obviously, it's not the same with orcs that ALL soldiers are female as we know of plenty of prominent males. But so say having a female soldier class would reduce the fertility rate isn't always reflected in nature. Obviously humans aren't bees and bees are able to breed so proficiently as the Queen can pump out a terrifying number of eggs at a time constantly throughout her mature lifecycle. Men or Elves don't seem to do this so wouldn't necessarily be so. We know they multiplied after the manner of the Children of Illuvitar. Without getting to graphic, it's possible to interpret that as conception but that gestation and birth could be more of an brood style scenario.

In any of those two cases we would hear of them. Even if Sauron/Sarumans had some orc queens in their dungeons, we would hear of them being refered to by the orcs when talking among themselves. Orcs do talk politics after all.
I think if we start saying 'we didn't hear of them thus they can't exist' renders the entire thread a bit null and void lol. Obviously we are trying to fill in blanks here and just because it wasn't recorded doesn't mean there aren't unexplored nooks and crannies. We would only hear of them if Tolkien thought of them and it seems apparent he didn't really get into the nitty gritty or the orcs as he was trying to first iron out the big picture stuff.

But even if that were not the case, I think it's possible for either of those situations to exist and us still not hear of it. Only fragments of orc soldiers conversation are overhead. I think it's possible to overhear enemy soldiers and not hear mention of the generals, family back home or those back at the barracks. It depends on what snippet of conversation was overheard at that time. Besides, culturally we don't know what is acceptable to be discussed. We don't know orc taboo or superstition. There may be good reason to not discuss your progenitors or matriarchal commanders. Maybe Azog and Bolg and the Goblin King are patriarchal anomalies who grew in power due to their counter-cultural charismatic murdery ways.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Well so, lets imagine...

What if

Orcs have a high fertility rate, quadruplets are common, maybe more than once a year. How would such a society be organized? They need extreme amounts of food, for sure
They need some organisation and structure. What position would females have in such an order? I could see them being more than mothers and nurses and also doing some supervision stuff, some crafting, building, some food growing... do they have plants/subterranean mushroom gardens, do they herd wild goats? If yes i could imagine also females have some claw in that...
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Well so, lets imagine...

What if

Orcs have a high fertility rate, quadruplets are common, maybe more than once a year. How would such a society be organized? They need extreme amounts of food, for sure
They need some organisation and structure. What position would females have in such an order? I could see them being more than mothers and nurses and also doing some supervision stuff, some crafting, building, some food growing... do they have plants/subterranean mushroom gardens, do they herd wild goats? If yes i could imagine also females have some claw in that...
I was thinking more like octuplets lol

But okay, orc structure. Males are hunter-gathered troops. Females are the strategists-scientists. Tactician-technicians. Makers of plans and finders of patterns. Bear in mind, caring, crafting, building bonds are functional practices. Strengthen societal structures can make a stronger group, a more effective hunting machine. Doesn't mean orcs are weak or non-aggresive because their females breed and command and educate, they just perhaps have layered society that allows the space for warriors to thrive.
Something like this:

But you know, scarier. Cos...orcs.
 

Odola

Active Member
It's not so much community spirit as it is necessary requirement. And I wasn't necessarily proposing the entire system of a hive. Though, it does raise a good point. If you think about bees, those that do all the hive-external work (collecting pollen, defending the hive) are female bees. Only females have stingers. Obviously, it's not the same with orcs that ALL soldiers are female as we know of plenty of prominent males. But so say having a female soldier class would reduce the fertility rate isn't always reflected in nature. Obviously humans aren't bees and bees are able to breed so proficiently as the Queen can pump out a terrifying number of eggs at a time constantly throughout her mature lifecycle. Men or Elves don't seem to do this so wouldn't necessarily be so. We know they multiplied after the manner of the Children of Illuvitar. Without getting to graphic, it's possible to interpret that as conception but that gestation and birth could be more of an brood style scenario.
A hive is a complex system. If you copy only random parts of its elements the result is not viable imho.

