Witchey Women

From Jessa Crispin at The Smart Set:

Part of the development of a socially maladjusted teenage girl — right around the same time she starts carrying Sylvia Plath’s Ariel with her everywhere she goes, scribbling in the margins; hacks at her own hair with dull kitchen shears; and discovers a copy of Hole’s Pretty on the Inside — is an obsession with the Salem Witch Trials. The more she learns about the 19 women and men who were executed in a little over a year, the more it reinforces her cynical theories about society — specifically that, as a woman, if you refuse to conform you will be left vulnerable.

The targets of these trials were not just those women who were unable to fulfill their womanly duties — the postmenopausal, the barren, the spinsters and widows. Women who stood up for their rights — along with women who were perceived as being too brash, too forceful, or too flirty — might just as well have put on a pointy hat and started riding a broom. And of course it was not just Salem, Massachusetts, involved in the prosecution. All across Europe and the colonies, women were brought up on charges of witchcraft, tortured for confessions, and then executed over a span of 300 years.

Read the whole thing here

The Burning Times [documentary from the National Film Board of Canada]:

This beautifully crafted film is an in-depth look at the witch-hunts that swept through Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake, and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film advances the theory that widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times. Part two of a series of three films on women and spirituality, which includes Goddess Remembered and Full Circle.

1990, 56 min 10 s

Directed by
Donna Read
Produced by
Mary Armstrong
Margaret Pettigrew
Signe Johansson
Production Agency
National Film Board of Canada

 

 Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

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