Now I'm comparing Tolkien to Mark Twain!
Someone brought up the question of whether or not there's sex or women in Huckleberry Finn, and I replied:
Huck Finn was shaped greatly by the fact that he had no mother, but an abusive father; along the way he meets several well-drawn female characters, one who penetrates his disguise (and outlines the difference between the sexes, at least on the surface), and another who he is attracted to.
I remember some article mentioning that Huck was around fourteen but that to make him believable for a musical (Big River, I think it was) they had to make him ten. Actually, in his abused, debased state, and in the kind of society he lived, and the level of that society he occupied, he was probably ignorant of sex, except for the stirrings he had for the girl 'full of sand.'
Oh, and For Huck, women also stood for civilization and higher society. That's one reason he clears out again, because a woman aims to 'sivilise him.
But see, Twain sketched this out, and made us aware of the lack or the need or avoidance of the role of women in our lives. With Tolkien, women are nothing, almost irrelevant. Oh, they're given dregs of roles--if you peek hard enough at the corner, you'll spot Eowyn (Jackson pumped up her role some), and in the glossary I think you'll read about Arwen's doomed romance with Aragorn (pumped up again), and Galadriel has one spotlight cameo, but it's significant I think how isolated she is in her little forest kingdom.
Also significant I think is the story that when Cate Blanchett who plays Galadriel came to do her scenes, she glided in and out, and hardly had anything to do with the manly 'fellowship' of Elijah Wood, Astin, Mortenson, and company.
Which makes the LOTR books feel more--well, child's play. Maybe not children, the maps are a bore to kids, but adolescents who aren't too interested in girls yet. The impression I get of the books is of something you can read and enjoy in high school and maybe even up to college, but forget in your later life where you move on to better things.