Oh, so one weird thing about re-reading The Hobbit with the Emperor was that I really noticed something I had never noticed when reading it as a kid: there are 0 female characters in it. Seriously. Not ONE female character. As a lifelong SF & fantasy reader, and a female, I know it's a common problem (either lack of female characters or very poorly written female characters) but one that I've made peace with for my own self. But I find I am really bothered by the idea that my son might grow up thinking it's totally not bizarre to have an entire adventure (with a 14-person party and countless encounters with outside groups!) and not have even one female character.
I think we must have been reading different sci-fi & fantasy books (get thee to the Mercedes Lackey section!), but then again, you're right about the Hobbit and I never noticed or thought about that before!!