Why was it that women were the target of the witch-hunts and not men, way back when?
One out of every five persons convicted of being a witch, four were women. Men were only accused of witchcraft by association; either husbands, kin or public supporters of women.
In the 14th and 15th century an estimated 500,000 to 2 million women died either by being tortured, burnt, drowned, or hanged. Old women, uppity women, women with freckles, women who owned property, healers, women who enjoyed sex or resisted sex, and so on and so on.
Men were reluctant to blame another man of witchery, holding all authority, with the power to decide the fate of the accused. In most cases, to be a witch, men were convinced you had to be a woman. In general, women were treated more harshly than men, just to get a confession. If a man confessed to practising witchcraft, he was often just called a liar and dismissed, getting off with paying a fine or at the most getting a whipping.
The women accused and persecuted were usually in their forties but all ages were suspect. Back then in real life, people normally died before their forties. Look out, the woman that lived to be fifty, let alone 60, 70 or 80, they were automatically suspect. A woman, too old to bear children was considered worthless to society. If she had a limp, stuttered, or was deaf, if she was rheumy-eyed, if she just couldn't get out of bed in the morning as we all sometimes feel, she was labelled a witch. A woman was doomed if she looked like an old hag. Men were afraid of old hags, they did the Devil's work. Midwives being the most wicked. Dare a baby die in the hands of a midwife, they became an immediate suspect.
If a woman looked angry, it was the evil-eye. If she swore, was that a curse? It was obvious to men that women lived longer, if they survived childbirth in the first place. Men realized women recovered from the plague much faster than a man, a sure sign of witchcraft. They believed women to be weak, mentally, morally and physically, the temptress of man as written in the Malleus Maleficarum, much more evil than a man, given to anger, jealousy and greed.
The upper classes of people relied on university trained doctors for healing, who diagnosed their patients using astrology. Ordinary people relied on women who were trained herbalists (witches). If a doctor could not cure someone, it was obviously the fault of witchcraft.
Nope, not a good time to be a woman, let alone a witch, but a great time to be a man. If you had a choice, I mean. Back then, witchcraft was thought of as a women's thing. Luckily, it doesn't apply in this day and age, though. Today, no one cares if you are a witch or not, or for that matter, male or female.
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Ref: Witches and Witch-hunts