Were the Witch-Hunts in Pre-modern Europe Misogynistic? The “YES” article by, Anne Llewellyn Barstow, “On Studying Witchcraft as Woman’s History” and the “NO” article by, Robin Briggs, “Women as Victims? Witches, Judges and the Community,” will be compared, and summarized.
Anne Llewellyn Barstow finds that there was a disproportionate amount of women who were accused of Witchcraft in Western Europe between 1400 and 1650. Barstow moves on to point out through the text that these Women were victims of Misogyny due to the definition of Witchcraft being so broad and actually fitting the descriptions of the lives of many women. The patriarchal society of Europe at the time also bound women to lives of a lesser class if they were not living under the protection of men. Women were also seen as sex objects, and were seen as a threat to men who viewed women as untrustworthy and whorish. The findings of her research and views led Barstow to find that women were more likely to be accused and put to death for Witchcraft than men, as they were seen as minors before the courts and could not hold high positions but, they could be accused before the court for the heinous act of Witchery. Women were blamed for every malfunction of their reproductive systems, including stillbirth and were also blamed for preventing conception. Barstow believes that the first ever accounts of Witchcraft prosecution rose in the fifteenth century Europe as a means to control women’s sexual and reproductive lives. Barstow states, that in the English county of Essex, an amazing 92 percent of those accused of Witchcraft were women. The author proves that authors of the day do not concentrate on Women as the victims. In fact Women’s issues were merely brushed over, and they were not even seen as a group. The Women involved in the accusations were seen as unwanted neighbors, and were also reported to authorities by other women who protected their own standing in society by siding with men of power. Women were seen as a disgrace and a failure if they did not have a husband. This lead society to group single women in to outcasts, and the labels of demon or devil worship arose to underline their concerns of promiscuity. These outcast “hags” were seen as threats, as many of them were widowed. Barstow discovers many books that downplay the Women’s plight during this era of English reformation. Although, women played a major part in families, as apprentices to husbands, spinners, farmers, somehow patriarchal society did not record these accomplishments in their favor.
Robin Briggs agrees that a disproportionate amount of women were executed and accused than Men, but points out that...