The Importance Of Witchcraft

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In early modern Europe, “witch” could be used to describe anyone who the community or church deemed to be “deviant.” Accusations of witchcraft often resulted from attempts to explain economic, political, and religious upheavals in addition to conflicting expectations between neighbors regarding how their community should function (Anderson 175, DeWindt 433). Although there are some regions and trials where men played a more predominate role, in Europe and North America during the 16th and 17th centuries, women constituted an overwhelming 80% of those who were tried for witchcraft (Crawford 181). Women were more likely to be labeled “witch” than men because they were considered more susceptible to malevolent forces and because the deviant…show more content…
While attempting to explain the distinction between the Benadante and witches, Maria Panzona said that witches “consigned their menses to the devil-abbess, who then restored them so that they could be used to ‘injure people, make them fall sick, become stunted and even die’” (Ginzburg 94). Because women were supposed to be less aggressive than men, women typically opted for responses that favored their natural strengths and, therefore, women were more likely than men to engage in the underhanded behaviors associated with witchcraft (Bever 969). According to Bever, women were more likely to take advantage of the power associated with witchcraft because “significant elements of it fell into female social space . . . because they were at a disadvantage in utilizing other sources of power. . . and in part because it played to their innate and learned strengths” (974). For example, although cursing was considered to be one of the most effective ways to cause harm because it was able to be used to harm both humans and livestock, only women were accused of cursing (Jones 56). One potential explanation for the association between witchcraft and women is because witchcraft offered a source of power and “women, lacking the physical strength to assault their enemies, or the power to initiate litigation, resorted to verbal means, including cursing” (Jones
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