Did people really believe women were more sinful and evil than men, or were they afraid of women taking over? In the 1600’s, Witch Trials took place in Salem, Massachusetts. Many of the accused witches were in fact female. Witch accusations were mainly aimed at women due to the Puritan ideas that women were more vulnerable and evil than men, their sexuality was more obvious and sinful, and the fear of women gaining power and authority. Women have always been seen as being the weaker gender, especially during Puritan times.
Were the witch-hunts in pre-modern Europe misogynistic? Anne Llewellyn Barstow seems to think so in her article, “On Studying Witchcraft as Women’s History: A Historiography of the European Witch Persecutions”. On the contrary, Robin Briggs disagrees that witch-hunts were not solely based on hatred for women as stated in his article, “Women as Victims? Witches, Judges and the Community”. The witch craze that once rapidly swept through Europe may have been because of misconstrued circumstances.
Especially in its western life, Karlsen (1989) noted that “witchcraft challenges us with ideas about women, with fears about women, with the place of women in society and with women themselves”. Witchcraft also confronts us too with violence against women. Even through some men were executed as witches during the witch hunts, the numbers were far less then women. Witches were generally thought to be women and most of those who were accused and executed for being witches were women. Why were women there so many women accused of witchcraft compared to men?
The witch hunts in early modern Europe were extensive and far reaching. Christina Larner, a sociology professor at the University of Glasgow and an influential witchcraft historian provides valuable insight into the witch trials in early modern Europe in her article 'Was Witch-Hunting Woman-Hunting?'. Larner writes that witchcraft was not sex-specific, although it was sex-related (Larner, 2002). It cannot be denied that gender plays a tremendous role in the witch hunts in early modern Europe, with females accounting for an estimated 80 percent of those accused (Larner, 2002). However, it would be negligent to pay no heed to the remaining 20 percent, representing alleged male witches (Larner, 2002).
In a predominantly patriarchal society, European women have not only been omitted from most of the historical narratives, but their experiences were further deemed inconsequential or presented in a distorted manner. It comes with no surprise as many seventeenth century religious views stripped women from their Pagan cultural importance, just to have them demonized as witches. Though it has been pointed out to be an exaggeration to state that the crime of witchcraft was sex specific and solely attributed to women it remains undeniable and quite compelling the role of gendered structures of power in the European witch hunts. The aim of this essay is to examine the relationship between gender and witchcraft, as well as the rise in misogyny in early modern Europe. This will be achieved by looking at scholarship surrounding the impact of the witch-hunting treatises by Johannes Nider, Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, respectively titled, the Formicarius and the Malleus Maleficarum.
It confronts us with fears about women, the place of women in society, and with women themselves. Also, it confronts us with violence against women and how the problems of society were often blamed on women. Even though some men were executed during periods of witch hunting, witches were generally thought of as women, and most who died in the name of witchcraft were women. In the United States, witchcraft took place among too educated of people to dismiss it as mere "superstition." (P.10) Karlsen tells the stories of some of the accused and executed which are discussed below.
The Puritian rituals, myths, and symbols from then on were seen perpetuated to the belief that women were a danger to their society. This idea of women connected directly to witchcraft was only reinforced by the newer post-Reformation ideas about women. Puritanism in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century in England caused much controversy over the nature of women and their roles in society. Puritian and Catholic witch-hunters both believed that women were, “evil, whorish, deceitful, extravagant, angry, vengeful, and, of course, insubordinate and proud.” Women “are altogether ... ... middle of paper ... ...ere being held due the shellfishes of the settlers. In all of this chaos I feel that it was inevitable that something would arouse from this madness as a scape goat for the disorder that was happening.
In essence, Karlsen tiffs that the section of women inside Puritan tradition, were constrained into a "helpmeet" requested the particular exchange connected with witches. Karlsen highlights with an remarkable accuracy, the prejudices connected with areas of the particular portrayal of women along with the linkage of the "lady as-witch" idea inside United states tradition. Many contemporary individuals ended up being perplexed by such hasty action against a force that has no evidence. Karlsen brings a plethora of ideas to the table regarding these prejudices and explains in detail, the injustices performed against entirely innocent individuals.
Voltaire tries to tell us that women at that time period were vulnerable. Because of that, Cunegonde is blinded by the real situation of women. In Cunegonde's life she has only experienced rape and being sold so, it’s highly unlikely that her perspective of women being raped will change. Women probably felt offended because Cunegonde is basically saying how it’s better to be raped more than once in order for you to be virtuous. Besides women, some men probably felt responsible for how women were treated and all of this happened was due to men feeling superior to women.
The people of Salem were caught up in a hysteria of accusing many innocent woman of witchcraft, even though it started as just a couple young girls who had acted strangely. Witchcraft was a terrible crime that was punishable in severe ways. Witchcraft was a major crime in the seventeenth-century in New England. In 1692, in the village of Salem there were strange things happening to the people. (Dolan 4).