In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial

St. Martin’s. Mar. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781250271419. $28.99. SOC SCI
Chollet, a Swiss journalist and feminist, spotlights aspects of modern misogyny by comparing them to historical misogyny characterized by the victimization of witches. The book opens with the author’s fascination since childhood with the feminine power of fairytale witches, which is contrasted with the real history of witch hunts. She notes that women accused of witchcraft were at the mercy of male institutions (religions and governments). Chollet extensively discusses the torture of accused witches, then brings us up to current attempts to control and malign women. One section examines women who decide not to have children and are disparaged by society for it, even though childcare usually burdens women and limit their other life choices. She next examines the way a woman’s age affects society’s understanding and treatment of her. The final section explores why attributes generally associated with masculinity are extolled while traits associated with femininity are discounted (e.g., the privileging of rational math and science over the emotional or expressivity in the humanities). The author also examines the objectification of women in modern medicine.
VERDICT Feminists will appreciate this exploration of rebellion and independence.
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