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Marxist Approach to Witch Hunting

In: Social Issues

Submitted By PeterSagan
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The Marxist approach explains that witch-hunting was a product of the massive changes taking place in Europe. Witch-hunting was one way in which the upper class were able to subjugate the lower orders to be able to maintain control of their own economic and political benefit.

The Marxist view suggests that misogynistic attitudes were motivated by economic fears and motivations. The state began to control reproduction, helped by the witch hunt. Demography became the first ‘state science’. Certain common medieval contraceptive practises were eradicated and witches were often the village midwives. Women were demonised, particularly from the lower classes, and their position in the family and in society, their sexual and maternal duties and their relationships with men and the qualities women should have were redefined. Witches were ‘loose’, promiscuous, prostitutes or adulteresses, women who exercised their sexuality outside the bounds of marriage and procreation, they rebelled, took initiative, talked back, argued, swore and did not cry when they were tortured and posed a challenge to male authority and the church. By contrast a virgin could not be a witch and pregnant women were rarely charged with witchcraft. The fact that this charge could be punishable even in the absence of any evidence shows these charges were not designed to punish but were aimed at modifying social behaviour.

The biggest fear was the erosion of male authority which posed a major threat to social discipline and family life. How could they promote the family they wanted with the husband as the undisputed king when women had the power to make men succumb to them? Sexually active women posed a social danger being able to undermine men’s self control, remove his sense of responsibility and his capacity to work and lose his reason. The witch hunt was therefore the first step toward…...

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