Witch Paper - Gender Bias in Witchcraft Trials During the...

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Gender Bias in Witchcraft Trials During the 1550-1650 witch hunt in Europe, women were more often targeted than men for practicing witchcraft. Due to prejudices against women, gender roles were far from equal and women were barely considered human beings. Unequal gender roles during the Renaissance led women to be accused of witchcraft more so than men because women were thought to be inherently wicked, had fewer legal rights, and had domestic jobs that could easily be linked to witchcraft. Since the 9 th century, the Roman Catholic Church instilled early beliefs that women were more prone to demonic possession because they had more of a vulnerable soul than men. The church designed a law in the 10 th century that encouraged Bishops to search for witches within their communities. Laws that described accounts of witches and witchcraft mostly involved women. One law accused women of joining a pagan cult led by the Goddess Diana, the goddess of fertility. Because women worshipped a female God who could bring them fertility, they were thought to have special, supernatural powers. 1 Another decree in the 9 th century suspected women of "rid[ing] with Diana." 2 These decrees also accused women of other demonic activity such as having sex with Satan. Women were thought to be more prone to demonic possession because they were considered to be more naive and sensual than men, therefore, Satan could seduce them more easily. Two German Dominican monks wrote, " [Women are] more credulous [than men], and 1 Susan H. Gross and Marjorie W. Bingham, Women in European History and Culture: Women in Medieval/Renaissance Europe (Minnesota: Glenhurst Publications, Inc., 1983), 121. 2 Geoffrey Parrinder , Witchcraft: European and African (Great Britain: Latimer Trend & Co Ltd Whitstable, 1968), 17. 1
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since the chief aim of the devil is to corrupt faith, therefore he rather attacks them." 3 Women were believed to be more foolish than men, so people assumed that the devil would go to women in an attempt to try and change their beliefs. These monks also believed that a woman had more carnal desire than a man. Therefore, the devil could seduce women into having sex with him, and then the women would become possessed. A woman was also thought to be at risk of demonic possession because of the story of Adam and Eve. Because the Bible stated that Eve was created from Adam's rib, she was considered defective. This meant that all women were imperfect and deceptive. 4 Since the beginning of time, the Church had been priming people to believe that women were wicked.
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