Once condemned to the stake, witches have long worn the hat of “pariah” of society. But today, these so-called “evil” creatures proudly fly over feminist demonstrations. If in the collective imagination, the witch is this old shrew with hooked fingers who delights behind her cauldron, she contains a strong symbolism in the equality of the sexes. Those who inspired terror reap general admiration. But where does this revenge of the witches come from? We explain to you.
Witches, a threat to the patriarchy
“We are the granddaughters of the witches you failed to burn”, “tremble, tremble, the witches have returned”, “conservatism, broom”… feminist mobilizations feel the “witch power” full nose. The feminist anarchist collective “witch bloc” has even made this mystical figure its emblem.
Visibly, it’s time for beloved witches. But if the witches create visibility in the street or behind the series like Charmed, they drag behind them a heavy past. Victims of a collective hunt in the Middle Ages, witches suffered the worst treatment. Between the end of the 15th century and the 17th century, historians have recorded at least 200,000 witchcraft trials. Between 50,000 and 100,000 women were burned. A mass crime orchestrated in chilling indifference.
This terrifying piece of history was suffocated by clichés, largely internalized. From the memory of the witches, there remains only a vulgar caricature based on magic broomsticks and evil laughters. And that suits the reactionaries. Indeed, the witch is far above the simple “marginal”, “ugly” and “naughty” character portrayed in Disney. It’s a pioneer of female emancipation who gave men of the time cold sweats.
These women, endowed with occult powers, were in reality ordinary people. Sometimes herbalists, sometimes midwives, the witches put their gift at the service of humanity. In an era fragrant with misogyny, it was above all their independence and their success that bothered these gentlemen. The term “witch” then becomes a pretext to eliminate these women, who are too visible in the social arena.
Witches, feminists despite themselves
Adults from the age of 12, women in the Middle Ages were predestined for a life as a stay-at-home mother. It was an unbreakable rule. in law the term “weaker sex” (fragilitas sexus or infirmitas sexus) was even used to describe them. Conversely, in households without children, the woman was regularly accused of witchcraft, because the man’s infertility was inconceivable. Those who were fantasized of witchcraft went against the tide of mores, carrying in their path the standards imposed.
Emancipated Singles and eager for social justice, witches were the first to practice abortion. On the reference side, Joan of Arc is certainly the most telling example. A freed woman, with a warrior temperament, she was the very antithesis of what religion demanded. The men saw in this free woman a kind of diabolical excesses, to be fought.
The women grouped behind the word “witch” concocted, without knowing it, the beginnings of a revolution, finally suppressed in hatred and blood. The witches in fact perfectly translate this masculine conjugal violence. They are not ‘apart’ beings, but incarnations of the feminine ‘we’.
The witch, a feminist icon of pop culture at demonstrations
The dark reputation of witches has been swept away by a neo-feminism more roaring than ever. Books such as “Me Tituba, witch…“by Maryse Condé or”Witches, the undefeated power of women” by Mona Chollet have known give voice to these figures, unjustly forgotten. Thanks to these glorifying portraits, the witch straddles deserved popularity.
At the same time, the combative soul of witches hangs over our screens. Unlike the frightening witch of Snow White, contemporary series hoist badass heroines in the foreground. From the essential Halliwell trio in Charmed to the new Sabrina saga, modern day witches cast spells of admiration on us.
Beyond this entertaining formula, witches take over protests against sorority background. This time, fear changes sides. In January 2018, the site “Witches of Color” thus called on all witches to mobilize to make Donald Trump tremble.
“The same misogynistic and supremacist powers that have tried to discredit the audacious and indispensable work of witches oppress us a little more every day since the election of this president who never ceases to galvanize them”, justified Witches of Color
Locally, witches also step into the political spectrum. On January 20, the witches of the “Witch Bloc Paname”, a rebellious feminist gang stood up to the “march for life”. With spells disguised as punchlines and horribly truthful signs, they rose up against anti-abortion.
Witches, previously predestined to the flames of hell, are reborn from their ashes under the aegis of feminist struggles. Firmly determined to drive out the macho spirits that still rule the roost, the witches rub shoulders with the purple color, other feminist symbol. The hashtag #witchesofinstagram, dedicated to this bewitching art, lists 9.1 million posts, proof that they are ready to reach the moon.
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Why do witches have an important place in the feminist struggle?
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