I think if we start saying 'we didn't hear of them thus they can't exist' renders the entire thread a bit null and void lol. Obviously we are trying to fill in blanks here and just because it wasn't recorded doesn't mean there aren't unexplored nooks and crannies. We would only hear of them if Tolkien thought of them and it seems apparent he didn't really get into the nitty gritty or the orcs as he was trying to first iron out the big picture stuff.

But even if that were not the case, I think it's possible for either of those situations to exist and us still not hear of it. Only fragments of orc soldiers conversation are overhead. I think it's possible to overhear enemy soldiers and not hear mention of the generals, family back home or those back at the barracks. It depends on what snippet of conversation was overheard at that time. Besides, culturally we don't know what is acceptable to be discussed. We don't know orc taboo or superstition. There may be good reason to not discuss your progenitors or matriarchal commanders. Maybe Azog and Bolg and the Goblin King are patriarchal anomalies who grew in power due to their counter-cultural charismatic murdery ways.
That true, but there is a hierarchy of what's important to be talked about. "Blood is thicker than water." If Gorbag and Shagrat are able to discuss running off, then their queen cannot be held in Barad-Dur. What I mean to say, family and upbringing structures leave a visible inprint in the adults and their behaviour. Any loyality to any family, ancestors or siblings seams totally lacking in common rank orcs. And in most of the scenarios described we should see at least some reference to siblings or at least of "littermates".
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
A hive is a complex system. If you copy only random parts of its elements the result is not viable imho.
But also...fantasy lol If we poke too much then it all falls apart. How does flesh turn into stone when the sun touches it? How does a tree think without a brain? How does it speak without vocal cords? How do you have an entire society that seemingly lives peacefully without any real crimes in living memory yet have the capacity for theft and jealousy and more than a passing concept for murder and require nothing really close to a formalised set of laws or governance? These are fantasy ideals that are just plain fun. Some things you just have to take a part of and buy into the concept. You can take random parts and the rest still works as we are told it does.

That true, but there is a hierarchy of what's important to be talked about. "Blood is thicker than water." If Gorbag and Shagrat are able to discuss running off, then their queen cannot be held in Barad-Dur. What I mean to say, family and upbringing structures leave a visible inprint in the adults and their behaviour. Any loyality to any family, ancestors or siblings seems totally lacking in common rank orcs. And in most of the scenarios described we should see at least some reference to siblings or at least of "littermates".
I'm not saying orcs are loyal. And also, their hierarchy of importance may be very different. I can easily conceive a culture where there is superstition around talking ill about those in command over you if they are not present. Especially in a world where news can travel by supernatural means. Or where you simply don't acknowledge your origins as coming from a birthing pit. Most of the swear words in Western cultures (and generally around the world) have shared points: they revolve around bodily functions and breeding (with some cultural variations of sacrilege). In essence, the things that are 'base'. The things that remind us we are all base beings. Things we don't want to be reminded of. Maybe for orcs, it's not so much bodily waste. Maybe you just don't talk about the fact your mother is in a birthing pit. Maybe acknowledging shared bloodlines is taboo. Or maybe it's taboo to ever discuss cowardice or to discuss your masters. Maybe the soldiers we see are profaning. Maybe loyalty is a taboo idea. Maybe the idea that you would be loyal to your brood pit or master shows weakness. Maybe orcs must at all times uphold the strength of the self. The hard-line opposite of an honor/shame culture. Maybe not. I'm sure lots gets said by in wartime and with comrades in arms that wouldn't be said in other context. But not all is. We don't know the culture enough to know whether the fragments of chatter we see are typical orc conversation.
 
