Witch-hunting, Past and Present and the Fear of the Power of Women

by Silvia Federici

Why were the witch hunts primarily directed against women? How does one explain the fact that for three centuries, thousands of women in Europe became the personification of “the enemy within” and of absolute evil? And how does one reconcile the all-powerful, almost mythical portrait that inquisitors and demonologists painted of their victims—as creatures of hell, terrorists, man-eaters, servants of the devil, wildly riding the skies on their broomsticks—with the defenseless figures of the actual women who were charged with these crimes and then horribly tortured and burned at the stake?


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