Witchcraft: Heresy or Misogyny

Updated April 21, 2022

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Witchcraft: Heresy or Misogyny essay

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The witch trials of 13th century Europe caused 18 people to die, and almost 80,000 people were tried. When put on trial, ‘witches’ were tortured and embarrassed in front of their town inhabitants. These trials were meant to humiliate the people put to endure them. One torture example is the prayer test. In this test, suspected witches were made to repeat verses from the bible by memory. They were to do this without making any mistakes or else they were a witch. This trial was extremely humiliating. Even if they were not a witch and were able to repeat the verse perfectly, their reputation was destroyed permanently. They could lose job opportunities and respect from other members of their community as they were even accused of being involved with some sort of witchcraft. At this time, the evolution of women’s rights was high and threatened the roles of men in society. Witchcraft was used as a scapegoat for the men to continue to hold power. To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to marital status, dissenters, and economics.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to marital status such as spinsters and widows. Spinsters and Widows were viewed as aberrations in society by men mainly. This supports the idea of women being looked down upon in society. Men looked at women as if they were powerless. They especially saw women such as spinsters and widows as abnormal. These women were not married and subsequently did not rely on a husband to bring in their income while they lived as a domestic housewife would. These women were more active in their communities and took stands on crucial issues pertinent to their situations. This led the men to feel threatened and feel the need for more patriarchal control. They would achieve this by removing the threat of the females, using the witch trials to destroy women’s credibility.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to marital status such as non-married women. From the 1400s to the 1700s the role of women was greatly evolving greater than in the past 400 years. Women became much less dependent on male roles in their life and started searching for some sort of independent purpose in life. This led to women shattering the stereotypical role of a woman at the time, to be a housewife. This evolution of women’s rights threatened the roles of men in society. Not only did it threaten their jobs, but also their misogynistic authority that was held over women. Additionally, the idea that a woman was supposed to serve her husband was being challenged as many women became widows or chose not to become married. Because of this threat to male authority, powerful men began to persecute women simply because they would speak out or try to become something for themselves. The men were indirectly repressing these women and taking away their rights, disguising it under their belief in Christianity.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to dissenters. Records show that the majority of women that were accused of witchcraft weren’t even thought to practice it. Their nonconformity simply angered the patriarchy and people sought out punishment for them. As mentioned before, these women could be unmarried, widows, beggars, or even provocative and disorderly. Some women were simply self-reliant and sufficient and were too independent to need a husband. They began to fight for more women’s rights, holding protests and talking to councilmen and leaders about their rights. This went against the patriarchal belief that women should be married and submissive to men. Evidence highlights the fact that men were just oppressing women who didn’t fit into their materialistic ideals. This emphasizes the misogyny that was present within their society.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to economics, such as the inheritance of wealth. At the time, men were the powerhouse of economics. It was men who owned land and wealth for their families and when a relative died the money would usually go to the men. Occasionally, an irregularity occurred where European women would inherit those large amounts of wealth and property instead of men. This caused stress among the men at the time as women began to gain more and more of their power and wealth. Economic power then became one of the main reasons for the witch accusations. They were made to strip power away from the women and destroy their reputations in their communities.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to economics, such as poverty and homelessness. The streets of Europe were beginning to pile up with homeless and poor citizens. Along with this increase came a decline in the economy. This, therefore, led to the charities and resources that the homeless depended on for life to perish. The government and other authoritative citizens were then given the responsibility to care for these people. One solution they found to get rid of this responsibility was the witch trials. They used these trials to target the poor (especially women) and find a way to declare them almost inhumane and unworthy of their time and money. This way they were able to get rid of their largely growing homeless community. This homeless population was made up of mostly women. Therefore through relation many of the homeless community that were being targeted were women and the methods of accusation began to become women-specific, eventually excluding the entire male community at all.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to marital status, dissenters, and economics. Many women were being targeted and accused of witchcraft. However, it must be addressed that many of these women who are accused also had ill intentions. It is strongly believed that the women who were put on trial were very wealthy and would use their power for evil actions. It is pertinent to address that the women who were accused also had dangerous attributes to them such as aggression.

To a large extent women being accused of witchcraft was misogynistic due to marital status, dissenters, and economics. However, there is evidence to suggest that women being accused of witchcraft was because of heresy. Though misogyny was a pertinent part of the history of witchcraft, it was not the sole reason. Religion took a great part in the witch trials. It was believed that witchcraft was unholy. It was seen as an act against nature and therefore god. It is justified here that by no means was the persecution of witches fueled by misogyny. It rejects the idea that witchcraft was invented to oppress women at that time for standing up for their rights and becoming independent.

The majority of people that were accused of witchcraft in 13th century Europe were women. This evidence reinforces the fact that specifically women more than men were being oppressed by the witch trials. 80% of the women that were accused of witchcraft were female. This rejects the theory that they were persecuting men and women equally. This also reinforces the attack on women and ruining their reputations. It is no accident that the majority are women. The trials degraded the women and made them submit to the powerful male authorities of that time. Though it may have been possible that some of the women brought to trial were aggressive and had mal intentions, that does not excuse the fact that 80% of the accused were women. This also rejects that it was not misogyny because misogyny was not the sole reason for the trials. Though it was not the only reason for the trials, it is pertinent that it was the main reason for the discrimination. Therefore, it is evident that the reason for the trials is unequivocally heresy. The number of unjust accusations of women, rather than men, invalidates the theories that support the Christian church.

Witchcraft: Heresy or Misogyny essay

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Witchcraft: Heresy or Misogyny. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/witchcraft-heresy-or-misogyny/


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