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Odola

Active Member
I was thinking more like octuplets lol

But okay, orc structure. Males are hunter-gathered troops. Females are the strategists-scientists. Tactician-technicians. Makers of plans and finders of patterns. Bear in mind, caring, crafting, building bonds are functional practices. Strengthen societal structures can make a stronger group, a more effective hunting machine. Doesn't mean orcs are weak or non-aggresive because their females breed and command and educate, they just perhaps have layered society that allows the space for warriors to thrive.
Something like this:

But you know, scarier. Cos...orcs.
The problem is hunter-gatherer/or early argricultural livestyle has limited reproduction rates. Children are carried and breastfed for a long time, both here and there.
The first study I have found on this is:
"It suggests a trajectory of continuous, long-term Wyoming-Colorado hunter–gatherer population growth of 0.041% from 13,000–6,000 cal BP, doubling roughly every 1,700 y, within which there were short-term fluctuations during which growth rates were sometimes more than an order of magnitude larger (i.e., r > 0.4%), doubling in less than 200 y. "

Even the temporary faster rate of "doubling in less than 200 y." is not enough for orcs, who, as we are told, are able to recover lost population sizes in only several decades.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
The problem is hunter-gatherer/or early argricultural livestyle has limited reproduction rates. Children are carried and breastfed for a long time, both here and there.
The first study I have found on this is:
"It suggests a trajectory of continuous, long-term Wyoming-Colorado hunter–gatherer population growth of 0.041% from 13,000–6,000 cal BP, doubling roughly every 1,700 y, within which there were short-term fluctuations during which growth rates were sometimes more than an order of magnitude larger (i.e., r > 0.4%), doubling in less than 200 y. "

Even the temporary faster rate of "doubling in less than 200 y." is not enough for orcs, who, as we are told, are able to recover lost population sizes in only several decades.
This is true. It’s difficult, because so much of what makes humans what we are stems from our evolutionary foothold, anatomy, all that basic biology and global environmental shifts that have allowed us to become what we are. We simply don’t have that for orcs. We don’t know what it looks like for essentially an artificial race to develop culture. They didn’t need to develop as a Hunter-gathering species then leap to being an agricultural people. They are designed. We don’t really know much of their physiology and how that affects them when they operate independent of a ruling force driving them as a singular unit.

Presumably part of their original redesign was to make them better breeders? Doesn’t seem a huge leap to think that an evil force trying to build an army would start by cracking superior production. But how is that achieved and at what rate?
 

Odola

Active Member
This is true. It’s difficult, because so much of what makes humans what we are stems from our evolutionary foothold, anatomy, all that basic biology and global environmental shifts that have allowed us to become what we are. We simply don’t have that for orcs. We don’t know what it looks like for essentially an artificial race to develop culture. They didn’t need to develop as a Hunter-gathering species then leap to being an agricultural people. They are designed. We don’t really know much of their physiology and how that affects them when they operate independent of a ruling force driving them as a singular unit.
If w assume Tolkien first explanation of orcs being corruped elves is true, then we know:
1. Elves are monogamous
2. They tend to have a limited amount of children - 7/5 is what they start of with, then it declines further and further.
3. Their chiild rearing is long and involved, both parents are usually required
4. As such they avoid having children in war und uncertain times

So if orcs are molded to be a mockery of all those traits we can expect as much opposition to those as possible.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
If w assume Tolkien first explanation of orcs being corruped elves is true, then we know:
1. Elves are monogamous
2. They tend to have a limited amount of children - 7/5 is what they start of with, then it declines further and further.
3. Their chiild rearing is long and involved, both parents are usually required
4. As such they avoid having children in war und uncertain times

So if orcs are molded to be a mockery of all those traits we can expect as much opposition to those as possible.
Unless of course their was some benefit to any of these traits. In which case, retaining those features can in itself be seen as mockery.
 

Odola

Active Member
Unless of course their was some benefit to any of these traits. In which case, retaining those features can in itself be seen as mockery.
In addition:
5. Elves are proud of their lines
6. They are exclusively patrilinear (that imho the problems with the Half-Elves, they are patrilinear human, even if their elven descent is around 3/4, it is via the female lines)
7 The bound between the siblings is great

this could make orcs matrilinear, of course, but we just see - very rarely - only patrilinear references among orcs, too.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
I like the idea that Azog and the other orc heroes we've seen are these weird outliers who have developed hero-cults around them. Bizarre orc massacre-messiah figures.

