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Commentary Violence

The GOP’s Witch Hunt

Lisa Kerr

The past few months the GOP has waged a war on women that places them firmly in bed with religious lobbyists, treating women like they are subhuman all in the name of patriarchal religion.

“Having a female body was the factor most likely to render one vulnerable to being called a witch…the truth about the majority of persons accused of [witchcraft]: old, unattractive, disliked, and FEMALE”

— Witchcraze: A New History of European Witch Hunts by Anne Llewellyn Barstow

The past few months the GOP has waged a war on women that places them firmly in bed with religious lobbyists, treating women like they are subhuman all in the name of patriarchal religion. Nearly every day I’ve read the news and felt the GOP is taking us back to Colonial New England where women were targeted by powerful clergy and government officials for having a female body and because they were supposedly “sexually insatiable.” Women were burned at the stake for being “witches” or “heretics,” sometimes just for standing up to the church.

What’s so different about today? Instead of a stake, women’s job security is being threatened in Arizona over birth control. Instead of buring women alive, there’s government mandated rape. Every few days there’s another attack and these attacks are specifically aimed at females and their sexuality. 

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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Since long before the Colonial New England days there have been witch hunts and nearly all those accused of witch craft had one trait in common: they were female. In the 1400’s the Malleus Malfarcas was published as a treatise to be able to recognize and punish women for witch craft. Men weren’t as often punished because “women were addicted to the sin.” Women were widely believed to be sexually insatiable and weak in character, and considered to be vulnerable to the devil’s seductions. “The story of witchcraft is primarily the story of women…especially in its Western incarnation, witchcraft confronts us with ideas about women, with fears about women, with the place of women in society, and with women themselves,” Anne Llewellyn Barstow writes. 

What’s really behind the war on women? A witch hunt, geared towards females who contradict the Old Priests’ Club by making thoughtful choices about their bodies with regards to sex, sexuality and reproduction. Patriarchal religion fears women’s bodies, our minds and our ability to be sexually liberated. If the priest can’t control the body or the mind, they can’t claim the soul. Moreover, as long as religion has been around it has attempted to control sex, sexuality, and the female. Any woman who thinks for herself or chooses what to do with her own body is a threat to religious institutions because she is englightened beyond the Patriarchal institution. 

Mary Daly once wrote that, “’God’ can be used oppressively against women in a number of ways…[one way is by an] overt manner when theologians proclaim women’s subordination to be God’s will. The symbol of the Father God, spawned in the human imagination and sustained as plausible by patriarchy, has in turn rendered service to this type of society by making its mechanisms for the oppression of women appear right and fitting. If God in “his” heaven is a father ruling “his” people, then it is in the “nature” of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated.” 

Mary Daly’s book Beyond God the Father introduced me to a concept that at the time I found revolutionary. She said “If God was male then male was God.” If this “God” (which I believe is the God of the Evangelicals) was being used oppressively, and I believed he was and is, then I could no longer have faith in him. He was a manifestation of some religious leaders’ imagination, and those religious leaders were partnering up with politicians to oppress women in the name of “God.” (Religious leaders are also fearful of atheists. In fact, just this week a religious leader told a friend of mine to disassociate from me because I was “operating in witchcraft.”) 

It’s important to remember the history of the persecution of women in the context of today’s GOP war because it doesn’t just boil down to election politics. It’s a well planned, heavily funded attack on women, essentially a modern day witch hunt. Behind the Republican’s ridiculous bill of the week is a very determined clergyman (and his churches money) who’s fighting to bring women out of the executive position and back to the kitchen, back to existing only for procreation, back to submission to their husband (and church authority), and back to being close mouthed. As the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:12, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

Women are 51% of the population. Why haven’t we kicked out those archaic Patriarchal religious lobbyists (who DON’T have vaginas)?  

Women aren’t just watching. We’re not going to let our rights go anywhere and we’re not going to let a witch hunt violate and maim the female body all in “the name of God”. The history of the persecution of women has not been forgotten in this election. 

Women have a voice, we have strength and we have the support of our families, husbands and brothers. We’ve rallied together on Twitter, on Facebook, and by emailing the each one of Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers and we’re not going to go down without a fight. A fight that uses our votes, our voices and our minds. 

We’ve got our eye on the Old Boys’ club and we’re ready for a change. It’s time to take down Patriarchy in this lifetime, or in this election.

“Women who reject patriarchy have power and indeed are this power of transformation that is ultimately threatening to things as they are.”

Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly