(Clementine Evans)


Witch hunts were created by a society that feared female liberation

The prejudiced view of women from the history of witch hunts are still prevalent today.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/clementineevans/" target="_self">Clem Evans</a>

Clem Evans

January 27, 2023

Women have been the subservient gender for centuries as a result of theurgical, religious, and patriarchal stereotypes. Fear and paranoia of the misogynistic society during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries drove those witch hunts, which ultimately led to a woman-versus-woman fight for freedom. “Malleus Maleficarum” (most commonly translated as Hammer of Witches), written by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger in 1486, shows how men viewed women as the feeble sex who were too weak to fight the devil.

People who believed women practiced witchcraft also believed they were either possessed or they were lured into witchery by the devil. During the 1600s, a woman who was sexually active also was not taken seriously at her trial because her town had deemed her unreliable. Even when women rebutted the false accusations of witchcraft, they were not believed and then hanged for their alleged handiwork of the devil. Witch hunts were all about persecuting the powerless. The current male-dominated, oppressively hegemonic society continues to mistreat present-day women with the same misogyny that dates back hundreds of years.

The Salem witch trials most often persecuted sexual teenage girls for witchery. Accusers would target these young women for being, as they perceived, over-sexualized. Current rape culture has a tie to accusations against women and teenage girls during the witch hunts. Sexual young women were viewed as witches, but our modern day words like “slut” or “whore” stem from the same mindset that “witch” was created. Being called a witch in the 17th century was a derogatory term that was used to define the “evil aspects” of femininity. Calling a woman a slut or whore today still has the same misogynistic meaning that “witch” did because the term was passed down through generations of sexists who believed women were too weak to fight back.  

Young women who were accused often pointed fingers at other older women in order to prove their own innocence. This perpetuated a cycle of woman versus woman, where girls were forced to blame each other to gain their own freedom. Tituba, an enslaved Black woman, was one of the accused who blamed other women. She was first targeted by two young girls who claimed to have been “afflicted” by her witchcraft. Tituba accused two other women, Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn, of witchery after she confessed to her crime.

Cruel punishments awaited accused witches who pleaded not guilty. The most common punishments for a person who denied being a witch was a public hanging, long jail time, or a pressing, where the town would put a person between boards and crush them alive. But if an accused woman were to confess, apologize, and promise to never do any actions for the devil again, they were allowed to go free. This pushed many accused to do just that, rather than face the brutal and horrific punishments. Women, in the face of misogyny, turned against one another. 

Lack of education about sexism throughout schools has led to stereotypes not limited to women. Most men have been raised to believe that masculinity is shown through aggression and public displays of (hetero)sexual fantasies and imaginations of (hetero)sexual futures as adults. Dr Finn Mackay, sociologist, feminist campaigner, and Senior Lecturer atthe University of the West of England Bristol wrote, “It is not healthy to teach boys that they are naturally violent and militaristic, or that they are not programmed to care for babies, or that they always have to be in the lead and be seen to be on top at any cost.

False projections of “being a man” often lead to the objectification and demeaning of women and girls, often through violence and bullying. These types of teachings have led to men feeling dominant towards women and acting on those feeling of superiority. Views like these have been substantiated from the 1600s through old teachings and lasting impressions from patriarchal yet popular figures and sexist pedagogy. 

The detestation of women had its flare of moments in the 17th century when Joseph Swetnam, an English fencing master, published “The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle”, “Froward”, and “Unconstant Women” (1615). The misogynist pamphlet insults women and states that “women are crooked by nature, for any small occasion will cause them to be angry.” This offensive misconception that women become angry over a small misfortune, or that an undone chore will cause a tantrum, has been carried through the centuries. The word ‘misogyny’ stems from the Greek words “misos”, meaning hatred, and gunē,meaning woman — it literally translates to hatred of women That same hatred propagated through other texts during the 15th century.

“Malleus Maleficarum” was another key component in the motivation of the witch hunts. This was a treatise on witches and witchcraft that explained how women were more likely to be witches than men. This was a guide on how to spot a witch and kill one when you find her. One excerpt asks, “What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair colours!”

This passage demonstrates how people viewed women as objects, witches, and minions of the devil. Popular writings and well-known people, like Sprenger and Kramer, had great influence over others in creating a band of misogynists who targeted women for perceived sins. This treatise was written by Kramer and Sprenger, who both shared the common theory that all women were deceitful, malicious, and inferior.

The pursuit of so-called witches was driven by a sexist, male-dominated society that feared female independence. Sexist insults have been reclaimed by women’s rights activists who believe that the future is truly female. The modern feminist movement continues to liberate women from the patriarchy of today.

NBA middle teams and strategies for advancement

NBA middle teams and strategies for advancement

In the NBA, there is a list of teams like the Bucks, Clippers, Celtics, and Warriors, who we know are contenders and are doing everything they can to compete for a championship. Another list of teams is entirely tanking their season for a lottery pick, like the...