And everyone else is just rolling their eyes cos really, male orc leaders? Really? That's just going to get you beheaded or eaten by a bear-man.
 

Odola

Active Member
I like the idea that Azog and the other orc heroes we've seen are these weird outliers who have developed hero-cults around them. Bizarre orc massacre-messiah figures.

And everyone else is just rolling their eyes cos really, male orc leaders? Really? That's just going to get you beheaded or eaten by a bear-man.
Have kind of a really hard time to imagine how Morgoth would have conviced the old orc-grannies standing next to his Iron Thone that sending off their little ones againt the Valar in the War of Wrath is a good idea. That would be beyond even his power. ;-)
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Have kind of a really hard time to imagine how Morgoth would have conviced the old orc-grannies standing next to his Iron Thone that sending off their little ones againt the Valar in the War of Wrath is a good idea. That would be beyond even his power. ;-)
Oh, I don't think matriarchal means what we think of as maternal. I feel like battle is just what orcs do. I'm not sure it's even honour so much as function. I don't know if it's even thought through that much. I feel they have been so warped that it's just what is done. I don't think they'd need convincing. I don't know if they would've felt pride, or had any real feeling over it. It's the inevitable next step.

EDIT: old orc-grannies sound terrifying btw. Would not mess with them.
 

Odola

Active Member
EDIT: old orc-grannies sound terrifying btw. Would not mess with them.
Yeah, Morgoth could not really cope with one half-Ainur elf-princess on her own, can you imagine him against gathering of old orc-grannies?
He would be hoplessly outmatched imho. By all his love to mock elves, I highly doubt he would ever put himself in such a position by his own making.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I was thinking more like octuplets lol

But okay, orc structure. Males are hunter-gathered troops. Females are the strategists-scientists. Tactician-technicians. Makers of plans and finders of patterns.
I believe these are cliches.When i was studying prehistory at the University we were all confronted with the traditional assumptions of men hunting, women gathering, men fighting, women nursing kids.People just assume this was the way in the stone Age while archaeology literally does not give us evidence for either. We do not know, a lot of what we assume is drawn from parallels to existing modern or historic cultures, but these were not PRE historic, those were parallel developments to us and our ancestors and it is hard to use them as more than examples, they do not really prove a thing.

Any loyality to any family, ancestors or siblings seams totally lacking in common rank orcs. And in most of the scenarios described we should see at least some reference to siblings or at least of "littermates".
I agree.Orcs seem uttermost selfish, they do not seem to care much for blood or family other than in category of race/breed/tribe,
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
I believe these are cliches.When i was studying prehistory at the University we were all confronted with the traditional assumptiins if men hunting, women gathering, men fighting, women nursing kids.People just assume this was the way in the stone Age while archaeology literally does not give us evidence for either. We do not know, a lot of what we assuma is drawn from parallels to existing midern or hustoric cultures, but these were not PRE historic, those were parallel developments to us and our ancestors and it is hard to use them as more than examples, they do not really prove a thing.
That's fair enough. I was reading something interesting about the same issue around the concept of early humans as persistence hunters.

I would say again, that we don't have to disregard ideas just because they've not been the case in human history though. We have to bear in mind that a lot of the reasons orcs are originally so prevalent have less to do with a survival-of-the-fittest mechanism and more to do with the fact they were artificially produced. Orcs that we encounter in the wild aren't true wild orcs but are orcs turned feral. So their current existence is adaptive. Of course, some sub-groups will have adapted poorly and others thrived. So I guess we have to work out what thriving would look like for orcs.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
[QUOTE="Rob Harding, post: 39066, member: 207"

EDIT: old orc-grannies sound terrifying btw. Would not mess with them.
[/QUOTE]

I have read at last one orc-fanfic where The orcs at last mentioned some vile old pit-grandmother, they still kind of feared but still also seemed to sort of respect or look up to her.I could see such scenarios as not wholly unrealistic..
 
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